Thursday, November 23, 2006

dealing with the negative inside

This forum seems like a better place to post this instead of Brad's comments section, though it's really in response to his Michael Richards post, which is well worth reading.

Brad wrote: "There is a lot of stuff in your head right now that you do not even know about. Some of it is very good and some of it is intensely bad. When you do Zazen this kind of stuff starts to bubble up to the surface."

While Brad's whole post is an excellent one, I'm choosing to pull out and focus on that issue I've quoted above.

Lately, like the last five or six months, zazen has become a daily struggle. We all know that "stuff" bubbles up while we sit on the cushion, but lately it seems like everything that bubbles up in me is intensely negative. I don't like it. I don't know what to do about it, if anything. I don't know what it means, if it means anything at all, other than that my subconscious mind is a nasty place to hang out.

Back to Brad's bit I've quoted above, the part about there being bad stuff inside "that you do not even know about," how do you deal with it when you DO know about it, when, through daily practice, you DO see the bad stuff inside your own head?

Brad says there's good and bad stuff there, but right now what's bubbling up is only the bad. I don't mean bad in a Son of Sam, I-hear-voices way. More like simple negativity that appears when I sit. I'd really like to have some peppermint covered dolphins to hug, but that ain't what's inside, apparently. I wonder if all this crap is just a stage or a barrier to pass through, or whether it's something to ignore?


At November 23, 2006, Blogger PA said...

The fact that it's human nature to have 'bad' thoughts is solace to me: If it were just me then I'd start to worry.

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

". I wonder if all this crap is just a stage or a barrier to pass through, or whether it's something to ignore?"

All this crap is just part of you. If it is starting to appear in Zazen then it is because you are ready to face it.

If you were to ignore (suppress?) it then that would be a step in the wrong direction.

Just sit with it. Over time you will be able to accept that this is a part of yourself as well.

It is out of this shit that compassion also grows.

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

These 'bad' thoughts are just the thoughts that you are paying attention to at this time. There are thousands of 'good' thoughts and nonsensical thoughts that you are not noticing, because they have no special significance to you. This could be because in the past, you suppressed the 'bad' thoughts, so now that zazen has lowered your defenses, they are creeping up.

During your daily life there are an infinite number of things you could focus on at any given moment: Your hands, your feet, the sky, the ground, what you are wearing, the person in front of you, a billboard, etc. And within each of those things, there is an infinite number of things to focus on as well. Take just one sense, such as sight, and there are also an infinite number of possible aspects that you could focus on in your direct vision, not to mention your peripheral vision.

Your thoughts are like this, especially when you factor in the 'subconscious.' When sitting zazen and not controlling or focusing your thoughts, an infinite number of thoughts and combinations are swirling around in your psyche, like colors and shapes in a kaleidoscope.

The thoughts that capture your attention and cause you to notice and focus on them are somehow fascinating to you, perhaps because of a negative association ("I can't believe I am thinking these thoughts... This is not how I am!").

When you accept that they are just 'selected' thoughts from the myriad swirling wisps of smoke in your psyche, they will lose their hard edges and colorful contours and just fade back into the swirling smoke, along with all the other insignificant thoughts that you do not pay attention to.

At November 27, 2006, Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At November 27, 2006, Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...

“I'd really like to have some peppermint covered dolphins to hug”

Here is your peppermint-covered dolphin.

Love yourself.
Not the egotistical I am the king of all I see kind of love.
The love a grandmother has for a new grandchild.

Don’t spoil yourself either.
Forgive yourself and don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
Try not to judge yourself (or others) so much.
Understand everything is just the way it is right now.
It could be different soon, or not.

Sometimes this is harder to do than others. Like when all the bad things we ever did or thought come back to haunt us. Forgive yourself.


At November 28, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

Not too spam or anything, but i have a new blog post about why Buddhists stay in shitty situations for too long.
In case anyone's interested.

At December 08, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

Hey, are any of you team members on Gudo's blog? Apparently I'm not so I cant troll there anymore.


Its funny, even with the new team comments rules in effect, Jundo Cohen and Gudo are still arguing about stuff.

Makes you wonder if everything can really be blamed on Mike Cross after all.


At January 14, 2007, Blogger Zac in Virginia said...

A couple of years after I came out, I started having nightmares about going to Hell for being bisexual. Eventually, I started confronting my fear of being a sinner, and started moving on with my life.
Nowadays, for the most part, I don't worry about that anymore.
Coming out can be a very rigorous, demanding process. Even coming out to yourself asks an awful lot of introspection and soul-searching. Eventually, you have to contend with all sorts of nasty things, like fear of familial abandonment, fear of being "sinful", fear of never finding love, fear of being killed for who you are . . . but if you *don't* confront these fears and find some way to live with them, you just hold onto them and they fill you up with their ickiness.
Like Mike said, your bad things are a part of you. They are not the sum and total of you, but they are something that you'll feel a lot better about when you realize they make you no worse nor better than anybody else.
We're all child-abusing, mass-murdering, tax-cheaters inside, in a way, but we're all boddhisatvas, too, in a way.

At March 03, 2007, Blogger MudderPugger said...

Are you still out there, DB?
Are you still sitting?
Did any of these responses help you in any way?
Some of them were very good. I also have some thoughts about what you said which I’d like to throw in the bowl.
Actually, Anatman touched on some of them and it’s my guess that he was going to go there but forgot, because “good” and “bad” were in quotation marks.
It’s important to understand and to remember that good and bad are relative, subjective terms. Their value is determined on the spot, by each one of us, based on former thoughts, opinions and biases.
A whole process unfolds every time a “bad” thought arises that you have to notice and pay close attention to. First there is the thought, then there is the judging of the thought, then there is the reaction to that judging, and so on.
Try to become aware of that process in your sitting. It's very interesting to see in action, and doing so will help you very much.
What doctors call clinical depression or anxiety unfolds in this manner, through a series of thoughts, a downhill spiral.
What they fail to recogize is that process also consists of a series of decisions. What we call depression, as if it existed outside of what is “us” (or, “I”), attacking us from outside, like a virus, is actually just thinking depressing thoughts out of habit, but maybe that’s another topic....
We get lost in our thoughts because, as Anatman pointed out, we pay attention to them, we buy into them.
Thoughts/Feelings are really just smoke and mirrors, but they trick us into believing in them as being real and something not of “I”, but something happening to “I”.
I’ve heard it said that it is the mind’s nature to secrete thoughts, like the mouth secretes saliva, or the eye tears, and I like that metaphor. Sitting is learning to sit with attention kept on that flow while not getting caught up in it. Don’t worry about judging what comes up, if it’s ugly, let your attitude be one of morbid interest. Once you do this, a couple of things happen; one, you start to look forward to thoughts you used to want to avoid, and two, they happen a lot less often.
One only has to observe a group of kindergardeners interacting to see the full range of human, emotional reactionary thinking in action. Kids can be wonderful playmates, but they can also be very selfish and even relatively brutal towards one another.
It’s not your fault you have a nasty side. It’s human nature and we all share in it to varying degrees, but as most of us come to realize with adulthood, that way of thinking and behaving is not the best way of doing things, so it then becomes our lot to recognize and rise above that part of ourselves as you are in the process of doing, it seems.
Congratulations on your efforts!


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