Our most essential nature is complete dignity. It is not the dignity of a dinner party, it is the dignity of a tree, a mountain or the moon. There is nothing that can tarnish the dignity of the moon, because the moon has no self. When we develop a sense of self, an ego, our dignity is not tarnished either, but it can be obscured. Instead of attaching our dignity to our basic nature, we attach it to our thoughts and behaviors. Once we do that, our dignity becomes contingent on other forces beyond our control. We start making distinctions between what is dignified and what is not dignified, and we lose ourselves in the process.
The practice of meditation is one way to reconnect ourselves with our basic dignity. We can sit like a mountain, with our head floating above our shoulders like the moon. When we sit like that, we can let go of all of our ideas about how we distinguish ourselves from each other. If we need help, we can connect with the dignity of an infant, who relies on others for everything. If we are able to help, we can connect with the dignity of a mother who is able to provide life through her body. No matter where we are in life, we can always connect to our basic dignity. When we are finished meditating, we stand up and walk the earth with the dignity of a tree.
We don’t need to meditate to connect with our basic dignity, but it helps. We can connect with our basic dignity at any time by simply remembering that it is there. Wherever we sit or stand, we can connect with it by noticing the faces of the people around us, all being as dignified as we can, trying to get along with each other. If we can be dignified while we meditate, we can be just as dignified while we don’t. We just don’t notice it so easily.