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TOPIC: Other People's Maya

Other People's Maya 03 Dec 2012 21:45 #8065

I watched this Shinzen Young video the other day on the "downside of enlightenment":

...and it made me think of a few things. One thing is that this ability to see what really needs to be done for the World also scales down to more ordinary situations - one has a sense of what would really work in certain situations, but it often can't be implemented because other people can't see it, and are distracted by their own illusions.

Most of what people think is important is just this - bullshit. If you ask someone on their deathbed what's really important, those people can tell you - it's fully experiencing every precious second of this amazing universe, and being with people that you love - and after that, it's things that enhance one of those two things.

Bullshit can be useful (like money), and it can even be entertaining and fun (watching a movie, or planning your wedding - even though it is simply a ritual to celebrate and formally recognize a relationship and the love between two people). But most of the time it is simply tiresome (like when people freak out over whether the lace on the wedding invitation matches the lace frosting on the wedding cake) - and most of the time it's bullshit that keeps people from doing what actually works in a situation.

With awakening comes a much enhanced ability to see through bullshit - both your own and other people's. One has a lifetime trying to sort through and deconstruct one's own bullshit after awakening, but one is generally much more capable of doing it. Seeing through other people's bullshit has both pros and cons. On the one hand, it's pretty easy to not get wrapped up in it - if your Mom calls and starts giving you a hard time over something inconsequential, you can more easily blow it off. On the other hand, if you live with and are very close to someone with much less of a capacity to see through bullshit, you're put in the difficult position of having to treat it as though it's real. You know it's bullshit, but convincing that person otherwise would be like trying to convince them that the sky was green - and it would invalidate them and hurt their feelings, and ultimately create more bullshit - bullshit inflation. So you have to take it seriously, even though you really can't... And it's very frustrating when you know what the right move would actually be - what the skillful means are.

So often I'm put in the position of either just going along with it, or sometimes I'll do what I know is the right thing even though I know my spouse won't approve, and accept the consequences for that decision. Sometimes that works out ok, sometimes there is a price to pay. I feel like this is an ethical dilemma I'm faced with quite frequently. How do other people handle it?
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 01:30 #8069

Interesting-- I'm pretty sure I've watched this before, a couple of years ago. But I'm even more sure that I missed the little ironies within ironies that time, that popped into view this time:

"You can't even say anything-- you just occur." Indeed. And all the dilemmas are a feature of continuing to pretend, or believe, that you can get "outside" of your in-the-moment interaction with a particular other being to evaluate anyone from some hypothesis about enlightenment.

I've been reading this great story called "Breakfast with Buddha", a novel about a guy tricked into a road trip with a most astute and unusual Siberian Lama. It is totally believable, and deliciously funny.

One of the not-funny, but profoundly sweet exchanges is this, with the skeptical rationalist narrator asking the Lama one of the Big Questions: "... why are there evil people in the world? Why are there people who rape and kill and abuse and steal from other people and fly jetliners into buildings? Why is it all set up this way?

He lifted his hands, as I'd seen him do before, and let them fall back to the tops of his thighs. 'Every day,' he said, 'many times every day, you can go one way or the other way. You can go with anger or not go. Go with hate or not go. Go with eating or sexing too much or not go. Two ways...

These feel like small things, small choices, but every day, across one life, across many, many lives, if you choose the good way, again and again and again, in what you are thinking and what you are doing, if you choose to go away from anger not toward, away from hate, not toward, away from armor, not toward, away from falseness, not toward-- then you become this person like you: good, not stealing, not hurting. Some people made good choices in their past lives and so, like you, they are given maybe an easy life for this time. Not the perfect life, not the life with no trouble or pain in it at all, but a life where it is easier to turn the mind to the spiritual part. You, my friend, you have work that you like, not hate, a wife that you love and live with by peace, children that are good not bad. Is this true?'

'Yes.'

'So you have a small quiet space in your mind from that. And that quiet space gives you a chance to see deep, deep into the world if you want to. Another choice, yes? You can take that choice and look deep, or no. But if a person goes the other way, little choice and little choice toward the bad and the selfish, life after life, hour after hour, then this spirit does not have the good incarnation, so does not have the quiet space. Sometimes that person becomes the one who kills, who rapes, who hurts. Other times, in this life, they maybe make a big change to the good. Do you see?'

'But why must the bad hurt the good? Why did you go to prison, for instance?...'

'I don't know the why. I know the is. This is the world and always the world. Always, since when the Bible was made, since when the ancient stories in all religion were made. Inside the big world that you cannot control, you have the small world that you can control. In that small world, if you look, you can see whether to go this way toward good, or the other way toward bad.'

'Or remain neutral.'

'Yes, but if you see good and don't go, that is not neutral. To me, to my lineage, it is not the case that God is up in the sky looking at you and judging you. It is more easy than that, and more hard. God is God, the Divine Intelligence is the Divine Intelligence, the One With No Name is the One With No Name. But God is giving out love and giving out love, like a... like a very nice music always playing. If you hurt people you make yourself deaf to this music, that's all. Not God's fault, your fault. Not God's judgement, your choice, you see? You make yourself no chance to feel God, or the moon going up, or any good love. Life after life you make yourself no chance, and then one life maybe you start to change, and be a little quiet inside, and listen to this music that is always there-- for you, for the bad people, always there'..."
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 04:40 #8071

"On the other hand, if you live with and are very close to someone with much less of a capacity to see through bullshit, you're put in the difficult position of having to treat it as though it's real. You know it's bullshit, but convincing that person otherwise would be like trying to convince them that the sky was green - and it would invalidate them and hurt their feelings, and ultimately create more bullshit - bullshit inflation. So you have to take it seriously, even though you really can't... And it's very frustrating when you know what the right move would actually be - what the skillful means are."

But in a sense their "bullshit" is completely real. It's as real as anything. It's what's happening right now, and it's not really bullshit in that sense. If you are with someone who is stressing out about a conflict with a relative, for instance, their stress is profound. Their fear is deep. That they "shouldn't have gotten worked up about what Aunt Susie said" is not really what's important, I think. I think between spouses (or family members in general) there tends to be a habit of wanting to fix each others stuff, like intervening in arguments, advising what to do, and so on. But sometimes what gets overlooked in those conversations is just being with the "real" issue of the moment, which is the other person's sense of fear (even anger is just a spin off of fear). It can sometimes be far more effective to be a quiet comfort and talk about what's going on right now. A sympathy with the person's suffering rather than trying to tell them what to do can be more calming and give the person space to work out their own shit.

In interpersonal relationships letting go of wanting the other person to be other than who they are (with all their faults and foibles) helps a lot.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 05:27 #8072

David wrote:
...and it made me think of a few things. One thing is that this ability to see what really needs to be done for the World also scales down to more ordinary situations - one has a sense of what would really work in certain situations, but it often can't be implemented because other people can't see it, and are distracted by their own illusions.

When I notice that, just do my thing, or "lead by example". Telling people what to do never worked for me.
Most of what people think is important is just this - bullshit. If you ask someone on their deathbed what's really important, those people can tell you - it's fully experiencing every precious second of this amazing universe, and being with people that you love - and after that, it's things that enhance one of those two things.

Bullshit can be useful (like money), and it can even be entertaining and fun (watching a movie, or planning your wedding - even though it is simply a ritual to celebrate and formally recognize a relationship and the love between two people). But most of the time it is simply tiresome (like when people freak out over whether the lace on the wedding invitation matches the lace frosting on the wedding cake) - and most of the time it's bullshit that keeps people from doing what actually works in a situation.

Yeah... it's not really the bullshit that's the problem, as I see it, but rather the way we keep bullshitting/fooling/deluding ourselves. Our "self-incurred immaturity", as Kant put it.
With awakening comes a much enhanced ability to see through bullshit - both your own and other people's. One has a lifetime trying to sort through and deconstruct one's own bullshit after awakening, but one is generally much more capable of doing it. Seeing through other people's bullshit has both pros and cons. On the one hand, it's pretty easy to not get wrapped up in it - if your Mom calls and starts giving you a hard time over something inconsequential, you can more easily blow it off. On the other hand, if you live with and are very close to someone with much less of a capacity to see through bullshit, you're put in the difficult position of having to treat it as though it's real. You know it's bullshit, but convincing that person otherwise would be like trying to convince them that the sky was green - and it would invalidate them and hurt their feelings, and ultimately create more bullshit - bullshit inflation. So you have to take it seriously, even though you really can't... And it's very frustrating when you know what the right move would actually be - what the skillful means are.

Often, the groundwork is missing. Or the circumstances are not conducive. So it can help to change the circumstances bit by bit, or to help with laying the groundwork: generosity (which is a form of surrender) is often a good starting point.

And more often than not in the past few years, I've come to realize that people tend to mirror my bullshit, and that I've got this huge shadow to complement my illumined side.
So often I'm put in the position of either just going along with it, or sometimes I'll do what I know is the right thing even though I know my spouse won't approve, and accept the consequences for that decision. Sometimes that works out ok, sometimes there is a price to pay. I feel like this is an ethical dilemma I'm faced with quite frequently. How do other people handle it?

I started doing this, like I mentioned above, the "doing my thing" thing. Bit by bit, certain features of my relationships with certain people stopped functioning as they used to, which led to other features that had been under the radar to come into prominent view. The result was a big change in our circumstances, which was not pretty but ultimately necessary for our well-being.

I wouldn't want to over-generalize it, but sometimes the bullshit has to hit the ceiling before people can admit it's there and draw their consequences.

Cheers,
Florian
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 06:38 #8073

Ona Kiser wrote:
But in a sense their "bullshit" is completely real. It's as real as anything. It's what's happening right now, and it's not really bullshit in that sense. If you are with someone who is stressing out about a conflict with a relative, for instance, their stress is profound. Their fear is deep... It can sometimes be far more effective to be a quiet comfort and talk about what's going on right now. A sympathy with the person's suffering rather than trying to tell them what to do can be more calming and give the person space to work out their own shit.

In interpersonal relationships letting go of wanting the other person to be other than who they are (with all their faults and foibles) helps a lot.

I agree with all this... Where I start to have a problem is when it affects other people's wellbeing. For example, my wife co-owns our business with me and is a doctor there. We have an employee who is still in training as a social worker. Most people at this employee's level have the company they that work for pay for supervision and certain training conferences. This employee really wants to go to the AGPA meeting close to where we live - and it would be important to her in many ways. I see how hard this employee works, how much it would mean to her, and how difficult it will be for her to go on her own (though she still plans to attend). I know how grateful she would be. I feel it would be the right thing to do to foot the bill. My wife can't get past the fact that we already pay so much in supervision for her every month - even though it's the end of the year and we are looking for ways to spend money to avoid paying taxes - her "I, me, mine" stuff keeps coming up. Now I can't very well just go give the employee the money, though that's what I'd like to do. I could have an extensive battle with my wife over it which I believe would create additional problems for me... So I'm stuck here. What I'm realizing is that this kind of stuff comes up all the time. It affects our children, and all kinds of things.

Certainly some of the stuff that Florian and Ona suggest works, at least some of the time. I just get frustrated at having to work so hard at it, when I know it could be so easy... I'm curious by what Florian meant by his last set of statements...
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 06:41 #8074

Good stuff Florian. Often we don't say "no" or "enough" because we are too worried about repercussions (loss of a friend, other person's anger, upsetting the balance of power). Whether a given situation requires drawing a line in the sand or some other response is something you have to judge on your own, but it's always very good to be aware of the real motives we have for saying or not saying "enough" so that the decision is made with clarity and honesty, not out of self-defending habit.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 07:54 #8075

We can argue about how other people see their own bullshit but we cannot argue about the fact that is is, in fact, bullshit. So the question as posed by David becomes, "How do I deal with that?" For me this is a moment to moment, case by case thing. I will very often let bullshit go because it's just not worth making a big deal out of it. It's just bullshit, after all. We could call this sort of stuff "little bullshit." Then there's "big bullshit" that usually affects other people in some significant way and that I sense needs to be addressed. The mix of these two bullshits, in my present experience, seems to be about 90/10, or maybe even 95/5.

Also, I find myself ignoring more and more bullshit these days, mainly because I see the nature of it and the problematic, ego fed nature of "me" trying to "fix" everything. I was a fixer for years and years, and I've almost totally stopped.

So... yeah.
Last Edit: 04 Dec 2012 09:37 by Chris Marti.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 09:52 #8077

Chris Marti wrote:
... We could call this sort of stuff "little bullshit." Then there's "big bullshit" that usually affects other people on some significant way and I sense needs to be addressed. The mix of these two bullshits, in my present experience, seems to be about 90/10, or maybe even 95/5.

Also, I find myself ignoring more and more bullshit these days, mainly because I see the nature of it and the problematic, ego fed nature of "me" trying to "fix" everything. I was a fixer for years and years, and I've almost totally stopped.

I agree with that too. And that's usually how I handle it - the problem is that since most of what other people think is important is bullshit, that 5% looms large. A good bit of the time, it's not simply a matter of addressing or not addressing it, they involve complex strategical and ethical decisions where a risk benefit analysis of "Am I actually going to create more difficulties by just cutting through this Gordian Knot?" It's very much a pick your battles and avoid Pyrric victories kind of situation.

Sometimes, as Ona suggests, it can be an opportunity to work on your own bullshit and behavior patterns. Probably, as she seems to suggest I need to get more backbone. One problem I have is that this this whole situation tends to interact with some of my negative behavior patterns that I have worked hard to eradicate, but haven't fully succeeded at. Growing up in my household, it was necessary for me to lie simply for emotional and psychological survival - this behavior was on the one hand vilified, but on the other hand, the consequences for being caught in a lie weren't that much worse than for whatever it was my parents did not want me to do (which were extremely harsh). So when I'm stressed I can regress and this pattern can emerge, which is irritating to me. Usually it's lies of omission, but even so... For example the other day, my wife asked me not to tell a friend of mine about my IOT involvement. As it happened, I had already done so. Now why she thinks she gets to pick who I out myself to, I have no idea, but I could tell I was in for a long intense discussion on a Saturday morning if I went into it, so I simply said "OK", acknowledging her wish but leading her to believe that I agreed. Wrong move, on the one hand, but having an intense argument on Saturday morning in front of the kids over what was essentially bullshit, seemed wrong too.

I'm sorry, I'm just struggling with this stuff. The elegant solution would be for Jen to get stream entry, but I don't see it happening, even though I could easily help her get it...
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 10:43 #8078

i thought you weren 't supposed to tell anyone about your IOT involvement. ;)
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 10:45 #8079

David, that's what I meant by making "moment to moment, case by case" decisions. It involves a calculation of risk/reward. Will intervention ultimately be helpful, or harmful? This can be tricky and complicated.
Last Edit: 04 Dec 2012 10:46 by Chris Marti.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 10:58 #8080

This question deserves the description "sticky wicket."

:)
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 11:12 #8081

David wrote:
[

I'm sorry, I'm just struggling with this stuff. The elegant solution would be for Jen to get stream entry, but I don't see it happening, even though I could easily help her get it...

Reminds me of the oft quoted (and attributed to any famous eastern guru): "Better to put on slippers than try to carpet the world." 99.9% of the people you will interact with in life will not have stream entry. Wanting to change them all so they can see the world your way is something I can understand, but also think has an underlying fraughtness to it that's worth exploring. One could similarly wish everyone would lose weight and be fitter (or fatter, depending on your preferences), dress in ways you prefer, speak English, drive the kind of car you think is best, have your taste in arts and music, be a republican/democrat, etc. It's certainly a heavier issue when you are talking about a family member, but there's a good exercise to be had in navigating the territory you are in rather than wishing it were different territory.

There's a place from which the foibles and weirdness and even wretchedness of the world has its own beauty. Embracing that can be quite a similar exercise to the embracing of our own interior fears and pain that we work so hard at in certain phases of meditation practice. Daily life seems to offer plenty of opportunities to keep looking at that stuff.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 12:05 #8083

Ona Kiser wrote:
i thought you weren 't supposed to tell anyone about your IOT involvement. ;)

Just to clarify that point, I can tell whomever I choose that I'm a member, but I can't reveal the identity of other members without their express permission. Jennifer also would like to be able to choose who she could reveal this to, without asking my permission. (?)
Ona Kiser wrote:
... It's certainly a heavier issue when you are talking about a family member, but there's a good exercise to be had in navigating the territory you are in rather than wishing it were different territory.

There's a place from which the foibles and weirdness and even wretchedness of the world has its own beauty. Embracing that can be quite a similar exercise to the embracing of our own interior fears and pain that we work so hard at in certain phases of meditation practice. Daily life seems to offer plenty of opportunities to keep looking at that stuff.

I'll try to look at it that way, and combine it with "doing my thing" as Florian suggests...
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 12:07 #8084

David, here's some ideas... no silver bullets, but what the heck..

1) both parties agreeing that an argument will lead to a better decision -- this is kind of a go/no-go threshold. If there isn't acceptance of the possiblity of turning bs into baloney sausage, then no need to go further. The acutal task is to create the possibility of discussion/debate/argument. Most people avoid this step and so there is no foundation for engagement.

2) with agreement in place, there is still a need to create a safe "place" for debate. Around the kids might not be good, or it might be great because it will teach them how to have disagreements in a respectful manner. "Safe" means there is respect for opinions, time for reflection, the ability to postpone/delay, recognition that there may be hard arguements or emotions and a plan in place how to deal with that (stop, push through, go slow, etc.). Most people avoid this step, so the debate deteriorates half-way through.

3) focus on Why? not What/Which? -- the argument might not even lead to an agreement, but if both people understand the Why? of the argument, then you are miles ahead. So often the argument is not about the surface argument, it's something else. If you know the reasons why there is an argument, then you also know the range of possible solutions that could be on the table. To solve problems with someone else you need to understand acceptable solutions, to understand possibe solutions you need to know why there is a problem.

4) be very prepared to LOSE. Lose, lose, lose. If you can't accept the idea of losing as a possible solution to the shared problem, you're not really arguing, you're going to war. Don't go down that road.

5) establishing a track record. I'm thinking of someone in my life who would NOT argue when I first met him/her. It was considered an insult. I worked really hard to change this over time into something we did together to solve our problems. One step led to the next step... It took time to develop a track record of respectful and creative argumentation before we both felt comfortable. Part of that came from both of us getting used to losing or giving up significant ground with dignity and being respected for it.

6) Know your limits. Some things are non-negotiable and you just have to take your lumps. Over time, you will be seen as either having integrity or as being selfish. You have no control.


In the heat of the moment, I tend to zone right into where a person's heart is. What are they actually holding on to. It usually isn't the actual object of the argument. It's something else. I try to bring that heart-thing out into the open through asking questions. Creating a safe space where that thing can be seen. If I can discover that thing, then I can look for compromises that give them it and that I can live with. I have a lot of faith in this approach.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 12:21 #8085

Well, since we're going in this direction here's THE book on negotiating:

www.amazon.com/Getting-Yes-Negotiating-A...ithout/dp/0395631246
Last Edit: 04 Dec 2012 12:21 by Chris Marti.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 13:11 #8086

shargrol wrote:
...So often the argument is not about the surface argument, it's something else. If you know the reasons why there is an argument, then you also know the range of possible solutions that could be on the table. ...

This is HUGE. And 99% of of the time missed completely. Take something like giving money to an employee to go to a conference (an example earlier). Giving money as a gift to anyone changes the balance of power. It can be harmless, or it can create weird dynamics in the future. It can impact how others who don't receive money feel. It can set a precedent for the recipient to start asking for money in the future and being resentful if it isn't given again. When we give money, we may be motivated by pure generosity, but there is always the possibility we are motivated by wanting to be recognized as generous, which is a slightly different thing. When someone else gives money (say you give it against your wife's wishes) the non-giver may feel less powerful or resentful. Controlling the spending of money in a business or in a family is very fraught with issues of control and power, however subtle. So feeling out those underlying issues can be really helpful.

I went through this with tax time with my husband. We always used to get really snippy and sharp with each other while dealing with the taxes (married 20 years, so plenty of years of repeating the same aggravation). I finally realized the main problem was not the taxes, but my fear of looking stupid if I made a math error (which I do a lot). Once I saw that that was the root of my defensiveness, I was able to laugh about it and be much more patient with the process and we don't get worked up about it anymore. My defensiveness was upsetting to him, making him snippy in return, which made me more defensive, and so the circle went around. Without my defensive reaction the process still requires extensive discussion but it is easily done without getting upset.
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Re: Other People's Maya 04 Dec 2012 16:09 #8087

David wrote:
I'm curious by what Florian meant by his last set of statements...

Well, I stopped participating, bit by little bit, in the manipulative and abusive games played by my parents in law. They had been very close to us (my wife and daughter and me) for decades. As my co-operation decreased, she (the abusive relative) had to resort to ever more drastic measures to keep her games going, until there was an event where she lost all deniability of what she was really doing. This resulted in our cutting off contact with them, which was painful but, like I wrote, ultimately necessary for our well-being.

Regarding your wife and being out of the closet regarding IOT membership: sounds to me like there is more below the surface of who should and should not know about it. I've had superficially similar feelings about the times when my wife decided to tell our acquaintances about my past involvement with charismatic Christianity - for some years, it was embarrassing to me, then it was embarrassing for her, nowadays we both don't care any more about that particular thing.

Getting other people enlightened never works, as far as I know. But I was very surprised how profound my wife's spiritual insight was once I let go of the notion that I had to shoehorn her experiences onto my little models of enlightenment.

Cheers,
Florian
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