Do you get something wrong every day? That’s “bombu” nature. This Buddhist concept means we never get things completely right: instead we often make a mess of things because we’re human.
Bombu nature means we need to accept we can never achieve the highest levels of excellence, we can never be those shiny perfect beings that we often think we ought to be.
Stumble and croak
We walk but we stumble, we sing but we croak, we are virtuous but we are also sinners.
Accept and laugh
When you accept that you have bombu nature you can stop judging yourself against a standard of excellence that is almost impossible to meet. You can learn to laugh at yourself instead of condemning yourself. You even learn to laugh at other people’s failings instead of condemning them.
So an awareness of our bombu nature can be liberating. And it doesn’t have to be an excuse for being slovenly, lazy, irresponsible and so on: it’s about being an accepting and understanding friend to yourself.
When you accept you’re never going to be up and running in the park at 6 a.m. you might allow yourself to get up at eight and take a walk in the park at lunchtime.
A few more points
Here are a few more points on bombu nature from a response to a question in my True Friend course:
“It’s really just saying that we slip and stumble frequently and that this is due to aspects of human nature such as, perhaps, unconscious mind make you say something you didn’t mean to say. Slips of the tongue fall into this category, also called Freudian slips. Maybe you said ‘greed’ when you meant to say ‘green’ because somewhere in your mind you’ve linked companies who proclaim their green-ness, but who have previously destroyed nature, to greed.
It may not just be unconscious drives, though. It might somehow just be the”machinery” of speech, in this case, malfunctioning. If you try to record yourself saying something as I often do for mindfulness videos, you will find that you stopping words every now then and that when you try to redo that section you stumble again. In Buddhism that’s just covered by the term bombu nature rather than trying to track down the origins of what is going on which is probably impossible to do.
Basically, bombu nature as a concept recognises that human frailty is something that will always be with us and that perhaps we would do best to accept without being perfectionist at about it. Another aspect of it is reflected in phrases such as”sometimes this sometimes that.” Sometimes I’m efficient sometimes I’m sloppy, sometimes I’m loving sometimes I’m crotchety, sometimes I am on time sometimes I’m late. In that sense, the concept of bombu nature encourage us to relax abut imperfection and not to take it too seriously.
Here is an explanation of bombu nature from the Buddhist magazine Tricycle: https://tricycle.org/magazine/bombu-buddhism/ Also here is an article on slips of the tongue from a Western perspective: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ie/articles/201203/slips-the-tongue
Remember that acceptance really needs to include acceptance of ourselves as well as others or it is an incomplete acceptance. Recognising the bombu nature in ourselves and in others can help us to cultivate that acceptance.
Image by Sarah Kilian.
This post was updated on 12th August 2020
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