The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.

- Pema Chodron

One rainy morning in 1993, I was trying to decide whether to continue to fight my debilitating depression or end my life, when I happened to see an orange book with gold lettering in my bookshelf, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Soygal Rinpoche.

I picked up the book and began reading.

I discovered there was a big difference between my ordinary mind, the one considering suicide, and my Buddha nature, the sky-like nature of our mind, which is open and limitless and the birthright of every human being.

When I saw those words, that my birthright was Buddha nature, something shifted in me and I found the courage to stay and fight. Now I needed to learn to meditate.

Thus began the adventure I would write about in Choosing To Be, in which I learned to sit with and observe my debilitating thoughts, to make peace with my self-hatred and gently turn it toward self-compassion.


At last my inner werewolf has been put to rest. I no longer have those attacks of unworthiness and self-hatred.
I love looking at myself in the mirror. In fact, I think I like myself even more than my cat likes me.
~ Kat Tansey

My decision to tell secrets my parents held so close for their entire lives has not been an easy one. I loved and adored both my parents. They were intelligent, hardworking, beautiful and loving people. When they retired and moved back to Texas, their neighbors put together a huge scrapbook with pictures and stories about how much my parents meant to everyone in the neighborhood. Everyone loved them.

I wish I had known earlier what had happened to them. I think it might have changed things for me. But it was not the custom in those times to share shameful stories, and I understand this. Perhaps in some small way, my sharing now the stories of what happened in their lives shows us how amazing they really were. They were resilient, hardworking people who found each other and shared a life filled with love, humor, and adventure. They were two of the bravest, most wonderful people I have ever known, and I will love them forever.


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