The Buddha was a Borderline

I mean… seriously. “Life is suffering.” “Suffering can be overcome.” That using tools like… the right understanding, the correct thoughts, the right speech, correct action, the right livelihood, correct effort, mindfulness, and concentration helps you overcome suffering. The idea that the word ‘suffering’ can also be translated as ‘disordered thinking.’

That the self is an illusion.

These are practically descriptions of many of the common symptoms of BPD and methods that have been proven to help alleviate those symptoms.

Okay… I’m not seriously suggesting that Siddhārtha Gautama had a raging case of Borderline Personality Disorder. But it may be that some of the concepts that have been developed in Buddhism might be useful for those of us who are dealing with these symptoms.

In fact, the originator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Dr. Marsha Linehan, although she describes herself as a Catholic, also has stated that she used concepts she learned from Zen Buddhism in her work adapting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy into DBT. It didn’t surprise me to learn this morning that Dr. Linehan has herself struggled with BPD.

While I was browsing Twitter this morning, I started wondering whether I could reframe my thinking about what I’ve always felt was a lack (my sense of being hollow, or of having no clear sense of who I am). Instead of struggling against it, fearing it, or rejecting it, I could see it as the center of a wheel, the point that is often hollow (where the axle goes), or if it’s not hollow, it’s the point that ‘doesn’t move’ but that everything else moves around. If I can learn to see my hollow place as the center that other things are built around, then perhaps I can stop feeling that I lack some critical part that everyone else takes for granted, and instead use that as a starting point for recovery.

Photo shows the spokes and axle of an old wooden wagon wheel
The Center of the Wheel

As soon as I had that thought, I remembered that the 8-spoked wheel is a very common Buddhist symbol.

Another Buddhist idea I’ve been reading about is the concept that the Self doesn’t exist. My understanding is that the Buddhists are saying that there is no permanent ‘you’ that you can point at. Rather than finding that frightening, I can tell you that it fits with my perception of myself. I’ve often felt that my ‘me’ changes every few months or even every few hours.

I don’t have any conclusions to offer. I’m just throwing ideas around at this point… as the saying goes, throwing them at the wall to see what sticks. But this feels like it has power in it. I think there’s really something here that I can build on.

5 thoughts on “The Buddha was a Borderline

  1. A lot here for me to chew on, Moss. I relate in certain ways. The concept of “centering” has held a lot of power for me…. even back in the Rowley days. That would mean the act of reaching inTO my center, FINDING my center and ACTING FROM my center. But it still is a murky place. I like your idea of seeing it as a place from which the spikes of the wheel emanate.

    On another level, although I do relate to that lack of sense of self, of feeling like I lack something that every one else has, I have finally moved past it.

    Recognizing my basic values as part of the therapeutic process was an important piece of coming to realize that I AM someone.
    I could go into more detail but it would actually sound really corny.

    The challenge now for me is to recognize the environments in which I belong…where I thrive and grow. The pull towards the opposite is often present, meaning situations where I feel a need to compete or prove myself.

    I’m not sure if I have contributed anything helpful here but I wanted to give some feedback. Thanks for sharing,as always and keep up the good work

    1. I do feel like I’m on a search to discover my values. They’re hidden behind a frantic need to please others. Once I can peel back those layers, I should be able to find myself in there somewhere.

      1. Did I tell you about that “card game” That my therapist played with Me?I have found similar values Tests Online. The idea is you’re not supposed to think too hard about it and just respond with whatever comes to mind. That was a good start for me but I found later I prefer to tweak it more consciously.

  2. I just want you to realise that what you did in blocking me on Twitter and taking me off your blog, triggerred me badly and caused much hurt so that I self harmed and felt suicidal.
    If you are BPD, you should know that any kind of rejection hurts us very much.
    Yet if you know this, why would you do that to one of your own?

    Please take my comments and any mention of me or my blog off of your blog here, and you’ll never here from me again!

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