Amazing, as usual, how the pieces drift together.
I got something from The Haven, mentioning “the word of the year.” Ben and Jock started that tradition decades ago, connecting it to New Years Reflections. The idea is to meditate on your life and come up with a word that indicates your path, direction, agenda, for the year.
Then, I was reading an article in the Winter 2009 Buddhadharma magazine, called “Gautama vs the Buddha,” by Glenn Wallis.
I really liked the article, then thought about the Haven link, and decided that my word for 2010 would be
Peter’s making me a little poster as a reminder.
Anyway, I think there’s meat here for this blog, so let me touch on the article.
Here’s the summary:
If you’re looking for relief from suffering, argues Buddhist scholar and author Glenn Wallis, you won’t find it in some mythical figure named the Buddha but in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama–an ordinary person like us, who became one of the world’s most gifted spiritual teachers.
He then talks about the core of it all, and uses a Sutta to describe the process.
I will teach the destination and the path leading to the destination. Listen to what I say.
What is the destination? The eradication of infatuation, the eradication of hostility, and the eradication of delusion is what is called the destination.
And what is the path leading to the destination? Present-moment awareness directed toward the body. This awareness is what is called the path leading to the destination.
In this way, I have taught to you the destination and the path leading to the destination. That which should be done out of compassion by a caring teacher who desires the welfare of his students, I have done for you.
There are secluded places. Meditate, do not be negligent! Don’t have regrets later! This is my instruction to you.
(If you like this Sutta, I’ve whipped it up as a 8.5x11 poster, in pdf format
— right click to save the file )
All of that eradication, called the destination, is also known as Nirvana.
And, here’s an important part (and also continued in the rest of the Wallis article.)
One can see the results of how one lives by looking directly toward the body.
In other words, the body tells us what we need to know. If we are angry, sad, depressed, bored, confused, infatuated — then we are bound up in these things — in infatuation, delusion, or hostility.
If we are present, at peace, aware, open, honest, vulnerable, true to ourselves — we are unbound, and in that moment (what else is there?) we touch “all that there is.”
This ongoing process of seeing into and being with is what meditation is all about.
As we learn to see when seeing, hear when hearing, we begin to let go of our attachment — our “bound-ness” — to the causes of suffering — namely, infatuation, delusion, and hostility.
Infatuation is the same as attraction.
If I am drawn to something, if I must have something, or someone, then I have surrendered myself to the thing I am attracted to.
I’m lucky, in that I’ve never been attracted to teachers or gurus. By this I mean that while I have known quite a few, I am not infatuated.
On the other hand, I sometimes infatuate myself with people whom I think are “getting it.” I tend to want to have them get what I get, and quite annoy myself when they persist in doing it their way.
So… very… special!
When I was in training in the 80s, my supervisor wrote on my first evaluation, “Wayne always has higher expectations for his clients than they do.” I remember asking, “That’s a problem??” She replied, “You need to let them chart their own course, even if they choose to stay stuck.”
On my final evaluation, she wrote, “Wayne continues to have higher expectations for his clients than they do, and he is almost always right.”
Let me tell you, though, this propensity is not helpful.
I endlessly put in more effort than most people, and am not a fan of stagnation.
But the real problem with me is that I am infatuated with the thought of someone I care about becoming “special.”
Unbinding is letting go of my desire to make things happen. So, my personal path is learning (endlessly) to let people go —away, astray, wherever they choose. If I romanticize them, I pay the price of catching myself.
Hostility is the same as repulsion.
I do not suffer fools gladly. I still have a highly judgemental streak. And I still set myself off over what I judge to be “dumb choices made by idiots.”
Fortunately, I have learned to contain this, and tend to “go off” not all that often. Usually, I bend Darbella’s ear, while she laughs and shakes her head. Dar seldom gets her shorts in a bunch, and has difficulty (she tells me) understanding my obvious delight in winding myself up. Rather than prolong this, let me just present a photo of Dar, looking at me, mid-wind-up.
If I go to hostility, I again am putting myself out there, as opposed to in here. I am causing myself trauma, and blaming it on the behaviour of others—and their behaviour is none of my business and out of my control.
Unbinding would be seeing the situation clearly, and choosing what I can do to bring myself back to peace.
Delusion is the same as being tuned out, unaware.
Delusion is thinking that the world owes me something.
Or that, because I’m a nice person, I deserve special treatment.
Or that it’s scary out there and I have to be cautious.
Or that my job is to fix everyone else, and then it will be my turn.
Or that how I feel and what is going on for me is up for either debate or approval from others.
And on and on.
Unbinding, paradoxically, has to do with “don’t know,” with seeing simply, without a lot of drama or explanation.
I mostly don’t delude myself, although I could be deluded about that…
Present minded awareness directed toward the body is all about paying attention to the very real signs our bodies give us, signs that point to either distress or freedom. I know how I am by being aware of what I am feeling, and observing what I am thinking. Once I get this, I can unbind myself from the games I am playing, the lies I am telling myself, and the dramas I am creating, and I can be in my body, where I am, moment by moment.
Unbinding is my word for the year.
Much like untangling wool so that it is useful, unbinding ourselves from our confusions and distractions gives us the space and utility to be who we are.
Unbound. Real. Whole. Complete.
What’s your word for 2010?
How about thinking about that, and sharing in the comments section?