Friday, April 29, 2011

Gravity Always Prevails, Common Sense

"We do not [like to] live according to common sense. We don't like the critical voice; we don't like to come down." --Nothing Special: Living Zen   by Charlotte Joko Beck

We like compliments; we like flattery. They make us 'feel special.' "What 's the difference between the sound of the [cooing] dove and the sound of a critical voice?" asks Joko Beck in her book, Nothing special: Living Zen. It seems many don't like the 'criticism.' We, according to Beck,"don't just hear the voice; we attach an opinion to what we hear." An opinion is not the same as a fact. Facts are easily verifiable. The sun for example, gives light; it rises and sets on a cycle. Our opinions may be formed variously, changed and reformed. They are not facts.

For many 'staying up,' as Beck calls it, is a quest to always float, like a ballet dancer suspended in air. But gravity, the fact of the matter, prevails and we return to the ground. Common sense is not something most of us admittedly indulge in. Our preferences trend more to the fictitious, the imaginary, the wishful. And we all have this same inclination. Some say that hope springs eternal. "
 Yet like it or not, life consists of much unpleasant input. Seldom does life gives us just what we want..."  We spend our time trying, like a juggler, to keep all the balls up in the air, to avoid a crash.

Fact may be that in most, if not all lives, illness and injury are a component of daily living. Injuries may be both mental and physical; we can't avoid disappointment, loss or grief. Seeking to 'take out some insurance' against unpleasant events, we often think the best course is to avoid any 'contact with painful reality.' Our minds spinning, racing busily ahead, we persist in trying to avoid all pain. We plan, strategize, evade, stonewall, avoid, fear, resent; we look for the best way, we think to avoid all pain.
Doing what we can to feel safe and not scary, we just want to be undisturbed. The ultimate action of the mind is to transform facts, what is neutral, and real into another state, so as to think that what disturbs, is unpleasant, challenges us, cannot get near us--not ever.

"We want to stay up in our cloud of thought about our enterprises, our schemes for self-improvement." And while self-improvement such as improving our health, losing weight, learning a new language and the like can be beneficial, the 'wheels go off the wagon,' if you will, when we add on to the improvement effort a notion or desire to protect ourselves from the ups and downs of life. Some, for example, believe that eating certain foods or engaging in rituals or other practices will keep them from diseases such as cancer, or they'll  live longer.
We try to insulate ourselves in these instances from the base unpleasantness of life. It just has to be some body's fault! 

The struggle between the 'sound of the cooing dove' and the rasp of reality continues to cause suffering; for as long as one attempts to avoid or imagine, life is not simply as it is. Our opinions continue to enforce our behaviors, behaviors may become demands. Demands unmet may become painful resentment, rather than sense-perceptions from our faculties. Carefully sitting with them, life as it is, allows us to observe our thoughts, to become aware of our physical senses, to listen to our body.
Gaining honesty about our opinions, our self, those around us brings clarity to the day. When we realize that there is 'nowhere to get to,' that we are already arrived in the right place,  just this moment, our suffering ceases. Acceptance now takes its place.

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