our nature — Each thing we see around us is human behaviour.
I am all of it
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As human beings we have the potential to disentangle ourselves from old habits, and the potential to love and care about each other. We have the capacity to wake up and live consciously, but, you may have noticed, we also have a strong inclination to stay asleep. It’s as if we are always at a crossroad, continuously choosing which way to go. Moment by moment we can choose to go toward further clarity and happiness or toward confusion and pain.
The above quote is from Pema Chödrön’s new book, “Taking the Leap,” Chapter 1: “Feeding the Right Wolf.”
This link leads to the entire first chapter.
At night, when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.
The Logical Song — Supertramp
Today’s article will be short. Darbella and I just watched the movie, “Amazing Grace,” which tells the story of the decades long battle to end the slave trade in England. The movie is quite moving and inspiring; mostly pointing to the incredible fortitude of William Wilberforce.
I thought about the use of “us” vs. “them.” (The infamous “duality” issue.) As in, “How could those people take so long to end the slave trade?” Or, “How could ‘people’ have slaves?”
Often, clients are caught in this “duality” issue. They’ll spend an hour indignantly blasting a parent or spouse, and the theme is, “All they do is criticize.” They totally miss (separate themselves from) their own criticism of the other.
Well, here’s a flash. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ To quote Walt Kelly, creator of “Pogo,” “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Each thing we see around us is human behaviour. Our tendency to put things “out there, not me” is perhaps the most significant erroneous belief that keeps us stuck.
The key question is: will I wake up to ‘all of it,’ or will I remain asleep?
Or, as a friend recently Twittered, “I spend way too much of my life wandering thru parking lots looking for my car…” Far, far too often we are so distracted by “other things” that we forget who we are, where we are, and why we are here. As opposed to the centered, quiet awareness that comes from non-duality, and asking, “What am I?”
Waking up requires seeing the extent and depth of the pain and illness we all suffer from. It requires staring this pain in the eyes, and not blinking. Pulling the, “Well, that’s awful, but it’s not about me” is the refrain of the deeply asleep.
One of the reasons for sitting zazen (meditating) is to be present with “all of it.” As I see the deep weirdness of my thoughts and inclinations, it becomes increasingly difficult to place blame or think that they are somehow unrelated to me, and me alone. The more I sit, the more I see how the things I would rather pretend are remote from me are also a part of me.
The key is to sit with ourselves and with “the entire catastrophe.”
We begin by sitting here, owning it all, without distracting ourselves with judgements, or with “them vs. me” foolishness.
This is me, this is all a part of me, and I can fall asleep in denial and blaming, or I can “wake up and live consciously.”
If I choose to see it and stay awake, I can exercise compassion.
I like to think of compassion as being present with someone, or some situation, and simply “being there, with no agenda.” No fixing, no explaining, no distancing. Compassion is feeling your feelings, and sitting there, wide awake, anyway. No running away, dissembling, or falling asleep.
I invite you to reflect on the question asked by Supertramp. Please, tell yourself who you are. Are you awake? Will you let go of “us vs. them,” and simply be present, until all sentient beings awake?” And then, what might the world be like?