Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Feeling better

I'm a beginner in zen, so forgive me if this...aww, screw it. I'm not going to qualify my question. It is what it is.

What do you all think about the issue of personal suffering? What I mean is, I took up zazen and Buddhism in order to feel better. Doesn't everyone?

I'm in a bad mood today/tonight, and am going to sit w/ it and see how things go.

While I'm trying not to talk myself out of my bad mood, the fact that I'm sitting and choosing (or attempting to choose) not to "pick up" any more negative thoughts means I'm trying to cheer myself up in a way.

What's the zen view on that?

Is happiness the ultimate goal? A fortunate byproduct? Impossible? Am I supposed to even want to feel better?

73 Comments:

At February 22, 2006, Blogger rchinn72 said...

wow! that's kinda funny because I'm going through a little funk right now too....must be in the air!!!!
I've had this overwhelming feeling/nag that every situation I've been in the last week has ended in the worst way that it could.
I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that not everything around me is in my control(not that I'd even want it to be!)and that things don't have to turn out the way that I want them to.

 
At February 22, 2006, Blogger cromanyak said...

When I started practicing zazen it was because of depression and severe anxiety, and I think that just sitting with it is definitly a good way to get through it. It took me about 3 years, but the changes it's brought me are way more permanent than taking a pill. In my opinion of couse. Now that I'm not suffering so much the focus of my pracitice has changed, and yours probably will too. Just take it slow, and persistent. That's the most imprortant thing. In order to get down to real practice I think you first need to establish some balance.

 
At February 22, 2006, Blogger flux said...

K'vitsh said: I took up zazen and Buddhism in order to feel better. Doesn't everyone?

That's basically why I took it up, and while my views have changed since then, I guess I still mainly use it for that purpose.

K'vitsh said: Is happiness the ultimate goal?

For me, happiness is no longer my ultimate goal. Happiness and unhappiness come and go. Some days I am happy, some days life sucks. I think I'm happier now than I was, say, 10 years ago, but who knows? I can't remember how happy I was 10 days ago.

My goal right now is just to stop getting so caught up in my unhappiness or happiness. Just to let it be. I'm not very good at that though.

K'vitsh said: It is what it is.

I think that about says it all regarding personal suffering vs happiness. Or about pretty much any topic.

Well, I guess that answers exactly none of your questions :-) I can't really tell you what the Zen view is on this stuff, since I'm also a beginner.

 
At February 22, 2006, Blogger me said...

I'm re-reading Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' which is one of my favorite books.

The part I just finished talked about 'peace of mind' - having peace of mind in relation, in this case, to a machine (but it could be anything). I'm not as good a writer as Pirsig but I'll attempt a summary:

The idea is that between you and the machine (or any external thing) there is a relationship and if you don't have peace of mind then both are not right. It may seem to an outsider that all the trouble is in your head or none of the trouble is in your head and all of it is in the external thing - but both of these views are wrong.

Even if the external thing is working perfectly the fact that you don't have peace of mind means there is a problem with it - because of your relationship to it. So the problem to solve is not just with you nor is it just with the thing...

But that aside. Yup. I think too much and zen seems to offer a way to spend more time in real time and less time in my head.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

I started to do meditation in order to come to terms with and work through some very difficult emotions (terror mainly).

Almost all the time I spent in Zazen was spent hanging around on the edge of these emotions - letting them be, not being engulfed by them.

I now see from lots of other bloggers that Zazen can be an intensley peaceful and blissful state. Was I unlucky or lucky???

For me sitting in Zazen was always "I need to do this and if it becomes too intense I will stop".

I have only just reached the point where I can sit in Zazen and enjoy it because there are [I think] no unpleasant emotions left to deal with.

So, I would say that if you are aware of unpleasant emotions, let them arise. If it becomes too much then stop.

It is easier to deal with when you are a beginner rather than when you are 'experienced' and maybe think/hope that zazen is only bliss.

I think Zazen is first of all being open to yourself. Once you can do this naturally then being open to reality will follow.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

P.S.
"I'm in a bad mood today/tonight, and am going to sit w/ it and see how things go."

These are good words. Open words. A willingness to face things.

In Buddhism the way that you get rid of suffering is to get rid of the thing that thinks it is suffering rather than what you think is the cause of your suffering.

In practice, that means facing up to all the unpleasant emotions and feelings and thoughts that you might have and letting them exist in the open.

So, here is the biggest and cruelest irony of all of Buddhism and it really should be spoken about more.

If you want to get rid of all the suffering in your life what you have to do is to face and acknowledge all the suffering that there is. You have to learn to deal with and 'accept' lots of unpleasantness. Zazen is a good tool for this.

This work is not optional, so if you spend a few years up front doing it then that leaves the rest of your life for the bliss.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

the dalai lama says everyone wants to be happy. he uses this fundamental fact to construct a method to become happy. the main way that he says makes us happier is developing compassion for others. basically making others happy is the way that u will become happy. but then there's that whole 'u can't make others happy unless u yourself are happy' so....

i'm lucky cos i've never been depressed or anything except when i used to take loads of drugs. but (how curious) as soon as i stopped taking drugs then i stopped being depressed. this lead me to conclude that drugs are bad for you and drugs cause suffering (cue a hippy saying something long about shamanism).


(incidently, the word drugs in UK has a different meaning to the USA i think. u guys (not u k'vitsch of course, i know how canadians hate to be lumped together with those yanks!) use drugs to mean all literal drugs. hence a drugstore. in england when u say drugs. u mean DRUGS. u know like the ones u get off guys on street corners.not the ones that are in your brain already or something)

anyway, i'm going on a rant about drugs again.

i'd say that happiness was the ultimate goal but that the word happiness in this case does not mean just the opposite of sadness (since this kind of happiness is just more suffering). the dalai lama uses 'real happiness' to differentiate.

i'd say that although it's the ultimate goal, one should look at it as a byproduct and actually the ultimate goal is making others happy (anyone ever seen "amelie"?)

yeh, i think u should want to feel better.
normally we have strong desires to get wasted get laid (tricky one for non monks. i interpret the precept as no sex without love) sleep in etc and it is hard for us to eat right exercise regularly and do zazen etc. the dalai lama says buddhism is all about cultivating the desires we have to do positive things and at the same time diminishing the negative desires. eventually we will be in the position where it is as hard for us to eat bad sleep in not do zazen etc as it is hard at the beginning to do all the positive things. a complete reversal of our priorities. it's all about habits and how we can get used to anything. it just takes a bit of will power at first.

incidently, when u are in a bad mood k'vitsch u should try basic solutions like going for a run/walk(although knowing canada it's probably minus 5000 kelvin there right now)until u break a sweat or something like that as well as zazen. often when i fell irritable i realise its usually something like i havent drunk enough water that day or i've eaten too much sugar or havent had any exercise etc.

drink loads of water.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

I am wondering, K'vitsh, if reading these responses has had any effect on your mood. I only say that, because everyone here offered such RELATABLE and insightful comments, that it made ME feel better. Some of you talked about doing things for others as one means of feeling better (not that you are saying it is the sole purpose of compassionate behavior) and I find this almost always help to remove me from my own obsessive thought patterns. And yes, Dan, I did see Amelie; good film and a cool reference to illustrate your point.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

K'vitsh ~

It is my sense that all bodymind mechanisms strive, unceasingly, to feel better. Whatever they do, that is the ultimate goal. What may, on the surface, appear to be an action that is contrary to feeling better, underneath it one will always find a more primary motivation of wanting to feel better. (One may engage in psychotherapy, which can bring the individual a greater or lesser degree of upset and emotional distress as unfaced issues are, finally, faced. And so one is not, at the moment, feeling better. But the underlying goal is to eventually feel better.) At its foundation, every action taken is a movement towards - at the very least - balance or homeostasis, if not feeling better. Thus, taking up zazen will fundamentally have the primary goal of feeling better.

And that should answer your final question "Am I supposed to even want to feel better?" Who wouldn't! But a mature, wise Understanding also posits the fact that one does not always feel better. It is psychologically, biologically not possible. What is possible is feeling balanced, serene, stable, joyful MORE rather than LESS of the time (and that will vary from one bodymind mechanism to another, always being a function of the instrument's innate conditioning-in-the-moment).

Cheers!

It may be helpful, in trying to resolve the issue of suffering, to first determine exactly what is and what is not suffering. Otherwise one may be chasin' one's ass.

What is suffering? Is it equivalent to physical pain? Is it the same as emotional (mental) pain? If it isn't, how does it differ? Here's a useful pointer: suffering can not exist without a belief in time. And a followup: suffering doesn't not happen in "the moment": now...now...now. Within a nanosecond of being, "now," there is no suffering.

So what creates suffering? From where is it birthed? In discovering the answers to these questions (the root of suffering) one may also Realize the cessation
of suffering.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

I've been practicing better, and a lot more regularly over the last year because I have recognized that I've got some fears and hangups that I really need to overcome. My job is a little boring, and I've been depressed about that. My personality is on the passive side. Zen has helped me see that I can get joy from excelling in my job, and be challenged by the attempt to do the job with much higher standards of quality than is required by my employer. I think once I've built up my self-esteem a little, and prove to myself that I really can excel at what I'm doing, I'll be confident in selling myself to other employers and maybe working somewhere a little more interesting than where I'm working now.

The person I love most in the world (we've been married almost nine years) thinks of Buddhism as a useless hobby, I think. I haven't really checked that out with her yet, but that's what her actions lead me to believe. She told me she wants to leave me. I got only a couple hours of sleep the night before last, and a little bit more last night.

She wants me to be doing work I'm passionate about. I could afford to do work I'm more passionate about if I wasn't almost solely responsible for paying our $2000/month mortgage. My job is boring, but it pays really well, and I really like the people I work with.

She feels that I'm too accepting of her as she is. She wants someone who will challenge her to be more productive in her work and more adventurous in her life. She's terminally bored with me.

She has reluctantly agreed to see a marriage counselor with me, so maybe there's some hope yet. But from what she's said, I'm afraid it's a slim hope.

Zazen has been helpful over the past two days. I think if I hadn't gotten up at 3am and sat for a while I wouldn't have slept at all the night before last. It's been a refuge for me, giving my heart a little rest from the pain it's in. Helping me see there's still love in the world.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

Jules ~ You are such a likeable person, and I am sure everyone who reads this latest post of yours will be moved, and will want to wish you well. Allow me to be one of those people. Relationships are such a struggle for most of us, that you will likely encounter much empathy here. I realize it may not be your intent to garner such a response, and that you are generously offering a thoughtful answer to k'vitsh's questions, but how does one ignore the content of your message? I also fully relate to everything you said about work, and the need to recognize and acknowledge your own worth, to present yourself well to prospective employers. I'm happy for you that sitting brings you relief and hope. Good luck with the counseling; slim hope beats no hope.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger oxeye said...

jules, everything will work out exactly as it is supposed to for you. If you want to remain in your current situation you will. my wife was not very thrilled with my interest in something that did not include her either. so i decided not to talk with her about it. i never mention it unless she asks me. because really, buddhist talk is just empty words. if you act in the way that you have to act, everything else will unfold as it should.

good wishes to you..

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger earDRUM said...

You don't miss the water 'till the well runs dry.

Sorry to hear about your situation, Jules. Been there...

It is very hard, when in a situation like Jules', not to think about it all day long. Emotions are strong. Attachments are threatened. Our sense of self is threatened. We lose ourselves in thoughts... wondering about the future... remembering the past. Wondering what to do right now.
And we feel unhappiness.

But I think these moments, as painful as they are, are a real opportunity for learning about ourselves. We find out how strong our relationship is. We air differences. We find out how our partner feels about things that she/he has been keeping quiet about. And we make decisions about whether or not our relationship is worth saving.
And we realize that "it takes two to tango"... a relationship has to be a mutual agreement between two different people (with different needs and desires). Not easy.
Sometimes, these moments of crisis inrelationships are the very things that end up cementing the bond, and making it stronger.

Jules, I wish you well. I feel for you.

Happiness is a funny thing. If we make happiness a "goal", then we are easily tempted into "immediate pleasures"... chocolate, sex, mind-altering substances, etc.
But we also know that many of these things are "momentary pleasures". That the pleasure they bring is fleeting. And when that pleasure is gone, we want more. So we try to fill the hole with more pleasure. This is what drives people to watch TV while eating chips and drinking beer every night, until they are satiated. This is why we get fat and weak. This leads some people to have an ongoing string of relationships because they crave that infatuation that happens at the beginning of relationships... and eventually fades. These cravings are like the ones that heroin addicts feel. They are strong. And we all deal with them.
But we know inside that the pleasures we feel while eating chocolate aren't "true happiness". It is nothing more than entertaining our senses. And these are okay, if we can enjoy them for what they are. But we have to let them go, too.

Zazen allows us to relax the grip that our cravings (desires) have on us. It allows us to see happiness for what it is... an emotion that is the result of an experience. We realize that we are able to ride our emotions or not.

And zazen allows us to realize that when our minds are quiet we are able to derive as much "true happiness" from all of our emotions. Sometimes it "feels good" to really experience sadness... to really experience loss or pain. When we let ourselves really experience our emotions, they don't control us anymore. we don't crave them when they subside.
But if we constantly try to achieve happiness and avoid unhappiness, then we never face our reality in the moment... we strive for some future event... and this causes suffering.
So I think it is better to accept the feelings that we have right now, moment to moment... and be with them... experience them. This is who we are right now. Don't worry about happiness. Happiness is a byproduct. Maybe it is the most enjoyable one of all, but it is still just one of many. It will come and go. And that is okay.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger me said...

Good luck Jules, that a tough situation. I hope she's not suffering from the old 'grass is greener on the other side' problem ('cause it ain't!).

And eardrum - very well written and wise comment.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words and support. I hesitated to post about this, because I needed some support, some words of sanity, and my post was more about that than an answer to K'vitsh's post. But I went ahead, because I really needed a sounding board, and rchinn72's post about a 'funk being in the air' seemed so very, very true.

K'vitsh, I hope some of the words offered here help in your situation too.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger K'vitsh said...

rchinn72: Must be. Stupid air. Re: control and outcomes being about more than you - very good advice, thank you.

cromanyak: Thanks. That’s a very good point, I think, about the focus changing once the suffering abates a bit. I certainly notice that I’m not as depressed anymore. Hey, if it worked for Leonard Cohen, why not me?

flux: How have your views changed? Again, thanks. I like what you wrote about not getting caught up in the happiness or the unhappiness. It is tricky, isn’t it? You did answer my questions, silly!

me: I own that book, but have yet to read it. Interesting quote. True, there needs to be a balance there, as well. I agree – I like how zen is helping me get out of my head, while being in it in a more realistic and beneficial way.

mikedoe: Luck or unlucky? Probably depend on your point of view. ;)

It’s never been too much, but then, I rarely sit for long enough for it to become so. I’m working my way up in increments to 20 minutes at a time, though I sit for half an hour when I go to the priory.

I like how zen deals w/ suffering, though I’ve just begun to even scratch the surface, as it were. Thanks.

dan: Striving to help others happier (as opposed to “making other happy”) does sound like a pretty good way to achieve a bit yourself. Another thing I’m finding is that, as the depression and self-loathing lifts, I have more room in my heart and my mind for others. It’s wicked cool.

not u k'vitsch of course, i know how canadians hate to be lumped together with those yanks!
Indeed! Thanks. Hee hee!
Regarding exercise, I ended up not sitting last night (tut, tut!), but went for a walk w/ a friend, then we went to a divey restaurant and had tea, cheesecake, and a good chat. Did me a world of good.

aumeye: Yes, a wonderful effect. It feels lovely to have this handy place to ask questions and get such diverse and thought-out answers.

endofthedream: I agree. Me and above mentioned friend discussed this last night. I argued that anything we do, even if it’s destructive or altruistic is ultimately about feeling better, even if it’s merely in the short term.

I like what you wrote about there being no suffering in the now. I’ll have to think about that.

jules: Aww, I’m sorry to read that. I wish you courage and whatever else you need to get through this. Any children? I wish I had something of use to offer you. I’m glad zazen’s helping.

I’m glad you wrote what you did. It garnered even more wonderful thoughts.

eardrum: I find my cravings are slowly dwindling. I’m grateful for that. Experiencing one’s emotions is more helpful than most people realize, I suspect.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger earDRUM said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger DA said...

The point of Buddhism is to end suffering, right?

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Jules said: "She feels that I'm too accepting of her as she is. She wants someone who will challenge her to be more productive in her work and more adventurous in her life. She's terminally bored with me."

Jules, you seem like a really sweet guy, and I love you for it. I'm guessing your wife fell in love with you for your sweetness, but the cruel irony of love and relationships is that often, the very characteristics that we find attractive in our mates early in a relationship are the very characteristics we find most annoying once the lust and passion slow down.

Now for a bit of sarcastic levity: You're stuck at your job because you are responsible for the entire mortgage. At the same time, your wife is "terminally bored" with you, and "wants someone who will challenge her to be more productive in her work and more adventurous in her life."

Solve all your problems by telling her that she now has the adventurous responsibility of paying at least half the mortgage ;-)

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Thanks, anatman. I can't deny that part of me is thinking the exact same thing. At the same time, deep down I know she's really hurting too. I really love her, and half of my grief is for what she's needed that I haven't been able to give her so far.

We have a pretty equitable arrangement, she does most of the housework (of which there's not a huge amount since we have no kids), I bring home enough money to pay all the bills, she has time to work on her novels during the day, and she takes technical writing/editing contracts on occasion for a little extra spending money so we can afford some fun things here and there.

I am really concerned that some of her dissatisfaction stems from things I have little control over. For example, she wants to be more motivated in her novel writing. I try to be supportive, but I usually feel like she's pushing me away. "It's not ready for you to see yet" is what I get 90% of the time that I ask to look at her work.

She's afraid I'll be too critical of her writing. The last few times I only said what I loved about it, ignoring any problems I saw. Early on with her first novel, I made the mistake of giving her an couple honest critiques identifying some flaws along with the things I loved, and she was devastated and I think she's never forgiven me for that.

I think she has legitimate reason to be unhappy, and she doesn't know what to do about it, so she's taken this path because she couldn't stand pretending anymore. I'm glad we're being honest with each other again, though I wish she had made her emotions clearer to me earlier, and I wish I had listened better to the little warnings that popped up from time to time.

I know whatever happens, we'll always be friends. But if she leaves, I'm going to miss her every single day.

I'm drawing some comfort from the teaching that we're all irreversably interconnected, and whatever happens she will always be a part of me and I of her.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Jules, that is beautiful.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

Is there anyone here not falling in love with Jules?

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Dear Jules ~

Much sadness here regarding your quandry. Trust that you will survive it and, perhaps, emerge more fulfilled afterwards (regardless of the how the situation turns out).

The vast, open, uncertain valley of what's-to-come can seem daunting, overwhelming, horribly threatening when examined in thought. When that happens, if possible, recognize that it is only thought talking, not reality.

Scary, threatening life experiences are a rich opportunity to explore the nature of thought and the world that thought creates (You wrote, "if she leaves, I'm going to miss her every single day"...you really don't know this, do you? I invite you to examine what happens to you when you entertain such thoughts.)


I strongly encourage you to pursue the joint counseling. My experience in these matters is that the wife's (or husband's) "complaints" are usually only surface issues, that other, more significant concerns need to be unearthed, viewed in the light of understanding and compassion, and finally put to rest, having seen the unreality of them or having resolved them, psychotheraputically. Until they are genuinely seen they are like the boogie man in the closet or under the bed. The strength they appear to possess to provoke fear and terror far exceeds their genuine power.

Regarding the counseling...pursue it only if there is resonance between the three of you (you, wife, and counselor). An absolutely critical component of successful counseling is this resonance, this linkage. Without it, regardless of how trained the counselor, how committed the clients, not much effective change usually happens. You need to give it a few tries before deciding whether or not the "fit" is right for you and your wife (although if you both despise the counselor after the first visit, it seems wise to seek out another person).

And you may want to seek out counseling yourself. Sometimes working on one's self, in a psychotheraputic setting, can provoke profound and deep-seated changes in all of one's relationships, the intimate as well as the more superficial. For me, it literally saved my life. Literally. (No, I wasn't suicidal.) The rewiring that occured as a result of psychotherapy turned my life and my enjoyment of life around. Dramatically. As much, if not more so, than my 20+ years of spiritual practice.

In addition, you may want to take a look-see at the latest work by Byron Katie (a nondual teacher of everyday spiritual balance). It's title is "I Need Your Love? Is That True?" You might find some insights there. Her first popular book, "Loving What Is," is also a gem. She offers a four-step process for deconstructing thought (it's called "The Work"). The Work has the potential for allowing the individual to really See how thought creates a map of the world and then takes that map to be reality when, in fact, all it is...is...thought! That is not to deny the reality of your circumstances: you love your wife, she is threatening to end your relationship, the relationship is something in which you have a deep and long-standing investment. Those things are "so." It's all the OTHER stuff that thought-emotion laddles on top of those circumstances that creates the ... yes ... suffering.

Each time a painful or threatening thought comes up surrounding this situation, you may want to question its validity, its reality. In this way, over time, you may lessen its power to wound. If you wish to pursue this further, feel free to write me, privately. I know you have my email address since I sent it to you when subscribing to this blog site.

Peace.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Aumeye: You're sweet, thanks.

eotd: You wrote, "if she leaves, I'm going to miss her every single day"...you really don't know this, do you?

Yeah, I really do, for years at least.

Regarding the counseling...pursue it only if there is resonance between the three of you (you, wife, and counselor). An absolutely critical component of successful counseling is this resonance, this linkage. Without it, regardless of how trained the counselor, how committed the clients, not much effective change usually happens.

Thanks, I think that's good advice. I've asked several people I trust for recommendations, and your advice seems to match up with what I've heard from people who have been helped by counsellors. We're going to interview at least a couple of the names we've gotten to figure out who works best for both of us.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Ryan Trusell said...

http://www.biopsychiatry.com/happiness/happyfut.html

The above address is an article entitled "The Futile Pursuit of Happiness". I read it last year and have since foisted it on almost everyone I know, most recently my little sister Keely.
(She loved it too, by the way.)
Sorry about the wife, Jules; that stuff hurts.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Jules ~

If you're up to it...

I suggested that you can't really know that should you and your wife part, you will miss her every day. You wrote, "Yeah, I really do, for years at least."

I'm genuinely curious. How do you know this?

I don't know what I will think, feel, experience, believe, or know, five minutes from now, let alone years from now.

Sure, there are thoughts which tell me "this is what you'll think, feel, experience, believe" at some future time. But they are thoughts and they are quite different from actually "knowing." Too many times I've seen the difference (thoughts says something, prognosticates some future horror, and when that future becomes now, the reality turns out to be much, much kinder).

So I am at a loss to know beyond right now. Days, weeks, months, years from now...who knows! I surely don't. I invite you to consider this.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger flux said...

K'vitsh said: How have your views changed?

As far as how my views have changed regarding Buddhism / meditation, I started with the view of using it to feel better, be a better person, be more relaxed, be happier, etc. Now I view it as helping me to not worry so much about actually achieving those things, but just being able to accept things the way they are right now. Again, it's not something I'm very good at though. My views may have changed, but my actions are still pretty habitual.

Other than that, you could pick any topic and my views have gone from one extreme to the other to something in between. I used to believe in God, then I stopped believing, and now I'm comfortable just admitting I don't know and leaving it at that. I went from believing having lots of money would solve all my problems, to believing money is bad, to seeing that money isn't a problem one way or another, it's just my own ideas about it. I've usually been able to afford every material thing I've ever wanted anyway, without a ton of money, and I still have all kinds of problems. I'm trying to work on the 84th problem :-)

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger flux said...

Bubbha, that is a really interesting article. "Miswanting" is such an appropriate word.

Also I noticed at the end of the "84th problem" article I posted the link to, it's asking "What is this?". It made me laugh because of the orange story from the other day.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger K'vitsh said...

Flux: Thanks. What's your picture of? It reminds me of ovaries. In a good way.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger oxeye said...

k'vitsh, you alway make me laugh.. :)

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger oxeye said...

in a good way..

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

I'm genuinely curious. How do you know this?

When you're in a partnership with someone for a decade or more (we were together for a while before we married), you grow accustomed to each other. You anticipate certain things. You think of each other without even realizing you're doing it. Half of your belongings were given to you by that other person. You know each other's tastes and recognize things, clothes, books, music, movies, stuff the other person would like. Places you've been together. Things you've done together. I would keep stumbling across those things, and I would miss her every time.

On the upside, we've had a very good talk tonight. There's still a long road ahead, a lot of work, and counseling, but I think I will sleep well tonight. Thank you all for your support and encouragement, it's been a long few days and I really needed it.

K'Vitsh: I do believe that's a picture of a device invented by Dr. Emmett Brown, which will let you travel in time if you happen to be travelling at 88 miles per hour.

 
At February 23, 2006, Blogger flux said...

K'vitsh said: What's your picture of? It reminds me of ovaries. In a good way.

Haha nice. Jules got it. It's what makes time travel possible. Ovaries. Is there anything they can't do?

I got it from a t-shirt .

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

of course, the flux capacitor!

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Spider63 said...

Don't ask me why, but I enjoy reading newspaper stories about some guy that got frustrated with his life and cut his balls off or did a Van Gogh and sliced off his ear.

If your life is that unhappy then do something about it. Brighten someone else's day if you can't brighten your own.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

Ovaries. Is there anything they can't do? I am still smiling, Flux!

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

Personally I think that slicing you balls or ears off (or other rash actions) is bad advice.

Jules,

I just moved house so I've only just caught up with your predicament. I really feel for you. You seem to be a sound and likeable guy and I know what it's like to be afraid that your relationship with you partner is in real danger. It feels like the bottom is falling out of your world - at the time at least.

So, I wish you all the best. I hope you can resolve things and if not I wish you the best for whatever you decide to do. Love is not about being a constant source of entertainment and novelty for the other person.

Be strong!

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Jules, you wrote, very persuasively I might add, "When you're in a partnership with someone for a decade or more (we were together for a while before we married), you grow accustomed to each other...[you'd] recognize...places you've been together. Things you've done together. I would keep stumbling across those things, and I would miss her every time."

That is surely one possible scenario. It could happen like that. Another possibility is that a breakup could occur which was so acrimonious, so unpleasant, that your affections for her would alter and that you'd be glad that she was out of your life. Seeing and recalling all those things might then produce a combination of disgust and a feeling of thankfulness that you are free of a burdensome relationship. I can appreciate that at this moment, such does not seem likely, even remotely. But it is within the realm of possibility.

What I'm pointing to is that what "will be" is a function of thought's creative imagination, founded on memory and conditioning. It is not a map for the future. Genuine freedom happens when there is an apperception of the difference between thought and Reality. As Dogen poetically wrote, "Reality is an icicle forming in fire." That "icicle" is thought, which arises and persists in infinitely brief time spans. But somehow we are driven to connect these brief time spans, link them together, and create a reality (not Reality). Buddha called this "rebirth consciousness." It is out of these "mental glue" that time arises, and along with it the illusory (but thoroughly convincing) sense of a permanent self (and others). All of that, all the joy, sorrow, misery, happiness, anger, grief, and ecstasy...all of it...happens in thought only.

And this is not to say that such is wrong or bad or delusional. It's just the way it is. Being Awake (a Buddha) doesn't end the story, dissolve the characters, disrupt the plot. Being Awake simply means that - for the most part - one is not deceived that it IS a story and the ending of the deception is also the ending of suffering.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

silently screaming. sort of.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger me said...

These comments remind me of a taoist story I heard Alan Watts tell (which I'll try to recall...):

A farmer in China wakes up to find his horse has escaped into the hills. His neighbors say "you poor man, so unlucky!" and the farmer says "maybe..."

The next day his horse reappears, followed by 7 wild horses which he encolses in his pen. His neighbors see this and declare "What a lucky man you are!" and the farmer says "maybe..."

The farmer's son tries to break these wild horses for riding and in the process is thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbors see this and express again "How unlucky you are!" but the farmer says again "maybe..."

The next day the army rolls into town to draft young men for the war. The farmer's son is not chosen because his leg is broken. And of course the neighbors and the farmer have their usual exchange...

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger K'vitsh said...

Why silently screaming? What's happened? What was deleted? I feel so lost...if only there were some magical, time-travely ovaries to help me figure it all out.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

K'vitsh: almost fell out of my chair laughing

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger karen said...

Jules, Try not to take the feelings that your wife has too personally. We all do a dance in relationship, but sometimes when one person has a beef, it's more about them than about the person they project it onto. I learned the hard way after 10 years of marriage to a person who had to have things and me, be a certain way. I did everything that was asked of me, including changing the way I dressed etc. I even worked two jobs at one time, with two little kids to raise, because that was what he wanted. I lost all sense of self. I had no idea who I really was because I kept changing my line for him. The last straw came when I found out he was seeing another woman. I asked him to leave and he quite angrily said, "Oh, I guess you wouldn't let me stay here until I decide whether I want to be with you or her." I realized at that point that I had created a monster. He really thought that I was that stupid. While I was heartbroken at first, I got over it. It took a long time, I had two kids that were hurt by this. But, I looked at it this way...Why would I WANT to be involved with someone like this? As I said before it took a long time to get to that point. The first 6 months were pure depression and a feeling of unreality. And it doesn't help to pretend that you aren't unhappy. It just takes the wound longer to heal.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Karen,
I'm sorry you had to go through that.

Boundaries are a hard thing for me too, I also tend to be really flexible in 'changing my line.' But maybe that's a good skill to have if you're sure you can trust the person you're changing your line for. She hasn't given me any reason not to trust her or to believe she doesn't have my best interests at heart. She just has really high standards.

Most of the things she's asking of me are really in my best interest. Getting more exercise (I'm about 20 lbs over where I'd like to be), getting organized, using my time more effectively, buying more flowers. Some of these can be pretty hard things to change, but they really would benefit both of us. I can do it. And more flowers (and other thoughtful stuff) are easy, so I'll start there.

Maybe if I can live up to her standards, she will too. She's already started, she's been getting some exercise lately by walking. Now she needs to start writing more. I don't know what to do about that, I don't think she would be willing to let me review all the work she does on her novel. But if she would, and I continued to avoid any criticism, that would give her some accountability for what she's accomplished every day.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger K'vitsh said...

Um, I hope no one takes offense to this, but - a writer who cannot take criticism is not a writer. If you can't take criticism about your craft, how will you improve enough to get published?

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

jules:
None of us are married to you. We all have lots of ideas but they wont't help much.

I'm divorced myself (after a similar length of time together), going through it was unpleasant.

Talk to your wife. Consider talking to a counceller together.

Sometimes it will save a marriage, sometimes it will sign the death certificate, either way you kno where you stand.

I went through councelling and over the 8 weeks or so I just got used to the fact that my wife wanted a divorce and there was no point in me trying to stop it. Not a fun way to spend my money but it did help....

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

K'vitsh said: a writer who cannot take criticism is not a writer.

She can take criticism about her writing from other people, she just can't take it from me. Too close, I think.

mikedoe said: None of us are married to you. We all have lots of ideas but they wont't help much.

Very true, but it's been really helpful to have good people around who are willing to listen. Things are looking better all the time, but I'm still planning to start counselling. Thanks again to everyone here.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

"Maybe if I can live up to her standards, she will too."

What a sad way to share lives:

each subtly coercing the other to be what they want the other to be

("If you are THIS way, THEN I'll love you and stay with you. Otherwise asta la vista...").

This is not genuine intimacy, affection, or compassion. It is a business contract: I'll give you this if you give me that. And it's manipulation, plain and simple. The stick (I'll leave you) and the carrot (I'll stay with you). this is not a foundation for a mature, stable, sane, adult relationship.

You write, "Most of the things she's asking of me are really in my best interest...buying more flowers." There's absolutely nothing wrong with buying your beloved flowers. If YOU want to. But Jules, how is it in YOUR best interest?

You need more exercise? You need to use your time more effectively? You need to get better organized? These things are YOUR business, not hers. If you're not happy with these aspects of your life, then, by all means, go about attempting to change them. But don't make the changes for someone else, not even your beloved.

They aren't her business, they are your business.

If you aim to change them in order to keep her around, that is a complete misunderstanding and sets up the stage for possible future resentments and bitterness. With such a mindset they are changes motivated by fear, not joy, constructed via threats and repercussions, not a genuine desire to change because that is what feels like the wisest action.

You wrote "some of these can be pretty hard things to change" ... not really. The change, the actual change, happens before we are even aware of it. When the appropriate course of action is Seen Clearly, there is no fighting it. It may not feel "good" initially, but it isn't hard to do because one sees it is the sane way of behaving. That's a subtle distinction, I know, but it's very, very real.

Not picking up that extra slice of pizza feels "bad" (I really want it!) but because there is a recall of how lousy I've felt in the past when I've had the third piece, it's not hard to avoid consuming it. See? There is a feeling of deprivation (the "bad" feeling part of this scenario), but the overlay is the reminder of the consequences. And there are always consequences, intended and unintended. ;-)

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Well, eotd, in spite of your bluntness I have to concede that during my darkest hours many of those same thoughts were going through my head.

But I sat with those thoughts for hours, and ultimately the conclusion I came to was that these were just thoughts, and moved me no closer to the truth of the situation.

When I look deeply at my own heart, I know I love her and she loves me, and making these changes will not only make her happier with me, it will make ME happier with me. And that's the bottom line. At least in part, she wants me to do these things because she knows I'm not really happy with myself either.

It was unfair of me to lay the "high standards" rap at her feet. I have high standards too, I just ignore them sometimes, because sometimes I'm lazy and it's easier that way.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

Jules ~ I believe what you say makes good sense. We are each responsible for ourselves, yes, but part of the beauty of a partnership is just that, we are partners in life. We make each other's business our own and vice-versa because that very act enriches us. Otherwise, we would choose solitude. Sharing our lives with others offers us so much, and to me, there is nothing wrong with honoring the person we love and adjusting some of our behaviors, if we trust that they have our best interests at heart. This last part is important, as evidenced by Karen's story. When you are confident that the one you love, truly loves you, too, then what can possibly be wrong with trying to improve things with agreed upon changes? After all, sometimes we cannot see ourselves as clearly as others can. And we also often grow complacent and lose some of the best of who we are in the process. A point I want to stress is that all of this philosophizing and analyzing and processing reality and nonreality through the zen blender, does little to heal a hurting heart in the moment. It is clear, Jules, from all that you've said about your circumstance with your marriage, that you already know what you need to do, and what is right, no matter what any of the rest of us tell you. Though I think many of your blog friends have truly been moved by your struggle, and have offered real wisdom. Your attiude is admirable and I continue to wish you clarity and good fortune on this challenging path.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Dear Jules ~

You wrote "the conclusion I came to was that these were just thoughts."

That's all there is: thought. ;-)

If you know you've experienced it, it's known as a thought. The precise, exact (unmeasureable) moment OF at which the experience occurs is the only thing which is not thought. It is Reality. But if you look closely you'll see "you" aren't there at that time. There is just "experience happening." "You" come in, a moment (or moments) later, as an afterthought and it is via thought that you "know" you've had that experience. In this phenomenal manifestation, if it is known to be, it is known as thought.


As others on this site have said, and from what I glean I agree, you are a sweet guy. A genuinely nice person. I apologize if my comments are blunt. It's how some of them come out and the intention is not to wound but to point to waking up. That is not always a comfortable thing (similar to psychotherapy).

You wrote, "When I look deeply at my own heart, I know I love her and she loves me, and making these changes will not only make her happier with me, it will make ME happier with me. And that's the bottom line."

THAT sounds like a good reason to me!


You wrote, "I have high standards too, I just ignore them sometimes, because sometimes I'm lazy and it's easier that way."

You are forgiven. :-)) Although you may not recognize the truth of the matter, Jules is not responsible for how he is. You don't "choose" laziness. It is a component, at the moment, of Jules. And it may change. You didn't ask for it. It evolved as a constituent part of the bodymind mechanism you are at this moment. We'll have to wait and see if it changes.

Consider: If Jules were really in control of his life, would it really look the way it does? be the way it is? You're really not in control. None of us is. We are the driven, not the driver.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Consider: If Jules were really in control of his life, would it really look the way it does? be the way it is? You're really not in control. None of us is. We are the driven, not the driver.

You keep bringing this up, and it plainly contradicts Zen teachings, and for that matter, reality. We control some things, other things are out of our control. We are partially responsible for everything, especially our own situations. None of us is 100% responsible, but for the most part, we are the driver. Who else?

Are you just trying to provoke? Trolling is impolite.

 
At February 24, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

Did I post that last comment? Or was it Jules? Because it could have been me, or (I am guessing) any number of us, any number of times. Well said. Sleep well tonight, Jules; you deserve it. Peace and Light ~

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

Jules:
From your fraught posts here I think you have been open and honest with yourself.

More so than I was able to at a similar time in my life.

You seem to have a clear grasp of what your life is and what you want out of a relationship and [I think] what it is your wife wants and where you are both motivated from.

That is a good place to start. Whether or not you like the starting place is irrelevent.

EOD & Jules:
I think I finally see what EOD is blabbing on about and it is in fact in line with Zen teaching (if I have understood him correctly). So I will flap a little.

This body acts and does things, instantly in each and every moment. Around 250-500ms (typically) later the Ego/I says "I am ......" but the Ego/I is always catching up on the act. It thinks it is in control but really it is [largely] a spectator. With the Ego either sleeping or out of the way what you are left with is a body that acts with no-one watching.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

With the Ego either sleeping or out of the way what you are left with is a body that acts with no-one watching.

I'm sorry, I don't think this or EOTD's words match up with anything I have been taught. Who has an uninhabited body? What is driving this body?

What happened to the teaching that all the parts of a human (skandhas) are devoid of permanence and self-identity?

All this dividing-up of body and mind and having that somehow absolve one of responsibility for one's actions seems pretty contrary to everything I've been taught.

No skandha of mine is not part of 'me.' Ego/thoughts are me, body is me, senses are me, consciousness is me, feelings are me. None of them has a self-identity that can be said to be separate from the others. And the aggregate of all of them doesn't have an independent self-identity except the illusion of the separation between 'me' and my wife and all of you lets me use this 'me' word to artificially chop off this little part of our sangha and say "I have some responsibility for my own life."

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger ryunin said...

jules, i have gone through very similar experiences, women leaving me in a very similar way

at the same time marriage conceling was part of my university program

i think i can offer some advice and explain something but it won't be very nice what i am going to say and it might hurt but it might be effective and help you so if you are willing to let me cut through some flesh with a sharp knife we might get the bullet out

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger ryunin said...

but i'd rather do it privately so please drop me a line at my e mail address myogen2003@yahoo.com if you trust me

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Jules ~

*****Time is much too pressure to expend in "just trying to provoke." If you're not interested in the dialogue, say so and I'll shut up. Believe me, I don't NEED to repeat this stuff, from different directions, over and over. This understanding is quite clear here. I thought you might find it useful; if not...

You wrote that what I've been pointing to "plainly contradicts Zen teachings, and for that matter, reality." First, there is a lot of crap out there going by "zen" teachings (see Brad on this too). Second, if there is a thought that what beens said contradicts reality, then perhaps, it hasn't been understood properly.

*****It appears that some of the participants (rot-13 and now mikedoe) do see the congruence between these things and reality.

At its heart, zen is a nondual teaching. That is, not one, not two. And, at the same time, it uses duality to communicate in words (insight can also happen in silence, in zazen). The understanding requires that one be able to hold two (apparently) contradictory things in the mind simultaneously and be able to See their concurrent validity. I know this is vague. That is what is sometimes pointed to as the "hazy moon of enlightenment."

If you want clarity on the control part, see mikedoe's last post. It's spot on.

I think part of the confusion arises when one is not clear on the perspective from which the words arise. As has been covered here extensive, zen posits two perspectives: the relative and the absolute. They are distinct and yet overlap, something like a Venn diagram in mathematics. The absolute is the nondual perspective, Unicity, Totality, the Monobloc which is Everything. Out of that, for whatever reason (one can make up all kinds of stories), a relative world of phenomenality arises. This relative world is the world of this-and-that, life-and-death, good and evil, (apparent) separation, distinction, ... as the Taoists say, "the ten thousand things" which arise from a Singularity.

Until you are able to See these two perspectives, Understand them, and Hold them, simultaneously, much of which is pointed to will either not make sense or enrage and upset. You apparently dig Brad as a "zen" teacher. I quote him, "The trick is to be able to see both sides, to hold two absolutely mutually exclusive and completely contradictory views at the very same time...Until you’re ready to hold both views, you’re better off not seeing the other side."

This business about control and responsibility...from the RELATIVE perspective it sure appears to be as you say. It is an illusion, a very powerful, convincing one. It is a belief that is well accepted in society and seems to support the functioning of society. But that is only one part of the story, and a superficial one at that. Neuroscience contradicts it. Quantum physics contradicts. The rishi sages going back 7,000 years and the zen masters and Taoist teachers who followed them point out, again and again, that what *seems* to be so, ain't, when looked at closely, honestly, and in precise detail.

You wrote, "None of us is 100% responsible, but for the most part, we are the driver. Who else?"

What you postulate is something called "soft determinism": we are partially in control. It is a fallacious point of view and one that simply doesn't accord with the facts. You inquire, "who" is the driver: what drives this relative reality is that which birthed it. Call it what you will: the Buddha-Nature, the Tao, Totality, Source, Consciousness, God. This relative reality in which we (delusionally) believe we are separate from all else and that we are the authors of our thoughts (and actions)...this entire belief system is born out of the absolute. If you think this is not in keeping with zen, look more closely. Of course you can always find contrarians. As I wrote previously, in the world of this-and-that, contrary perspectives are what make up the "horse race" of life. "It's this!" "No, idiot! It's that!" And on and on.

You wrote, "What happened to the teaching that all the parts of a human (skandhas) are devoid of permanence and self-identity?"

*****This is not what the masters taught. It's close. An approximation. But it is not what they taught. The ultimate understanding (and this is now from the absolute perspective) is that there is nothing 'real' to be devoid of permanence and self-identity. There is only flow. What is it that "flows"? Flow itself. One can't get beyond that using words. At any one moment there are apparent entities. They are, at their base, simply a manifestation of the absolute. They have no "selfness" unto themselves. Their "existence" in the relative expression persists for one moment (a time measurement of undefinably short length). Then they are gone. A moment later, a new relative entity arises. Something that Buddha called "rebirth consciousness" is the psychic glue that appears to link these moments together, constructing the appearance of a persisting world and self. It is what gives power to the lie that "the person I am now is the 'same' person I was when I began writing/reading this post." A very...powerful...and convincing...illusion.

You wrote, "All this dividing-up of body and mind and having that somehow absolve one of responsibility for one's actions seems pretty contrary to everything I've been taught."

*****It's time to leave high school Jules. Welcome to Grad school. ;-))


You wrote, "No skandha of mine is not part of 'me.' Ego/thoughts are me, body is me, senses are me, consciousness is me, feelings are me. None of them has a self-identity that can be said to be separate from the others. And the aggregate of all of them doesn't have an independent self-identity except the illusion of the separation between 'me' and my wife and all of you lets me use this 'me' word to artificially chop off this little part of our sangha and say "I have some responsibility for my own life."


*****Yes. Your words above sound right on the mark. The only thing left to See is that this 'me' you point to is an illusion constructed out of impermanence. A thing cannot be itself and not itself simultaneously. What you "are" changes, moment to moment, so where - in reality - is this "me" you point to, this "me" that is to both have control and take responsibility? It never was, but for a tiny fraction of a second. Then, with new input, new sensory information, the "me" changed, slightly. No longer the same "me." Nothing persists, Jules, beyond The Moment. In fact, impermanence is so complete that there is nothing anywhere, ever, to persist. I know it doesn't seem or feel that way, and we function in the relative world as if there is some kind of permanence. I'm not suggesting that we behave any differently. But a wise understanding of the genuine nature of phenomenality can ease, reduce, perhaps - for some bodymind mechanisms (people) - actually *END* suffering.

Why? Because having insight into the actual nature of this phenomenal construction (the relative world), can allow the apperception of the fact that it is all a produce of consciousness, that all suffering and misery is born of thought, and that thought ... is not real, in the absolute sense.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

eotd: [and I say this with respect]
I have enough technical knowledge of physiology and psychology and enough personal experience to know what the hell you were talking about. Even so,it still took me a day of contemplation to work out if you had a clue.

Your exposition is long and complicated and pointless, even though it is basically true. Understanding these things with the mind does not help in any practical way with buddhism. It can in fact get in the way because the pictures of the mind can mask reality.

Whatever I think about reality it doesn't go away. Whatever views you or I hold on it doesn't go away.

Jules is not entirely wrong and you are not entirely right.

There is something, buddha-nature, consciousness, whole-self whatever you call it that can and does act in real-time or near-realtime (+/-250ms). Knowing this does not change anything.

I can act only from the wholeness of who I am, whatever that is. Body and mind are not separate. There is only one big bag of bones here. I feel something I call consciousness that seems to reside within this bag of bones but I have no idea if that is a picture in my 'mind' or something intrinsic - like a 'soul'. The thoughts that I think I think may or may not be real.

I have no mind, I have a brain, it is part of my body. My brain extends almost to the base of my spine and then tendrils creep out from it all over my body. To say that brain (mind) and body are in any way separate is both philosophically and biologically untrue. I challenge you to live without either...

[I apologise if this looks like a rant. However many people agree with you or disagree with your views reality does not change]

_/\_

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

K'vitsh: About critique, you ain't wrong. A soft critique is worse than useless, it's an insult.

My wife is harsh, and so am I. We met doing battle over each other's writing. The things that attracted me to her: good brain, careful reading, insightful comments, and utter ruthlessness. She's brutal when she critiques stuff, and so am I. We've improved each other's work dramatically. That's a gift we've given each other.

In the rest of our lives, we're scrupulously courteous.

As for the original question, I'm no stranger to personal suffering (who is?) but I don't think zazen is much of a tool for dealing with it. Or anyway, not over the short haul.

Others will disagree.

endo said,

"It appears that some of the participants (rot-13 and now mikedoe) do see the congruence between these things and reality."

Nope! Not I, sorry, endo.

I just had to go offline for a couple of days, so our conversation was interrupted. It's okay, we'll get back to it, I'm sure. I look forward to it.

Without getting into it right now, a couple of things may be worth saying.

One, endo: Your apparent strict materialism is unassailable but unlivable. I hold that it's contrary to Buddhist orthodoxy (for lack of a better term). We'll talk.

Two, Jules: My personal take is that endo is awfully self-assured, possibly too much so, and very blunt, but is no troll.

In the evolution thread, I busted ass trying to write sane, comprehensible messages about a difficult topic. It was a lot of work. The reason I think endo's not a troll is that he did the same thing. It seemed as if he were trying to have a genuine exchange of ideas.

Time will tell.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

rot-13 ~ I agree with everything you said, except the opinion that EOTD is not a troll. I am not saying he(?) IS; I am just not convinced that he is not. Far too many of his comments are confrontational and self-serving in their tone. I appreciate your reference regarding your (you and endo) efforts to post coherent messages on the evolution blog; I just do not believe that alone is evidence of his intentions here. What scares me is, you have essentially invited eotd to take his self-indulgent diatribes even further, when he is already stepping all over the thoughtful posts of so many others. What I know is this: After reading anything eotd writes, I feel as if I was bludgeoned and beaten, instead of informed. There is a lack of compassion and comraderie in so many of his comments. He appears to see new comments as an opportunity to prove more of his own cleverness and unmatched knowledge of Zen and Buddhism, than as something interesting and valuable that somebody else has to offer. There are subtleties and undertones in the things we say here; eotd does not seem to be "hearing" them. This saddens me. Moreover, it frustrates me no end. This is MY problem, yes, but it is becoming difficult for me to keep it to myself. Additionally, I experience great trepidation every time I want to leave a comment, about anything, because I worry that I will have to face another one of eotd's "this is what you do not understand and I do," responses. Many of you may now feel anger toward me, and perhaps it is deserved; I don't know. I just know that Flapping Mouths was (for me) a lovely, stimulating place to visit, and is now, increasingly, a source of pain and discomfort. I know I am supposed to deal with my own perceptions and reactions, but I am flawed, and am having some trouble finding my strength at the moment. Ugh.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

mikedoe ~

You wrote, "Your exposition is long and complicated and pointless, even though it is basically true."

*****If I could have said it in another way (less lenghty, less complicated), I would have. Pointless? That is for each bodymind mechanism to conclude. You see no point in it. Fine. But whether or not something is pointless is a value judgment and, as such, is valuable and valid only for the individual making it.
A wise person is not too quick to discard what is not understood or initially seen to be of value.


You wrote, "Understanding these things with the mind does not help in any practical way with buddhism."

*****For some, that will certainly be so. For others, there may be pratical value. There is a spiritual path, a 'cousin' of zen, called jnana-yoga (something the Buddha is purported to have spent some time engaged in). This path engages the intellectual, challenges the mind, provokes deep, unceasing inquiry in both thought and non-thought. It can be engaged in simultaneously with zazen. The path of knowledge (jnana), of using the mind to See Through the haze of confusion has been around for more than 5,000 years. And there are two related paths: the path of devotion, bhakti; and the path of doing good deeds, karma. Each person will be drawn to the path that is most suited to its temperment. None is "better" than another. It is the fit which determines the "rightness."

Zen shares much with these three paths, borrows from them as well. Zen is taught not exclusively via zazen. It is taught via words as well (jnana). It is taught via chanting (something that is integral to the path of bhakti). And all of these paths stress that the teachings should never be accepted with close and careful examination; the truth of them (relative truth) can only be Seen when the individual puts the teachings to the test via its life and practice and zazen.

I most emphatically disagree with your contention that "understanding these things with the mind does not help in any practical way with buddhism." Such a comment is not accord how awakening can happen. Conceptual understanding is certainly not the complete story. And for some, it can produce more confusion than clarity. But for others -- those with a more intellectual bent -- it can be a useful - even essential - part of the practice.

It is simply a matter of one's inclinations (born out of the innate conditioning-in-the-moment). If a practice such as "the path of knowledge" is unappealing to you, that is perfect and is not to be questioned. You can only be drawn to what you are drawn to (although the objects towards which you are drawn may change). But it would be wise not to conclude that others don't find benefit from such a practice.

Throughout my years of meditative inquiry I've engaged in several paths while simultaneously doing zazen. Some of the paths were more resonant with me than others.

Despite your contention, there IS a point to all these words, all this writing, all this conceptual expression. Participation in these actions (reading, thinking, examining in both thought and non-thought) CAN have a distinct and profound effect on how one lives one's life. It CAN contribute, partially or wholly, to the end of suffering. Having been there, perhaps at some future moment I will be moved to explain how.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Dear aumeye ~

That was a sweet post. I'm truly sorry that the tone, content and comportment of my comments have upset you. (You might notice I've never responded to any of your posts nor directed any statements towards you. That wasn't an accident.)

I experience you as I do Jules: as a genuinely nice, caring, tender person.

Perhaps I am cut from a different cloth? Perhaps you're just not 'reading' me in the manner that I am writing me. (Perhaps I'm just an asshole? .... the jury is still out on that one.)

I see two options at this point. Either is fine with me. One, you can elect not to read anything I write since it sounds like it causes you distress. Or two, if the bulk of this group is as offended and off-put by my posts as you are, then I'll leave. I post as I see it, regardless of whether you like it or not, regardless of whether it is comforting or not. There is no aim to provide comfort; the motivation is to point to clarity (a perspective on which I do not have a monopoly; plenty of people are real clear on the things I write about).

I felt there was something to offer a collection people drawn to Brad Warner's writings ~ much of which I like and find value and validity in....that's saying that most of his insights coincide with mine :-)).

I've made errors before and will surely do so again. Joining and posting amongst this group could be one of them. It's a fixable error. Just hit the DEL key. ;-)

rot-13 commented that I am "awfully self-assured, possibly too much so, and very blunt, but is no troll." I don't disagree with that assessment. I AM self-assured. And blunt. There was not, however, any motiviation to offend or provoke disruption. I assure you that I am a better source of my intentions (to troll or not to troll) that you could be.

The motivation for being here was to serve as a contributor. Doing so seems to have involved taking issue with some of the perspectives mentioned here. That's all that motivated these posts.

And you're wrong, aumeye. You are not flawed. You are what and who you are, and, like all sentient beings, you are doing the best you can. There is no shame in that.

Peace, sista.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

eotd:
I'm sorry to reiterate but you miss my point. So I will be much more clear and concise.

By my nature I am a scientist. I have an extensive technical library and several pieces of paper that say I have a clue about several subject areas. I have done my own personal research into the areas under discussion and have it covered - I have pointed those who wish to know at the relevant research books in a previous post.

Now I will be very blunt with you.

All of this intellectual knowledge that I acquired was completely useless for practicing Buddhism. It gets in the way, seriously, big time.

What I had to do was give up all my ideas and theories and throw them in the bin. All of them. They got in the way. When I finally understood from my own experience what I was blabbing on about I shut up!

I used to have a blog called MostlyZen.blogspot.com. It contains dozens of long detailed posts expounding this theory and that theory. It made your posts look like a thing of concise beauty.

Do you know what happenned to that blog? I nuked it. All of it. My current blog Doedo.blogspot.com instead talks only about my experience and ideas that grow from that. It is almost theory free. Jules would relate to it easily from his own experience.

On this key point you are completely wrong. None of these ideas will contribute to the ending of suffering. None of them. I know. I had a lot of suffering. It didn't help. The path I took and am taking moves me away from intellectual knowledge into something else. No-ome was more surprised than me.

All my knowledge allowed me to do was to conclude that Buddhism spoke about reality and was not metaphysics.

Now, Jules is very kindly 'hosting' this form so that all are free to discuss their ideas. I was the one who laid out the basic idea for ground rules on this forum.

The key rule, rule 1 and hence the wisely chosen title of this blog is "Flapping Mouths". That makes it quite clear to all concerned that talking about Zen is pointless. Our ideas about Zen, are pointless. Whethe we agree or disagree is pointless.

Your tone is confrontational. I do not know if that is intentional but it does jar when compared with other contributors.

I know I am appearing confrontational in return. _/\_

Mike.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

eotd: Please do feel free to contribue and please continue to do so. This is an open forum. My desire was to allow everyone to contribute openly and honestly. I would not want that to stop.

My own blog points to some bloggers whom I sometimes disagree with. I still read their blogs. They still shout at me sometimes :-)

If your nature is confrontational then I guess it is us who need to get used to it. If however, you could post in a less confrontational manner then I for one would find it helpful.

I am reading almost everything that is written here and you are one of the posters that I tend to pay close attention to - with a view to learning something.

I wanted to write these things because I cannot convey emotion through this medium so you cannot see how I am interacting with you.

I want everyone here to be able to write freely from the heart about whatever they want. I want others to be able to share and respond freely. I want this to be almost like an e-sangha.

At the moment I am attending a Sangha that I picked arbitrarily. I could not even tell you which sect it is. I do know that I disagree with some of their views (less so now) and that my favourite zazen position is different to theirs. None of this matters to me. I enjoy meditating with others and I enjoy discussing buddhism.

I am a little concerned that others find the manner in which you write things inhibits them.

If you were to stop posting here I for one would be disappointed.
I really want you to keep posting.

Now I just have to laugh. I have written a post today on my own blog called "reality 101", the key message from which is that reality is what it is and I don't get to choose....

_/\_

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Aumeye, ;)

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger Liza's Pills said...

Can't we all just get along?

Sigh.

rot-13 said...

K'vitsh: About critique, you ain't wrong. A soft critique is worse than useless, it's an insult.


My best friend and I are the same way. We don't try to be cruel, but we don't pull any punches. Otherwise, there's no point. I don't want to be coddled. That way, not only do I improve, but when I write something good and someone comments as such, I know they mean it.

My wife is harsh, and so am I. We met doing battle over each other's writing. The things that attracted me to her: good brain, careful reading, insightful comments, and utter ruthlessness. She's brutal when she critiques stuff, and so am I. We've improved each other's work dramatically. That's a gift we've given each other.

Wow. I hope I meet my mate that way. ;)

As for the original question, I'm no stranger to personal suffering (who is?) but I don't think zazen is much of a tool for dealing with it. Or anyway, not over the short haul.

I am finding it helpful, actually, but I can see how it's different for everyone.

Thanks for your comments.

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger Liza's Pills said...

This is K'vitsh, by the way. I'm signed in under my radio show blog name. Sorry.

 
At February 26, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

aumeye said,

"I worry that I will have to face another one of eotd's 'this is what you do not understand and I do,' responses."

I understand, aumeye. But see, here's my problem. Remember what I said about giving blood-and-thunder critiques of people's writing? That's all about clarity: clear writing is first of all about clear thinking.

Religious discourse is the same way. The writer lays himself bare to criticism, and so does anyone who makes a religious statement.

Now here we are, sitting around discussing Zen, an exceedingly abstract philosophy. People make assertions. I tend to want to challenge them, to see whether they're solid. That's what philosophical discussion is, right?

So off I go, merrily wrangling over ideas, and what happens is that sometimes people go, "Jeez. What an asshole." I swear I don't go looking for dicksize wars, but I guess sometimes it looks like I do.

That's why I'm not rushing to judgement on endo or anyone else. Does he come off the way you say? Yep yep. But I don't know if he's the way he seems. I don't know anybody here.

 
At February 26, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

rot-13 ~ I can accept and appreciate what you are saying here. The difference, though, in my feelings about your responses, and those of EOTD, is the WAY in which you respond -- how you say what you say. He is clever, and knowledgeable, but his comments often seem unkind. His posts are sometimes confrontational, many times authoritative, and often egoism disguised as advanced awareness. In response to my comments on this thread, EOTD wrote: "You might notice I've never responded to any of your posts nor directed any statements towards you. That wasn't an accident." This is not true; he offered, what I perceived as, a callous comment regarding my efforts to not support the animal-slaughter industry. I was not trying to lecture or to even attach any Buddhist doctrine to my statements. I was merely sharing my feelings about vegetarianism, and what I do to feel okay with myself. EOTD was compelled to tell me that no matter what I THOUGHT I was doing to help, I was still a part of the thing I was trying to avoid. He even went on to suggest that I am not considering OTHER ways to be happy, which was a ridiculous extrapolation of my comments, at best. I am not saying that he does not make sense, or that he does not know what he's talking about. In fact, I am outright saying that EOTD is smarter than I am, and that he is far better educated in the ways of Zen than I am. Where he is lacking, for me, is restraint, compassion, and listening. His posts look like lectures, and I did not join this blog to be educated at every turn, by one voice: EOTD. My impression is that he did not join this blog to be a participant or a contributor, as much as he did to find another forum where he would have the opportunity to impart his boundless wisdom, whether or not it is helpful or appropriate to the tone of the thread. When Jules wanted support and caring from his community (us), EOTD instead attempted to point out to Jules all the things that were wrong in his thinking. He offered challenges instead of love. I believe there is value in some of what he writes, and the potential to bring greater awareness to many of us on the specifics of Zen teachings. It's just that the potential is lost in the telling. This blog started to evolve into the EOTD as Zen Master blog, with the rest of us acting as his students. Perhaps EOTD should consider starting his own blog where we could visit when we choose and respond when we are so moved, much like we did with Brad Warner's blog. Neither of us knows anyone else here, that's true, but we do get a feeling for another person based on what they show us. I cannot prove to you, for instance, that I am a kind and loving person. I have no desire to hurt anyone here, EOTD included, I just want to return to a feeling of a holistic group; sharing, arguing, learning, informing, caring, etc. I have no objection to criticism as a concept, I just think it needs to be self-moderated. Some posts are not conducive to a critical response when you look at them with your heart, instead of just your brain.

 
At February 26, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Dear Aumeye ~

I apologize. I forgot about that initial post to you.

I agree with you for the most part. My comments have been insensitive, callous, blunt (that's being kind to me!). They were not meant to be mean-spirited or cruel, but I can see how they could have been experienced as such. There was NEVER any intention to wound or hurt.

As I wrote in another post earlier today, with the exception of this open letter to you and the group, I will not respond to others comments unless I'm invited to. Perhaps, having been suitably rebuked by you and Jules, the tone will change.

In light of this, a few thoughts on yours (see if you perceive a difference now)...

"EOTD...He is clever, and knowledgeable, but his comments often seem unkind."

*****Acknowledged. Attempts to alter this are in motion.

"His posts are sometimes confrontational, many times authoritative, and often egoism disguised as advanced awareness."

*****I would use the word "disputational" for confrontational. I do take issue, ... dispute ... some concepts mentioned here. That will continue. Hopefully the tone won't. I don't see myself, nor do I postulate myself as an authority, except to myself. If others do, that's their doing. I'm just speaking my mind (hopefully in a more considerate, less strident, manner). As far as "egoism," ... I've got some thoughts on that which I may get to in a future post of my own.

You wrote, "he offered, what I perceived as, a callous comment regarding my efforts to not support the animal-slaughter industry......EOTD was compelled to tell me that no matter what I THOUGHT I was doing to help, I was still a part of the thing I was trying to avoid. He even went on to suggest that I am not considering OTHER ways to be happy, which was a ridiculous extrapolation of my comments, at best."

*****I agree with you. I was out of line. Way out. I apologize (again).


You wrote, "His posts look like lectures"

*****Sorry. I am aware that I tend toward the verbose, but I honestly say: If I could have said it any other way, I would have. Thoughts arise and are shared. That is all. At the same time I suspect that what you, and everyone else can do without is The Attitude. Let's see if that is no longer present.

You wrote, "It's just that the potential is lost in the telling."

*****This seems to be accurate. Good observation. I'm learnin'. And again, apologies offerred.


You wrote, "This blog started to evolve into the EOTD as Zen Master blog, with the rest of us acting as his students."

*****Not my intention, really. I'm just speaking my piece. And am always willing to learn (I thanked rot-13 twice for some insights that his writing clarified for me). And now you, Aumeye. You too are teaching something very significant. May I have the ears, heart, and yes, the innate conditioning-in-the-moment, to appreciate and apply it. Thank you.

 
At February 26, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

endofthedream ~ I am fully humbled by your response. Allow me to say a heartfelt "Thank you." And, considering all you've said here, I hope you will continue to post, invited or not, with the awareness, kindness, and (as I've said all along) intelligence you just demonstrated.

 

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