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When the Waters Were Changed

When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 5:51 AM
A story:

Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind without warning. At a certain date, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.

On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells ran dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving, and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity.

-Idries Shah, from Tales of the Dervishes: Teaching Stories of the Sufi Masters over the Past Thousand Years

When the Waters Were Changed: Legend repeatedly links Dhun-Nun, the Egyptian (died 860), reputed author of this tale, with at least one for of Freemasonry. He is, in any case, the earliest figure in the history of the Malamati Dervish Order, which has often been stated by Western students to have striking similarities with the craft of the Masons. Dhun-Nun, it is said, rediscovered the meaning of the Pharaonic hieroglyphics. This version is attributed to Sayed Sabir Ali-Shah, a saint of the Chishti Order, who died in 1818.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 6:23 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Now that's an interesting story.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 8:36 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I love this story and can totally understand why he drank the new water eventually. As someone who has been on the sidelines watching the world and human crowd behavior for all of his life. Suspicious of the human tendency to form a group mind around whatever topic that group or society fancy at the moment. Maybe it would just have been easier to hold the same beliefs as the majority? 

What water do we need to drink here at Dho to fit in?

It also made me think about this classic book which I haven't read but seen referenced many times with the intriguing title.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds


  • "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
  • "We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_Popular_Delusions_and_the_Madness_of_Crowds

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 8:54 AM as a reply to Jyet.
What water do we need to drink here at Dho to fit in?

Do we need to fit in?

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 9:29 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
What water do we need to drink here at Dho to fit in?

Do we need to fit in?

I don't fit in here at the DhO. And I'm one of the moderators! =D

I was feeling lonely and sad awhile back and asked a mentor, "Where do I fit in?" His reply: "You don't. And you never will." Brutal.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 9:58 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Well, Andromeda, you were the first person to reply to me when I was new here, so to me you will always be the norm. Spooky, huh?

Sad story. There is a Swedish short novel by Niklas Rådström (?) that has a very similar storyline. It’s about a man who woke up in the morning and told his wife that he had dreamt that there was no Eiffel tower. ”What Eiffel tower?”, his wife replied. ”You are still dreaming, silly, there is no Eiffel tower. You must be thinking about the statue of Liberty that Eiffel built”. And she told their friends about that time when her husband dreamt that there was an Eiffel tower, and they all laughed. For a long time the man tried to explain that he hadn’t dreamt that there was an Eiffel tower, but that there wasn’t. And they laughed, because there had never been an Eiffel tower, and it was so funny that he was still caught up in that weird dream. After a while it wasn’t funny anymore. They all thought he was nuts. And so he resigned and played along, laughing about that time when he dreamt such a convincing dream about a tower that had never existed.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 2:24 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Well, Andromeda, you were the first person to reply to me when I was new here, so to me you will always be the norm. Spooky, huh?

!!!

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 12:59 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Chris Marti:
What water do we need to drink here at Dho to fit in?

Do we need to fit in?

I don't fit in here at the DhO. And I'm one of the moderators! =D

I was feeling lonely and sad awhile back and asked a mentor, "Where do I fit in?" His reply: "You don't. And you never will." Brutal.

e komo mai, bra...

perhaps we could join a club for misfits (laughs)...

t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 1:13 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I don't know about the rest of you but I didn't develop and deepen a spiritual practice so I could fit in. It's the antithesis of fitting in, frankly, and yet it satisfies.

emoticon

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 2:12 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I don't know about the rest of you but I didn't develop and deepen a spiritual practice so I could fit in. It's the antithesis of fitting in, frankly, and yet it satisfies.

emoticon
aloha chris,

   If everyone agrees that we don't want to fit in...it's like saying that we all agree that common sense can be dispensed with. As andromeda says, "and I'm a moderator."

terry




from demello, 'the song of the bird'



DOMESTICATED REBELS

He was a difficult man. He thought differently and acted differently from the rest of us. He questioned everything. Was he a rebel or a prophet or a psychopath or a hero? "Who can tell the difference?" we said. "And who cares, anyway?"

So we socialized him. We taught him to be sensitive to public opinion and to the feelings of others. We got him to con­form. He was a comfortable person to live with now. Well adjusted. We had made him manageable and docile.

We congratulated him on having achieved self-conquest. He began to congratulate himself too. He did not see that it was we who had conquered him.



A big guy walked into the crowded room

 and yelled, '1s there a fellow by the name 

of Murphy here?" A little fellow stood up 

and said, "I'm Murphy. “



The big guy nearly killed him. He cracked 

five of his ribs, he broke his nose, he

gave him two black eyes, he flung him in

a heap on the floor. Then he stomped out.



After he had gone we were amazed to see 

the little fellow chuckling to himself

"I certainly made a fool of that guy, “ 

he was saying softly to himself, "I'm 

not Murphy! Ha, hal”




A society that domesticates its rebels has gained its peace. But it has lost its future.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 2:51 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I don't know about the rest of you but I didn't develop and deepen a spiritual practice so I could fit in. It's the antithesis of fitting in, frankly, and yet it satisfies.

emoticon

Me neither. But historically not fitting in can be a dangerous thing to do. Especially when it comes to spirituality. 

I'm grateful for friends, families, and mentors who have basically told me, "We think you're wonderful just the way you are, but you should hide like 90% of that so society doesn't shun you." Loving, but realistic. I'm lucky to have found workplaces where being a bit weird is more or less the norm and it's competence that counts. I overheard someone at work say today, "I don't think any of us could survive in a regular office with normal people." Me, with mock indignance: "Are you talking about ME?" Everbody just laughed.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 6:38 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Normality is overrated.

Now I’m tremendously curious about that 90%. emoticon

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 5:59 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

Now I’m tremendously curious about that 90%. emoticon

I really set myself up for that one, didn't I? emoticon

It is mostly just the tendency to have very intense and often unusual interests and not caring about a lot the things most people do. That combined with a sort of Teflon resistance to socialization, plus having been raised by parents with some of these traits and spending a lot of time alone especially early on in life.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 6:13 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

Now I’m tremendously curious about that 90%. emoticon

I really set myself up for that one, didn't I? emoticon

It is mostly just the tendency to have very intense and often unusual interests and not caring about a lot the things most people do. That combined with a sort of Teflon resistance to socialization, plus having been raised by parents with some of these traits and spending a lot of time alone especially early on in life.


That doesn’t sound very different from me, but there are of course lots of ways of fitting that description.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 2:51 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:

I was feeling lonely and sad awhile back and asked a mentor, "Where do I fit in?" His reply: "You don't. And you never will." Brutal.

Ah brutal honesty! I have mostly made peace with the reality of not fitting in anywhere. I can't even try to take on the group mind. Sometimes I wonder though? Could this be a step on the spiritual ladder? Drink the water and become like everybody else? At least become like everybody else within a spiritual group and take on their group mind.....

Andromeda I’m happy to hear that you have found that kind of workplaces. I’ve always hid myself to some degree at mine, painful. Slowly executing on my plan to not have to work again.

Defiantly dreaming more of being a Sage than a Mage……..

Can totally see have this could be labeled escapism.....

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 5:38 AM as a reply to Jyet.
The thought of becoming like everyone else within a spiritual group fills me with horror. Not my cup of tea. Doesn't sound like a very awake way to live. What would be the purpose of that?

The reality of not fitting in anywhere is something I've had to make my peace with again and again. I still need human connection just like everyone else and feel a strong urge to contribute to the wider world, though, so I keep working at doing that skillfully while also not submitting to conformity and groupthink. And not freaking people out too much by being overly honest at the wrong time. It's a tricky balance. I was neurodivergent from the beginning and deep spiritual practice has increased that, so I keep finding new parts of myself that don't fit in and having to integrate them.

As for workplace environments, I've worked hard over many years to be able to carve out accepting niches for myself. And I still hide a lot, more than most people--I'm a very private person anyway. But the combination of accepting environment plus having done so much work on myself in terms of communication/social skills plus spiritual practice means that it's mostly comfortable and rewarding rather than painful. Most of the time, I function as a sort of role actor and I do so joyfully. Wearing the mask of a professional persona is a good way to lose oneself, immerse oneself in experience with others, and get shit done efficiently and effectively. As Shakespeare put it, all the world's a stage. And work for me has been a very important part of practice for many reasons, not least of which that it challenges my ability to remain present under pressure. If we never put ourselves in difficult situations then we can't grow.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 5:56 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I stopped trying to fit in long ago, although I do make an effort to keep people comfortable. I find that there are ways of not fitting in that make people relax about their own ways of not fitting in, and that can be an important contribution. I enjoy talking about diversity in ways of functioning, and luckily many people around me appreciate that. I suppose the rest of them have fled away by now.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 6:02 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I stopped trying to fit in long ago, although I do make an effort to keep people comfortable. I find that there are ways of not fitting in that make people relax about their own ways of not fitting in, and that can be an important contribution. I enjoy talking about diversity in ways of functioning, and luckily many people around me appreciate that. I suppose the rest of them have fled away by now.

That's key in my experience--I try to make other people comfortable. And when you get right down to it, there's really no such thing as "normal" and everybody is weird in their own way, so working to help others feel accepted really is an important  contribution.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/27/19 6:19 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Yeah, I embrace being fabulously weird, and surprisingly there are lots of cool people who appreciate that. Then again, my notion of what is cool is probably divergent too. I see coolness in most people who are otherwise often considered awkward or who feel awkward.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:23 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yeah, I embrace being fabulously weird, and surprisingly there are lots of cool people who appreciate that. Then again, my notion of what is cool is probably divergent too. I see coolness in most people who are otherwise often considered awkward or who feel awkward.


me too
(laughs)

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 2:45 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Regarding not fitting in, having to show a public face that involves a lot of acting (particularly when doing things like being a doctor), and the like, the DhO and its forum was created due to me living in Northern Alabama, wanting to have people to discuss meditation and related topics with, being flamed off of basically all available dharma forums at the time for talking about what I am into and what I was experiencing (things like insight stages, jhanas, etc., which were seriously taboo back in the day, and still are in many circles), and realizing that I probably wasn't alone in feeling alone, and so here we all are.

I am wondering what "fitting in" even is? I often don't feel I entirely fit in here, and this is my site. I have ignored the place for months when something was going on I didn't resonate with well. I have had people try to flame me off my own forum for practices I was exploring or points of view I have expressed. People have tried to take the place over numerous times and take the forum as their own. People have tried to split the community to follow them and disparriage others who stayed, and some have been at least partially successful in this. The site has been the victim of cyber attacks at points, though it is unclear if they were random or specifically targeted.

I rarely discuss my own practice here, as it is commonly misinterpreted and a cause of distorted comparisons, projections, and judgements.

Still, it is much better than the DhO not existing, I believe, and I see no better alternative for me, and so I continue to keep the place going, and I keep getting evidence that, despite the problems, it provides a lot of good for those who appreciate what is found here and the support of this raggle taggle community of misfits and weirdos, with no disrespect to those who don't feel like a misfit or a weirdo, as there are likely some of those here also, and you should feel equally welcome! ;) 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 3:21 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Well Daniel, I will just say I think this site is amazing. Thank you.  And it is maybe THE pioneer of pragmatic dharma in the age of internet online learning.  But it must be really tough being a public founder, as people inevitably try to fit you into all kinds of pre-existing archetypes that bear little relationship to who you actually are (and I am guilty of that too).  But I hope you can take the diversity and turbulence as a sign of vibrancy, and success. At least you are avoiding the cult-like features that follow so many spiritual pioneers!

Anway, I was reading this thread ealier and I couldn't help but think of the classic scene from Monty Python's The Life of Brian.  Brian is trying to persaude the adoring crowd to leave him alone, and he cries out "Look, you are all individuals!".  And the crowd replies in perfect unison "Yes, we are all individuals!" ... except for one lone voice at the back who calls out "Er ... I'm not."

We should get that last guy on to the DhO. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 3:48 AM as a reply to curious.
We totally should.

And I agree that this is an amazing site. It’s a life saver.

And as much as I would be very interested in reading about Daniel’s own practice, I respect the decision not to share it here. Being subjected to all sorts of projections and comparisons and distorted interpretations - I can see why it sucks.

As for fitting in - I was recently recommended to join this site, as it would probably suit me, so apparently I at least fit some stereotype.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 4:20 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Oups... I think I just did the ”Er... I’m not” thing. Curious, mission accomplished. emoticon

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 5:03 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Oups... I think I just did the ”Er... I’m not” thing. Curious, mission accomplished. emoticon

Ha! Monty Python's Life of Brian, I should watch that again. I was just re-reading the internet classic What is the Monkeysphere? from Cracked.com last night and it made me laugh just as hard as years ago. We silly monkeys have it hard, misfits or not, especially when we get together in groups, even if they are just internet-based groups. Thank goodness for humor.

I'm glad this place exists, even if it is the Wild West. And it's been pretty low-drama lately which has been nice. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 6:44 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Wild west? De ja vue. This isn’t the first time I have unknowingly joined a forum that was like that and found it to be very nice and cosy.

In one forum I used to chat with a guy about how he was creating a paradise for his hamster. I thought it was so cute. It turned out that he was the dysfunctional troll that had rampaged the forum for ages. After a while, he realized that he had shown a vulnerable side, disappeared and never came back. I missed the guy.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 8:13 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yeah, I don't have a lot of patience for rampaging dysfunctional trolls. They tend to just use people as sources of narcissistic supply in various ways and generally spoil things for everyone else. They wreck communities because the people who care and can play reasonably well with others won't stick around that kind of dysfunction. I used to play a lot of online video games where you run into those sorts of people on pretty much a daily basis, but most games developed features that make it fairly easy to boot them from groups or mute them. It's trickier with internet forums.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 8:32 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
This site has not always been fun and inviting. There have been times when it was not worth the time to visit, elt alone participate. Its value has hinged most often on who is managing during Daniel's various times of being absent. That caused some of the splinters or, as shargol would say, the schisms.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 9:03 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
He didn’t use me. I deliberately led the conversation into nicer stuff. When he wrote hostile things, I ignored it, and so did everybody else at that time. When he wrote about his hamster or art, I responded. So for a while he was really nice. Then he realized it and couldn’t cope with it, so he took off, probably to a place where people reacted to his rampaging. Too bad. There was some hope for him. He wasn’t narcissistic, but he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. He never came back again. This was eight years ago or something like that. Before I came to the forum, he had been banned about 15 times and come back. I scared the poor guy off by seeing the good in him. He couldn’t take it.

Why is it that being vulnerable scares people so much? I don’t get it.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 9:39 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
He didn’t use me. I deliberately led the conversation into nicer stuff. When he wrote hostile things, I ignored it, and so did everybody else at that time. When he wrote about his hamster or art, I responded. So for a while he was really nice. Then he realized it and couldn’t cope with it, so he took off, probably to a place where people reacted to his rampaging. Too bad. There was some hope for him. He wasn’t narcissistic, but he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. He never came back again. This was eight years ago or something like that. Before I came to the forum, he had been banned about 15 times and come back. I scared the poor guy off by seeing the good in him. He couldn’t take it.

Why is it that being vulnerable scares people so much? I don’t get it.

What makes you certain the reason he left is that he was scared because you saw the good in him? "Don't feed the trolls" is pretty standard internet advice. When trolls don't get fed, they go somewhere else where they can get what they want. I'm just sayin'!

My brother-in-law has borderline personality disorder and spent years in dialectical behavior therapy learning how to manage it. Now he works in the mental health field and helps others with similar issues. We've talked a lot about personality disorders and he feels strongly that failing to set and enforce appropriate boundaries on bad behavior is harmful to everyone involved, but especially the person exhibiting the bad behavior.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 10:29 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
That’s a pattern I have seen with more people with similar behavior. After displaying vulnerability, they disappear. It’s rather predictable, sadly enough. And that IS not feeding the troll. The troll is the need for feeling invulnerable and in control.

What makes you think I don’t set appropriate boundaries? You can rest assured that I do.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 11:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
My comment wasn't about YOUR boundary setting--good to hear that you do. The point I was trying to make is that it isn't good for internet forums (or anywhere else) to let trolls rampage around with bad behavior. Sorry if that was unclear. I was thinking vaguely of the concept of "tragedy of the commons" and not you specifically.

I should say, my perspective on this has been colored by plenty of my own experiences. And I've done a fair bit of informal counseling of people who've been victimized or who are in dangerous relationships. Just this week, in fact. A big part of my spiritual path has been martial arts and I don't like seeing people acting as doormats for abuse because of their conditioning. Call it karma, if you will. My Catholic grandmother let her husband (a violent psychopathic criminal) beat her for years because her pastor told her divorce was a sin and she thought that if she loved him enough he would change. Fortunately, she did eventually leave before he killed her but she and her children were permanently scarred by the experience with devastatic consequences. Of course, there was good in him like there is good in everyone. But it would have prevented a lot of pain if she'd walked away from that bad behavior sooner.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 12:04 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Right. Thanks for clarifying! I felt that there were some ”energies” (sorry for the new agey wording) in motion between the lines but couldn’t tell what it was. If you had to deal with that so recently, I understand. That’s tough. Horrible to see.

Well, this kiddo stopped rampaging the forum altogether and started talking about his hamster, whom he loved deeply, and then he disappeared. Nobody was hurt in the process. He probably continued his rampaging somewhere else instead. I’m pretty sure ha had never had a relationship. He had been bullied as a kid and hated people. The only one he had ever trusted was his hamster, and he devoted all his time to creating a huge paradise for that hamster. That and trolling forums.

I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. That was really poor advice from the pastor. I have encouraged people to leave relationships like that, too. The last case was successful. That friend is now very happily in love with another friend of mine instead. If I saw anybody starting a relationship with that ex of hers, I would warn the person off first thing. There’s not much hope for that guy in this life, unless a miracle happens. I grew up with abuse within my family and I’m not reproducing it.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 1:37 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Dear Andromeda,

Were you to change the DhO along the lines of your vision of what it would be like if you really did feel you fit in, how would it look, in an optimal version of the world? Or, said another way, what specific needs to you dream the DhO could or should reasonably fulfill that it is not?

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 2:15 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Dear Andromeda,

Were you to change the DhO along the lines of your vision of what it would be like if you really did feel you fit in, how would it look, in an optimal version of the world? Or, said another way, what specific needs to you dream the DhO could or should reasonably fulfill that it is not?

I think the DhO is great just the way it is now. Me not fitting in anywhere is a me thing, not a DhO thing, and it isn't even a bad thing most of the time. Also, it's not like I'm the only one here not fitting in. It's the Island of Misfit Toys! 

Seriously, as long as the trolls and cults and drama are generally kept to a minimum so the focus stays on spiritual practice, I'm happy. 

Nice to see you on the forum, by the way.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 2:29 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
The Island of Misfit Toys sounds like a great name for a band.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 2:35 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
The Island of Misfit Toys sounds like a great name for a band.

Google says it already is a band!

But the movie is still better.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 2:55 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Haha!

I can’t decide if it’s sad or comforting that so many people feel like misfit toys that there is already a band with that name. Maybe it just is.

As a child, I tended to love the misfit toys more than the others.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 2:52 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Diversity is always the greatest strength!  No sustainability without diversity.

But I think the community also evolves and learns, as does western pragmatic dharma. Ideas get tried, resolutions get reached, things move on. People develop and change. Of course, the equilibrium may still be punctuated in new unexpected ways in the future. 

I wonder if there is a model for community development that is useful to apply here?

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 3:10 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Diversity is always the greatest strength!  No sustainability without diversity.

But I think the community also evolves and learns, as does western pragmatic dharma. Ideas get tried, resolutions get reached, things move on. People develop and change. Of course, the equilibrium may still be punctuated in new unexpected ways in the future. 

I wonder if there is a model for community development that is useful to apply here?

I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about diversity. 

Models for community development, hrm... I dunno. As you say, this community is evolving and learning as are the people in it, as we develop and change. Maybe that's for the best and we shouldn't try to fit it to any particular model. What do we know, anyway? The DhO is kind of like its own living organism. One of the most amazing things about this place is that it is a fantastic databank of useful stuff for serious practitioners that grows with every thread. We don't want to accidentally blow the place up and lose that.

Personally, I don't even think of myself as being a "pragmatic dharma" type, not really. A lot of people here do, but for all we know that could change in another 5 or 10 years. Who knows? I do hope the DhO will still be around, whatever happens.

I think I'm going to keep posting stories, though, because this has been a fun thread. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 4:06 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Also... Over the past couple of years, I've basically been doing off-site consulting for a meatspace spiritual community and it's one of those rare gems that is actually about waking up. And so I've seen firsthand what a delicate and precious thing that is, and how much work is required to make it happen. The Sufis apparently didn't think groups were conducive to real spiritual practice at all as they tend to degrade into either cults or a tea and cookies situation. And I think we've seen that plenty here in the West, and will continue to see more of it. I would hate for something like that to happen to the DhO. I care deeply about practice, and practice that leads to waking up--and staying awake!--in particular. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 4:47 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Also... Over the past couple of years, I've basically been doing off-site consulting for a meatspace spiritual community and it's one of those rare gems that is actually about waking up. And so I've seen firsthand what a delicate and precious thing that is, and how much work is required to make it happen. The Sufis apparently didn't think groups were conducive to real spiritual practice at all as they tend to degrade into either cults or a tea and cookies situation. And I think we've seen that plenty here in the West, and will continue to see more of it. I would hate for something like that to happen to the DhO. I care deeply about practice, and practice that leads to waking up--and staying awake!--in particular. 
aloha andromeda,

   The sufti group is essential to sufi practice. There were "hidden sufis" but being a sufi involved affilitation. Every sufi had a "sheik," the head of his "order." These were not monastic orders, as the prophet, peace be upon him, recited "there is no monkery in islam." Sufis might be married or be wanderers, but they generally embraced poverty; the typical dervish wore a patched wool cloak (sufi means wool). Sufi orders were highly organized and exclusive, for the most part. Sufi "saints" were often regarded as saints by other religions as well. Sufism predates islam, being based on neo-platonism, especially the work of plotinus as transmitted by iamblichus' syrian school. "The sufis" by idries shah is good introduction.

   The forming of a sufi group is critical to sufi practice, and alternates with periods of isolation. The spiritual dynamics of groups is in my view the real genius of sufism. Of islam, even: the greatness of islam is the absence of racism, the breaking down of the distinctions people fight over and set boundaries for. That spoonful that everyone is fighting about, where even love is doled out as if in short supply. Islam means submission (to the will of god).


terry



from "the sufis" by idries shah, pp322-324:


Almost all Sufis, at one time or another, are members of one of the Ways which are called by Western scholars "Orders," in allusion to their supposed similarity to the Christian religious orders of the middle ages. There are several very important differences between the two kinds
of organizations.

The Order, for the Sufi, is not a self-perpetuating entity with a fixed hierarchy and premises, forming a training system for the devotee. The nature of Sufism being evolutionary, it is by definition impossible for a Sufi body to take any permanent form as rigid as this. In certain places, and under individual masters, schools appear and carry out an activity designed to further the human need for completion of the individual. These schools (like that of Rumi and Data Ganj Bakhsh, for example) attract very large numbers of people who are not Moslems, although Sufi schools have always, since the rise of Islam, been presided over by people who originate in the Moslem tradition.

Again, while Sufi Orders have specific rules and set forms of dress and ritual, these are not invariable, and the extent to which the Sufi adheres to these forms is determined by his need for them, as prescribed by his master.

Some of the great Ways have detailed histories, but the tendency to divide into departments of specialization means that schools at times share each others' nominal characteristics. This is because the Way is being developed by means of an inner necessity, not piloted by the externals of its apparent organizational framework.

So secret are many of the schools that when one of the greatest of all Sufis, Hujwiri (died 1063) wrote a book dealing with Sufism and the Orders in the eleventh century, giving inside information about them, it was actually assumed by some that he had invented or concocted part of the material.

Even this development itself, contrary to what people assumed, was a part of inevitable dervish policy . Data ("dervish" in Hindi) Ganj Bakhsh (Munificent One) is the name by which Ali el-Hujwiri is known in India. Born in Ghazna (Afghanistan), he is referred to by the Sufis as "the Selected," the man chosen to make known certain facts about Sufism and Sufi organization, for the purpose of its projection in the Indian field. Although by no means the first Sufi to settle in India (he is buried in Lahore, Pakistan, and his beautiful tomb is venerated by people of all creeds), his task was to establish there by his life and works a claim that Sufism was thoroughly consistent with the principles of Islam. His importance can hardly be overemphasized. As the Christian writer John Subhan says: "Ali el-Hujwiri's tomb may still be seen in Lahore near the Bhati gate. It has been an object of veneration and a place of pilgrimage for the best part of nine hundred years. All sorts and conditions of men, kings and beggars, have resorted to it through the centuries, seeking spiritual and temporal blessings. Most of the Moslem invaders and wandering dervishes, on entering the land, made a point of paying their homage at his shrine."

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/28/19 8:30 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
There is a sweet spot, isn't there, between dispute and agreement? Some constructive flow of ideas that energises a group. It's always amazing when it emerges, even more so when it sticks around. And I take the point about pragmatic dharma. "Pragmatic" is just a construction. All there really is the dharma, and the metaphors we weave around it. (And the idea of metaphor is itself just another construction.)

Thanks for the thread Andromeda! I hope we can live up to Daniel's vision.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:22 PM as a reply to curious.
[quote=curious

I hope we can live up to Daniel's vision.]





personality cult?

rather live down...

t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 5:06 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
There is a sweet spot, isn't there, between dispute and agreement? Some constructive flow of ideas that energises a group. It's always amazing when it emerges, even more so when it sticks around. And I take the point about pragmatic dharma. "Pragmatic" is just a construction. All there really is the dharma, and the metaphors we weave around it. (And the idea of metaphor is itself just another construction.)

Thanks for the thread Andromeda! I hope we can live up to Daniel's vision.


all language is metaphor
a tree trees
a snake snakes
a real tree
a real snake
being real
is Unique

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 4:05 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Diversity is always the greatest strength!  No sustainability without diversity.

But I think the community also evolves and learns, as does western pragmatic dharma. Ideas get tried, resolutions get reached, things move on. People develop and change. Of course, the equilibrium may still be punctuated in new unexpected ways in the future. 

I wonder if there is a model for community development that is useful to apply here?


try "dhamma and development" by joanna macy, about the sarvastavadin self-help movement in sri lanka...I don't know if it would help here but wonderful things can happen when communities work together to make life better for everyone... of course, we ourselves live in a society which lives high on the hog at the expense of most of the world...we would need more emptiness, more personal poverty, to really help each other...

perhaps we can evolve and unlearn...


t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:52 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
He didn’t use me. I deliberately led the conversation into nicer stuff. When he wrote hostile things, I ignored it, and so did everybody else at that time. When he wrote about his hamster or art, I responded. So for a while he was really nice. Then he realized it and couldn’t cope with it, so he took off, probably to a place where people reacted to his rampaging. Too bad. There was some hope for him. He wasn’t narcissistic, but he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. He never came back again. This was eight years ago or something like that. Before I came to the forum, he had been banned about 15 times and come back. I scared the poor guy off by seeing the good in him. He couldn’t take it.

Why is it that being vulnerable scares people so much? I don’t get it.

What makes you certain the reason he left is that he was scared because you saw the good in him? "Don't feed the trolls" is pretty standard internet advice. When trolls don't get fed, they go somewhere else where they can get what they want. I'm just sayin'!

My brother-in-law has borderline personality disorder and spent years in dialectical behavior therapy learning how to manage it. Now he works in the mental health field and helps others with similar issues. We've talked a lot about personality disorders and he feels strongly that failing to set and enforce appropriate boundaries on bad behavior is harmful to everyone involved, but especially the person exhibiting the bad behavior.

aloha,

   It seems to me that not feeding the troll and shunning a human being are equal. I like linda's approach. People respond positively to a smile and a welcoming gesture, to interest in their hobby horses. Trolls are not happy people; like demons, beneath it all they want love, acceptance, respect and intimacy. We may have to withdraw from them for a time, but not by denying their humanity or rights.

   I think the practice of using anonymous handles leads to abuse. If people can't so easily pretend to be someone else, maybe they will take more responsibility for their behavior. This is a village, after all. 

terry



Don't imitate me -
it's as boring 
as the two halves of a melon.

~basho

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:38 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Yeah, I don't have a lot of patience for rampaging dysfunctional trolls. They tend to just use people as sources of narcissistic supply in various ways and generally spoil things for everyone else. They wreck communities because the people who care and can play reasonably well with others won't stick around that kind of dysfunction. I used to play a lot of online video games where you run into those sorts of people on pretty much a daily basis, but most games developed features that make it fairly easy to boot them from groups or mute them. It's trickier with internet forums.


dysfunctional = misfit
only a matter of degree...

"and I'm a moderator" = "and I am one of the judges who condemn and ban..." (non-moderators can only criticize and shun)

you'll know about being a misfit when you are shunned...simply "feeling like" a misfit is not enough to know, everyone without exception feels that way...the more they feel that way, the more they conform...

t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 4:33 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:
Andromeda:
Yeah, I don't have a lot of patience for rampaging dysfunctional trolls. They tend to just use people as sources of narcissistic supply in various ways and generally spoil things for everyone else. They wreck communities because the people who care and can play reasonably well with others won't stick around that kind of dysfunction. I used to play a lot of online video games where you run into those sorts of people on pretty much a daily basis, but most games developed features that make it fairly easy to boot them from groups or mute them. It's trickier with internet forums.


dysfunctional = misfit
only a matter of degree...

"and I'm a moderator" = "and I am one of the judges who condemn and ban..." (non-moderators can only criticize and shun)

you'll know about being a misfit when you are shunned...simply "feeling like" a misfit is not enough to know, everyone without exception feels that way...the more they feel that way, the more they conform...

t

You're a bit late to this conversation and it looks like you might have taken some things out of context, Terry. I'm a bit of a misfit, yes, but not dysfunctional. Actually, to be technical about it, I'm what they call "high functioning" autistic. Mostly people don't notice these days because I've spent an enormous amount of time working on my social skills, mannerisms, etc., so as to not stick out like a sore thumb and also just to make others comfortable in my presence. I've had my share of being shunned, let me tell you, but these days fortunately I'm actually quite accepted and loved and socially/professionally successful which is a wonderful thing for which I'm incredibly grateful. It still takes me a lot of effort to do a lot of things most people take for granted, though, and I won't ever really fit in. That's okay, though.

Also, in reference to your other comment about anonymous handles being ripe for abuse--this is true. But there are also very good reasons for wanting to stay anonymous on this forum (or any forum, for that matter). One of them, for me personally on the DhO, is that it allows me to feel more comfortable posting private/personal/less socially acceptable things that may help others but that I don't want to be public about. It can be normalizing for a frightened person having had a strange experience to have someone say, "Yeah, happened to me too, no big deal." And so I stay anonymous, and feel free to share things that are helpful. Also, being on the internet (especially as a woman) can be a scary experience but especially if people can find out where you live. I've been cursed and given explicit instructions for how to kill myself just in the past month, so I'll take the anonymity. It may not be ideal, but nothing in life really is.

Be well, Terry.

A

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 6:30 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
terry:
Andromeda:
Yeah, I don't have a lot of patience for rampaging dysfunctional trolls. They tend to just use people as sources of narcissistic supply in various ways and generally spoil things for everyone else. They wreck communities because the people who care and can play reasonably well with others won't stick around that kind of dysfunction. I used to play a lot of online video games where you run into those sorts of people on pretty much a daily basis, but most games developed features that make it fairly easy to boot them from groups or mute them. It's trickier with internet forums.


dysfunctional = misfit
only a matter of degree...

"and I'm a moderator" = "and I am one of the judges who condemn and ban..." (non-moderators can only criticize and shun)

you'll know about being a misfit when you are shunned...simply "feeling like" a misfit is not enough to know, everyone without exception feels that way...the more they feel that way, the more they conform...

t

You're a bit late to this conversation and it looks like you might have taken some things out of context, Terry. I'm a bit of a misfit, yes, but not dysfunctional. Actually, to be technical about it, I'm what they call "high functioning" autistic. Mostly people don't notice these days because I've spent an enormous amount of time working on my social skills, mannerisms, etc., so as to not stick out like a sore thumb and also just to make others comfortable in my presence. I've had my share of being shunned, let me tell you, but these days fortunately I'm actually quite accepted and loved and socially/professionally successful which is a wonderful thing for which I'm incredibly grateful. It still takes me a lot of effort to do a lot of things most people take for granted, though, and I won't ever really fit in. That's okay, though.

Also, in reference to your other comment about anonymous handles being ripe for abuse--this is true. But there are also very good reasons for wanting to stay anonymous on this forum (or any forum, for that matter). One of them, for me personally on the DhO, is that it allows me to feel more comfortable posting private/personal/less socially acceptable things that may help others but that I don't want to be public about. It can be normalizing for a frightened person having had a strange experience to have someone say, "Yeah, happened to me too, no big deal." And so I stay anonymous, and feel free to share things that are helpful. Also, being on the internet (especially as a woman) can be a scary experience but especially if people can find out where you live. I've been cursed and given explicit instructions for how to kill myself just in the past month, so I'll take the anonymity. It may not be ideal, but nothing in life really is.

Be well, Terry.

A

aloha andromeda,

   I didn't say you were dysfunctional. Quite the opposite: you aren't a misfit, in my view. You are, as linda says, the norm. You think "normalizing" some one is helping them. In this we could hardly disagree more.

   As for people wanting to kill you, perhaps it is some fictional "andromeda" (the judge) they want to kill and not you at all. You, my friend, are clearly a nice guy, thoughtful and compassionate, trying to do the right thing. "The moderator" symbolizes power and control. Your persona, as it were. Death to the persona, eh? You may miss it, but it isnt you, and even "you" are transient. 

   Like police, moderators are necessary for a community. Like police, being hated goes with the territory. It fits in.

   I'll take the ideal, and make my stand here. Being shunned or banned  is like being in jail: only humiliating if you deserve it. For martin luther king or nelson mandela it was an honor and  a distinction. People committed to spirituality may actively seek martyrdom. Normal people find this inconceivable.

terry

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Regarding not fitting in, having to show a public face that involves a lot of acting (particularly when doing things like being a doctor), and the like, the DhO and its forum was created due to me living in Northern Alabama, wanting to have people to discuss meditation and related topics with, being flamed off of basically all available dharma forums at the time for talking about what I am into and what I was experiencing (things like insight stages, jhanas, etc., which were seriously taboo back in the day, and still are in many circles), and realizing that I probably wasn't alone in feeling alone, and so here we all are.

I am wondering what "fitting in" even is? I often don't feel I entirely fit in here, and this is my site. I have ignored the place for months when something was going on I didn't resonate with well. I have had people try to flame me off my own forum for practices I was exploring or points of view I have expressed. People have tried to take the place over numerous times and take the forum as their own. People have tried to split the community to follow them and disparriage others who stayed, and some have been at least partially successful in this. The site has been the victim of cyber attacks at points, though it is unclear if they were random or specifically targeted.

I rarely discuss my own practice here, as it is commonly misinterpreted and a cause of distorted comparisons, projections, and judgements.

Still, it is much better than the DhO not existing, I believe, and I see no better alternative for me, and so I continue to keep the place going, and I keep getting evidence that, despite the problems, it provides a lot of good for those who appreciate what is found here and the support of this raggle taggle community of misfits and weirdos, with no disrespect to those who don't feel like a misfit or a weirdo, as there are likely some of those here also, and you should feel equally welcome! ;) 

aloha

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:27 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I stopped trying to fit in long ago, although I do make an effort to keep people comfortable. I find that there are ways of not fitting in that make people relax about their own ways of not fitting in, and that can be an important contribution. I enjoy talking about diversity in ways of functioning, and luckily many people around me appreciate that. I suppose the rest of them have fled away by now.

That's key in my experience--I try to make other people comfortable. And when you get right down to it, there's really no such thing as "normal" and everybody is weird in their own way, so working to help others feel accepted really is an important  contribution.

comfort is overrated...

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 2:53 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
The thought of becoming like everyone else within a spiritual group fills me with horror. Not my cup of tea. Doesn't sound like a very awake way to live. What would be the purpose of that?

The reality of not fitting in anywhere is something I've had to make my peace with again and again. I still need human connection just like everyone else and feel a strong urge to contribute to the wider world, though, so I keep working at doing that skillfully while also not submitting to conformity and groupthink. And not freaking people out too much by being overly honest at the wrong time. It's a tricky balance. I was neurodivergent from the beginning and deep spiritual practice has increased that, so I keep finding new parts of myself that don't fit in and having to integrate them.

As for workplace environments, I've worked hard over many years to be able to carve out accepting niches for myself. And I still hide a lot, more than most people--I'm a very private person anyway. But the combination of accepting environment plus having done so much work on myself in terms of communication/social skills plus spiritual practice means that it's mostly comfortable and rewarding rather than painful. Most of the time, I function as a sort of role actor and I do so joyfully. Wearing the mask of a professional persona is a good way to lose oneself, immerse oneself in experience with others, and get shit done efficiently and effectively. As Shakespeare put it, all the world's a stage. And work for me has been a very important part of practice for many reasons, not least of which that it challenges my ability to remain present under pressure. If we never put ourselves in difficult situations then we can't grow.

aloha andromeda,

   There is a problem with becoming the person that you act like. Act crazy and be crazy; act happy and be happy. You can be what you want to be. Unfortunately, being a designer self depends on our woefully insignificant knowledge of who that self should be, in any case a shifting target.

   Adapting oneself to others for the sake of accomplishing group goals is being a human being: we are a social species, indeed we have no identity without a group. Retaining one's individuality while cooperating with others is what spiritual practice is about.

   "Losing oneself" by means of "wearing a mask" is not only dangerous in the sense of losing one's integrity, it is a confusion with the idea of "losing oneself" in higher awareness of the oneness of all being. One may "forget oneself" in work, even in social work, and it is a major blessing. One can also adopt a persona and act a part which creates more ego and confuses one's essence as others perceive it. The difference may appear subtle, especially if one is attracted by the ease of hiding one's true feelings and pretending to feel the way others pretend to feel.

   Bob marley said,"Every day we pay the price with the rebel sacrifice/ Life is worth much more than gold." Real freedom is often expressed by walking out of situations that a spiritual person can't tolerate, even if it means deprivation. There are also situations where remaining at one's post in the face of severe pressure is the path of the spiritual person. The only way to judge is to determine which way most serves Love. 

   As you say, brother, real growth is caused by "double bind" situations in which we can see no way out but must act anyway. It is in the darkest of times that we are most truly blest. The beloved most loves the broken ones.

   
terry



from "the discourses of rumi" ("fihi ma fihi") trans arberry:


This is like what Shams said, “The other world is like a sea, and this world is foam from that sea. God desired to keep this foam in order. Therefore, He set certain people with their backs to the sea so this foam would not fall into ruin.”

A tent was pitched for a king, and he kept certain people busy constructing this tent. One says, “If I don’t make the tent-ropes how will the tent stand up?” Another says, “If I don’t make the pegs, where will they tie the ropes?” Still, everybody knows these people are servants of the king. If the weavers gave up weaving and sought to be viziers, the whole world would be naked and bare. So, they were given a joy for their craft. They are content with weaving. Therefore people were created to keep the world of foam in order, and this world was created for the Saint.

God bestows contentment and happiness on everyone in the work that is theirs, so that even if their life should last a hundred thousand years they would still find love for their work. Every day the love for their craft becomes greater, and subtle skills are born to them, which bring them infinite joy and pleasure.

Nothing exists that does not proclaim His praise.

There is one praise for the rope-maker, another for the carpenter who makes the tent-poles, another for the maker of the tent-pins, another for the weaver who weaves the cloth for the tent, another for the saints for whom the tent is made.

Now these seekers who come to us, wanting some time with us, if we say nothing they are disgusted and hurt. Yet if we say something it must be beneficial to their level of attainment. So we approach cautiously, and they leave, criticizing us, saying, “They are holding back what they know. They are hiding from us and running away.”

How should the fire run away from the cook pot? It cannot. The truth is that when we see that the vessel is weak, we draw back some distance to protect it. So, it is really the pot that runs away. Our running away is their running away. We are a mirror. If they move to run away, it appears to them in us. We run away for their sake. In a mirror people see themselves. If they see us as weary, that weariness is theirs and a reflection of their weakness. There is no room here for weariness; what use do we have for weariness?




The Chimes of Freedom

In between sundown's finish, an' midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Through the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden as the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsakened
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An' the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
In the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute
For the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chained an' cheated by pursuit
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flared
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 3:44 PM as a reply to terry.
We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, Terry. Having a professional persona is, in my opinion, the professional thing to do. It helps the people around me feel confident in my abilities. My workmates have gotten to know me more personally over the years during downtime and outside events, but when we're on the job we're focused on getting things done and helping others, with integrity. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/29/19 6:11 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, Terry. Having a professional persona is, in my opinion, the professional thing to do. It helps the people around me feel confident in my abilities. My workmates have gotten to know me more personally over the years during downtime and outside events, but when we're on the job we're focused on getting things done and helping others, with integrity. 

aloha andromeda,

   Nice to get to know you better. It takes courage to stand up. (bows)

   I struggled with this dilemma, being real vs being perceived by the average unconscious sufferer as "a professional" my entire "professional life." To complicate matters, I entirely gave up haircuts when I was discharged from the navy; to this day I have a trademark pony tail. As a medical technologist I wore a white coat and spent all day (or night, often both - for most of my career in addition to the daily grind I was on call 24hrs/day, usually for ten day stretches and getting called in to the er all too often) dealing with medical professionals and patients, doing my individual thing. I was a never miss venipuncturist and so idiosyncracies were tolerated in deference to the need for my skills. Sometimes I found my niche and my stride and life played on like a pianola. Sometimes I was less fortunate and struggled. I wanted my children to have everything and live in paradise, and to this end I clocked (not to say, "worked") 65 hours a week for one eight year stretch. They were lucky I showed up at all, and they knew it well. Nobody else would take so much call; they had one person doing the job of two, or four.

   If you live in the right-sized town, everyone is a character, and idiosyncracies, like honesty and intelligence, don't stand out so much. No one feels like they need to hide; in any case your neighbors all know you and gossip (the coconut telegraph), so there is no escape from your village reputation. Eventually you tend to act they way you are expected to act, as long as it isn't too much out of character, which they wouldn't like either. I still live in the same little town still but I spend half of my time isolated in my little cabin 100 miles away (it's a big island).

   I expect you are right in saying we disagree. My behavior tended to make what was acceptable in a professional depend more on skill and compassion and less on humbug. On the other hand, I didn't go to work with the smell of alcohol on my breath; which means, if you are on call, you can't abuse substances at all, especially ones which are detectable via the whiff test. I dressed as a professional and insisted my subordinates do so as well. I made sure my work was impeccable. I was a  professional, and my peers generally agreed. My bosses had other standards and priorities, and those I had the occasional problem with. Next to bosses, the two most difficult and demanding classes of people to deal with in stressful situations are patients and doctors; for obvious reasons.

   We all do the best we can. Whether we know it or not, we are all servants of god.

   You say, "We're focused on helping people and getting the job done, with integrity." You don't say, "We are focused on presenting a professional image." But that is what you were talking about. To me, there is a dilemma here, between being a professional and acting like one. I understand if you think this distinction obscure or even non-existent. You can argue that being a professional involves presenting a professional image. So, we can disagree. To me all this professional and social work is grist for the spiritual mill. If we pursue wealth and a reputation for being a good professional, our spiritual life will justly suffer. Such suffering may be what is needed for our spiritual development. Some face the sea, some face the foam.

terry



The squid-seller's call
mingles with the voice
of the cuckoo.

~basho

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 5:11 AM as a reply to terry.
A dilemma between being a professional and acting like one: for me, in my profession, they are one and the same. I work with the public and need to establish trust and rapport in seconds, and so I start with clear intentions making sure there is nothing that gets in the way of that as my ability to help effectively depends on it. To be is to act and there is no separation. I think of it as embodying archetypes and shifting fluidly between then.

To bring it back to practice, I've been looking at things through the lens of something I learned from Ken McLeod's writing on the four ways of working (ecstasy, power, compassion, insight) but which you can also see in the archetype framework described in the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, and Angeles Arrien's book on shamanismThe Four-Fold Way, and the brahma viharas. They are more or less the same things and there seems to be something universal going on here.

Just to give an example of how things might play out using this framework--I start by immediately open into the senses, visually, emotionally, energetically (ecstatic/lovingkindness), then see the entire situation clearly, with equanimity (insight), then letting go of all agenda and seeing what needs to be done (compassion), then actually doing what needs to be done using power (presence in action) which is intrinsically joyous. This is how I get my flow on at work, which is absolutely a form of spiritual practice. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 3:07 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
A dilemma between being a professional and acting like one: for me, in my profession, they are one and the same. I work with the public and need to establish trust and rapport in seconds, and so I start with clear intentions making sure there is nothing that gets in the way of that as my ability to help effectively depends on it. To be is to act and there is no separation. I think of it as embodying archetypes and shifting fluidly between then.

To bring it back to practice, I've been looking at things through the lens of something I learned from Ken McLeod's writing on the four ways of working (ecstasy, power, compassion, insight) but which you can also see in the archetype framework described in the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, and Angeles Arrien's book on shamanismThe Four-Fold Way, and the brahma viharas. They are more or less the same things and there seems to be something universal going on here.

Just to give an example of how things might play out using this framework--I start by immediately open into the senses, visually, emotionally, energetically (ecstatic/lovingkindness), then see the entire situation clearly, with equanimity (insight), then letting go of all agenda and seeing what needs to be done (compassion), then actually doing what needs to be done using power (presence in action) which is intrinsically joyous. This is how I get my flow on at work, which is absolutely a form of spiritual practice. 

if to be is to act, there is no actor, and certainly no persona...which renders the discussion moot (works for me)...

so to say: my act is my self...to play hamlet is to be hamlet (all the world's a stage) (the play's the thing)

I agree there is no real distinction; my point exactly...we are unique/Unique

our depths are unfathomed...

integrity is being one, individual,
spontaneous, innocent, sincere

(I found all that stuffy professionalism humorless and stifling; sometimes all the air was sucked from the room; you have to laugh or you go crazy)


t



from "tales of the dervishes," idries shah:



SUCH was the repute of Abdul Qadir that mystics of all persuasions used to throng to his reception hall, and the utmost decorum and consideration for the traditional manners uniformly prevailed. These pious men arranged themselves in order of precedence, of age and according to the repute which their teachers had enjoyed and their own precedence in their own communities.

Yet they vied with one another for the attention of the Sultan of the Teachers, Abdul Qadir. His manners were impeccable, and nobody of low intelligence or lack of training was seen at these assemblies.

One day, however, the three sheiks of Khorasan, Iraq and Egypt came to the Dargah, guided by three illiterate muleteers. Their journey from Mecca, where they had been on a pilgrimage, had been plagued by the inelegance and caperings of these men. When they saw the assembly of the Sheikh they were made as happy to think of their release from their companions, as they were by their desire to glimpse the Great Sheikh.

Contrary to the usual practice, the Sheikh came out to meet them. No sign passed between him and the muleteers. Later that night, however, finding their way to their quarters, the three sheikhs glimpsed by accident the Sheikh saying goodnight to the muleteers. As they respectfully left his room, he kissed their hands. The sheikhs were astonished, and realized that these three, and not they, were hidden sheikhs of the dervishes. They followed the muleteers and tried to start a conversation. But the chief muleteer only said: 'Get back to your prayers and mumblings, sheikhs, with your Sufism and your search for truth which has plagued us during thirty-six days' travel. We are simple muleteers and want nothing of that.'

Thus is the difference between the hidden Sufis and the superficial ones.


The Jewish Encyclopedia and such authorities upon the Hasidic mystics as Martin Buber have noted the affinity between this school and the Spanish Sufis, as far as chronology and similarity of teaching is concerned.

This tale, attributed to the Sufi, Abdul-Qadir of Gilan (1077-1166), is also found ascribed to the life of Hasid Rabbi Elimelech (who died in 1809).

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 7:52 AM as a reply to terry.
Good to hear from another fabulously weird person. emoticon I’d like to clarify, though, that I didn't say that Andromeda was the norm, only that she was for me. I wouldn’t recognize the majority norm if it were clinging to my nose, quite frankly. I have a hunch that it might be something boring, and Andromeda is definitely not boring.

I’m also autistic and I have to be fairly professional at work, as a researcher and teacher. Somebody who isn’t autistic has no clue as to how much adaption is required just to function in this world that is totally constructed for the benefit of majority brains. I have autistic friends who get checked out by the police regularly just because their gaze differs from what is normal. It’s just not safe not to adapt, unfortunately. People are afraid of the unfamiliar, and from fear to hate is merely a short step. There are parents to autistic people writing books and doing films and photography exhibitions about the ”great tragedy” that stroke the family as their autistic child was born. Some of them make public statements about how disgusted they are by the fact that their autistic child may have a sex life some day, and so they fantasize about sterilizing their child by force. There are even parents who give chlorine anemas to their children because they believe that will ”cure” them from who they are. I could write a whole book, or a few, about all these things; this was nothing. So telling an autistic person that she is wrong to adapt is not very helpful, although I believe you meant well.

On the other hand, telling us that we need to adapt more is often directly harmful. So many people do that and fail to acknowledge the huge amount of effort we are already making. I appreciate that you didn’t do that. I really wish it were safe not to adapt at all. I’m lucky insofar as I have found contexts where I can skip much of the adaption. Many autistic people are not so lucky. In that regard, I agree that comfort is overrated. Maybe the two of you are talking about different kinds of comfort, though. Caring about people’s wellbeing is always a good idea, I think, but it can be done in different ways.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 3:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Good to hear from another fabulously weird person. emoticon I’d like to clarify, though, that I didn't say that Andromeda was the norm, only that she was for me. I wouldn’t recognize the majority norm if it were clinging to my nose, quite frankly. I have a hunch that it might be something boring, and Andromeda is definitely not boring.

I’m also autistic and I have to be fairly professional at work, as a researcher and teacher. Somebody who isn’t autistic has no clue as to how much adaption is required just to function in this world that is totally constructed for the benefit of majority brains. I have autistic friends who get checked out by the police regularly just because their gaze differs from what is normal. It’s just not safe not to adapt, unfortunately. People are afraid of the unfamiliar, and from fear to hate is merely a short step. There are parents to autistic people writing books and doing films and photography exhibitions about the ”great tragedy” that stroke the family as their autistic child was born. Some of them make public statements about how disgusted they are by the fact that their autistic child may have a sex life some day, and so they fantasize about sterilizing their child by force. There are even parents who give chlorine anemas to their children because they believe that will ”cure” them from who they are. I could write a whole book, or a few, about all these things; this was nothing. So telling an autistic person that she is wrong to adapt is not very helpful, although I believe you meant well.

On the other hand, telling us that we need to adapt more is often directly harmful. So many people do that and fail to acknowledge the huge amount of effort we are already making. I appreciate that you didn’t do that. I really wish it were safe not to adapt at all. I’m lucky insofar as I have found contexts where I can skip much of the adaption. Many autistic people are not so lucky. In that regard, I agree that comfort is overrated. Maybe the two of you are talking about different kinds of comfort, though. Caring about people’s wellbeing is always a good idea, I think, but it can be done in different ways.

aloha linda,

   My younger son is subclinically autistic, and clearly not so high functioning as you and andromeda. He would certainly not post messages; I can barely get 100 words per day out of him, and even then at times you want to tell him to shut up. Lucky for him - and his parents, as he lived with us until he was thirty - he has an understanding, supportive wife and her two chidren are as sweet as they come.

   I totally understand how someone who identifies with being autistic feels that being normal is a healthy goal. I was brought up in suburban long island, in the shadow of the big apple. New yorkers either passionately want to be normal or equally passionately want to be abnormal. I was amazed when I moved west to see dresses that were identical on the rack at stores. You would never see that in new york: no women would be caught dead in a dress that might closely resemble another woman's.

   Helping a child or a mentally handicapped person function more smoothly in society when they are having trouble coping is kind and compassionate, our very brahmaviharas in action. Helping a person in authority feel good about exercising that authority is something else again.

   I know some very seriously autistic people as well - one I work with every week -  and accepting that they don't relate normally and want to be regarded as fully functional participants in the life of the community anyway helps more than "normalizing' them, which they usually find traumatic. I find treating people as equals regardless of differences leads more quickly to mutual respect than any sort of handling. 

   Telling people what to do is not generally appreciated, especially if it is unsolicited. No doubt you've noticed. (smile)


terry

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 2:36 PM as a reply to Jyet.
Elias Canetti, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote a book called Crowds and Power. A short excerpt with lots of snips from the chapter Domestication of Crowds in the World Religions:
Religions whose claims to universality have been acknowledged very soon change the accent of their appeal. In the beginning their aim is to reach all who can be reached and won. The crowd the envisage is universal; every single soul counts and every soul shall be theirs. But the fight they have to sustain leads gradually to a kind of hidden respect for adversaries whose institutions are laready in existence. They see how difficult it is to hold one's ground; institutions which offer solidarity and permanence seem more and more important to them. Stimulated by those of their adversaries, they make great efforts to introduce institutions of their own, and these, if they succeed, grow in importance with time. The dead weight of institutions, which have a life of their own, then gradually tames the impetus of the original appeal... A sense of the treacherousness of the crowd is, so to speak, in the blood of all the historical world religions... The stories of mass conversions appear miraculous to them, and so they are. In the heretical movements which the churches fear and persecute, the same kind of miracle turns against themselves and the injuries thus inflicted on their bodies are painful and unforgettable... What they want in contrast to this is an obsequious flock, It is customary to regard the faithful as sheep and to praise them for their submissiveness.

In another chapter he describes four traits of the crowd:
1. The crowd always wants to grow.
2. Within the crowd there is equality.
3. The crowd loves density.
4. The crowd needs a direction.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 9:08 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Don't miss your daily practice! emoticon

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/26/19 12:50 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
A story:

Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind without warning. At a certain date, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.

On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells ran dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving, and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity.

-Idries Shah, from Tales of the Dervishes: Teaching Stories of the Sufi Masters over the Past Thousand Years

When the Waters Were Changed: Legend repeatedly links Dhun-Nun, the Egyptian (died 860), reputed author of this tale, with at least one for of Freemasonry. He is, in any case, the earliest figure in the history of the Malamati Dervish Order, which has often been stated by Western students to have striking similarities with the craft of the Masons. Dhun-Nun, it is said, rediscovered the meaning of the Pharaonic hieroglyphics. This version is attributed to Sayed Sabir Ali-Shah, a saint of the Chishti Order, who died in 1818.


(big smile)

I never forget a story...

t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 5:30 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
My thoughts on this story, now that it's generated some interesting and unexpected discussion: I found it disturbing but compelling.

Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

But we can learn to be at peace with loneliness, just as we can with any other pain of living. It is our relationship to it that can be problematic. If we are poisoned with aversion, we may become angry, bitter, hostile misanthropes with a superiority complex. Or we could experience it with neediness and grasping, or try to cover it up with substances or fill the void with vacuous entertainment or food or workaholism. When we do not see loneliness clearly for what it is, we may make terrible decisions ranging from internet trolling to ill-chosen friends and lovers.

So to me, the moral of this story is to practice well, and to be especially on guard for reactivity when emotional/social needs aren't being met. A potent reminder and warning for those with a deep commitment to God or whatever label one might put on the source of cosmic mystery.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 6:38 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

My experience has been that my spiritual practice caused me to relate better to others - peers, family, random strangers. I believe this has come from an opening to my own foibles, weirdness, emotional excess and bad habits. The practice itself takes place in quiet, lonely places but it has led to the opening of interpersonal doors and deeper, more meaningful relationships. Maybe this makes me a weird practitioner!

I did like the story but was saddened by this:  "Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity."

Why can't holding the different views our practice brings us be considered sanity? Can we be spiritually adept and still be "sane?" I think so. In fact, more so.


RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 7:02 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

My experience has been that my spiritual practice caused me to relate better to others - peers, family, random strangers. I believe this has come from an opening to my own foibles, weirdness, emotional excess and bad habits. The practice itself takes place in quiet, lonely places but it has led to the opening of interpersonal doors and deeper, more meaningful relationships. Maybe this makes me a weird practitioner!

I did like the story but was saddened by this:  "Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity."

Why can't holding the different views our practice brings us be considered sanity? Can we be spiritually adept and still be "sane?" I think so. In fact, more so.


My own experience has been very similar to yours, Chris, in that is has done all those things in terms of relating to others. I do think that we can be spiritually adept and "sane," and hopefully this is exactly what happens. And yet, I still sometimes experience loneliness (although fortunately much less often than earlier in life). Awakening is no cure for this, and I certainly would say that one can be both lonely and quite sane. But we can never, ever take that sanity for granted. I don't believe there is any enlightened retirement where we can just stop practicing--we must continue with a full engagement of attention, moment-to-moment, for the rest of our lives no matter how far along we get. Continually refining an art form, not completing a course of therapy. This is how I look at it.

Not only are we always human with the capacity for error, but as we go along the stakes just get higher if we err. How many teacher scandals have at their root loneliness? 

And I think certain forms of spirituality are very commonly viewed as less socially acceptable by maintream society--even "insane" to some, although fortunately we have religious protections unlike in the past. I started practice at age 12 with meditations learned from a book on witchcraft in a place where that was viewed as weird. And my practice has always been syncretistic, which is in itself weird. And I get up every morning at about 3am to practice, which is weird to most people. Sane? I think so, very. But most people I know with similar practice histories learn quickly to keep it to themselves unless in like-minded company. "Sanity" means very different things to different people. I think watching reality TV is insane, but I've learned to respect that for many it is a valid form of entertainment. It is what it is.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 8:07 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
And I think certain forms of spirituality are very commonly viewed as less socially acceptable by maintream society--even "insane" to some, although fortunately we have religious protections unlike in the past. I started practice at age 12 with meditations learned from a book on witchcraft in a place where that was viewed as weird. And my practice has always been syncretistic, which is in itself weird. And I get up every morning at about 3am to practice, which is weird to most people. Sane? I think so, very. But most people I know with similar practice histories learn quickly to keep it to themselves unless in like-minded company. "Sanity" means very different things to different people. I think watching reality TV is insane, but I've learned to respect that for many it is a valid form of entertainment. It is what it is.

When I used the word "sanity" I didn't mean it not to cover things like getting up early to practice meditation. That's not insane under any definition of the word. It's not "normal" but "normal" has no meaning in this context as far as I can see. Weird is not insane. Abnormal is not insane. I've kept my practice quiet and hidden from most of the people in my life. I think that's basically a sane strategy to adopt. Practice doesn't make me insane, however, although some people would probably say it's weird.

Sanity has a far broader definition, at least to me, than we typically give it credit for. I don't think to have a spiritual practice avoids the definition. Again, I believe it helps to make us more sane, not less.


RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 4:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
And I think certain forms of spirituality are very commonly viewed as less socially acceptable by maintream society--even "insane" to some, although fortunately we have religious protections unlike in the past. I started practice at age 12 with meditations learned from a book on witchcraft in a place where that was viewed as weird. And my practice has always been syncretistic, which is in itself weird. And I get up every morning at about 3am to practice, which is weird to most people. Sane? I think so, very. But most people I know with similar practice histories learn quickly to keep it to themselves unless in like-minded company. "Sanity" means very different things to different people. I think watching reality TV is insane, but I've learned to respect that for many it is a valid form of entertainment. It is what it is.

When I used the word "sanity" I didn't mean it not to cover things like getting up early to practice meditation. That's not insane under any definition of the word. It's not "normal" but "normal" has no meaning in this context as far as I can see. Weird is not insane. Abnormal is not insane. I've kept my practice quiet and hidden from most of the people in my life. I think that's basically a sane strategy to adopt. Practice doesn't make me insane, however, although some people would probably say it's weird.

Sanity has a far broader definition, at least to me, than we typically give it credit for. I don't think to have a spiritual practice avoids the definition. Again, I believe it helps to make us more sane, not less.


    If you want to define sanity clinically, well then: charlie manson was sane. Weird and abnormal - "crazy" - though he was. Criminally, jurisprudence has generally followed the m'naughton rule: if you know what you are doing is wrong, you are sane. Then there is catch 22: it can be sane to be crazy, when things get crazy enough. The head of the er in one hospital I worked at had a sign above her desk (which fit her to a t): "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." 

t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 6:39 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
And I think certain forms of spirituality are very commonly viewed as less socially acceptable by maintream society--even "insane" to some, although fortunately we have religious protections unlike in the past. I started practice at age 12 with meditations learned from a book on witchcraft in a place where that was viewed as weird. And my practice has always been syncretistic, which is in itself weird. And I get up every morning at about 3am to practice, which is weird to most people. Sane? I think so, very. But most people I know with similar practice histories learn quickly to keep it to themselves unless in like-minded company. "Sanity" means very different things to different people. I think watching reality TV is insane, but I've learned to respect that for many it is a valid form of entertainment. It is what it is.

When I used the word "sanity" I didn't mean it not to cover things like getting up early to practice meditation. That's not insane under any definition of the word. It's not "normal" but "normal" has no meaning in this context as far as I can see. Weird is not insane. Abnormal is not insane. I've kept my practice quiet and hidden from most of the people in my life. I think that's basically a sane strategy to adopt. Practice doesn't make me insane, however, although some people would probably say it's weird.

Sanity has a far broader definition, at least to me, than we typically give it credit for. I don't think to have a spiritual practice avoids the definition. Again, I believe it helps to make us more sane, not less.


I suppose the word "sanity" is too loaded for use in spiritual practice for me personally for reasons that might be clear in this thread. emoticon Shargrol writes some great stuff on sanity that I love and I agree with most of what he says, though. Actually, I have had the thought: if I could send Shargrol's Greatest Hits back in time to my teenage self, it would have saved me massive amounts of pain and suffering! But I took a different route and if there's a "toward" in my practice it's wherever my inner compass points to. Mysterious.

Practicing away from insanity: now, this feels to me more like what is happening if we're going to use those kinds of terms. It sounds more negative and less reassuring, though. Shargrol is much better at being reassuring than I am. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 5:54 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Aaaaand since this thread has gone deep into the uncomfortable territory of autism spectrum disorders and sanity...

I am very fortunate to be at a time and place in my life where I'm able to be rather weird and there aren't many negative consequences. I like myself and don't want to be "normal," whatever that means. I'm able to live in a city with lots of other wonderfully weird people and I'm going to a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend which will have a bouncy house and Easter egg hunt and I don't think there will even be any children there, which tells you something about the adults who will be attending. Life is good. But I've worked very hard and it took a lot of luck which not everyone gets. 

The truth is, when one is wired very different from the mainstream, one can be quite sane and still labeled as insane or potentially dangerous by society. The more "weird" boxes you tick, the more likely that is to happen. And the lower one's status in society, the fewer "weird" boxes it takes. As Linda points out, even atypical eye contact can be enough to get picked up by the police. What is tolerated--or even celebrated--in an educated heterosexual white male from a mid-upper class background can be increasingly problematic the further away from that level of privilege one gets. And as the story says, the reactions are likely to be either hostility or compassion.

Oh, but compassion doesn't sound so bad, you say? The first time I hit the dark night at about 10-11 years old, I stopped talking almost completely. A well-intentioned but misguided school counselor took me out of class and seemed to think I was being abused by family (I wasn't). She tried to hug me. Now, my family had stopped hugging me when I was a toddler because it caused overwhelming, painful, chaotic sensory overload resulting in me screaming, kicking, and biting. So when the counselor tried to hug me, I shoved her away, hard. Fortunately, she wasn't injured and didn't have me arrested or kicked out of school. But that happens quite frequently to autistic kids in similar situations. Adults aren't expected to tolerate unwanted hugs from strangers, but kids are expected to submit to all sorts of things, especially little girls, and if they object there are consequences.

Linda has commented on some of the other ways that misguided compassion can play out for people on the autism spectrum. I can think of more horrible ones, but I'll leave that be. To put it in terms of the story, society has many ways of making people who are different drink the changed water.

As for hostility, people on the autism spectrum are often the favorite targets of bullies and it doesn't stop with high school. The more weird you show, the more you stand out, the more likely you are to be targeted. In college, a mentor on the spectrum told me about how a labmate had sabotaged her PhD research. She told me in a matter of fact way, so I would be prepared when something like that happened to me. And it did, and I was grateful for the preparation and did not bear the person who did it any ill will. I am currently mentoring another woman on the autism spectrum who has been targeted by a workplace bully that is trying to destroy her career. It's just the way it is. We should try to protect ourselves as best we can without seeing the people who do this as our enemies. 

Then there is the question of whether or not to disclose an autism diagnosis, which is stigmatizing, and if so, how/when/whom. Most people don't understand it and their reactions--though well-intentioned--often range from the unhelpful to the offensive. They think that because they know another person on the spectrum or watched a Temple Grandin movie or The Big Bang TV show that they understand it and they understand you, but they don't. Or they think you're using it as an excuse for bad behavior. Or they don't believe you, because with heroic effort and a lot of help from others you've gotten good at hiding it. And so for some who are capable it is often better to just "pass" or camouflage oneself, or to be vague about one's issues, to just say one is very introverted or has a "learning diability" or "hearing problem". But a study recently came out showing that those who are best at camouflaging are also most at risk for suicide, so it comes at a cost. 

Then there are the DSM debates by psychiatrists and psychologists about how to classify autism spectrum disorders. Are we mentally ill or just retarded? Or are we neither and just different? The DSM used to classify homosexuality as a mental illness. Who gets to decide the definition of sanity? On what basis, and why? In a premodern society, I would have been dropped off with the village shaman for training as a child and that would have been my role. Different time, different culture, different rules, different criteria for sanity. 

At any rate, these are some more reasons that I do not like to use references to "sanity" in my spiritual practice. Just a personal preference. Also, what with all the psychologized dharma out there, anything that even remotely makes practice sound like therapy really turns me off, and I think it leads to a lot of unfortunate confusion. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 6:23 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Aaaaand since this thread has gone deep into the uncomfortable territory of autism spectrum disorders and sanity...

I am very fortunate to be at a time and place in my life where I'm able to be rather weird and there aren't many negative consequences. I like myself and don't want to be "normal," whatever that means. I'm able to live in a city with lots of other wonderfully weird people and I'm going to a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend which will have a bouncy house and Easter egg hunt and I don't think there will even be any children there, which tells you something about the adults who will be attending. Life is good. But I've worked very hard and it took a lot of luck which not everyone gets. 

The truth is, when one is wired very different from the mainstream, one can be quite sane and still labeled as insane or potentially dangerous by society. The more "weird" boxes you tick, the more likely that is to happen. And the lower one's status in society, the fewer "weird" boxes it takes. As Linda points out, even atypical eye contact can be enough to get picked up by the police. What is tolerated--or even celebrated--in an educated heterosexual white male from a mid-upper class background can be increasingly problematic the further away from that level of privilege one gets. And as the story says, the reactions are likely to be either hostility or compassion.

Oh, but compassion doesn't sound so bad, you say? The first time I hit the dark night at about 10-11 years old, I stopped talking almost completely. A well-intentioned but misguided school counselor took me out of class and seemed to think I was being abused by family (I wasn't). She tried to hug me. Now, my family had stopped hugging me when I was a toddler because it caused overwhelming, painful, chaotic sensory overload resulting in me screaming, kicking, and biting. So when the counselor tried to hug me, I shoved her away, hard. Fortunately, she wasn't injured and didn't have me arrested or kicked out of school. But that happens quite frequently to autistic kids in similar situations. Adults aren't expected to tolerate unwanted hugs from strangers, but kids are expected to submit to all sorts of things, especially little girls, and if they object there are consequences.

Linda has commented on some of the other ways that misguided compassion can play out for people on the autism spectrum. I can think of more horrible ones, but I'll leave that be. To put it in terms of the story, society has many ways of making people who are different drink the changed water.

As for hostility, people on the autism spectrum are often the favorite targets of bullies and it doesn't stop with high school. The more weird you show, the more you stand out, the more likely you are to be targeted. In college, a mentor on the spectrum told me about how a labmate had sabotaged her PhD research. She told me in a matter of fact way, so I would be prepared when something like that happened to me. And it did, and I was grateful for the preparation and did not bear the person who did it any ill will. I am currently mentoring another woman on the autism spectrum who has been targeted by a workplace bully that is trying to destroy her career. It's just the way it is. We should try to protect ourselves as best we can without seeing the people who do this as our enemies. 

Then there is the question of whether or not to disclose an autism diagnosis, which is stigmatizing, and if so, how/when/whom. Most people don't understand it and their reactions--though well-intentioned--often range from the unhelpful to the offensive. They think that because they know another person on the spectrum or watched a Temple Grandin movie or The Big Bang TV show that they understand it and they understand you, but they don't. Or they think you're using it as an excuse for bad behavior. Or they don't believe you, because with heroic effort and a lot of help from others you've gotten good at hiding it. And so for some who are capable it is often better to just "pass" or camouflage oneself, or to be vague about one's issues, to just say one is very introverted or has a "learning diability" or "hearing problem". But a study recently came out showing that those who are best at camouflaging are also most at risk for suicide, so it comes at a cost. 

Then there are the DSM debates by psychiatrists and psychologists about how to classify autism spectrum disorders. Are we mentally ill or just retarded? Or are we neither and just different? The DSM used to classify homosexuality as a mental illness. Who gets to decide the definition of sanity? On what basis, and why? In a premodern society, I would have been dropped off with the village shaman for training as a child and that would have been my role. Different time, different culture, different rules, different criteria for sanity. 

At any rate, these are some more reasons that I do not like to use references to "sanity" in my spiritual practice. Just a personal preference. Also, what with all the psychologized dharma out there, anything that even remotely makes practice sound like therapy really turns me off, and I think it leads to a lot of unfortunate confusion. 


Yes! I couldn’t agree more. This is very well put. I have sometimes used the concept of sanity here for a lack of better words at the time, but I agree.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 7:13 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:

At any rate, these are some more reasons that I do not like to use references to "sanity" in my spiritual practice. Just a personal preference. Also, what with all the psychologized dharma out there, anything that even remotely makes practice sound like therapy really turns me off, and I think it leads to a lot of unfortunate confusion. 

How do you make this distinction? I tend to agree that meditation is not psychotherapy, but it's also true that practice and its effects and results overlap with psychology. When I think about this in more depth I find see no clear and obvious line between these two areas of human endeavor. In two of your posts just recently you have both complimented shargrol on his use of the word "sanity" in his comments over time and said the above. I think that is emblematic of the shades of gray between practice and therapy.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 8:11 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Andromeda:

At any rate, these are some more reasons that I do not like to use references to "sanity" in my spiritual practice. Just a personal preference. Also, what with all the psychologized dharma out there, anything that even remotely makes practice sound like therapy really turns me off, and I think it leads to a lot of unfortunate confusion. 

How do you make this distinction? I tend to agree that meditation is not psychotherapy, but it's also true that practice and its effects and results overlap with psychology. When I think about this in more depth I find see no clear and obvious line between these two areas of human endeavor. In two of your posts just recently you have both complimented shargrol on his use of the word "sanity" in his comments over time and said the above. I think that is emblematic of the shades of gray between practice and therapy.

I see the psychological benefits as fruits of spiritual practice rather than a goal to be chased. Beneficial byproducts for which I'm extremely grateful, but not the point.


Shargrol makes the word "sanity" work well in the context of what he says. And I think his overall approach is particularly well-suited to the average practitioner that lands in the pragmatic dharma scene. Lots to compliment and appreciate there. However, I'm not the average pragmatic dharma type and never was, so it really doesn't work for me personally. I can learn from it without taking up and using the language. Make sense? It's not that I think it's wrong, just that there are other ways of describing and framing things that resonate with me more (and don't trigger the inward cringe that "sanity" does).

For context, there was a 5 year period where my sitting/off-cushion practice was mostly a sort of vipassana-Dzogchen fusion thing, but I also practiced Christian prayer which opened up all sorts of interesting and surprising territory. That eventually fell apart in a big way, but it was an intensely meaningful period, that gave me a sense of the sacred that hasn't gone away, and it very much shaped my perspective and the words I would use to describe my practice. I would much sooner use God language because that feels more comfortable and honest.

There's more I want to say, but it's not fitting into words at the moment...

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 9:51 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda -- 

I was extending what you clearly said was a personal matter to general "anyone's" practice, so that's my bad. I understand what you're saying. Your life experience is different in a more diversified way than most other practitioners'.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 6:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Andromeda -- 

I was extending what you clearly said was a personal matter to general "anyone's" practice, so that's my bad. I understand what you're saying. Your life experience is different in a more diversified way than most other practitioners'.

Oh yeah, sorry if that wasn't clear. Also, I spent years in my 20s studying Western psychology/philosophy and picking apart my psyche in non-spiritual/tangentially spiritual ways, alone and with the help of professionals, so for me these things may feel a bit more separate. It's hard for me to imagine there are many out there who don't have to do that as they progress along the axis of insight. You start to see clearly and you can clearly see what a hot mess you are, plus you have more bandwidth to work with it. Perhaps a good metaphor would be that the healing/therapeutic axis and the insight axis spiral around each other sort of like a double helix or something? I don't know. I do think intention is really important, and so if people do their insight practice with the intention to make their lives better in conventional ways that's likely to gunk up their insight practice. Intention is so important.

Anyway, I think shargrol's stuff seems especially good for the more typical demographic that tends to land in pragmatic dharma land. 

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 6:45 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I do think intention is really important, and so if people do their insight practice with the intention to make their lives better in conventional ways that's likely to gunk up their insight practice.

I think this is right. It's best while doing insight practice to look for insights into the nature of perception and experience as opposed to looking for things like, "Why is my relationship so strained?" If we do the former we'll get real meditative insight. If we do the latter we'll get lost in the process. It's what Daniel Ingram called out in MCTB - people working not with insight but with their psychological "stuff."



RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 8:01 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I do think intention is really important, and so if people do their insight practice with the intention to make their lives better in conventional ways that's likely to gunk up their insight practice.

I think this is right. It's best while doing insight practice to look for insights into the nature of perception and experience as opposed to looking for things like, "Why is my relationship so strained?" If we do the former we'll get real meditative insight. If we do the latter we'll get lost in the process. It's what Daniel Ingram called out in MCTB - people working not with insight but with their psychological "stuff."





On the other hand, as I understood it, he also called out what might be seen as the other ditch: not doing morality training. So while we shouldn’t focus on content in our insight practice, we still need to work on our morality and integrate that with our insight in order not to be enlightened assholes.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 8:05 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:

You start to see clearly and you can clearly see what a hot mess you are, plus you have more bandwidth to work with it. Perhaps a good metaphor would be that the healing/therapeutic axis and the insight axis spiral around each other sort of like a double helix or something? I don't know. I do think intention is really important, and so if people do their insight practice with the intention to make their lives better in conventional ways that's likely to gunk up their insight practice. Intention is so important.

Anyway, I think shargrol's stuff seems especially good for the more typical demographic that tends to land in pragmatic dharma land. 


Yup, a hot mess indeed. I was just thinking of how to phrase a question about that, but I think I’ll look into that stuff to begin with. Thanks! Perfect timing for me!

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 12:31 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I found it fascinating to study psychology and extremely satisfying to work on my "stuff" once I had some insight. Also, developmental models for moral development. I went down a serious rabbit hole with Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. Fascinating life story, that guy--was part of a secret anti-Fascist organization that saved children during WW2.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 1:30 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
I found it fascinating to study psychology and extremely satisfying to work on my "stuff" once I had some insight. Also, developmental models for moral development. I went down a serious rabbit hole with Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. Fascinating life story, that guy--was part of a secret anti-Fascist organization that saved children during WW2.



I have been interested in working on my stuff for as long as I can remember and will hopefully continue to do so. I’m careful not to mix it up with insight, though, because you can never derive an ought from an is.

I’m not familiar with that theory. When you say rabbit hole, do you mean that it was misguided or simply that you were totally absorbed by it?

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/3/19 5:38 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Andromeda:
I found it fascinating to study psychology and extremely satisfying to work on my "stuff" once I had some insight. Also, developmental models for moral development. I went down a serious rabbit hole with Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. Fascinating life story, that guy--was part of a secret anti-Fascist organization that saved children during WW2.



I have been interested in working on my stuff for as long as I can remember and will hopefully continue to do so. I’m careful not to mix it up with insight, though, because you can never derive an ought from an is.

I’m not familiar with that theory. When you say rabbit hole, do you mean that it was misguided or simply that you were totally absorbed by it?

It was a very productive rabbit hole for me and his work might resonate with you, Linda. Here's a good source. If I had to give it a pithy description, "post-traumatic growth for the neurodivergent" might be it. The [url=http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1'14%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf]Cook-Greuters stages is another good model that shargrol turned me onto.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/3/19 6:27 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Sounds interesting. Thanks!

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/3/19 5:17 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
IAndromeda:
I found it fascinating to study psychology and extremely satisfying to work on my "stuff" once I had some insight. Also, developmental models for moral development. I went down a serious rabbit hole with Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. Fascinating life story, that guy--was part of a secret anti-Fascist organization that saved children during WW2.
I know about Dabrowski, friend of mine worked in the positive disintegration field. Interesting way of looking at things.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/3/19 5:34 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
IAndromeda:
I found it fascinating to study psychology and extremely satisfying to work on my "stuff" once I had some insight. Also, developmental models for moral development. I went down a serious rabbit hole with Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. Fascinating life story, that guy--was part of a secret anti-Fascist organization that saved children during WW2.
I know about Dabrowski, friend of mine worked in the positive disintegration field. Interesting way of looking at things.

Oh fascinating--it's not well known outside of the field of education and even there it's apparently a bit controversial. There's some good stuff there that you can't find anywhere else.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 3:40 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Chris Marti:
Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

My experience has been that my spiritual practice caused me to relate better to others - peers, family, random strangers. I believe this has come from an opening to my own foibles, weirdness, emotional excess and bad habits. The practice itself takes place in quiet, lonely places but it has led to the opening of interpersonal doors and deeper, more meaningful relationships. Maybe this makes me a weird practitioner!

I did like the story but was saddened by this:  "Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity."

Why can't holding the different views our practice brings us be considered sanity? Can we be spiritually adept and still be "sane?" I think so. In fact, more so.


My own experience has been very similar to yours, Chris, in that is has done all those things in terms of relating to others. I do think that we can be spiritually adept and "sane," and hopefully this is exactly what happens. And yet, I still sometimes experience loneliness (although fortunately much less often than earlier in life). Awakening is no cure for this, and I certainly would say that one can be both lonely and quite sane. But we can never, ever take that sanity for granted. I don't believe there is any enlightened retirement where we can just stop practicing--we must continue with a full engagement of attention, moment-to-moment, for the rest of our lives no matter how far along we get. Continually refining an art form, not completing a course of therapy. This is how I look at it.

Not only are we always human with the capacity for error, but as we go along the stakes just get higher if we err. How many teacher scandals have at their root loneliness? 

And I think certain forms of spirituality are very commonly viewed as less socially acceptable by maintream society--even "insane" to some, although fortunately we have religious protections unlike in the past. I started practice at age 12 with meditations learned from a book on witchcraft in a place where that was viewed as weird. And my practice has always been syncretistic, which is in itself weird. And I get up every morning at about 3am to practice, which is weird to most people. Sane? I think so, very. But most people I know with similar practice histories learn quickly to keep it to themselves unless in like-minded company. "Sanity" means very different things to different people. I think watching reality TV is insane, but I've learned to respect that for many it is a valid form of entertainment. It is what it is.


perhaps there are no valid forms of entertainment, and we only find tv watching etc acceptable because it is normative behavior...

like eating meat, or drinking solvents...

t

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 11:02 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Chris Marti:
Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

My experience has been that my spiritual practice caused me to relate better to others - peers, family, random strangers. I believe this has come from an opening to my own foibles, weirdness, emotional excess and bad habits. The practice itself takes place in quiet, lonely places but it has led to the opening of interpersonal doors and deeper, more meaningful relationships. Maybe this makes me a weird practitioner!

I did like the story but was saddened by this:  "Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity."

Why can't holding the different views our practice brings us be considered sanity? Can we be spiritually adept and still be "sane?" I think so. In fact, more so.


My own experience has been very similar to yours, Chris, in that is has done all those things in terms of relating to others. I do think that we can be spiritually adept and "sane," and hopefully this is exactly what happens. And yet, I still sometimes experience loneliness (although fortunately much less often than earlier in life). Awakening is no cure for this, and I certainly would say that one can be both lonely and quite sane. But we can never, ever take that sanity for granted. I don't believe there is any enlightened retirement where we can just stop practicing--we must continue with a full engagement of attention, moment-to-moment, for the rest of our lives no matter how far along we get. Continually refining an art form, not completing a course of therapy. This is how I look at it.

Not only are we always human with the capacity for error, but as we go along the stakes just get higher if we err. How many teacher scandals have at their root loneliness? 

And I think certain forms of spirituality are very commonly viewed as less socially acceptable by maintream society--even "insane" to some, although fortunately we have religious protections unlike in the past. I started practice at age 12 with meditations learned from a book on witchcraft in a place where that was viewed as weird. And my practice has always been syncretistic, which is in itself weird. And I get up every morning at about 3am to practice, which is weird to most people. Sane? I think so, very. But most people I know with similar practice histories learn quickly to keep it to themselves unless in like-minded company. "Sanity" means very different things to different people. I think watching reality TV is insane, but I've learned to respect that for many it is a valid form of entertainment. It is what it is.

    Loneliness is not a disease. Loneliness is love. To realize this is prajna, wisdom, ultimate insight. Seeking to escape loneliness only makes it hurt. Even a (perennially) broken heart can be preferable to maintaining boundaries to keep love fenced out/in. 

   We are never alone/ always alone. We are not really individuals at all. There is just this One Pearl. Ram dass said: "The smallest particle in the universe is the universe."

   We are lonely for the Beloved. There is nothing in the material universe that can stand in for the beloved. Loneliness is the key, the fire of purification that can ultimately dissolve the ego entirely and allow the beloved to manifest.

terry



from the brihadaranyaka upanishad:


3. Maitreyi asked: My venerable Lord, if this whole world, with all its wealth, belonged to me, tell me, could I become immortal?

4. No, replied Yajnavalkya, Like the life of rich people will be your life. But there is no hope of obtaining immortality by wealth.

5. Maitreyi said: Of what use, then, would wealth be to me, if I did not become, thereby, immortal? Tell me, O venerable Lord, any means of attaining immortality, of which thou knowest.

6. Yajnavalkya replied: Thou art dear to me; thou speakest dear words. Come, sit down; I will explain it to thee.

7. Verily, not for the sake of the husband, is the husband dear; but for the sake of the Self is the husband dear.

8. Verily, not for the sake of the universe, the universe is dear; but for the sake of the Self is the universe dear.

9. Verily, the Self (Atman) is to be seen, heard, reflected and meditated upon. When one sees, hears, reflects and knows the Self, all this is known.



14. Maitreyi said: Thou hast bewildered me by saying: 'After death, no knowledge remains.' Yajnavalkya replied: I say nothing that is bewildering. For where there is, as it were, duality, the one sees the other, one smells the other, one tastes the other, one salutes the other, one speaks to the other, one hears the other, one thinks of the other, one knows the other.

15. But, when the Self alone is all this, how should one see another, how should one smell another, how should one taste another, how should one salute another, how should one speak to another, how should one hear another, how should one know another?

16. How should one know Him, by whom one knows all this?

17. That Self is to be described as Not this, not this.

18. He is incomprehensible, imperishable, unattached, free, and not subject to pain or destruction.

How should one know the Knower?

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 11:11 PM as a reply to terry.
Tomorrow is a Long Time

If today was not an endless highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all
Ah but only if my own true love is waitin'
Yes and if I could hear her heart a softly poundin'
Only if she were lying by me
Would I rest in my bed once again
I can't see my reflection in the mirror
I can't speak the sounds that show no pain
I can't hear the echoes of my footsteps
And can't remember the sound of my own name
Ah but only if my own true love is waitin'
Yes and if I could hear her heart a softly poundin'
Only if she were lying by me
Would I rest in my bed once again
There's beauty in the silver singin' river
There's beauty in the sunlight in the sky
But none of these, and nothing else
Can steal the beauty
That I remember in my true love's eyes
Ah but only if my own true love is waitin'
Yes and if I could hear her heart a softly poundin'
Only if she were lying by me
Would I rest in my bed once again
Ah but only if my own true love is waitin'
Yes and if I could hear her heart a softly poundin'
Only if she were lying by me
Would I rest in my bed once again

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 3:31 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

My experience has been that my spiritual practice caused me to relate better to others - peers, family, random strangers. I believe this has come from an opening to my own foibles, weirdness, emotional excess and bad habits. The practice itself takes place in quiet, lonely places but it has led to the opening of interpersonal doors and deeper, more meaningful relationships. Maybe this makes me a weird practitioner!

I did like the story but was saddened by this:  "Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity."

Why can't holding the different views our practice brings us be considered sanity? Can we be spiritually adept and still be "sane?" I think so. In fact, more so.



aloha chris,

   Sanity follows the typical bell curve: the height of sanity is perfect conformity. Under conformers and over conformers are abnormal, and the rarer, the more abnormal. (Ironically, overconformers become misfits the more frantically they try to conform). George carlin used to talk about driving, and how anyone who didn't go as fast as him was a "moron" and anyone who drove faster was a "maniac." Look at that moron, look at that maniac. The degree to which somone regards you as sane or not tells you far more about them than it does about you.

   In nonduality there is no conformity, no nonconformity. You are what you are. The actor is only who you think you are, and that thinking is conditioned.


terry




from 'the tales of the dervishes' collected by idries shah:



BAYAZID AND THE SELFISH MAN

ONE day a man reproached Bayazid, the great mystic of the ninth century, saying that he had fasted and prayed and so on for thirty years and not found the joy which Bayazid described. Bayazid told him that he might continue for three hundred years and still not find it.

'How is that?' asked the would-be illuminate.

'Because your vanity is a barrier to you.'

'Tell me the remedy.'

'The remedy is one which you cannot take. '

'Tell me, nevertheless.'

Bayazid said: 'You must go to the barber and have your (respectable) beard shaved. Remove all your clothes and put a girdle around yourself. Fill a nosebag with walnuts and suspend it from your neck. Go to the market-place and call out: "A walnut will I give to any boy who will strike me on the back of the neck." Then continue on to the justices' session so that they may see you.'

'But I cannot do that; please tell me something else that would do as well.'

'This is the first move, and the only one,' said Bayazid, 'but I had already told you that you would not do it; so you cannot be cured.'


El-Ghazali, in his Alchemy of Happiness, seeks with this parable to emphasize his repeated argument that some people, however sincere in seeking truth they may appear to themselves — or even to other people—may in fact be motivated by vanity or self-seeking which imposes a complete barrier to their learning.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 2:28 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
My thoughts on this story, now that it's generated some interesting and unexpected discussion: I found it disturbing but compelling.

Loneliness is a normal part of being human, and though some of us might be wired to experience it more frequently or more acutely than others it is basically universal. Mystic spirituality, which depends on a significant amount of time spent in solitary practice that may result in thinking and behaving in a way that is different from the norm, may well lead to a particular type of loneliness. It is one of the many challenges that we face in spiritual practice, especially if we are not so interested in community and are more of the lone wolf type of practitioner or if our way of practicing is different from the mainstream.

But we can learn to be at peace with loneliness, just as we can with any other pain of living. It is our relationship to it that can be problematic. If we are poisoned with aversion, we may become angry, bitter, hostile misanthropes with a superiority complex. Or we could experience it with neediness and grasping, or try to cover it up with substances or fill the void with vacuous entertainment or food or workaholism. When we do not see loneliness clearly for what it is, we may make terrible decisions ranging from internet trolling to ill-chosen friends and lovers.

So to me, the moral of this story is to practice well, and to be especially on guard for reactivity when emotional/social needs aren't being met. A potent reminder and warning for those with a deep commitment to God or whatever label one might put on the source of cosmic mystery.


from the same collection ("tales of the dervishes," idries shah):


THE PARABLE OF THE THREE DOMAINS


HUMAN life, and the life of communities, is not what it seems. In fact, it follows a pattern evident to some and concealed to others. Again, more than one pattern is moving at a time. Yet men take one part of one pattern and try to weld it with another. They invariably find what they expect, not what is really there.

Let us consider, for example, three things: the wheat in the field, the water in the stream, and the salt in the mine. This is the condition of natural man; he is a being which is both complete in some senses and has further uses and capacities in further senses.

Each of the three items is representative here of substances in a state of potentiality. They may remain as they are, or circumstances (and in the case of man, effort) may transform them.

This is the condition of the First Domain, or state of man.

In the Second Domain, however, we have a stage in which something further can be done. The wheat, by effort and knowledge, is collected and ground into flour. The water is taken from the stream and stored for a further use. The salt is extracted and refined. This is a Domain of a different activity than the first, which was merely growing. In this Domain, stored knowledge is brought into play.

The Third Domain can come into being only after the three ingredients, in correct quantity and proportion, have been assembled in a certain place, at a certain time. The salt, water and flour are mixed and kneaded to become dough. When the yeast is brought, a living element is added; and the oven is made ready for the baking of the loaf. This making depends as much upon 'touch' as upon stored knowledge.

Everything will behave in accordance with its situation: and its situation is the Domain in which it is cast.

If the objective is bread, why talk of salt-making?


This story, originating with the Sarmoun Sufis, echoes the teaching of Ghazali that 'the ignorant man has no real idea of the learning of the scholastic. Equally, the scholastic has no adequate conception of the knowledge of the Enlightened Man.'

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
4/30/19 2:38 PM as a reply to Andromeda.


angry, bitter, hostile misanthropes with a superiority complex = raven with a broken wing

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 7:53 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I like the story's framing of the man's choice and can see how it would be used as a teaching tool. As others in this thread have said, if you go far enough down a spiritual path, you can begin to feel like something of an alien (if you didn't already feel that way). However, the story really made me think about how the idea could be re-worked into an interesting allegory for seekers in general.

Suppose instead of the story’s miraculous replacement of the water, the waters of the world have always made men mad. However, high in the mountains, there is rumored to be a secret spring that can cure the madness and give a “second sight” to those who would endeavor to find it. However, those who find and drink from the spring find they are presented with an unexpected choice: “Do I tell what I have now seen to those who, not having tasted the spring, couldn’t possibly understand?” Some go down and speak of the new truth and are themselves thought mad by all they encounter. Others return with reserves of the water and try to live amongst the unknowing as inconspicuously as possible, periodically returning to the high country to refresh their reserves. And still others decide that the mountain and its spring are all they ever wanted, and become hermits alongside the waters. Which approach will you take? In one way or another, moment-by-moment we are all living our choice.  

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 6:45 AM as a reply to Ryan.
Ryan:
I like the story's framing of the man's choice and can see how it would be used as a teaching tool. As others in this thread have said, if you go far enough down a spiritual path, you can begin to feel like something of an alien (if you didn't already feel that way). However, the story really made me think about how the idea could be re-worked into an interesting allegory for seekers in general.

Suppose instead of the story’s miraculous replacement of the water, the waters of the world have always made men mad. However, high in the mountains, there is rumored to be a secret spring that can cure the madness and give a “second sight” to those who would endeavor to find it. However, those who find and drink from the spring find they are presented with an unexpected choice: “Do I tell what I have now seen to those who, not having tasted the spring, couldn’t possibly understand?” Some go down and speak of the new truth and are themselves thought mad by all they encounter. Others return with reserves of the water and try to live amongst the unknowing as inconspicuously as possible, periodically returning to the high country to refresh their reserves. And still others decide that the mountain and its spring are all they ever wanted, and become hermits alongside the waters. Which approach will you take? In one way or another, moment-by-moment we are all living our choice.  

Interesting! Reminds me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

We keep coming back to the Mage versus Sage debate, don't we? I like to think of being a Sage as just another way to contribute. Daniel mentioned the example of Lao Tzu--assuming he really did exist, if he hadn't holed up he might not have left us the Tao te Ching. Tokme Zongpo is another example--just a sincere practitioner living a quiet, pious life, who left behind a work that many have been incredibly inspired by. And who know how many hermits have been out there, are still out there, quietly giving their sage advice to the few who manage to find them? They may never have attained the status of the Mages, but it doesn't mean they weren't important and influential in their own ways.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/1/19 4:18 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 6:48 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.

I've read about that! Crazy, right? We like to think of our human selves as so rational and independent-minded, but... maybe not so much.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 7:09 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
This is where the Dharma Ninja training comes in handy   emoticon

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 12:57 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.

I've read about that! Crazy, right? We like to think of our human selves as so rational and independent-minded, but... maybe not so much.

Not only do people conform behaviourly, but it goes further than that.
https://scienceblogs.com/neurontic/2006/03/07/the-anatomy-of-conformity


"The MRI scans reveal that those who capitulated to the group actually experienced a shift in perception. If a group insisted that a shape was a square, suggestible subjects literally "saw" a square."

Well, things in quote marks aren't literal, but it's a funny old result anyway.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/3/19 2:29 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Andromeda:
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.

I've read about that! Crazy, right? We like to think of our human selves as so rational and independent-minded, but... maybe not so much.

Not only do people conform behaviourly, but it goes further than that.
https://scienceblogs.com/neurontic/2006/03/07/the-anatomy-of-conformity


"The MRI scans reveal that those who capitulated to the group actually experienced a shift in perception. If a group insisted that a shape was a square, suggestible subjects literally "saw" a square."

Well, things in quote marks aren't literal, but it's a funny old result anyway.

aloha stick,

   I was a psych major once upon a time. That was the first time I dropped out of college, when I learned that the psych profs were the craziest folks on campus; and knew nothing besides. In those days everyone was either a freudian (sex-obsessed) or a behaviorist (wealth/fame obsessed rat-racers). We always chose psych profs for chaperones at the frat parties because they were the easiest to put out of commission.

   Any "study" which involves lying to the participants produces skewed and confused results. Most of these so-called experiments involve predetermined outcomes which all participants are suggested will result, and they do. There are no controls; without controls, there is no science. Despite the "science blog" deception.

   That people are conformers who go along like sheep when anyone waves a hand and says "this way" is obvious enough. Non-conformers equally refuse to go along, regardless. Had they designed the study to look for a third category of waverers they would have found them too.

   The mindful, the awake, go their own way.

terry




gospel of thomas


42. Become passersby.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/5/19 8:17 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:
Stickman2:
Andromeda:
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.

I've read about that! Crazy, right? We like to think of our human selves as so rational and independent-minded, but... maybe not so much.

Not only do people conform behaviourly, but it goes further than that.
https://scienceblogs.com/neurontic/2006/03/07/the-anatomy-of-conformity


"The MRI scans reveal that those who capitulated to the group actually experienced a shift in perception. If a group insisted that a shape was a square, suggestible subjects literally "saw" a square."

Well, things in quote marks aren't literal, but it's a funny old result anyway.

aloha stick,


   That people are conformers who go along like sheep when anyone waves a hand and says "this way" is obvious enough.

  
Hi Terry, but those experiment simply seem to affirm that obviousness. You can't get a better result than that.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/6/19 4:14 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
terry:
Stickman2:
Andromeda:
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.

I've read about that! Crazy, right? We like to think of our human selves as so rational and independent-minded, but... maybe not so much.

Not only do people conform behaviourly, but it goes further than that.
https://scienceblogs.com/neurontic/2006/03/07/the-anatomy-of-conformity


"The MRI scans reveal that those who capitulated to the group actually experienced a shift in perception. If a group insisted that a shape was a square, suggestible subjects literally "saw" a square."

Well, things in quote marks aren't literal, but it's a funny old result anyway.

aloha stick,


   That people are conformers who go along like sheep when anyone waves a hand and says "this way" is obvious enough.

  
Hi Terry, but those experiment simply seem to affirm that obviousness. You can't get a better result than that.

   A better result might be one which makes one question what appears to be obvious. When anyone says something is obvious one should think twice.

(wink)

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 7:54 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.



Isn’t that one of those experiments that have lately been criticized for poor methodology? Apparently a whole bunch of famous early psychology experiments have been debunked scientifically.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/2/19 12:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.



Isn’t that one of those experiments that have lately been criticized for poor methodology? Apparently a whole bunch of famous early psychology experiments have been debunked scientifically.
Well, if everyone say it's been debunked, who's to argue ?

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/5/19 9:09 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stickman2:
It's a great story Andro, like the Solomon Asch experiments.



Isn’t that one of those experiments that have lately been criticized for poor methodology? Apparently a whole bunch of famous early psychology experiments have been debunked scientifically.
Well, if everyone say it's been debunked, who's to argue ?



Oh, now I got the joke! Haha! Sometimes I’m so slow.

Anyway, I looked it up, and the criticism of that particular experiment hardly qualifies as debunking. I remember reading convincing arguments about another classical experiment’s methodological problems, but I don’t remember which one and now I can’t find it. Can’t be entirely sure that I would agree that those arguments were convincing now either. I’m glad that this experiment wasn’t debunked, because as obvious as it may seem that people are like this, I don’t think many would admit it if it weren’t for this experiment, and being aware of one’s limitations is a good thing.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/3/19 3:44 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
A story:

Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind without warning. At a certain date, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.

On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells ran dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving, and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity.

-Idries Shah, from Tales of the Dervishes: Teaching Stories of the Sufi Masters over the Past Thousand Years

When the Waters Were Changed: Legend repeatedly links Dhun-Nun, the Egyptian (died 860), reputed author of this tale, with at least one for of Freemasonry. He is, in any case, the earliest figure in the history of the Malamati Dervish Order, which has often been stated by Western students to have striking similarities with the craft of the Masons. Dhun-Nun, it is said, rediscovered the meaning of the Pharaonic hieroglyphics. This version is attributed to Sayed Sabir Ali-Shah, a saint of the Chishti Order, who died in 1818.

   Sufi stories are not simply entertaining tales, though such collections as "1001 nights" are represented to be such. They are - specifically - "teaching stories." Traditionally every verse of the qu'ran has seven meanings, and this is also said of sufi stories. All sufi aspirants are expected to begin with to "master the literature," which means to know all the essential teaching stories and be familiar with the sufi masters and the traditional collections.

   "Stored water" refers to the teachings. "Khidr" is a name for elijah, who taught moses, the author of the pentateuch. Khidr is "the source of the source," the spring of the spring of the water of life, the teachings of the Divine.

   The water which drives men insane is ordinary culture: the news, tv, advertising, gossip, current opinion, the latest novelties, pop science, and so forth.

   The story pictures a time when the teachings of elijah, moses and the prophets were current, and good water flowed through the land. Khidr, the source of this good water, warns that these teachings will be brushed aside and washed away by the changing currents of human culture. Only those who have preserved the teachings of the saints and the enlightened will be able to maintain "sanity," which in sufi allegory is taken for "madness" by the normally "insane." (Sufis often referred to themselves as "crazy ones" or "idiots" - one of the most famous sufis was "majnun," lover of layla, "majnun" meaning "crazy.")

   In sufi terms, "stored water" or teachings - such as these stories, the sufi equivalent of "koan study" - are only one part of a balanced development. Chris' insistence on practicing morality has its sufi equivalent in the self-restraint and humility expected of the aspirant. Call it "salt," or grit, or character, or "bottom." Stability, dignity; self-respect without seeking credit. The aspirant also needs to nourish and be nourished. Call this "wheat." When the wheat has been ground fine, salt and water added, dough may be mixed and kneaded: the aspirant is prepared to undergo real transformation. The "glance," by the grace of god is bestowed (yeast, "the living element"), and then the true process of baking the bread is commenced, in the fires of purification. "Longing" the sufis call it, and it is cherished. Transmuted "craving," perhaps.

   The original story's sad result of the aspirant going "insane" through participating mindlessly in godless culture is of course on the most superfical level a cautionary tale. Like any sufi story, it is not about any putative moral, but is designed to lay bare actual realities, usually esoteric ones. The sufis were generally persecuted and still are to this day (most are minority shi'ites). Meanings are characteristically allegorized and hidden. To the adept the literature is objective and In a sense scientific.

   There is a story about a man who was imprisoned in a jail. He was in fact a locksmith who might have been able to unlock his cell and escape, if only he had tools or more specific knowledge about the lock. The night before he was to be executed, his jailers, who allowed nothing to be given to the man that might help him escape, unbent enough to allow his wife's gift of a prayer rug. The man was not impressed with the rug, thinking it would not help him escape, but as he had nothing better to do he decided to pray. As he put his head down on the mat in prostration, he noticed that his wife had cleverly sewn the design of the wards of the lock into the design of the carpet. Using this information, he was enabled to escape, and was reunited with his love.

   Another story comes also from dhun-nun, the author of this tale. Once dhun-nun was sitting near the bazaar in alexandria and a young man came up to him and started berating the sufis and said many other things besides. Dhun-nun called him over, and took off his ring, which was of a dull metal with a large stone in it. He said, 'take this ring over to the stallholders in the bazaar and see if you can get a dinar for it.'  None of the merchants would give even an obol for the gem. 'Now take it to a real jeweler and see what he will give you for it' The youth was amazed when the jeweler offered him 5000 dinars. As he returned the ring, dhun-nun remarked, 'Your knowledge of the sufis is like that of the stallholders over there in relation to the ring. If you want to know what a gem is worth, take it to a real jeweler.


terry



some sayings of the prophet, upon whom be peace:


THE WORLD - Treat this world as I do, like a wayfarer, like a horseman who
stops in the shade of a tree for a time, and then moves on.

OBJECTS - It is your attachment to objects which make you blind and deaf.

SLEEP - Sleep is the brother of death.

REFLECTION - The faithful are mirrors, one to the other.

LOVE - Do you think you love your Creator? Love your fellow-creature first.

DISTRIBUTION - God it is who gives: I am only a distributor.

HELPING OTHERS - I order you to assist any oppressed person, whether he is a Muslim or not.

MONKISHNESS - No Monkery in Islam.

THE PIOUS - My back has been broken by 'pious' men.

CURSING - You ask me to curse unbelievers. But I was not sent to curse.

TEACHING - One hour's teaching is better than a whole night of prayer.

DAY AND NIGHT - The night is long: do not shorten it by sleep. The day is fair: do not darken it with wrongdoing.

HUMILITY - Humility and courtesy are themselves a part of piety.

THE LEARNED - Whoever honors the learned, honors me.

POVERTY - My poverty is my pride.

DEATH - Die before your death.

PRACTICE - Who are the learned? Those who put into practice what they know.

KINDNESS - Whoever has no kindness has no faith.

ANGER - You ask for a piece of advice. I tell you: "Do not get angry." He is strong who can withhold anger.

THE JUDGE - A man appointed to be a judge has been killed without a knife.

STRUGGLE - The holy warrior is him who struggles with himself.

INK AND BLOOD - The ink of the learned is holier than the blood of the martyr.

CONTEMPLATION - An hour's contemplation is better than a year's worship.

UNDERSTANDING - Speak to everyone in accordance with his degree of understanding.

FOOD - Nobody has eaten better food than that won by his own labor.

WORK - I am a worker.

ACCUSATIONS - Anyone reviling a brother for a sin will not himself die before committing it.

TASKS - Whoever makes all his tasks one task (i.e. the Hereafter), God will help him in his other concerns.

POETRY - In some poetry there is wisdom.

LIES, PROMISES, TRUST - He is not of mine who lies, breaks a promise or fails
in his trust.

THOUGHTS - Good thoughts are a part of worship.

VISION OF THE FAITHFUL - The Faithful see with the light of God.

THE QUR'AN - The Qur'an has been revealed in seven forms. Each verse has inner and outer meaning.

OBLIGATION TO LEARN - The pursuit of knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim.

THE YOUNG IN PARADISE - Old women will not enter Paradise: they will be young and beautiful first.

A JOURNEY - On a journey, the lord of a people is their servant.

RECOGNITION - Souls which recognize one another congregate together; those
which do not, argue with one another.

TRUTH - Speaking the truth to the unjust is the best of holy wars.

KNOWLEDGE - Journey even as far as China seeking knowledge.

PRINCES AND SCHOLARS - The best of princes is one who visits the wise. The worst of scholars is one who visits princes.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/4/19 11:43 PM as a reply to terry.
from william chittick, "ibn arabi - heir to the prophets"


If one wants to achieve opening, the way to do so is to engage in the practices set down by one’s prophet and to follow the instructions of a shaykh or spiritual master, who, in the ideal case, will be a full heir to that prophet. Among the practices that a shaykh will prescribe are retreat (khalwa), which is seclusion from others in order to devote oneself fully to meditation and prayer, and remembrance (dhikr), which is the constant invocation of a Qur’anic divine name or formula.

When the aspiring traveler clings to retreat and the remembrance of God’s name, when he empties his heart of reflective thoughts, and when he sits in poverty at the door of his Lord with nothing, then God will bestow upon him and give him something of knowledge of Him, the divine mysteries, and the lordly sciences. (F. I 31.4) [author quotes ibn 'arabi]

Notice that it is the “heart” (qalb) that needs to be emptied of thought. In the usage of the Qur’an and Islamic sources in general, the heart designates not the emotive and affective side of human nature, but the center of consciousness, awareness, and intelligence. The heart is the human faculty that can embrace God in the fullness of his manifestation. In Ibn ‘Arabi’s terms, the heart alone can know God and the realities in a synthetic manner embracing both rational understanding and suprarational unveiling.

. . .

One of the major themes of Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings is the time-honored principle of the Judeo-Christian tradition that God created man in his own image. Muhammad’s version of this saying reads, “God created Adam in His own form.”

. . .


In one respect, God is infinitely beyond understanding, and the only proper response to him is silence. In another respect, he discloses himself to his human forms, and he does so in two basic ways: first, he discloses his undisclosability, and thereby we come to know that we cannot know him. This is the route of negative theology, and Ibn ‘Arabi frequently takes it. Second, God discloses himself to human beings through scripture, the universe, and their own souls. To the degree that he does so, people can and do come to know him.

Ibn ‘Arabi calls the modality of awareness that discerns God’s undisclosability “reason,” and he calls the modality of understanding that grasps his self-disclosure “imagination.” “Unveiling” is then fully actualized and realized imagination, which recognizes the divine reality in its images. Rational thought pushes God far away, but imaginal thought brings him close. Reason discerns God as absent, but unveiling sees him present.

When reason grasps God’s inaccessibility, it “asserts his incomparability” (tanzih). When imagination finds him present, it “asserts his similarity” (tashbih). Long before Ibn ‘Arabi, asserting God’s incomparability (or transcendence) had been normative for most versions of Islamic theology, and asserting his similarity (or immanence) was often found in Sufi expressions of Islamic teachings, especially poetry. Ibn ‘Arabi’s contribution was to stress the need to maintain a proper balance between the two ways of understanding God.

People are able to maintain the balance between incomparability and similarity by seeing with “both eyes,” that is, both reason and imagination. If we do not see God, the world, and ourselves with the full vision of both eyes, we will not be able to see things as they are. The locus of such a vision is the heart, whose beating symbolizes the constant shift from one eye to the other, made necessary by the divine unity, which precludes a simultaneously dual vision.

To be human, then, is to be a divine form. To be a divine form is to be a divine self-expression within which every name of God – every real quality found in the cosmos, every attribute of the absolutely Real (al-haqq) – can become manifest and known.The human form is both different from God (incomparable) and identical with him (similar). Correct understanding of the situation demands seeing with both eyes.

The Muhammadan inheritors and the great friends of God differ from ordinary human beings in the clarity of their vision and the appropriateness of their activity. They have realized the form in which they were created, so they grasp the realities in proper proportion and respond to every situation as God himself would respond, were he to take upon human form.

. . .

All expressions of knowledge go back to our own understanding and experience. Seeing with both eyes, or what might be called “gnosis” (ma‘rifa), is no exception. The human self or soul (nafs) is “an ocean without shore,” to use the expression that Michel Chodkiewicz has chosen as the title of his outstanding study of Ibn ‘Arabi’s hermeneutics. To the extent that we do come to know ourselves correctly as the divine form, we also come to know the infinite God in both his incomparability and his similarity.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/5/19 12:18 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

When the aspiring traveler clings to retreat and the remembrance of God’s name, when he empties his heart of reflective thoughts, and when he sits in poverty at the door of his Lord with nothing, then God will bestow upon him and give him something of knowledge of Him, the divine mysteries, and the lordly sciences. (F. I 31.4) [author quotes ibn 'arabi]



I think that’s the exact quote Adyashanti was talking about in one of his dharma talks. It really spoke to me. His take on it was that it’s about vulnerability.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/6/19 3:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
terry:

When the aspiring traveler clings to retreat and the remembrance of God’s name, when he empties his heart of reflective thoughts, and when he sits in poverty at the door of his Lord with nothing, then God will bestow upon him and give him something of knowledge of Him, the divine mysteries, and the lordly sciences. (F. I 31.4) [author quotes ibn 'arabi]



I think that’s the exact quote Adyashanti was talking about in one of his dharma talks. It really spoke to me. His take on it was that it’s about vulnerability.

   Bless you, linda dear, for reading and responding to this material.

terry



from the katha upanishad, trans easwaran:




Having tested young Nachiketa and found him fit to receive spiritual instruction, Yama, king of death, said:


YAMA

1. The joy of the Atman ever abides,
But not what seems pleasant to the senses.
Both these, differing in their purpose, prompt
Man to action. All is well for those who choose
The joy of the Atman, but they miss
The goal of life who prefer the pleasant.

2. Perennial joy or passing pleasure?
This is the choice one is to make always.
The wise recognize these two, but not
The ignorant. The first welcome what leads
To abiding joy, though painful at the time.
The latter run, goaded by their senses,
After what seems immediate pleasure.

3. Well have you renounced these passing pleasures
So dear to the senses, Nachiketa,
And turned your back on the way of the world
Which makes mankind forget the goal of life.

4. Far apart are wisdom and ignorance.
The first leads one to Self-realization;
The second makes one more and more
Estranged from his real Self. I regard you,
Nachiketa, worthy of instruction,
For passing pleasures tempt you not at all.

5. Ignorant of their ignorance, yet wise
In their own esteem, these deluded men
Proud of their vain learning go round and round

6. Like the blind led by the blind. Far beyond
Their eyes, hypnotized by the world of sense,
Opens the way to immortality.
"I am my body; when my body dies,
I die." Living in this superstition
They fall life after life under my sway.

7. It is but few who hear about the Self.
Fewer still dedicate their lives to its
Realization. Wonderful is the one
Who speaks about the Self; rare are they
Who make it the supreme goal of their lives.
Blessed are they who, through an illumined
Teacher, attain to Self-realization.

8. The truth of the Self cannot come through one
Who has not realized that he is the Self.
The intellect cannot reveal the Self
Beyond its duality of subject
And object. They who see themselves in all
And all in them help others through spiritual
Osmosis to realize the Self themselves.

9. This awakening you have known comes not
Through logic and scholarship, but from
Close association with a realized teacher.
Wise are you, Nachiketa, because you seek
The Self eternal. May we have more
Seekers like you!

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/6/19 4:13 PM as a reply to terry.
Thankyou! And bless you too! And thanks for that text - it was comforting, because I really don’t seem to make things easy for myself.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/6/19 4:20 PM as a reply to terry.
from "songs of innocence"
william blake


The Divine Image

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart;
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine:
And Peace the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.



from "songs of experience"
william blake


A Divine Image

Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secrecy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

RE: When the Waters Were Changed
Answer
5/15/19 11:11 AM as a reply to terry.
from rumi’s “fihi ma fihi” (in it what is in it), trans arberry (as “discourses of rumi”)


There are certain seekers of God who proceed from the Koran to God. Others more elect come from God, find the Koran here, and know that God has sent it down.

“We have seen the Remembrance, and We will watch over it.”

Commentators say that this quote refers to the Koran, but it also means, “We have seen in you a substance, a seeking, a yearning. We will watch over that, not letting it go to waste, but will bring it to its rightful place.”

Once you say “God”, then stand firm under all calamities that rain down upon you. A certain person came to the Prophet and said to him, “Truly I love you.” The Prophet said, “Take heed what you say.” The person repeated, “Truly I love you.” Mohammed said, “Take heed what you say.” They said, “Truly I love you.” Mohammed said, “Now stand firm, for with my own hand I will slay you. Woe upon you!”

Another person came to the Prophet and said, “I don’t want this religion. By God, take it back. Ever since I entered your religion I’ve had no peace for a single day. My wealth is gone, my spouse has left, my child cannot be found, my respect is destroyed, my strength is sapped, even my lust has disappeared.” Mohammed answered,

“What did you expect? Wherever our religion goes it does not return without uprooting that person and sweeping clean their house.”

“None but the purified shall touch God.”

So long as there remains in you a single trace of self-love, God will not show His face to you. You will not be worthy of His presence. You must become wholly indifferent to yourself and the world, so that Friend can show His face. So, whenever our religion lodges in a heart, it will not withdraw its hand until it brings that heart to God and severs from it all that is untrue.

The Prophet went on to say to that person, “You have no peace because sorrow’s purpose is to empty you of previous joys. So long as food fills your stomach, you are not given new food to eat. During elimination, we eat nothing. When we are empty and hungry, then we are given food. Be patient and grieve, for grieving is the emptying of yourself. After you are empty, then joy can enter—a joy with no sorrow, a rose without a thorn, a wine without crop-sickness.”

Why, night and day, do you search for quiet and rest? They cannot be found in this world. But not for one instant do you give up seeking these things. The comfort you find in this world is like a lightning flash that passes but never endures. And what kind of lightning is it? Lightning full of hail, full of rain and snow, full of suffering. For instance, someone sets out for Antalya. They go toward Caesarea hoping to reach Antalya, and never turn back even though it is impossible to reach Antalya by this route. But another who goes by the Antalyan road, though lame and feeble, still they will reach their goal, since that is where the Antalyan road ends.

No task in this world or the next is without suffering. Therefore, devote your suffering to the next world so it will not be wasted. You say, “O Mohammed take away this religion from me, for I can find no rest.” How can our religion let anyone go before it brings them to the goal?

There was a certain teacher who, due to poverty, wore only a single garment of cotton in the middle of winter. By chance, torrents of rain brought down a bear out of the mountains, carrying the bear along with its head hidden in the water. The children, seeing its back, cried,

“Teacher, look! A fur coat has fallen into the water, and you are cold. Take it!”

The teacher in dire need and coldness jumped in to catch the fur coat. The bear quickly plunged its claws into the teacher’s back. The bear in the water thus caught the teacher.

“Teacher,” the children shouted, “either grab the fur coat or let it go and come out!”

“I am letting the fur coat go,” answered the teacher, “but the fur coat isn’t letting me go. What should I do?”

How can God’s love let you go? We should be thankful that God does not let us go. When a child is small it knows nothing but milk and its mother. Yet, God does not leave the child there, but leads it on to eat bread and to play, and in this manner draws it on to the stage of reason. So too in this world—which is in its infancy compared with that other world—God does not leave you here, but brings you on so you can realize that this is infancy and nothing at all. I am amazed at the people who must be dragged to Paradise in chains and fetters.

“Take them and fetter them, then roast them in Paradise, then roast them in Union, then roast them in Beauty, then roast them in Perfection.”

Fishermen do not drag out a fish all at once.