One hindrance Westerners face [. . . ] is one that other teachers and I have come to see through years of close work with many students: a tendency, seemingly most pronounced in Americans, toward negative self-judgment. One American Buddhist teacher has referred to it as "self-hatred," another as "the inner critical voice." It is not just a sense of lack, or an awareness of one's faults, but an abiding conviction, deep inside, that there is something wrong with oneself. The self-excavation process of serious meditation will expose it eventually, but in the intimacy of dokusan it is often revealed to the teacher before the student sees it.
This core sense of unworthiness would seem to be an outgrowth of our Western notion of the autonomous self (in discussions at East-West conferences, Asian teachers have been unable to grasp what we mean by it
). It can be seen as the underside of the American celebration of self, or even the shadow cast by our Judeo-Christian God-concept. It may be masked by grandiosity or self-confidence, but peel away enough layers and, more often than not, there it is. (emphasis mine)