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TOPIC: 'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith

'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:00 #16673

Not long ago I was listening to a Rodney Smith talk in which he said, "The quickest way to bore me is to tell me about an awakening experience you had 10 years ago."
In another talk, he said, "If YOU are there at all, you're not getting it."
I guess he's saying that any effort to figure out where you are on any kind of developmental continuum is somehow off base. Or maybe he's trying to say it's always now, now, now, and that any effort to spin a story about your path of practice is just more of your past conditioning referring itself to itself.
I wonder if this approach isn't somehow too harsh. But I also wonder about the wisdom of mapping: Is it really helpful to wonder what whether you're first, second or third path, for example? Is it enough to look at whether you're suffering less and seem to be causing less suffering, or is that a kind of cop-out? Anyone have any thoughts on this?
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:18 #16674

It has seemed to me that it's really normal to be very me-focused in ones practice for a long, long time. He's right in that it's a sign of still being very self-centered/self-identified or whatever. Even when you think "oh, I'm awake now, how cool is that," there's lots of "me me me" still hanging around that takes its own time to thin out further (to greater or lesser degrees depending on unclear factors). But we are human beings flailing our way along, so I think a little humor about it is probably more helpful than mocking, scolding or taking ourselves too seriously.

Besides, there wouldn't be a bunch of books about waking up to read if everyone were a very good boy and practiced silently alone in their corner.

But being aware of how much me is in my stories, all day long? That is useful to notice! And having your particular manifestation of it pointed out by someone who can see it when you can't? Priceless, if painful.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:22 #16675

I also might add, I like people and I like hearing their stories, and I like to talk, so I don't find peoples stories about their spiritual practice boring. They reveal people's hopes and dreams, fears and loves, and all that. It's no more or less boring than listening to Zoey tell you about her adventures trying to buy a new car, or Aunt Matilda telling about how Uncle Joe found a nest of snakes up in the back field. Human beings are interesting, by default.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:23 #16676

Maybe Rodney is really just bored when hearing about old awakening experiences...

Anyway, I do have a love/hate relationship with maps. Maps tend to be manna for Theravada Buddhism, anathema for Zen Buddhism and somewhere in between for Vajrayana Budhhism. Maps are the sh*t for Pragmatic Dharma afficionados, so in places where those folks tend to congregate (here, DhO, KFD) you will hear a lot about maps. Heck, even the people here who never had a use for a map before have adopted the 4 path technical or MCTB model and talk about those maps here ;-)

So I think the reality of this question is personal and complicated. Some people really like maps, some not so much.

For whatever that's worth...
Last Edit: 22 Nov 2013 11:23 by Chris Marti.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:49 #16679

Joel wrote:
"The quickest way to bore me is to tell me about an awakening experience you had 10 years ago."

Out of context, I'm not seeing that as an admonition against mapping in general or talking about awakening. If you're talking about an experience that's a decade old—and constructing your identity on it—then you're leaving out everything that's happened since.

*EDIT*: Also, "If YOU are there at all, you're not getting it." sounds like criterion for cessation!
Last Edit: 22 Nov 2013 11:51 by nadav.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:51 #16680

I won't pretend to know the place Rodney was speaking from, so as not to judge the man behind the words.

Perhaps the issue of self being in the way is common where he teaches, and so he finds it necessary to say, "Look, get over yourselves. I don't want to here about what happened a long time ago. What's happening NOW?"

For language to be clear and succinct, it has to be somewhat one sided. So, I see this more as a pointer for a particular point on one's path than a general teaching applicable to everyone at all stages (and I mean "stages" in a broad way, not pertaining to a particular map).

But, again, may he really thinks it is never helpful to think in terms of "self" and past awakening experiences. Either way, as far as I'm concerned, sometimes the teaching is helpful, and sometimes it isn't.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 11:53 #16681

nadav wrote:
Also, "If YOU are there at all, you're not getting it." sounds like criterion for cessation!

Good point!
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 13:49 #16684

Ona Kiser wrote:
But being aware of how much me is in my stories, all day long? That is useful to notice! And having your particular manifestation of it pointed out by someone who can see it when you can't? Priceless, if painful.
Word!
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 14:15 #16689

I wonder if a "map" based on "how much you think about yourself" or "how much you take things personally" or such would be useful. As a balance to "things you will attain, get rid of or conquer"? ie "at around this stage you will be more likely to stop thinking everything other people say is a personal insult" or "after this one is more likely to spend less time constantly paying attention to every detail of one's inner experience" etc. Things don't always seem to go in the same pattern for everyone, given the variable conditions of everyone's individual makeup though.

This intended as a "having a beer with friends and pondering" sort of thing... thoughts?
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 14:26 #16692

Joel wrote:
Not long ago I was listening to a Rodney Smith talk in which he said, "The quickest way to bore me is to tell me about an awakening experience you had 10 years ago."

I've never listened to Rodney Smith, and I too am curious about the context of the talk. My first thought on reading the above quote was, "Why do I need to worry about boring Rodney Smith?"
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 18:56 #16703

Ona Kiser wrote:
I wonder if a "map" based on "how much you think about yourself" or "how much you take things personally" or such would be useful. As a balance to "things you will attain, get rid of or conquer"? ie "at around this stage you will be more likely to stop thinking everything other people say is a personal insult" or "after this one is more likely to spend less time constantly paying attention to every detail of one's inner experience" etc.

I love it. And of course, that's part of the point of sharing journals--we're getting these sorts of 'maps' all the time in their different iterations, just maybe not thinking about them in the same way as the traditional ones.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 22 Nov 2013 19:03 #16704

andy wrote:
I've never listened to Rodney Smith, and I too am curious about the context of the talk. My first thought on reading the above quote was, "Why do I need to worry about boring Rodney Smith?"

LOL. He's an interesting teacher to me, but it's a good point. Upon reflection, the comment was probably directed at people who come to him thinking their A&P was a big deal. Kinda sounds familiar. :-D
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 23 Nov 2013 13:51 #16755

Yes, but the A& P is kind of a big deal. It's understandable that people would be fascinated by it, especially if they don't know what it is. Instead of boredom, maybe he should respond by trying to help people understand their experiences in the context of a wider practice.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 23 Nov 2013 14:05 #16757

Leaving aside Mr. Smith, since I don't know the context of the comment, it does seem that making a big deal out of all sorts of things is perhaps the very definition of the problem the whole dharma thing is supposed to be about solving, no? Speaking as someone who has made a Huge Deal out of a whole lot of stuff that doesn't really matter (just referring to spiritual life stuff for the sake of this post), the very Big Dealness is the clinging, is the aversion, is the Big Giant Me in the middle of everything.

I am at times tempted to just delete everything I ever wrote, because a good portion of it makes me cringe. Not because I said things that are misleading or poorly expressed or anything like that, but because it just reeks of being enthralled with my own specialness. I would happily accept a life in which there is never another Big Deal again, ever.
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 23 Nov 2013 14:32 #16760

Ona Kiser wrote:
I am at times tempted to just delete everything I ever wrote, because a good portion of it makes me cringe.

Don't you dare!!!
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 23 Nov 2013 14:34 #16761

After all, that would just be turning it into another Big Deal, wouldn't it. lol
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'The quickest way to bore me..." Rodney Smith 23 Nov 2013 15:21 #16774

Ona Kiser wrote:
After all, that would just be turning it into another Big Deal, wouldn't it. lol

's OK, O-- there's no escape from being an enthusiast, and "unobtrusively beige" is not really much of a desideratum.

"Everything passes, everything changes" is as much the punch line of a very good joke on oneself, as it is a sorrow and a pity.
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