Sometimes we encounter problems and challenges in our lives, or we experience failure. At such times, we shouldn’t let the setback rob us of our dignity and confidence. Instead, we should approach the situation in a constructive way. Think, “OK, I didn’t succeed here. Why not? What was I missing? What did I do wrong?” And take it all as experience. Then set out to remove the faults and flaws that caused the problem so you’ll be able to succeed in the future. You should feel confident: Yes, I can attain enlightenment, I can benefit beings. Here in samsara I can help my family, I can support the sangha and benefit sentient beings. I can do it. I can achieve things, and I can live a joyful, meaningful life. In this way, we need to nurture inner dignity and confidence, even in the face of challenges.
This kind of dignity is such an important quality, and for practitioners it is simply indispensable. Without dignity you cannot succeed in dharma practice, particularly meditation. This dignity is a kind of courage, a decisive, unwavering certainty. It is not a shaky or hesitant state of mind, a thought like “Oh, I am not sure if meditation will really be beneficial or not. . . . I wonder if my meditation is okay or not. . . .” Nothing like that.
Some people know the dharma, they understand it, but they still ask questions. This is a clear sign of lack of confidence and doubt. Of course, if you don’t understand something or don’t know something, then you need to ask and should ask; but when you find yourself asking questions and feeling doubt about things you already know, that is a sign of lack of dignity.
What is the remedy for this? How can practitioners develop this dignity? In Buddhism, the basis of human dignity is our identity with the universal, cosmic life, and our capacity to awaken to the wisdom and compassion inherent in all life. … In this sense, human dignity is essentially independent of such standards as the ability to make rational decisions or to contribute actively to society. So nurture your confidence and dignity, they go hand in hand. Utilize them within your practice, every life deserves a certain amount of each, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.
Peace and Love, Jim