Postscript to my melodramatic ‘retirement’, someone wrote back,
"I don’t idolize you, I don’t know you except from what you just wrote."
That would strengthen the case that my thoughts have been largely narcissistic fantasy. I would like it to be when I dissolve that fantasy that I start blogging again.
Yesterday I did something bad and wrong. It was disrespectful of another person’s dignity and happened because of a lack of impulse control, two of the things which I often rant about. I’ll get to what happened in a bit, but this should inform any readers that the person writing these words, me, can be as selfish and mean-spirited as anybody. As a failed narcissist, much of what I present to you is intended to make me look good by impressing you. I might have some moments of clarity and empathy, when I might not be pursuing that agenda, but I’m not so sure anymore. So please realize that my words are simply some of the world’s teachings filtered through an analytic, but still self-centered and shrunken awareness. This is what happened. Last night I was riding home on the subway with a friend; he spotted a girl we know sitting at the other end of the subway car. I had a few drinks in me and just popped up, went over and was kind of loud and pushy. When it was my stop to get off, I wanted to kiss this girl on the cheek, and bent down, but she obviously was not into it. But I kissed her on the cheek anyway. Nobody has the right to impose their wishes or will on someone in that manner. I’m not gonna get into the issue of my apologizing to her, because apologies are insufficient unless you change your thoughts and behaviors so that it doesn’t happen again. I really don’t know what to do at this point, but putting words out there which people take to heart seems inappropriate and perhaps harmful, especially if they’re idealizing the person behind the words, me. That would be just another delusion. So I’m gonna take a break from the blog, to see if I can figure out some way to motivate my self to change. I tried this a few months ago and failed, but resumed the blog anyway. I shouldn’t have done so, and I apologize.
When our souls seek the same thing then there is an even stronger connection.
We’re so quick to judge others, yet we’re afraid to take an honest look at our own selves.
May have reported this already, but I did fall flat on my back on an icy sidewalk at the beginning of the winter. Now I make sure that when I walk my body is centered over my feet. I think that centering is related to what the Buddhist practitioner, Shunryu Suzuki, is saying about the sitting.
Suzuki writes that the sitting practice actually covers all activities of life. If we concentrate on our breathing, our posture, that gives our mind’s automatic systems something to work on, instead of repetitive rambling within its labyrinth of emotional pathways. As we have more and more time on our hands as civilized human beings the mind tends to find routines to replace the work we used to have to do just to stay alive, in terms of food and water, so we have to go back to the basics, breathing and posture.
The process of being aware of our breathing and posture frees our minds for conscious attention and for conscious speculation if we so choose. And just like I had to center the gravity of my body over my feet, so too do we have to center the gravity of our aware mind - over our connectedness and our compassion.
It seems like compassion is the feeling, empathy more the awareness, and we have the choice to direct our conscious attention to others, with nature’s reward of the pleasure of compassion.
Found myself clicking the metal top to a juice bottle, and wondered about this attention-getting, anxiety-relieving way I make noises, thinking of all the noises we make, including burps and farts, revealing how primitive our underlying motivations still are. When the spiritual practitioners speak of our original nature, they are talking about the connectedness, and the silence, not the freakin’ noises.
Listening to The Grateful Dead’s studio version of Uncle John’s Band, beautiful, and with what is probably my favorite lyric, because of its simplicity, “What I want to know is, are you kind?”
I called into my place of paid employment yesterday and Anna answered the phone, I asked for the man who authorizes my monetary compensation, the owner of the company, and Anna said who is it, I said Abner, and she said, “Oh, our Abner.” It made me feel good. Being an integral part of a group is inherently a good thing, there can be acceptance along with affection, but once that acceptance and affection become conditional, then the good feeling is lost and membership in the group is no longer as positive a force.
As reported by the BBC News,
"Neutrinos tell us something about the origins of the Universe," said Professor Soldner-Rembold. "We know there is more matter than anti-matter in the Universe, and that is why we are all here.
"But we don’t really understand why, and neutrinos might provide a key to why there is more matter than anti-matter and ultimately why we are here."
When I read this just now, it reminded me that it is not only eastern philosophy and western psychodynamic psychology which are searching for origins. It is a universal drive.
Saw a half-heart in the snow, or was it just close, something carved into the whiteness which my mind completed. It is Valentine’s Day.
Shunryu Suzuki, a widely respected Buddhist practitioner wrote,
"When we resume our original nature and incessantly make our effort from this base, we will appreciate the result of our effort moment after moment, day after day, year after year. This is how we should approach our life…..
Zazen practice is the practice in which we resume our pure way of life, beyond any gaining idea, and beyond fame and profit. There is no need to intellectualize about what our pure original nature is, because it is beyond our intellectual understanding. And there is no need to appreciate it, because it is beyond our appreciation. So just to sit, without any idea of gain, and with the purest intention, to remain as quiet as our original nature - this is our practice…..
In the Zendo there is nothing fancy. We just come and sit. After communicating with each other we go home and resume our own everyday activity as a continuity of our pure practice, enjoying our true way of life…..
To practice Zazen as a group is the most important thing for Buddhism - and for us - because this practice is the original way of life. Without knowing the origin of things, we cannot appreciate the result of our life’s efforts. Our effort must have some meaning. To find the meaning of our effort is to find the original source of our effort.”
"Our present ego-feeling is only a shrunken residue of a much more inclusive, indeed an all-encompassing feeling which corresponded to a more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it."
He saw that the selfishness of our current psyches was not its original condition, nor it’s only potential future. So the other day I wrote,
"The defensiveness of the self-image is what constricts the ego and keeps it from fulfilling its inherent potential of a connected consciousness."
We have been mistaking Freud’s conception of ego for the more narrow psychological structure of a needy, defensive self-image. It is a self-image that builds neural pathways to feed its life within our psyche and maintain its power over our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. But the ego can quiet the echoes of the self-image and be a platform from which the mind can go where it will.
P.S. I realize that this is probably a self-prideful way of ‘intellectualizing’, just what Suzuki warned against; I have yet to heed his advice that the important thing is to practice sitting.
Someone said to me that the inevitability of becoming your parents is strange, after they had learned that I am an opposite-sex genetic clone of my mom physically, and during phases of my life, a clone of her personality as well, at least inherent tendencies like the fight/flight instinct, and like an analytically oriented mind. We even both tried to be social workers and gave it up because we were hypersensitive to both the needs of the people being helped, and to their emotional behavior, which pushed our button of self, making us defensive. But as I said, I don’t think that the eventual way in which we think and behave is inevitable. I think it is true, however, that during our early social development it’s inevitable that we will imprint upon our caregivers, just like birds and ducks; But the beauty is that we have the potential to let go of that socially conditioned self-image, a journey back to our origins, freeing our passion to soar in the moment and find new destinations.
I wrote this last Valentine’s Day.
I know that it’s Valentine’s Day, but love confuses me. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve experienced any relationship that involved either romance or sex, let alone a combination of the two. And even then i’m not sure that i really loved, or really felt loved. So for me this day kinda kindles my loneliness. It seems to be a day that celebrates a combination of romantic/sexual love, and i’m glad that this is a time when people who are a part of such relationships are expressing their love for each other. For the rest of us - I know this is freakin’ corny as hell - there will always be possibilities for romantic/sexual love tomorrow and in the days after that. I’m not givin’ up just yet. To tell you my truth, i don’t think i’ll ever stop hoping. No-one should. But in the meantime i’m getting better at expressing my compassion for people with whom i have established any kind of relationship, indeed, to any human being i become connected to in any way, even if it’s just a chance encounter with someone i will never see again, someone we label a ‘stranger’, even though they are a fellow human being. We all have the inherent capacity to feel connected to others, to feel empathy and compassion. To be kind and generous. And maybe by finding that ability to connect from the compassion within our own self, and by finding ways to express that compassionate love, outside of romantic or sexual relationships, we won’t be so devastated by the impermanence - or the ups and downs - of the ideals of romance and the physical nature of sex. And then there becomes possible the wonderful combination of a romantic/sexual/compassionate loving relationship. A relationship which involves a sexual union along with a mutual trust, respect and understanding.