It's Not Always So
Our topic at hand is taken from a quote from the Zen master Suzuki Roshi - who indicated that the simplest definition of Buddhism (and, I would argue, life) is "It's not always so."
I was speaking with a client the other day, and she noted that she always believed that if she studied hard and worked hard, she'd be successful. After a major burn out, she's not sure what "went wrong."
All I can say is, studying hard and working hard might make you smart and rich. Neither will (necessarily) make you wise, nor successful. Unless you're looking for the kind of success that is measured in letters after you name, titles on your office door and mega-bucks in your bank account. None of which is a "bad" thing. It's just a sadness when it's the only thing.
Because the scientific method permeates Western society, there is a deep presupposition that things should be explainable and logical, and that consequences should always and reliably follow events. Because we live in a physical world that seems to follow the above rules, we make the leap that our personal or spiritual life should actually imitate science, not art. We figure that if we endlessly scrutinize and dissect our past, our relationships, our processes, we will eventually figure out "the way it is" - once and for all time. We'll discover that the world is "just so."
Often, this desire for just so-ness is couched in "people" language, as in "What do other people do?" or "What will people think?" or "Everyone knows that this is the way it is." There is this deep yearning to find the right teacher, guru, therapist, religious leader - the one who can clear it all up, for all time. Underlying this is the expectation that when I understand fully, then life will be easy, and the path will be clear.
This would explain how, so very often, we get into battles with those we love, and often those battles are nothing more than attempts to have our world-view validated. We've put so much effort into being right - to figuring it all out - that we make it difficult for ourselves to let go of all of our work. We fear the "nothingness" of letting go of our self-understandings and self-definitions. Even though they are illusions.
The way out of this particular drama is to begin to surrender the need to have the assurances of permanence - of something, anything, that is right for all time. What, then would my life be like if my goal was to be at peace, living within my own skin, feeling contentment while being present? My guess is that, in order to achieve this way of being, I would have to get to the point of accepting Suzuki's point - it's not always so. Or, to quote Stewart Wilde, "The way it is, is the way it is." Right now.
Here's a quote for you:
Consciousness cannot be confined to egocentric self-concepts. Existential reality is practical in terms of coping with the ordinary tasks of living in the world, just as Newtonian physics is practical for building bridges. However, exclusive identification with the existential self as an independent entity makes no sense in view of states of consciousness that transcend ordinary space/time limitations and operate in a reality that is more aptly described in the language of sub-atomic particles.
Frances Vaughan, The Inward Arc
The most disturbing aspect of being human, and beginning to grasp wisdom, is the stark realization of the relative unpredictability of life. Coupled with that is the realization that we are, beneath the veneer of socialization that allows us to interact, relatively different beings. We see things differently, interpret things differently, react or resist differently. We literally walk in our own universe, made up of constructs and definitions that are, in the main, unique to ourselves.
There is almost a desperation out there, as people run from pillar to post trying to discover the meaning of life, or even glimpse the meaning of their life. Rather than simply accepting the reality of themselves in this moment, they seek solidity and assurances. I find it, as an aside, interesting to watch the recent stock market melt-down. The newscasts interview talking head after talking head, and one says "We're at the bottom of the trough," while the next says "six more months to the bottom." And, of course, not a person on the planet can predict, with any certainty, what's going to happen in the market. What we do know, however, is that the market will be different tomorrow. Because "it isn't always so."
There seems to be something extremely valuable in simply showing up for whatever is going on. Often, fear keeps us from showing up. Yet, when you think about it, fear is based upon a projection forward, out of the moment, into the realm of "what could happen." Well, what could happen is not what is happening. What is happening may run the range from pleasurable to painful, and of course, because it is what is happening, you have to deal with it. Fear based fantasies projected into the future (even the immediate future) simply cause us to run away from the moment.
One of the things I notice as I practice being mindfully present, and as I am able to let go of the need to define my process (if we are busy defining the process, we are not experiencing the process - we are in our heads, playing with words again . . . and again) I find that stuff just filters through without "sticking." Often, I am hard pressed to remember a conversation or event from the day before, unless I am willing to tear myself away from the present moment.
Now, I suppose that people who don't like living in the moment, in uncertainty, in the state of non-definition, would judge that their continual self-chatter and self-definitions enriches the process of the moment. I would disagree. It seems to me that to define is to go non-present, and in non-presence I cease to have the actual experience. I am having my interpreted experience. And often, I have pre-determined what that experience is going to be, based upon faulty memories of past experiences that I judge, in my desperate need to have by life be "just so," to be true. As opposed to convenient figments of my present imagination.
Thus, if I am pre-disposed to fight with my partner, I am pre-disposed to having the fight regardless of what is actually happening in the moment. If I am pre-disposed to having sexual encounters, everyone and every situation is sexually charged. If I am pre-disposed to being sick, or being gypped by store clerks, to being hard-done-by, I will have these experiences in spades - almost drawing them to myself - and will ignore any evidence to the contrary. I will believe what I believe, no matter what is actually going on in the present moment.
We use the vehicle of Into the Centre to suggest that "simple presence and intimate contact" is often more than enough. I find, in my own process, that I can mostly hold to such as place, but also recognize that, when confronted, I tend to get right up on my high horse and want to fight back. I remind myself that, ultimately, I want to simply share who I am and how I see things, in this moment - what is true for me, right now. The piece I'm taking a while to learn is to let go of the need to have people I love agree with me. In the end, the only thing that matters is how content I am with the choices I am making.
Nothing is "so" and certainly nothing is "so" forever. Not inside of us, at our depths. Physical reality seems to be "so," - i.e. I'm going to die. But since I can't know "when," it's still a crapshoot. Maybe the goal of incarnation is to learn to ride the wave of life gently, with flexibility. Gently.
It will be how you see it - right now.
The Phoenix Business Focus
Debashis on Business
SEPARATING THE POLITICAL VS. THE PERSONAL – HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?
A while ago, I wrote a piece about how to separate the political from the personal at work. I wrote that in order to cope with stuff that was happening at work. I liked what I wrote and it sure felt good to implement what I learned. And after some time, however, I got a little concerned about the article. I re-read it and thought, "How far can this go?" I mean, Into the Centre is all about enhancing the personal and creating intimacy. And here I go, sharing an idea that takes a marked departure from this line of thinking. In other words, I could be promoting a message of: "BE CAUTIOUS." This is not good.
"How far can this go?" indeed. Too far, at times. I recognize in myself many of the blocks and barriers I utilize to keep the political separate from the personal at work. As a result of "BEING CAUTIOUS," I become increasingly isolated from other workers, my own work (and my self). And these blocks and barriers help to raise WALLS. This too, is not good. So, do I forget about separating politics from personal?
No. I don't want to toss the whole idea because I think that the real value in this is primarily to stay sane. As well, separating the personal from the political helps to keep some order in my life. And, clinically speaking, keeping some distance between the personal and political helps to maintain healthy boundaries. Ah ha!!! And there’s the difference - BOUNDARIES and WALLS. For folks who have been to Gabriola Island, B.C., to participate in Phase I at PD Seminars/Haven-by-the Sea, a whole afternoon is spent on learning about the difference between these two. We'll talk about this another time.
When I think about the personal and the political, I find that the personal is all about what is inside different people. The political is all about what is between different people. Similarly, I find that boundaries are all about what is inside different people and walls are about what is between different people. And I also find that closeness arises out of sharing what is inside different people, while distance is created when different people talk about what is between them. Understanding is also about what is inside people whereas interpretation gets in the way of what is between people. We can go on forever here and maybe one day we should. But for now, you get the idea…
The Buddha's Smile
I was listening the other day to a new Audible tape series about using your chi energy for healing yourself. I found the beginning meditation to be an interesting one. This meditation involved closing my eyes and smiling inwardly from my eyes down into the various organs in my body. I noticed an increased sense of peace and well-being inside of me.
Shortly after listening to this part of the book, we were in a restaurant with Wayne's dad. Wayne commented on one of the waitresses who served us as having the kind of smile on her face that came from within.
This led to my reflecting on living life from this place - approaching life and the people I meet with a smile from within. How would that change how I felt? How would that change the interactions with the people I meet?
I just came back from a trip to the mall to get new shoes (something I hate buying) and some groceries for supper. On the drive home, I was aware that there had been a difference in the brief interactions I had with the various sales people I had met. There was a stronger sense of being noticed as a person and having a brief interaction in a whole new place.
The difference - obviously me - a "me who was smiling from within". In the one exchange, I responded that I was wonderful when asked how I was. Later in that conversation when I minimized an experience as being okay and not great - I was gently reminded that the experience did not have to be great - it just had to be my experience. I smiled even more with that reminder.
A simple meditation that took me only a few minutes to complete and I became aware of a major shift. The timing of that meditation showing up in my life was as usual just perfect. A gentle reminder of the learning from the process I have been going through for the last couple of weeks.
When life piles up I just need to remember to be quiet for a few moments and breathe the inward smile gently through all parts of my body and allow myself to be filled with that smile. I can then approach life from that place of my inward smile radiating out. I like that.
May you find your own inward smile in your life.
© Wayne C. Allen, 2001
Karen Ann Bridge
To me, Bodywork combines physical, emotional and spiritual factors.
To experience the knots release from the muscles is to experience a release of emotions (blocked emotions, emotions that for some reason were stopped dead in their tracks.) The knots can represent anger joy or sorrow - but they need not have a label - they are just there. How much better our body functions when the knots are gone. Our energy, our chi, can flow through our bodies from head to toe, fluidly through the chakras, grounding us to the earth, yet reaching to the universe. How much easier we flow through our lives, how much easier we communicate, how much easier we can understand ourselves after Bodywork.
I have learned from Bodywork that the human body and human touch are not related to sexuality, unless you choose it to be. The comfort of being held in someone's arms, cuddling on someone's lap, or in a close embrace can be so physically, emotionally and spiritually satisfying if the judgement factor of sex (or anything else for that matter) is deleted from the equation.
Bodywork is a continuous evolution of allowing ourselves to unfold, and to unfold allows us to open ourselves to the world and all the wonderful experiences it has to offer.