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Angry and aware

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Angry and aware
Answer
5/12/09 11:50 PM
Author: shokolah
Forum: The Big Issues

Last night, I felt I was in bath of pure awareness. I was truly aware of all my body's sensations. I could hardly sleep and then now, I am feeling so angry at myself and my Sangha for being SO complacent and sloppy with their practice. It is fast becoming a fucking social tea club and I am sick and tired with it all. So much so that I am going to give them all an ultimatum at the end of the month. They either get serious about their practice or I'm off. What I've been reading on this website has totally blown me apart and the emotions are incredibly raw. I've made a vow to practice with utmost diligence. I know there are dangers of making such vow but I feel there is fire that has been ignited and I can contain it no longer. Thank you to your all, my True Family, from the bottom of my heart for your unconditional support.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 12:26 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Fabien,

Right! Give them a good hiding! emoticon

There's a really funny (and tragic) story in MCTB, where Daniel recounts how at a retreat, during a group interview, everyone was going on and on about their personal problems and back pains. Daniel got fed up and interjected, "The BREATH? Has anybody tried paying attention to the BREATH?", and they all looked at him, and went back to complaining about their girl/boyfriends.

Chances are, you're going to encounter the same pattern whith your group.

Me, I wouldn't alienate them just yet. Read the "dark night" chapters in MCTB first, and then decide whether now really is a good time to rashly sever your ties. There's a recognizable pattern in that, too. Also, people tend to move at different speeds: maybe you'll be able to encourage practitioners there by example more than by preaching. Just my 2 cents.

OTOH, if you feel out of place at the group, obviously, leave them to do their thing.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 1:44 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: shokolah

Dear Florian,
I just had an email from a member in the group who has made his voice clear that he didn't want me to "wreck the day" for them as it would upset everyone. What I am going to do is raised a few points with my teacher and tell him how I feel by email. If he is not prepared to listen, then I am finished with them. The fact is I do not want to leave and my over riding "ambition" was to share my experiences with them, lay myself bare, transparent and I tell you coming from me who has made a career of chicken out of difficult situations. It takes guts! However so far I've been getting so much negativity, that it is amost impossible to get the message through to them. They will almost certainly think that I am arrogant bastard and I'll need my bottom thoroughly spanked for daring to speak up. I am little boy blue compared to some who have years of practice. The fact is my concentration has got better in the space of barely a week. What does this say to you about my 11 month-old practice or am I missing something? Many thanks for helping me, I am truly overjoyed!

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 2:11 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
This is completely a guess due to my not knowing the situation well, but you may want to check in and see if you're dark nighting right now. As I think Florian alludes to, the start of your post describes something I would use to describe an A&P, and now you seem to be preeeeeetty agitated! It can be staggering just how much of a temporary shift in attitude toward life can change over night. Perhaps truly ask yourself how you will feel to lose ties with some of your group-- have you made good friends?

Best of luck whatever the situation is.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 2:32 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi There,

One way to look at that, an accurate one I think, is that your eleven months of practice is bearing some fruit. Not to say that help you have gotten here hasn't had an effect.

Ed

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 2:54 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
By all means talk with your teacher and see how that goes. Hopefully he will be able to help you intensify your practice without that disrupting the rest of the group.

Don't burn your bridges if you don't have to. Maybe all you need to do is loosen your ties with them for a while and see where that takes you. Slow down, step back and see where you are in a month or so. Maybe a social tea club might be a nice thing to have in your life, a place to chill more that a place for intense practice.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 3:20 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
shokolah:

This scenario of yours is very familiar to me. Though I've not been with any meditation groups (other than the DhO), I have spent most of my life touring spiritual scenes, only to out-grow/out-pace each one of them (though, I don't think I'll ever out-pace many of the people here). I think the majority of spiritual seekers are looking for a new map of reality that they can simply adopt to make them feel happier, have less anxiety about death, and have a sense of purpose/meaning. But there are those of us who aren't looking for a new belief system. We want the truth. I feel that there are many such people here at the DhO.

If you find that the group no longer suits you, and there's no way to be authentic while practicing with them, you should get out. Do your best to be gentle about it, so as to not demolish any good friendships you've made along the way. Unfortunately, sometimes losing friends is part of the process.

Also, since you seem to be experiencing strong feelings/emotions about this, use them to your advantage. First, use that anger and frustration as fuel for your practice. That kind of energy, though generally looked down upon in spiritual scenes, can be an incredible motivator. Second, use this opportunity to really observe the hell out of these feelings. What is anger, really? Where does it show up in your body? Your thoughts? How does it arise and vanish? Can you just sit with it instead of feeding in to it or trying to push it away? What happens then?

I hope some of this is useful to you. Practice well.

Jackson

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 5:29 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: yadidb

Hey mate,

I can definitely relate to what you're saying from personal experience aswell.

Let me ask you this: why do you need them to 'get serious about their practice' for you to become serious about yours? need them to acknowledge that progress is possible for you to be able to make progress ?

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 5:42 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: shokolah

Dear Jackson,

Thanks for your advice. After mature reflection, I have decided to have a break from my Sangha. I've tried to talk to a couple of people but they don't seem to understand me. I realised that expressing my feelings openly so we could all learn, would only antagonise people. They would only see it as pure arrogance on my behalf and that is totally untrue. I feel I have found something very special with this online Sangha which by far encompasses anything I have experienced before. Interestingly, all this is because of you Mister! I "stumbleupon" your site and found it most intriguing. This triggered a chain of events that left me completely flabbergasted. The rest is history! Thank you mate!

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 5:48 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: shokolah

Too right! I am disappointed but not surprised. It was a bit naive I suppose to think that they would see my point of view but as it turn out they see it as an attack on their belief and takes them out their zone of comfort. At the end of the day, I don't need to justify myself to anyone and this training is all about finding our own answers as supposed to looking up to a guru. Thank you!

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 6:54 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Thanks, man. I'm glad my site isn't just a waste of time. Directing people to communities like this one is what it's all about for me.

I discovered this site via the Buddhist Geeks podcast, and have thanked Vince many times over for producing the show. It just goes to show that we can do what we love (write, produce, etc.) while also getting this empowering message out to the meditation community.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/13/09 7:28 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: shokolah

Hello Florian,
I am feeling free now that I have broke away from them. However I can still feel a huge discomfort or heaviness in the stomach area. I am very aware of it. When I go to bed, I can feel my body more than ever, I can't sleep as my mind seems to be searching and investigating. My body seems to vibrate somehow. I am experiencing confusion too. Is it possible or arrogant to think that I've entered a nana state or is just my imagination? Thank you.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/14/09 1:03 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Am I making progress or it is just my imagination.

Which attitude is more constructive? Which will take you to enlightenment?

You are now in a community that accepts the fact that good practice leads to the promised results. You don't have to worry about people who think the cushion is a therapist's couch.

Whatever the case, take where you are now to move yourself forward.

Hope this helps! :-)

Ed

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/14/09 2:06 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I'd like to second what yadidb said.

With all due respect to progress and going further, no matter how noble you think your intentions, when you start directing your anger at others you're immediately on slippery ground in my book. How long has it taken for you to get serious about your practice? Why was it OK for it to take until now for you to get serious - without having to experience the anger of others about you not getting serious until now? Who are you to say how serious others should be? And even that your serious approach is the best approach?

In my experience anger relates to a sense that things should be different to how they are, impatience, and a belief that we can change the way things are by struggling sufficiently against it. When the feeling is that we cannot change things, depression results. Usually all of this involves quite a complex conception about the world, about others, about a passionately felt sense of RIGHT and WRONG. But all of that boils down to just one thing: thought. Your thoughts about how things should or should not be are supremely relative. If you've ever changed your mind about a topic. If you've ever been proven wrong. If you've ever learned otherwise... follow that to its logical conclusion about the validity of your thought structures.

I also second the opinions raised that this may be dark night related phenomena. I have experienced the most trivial things being felt as utterly unbearable when in the dark night.

I strongly recommend Daniel's advice in in MCTB about resolving not to let dark night bleed through to those around us.

Finally, I heartily recommend investigating the sensations which give rise to these feelings.

Craig

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/14/09 2:16 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi shokolah

What I have found is that feelings of freedom, when escaping from a situation, often relate to aversion. It's a false freedom as we're actually less free than if we didn't have to escape in the first place.

I recommend investigating the newfound feeling of freedom and all the sensations which give rise to that. Then try thinking about going back to the group .. explore how it would feel to go back there, and how that would affect your feeling of freedom. Stay with it. Really convince yourself that you're going back and you're not going to try to change them. Investigate what arises.

Craig

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/14/09 3:04 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: shokolah

Thank you for that Craig, this is a great advice. I shall definitely investigate!

Cheers,

Fabien

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/14/09 10:49 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
In this connection, run don't walk to the section on "Harnessing the Energy of the Defilements" from MCTB, available in handy blook form at http://tinyurl.com/mctbharness

They are some of the best instructions I've seen for dealing with strong negative emotions.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/14/09 8:59 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Dear Shokolah,

I second the advice of those above and should some admit some of my own reactions to these things.

Just after stream entry, when I was really on fire with the dharma, I found myself trying to hang out in all sorts of Buddhist scenes, from trying to be on staff at IMS, to every local sitting and Buddhist group in my area, and it was pretty much a universal catastrophe. They had no idea what I was talking about, and I couldn't imagine they wouldn't be way into my point of view, and there is basically ended.

Over the years I found that the side effect of my very hardcore attitude and practice was that I basically couldn't figure any way to fit into any other community, so I ended up creating this one some 12 years later, which is a long time to go it alone with a few scattered dharma friends, but there it is.

I am not sure that this was a great outcome, but I found that by simply letting them do their rituals, social gatherings, little sits and the like, they were happy and I was happy doing my thing somewhere else, as really, while all in theory under the heading of "Buddhism" or more broadly "Spiritual Communities" the fact is that the vast majority of people are simply not on fire, not into hardcore practice, and it just rubs them completely the wrong way. I can remember times in my earlier life before I suddenly was on fire that I would have had the same reaction they did to the wound-up dharma-evangelical hothead I later became, so there it is.

These days I try to carefully limit the message and conversations to those who obviously care about this stuff, as I have never in hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of attempts to reach anyone who wasn't already all about this stuff had any success at all, period. C'est la vie.

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/15/09 3:28 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: KellyBrady

Wow!! Thats alot of energy. I can relate to your righteous indignation, your inspiration, and your consuming passion to achieve enlightenment. That being said...my experience with that sort of self righteous attitude is that it has often served to alienate me from many friends, so I caution you to speak with kindness and compassion to your old sangha before you move on. They have aided you until now....do you really need this anger to leave them? Or, is it just time to move on? I wish you peace during this transition....and hang on...it sounds to me like things are getting really good!

RE: Angry and aware
Answer
5/15/09 4:53 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Shokolah,

I understand what you are saying and have felt that way at times too. I then recognized it to be a form of craving, insisting that reality meet my expectations. In an interdependent universe, everything unfolds as it does due to a myriad of causes and conditions. This situation provides you with an opportunity to witness that firsthand. Furthermore, If they're progress suffers because of their habits and practices, then some compassion would make sense. They are trying to find their way like the rest of us and hitting a snag.

This is by no means a criticism of your reaction, which is also a product of myriad causes and conditions. If you feel anger, then self-compassion is a skillful response.

Perhaps you could continue to work with them, take a break and come back, or split off completely, whichever you decide is the most appropriate choice. Sustaining initial anger that flared up at this point is really of no help to you, unless of course you use it as an opportunity to examine the three characteristics. If so, then Shantideva points out that these people are your teachers, providing you a precious opportunity to learn and develop your skill.

I hope this is useful to you.