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TOPIC: "Stuff"

"Stuff" 17 Jan 2012 23:52 #5050


“This is really perfect and good. Though Chris might disagree, it goes along with another point I wanted to make -- that once one awakens (and sees that one's stuff is not special) it is entirely possible to make huge mistakes all day long and still live in a certain amount of clarity, light, humor and luminosity.” -Mike I think you're right. I would provide a word of caution, though, as this idea can have some rather unfortunate consequences if it is covertly co-opted by egoic clinging. While it's true that everyone makes mistakes, even those we consider to be awake, a slippery slope exists between equanimity and indifference, and between having a sense of humor in the midst of life and something more like amusement at the expense of life. I rather enjoy the teachings on the "near enemies," if you can't tell.

-awouldbehipster

Sounds wise.
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"Stuff" 17 Jan 2012 23:52 #5051


That's a really tough question and one to ponder. My own teacher said sometimes watching people practice is like watching people punch themselves in the face. They inflict so much unnecessary extra suffering on themselves, spinning in stuck places, missing the obvious, trying too hard, etc. But one thing that seems true to me now is that nothing I experienced in the past - including "mistakes" and "missteps" and "fails" was without its purpose. Through every experience I learned so much. Sometimes the learning didn't arrive for years after the "mistake." This kind of integration and acceptance of all aspects of life history, experience, etc seems very important to me right now.
Thoughts? It's a complex subject, but worth exploring, I think.



-ona

Just to add, as it occurred to me later after writing this: "nothing I experienced in the past was without its purpose" that that is not quite accurate. I might better say that nothing I have experienced has not revealed new things, helped me understand things in new ways, and so on, even if at the time it was unpleasant. It doesn't necessarily mean that there's a "purpose." I seem to have a natural tendency to feel as if some Hand of God or something is guiding my life, but there's not actually any experiential truth in that. It's just a convenient cultural expression that makes it easier to talk about in some contexts and with certain people. Here, on the other hand, I should try to be more accurate.
'
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 00:16 #5052


“it's like there can be an 'awakened' person who is very ordinary but capable of great happiness whose life requires no particular advanced behavior other than what works for him or her moment by moment (and required by their roles as a worker or spouse or parent, etc) while at the same time if one is part of some kind of spiritual or religious community and/or puts themselves out as a 'teacher' or an advanced 'expert' on awakening/enlightenment, then it would probably be a good idea for that person to pay some detailed attention to their personal development and to learn how to be well behaved, mature, good at communicating, etc. The pressure on such people must be enormous at times and I bet causes great suffering and maybe a tendency to 'act out' in secret in ways that will eventually be found out.” -MikeMike, I get a sense from reading your posts lately that this idea – that one can be awake while still remaining very ordinary – is very important to you in a deeply personal way (and I don’t mean “personal” in a pejorative sense). You’re writing about people in general, but it feels more like you’re writing about yourself. It’s like you’re saying, “I don’t believe you have to be perfect to be awake, because I’m not perfect, but I’m awake.” Am I WAY off, or am I really picking up on this?I’m not going all therapist on you or anything! I guess I’m curious about what this idea means to you specifically, and why it means what it does. What are the implications of this idea for your life, right now?

-awouldbehipster

I don't know.

Interesting question.

I think that there has been a lot of suffering in my life over the idea that I had to improve, that I had to slowly progress and get "somewhere" as an individual person in order become awake and in order to be free. And, lately, I've gotten a lot of benefit (in the sense of light and clarity of joy) by seeing that that just isn't true. So, I can imagine that this has created an enthusiasm for this that shows through in my posts.

Also, I'm doing something lately in clarifying my point of view on what awakening actually is and how it should be defined if one is having discussions about it -- that it is apprehending the three characteristics on an insight level and, that this apprehension happens through looking at things in an open and choice-less way with the proper amount of continuity and momentum, and that there are many ways of getting to the point of being able to do that. Now these points are my opinion and I realize that while some humans agree with it, it isn't necessarily the opinion of the other people on this forum.

So I don't think so much that I'm saying you don't have to be "perfect" to be awake but that awakening isn't necessarily a progression from some idea of less than perfect behavior to more and more perfect behavior. I'm just positing a working definition of "awakening" and putting forth the idea that that is related to, but at the same time separate from, individual human behavior.

So you probably are picking up on something unique to me in a way -- a certain joy and enthusiasm behind the discovery that happiness and joy is always available that the potential is always there in every moment -- no matter what.

Now I do think that I am "awake" based upon my own very narrow definition and, I definitely think that as a separate person I have a long way to go in growing into a mature, integrated, effective human being. But, I also think that is true of all of us and that so much of this is from what context it is being looked at -- again bringing me back to the point that happiness and luminosity are always ... there.... waiting for us to jump into and live.
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 16:43 #5053

"... I seem to have a natural tendency to feel as if some Hand of God or something is guiding my life, but there's not actually any experiential truth in that. It's just a convenient cultural expression that makes it easier to talk about in some contexts and with certain people. Here, on the other hand, I should try to be more accurate." -Ona

I didn't pick up on this, Ona, but I'm glad you did. It can be good to recognize the covert messages in our communications, whether intentional or unintentional.

I think people can be just as stuck in framing their ideas in non-theistic terms. Even more, people in dharma-like communities tend to refrain from messages containing anything that could be regarded as personal or egoic, such as statements regarding self-control or individual agency, even when these are called for.

It's difficult to balance the relative importance of language with the benefit of not getting tangled up in its sticky web.
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 17:30 #5054

I tend to prefer just speaking in "regular English" as much as possible, but it is interesting to notice when it gets tangled, and to try to be clear.

I'm enjoying your more frequent posting of late, btw. You always have interesting things to say.
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 19:10 #5055

Thank you, Ona. That's nice to hear. I think your posts are interesting as well.
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 20:04 #5056

You know, I would be interested in your take on my recent blog post about dealing with "baggage". I wrote it after encountering several people (some in person, some online) who were really struggling with dealing with personal traumas that were exacerbated by meditation. That is, meditation had begun to reach that point where our "stuff" starts bubbling up and we have to look it in the face. Some people seem to think they can skip that part and just feel good, and are a bit horrified (or worse) when it doesn't work that way. And some people have such an opposition to western medicine, therapy and so on that they hope meditation can "cure" them, or think that receiving supportive treatments might ruin their meditation.

It's written in my very non-academic style, if you can bear with that, but your perspective would be appreciated. http://alittledeathblog.com/2012/01/18/baggage-trauma-and-crap/
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 20:08 #5057

(obviously the rest of you are welcome to comment too. just thought jackson might have a specific take on it given his area of study)
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 20:29 #5058

Ona, I think you wrote a terrific article on a topic that can be very confusing to spiritual types, especially those who engage in contemplative or magickal practices. I agree that seeking counseling or psychotherapy for personal issues will not detract from cultivating one’s spiritual life. In fact, in most cases, NOT addressing issues though counseling is more likely to bring progress to a halt.

While meditation is not fundamentally a regressive exercise, it is a tool used for loosening one’s hard-won boundaries in the service of transcendence (i.e. growth). However, as the boundaries come down, so does the effectiveness of the associated defense mechanisms; particularly repression. When we stop repressing, much of the previously denied or ignored material resurfaces. This destabilizes us, because we’re suddenly met with aspects of our experience that we never even attempted to integrate, but can no longer ignore without a lot of added distress.

Therapy helps us reintegrate the baggage that comes up in meditation. After a while, it becomes easier to integrate this stuff on our own. But the answer never lies in just dismissing it, or trying to hide in happy states. A more profound peace comes when we are able to integrate our baggage within the context of who we are now, rather than who we were then. This can only happen if we open to it, and process it deliberately.

Not all of the stuff that comes up is going to keep returning until it is dealt with. Some stuff just shows up, does a little dance, and disappears forever. This is why the approach of simply noticing and letting go works most of the time. But some things just keep coming back, and causing a lot of problems. That’s the stuff that is more effectively worked through in other ways.

This topic is dealt with extensively in Jack Kornfield’s A Path With Heart in the chapter titled Difficult Problems and Insistent Visitors. The RAIN process (which I wrote about here) is also very effective for allowing experience to unfold and reintegrate in a meaningful way.

Again, really nice article, Ona.
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 20:39 #5059

Thank you, Jackson. I forgot about the RAIN article, which was really good. (I sent it to some friends.) I will add it as a link at the end of my article, as it might be useful to others.
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"Stuff" 18 Jan 2012 21:14 #5060

Cool, I think that's a good idea.

Also, although I'm just starting out as a counselor-in-training, feel free to consult me about issues related to mental health and meditation/spiritual practice. I've compiled quite a number of resources already, and would be happy to share them.
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