Response (1) to 'What Keeps Us From Greatness?'
Response to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDailyEnlightenment/message/599
Response (1) to 'What Keeps Us From Greatness?'
F: I really enjoyed reading this post, as I do with all the thoughtful presentations made on TDE.
(S)hi'an: Thank you for enjoying it :-]
F: I do, however, have an opinion I'd like to share on the matter. In my experience, brute force abstinence leads only to distraction and anxiety. Instead, what I feel is needed to further progress toward perfection is the dismantling of the ego elements that drive us to engage in "immoral" activities.
S: Agree! As the root of all problems is the attachment to ego.
F: Rather than "will power," this requires bravery - the ability to recognize our deepest motivations (fear, need, and anger) and let them fill us while maintaining mindfulness. Invite them in for tea, as it were - befriend them.
S: Maybe not so much of let them fill us as in letting them escalate (out of control), but more of watching them as they rise and fall, and not necessarily responding to them in the habitual ways we do.
F: For instance, isn't a lot of "sexual misconduct" related to deep feelings of inadequacy? Smoking related to a need to escape from fear and pain? I don't mean to belittle the motivations behind any behavior, but they all have emotional foundations of some sort. Every individual's may be different, but the mechanism is the same -- emotions and feelings lurking beneath our willful awareness (stories playing on a stage we've learned to stop looking at).
S: Yes indeed. There was little room in the short article (which I try to limit to 3 paragraphs due to the fear of short attention span of readers) to explore on the roots of the problem. Ill add this as a response to the article to share with readers :-]
F: The difficult part here is that the bravery required to fully recognize deep feelings such as these is worthy of any mythical hero. It requires finding the point in your body where those emotions live and instead of covering them or "justifying" them, encouraging them to fill you -- completely. Personally, I experienced feelings of panic and terror while letting some of these emotions arise. And, it took a while to get them sitting down quietly sipping tea (yes, I'm perhaps overly fond of the tea-party analogy /8-). I was, however, surprised that the Buddha within does the rest.
Once full acknowledged, the absence of the now "resolved" feelings brought about a paradigm shift. The world looked different to me, clearer, simpler, less frightening (leaving "space" for new, deeper feelings to emerge that need to be invited in for tea, but that is the path, is it not?). I found that my need for immoral "vices" grew weaker and weaker as I traveled down this path. Substances became only a distraction from feeling good in the present moment. Desire only a now broken hook back to childhood confusions, etc. Brute force abstinence was no longer required -- I simply no longer felt the need. I guess what I'm saying is that I think Buddha was perfectly moral because he was perfectly free of unrecognized feelings and emotions, and not the other way around. Thanks again for posting such a thoughtful article on TDE!
S: Yes, in the light of mindfulness, when all our demons are seen clearly, they vanish! Its like observing and naming Rumplestiltskin. When our demons are recognised clearly, they simply cannot play tricks on us any more! Thank you for your thoughtful comments!
F: Thank-you for taking the time to reply back with such thoughtful comments. I think of these emotions as filling me because from their usual repressed state, that is what it feels like to me. They sort of rush up rather than rise and fall. I guess everyone's experience is different in this regard. BTW: I think you made the right call on the "three paragraph attention span" issue. Better to provide a bite readers are willing to take than a meal they turn away from. Great stuff, and I look forward to more!
S: The good news is, as the Buddha and fellow meditators realised, when we mindfully watch our repressed emotions surge (rise), they will eventually fall too. When we witness this mindfully without judging ourselves, we realise we dont always have to follow our emotions. It sounds simple, logical and not very fantastic, but its really a liberating realisation when you see negative emotions ebb away, while not being victimised by them :-]
F: Very well stated. I guess I struggle a little with not getting wrapped up in them (partially mindful, if that is possible). It is the only way I can coax some of the more deeply repressed feelings (mostly from a really bad sixth year of my life) to come fully out. I let them rise from my heart until they feel almost too real and painful to tolerate and then they begin to fall. I've often wondered if I'm doing something wrong by "feeling" them so much, but it does work. Afterwards, I find that I have perspective on them and that they rise and fall more easily until they ebb away. Works for me. Hey -- thanks for the great discourse. I'm a bit of a solo meditator, so it's been nice to share some thoughts with a fellow practitioner.