In reading the book, If the Buddha Dated, by Charlotte Webb (a very helpful book beyond the narrow confines suggested by the title), she mentions the enneagram developed by the Sufi, its nine personality types, and one interpretation which posits “false core beliefs” that underlie each of the nine personality types. “These beliefs reflect the conclusions about ourselves we came to as the result of our early childhood traumas or experiences.”
When I read the nine false core beliefs, I knew which one was mine, “There must be something wrong with me.” In one way, this was not a revelation to me because I have been aware for many years that this belief had a major negative impact on my childhood and life. But it was a revelation in that I now understood why my face had been in a perpetual frown and why I did not feel happy despite all the progress I had made on the path.
As I relate in the first book of my Buddhist series, The Self in No Self, as a child I felt unloved by my father. I felt in general that I was different, but at one point he said to my mother while I was standing there that there must be something wrong with me; “He’s not normal.” Which for me affirmed why he did not love me. Many years later, after his death, after reading some of his letters, I found that my father did in fact love me and thought highly of me.
But as cathartic as that revelation was, it did nothing to change my approach to myself or in any significant way ease my suffering. Even when, after finding Buddhism and practicing for many years, I turned my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature, the frown remained and I did not feel happy (as opposed to experiencing moments of happiness). Even after I knew from within that my fears and all five skandhas were a product of my mind and so said to them all, “not me!” I still went around with a frown on my face and did not feel happy.
Only after I perfected my intent to turn my will and my life over to my true Buddha nature by opening my heart to embrace all aspects of my being did I feel from within that I had everything I need inside myself to be at peace and happy and the perpetual frown vanished from my face. And now I understand why.
The reason why my face was in a perpetual frown and why I did not feel happy was because of the false core belief that something was wrong with me. It was so deeply embedded in my ego that no matter how far my spiritual practice had come, this belief, although in the background, still controlled the overall ambiance of my persona. I always felt there was some grayness surrounding me.
By embracing all aspects of my being, which would include this false core belief, I freed myself from its power because by embracing myself in this way, all internal struggle ceased and I was at peace. When I was fighting my perpetual frown and trying to rid myself of it, it only made this false core belief stronger.
And so for these past few weeks, ever since the meditation when I embraced all aspects of my being and expeerience, my life has been transformed. Because I know from within that I have everything I need inside myself to be at peace and happy, nothing that I experience impacts me, pushes my buttons. I am just aware and experience things directly and dispassionately, free of labels. And because I have found happiness from within, my face has not been set in a perpetual frown. But I know that if there is some other pain which has not been embraced, the frown will return.
I have written above that this meditation on embracing all aspects of my being perfected my intent to surrender my ego by turning my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature. It is a key step on the path. I recommend it highly.