Sunday, January 4, 2009

Living Awake and in the Truth part 2

Assumptions--are just that, assumptions.
To the Simple Mind, we are aware that things change, and in fact it is desirable because if they did not there would not be the opening for learning, for the new, a relief from what pains us, or hope. We would remain angry, fearful, resentful, confused. Pray for impermanence.
Working with this precept, we no longer try to escape the experience; rather like a scientist, we wait and observe our self, our reaction, our perceptions and what exists in this moment around us.
Reactions, like emotions, are automatic, they just happen. But what we choose to do isn't a happenstance. The will chooses and then we act. This is a freedom that we take so as to make best use and advantage of our circumstances.

What do we do when we find ourselves in the midst of gossip? What about that?
Sometimes we want to feel part of a group or an event by talking ill of another person, or deliberately excluding others, to feel more special or bonded -- us against them. Gossip is when we say things about others that are potentially harmful or slanderous to that other person -- with full knowledge of this in our mind.
This is distinguished from speaking about others with the intention of sorting out our thoughts or feelings, or problem solving.

Then there are the instant reactions that lead us into hurtful speech or action. What about when we feel insulted? How about when an emotion demands our attention?
Before beginning earnest practice, maybe we just walked away or changed the subject to avoid what we judged distasteful. Maybe we excused ourselves with the thought that "they deserve it, anyway."

Sometimes we counted to 10 or went for a walk before answering that insulting remark, that hurtful phrase. These tactics likely stopped or controlled our reactions, but to really move beyond, to move to a Simple Mind requires a different response. A response that perhaps to this point in our lives we are unfamiliar with.
We must through practice, in awareness, dismantle our habitual thoughts and patterns of behavior. These are habits which cause us to suffer; those perceived thoughts, the imagined self which keeps us in the dream.
When we gain in awareness, then our deepest beliefs and fears may be faced honestly and squarely. We respond to what is so, to reality as it is by experience, not driven by fear, anger or other passion. Our response is what is required, according to our will, our desire to be as we are.

With this precept, our practice becomes meeting life in all its possibilities, in its newness, and its sometimes strangeness.

And while certainty, feeling "sure" is seductive, and it can make us feel safe, prayers for change, for impermanence are part of the Way. As a Mahayana practitioner notes, 'when a flower dies, we don't cry, because we know flowers are impermanent.' Understanding this, we will suffer less and be joyful more. Impermanence is not negative!
Does it then, in the Way, mean that we have to lose all that we care for? Of course not; the community remains and is important. What is also important is that we not cling so tightly to persons or things, that we fail to recognize the nature of change.
So, to gain in skillfulness and practice of the precepts, we must turn to experience, the present moment as our guide, and not simply notions or intellectual ideas.

As Joko Beck has said, "when we experience for ourselves the transitory nature of beliefs, then it no longer has us in a strong hold. We can be freer from our requirements--freer to speak truthfully." Isn't it odd how those we care for most deeply, those who have meaning to us in our daily lives, are those for whom we most often hold deeply, and those whom we entrench in our faultfinding?

This is one of the ways in which we may avoid ourselves.
We are dishonest with ourselves first before the other. By focusing not on our own experience, but on what we think must be the experience of another, we criticize, nit-pick, fault. Sometimes, most often, those negative attributes are really our own.
Our own views may thus be frozen; we may not be acting from awareness of our selves-- what are we feeling, what is my perception/experience? If we do not take the critical self view, like that of a scientist, examining our own functioning, our own organism, faultfinding gains a hold. We react to something that may not even be real at all-- at least not real beyond our own mind, and then we suffer the consequences when the world rebuffs us, as it must.

Other ways of avoiding or not being truthful are several:

*Do I add to the story my own facts, interpretations or opinions as though they are true?

Try seeing yourself as the other person whom you spoke about. How do your words fit now? What is your experience?

*Do I keep silent? Do I comment when in a group about something I know, or do I allow it to pass by?

What is your intention in keeping silent? What is your experience? Do I take some advantage from not speaking?

As you practice, keep in mind that in the Simple Mind, speaking truthfully is neither better nor worse.

No comments: