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Question: Can the Buddha’s teachings help me to have greater self-acceptance, to not feel inferior to others?

Answer: Conventionally speaking, we in some aspects of life truly inferior to others, but in other aspects superior. For example, we might have some faults that are worse than others. However, since we have begun to learn and practise the Buddha’s teachings, we are in the process of acquiring virtues that those who miss the Dharma might miss. In this sense, our bettering of ourselves with the Dharma makes us ever better than those who do not.

The Dharma also helps us to see ourselves more accurately, with both our faults and virtues. True self-acceptance is not to simply accept our faulty ‘selves’ and do nothing about them; but to accept that we can do better too. This is important for diligent self-improvement and healthy self-esteem. Ultimately speaking though, all of us have Buddha-nature, the potential to become equally spiritually perfect. This reminds us to cling neither to inferiority nor superiority complex; to be more equanimous. As our faulty ‘selves’ keep changing, they are not true; while our perfect unchanging ‘selves’ to truly realise are Buddhas.

Buddhism has unconditional acceptance of all – even those suffering in the hells due to their past great evil and negative karma. There is no sense of self-condemnation or eternal condemnation of anyone at all. Even the compassionate Buddhas and Bodhisattvas skilfully and endlessly manifest in the hells to guide hell-beings to depart from suffering, and to progress towards Buddhahood by actualising their Buddha-nature.
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