Beyond Morality: Beauty in the Ugliness

The suffering self

An image of what I saw in creative visualization. This large, black blog was suffering, imprisoned in an electric fence. This “moral” guy (aka the ego) had him imprisoned, and had lots of idols on the walls, like a Buddha statue. I freed the blob and shattered all the statues.

I don’t know what to say. In fact, I’m not sure I even want to post anything. But I still have something to share today, and I’d be a fool not to. Ok, maybe not a fool. I’d just be me, but I’m going to share it anyway.

Sometimes, we get so invested in becoming good by our definition of it that we ignore our own suffering. We struggle and strive for an ideal that we forget ourselves, in all our darkness, moodiness, suffering, desires, insecurities and fears. When we desire something intensely that we don’t have instead of tending what is within us, it can be like putting ourselves in a cage. We want to become not-ourselves. We want to transform ourselves into only that which is good, rather than seeing the beauty in the real, untransformed us.

Yeah, the beauty in the ugly, suffering, struggling, fearful, doubtful, unclear, unintelligent, weak, vulnerable part of ourselves. That part of ourselves that’s like a big, black blob writhing in pain. It’s been guilted, shamed, abused, ignored, shunned, denied, and blamed. We might think, at such times, we’re doing the right thing by clinging to our false idols of the “right way”, but you know what, every idol is just a static idea inside the mind, like a statue. And statues can be shattered. Putting away those idols and tending to what’s real is not about “enlightenment”, “becoming better”, or “uncovering the truth”. It’s just simple kindness. Self-kindness. And the recognition that our moral, religious, or philosophical aspirations may just be an excuse to run away from what we’re really feeling.

We need to learn to welcome our own ugliness back into our circle of friendship. Back to a place of kindness where it can find some rest, and the freedom to be as it is. There’s always the impulse to change things inside ourselves we find disgusting. But when we see that our idea of how that side of ourselves should change is extremely limited, we can grasp our own abuse of ourselves. Rather than caring for how we really feel, we try to change and fix. Make it “moral”. Make it “good”.

Remember: even the side of you who feels ugliest to you has its own beauty. Just look for it. Instead of causing suffering by trying to change it, relieve suffering by freeing it. Don’t you want to relieve your own suffering? You can. But if you think there’s a step-by-step process to it, you’re wrong. You must feel your way to it. Feel the suffering, feel your own impulse to ignore, control, and diminish it. When you feel the situation within you, whatever it might be, as it really is (to the best of your ability), your heart will guide you.

You don’t need to figure out what’s good or bad before you get somewhere. Doing the right thing doesn’t follow a plan. It emerges from your feelings. So follow what you feel to take you towards the right course of action. It will show itself at the right time.

Further Reading

Creative Visualization (this is the technique I used to see what I did today)

The Destructiveness of Moral Righteousness
Find Your Unconditional Kindness, Feel Self-Acceptance
Why You Should Bother to Accept Yourself
Distinguishing Your Ego, the Hidden Controller
Becoming at Peace with Your Own Path

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