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Relation between Awakening and feeling offended

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Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 5/29/19 3:02 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended shargrol 5/29/19 8:44 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 5/29/19 9:07 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 5/30/19 6:40 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 5/30/19 6:53 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 5/30/19 12:42 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 5/30/19 1:39 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 5/31/19 10:40 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Jehanne S Peacock 5/31/19 4:07 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 5/31/19 9:24 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 6/2/19 3:05 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 9:13 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Raving Rhubarb 6/4/19 7:08 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 6/4/19 9:44 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Raving Rhubarb 6/5/19 3:37 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 6/5/19 6:58 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Hibiscus Kid 6/5/19 8:12 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 6/5/19 7:41 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Hibiscus Kid 6/5/19 8:16 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/5/19 9:09 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Raving Rhubarb 6/5/19 9:19 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 6/5/19 9:25 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/5/19 10:12 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/6/19 4:59 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Jordi 6/7/19 6:04 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/7/19 8:41 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/13/19 11:37 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended JP 5/30/19 2:27 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 5/30/19 3:18 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 5/30/19 3:29 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended curious 5/30/19 4:15 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Griffin 5/30/19 4:54 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended curious 5/31/19 1:07 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 9:28 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 6/4/19 7:39 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 9:24 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended JP 6/4/19 2:01 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/6/19 4:47 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 8:53 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 8:48 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 5/30/19 7:03 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended curious 5/30/19 7:11 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended JohnM 5/30/19 7:14 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 8:39 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 8:17 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Chris Marti 6/3/19 8:41 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 9:38 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/3/19 10:12 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 10:53 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/4/19 1:32 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended curious 5/30/19 12:59 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended shargrol 5/30/19 5:33 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended spatial 5/30/19 9:28 AM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended John H 5/30/19 10:31 PM
RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended terry 6/3/19 7:55 PM
As we know, it is possible for an awakened person to have character flaws such as being easily offended, having a stubborn need to prove themselves right and so on. (For example, K. Folk said that famous Sayadaw U Pandita often “appeared angry, irritated, cutting and sarcastic. In short, he was a mean old man.” A monk warned Folk: “Never argue with Sayadaw. He simply can’ tolerate it.”)

I am not asking why these negative emotions arise (we can figure – conditioning etc.). I am instead asking two questions:

1. Why wouldn’t an awakened person meet their own feelings of aversion and vulnerability with the attitude: “Hey, this is a manifestation of craving, it is not ‘me’, and it’s a good opportunity to practice mindfulness and letting go!”

2. What axis of development is associated with eliminating a specific negative feeling that comes with “being offended” – how to pursue it and is it worth it? (Is it psychological or spiritual in nature?)
 

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/29/19 8:44 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Re #2: the axis of development really depends on what triggers the "being offended".

It could be the types of defense mechanisms someone has (which puts it in the realm of psychology). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms 

It could be the degree to which someone is trapped in more simple worldviews versus more advanced worldviews (which puts it in the axis of adult development). [url=http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1'14%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf] http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1'14%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf

Or it could be the degree to which someone is embedded in their experience and doesn't understand the conditional, empty, and transitory nature of a moment's experience (which puts the axis of development in the meditative realms). (lots of possible links here, but my two favorite books are Wake Up to your Life by Ken McLeod and MCTB2 by Daniel Ingram)

So the answer to the question is actually very specific to the situation.

Hope this helps in some way.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/29/19 9:07 PM as a reply to Griffin.
In regard to #1, it would be easy to make the assumption that an awakened person might never be offended. This assumption misses the mark on at least two accounts:

1. There's no such thing as an awakened person. A human being can be awake in certain moments, even for long periods of time, which is why we all practice as our practice allows us to realize our habitual ignorance, develop more expansive views and see our reactive patterns for what they really are. Some very advanced meditators manage to be awake much of the time. But not all the time. Awakening doesn't change the fact that we're human beings and still have all the foibles that human beings tend to have.

2. There's no permanent person (self) to awaken. We awaken when we are able to perceive that part of our reality, among other things. Everything is transitory and that includes our habitually and presumptively permanent "me."

You may know these things already, but since you asked: I would never expect Culadasa or Daniel Ingram to be perfect (I assume this is the source of your questions, but maybe I'm wrong.) They're both human and they will tend to make the same mistakes me and you and everyone else does. Even though they both claim to have many awakened moments they also have the other kind.

emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 12:59 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Just to add to Shargrol and Chris' replies ... I think it also depends what bits you have purified. The way I see it, the aim of the path is to blow out the central sankhara of 'self'. But that doesn't clear out all of your other karmic formations. 

The blowing out does takes the juice out of the remaining sahkharas, but they can still get triggered and invite some attachment or reaction (including being offended), and even build up into another (fairly weak) pseudo self. So the wisdom eye can flutter a bit as Chris notes. You can reduce these reactions by purifying more and more of your karmic formations; but you'll never get rid of them all, until parinibbana. They are the residue remaining. 

And you wouldn't really want to get rid of them all. Life is fun! Even the Buddha thought about living for another hundred years just to keep enjoying the amazing phenomenal experience of the world.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 5:33 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:
(For example, K. Folk said that famous Sayadaw U Pandita often “appeared angry, irritated, cutting and sarcastic. In short, he was a mean old man.” A monk warned Folk: “Never argue with Sayadaw. He simply can’ tolerate it.”) 

Oh and my theory on this is 1) he was a true expert in meditation, and 2) a large part of his adult development was in the "state 3/4 Expert" stage of development -- which meant he knew his stuff, but was very identified with his social role of being an expert, which is why he couldn't handle disagreements. So he wasn't interested in other worldviews or interpretations of meditative experience.

But we can't really know! Maybe he came from a culture of endless debate about meditation and by this time in his life he was just sick of dealing with people who asked his advice but didn't listen to his advice. emoticon

It's really important not to assume we know what is really going on, although it is completely okay to ponder these things and have it help us develop ways of understanding the complexity of all the different levels of experience and behaviors.  I suspect that - except for close friends we've spent a lot of time with -- it's almost impossible to understand exactly what is going on with other people. 

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 6:40 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris, thank you for your answer (and thanks to other contributors also). Here I have a question in a form of a practical example. Let's say there's a meditation teacher X who is being criticized (it could be Culadasa or any of the other names mentioned, doesn't matter). Then, X writes a reply which, to the neutral outside observer, looks like a text written by someone who is feeling offended.

I am not surprised that such emotion could arise, because, as you said, X can't be perfect. But, the question is: why didn't X have the following reaction to his/her emotion: "Hey, look, there is some manifestation of craving arising in my mind. Great, a chance to purify it! I will mindfully investigate this emotion until it dissolves, and transform the emotional energy into metta. If I do this enough times when someone offends me, eventually my mind won't automatically react with negative feelings to a criticism - instead, it is going to be conditioned to respond with loving-kindness. In that way, I am going to be able to respond more skillfully to attacks, in a relaxed manner, and it's going to contribute to the long-term social atmosphere of understanding, compassion and cooperation. Not just that, if I respond with a friendly tone to criticism, the person I am debating with is much more likely to accept my arguments."

When X writes an answer after utilizing this approach, their text is probably going to leave the impression (to most neutral observers) that X feels benevolence towards the person they are responding, although they disagree with their opinions. Such text wouldn't carry the tension of someone feeling offended in a debate, it would seem more like a relaxed, smiling parent when "arguing" with a child whether dogs can fly. This exercise wouldn't be an impossible task at all - I can imagine a good psychologist with little or no meditative experience doing it with more or less success.

I don't see why X wouldn't be capable of repeating this exercise over and over again until it becomes automatic. These are just a few simple techniques, not a call for perfection. I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that a skilled meditator wouldn't seize every opportunity to exercise their mental abilities in a way described above (or in a similar one), so they relieve themselves and others from negative consequences that the feeling of being offended brings. So, I am not asking "why is not X perfect", I am asking "why is X not deciding to willingly act in a described manner in most situations". emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 6:53 AM as a reply to Griffin.
If I do this enough times when someone offends me, eventually my mind won't automatically react with negative feelings to a criticism - instead, it is going to be conditioned to respond with loving-kindness. In that way, I am going to be able to respond more skillfully to attacks, in a relaxed manner, and it's going to contribute to the long-term social atmosphere of understanding, compassion and cooperation. Not just that, if I respond with a friendly tone to criticism, the person I am debating with is much more likely to accept my arguments."

Griffin, if we lived in a perfect world this would in fact be the case, every time. I believe you're posing a hypothetical based on a flawed assumption that the real world doesn't support with the facts we can observe. You say you're not asking for perfection and I believe you believe that, but the data we have doesn't support your hypothesis. I've met a lot of people who I believe are awake and yet they do human things all the time - things you would think are well beyond them. They fight with others, have anger, resentment, and a full range of human emotions. Our habitual conditioning is extremely powerful and can come back to haunt us in an instant. No matter how well we think we've defeated it, the reactions can reappear, and do.

Take what you observe is going on as fact and validation for something. We may not like it but there it is.

Oh, and the awakened are also perfectly capable of believing the rightness, even righteousness, of their thoughts and methods. We can see that in operation, too.



RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 7:03 AM as a reply to Griffin.
... my mind won't automatically react with negative feelings to a criticism...

Here's the core of the thing - your mind will always react. Awakening does not eliminate the dependently arising nature of mind and what mind causes, which is everything we experience. Awakening allows us to see that process, what's causing what, for what it is, but it does not eliminate it.



RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 7:11 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:

I am not surprised that such emotion could arise, because, as you said, X can't be perfect. But, the question is: why didn't X have the following reaction to his/her emotion: "Hey, look, there is some manifestation of craving arising in my mind. Great, a chance to purify it! I will mindfully investigate this emotion until it dissolves, and transform the emotional energy into metta. If I do this enough times when someone offends me, eventually my mind won't automatically react with negative feelings to a criticism - instead, it is going to be conditioned to respond with loving-kindness. 

Well, if X has crossed the river, they don't need to keep carrying the boat around. In other words, purification of negative emotions into metta could be seen as part of the eightfold path. But if X has walked the eightfold path to the end (of insight), they don't need to keep up the practices (or at least the same level of practice).

Now morality is recommended as the last training, as well as being the first training. So X might choose to continue the four right exertions.  But this effort will now have a different purpose than realisation of no-self.

I also agree with the other responses. emoticon  Hope all these perspectives are of some help.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 7:14 AM as a reply to curious.
What a relief to know that awakening isn’t some kind of flatline. That would resemble one or another version of “white people can’t jump.” Thank you all for clarifying!

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 9:28 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:
As we know, it is possible for an awakened person to have character flaws such as being easily offended, having a stubborn need to prove themselves right and so on. (For example, K. Folk said that famous Sayadaw U Pandita often “appeared angry, irritated, cutting and sarcastic. In short, he was a mean old man.” A monk warned Folk: “Never argue with Sayadaw. He simply can’ tolerate it.”)
This makes me wonder if it might not actually have been the monk who couldn't tolerate Sayadaw's reactions...

You might find this conversation between Joseph Goldstein and Sam Harris interesting:

https://samharris.org/podcasts/the-path-and-the-goal/

Around 1:40:00, they start talking about their experiences with U Pandita.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 12:42 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris,

I thought a lot about this and came up with the following attempt to build a bridge between my question and answers I got. Please tell me whether it is aligned with the main idea of your answer. I would also appreciate if anyone else gives their thoughts on whether I got this right.

Because of my background, the elimination of “feeling offended” conditioning and “harsh speech” conditioning is of the upmost priority in my personal value system. That’s why I would be ready to invest a large amount of energy in their dissolving. However, different people have different priorities, and nobody has enough time or energy to become completely dedicated to accomplishing all of them.

All practitioners allow themselves to have a certain amount of craving-based behaviors that they see as harmless. For example, Sam Harris talks about a famous teacher who sometimes secretly eats meat during the traditional fasting period. He could probably stop doing that if he thought that it would be very important to, but from his perspective this is a tolerable conditioning. For teacher X, certain amount of harshness in communication (that comes from “offendability” conditioning) is like this, not a big deal. If he would fanatically practice for years in order to eliminate this conditioning, he would probably succeed. But there will always remain some other conditioning like this, and it is not possible to have mental capacity so powerful that you monitor for every tiny instance of craving and dissolve it. I remember Reggie Ray saying something along the lines of “there is always more stuff in the dark basement of your mind” (look at the end of the post for the criticism of this view). You could stay rigorously dedicated to removing one specific kind of conditioning (for example those that arise in online communication), but other people decide to invest their energy in other things they see as priority. To my question “why don’t you work on eliminating the conditioning that makes you look offended”, teacher X’s answer might be: “for the same reason you, for example, eat meat and procrastinate a bit – you don’t think it’s a big deal, but I think that those behaviors cause much more negative effects than looking offended”.

For the teacher X, the priority is, for example, eliminating the procrastination conditioning, so he/she can have as much time as possible to teach and help others. He may appear “rude” and “easily offended” by my standards, but, by his standards, this is not a capital issue, while my poor time management (such as spending too much time on online forums) would be considered to be a tragic waste of time that could be invested in helping others. So, different value and ethics systems lead to different decisions in relating to conditionings. (We could try to calculate which conditionings make the most objective damage, and make some kind of ethical hierarchy, but that is not the point here.)

If I dedicate my whole practice to dissolving and transforming “offendability” conditioning, I may indeed eliminate it. For example, going to retreat where I would spend hours visualizing people insulting and torturing me, while sending them metta. (Scenario like in Kakacupama Sutta: “Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching.”) I may go where people would treat me badly so I could practice in that way. After enough time, with right practice, I am sure that conditioning would disappear. (I even vaguely remember that there is a story about group of soldiers who indeed eliminated this conditioning, so they meet any insult with laughter.)

Why would this be impossible? As a comparison, Shinzen Young once said that he would hypothetically be able to totally overcome suffering associated with the physical pain, if he did appropriate practices while spending a month in a professional torture chamber. Few days ago, Daniel shared a story about a woman whose delusion caused her to not feel any pain while giving birth. Human brain, with its enormous potentials, is surely capable of training in a way that will, with enough time, eradicate the ability to feel the specific negative emotion associated with “being offended” (although we may debate whether this is a smart thing to do or not). Following this scenario, someone could argue that the best post-awakening meditation practice is the one where you work on eliminating all conditionings like this, one by one (Shinzen would call this “trigger practice”). So, meditation-wise, you do nothing but focusing on and dissolving triggers. Someone could argue that this is a way to clean all conditionings within a several decades of tireless full-time practice, and that it would lead to “full awakening” (traditional ideal). Maybe the traditional Buddhist monastic life (potentially) gives opportunity for removal of much more conditioning than we usually imagine that it’s possible. Again, this would be just an opinion, and other people could argue that there are better and more balanced ways to practice the Dharma.

For example, Rob Burbea in STF warns that the notion of purifications itself can cause problems, with his brilliant next-level-dharma reasoning: “Experimenting in practice we may discover that the very belief in a store of past wounds or a notion of purification actually perpetuates the experience of ‘difficult stuff coming up’. Beliefs inevitably function as views – they shape the way of looking – so will always affect what is fabricated, and thus what is experienced. (...) If the dependently arisen nature of experience is not seen and understood, processes that seem to be purifications or releases of old hurts may actually be never ending. Convinced of its reality and necessity, we will try, with the best of intentions, to ‘be with’ our experience, and not realize that subtly woven into our 'being with' and our mindful attention are factors which construct that very experience. It may seem that we are simply being passive and open, not doing anything. But we have failed to see the subtle clinging and views present; that these most certainly constitute a doing; and that they shape and concoct experience. Difficult experiences thus being unwittingly fabricated again and again in the present, there is nothing that will exhaust a 'storehouse' such as this.”

PS
When speaking about character flaws, I would like to emphasize a distinction between deficiency-based and craving-based personal flaws. Deficiency-based flaws are things like low IQ, not having a sense of humor, lack of eloquence, not having athletic abilities etc. Any lack of something “positive”. In this regard, we are all imperfect in countless ways, and the space for improvement is always infinite. Also, whether something is deficiency-based flaw or not is often a subjective, relative estimation. Awakening generally doesn’t affect deficiency-based flaws, except for some specific things like level of mindfulness. Craving-based flaws are our habitual conditionings which are related to taṇhā; similar terms are saṅkhāras, mental dispositions, neurotic “triggers” or karmic formations. Awakening weakens many of these conditionings, but it is impossible to “clean” them all.
 

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 1:39 PM as a reply to Griffin.
If I dedicate my whole practice to dissolving and transforming “offendability” conditioning, I may indeed eliminate it. For example, going to retreat where I would spend hours visualizing people insulting and torturing me, while sending them metta. (Scenario like in Kakacupama Sutta: “Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching.”) I may go where people would treat me badly so I could practice in that way. After enough time, with right practice, I am sure that conditioning would disappear. (I even vaguely remember that there is a story about group of soldiers who indeed eliminated this conditioning, so they meet any insult with laughter.)

Why would this be impossible?

Griffin, I've said this before I'd like to have a dollar for every time I've participated in this, or a similar, discussion.

It's clear that there are some examples of what I would call outliers - cases of human beings who are outside the spectrum of what we'd call "normal" who exhibit traits and behaviors that seem to validate what you're saying. There's a woman in England who literally never feels pain. There are idiot savants who can play the piano like Mozart, who can recall every detail and draw an exact replica of an intricate aerial picture of Manhattan. There are monks who seem to be able to set themselves on fire and, at least as it appears outwardly, appear to feel no pain and have no obvious reaction.

There will always be outliers, but for the rest of us, the vast majority, we have what we have - a spectrum of capabilities, some of which we can train to alter, some of which are just wired in because that's how we're built. Permanently.

I see, from my own experience and the experience of many others who've traversed this territory, that eliminating emotional responses, certain reflexes and perceptions (pain, for example) just isn't possible. You can probably train like a madman for a long time and think you've permanently eliminated anger, or being offended, or jealousy, or grief, or the feeling of pain, or whatever. But it'll come back. It's part of what you are.

Part 1 of why I'm sure of this is that these reactions are part of dependent arising, which is how all phenomena arise for us, unavoidably. I explained that in an earlier post today. Part 2 of why I believe as I do is that I've seen many very dedicated practitioners lay claim to having eliminated their emotions - but they always recant. They always end up admitting after a time that they actually do feel anger or jealousy, and they were just suppressing it or fooling themselves. Part 3, which is normative, is why would anyone want to eliminate their emotions? I don't get that at all. The fact that neither Culadasa or Daniel Ingram are making this claim or pursuing this path should be a clue, IMHO.

Bottom line: If this is that important to you and you truly believe I'm just flat out wrong, please go for it and prove it. I'll be the first in line to congratulate you.


RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 2:27 PM as a reply to Griffin.
I'm curious about this part of what you mentioned:
Because of my background, the elimination of “feeling offended” conditioning and “harsh speech” conditioning is of the upmost priority in my personal value system. 

It sounds like you've been putting a lot of time and effort into looking at your immediate emotional reactivity and trying to recondition your responses to respond more compassionately to other people.  That's great! A big part of the path is letting go of our many different beliefs that we "have to" respond in a certain way to certain sensations.  

But eventually our practice will swing around to point at the other remaining ways that we "have to" react, and we'll suffer until we start to realize that they're just beliefs about how we have to react rather than actual constraints.  So if you haven't, it might be worth investigating why you "have to not feel offended" and why you "have to not speak harshly."   I know that I've had a lot of internal division about whether it was OK to be angry or to express anger externally, and it's been freeing to work on accepting the parts of myself that occasionally do get angry.  With stuff like this, if you're really done with processing it then it'll feel like an action that you'd be fine taking, but that you'd somewhat prefer not to -- e.g. wanting to get a coffee instead of tea.  But if you're not done with accepting and integrating the different ways we could react, then reacting in a certain way feels really impossible or dangerous.

Just my 2¢ and you might already have done plenty of work here, but it sounds like something to look at if you haven't already.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 3:18 PM as a reply to JP.
... until we start to realize that they're just beliefs about how we have to react rather than actual constraints.

Great comment, JP.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/31/19 10:40 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris,

I see what you are saying and it may indeed be impossible to remove negative emotions, just like you can’t remove hunger. However, that’s not exactly the essence of my dilemma, so I will rephrase the question - please consider the following silly example. I used to have so much fear while being on the roller coaster that I had to keep my eyes shut and body tense during the whole ride. After applying mindfulness for a few rides, the fear is now reduced by ~95%, and I can keep my eyes open and body completely limp all the time. Let’s put it like this: although the original amount of fear (100%) may appear again (in a life-threatening situation), the mind has been trained to 1) send just 5% of fear during the specific activity (a roller coaster ride), and 2) so there is no behavioral consequence (instead of keeping eyes and body clenched they are relaxed).

Why would it be impossible for Culadasa to treat his negative emotion of being offended in the same way, so eventually he starts to 1) feel just 5% of unpleasantness during the specific activity of taking criticism (e.g. reading Daniel’s stance on TMI), and 2) there is no behavioral consequence (instead of saying "Daniel, you do not understand TMI", he says something kind/relaxed/euphemistic like "there are some misunderstandings, but we’ll work that out, and even if we don’t, I will still respect you as a colleague and a friend" etc.).

I don’t see why this would be unimaginable. There are millions of ordinary people who completely overcame some of worst phobias, traumas, and addictions, using psychological techniques or meditation. I overcame several moderately serious anxieties and phobias during the years of my meditation practice. When someone criticizes me, it’s unpleasant, but not so bad as were those anxieties that are now behind me. I cannot imagine why I (let alone Culadasa) would not be able to greatly reduce the sensitivity to criticism in the exact same way, to the point that it’s so weak that there are barely any outer manifestations of it (like in the roller coaster example), especially in written form. Of course, I admit, the equivalent unpleasantness may again arise in its maximum in some extreme situation (like being lynched or tortured in public), but not in ordinary situations, like somebody criticizing my book. emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 3:29 PM as a reply to JP.
JP,

Thank you for your comments, I totally agree. I see how my emphasis on “right speech” can have its shadow side and how “intention not to express craving in speech” may become “a craving not to express craving in speech” emoticon One of the most important steps toward eliminating craving from communication is accepting and normalizing its existence, greeting our inner reactions with the same gentleness and compassion that we expect from others.

However, still, it is probably OK if we have our own personal developmental priorities and ideals. What surprised me (probably because of my own naivety) is when Culadasa manifested the feeling of being offended in his replies to Daniel. Please read my newest response to Chris for clarifications. So, my question is: in the hypothetical situation in which Culadasa had the same developmental priorities as I do (dissolving craving in communication and replacing it with metta) would he be able to respond to Daniel’s criticism in a spirit of honest benevolence, forgiveness and understanding?

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 4:15 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin - my answer would be yes he could stop the offense, but it might take effort and probably wouldn't be worth the trouble.

Take pain.  At one stage out of love for the dharma I resolved to learn to handle pain, so I went to the dentist and refused novocaine while he drilled into my dentine. I vipassinized the pain, deconstructed it, and saw the base sense moments and vedanas and all the rest of it, and then it wasn't pain any more, it was something else.  So it's a bit like the Shinzen example - you can do it but it takes an awful lot of effort.  So do you need to make that effort continuously? No. You only need to do it ONCE so that you can really understand what is going on. Then, next time, you can just be mindful of the arising of pain and avoid attaching to it, without having to do the hard work of vipassinizing it.

This is explicitly dealt with the the Culavedalla sutta, where the interlocuter asks ""Is passion-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all pleasant feeling? Is resistance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all painful feeling? Is ignorance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

The answer is a clear. No. Rather, specific exercises are given for overcoming passion obsession and resistance obsession in a particular context. Success in one context enables you to stop the obsession for all other contexts. So once you have seen resistance obsession for what is really is (which I did through vipassinising pain), you can stop the obsession for everything else. That is, stop the obsession, not the raw emotion. JP gives great pointers on this.

Also, considering your rollercoaster example in reply to Chris - it is not really about reducing the fear, it is about completely understanding how the fear arises and how you react to it. Once you do this, you don't cling to it any more. You can be as scared as anything and it really doesn't matter to you. Developing this understanding requires strong concentration and deep curious investigation. 

So don't be afraid to use your concentration to look very very closely at the resistance-obsession, and the sense of being offended. See these phenomena clearly all the way from raw sensate moments all the way up through the chain of dependent origination to clinging and becoming. Then you can let go of the obsession, and it doesn't matter whether you get offended or not. After all, who cares? emoticon

Good luck.

Malcolm


 
 

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 4:54 PM as a reply to curious.
Malcolm,
Thank you for interesting observations. I will try to paraphrase what you sad in order to check whether I understood you correctly:

It’s normal that some negative emotion arose in Culadasa’s mind after reading the criticism. He could “deconstruct” this particular occurrence of negative emotion if he did a meditation for that purpose, but it is not practical to do this every time you feel a bit uncomfortable. He cannot prevent raw emotions from arising; however, he can stop the “obsession”. I assume it means that, while an ordinary person is going to think about the criticism for a long time after the conversation, Culadasa’s mind is not going to be occupied with those thoughts.

This makes sense. However, that leaves me with one final question: we can imagine some other meditation teacher whose response to the same criticism would be much softer and written in a manner that is infused with honest loving-kindness and forgiveness. What is the difference between such a teacher and Culadasa in terms of their spiritual development? Is it a matter of different amounts of metta practice they did?

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/30/19 10:31 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin, you might find some use in these ideas. The Dalai Lama recommends that you see every being as your mother remembering a mother's love and sacrifice for her children. With reincarnation perhaps this is a literal truth or maybe you can just see things this way. All four of the brahma viharas are likely to make it easier to be non-reactive towards others. They are a key part of the practice in any case but you might want to emphasize them. Dipa Ma was famous for her mastery of metta and it's enlightening effects on those she met.

Lastly you might look at the word offended. In the usage that looks most relevant to me, its a transitive verb. That means it has a subject and an object. Generically I/He/him/it/They offended him/her/it/them/me. Anatta is characteristic not only of self, but also of other. People generally aren't offended by their own behavior. As for others, you likely wouldn't be offended by someone who misread something in the newspaper because they had a vision problem. Nor would you likely be as angry at someone who committed a crime who had a brain tumor. Delusion is the human condition. Pretty much none of us see straight. We see a rope and mistake it for a snake. Internalizing that might make forbearance easier.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/31/19 1:07 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:
Malcolm,
Thank you for interesting observations. I will try to paraphrase what you sad in order to check whether I understood you correctly:

It’s normal that some negative emotion arose in Culadasa’s mind after reading the criticism. He could “deconstruct” this particular occurrence of negative emotion if he did a meditation for that purpose, but it is not practical to do this every time you feel a bit uncomfortable. He cannot prevent raw emotions from arising; however, he can stop the “obsession”. I assume it means that, while an ordinary person is going to think about the criticism for a long time after the conversation, Culadasa’s mind is not going to be occupied with those thoughts.

This makes sense. However, that leaves me with one final question: we can imagine some other meditation teacher whose response to the same criticism would be much softer and written in a manner that is infused with honest loving-kindness and forgiveness. What is the difference between such a teacher and Culadasa in terms of their spiritual development? Is it a matter of different amounts of metta practice they did?

Griffin, I'm not sure those descriptions are an accurate account of what goes on in that particular teacher's mind.  However, putting that to one side, the answer to your final question is yes. But the reason for the difference is complicated. Yes it might depend on practice history, but it would also depend on the unique set of karmic formations that make them the individual they are.

Also, a tiny clarification that might be hard to understand, until you see it for yourself.  It's not just that the mind is less occupied with those thoughts, it is that the self doesn't attach to them. So you don't get the clinging that leads to impulses that leads to becoming.

So try to detach from the offense, rather than suppressing it. You will likely find that offence arises less as you make progress anyway, but if you actively suppress it you will hit a dead end until you change practice. Show metta towards the sense of offence too!

Hope this helps.  It's just one perspective.

Practice well!

Malcolm

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/31/19 4:07 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:


Why is it be impossible for Culadasa to treat his negative emotion of being offended in the same way, so he starts to 1) feel just 5% of unpleasantness during the specific activity of taking criticism (e.g. reading Daniel’s stance on TMI), and 2)  there is no behavioral consequence (instead of saying “Daniel, you do not understand TMI”, he says something kind/relaxed/euphemistic like “there are some misunderstandings, but we’ll work that out, and even if we don’t, I will still respect you as a colleague and a friend etc.”).


Isn't the most obvious answer being forgotten here?  Maybe he simply chooses to display that sort of behaviour and it is not in direct relation to his inner reality.
For further context check out this text from David Chapman about wrathful teaching.

Kim Katami also wrote recently about wrathful displays:
If we are used to thinking that mahasiddha is someone who just remains
in peace and never raises his voice, it is perhaps shocking to know
that someone fully realized would use harsh words and seemingly
aggressive behaviour, like overthrow tables of the moneychangers, as
Jesus did, or shoot arrows to kill enemies of dharma, like a disciple
of Guru Rinpoche did.
To think of mahasiddhas as people who keep distance to society, not
acting when action is needed, is false and immature. The freer one
becomes of being self-charged, the richer the expression of the
nature of mind becomes. This means that someone who is liberated,
lives his or her persona in full. Personality is not lost, though
selfing is. The realisation of emptiness removes our sense of self,
if one's training is complete. Empty nature of mind is not a state of
mental blankness but the exact opposite, birth of oneself as fully
aware and awake, including the range of emotions in their selfless
mode. Buddhahood is abound with ornaments, in some cases soft grace
and showering of lotuses, and furious flames and sharp daggers in
others. A mahasiddha can not be solely peaceful or solely wrathful
because the range of human emotion takes both forms.

I hope this was helpful in some way emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
5/31/19 9:24 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Why would it be impossible for Culadasa to treat his negative emotion of being offended in the same way, so eventually he starts to 1) feel just 5% of unpleasantness during the specific activity of taking criticism (e.g. reading Daniel’s stance on TMI), and 2)  there is no behavioral consequence (instead of saying “Daniel, you do not understand TMI”, he says something kind/relaxed/euphemistic like “there are some misunderstandings, but we’ll work that out, and even if we don’t, I will still respect you as a colleague and a friend etc.”).

Griffin, I think the replies to your questions by Malcolm (curious) are more than responsive and I wholeheartedly agree with what he has posted.

I would only add that you seem to be very focused and, as I read your response, disappointed by the emotion revealed in Culadasa's response to Daniel Ingram. I can relate to this feeling very much, as many years ago my first vipassana teacher and very good friend Kenneth Folk disappointed me on several occasions and in similar ways. Rather than go into the specifics I would say that the root cause of my disappointment was my own deeply held view of what my teacher should be, not what he actually is. In a way what occurred was a great teaching for me once I had processed it fully.

People, awake or not, have preferences, blind spots about themselves, even behavioral attributes that grate on us. We can't change them but we can change our expectations of them. Of course, it's not impossible for people to change, but they have to be motivated to do it by themselves. Maybe awakened person X isn't motivated to change a behavior that they don't see or if they do see it don't believe it's a problem?

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/2/19 3:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris,

Thank you, things are much more clear for me now. I have also re-read chapter on models of enlightenment in MCTB. This all has helped me to gain a more realistic perspective. Nice!

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 7:55 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:
As we know, it is possible for an awakened person to have character flaws such as being easily offended, having a stubborn need to prove themselves right and so on. (For example, K. Folk said that famous Sayadaw U Pandita often “appeared angry, irritated, cutting and sarcastic. In short, he was a mean old man.” A monk warned Folk: “Never argue with Sayadaw. He simply can’ tolerate it.”)

I am not asking why these negative emotions arise (we can figure – conditioning etc.). I am instead asking two questions:

1. Why wouldn’t an awakened person meet their own feelings of aversion and vulnerability with the attitude: “Hey, this is a manifestation of craving, it is not ‘me’, and it’s a good opportunity to practice mindfulness and letting go!”

2. What axis of development is associated with eliminating a specific negative feeling that comes with “being offended” – how to pursue it and is it worth it? (Is it psychological or spiritual in nature?)
 


only ego is offended


the yogi is like the sands of the ganges, animals defecate and urinate on him and he bears it as naturally as rain or sunshine...

the sufi is like the desert, same same...

at least sayadaw is spontaneous and sincere... it takes practice, you know...too bad someone couldn't tell him to lighten up...they say j krishnamurti used to get angry with his servant and berate him... I'll bet the servant had some stories...the tendency of old people to be cranky absolutely can and should be overcome, and is not something one can admire...anger can be used as a tool, if feigned, and such feigning is very useful raising children or animals who have a natural talent (and boundless energy) for getting a person angry...ramakrishna had a story about a snake who was causing trouble in an indian village...when the local guru came around the villagers complained of the snake, and he went to the snake and told it to leave the villagers in peace...the snake became a vegetarian and tried to mind its own business, but the village boys found out he was no longer dangerous and beat him with sticks...it didn't die though, because it was following the guru's instructions...next time the guru came around he visited the snake and heard the sad story...the guru advised the snake to raise his hood and shake at the children to frighten them off, and even bite if he had to, but under no conditions was he to inject his venom...

ramakrishna also used to say that if you add a tiny bit of mud to dirty water it is completely unnoticeable, but if you add it to clean water, it becomes dirty...no doubt any rare lapse of a revered figure is noticed and commented on...what is set on high is readily knocked over...

people I love I hate sometimes, and I have one particular neighbor (maybe two) I usually hate... I know it is wrong and bad, and I work on it... sometimes just staying away is best...

if one thinks one is enlightened, or if others think one is enlightened, it only makes it harder to be "authentic"... though in truth, we authenticaly do our best by nature, and only need to realize it, and accept it...


q1...an "awakened person" is a misnomer...awakening is ongoing: "he not busy being born is busy dying"...an awakening person certainly would see aversion as something to drop, and vulnerability as an illusion, and would adopt the atttude you indicate - this is the meaning of "the passions are enlightenment"...as acim says, "nothing real can be threatened; nothing unreal exists"... perhaps with enough practice aversion and feelings of vulnerability occur less often... one can hope...

q2 "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof"...don't pursue...let what floats on the surface stay on the surface...


t

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 8:17 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
In regard to #1, it would be easy to make the assumption that an awakened person might never be offended. This assumption misses the mark on at least two accounts:

1. There's no such thing as an awakened person. A human being can be awake in certain moments, even for long periods of time, which is why we all practice as our practice allows us to realize our habitual ignorance, develop more expansive views and see our reactive patterns for what they really are. Some very advanced meditators manage to be awake much of the time. But not all the time. Awakening doesn't change the fact that we're human beings and still have all the foibles that human beings tend to have.

2. There's no permanent person (self) to awaken. We awaken when we are able to perceive that part of our reality, among other things. Everything is transitory and that includes our habitually and presumptively permanent "me."

You may know these things already, but since you asked: I would never expect Culadasa or Daniel Ingram to be perfect (I assume this is the source of your questions, but maybe I'm wrong.) They're both human and they will tend to make the same mistakes me and you and everyone else does. Even though they both claim to have many awakened moments they also have the other kind.

emoticon

aloha chris,

   You are right, bra, but you are typically cynical as well. The people you mention are not the buddha, not christ; and close is no cigar. They are not prophets. Not perfected. Not "enlightened," not "awakened," not incarnations of god.That does not mean such people do not exist, or have not existed. There is both a critical mass and a quantum leap involved in becoming another order of being. 

   Of course, we were all born as babies and developed as children; the prophets were once snot-nosed kids and were spanked for bad behavior.

   There is a way of seeing where everyone is enlightened all the time. They don't necessarily realize it but all are perfect servants, and see exactly what they need to see.

   The way desire works, we always get what we truly want, not what we think we want. Freedom comes in the end. When we want it. If we want respect, or love, or peace and quiet, we will be frustrated from time to time. This doesn't mean we don't continue to value respect, love and peace and quiet.  Only that we value them whether we possess them or not. Desire is desire whether fulfilled or frustrated.

   In practice, I find myself sometimes caught up in frustration that I ordinarily know better than to sink to. A day or two later I meet someone who has just been through exactly the same frustration and is having trouble with it. My recent experience and attendant insights prove beneficial. In retrospect, the "frustration" served a useful purpose, facilitated skill in means. Most of my frustrations end up as cautionary tales of some sort. I've learned not to dismiss suffering and frustration as useless; it all works to some purpose which is often occult, hidden. Thus we learn trust.

terry



"Even my mistakes are perfect because they help me improve." 

michael jordan

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 8:39 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:
Chris, thank you for your answer (and thanks to other contributors also). Here I have a question in a form of a practical example. Let's say there's a meditation teacher X who is being criticized (it could be Culadasa or any of the other names mentioned, doesn't matter). Then, X writes a reply which, to the neutral outside observer, looks like a text written by someone who is feeling offended.

I am not surprised that such emotion could arise, because, as you said, X can't be perfect. But, the question is: why didn't X have the following reaction to his/her emotion: "Hey, look, there is some manifestation of craving arising in my mind. Great, a chance to purify it! I will mindfully investigate this emotion until it dissolves, and transform the emotional energy into metta. If I do this enough times when someone offends me, eventually my mind won't automatically react with negative feelings to a criticism - instead, it is going to be conditioned to respond with loving-kindness. In that way, I am going to be able to respond more skillfully to attacks, in a relaxed manner, and it's going to contribute to the long-term social atmosphere of understanding, compassion and cooperation. Not just that, if I respond with a friendly tone to criticism, the person I am debating with is much more likely to accept my arguments."

When X writes an answer after utilizing this approach, their text is probably going to leave the impression (to most neutral observers) that X feels benevolence towards the person they are responding, although they disagree with their opinions. Such text wouldn't carry the tension of someone feeling offended in a debate, it would seem more like a relaxed, smiling parent when "arguing" with a child whether dogs can fly. This exercise wouldn't be an impossible task at all - I can imagine a good psychologist with little or no meditative experience doing it with more or less success.

I don't see why X wouldn't be capable of repeating this exercise over and over again until it becomes automatic. These are just a few simple techniques, not a call for perfection. I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that a skilled meditator wouldn't seize every opportunity to exercise their mental abilities in a way described above (or in a similar one), so they relieve themselves and others from negative consequences that the feeling of being offended brings. So, I am not asking "why is not X perfect", I am asking "why is X not deciding to willingly act in a described manner in most situations". emoticon



from the mathnawi, by rumi:


God’s lion, free from all impurity:
During a battle, he subdued a foe
Then drew his sword to deal the final blow.
That man spat in Ali’s pure face, the pride
Of every saint and prophet far and wide
The moon prostrates itself before this face
At which he spat — this act was a disgrace!
Ali put down his saber straight away
And, though he was on top, he stopped the fray.
The fighter was astonished by this act,
That he showed mercy though he’d been attacked.

He said, I use my sword the way God’s planned
Not for my body but by God’s command;
I am God’s lion, not the one of passion
— My actions testify to my religion: . . .

I am a mountain, God’s my solid base,
Like straw I’m blown just by thought of His face;
My longing changes once His wind has blown,
My captain is the love of Him alone.

Illustrious one, I am you and you are I
Ali, how could I cause Ali to die!

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 8:41 PM as a reply to terry.
 You are right, bra, but...

No "buts" terry. Just stick to the first three words.   emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 8:48 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
If I do this enough times when someone offends me, eventually my mind won't automatically react with negative feelings to a criticism - instead, it is going to be conditioned to respond with loving-kindness. In that way, I am going to be able to respond more skillfully to attacks, in a relaxed manner, and it's going to contribute to the long-term social atmosphere of understanding, compassion and cooperation. Not just that, if I respond with a friendly tone to criticism, the person I am debating with is much more likely to accept my arguments."

Griffin, if we lived in a perfect world this would in fact be the case, every time.





Oh, and the awakened are also perfectly capable of believing the rightness, even righteousness, of their thoughts and methods. We can see that in operation, too.




   In our perfect world, it is indeed the case. All the time. Practicing = perfecting. Even an improving driver may do poorly on a difficult course.


   The awakened don't believe in anything, certainly not rightness. The pious burned joan of arc because they couldn't accept her voices were divine and told her to expel the english, them being english. God was on their side, after all; they were righteous.

   Besides, you just said there weren't any awakened people.

t

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 8:53 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin:

As a comparison, Shinzen Young once said that he would hypothetically be able to totally overcome suffering associated with the physical pain, if he did appropriate practices while spending a month in a professional torture chamber. 


  I'd like to put a guy who said that in a professional torture chamber for a month and see. Like perillos and the brazen bull.

t

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 9:13 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
If I dedicate my whole practice to dissolving and transforming “offendability” conditioning, I may indeed eliminate it. For example, going to retreat where I would spend hours visualizing people insulting and torturing me, while sending them metta. (Scenario like in Kakacupama Sutta: “Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching.”) I may go where people would treat me badly so I could practice in that way. After enough time, with right practice, I am sure that conditioning would disappear. (I even vaguely remember that there is a story about group of soldiers who indeed eliminated this conditioning, so they meet any insult with laughter.)

Why would this be impossible?

Griffin, I've said this before I'd like to have a dollar for every time I've participated in this, or a similar, discussion.

It's clear that there are some examples of what I would call outliers - cases of human beings who are outside the spectrum of what we'd call "normal" who exhibit traits and behaviors that seem to validate what you're saying. There's a woman in England who literally never feels pain. There are idiot savants who can play the piano like Mozart, who can recall every detail and draw an exact replica of an intricate aerial picture of Manhattan. There are monks who seem to be able to set themselves on fire and, at least as it appears outwardly, appear to feel no pain and have no obvious reaction.

There will always be outliers, but for the rest of us, the vast majority, we have what we have - a spectrum of capabilities, some of which we can train to alter, some of which are just wired in because that's how we're built. Permanently.

I see, from my own experience and the experience of many others who've traversed this territory, that eliminating emotional responses, certain reflexes and perceptions (pain, for example) just isn't possible. You can probably train like a madman for a long time and think you've permanently eliminated anger, or being offended, or jealousy, or grief, or the feeling of pain, or whatever. But it'll come back. It's part of what you are.

Part 1 of why I'm sure of this is that these reactions are part of dependent arising, which is how all phenomena arise for us, unavoidably. I explained that in an earlier post today. Part 2 of why I believe as I do is that I've seen many very dedicated practitioners lay claim to having eliminated their emotions - but they always recant. They always end up admitting after a time that they actually do feel anger or jealousy, and they were just suppressing it or fooling themselves. Part 3, which is normative, is why would anyone want to eliminate their emotions? I don't get that at all. The fact that neither Culadasa or Daniel Ingram are making this claim or pursuing this path should be a clue, IMHO.

Bottom line: If this is that important to you and you truly believe I'm just flat out wrong, please go for it and prove it. I'll be the first in line to congratulate you.



What if you are flat out wrong and we can't prove it to you?

Why wouldn't anyone want to eliminate negative emotions? The brahmaviharas are the remedies for their shadows: cruelty, indifference, envy and restlessness.

Anger, jealousy, and envy may be normative but they suck, and we practice to lessen and eliminate them.

Buddhism teaches that all of these negative emotions have a common root, which is craving. Buddhism teaches that craving can be eliminated, and beings liberated. 

Anyone who makes claims is obviously on the wrong track. It has long been noted that people who are interested in psychology have issues, and people interested in spirituality have ego problems. Anyone who claims any status at all - parent, teacher, doctor, stream enterer, whatever - is "riding in a carriage," taking their ease in unearned comfort while robbers plot to attack them. Their claim is their window of vulnerability.

The emphasis on practicing to remove a singular flaw may be misguided. Better to cut off craving/ignorance at the root. One can be greedy for the state of being unoffended. Seeking out offense in order to practice being unoffended seems similar to seeking out illness. Why look for trouble?

terry

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 9:24 PM as a reply to JP.
JP:
I'm curious about this part of what you mentioned:
Because of my background, the elimination of “feeling offended” conditioning and “harsh speech” conditioning is of the upmost priority in my personal value system. 

It sounds like you've been putting a lot of time and effort into looking at your immediate emotional reactivity and trying to recondition your responses to respond more compassionately to other people.  That's great! A big part of the path is letting go of our many different beliefs that we "have to" respond in a certain way to certain sensations.  

But eventually our practice will swing around to point at the other remaining ways that we "have to" react, and we'll suffer until we start to realize that they're just beliefs about how we have to react rather than actual constraints.  So if you haven't, it might be worth investigating why you "have to not feel offended" and why you "have to not speak harshly."   I know that I've had a lot of internal division about whether it was OK to be angry or to express anger externally, and it's been freeing to work on accepting the parts of myself that occasionally do get angry.  With stuff like this, if you're really done with processing it then it'll feel like an action that you'd be fine taking, but that you'd somewhat prefer not to -- e.g. wanting to get a coffee instead of tea.  But if you're not done with accepting and integrating the different ways we could react, then reacting in a certain way feels really impossible or dangerous.

Just my 2¢ and you might already have done plenty of work here, but it sounds like something to look at if you haven't already.


expressing anger = violence

yelling leads to hitting (when the yelling starts I turn to leave, even if the yeller is me)...

when I find myself starting to yell I start shutting up...call it non-violence...

if you never do anything but stop yelling and hitting you have done a great work...saint you...

this sort of work is very hard and very worthwhile, so stay with it, have faith (in non-violence) and never give up on it, no matter how difficult or how normative the opposition...

bless the consistent idealist in the face of relentless (and flat out wrong) cynicism...


t

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 9:28 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Griffin - my answer would be yes he could stop the offense, but it might take effort and probably wouldn't be worth the trouble.

Take pain.  At one stage out of love for the dharma I resolved to learn to handle pain, so I went to the dentist and refused novocaine while he drilled into my dentine. I vipassinized the pain, deconstructed it, and saw the base sense moments and vedanas and all the rest of it, and then it wasn't pain any more, it was something else.  So it's a bit like the Shinzen example - you can do it but it takes an awful lot of effort.  So do you need to make that effort continuously? No. You only need to do it ONCE so that you can really understand what is going on. Then, next time, you can just be mindful of the arising of pain and avoid attaching to it, without having to do the hard work of vipassinizing it.

This is explicitly dealt with the the Culavedalla sutta, where the interlocuter asks ""Is passion-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all pleasant feeling? Is resistance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all painful feeling? Is ignorance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

The answer is a clear. No. Rather, specific exercises are given for overcoming passion obsession and resistance obsession in a particular context. Success in one context enables you to stop the obsession for all other contexts. So once you have seen resistance obsession for what is really is (which I did through vipassinising pain), you can stop the obsession for everything else. That is, stop the obsession, not the raw emotion. JP gives great pointers on this.

Also, considering your rollercoaster example in reply to Chris - it is not really about reducing the fear, it is about completely understanding how the fear arises and how you react to it. Once you do this, you don't cling to it any more. You can be as scared as anything and it really doesn't matter to you. Developing this understanding requires strong concentration and deep curious investigation. 

So don't be afraid to use your concentration to look very very closely at the resistance-obsession, and the sense of being offended. See these phenomena clearly all the way from raw sensate moments all the way up through the chain of dependent origination to clinging and becoming. Then you can let go of the obsession, and it doesn't matter whether you get offended or not. After all, who cares? emoticon

Good luck.

Malcolm


 
 

perhaps if you sat in the dentist chair and had your teeth drilled without novocaine for a month you would conquer pain altogether, as shinzen young appears to indicate...

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 9:38 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 You are right, bra, but...

No "buts" terry. Just stick to the first three words.   emoticon

you are right

(wink)

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 10:12 PM as a reply to terry.
I think negative feelings serve a purpose and should not be repressed but listened to. On the other hand, if the purpose isn’t there, they are not important for their own sake. In good relationships between equals there is often no need to wait for negative feelings to arise if needs and boundaries are known. Communication can take place at an earlier stage, before there is a problem.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/3/19 10:53 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I think negative feelings serve a purpose and should not be repressed but listened to. On the other hand, if the purpose isn’t there, they are not important for their own sake. In good relationships between equals there is often no need to wait for negative feelings to arise if needs and boundaries are known. Communication can take place at an earlier stage, before there is a problem.
aloha linda,

   You are right, of course, but... 

    Everything serves awakening; listen to all of it.

   Negative feelings - anger, jealousy, envy, hatred, schadenfreude - are certainly not to be repressed, that only makes them last.  Don't hate yourself and feel guilty and then find comfort in denial.

   The idea is to cut negativity off at the root, to realize such feelings are aspects of craving and to practice to eliminate craving.

   Tangling with evil directly is pitting violence against violence. The first thing is to be honest with yourself, and acknowledge your feelings. As you say.

   My shop is in ocean view, 100 miles from my home in hawi. I drive the distance every week or two, and it is easy to get attached to getting there in a reasonable amount of time and to proceeding at a reasonable speed. Unreasonable things happen from time to time, and when negative feelings arise I find myself thinking of excuses for the other driver, rather than assume the person is a moron or a maniac. I try to deal with the feelings in real time and dismiss them as spurious via insight rather than save them for later obsessing. Even if the other driver is flat out wrong, I want to forgive them, rather than judge and condemn. Often it is a matter of mindfulness. Maybe I 'm speeding along, listening to music and thinking of something else, and someone impedes my progress by doing something illegal or dumb, and caught unawares, anger arises. It is not so much the arising event but the lack of mindfulness that is the problem.

   It is ego which reacts and represses. 

terry



“Memory says, 'I did that.' Pride replies, 'I could not have done that.' Eventually, memory yields.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/4/19 1:32 AM as a reply to terry.
Totally agree. I do the same thing. Not that I always succeed, but I certainly try, and I usually don’t get angry in the traffic. Not driving helps with that, of course.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/4/19 7:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Part 3, which is normative, is why would anyone want to eliminate their emotions? I don't get that at all.
1. Because it hurts. It is suffering. Suffering is bad. Why not remove it?
2. Because the Buddha says you need to do this to stop rebirth and enter total nibbana.

Personally, it seems to me that the first reason isn't unreasonable or surprising.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/4/19 7:39 AM as a reply to terry.
perhaps if you sat in the dentist chair and had your teeth drilled without novocaine for a month you would conquer pain altogether, as shinzen young appears to indicate...

Or because you'd pass out over and over again  emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/4/19 9:44 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
1. Because it hurts. It is suffering. Suffering is bad. Why not remove it?

Are you talking about eliminating suffering or eliminating emotions? They are not the same.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/4/19 2:01 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:
expressing anger = violence

yelling leads to hitting (when the yelling starts I turn to leave, even if the yeller is me)...

when I find myself starting to yell I start shutting up...call it non-violence...

if you never do anything but stop yelling and hitting you have done a great work...saint you...

this sort of work is very hard and very worthwhile, so stay with it, have faith (in non-violence) and never give up on it, no matter how difficult or how normative the opposition...

bless the consistent idealist in the face of relentless (and flat out wrong) cynicism...

In terms of yelling and setting boundaries to prevent it I actually agree 100% -- but I think that assuming that expressing anger = yelling is an oversimplification.  If you're in a situation where you're currently feeling really frustrated about a conflict with someone, then telling that person "I feel incredibly frustrated and can't continue with this situation the way it is" is actually a really clear expression of anger.  There's also the perspective that anger is something that provides energy to change a situation -- so anger can be a push to make a strong effort to handle our half of a conflict and take actions so that we won't be stuck in a situation.  You just don't want to be acting on the deliberate harmful intent to others portion of it.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 3:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
1. Because it hurts. It is suffering. Suffering is bad. Why not remove it?

Are you talking about eliminating suffering or eliminating emotions? They are not the same.
Emotions (some of them) hurt. They are painful. How is that not suffering? Seeing the 3Cs of emotions may mitigate that, but it doesn't turn painful emotions into non-painful emotions, or does it?

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 6:58 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Raving, I don't find emotions painful in and of themselves. They just are. I do find that my reactions to emotions can cause pain and suffering. That's the distinction I was aiming at in my earlier post.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 8:12 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Raving Rhubarb:
Chris Marti:
1. Because it hurts. It is suffering. Suffering is bad. Why not remove it?

Are you talking about eliminating suffering or eliminating emotions? They are not the same.

Emotions (some of them) hurt. They are painful. How is that not suffering? Seeing the 3Cs of emotions may mitigate that, but it doesn't turn painful emotions into non-painful emotions, or does it?

Having had some some conversations with advanced practitioners (4th path/Arhats), they describe how emotions are no longer painful which means morality becomes an important consideration.

The example I was given was that anger no longer feels so 'contracted'. It feels energetic and powerful. It can even feel good in some capacity. The emotion is seen with complete 'clarity' (whatever 'clarity' means).

Additionally, the internal signals that tell a person that they need to behave appropriately (social conditioning) get "turned down" so to say. That means that they could potentially lash out in in the face of strong emotions and that can be rather unproductive.

Anger is still anger. It arises due to causes and conditions and also creates causes and conditions for something else to arise. It may pass more quickly. It may run through cleaner "pathways" in the mind, so to speak. It may not eclipse everything in experience as it arises the way it does in some people (as in, they won't completely lose the context of what is going on).

My theory is that emotions are no longer painful due to the rewiring of the brain and "energy systems" of the bodymind. Yes, there is a grokking of view where anger isn't 'happening to anyone', but it also sounds like emotions get processed by the bodymind differently in advanced practitioners. This is speculation on my part as I haven't had any path shifts that I know of. Still interesting to consider though.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 7:41 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
The example I was given was that anger no longer feels so 'contracted'. It feels energetic and powerful. It can even feel good in some capacity. The emotion is seen with complete 'clarity' (whatever 'clarity' means).

"Clarity" in this sense means that one can see the entire process from beginning to end without getting caught up in the interference that ego introduces into it. If you aren't innately processing whatever occurs as part of the "I/me/mine" complex then experience is more like watching a TV show (impersonal, let's say) than having everything happen to "you." It also means that you can see your own crap when it occurs.

EDIT: The distinction between not having emotions at all and the process described above - seeing them clearly, not establishing a personal relationship with them (clinging) - is a major source of confusion and wasted energy in practice, at least in my humble opinion. It's a distinction that has to be experienced before it can be fully understood, but sloppy writing and teaching (probably well-meaning attempts to simplify things) can cause people to miss this and think they need to become some sort of robot. Or like Mr. Spock.

EDIT2: I'm not saying that we can't or shouldn't control our emotions, as doing so is a major part of growing up and reaching adulthood. I think self-control, not flying off the handle with anger, not letting guilt ruin your ability to function, and so on, is a wonderful thing. But... that's not the same thing that's being described above. Awakening is not about controlling or eliminating emotions. It's about fully understanding them and being able to experience them fully and without them being part of "you."

emoticon

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 8:16 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Ahhh there it is! Thank you Chris!

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 9:09 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yeah, thanks, that sounds much better than controlling or limiting emotions. I want to fully experience life when I’m alive.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 9:19 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
The example I was given was that anger no longer feels so 'contracted'. It feels energetic and powerful. It can even feel good in some capacity. The emotion is seen with complete 'clarity' (whatever 'clarity' means).

"Clarity" in this sense means that one can see the entire process from beginning to end without getting caught up in the interference that ego introduces into it. If you aren't innately processing whatever occurs as part of the "I/me/mine" complex then experience is more like watching a TV show (impersonal, let's say) than having everything happen to "you." It also means that you can see your own crap when it occurs.

Does this actually hold up to reality testing? Maybe your awakening takes away all the pain from the emotions (and the surrounding thoughts) if the supermarket's cashier is not so nice to you and also very slow and then you miss your train.
But... what happens if your heart gets broken, all your friends and relatives die and you lose both your legs in an accident and also all your money?
Do you sit down and think "well this sucks but luckily it's really not painful because I see clearly what is happening"?
Or will it still be painful but not because of the emotions?
Am I missing something here?

Here is the beginning of Brad Warner's "Sex, Sin and Zen...". This really doesn't sound like he wants to convey the idea that his meditation practice took all the suffering out of the event.
M y chest hurts. That’s the thought that keeps recurring as I sit cross-legged and stock-still in front of a room full of dedicated meditators. A wood-burning stove in the corner keeps the early-morning mountain chill at bay, the sun is shining, and it is calm and peaceful, with only the pine logs crackling sutras to disturb the quiet.

I want to die. Or cry. Or cry myself to death.

My chest hurts.

I’m the leader of this three-day retreat at the Southern Dharma Retreat Center near Asheville, North Carolina. I’m supposed to be the calmest and most in-control guy in the room. These people have paid good money, and some have traveled long distances, just to be in my presence, just to have me give them the secret to being as together as I am. They look up to me, respect me. And all I want to do is evaporate, disappear, dissolve into the ether, never to be seen again. What’s even worse is it’s all because of some girl.

What a fucking Zen master I am.

That day I finally understood exactly why they call it “heartbreak.” My heart hurt just as if someone had punched a hole through my chest and ripped it out still beating, as in some Aztec sacrifice ritual. Sometimes it hurt really bad. Sometimes it was just a dull persistent pain. Sometimes it hurt for a while and kind of came to a crescendo and then stopped just as suddenly as it had begun. I tried as best I could to let go. Sometimes I found myself obsessing over some fantasy, maybe one in which we got back together or I told her exactly how I felt. Or maybe one in which she was happily meditating next to some bearded douche-nozzle at the retreat center where she was staying who liked to tell his friends he was “a very spiritual person,” after which he fucked her from behind like a hyena in heat while she squealed Sanskrit chants of ecstasy he’d taught her during phony-baloney “tantric” rituals.

What’s that you say? As a so-called Zen master I should be above such matters? I should be able to allow my thoughts to simply float past like clouds in a clear blue sky? I should be beyond the tawdry things of the world like romantic entanglements? Otherwise why would anyone care what I had to say about Zen?

That’s what I would have thought, too. But I wasn’t like that. In my twenty-five years of Zen practice and training no such perfection had come. And yet I handled this breakup differently from how I’d handled them before. I’ve never been a good breaker-upper. I remember when Becky Wagner dumped me and I couldn’t get on the phone to her because I was sharing a punk rock house that had one telephone and Logan, one of my housemates, was on it. So I ran, literally almost blinded by tears, to the gas station on the corner and kept feeding quarters into the pay phone to leave increasingly distraught messages on her answering machine.

This time I’d been able to accept what needed to be accepted. I didn’t beg, I didn’t plead. Not much, at least. As one Zen monk said, “A man never got a woman back by begging on his knees.”* I didn’t yell or go red-faced with rage. When thoughts appeared in my mind of my love rolling around in the back of the ashram with one of those god-awful generic “mystical dude” types that always stink up those places with their patchouli-stench presence, I let them pass, knowing they were just thoughts in my head* and that any corresponding reality that might have existed was far different from what I was imagining.**

Oh, I could allow these thoughts and worse to pass. That’s true. But I couldn’t stop them from coming up. And that doesn’t mean those thoughts didn’t hurt when they did come up. Or that it didn’t hurt when I dropped them. This, too, is part of the process. Dropping thoughts like that often hurts worse than holding on to them, since dropping thoughts you’re convinced are correct is like denying the existence of your self.

So maybe you’re wondering, if this Zen stuff can’t even cure a broken heart, what the hell good is it? Sometimes I wonder that myself. But Zen practice has shown me the clear way never to have a broken heart ever again. Wanna know the secret? Never fall in love. Some Buddhist practitioners have put this into effect very successfully and live absolutely free from heartbreak. We’ll talk about them in a little bit. But that’s not the answer you wanted, is it? Maybe you wanted a magic mantra that would make it all go away. Sometimes the true answer isn’t one we like. But it’s always the best answer because it’s true.

A lot of what gets written about Zen is based on abstractions and idealism. Too many people who write about it don’t have a clue. They write all about the way things can be, or might be, or should be, not how they really are. Because very often they don’t even know how they really are. The caricatures of Zen in pop culture are even worse, picking up on these abstractions and turning them into parody. I’m not interested in telling you what I might be like or what I could be like if only I did this or that. I’m interested in reporting on what life is actually like.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 9:25 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Does this actually hold up to reality testing? Maybe your awakening takes away all the pain from the emotions (and the surrounding thoughts) if the supermarket's cashier is not so nice to you and also very slow and then you miss your train.
But... what happens if your heart gets broken, all your friends and relatives die and you lose both your legs in an accident and also all your money?
Do you sit down and think "well this sucks but luckily it's really not painful because I see clearly what is happening"?
Or will it still be painful but not because of the emotions?
Am I missing something here?
 
Feedings still occur, Raving, but they aren't experienced as "mine" so all the suffering related to ego and identity is not present. Sad is still sad. Happy is still happy. I was very sad when my parents passed away. I was very happy when my son got married.

I can't explain this any better than what I've said already. You can believe me (I'm speaking purely from personal experience) or find out for yourself. I suggest the latter!

emoticon



RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/5/19 10:12 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
I guess life is still life, and that involves some pain. We can’t have the good stuff if the bad stuff doesn’t exist. Polarization goes both ways, and existence is polarization.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/6/19 4:47 PM as a reply to JP.
JP:
terry:
expressing anger = violence

yelling leads to hitting (when the yelling starts I turn to leave, even if the yeller is me)...

when I find myself starting to yell I start shutting up...call it non-violence...

if you never do anything but stop yelling and hitting you have done a great work...saint you...

this sort of work is very hard and very worthwhile, so stay with it, have faith (in non-violence) and never give up on it, no matter how difficult or how normative the opposition...

bless the consistent idealist in the face of relentless (and flat out wrong) cynicism...

In terms of yelling and setting boundaries to prevent it I actually agree 100% -- but I think that assuming that expressing anger = yelling is an oversimplification.  If you're in a situation where you're currently feeling really frustrated about a conflict with someone, then telling that person "I feel incredibly frustrated and can't continue with this situation the way it is" is actually a really clear expression of anger.  There's also the perspective that anger is something that provides energy to change a situation -- so anger can be a push to make a strong effort to handle our half of a conflict and take actions so that we won't be stuck in a situation.  You just don't want to be acting on the deliberate harmful intent to others portion of it.

   Brother, I deal with japanese politeness all the time. Politeness can conceal aggression so effectively it isn't until hours later that the warm feeling you got from respectful treatment dissipates and you realize you were actually thoroughly insulted, and often by a cute little old lady. I remember one time I was late for work and this little old japanese lady apologized to me for being early, so earnestly and in such a formula of respect that I thought she meant it, while she was laughing at me the whole time, and I didn't realize it until after lunch. 

   It is one thing to pursue anger by other means, being passive-aggressive and so on, another to recognize it and drop it, whether by subsiding or by leaving. The person engaged with you might take your disegagement as a further expression of anger, but it doesn't have to be.

   If you are given motivation, power to do something, by anger or hatred it isn't worth doing. In fact, nothing is worth doing. Just let it all happen.

terry



from "journey to the lord of power," by ibn 'arabi:


Know that since God created human beings and brought them out of nothingness into existence, they have not stopped being travvellers. They have no resting place from their journey except in the Garden or the Fire, and each Garden and Fire is in accordance with the measure of its people. Every rational person must know that the journey is based on the hardships and toil of life, on afflictions and tests and the acceptance of dangers and very great terrors. It is not possible for the traveler to find in this journey unimpaired comfort, security or bliss. For waters are variously flavored and weather changes, and the character of people at every place where one stops differs from their character at the next. The traveler needs to learn what is useful from each situation. He is the companion of each one for a night or an hour, and then departs. How could ease be reasonably expected by one in this situarion?

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/6/19 4:59 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Raving Rhubarb:
Chris Marti:
The example I was given was that anger no longer feels so 'contracted'. It feels energetic and powerful. It can even feel good in some capacity. The emotion is seen with complete 'clarity' (whatever 'clarity' means).

"Clarity" in this sense means that one can see the entire process from beginning to end without getting caught up in the interference that ego introduces into it. If you aren't innately processing whatever occurs as part of the "I/me/mine" complex then experience is more like watching a TV show (impersonal, let's say) than having everything happen to "you." It also means that you can see your own crap when it occurs.

Does this actually hold up to reality testing? Maybe your awakening takes away all the pain from the emotions (and the surrounding thoughts) if the supermarket's cashier is not so nice to you and also very slow and then you miss your train.
But... what happens if your heart gets broken, all your friends and relatives die and you lose both your legs in an accident and also all your money?
Do you sit down and think "well this sucks but luckily it's really not painful because I see clearly what is happening"?
Or will it still be painful but not because of the emotions?
Am I missing something here?

Here is the beginning of Brad Warner's "Sex, Sin and Zen...". This really doesn't sound like he wants to convey the idea that his meditation practice took all the suffering out of the event.
M y chest hurts. That’s the thought that keeps recurring as I sit cross-legged and stock-still in front of a room full of dedicated meditators. A wood-burning stove in the corner keeps the early-morning mountain chill at bay, the sun is shining, and it is calm and peaceful, with only the pine logs crackling sutras to disturb the quiet.

I want to die. Or cry. Or cry myself to death.

My chest hurts.

I’m the leader of this three-day retreat at the Southern Dharma Retreat Center near Asheville, North Carolina. I’m supposed to be the calmest and most in-control guy in the room. These people have paid good money, and some have traveled long distances, just to be in my presence, just to have me give them the secret to being as together as I am. They look up to me, respect me. And all I want to do is evaporate, disappear, dissolve into the ether, never to be seen again. What’s even worse is it’s all because of some girl.

What a fucking Zen master I am.

That day I finally understood exactly why they call it “heartbreak.” My heart hurt just as if someone had punched a hole through my chest and ripped it out still beating, as in some Aztec sacrifice ritual. Sometimes it hurt really bad. Sometimes it was just a dull persistent pain. Sometimes it hurt for a while and kind of came to a crescendo and then stopped just as suddenly as it had begun. I tried as best I could to let go. Sometimes I found myself obsessing over some fantasy, maybe one in which we got back together or I told her exactly how I felt. Or maybe one in which she was happily meditating next to some bearded douche-nozzle at the retreat center where she was staying who liked to tell his friends he was “a very spiritual person,” after which he fucked her from behind like a hyena in heat while she squealed Sanskrit chants of ecstasy he’d taught her during phony-baloney “tantric” rituals.

What’s that you say? As a so-called Zen master I should be above such matters? I should be able to allow my thoughts to simply float past like clouds in a clear blue sky? I should be beyond the tawdry things of the world like romantic entanglements? Otherwise why would anyone care what I had to say about Zen?

That’s what I would have thought, too. But I wasn’t like that. In my twenty-five years of Zen practice and training no such perfection had come. And yet I handled this breakup differently from how I’d handled them before. I’ve never been a good breaker-upper. I remember when Becky Wagner dumped me and I couldn’t get on the phone to her because I was sharing a punk rock house that had one telephone and Logan, one of my housemates, was on it. So I ran, literally almost blinded by tears, to the gas station on the corner and kept feeding quarters into the pay phone to leave increasingly distraught messages on her answering machine.

This time I’d been able to accept what needed to be accepted. I didn’t beg, I didn’t plead. Not much, at least. As one Zen monk said, “A man never got a woman back by begging on his knees.”* I didn’t yell or go red-faced with rage. When thoughts appeared in my mind of my love rolling around in the back of the ashram with one of those god-awful generic “mystical dude” types that always stink up those places with their patchouli-stench presence, I let them pass, knowing they were just thoughts in my head* and that any corresponding reality that might have existed was far different from what I was imagining.**

Oh, I could allow these thoughts and worse to pass. That’s true. But I couldn’t stop them from coming up. And that doesn’t mean those thoughts didn’t hurt when they did come up. Or that it didn’t hurt when I dropped them. This, too, is part of the process. Dropping thoughts like that often hurts worse than holding on to them, since dropping thoughts you’re convinced are correct is like denying the existence of your self.

So maybe you’re wondering, if this Zen stuff can’t even cure a broken heart, what the hell good is it? Sometimes I wonder that myself. But Zen practice has shown me the clear way never to have a broken heart ever again. Wanna know the secret? Never fall in love. Some Buddhist practitioners have put this into effect very successfully and live absolutely free from heartbreak. We’ll talk about them in a little bit. But that’s not the answer you wanted, is it? Maybe you wanted a magic mantra that would make it all go away. Sometimes the true answer isn’t one we like. But it’s always the best answer because it’s true.

A lot of what gets written about Zen is based on abstractions and idealism. Too many people who write about it don’t have a clue. They write all about the way things can be, or might be, or should be, not how they really are. Because very often they don’t even know how they really are. The caricatures of Zen in pop culture are even worse, picking up on these abstractions and turning them into parody. I’m not interested in telling you what I might be like or what I could be like if only I did this or that. I’m interested in reporting on what life is actually like.


a broken heart is better than no love at all...

often love involves only a broken heart...


this particular "zen master"'s experience of incongruity is due to his belief in his role... there is always the danger in reviving ancient traditons, rituals and costumes that one may suddenly realize how ridiculous all this posturing actually is, and how essentially inappropriate...


terry




from the songs of kabir, trans tagore:



LII


WHEN I am parted from my Beloved, my heart is full of misery:
I have no comfort in the day,
I have no sleep in the night.
To whom shall I tell my sorrow?
The night is dark; the hours slip by.
Because my Lord is absent,
I start up and tremble with fear.

Kabîr says: "Listen, my friend! there is no other satisfaction,
save in the encounter with the Beloved."

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/7/19 6:04 AM as a reply to terry.
For what I experienced...

Bad emotions + loneliness = Bad formula

There is something powerfull when you can share how you feel and it can be really powerfull if the person who is listening can have empathy and not judging.

heartbreak, losing someone is so hard to deal becouse you where fused/conected with someone and this conection brokes. Feels like you lost a part of yourself, like something got cut really deeply and all this emotional pain raise like hell. I saw only time can heal and the best medicine is be sorrounded with good human beings that are ready to support you and listening, it can be family, a friend, a therapist.

There are no tricks or magic formulas, it how life is. Bing able to be honest with these feeling and do mourning is the best you can do. Is not about being awekened is about being human. Spirituality can give us a broad view and also some tools to transit this experience in a more healty way and help us to dont put more pain when there is enough. So lets cry, lets hugh, lets feel, lets breath, lets rest.

----

About the anger thing for a lot of years I represed my anger, sometimes I was conscious but most of the time not. But I told you if you don't learn to express anger or deal with anger it is going to stay inside and do their thing to you. The sad is you can repress unconsciously being not aware of that pattern.

I remember when I get really tired of who I was and dont undrestand what was going on me I start to study emotions and start to observe myself and at some point I saw this process of represion and I got really shocked...like "what the fuck is going on!" So I needed to learn to let the feeling of anger flow inside me. I was not able to feel anger it was all just mind/thoughts but when the feeling arise automaticlly I repressed and attack myself.

Its interesting to note that the usually I had headeach and a lot of tension in my body, very rigid. Usually my mind was overthinking like hell, I had insomnia and I had skin issues, also I had a lot of escapsim mecanism not wanting to face situations and reallity. I was avoiding conflict and I didnt want to people felt bad and have to expirence this situations. I was full of resenment inside and I was not aware of it.

When I started to open to feel and recognize that I was hurting myself slowly everything start to change not only inside but also outside. 

I remember that at some point I needed to face some challenging situations, like life force me to face my fears, to be able to say, no. I had to to confront diferent behavior form other people that was abusing/taking advantage of me and I used anger as a tool.

For some situations and asertive approach was just enough. Talk with that person how the situation makes me feel, that I dont feel confrtable and I will not allow these situations more.

But to other persons I had no more change to face it in a direct way and put a very clear and strong bounderies, that means having really strong arguments, not allowing the other person some toxic and abusive behavior over me. Learn to face abusive persons and later be able to dont give a fuck on how they feel or think ( no guilty trip ) was one of the more healthys thing I did in my life.

At the end of these expriences I felt more completed, as if something came home after being away for a long time. I have a frist step in learning to connect with my anger, seeing as a Ally that protects me and usually point me at something that needs my attention and sometimes is just stress or frustation I didnt manage it correctly and it transform to anger, then I just realize that and I feel it, I saw the out and inner events that lead me to be anger and I see how this frustation lead me to the anger and then I just breath and feel, taking it easy.

Also note about expectations. Not fullfiled expectations = frustration. This frustration quickly can lead to sadness or anger depending of the situation. So working on a healthy/realistic expectations of me, others and life is really worth. So be carefull of what you desire....emoticon

So..Anger is a energy that needs to be used wisely and is best used in asertive way. The best way to flow with anger is knowing oneself, to know my ego. Also working with gratitude, compassion and forgivness helps a lot.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/7/19 8:41 AM as a reply to Jordi.
Thanks for sharing! What a journey! I have done a similar journey quite some time ago, learning to communicate my boundaries and needs (what I need in order not too break) and not allowing others to trample over them. It changed my life for the better and seemingly paradoxically made it possible for me to be much less angry in the long run.

RE: Relation between Awakening and feeling offended
Answer
6/13/19 11:37 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Jordi:
For what I experienced...

Bad emotions + loneliness = Bad formula

There is something powerfull when you can share how you feel and it can be really powerfull if the person who is listening can have empathy and not judging.

heartbreak, losing someone is so hard to deal becouse you where fused/conected with someone and this conection brokes. Feels like you lost a part of yourself, like something got cut really deeply and all this emotional pain raise like hell. I saw only time can heal and the best medicine is be sorrounded with good human beings that are ready to support you and listening, it can be family, a friend, a therapist.

There are no tricks or magic formulas, it how life is. Bing able to be honest with these feeling and do mourning is the best you can do. Is not about being awekened is about being human. Spirituality can give us a broad view and also some tools to transit this experience in a more healty way and help us to dont put more pain when there is enough. So lets cry, lets hugh, lets feel, lets breath, lets rest.

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About the anger thing for a lot of years I represed my anger, sometimes I was conscious but most of the time not. But I told you if you don't learn to express anger or deal with anger it is going to stay inside and do their thing to you. The sad is you can repress unconsciously being not aware of that pattern.

I remember when I get really tired of who I was and dont undrestand what was going on me I start to study emotions and start to observe myself and at some point I saw this process of represion and I got really shocked...like "what the fuck is going on!" So I needed to learn to let the feeling of anger flow inside me. I was not able to feel anger it was all just mind/thoughts but when the feeling arise automaticlly I repressed and attack myself.

Its interesting to note that the usually I had headeach and a lot of tension in my body, very rigid. Usually my mind was overthinking like hell, I had insomnia and I had skin issues, also I had a lot of escapsim mecanism not wanting to face situations and reallity. I was avoiding conflict and I didnt want to people felt bad and have to expirence this situations. I was full of resenment inside and I was not aware of it.

When I started to open to feel and recognize that I was hurting myself slowly everything start to change not only inside but also outside. 

I remember that at some point I needed to face some challenging situations, like life force me to face my fears, to be able to say, no. I had to to confront diferent behavior form other people that was abusing/taking advantage of me and I used anger as a tool.

For some situations and asertive approach was just enough. Talk with that person how the situation makes me feel, that I dont feel confrtable and I will not allow these situations more.

But to other persons I had no more change to face it in a direct way and put a very clear and strong bounderies, that means having really strong arguments, not allowing the other person some toxic and abusive behavior over me. Learn to face abusive persons and later be able to dont give a fuck on how they feel or think ( no guilty trip ) was one of the more healthys thing I did in my life.

At the end of these expriences I felt more completed, as if something came home after being away for a long time. I have a frist step in learning to connect with my anger, seeing as a Ally that protects me and usually point me at something that needs my attention and sometimes is just stress or frustation I didnt manage it correctly and it transform to anger, then I just realize that and I feel it, I saw the out and inner events that lead me to be anger and I see how this frustation lead me to the anger and then I just breath and feel, taking it easy.

Also note about expectations. Not fullfiled expectations = frustration. This frustration quickly can lead to sadness or anger depending of the situation. So working on a healthy/realistic expectations of me, others and life is really worth. So be carefull of what you desire....emoticon

So..Anger is a energy that needs to be used wisely and is best used in asertive way. The best way to flow with anger is knowing oneself, to know my ego. Also working with gratitude, compassion and forgivness helps a lot.


anger is the policeman of the soul...