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.
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.