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Life in the Empire

Zen is not the antidote, it just is.

Kim reminds us of some good points.

There’s a lot of Zen in the conversation with Susanka. Being totally in the moment, focused on one thing at a time, just being aware of the present reality is where I want to be. Deciding what you want to do with your life and then just doing it is the action that sounds so simple but may be the thing that separates the wretched from the apparently happy successful people.
What is positive about mindfulness.
Attitude is like elevation.

Mindfulness has been the subject of my zen group lately. We were discussing Becks chapter “The Icy Couch” from “Nothing Special” last Thursday. Beck says we all establish a strategy as children for dealing with the apparent opposition of the world, other people, etc. This strategy, which we continuously turn to, creates an emotional place, an actual physical cramp in our body, a hard but friendly rock, exactly molded to our body and that to resolve our striving we must stretch out on it– to “rest in our pain”. Our strategy to achieve pleasantness and avoid unpleasantness is much of what we think is ourselves, our ego, and is the primary source of the ceaseless chatter of our internal dialog, “the imaginary film” through which we perceive life, the universe, and everything. As long as we continue to believe that our thoughts, feelings, someone else, an action or an acquisition will solve anything we can’t rest in our pain and quiet the chatter. Until we realize that our strategy, our “ego”, isn’t going to work no matter how much effort we expend on it, we can’t know joy. This cycle of illusion and repetitive useless strategy is the wheel of karma.

I think that my own disillusionment includes the realization that not one of us, (including improbably enough myself), will survive. My strategy isn’t working, and like all of us, I keep making the same mistakes. Perhaps this is what C.G.Jung was talking about when he said…”It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.”

Speaking of Jung - G do you know Dr Michael Spath, (IPFW Religious Studies, Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism)? He’s speaking on “The shadow side of the Middle east” March 28 at Plymouth Congregational organized by “Friends of Jung in Fort Wayne”.

Jung wrote “ Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individuals conscious life, the blacker and denser it is” The shadow, projected onto an other, often results in self-fulfilling darkness, intolerance, and violence. Yet -” in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness-or perhaps because of it-the shadow is the seat of creativity.” Perhaps this explains how completely uncreative uber-conformists can seemingly blithely go through life happily believing “Everything Is Fine” and isn’t it nice they hardly ever show real dead Muslims on my new digital flat-screen TV.

I hardly understand that Jung quote. G you certainly seem to be embodying the shadow in your consciousness. In this way are you diminishing or ignoring the shadow within, connecting with your creative source, or not utilizing it. Is a concentration on the-evil-that-men-do a form of warning, protection, or diversion from pain and disappointment perceived, (because it’s all perception) in our lives? This whole middle age crisis is part awareness of the crap everywhere but more personally awareness that our life-long strategy isn’t working anymore, (all life is disappointment (and zen is seeing disappointment as opportunity)” to keep the unpleasantness away. To me the investigation of evil is useless. All I can do is live my life the best I can. I’m not a journalist and it seems that an inordinate amount of time in various media, social networks, blogs, real life is spent kvetching with like-minded people about things we both believe, am I right? Do you agree with the part of all this that seems true, and dismiss the rest as misguided or irrelevant? Have I changed anyone’s mind about anything? And who asked me anyway?

I heard an interesting comment this morning on an NPR story looking at voters concerns in PA in light of the fact that its been month’s since the war was the top story. From a catholic church secretary who opposed the war and McCain’s social moderation yet would be voting for him – “you have to vote for someone and then pray like hell”. That says to me you have to be engaged in whatever small way that is within your power & hope for the best, there is nothing else to be done.

I do believe attitude is important, that 90 percent of success is psychological and the rest in all in your head. The body must follow the mind. Most of us shy away from the whiners and downers after just enough to say “at least I’m not that fucked up”. We create or allow the personal drama because hey, it’s all about me. This may be a tragedy but I’m the star.

Again I’ve spent too much time on this and must get a few things done. I won’t have as much time to peruse the internet, watch movies and write long rambling emails as I start a full time job Tuesday and have two other job interviews next week.

Most importantly as Zen Master Bill Murray said in Meatballs-1979


Views: 21

Comment by waldopaper on March 22, 2008 at 3:13pm
OK- where's the full-time job and how did you get it? And if you got one, why are you interviewing for others? I believe I have met Spath... not sure.
"Perception is reality" makes me chirp and hop angrily about. Kinda like... "the earth is grass." Mebbe more accurate than "the earth is glass" ... and mebbe less accurate than "the earth is gas," but I smell bullshit- nonetheless.
Aye, when people advise me to have a "positive attitude," I want to kick them! I'm awfully glad to be unhappy:
"But for someone you adore... it's a pleasure to be sad."

The whole deal for me is leaving the campsite better than you found it... and time's runnin out. Aye, I could nie live with meself were I to smile with so much pain in the world! If there is a laughing Buddha... surely there must be a weeping Buddha? Jesus? I don't view zen as seeing disappointment as opportunity... it is chopping wood and carrying water, no?

Congrats on the job, bro!
Comment by daveb on March 23, 2008 at 11:00am

I've been offered a full time - temporary (trial by bastard till May 15) job downtown at MR for a good decent hourly rate. You know the drill -"Impress that bastard and maybe he'll keep you on" - that's why I'm still doing interviews; Weds at Ball U for a job that I'm way overqualified for and would be way underpaid, (but not as bad as teaching). I have to weigh that 180 mile a day commute for low wages but good benefits and perhaps easier versus close better wage nastier work. Or third option: Friday I interview in Indy for a more glamorous respectable stressful rewarding remunerated position. That’s the kind of job my resume would suggest and I could pursue openings in Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Sacramento, etc. Besides taking a bath trying to sell the homestead and being just the kind of high pressure job that just kicked my ass it maybe is what I ought to do.
What I mean by perception is reality is this. All we know of the world is what comes to us through our senses and then what we think about that. Where we point our senses and what we pay attention to determines what we think about and what we think is - is. I don’t know your reality but I know our realities are not the same, and I damn sure know neither of us are the mean 2008 American gestalt. If you are poor, overeducated, too intelligent for meaningless work, mad as hell at the fascism and war and injustice that going on out there, then that’s your reality along with the particular people and places with whom you react. I’m sure there are many poorer than they think, undereducated, overpaid, fine with whatever gets you through the day work, who place all responsibility on “the powers-that-be” and are quite happy to obsess on who’s winning the Bball tournament or American idol or anything else. Perhaps that’s a choice. They choose to be happy and ignore the crap in the corner. You may choose to get up close and smell the crap. I may choose to go the middle way and acknowledge the crap, realize I have no spoon and decide …. What? Wait till someone shows up with a spoon, take up a collection a elect a spoon operator? Just sit and be aware that its another beautiful day, the crap will dry out and eventually stop stinking, so I can go into the other room and make a pie? I don’t know all the right action, that’s why it’s a practice.

It’s not the power of positive thinking – its choosing what to think about.
I do believe that Dyer is onto something; for every 10 of his quotes read here, you’ll say “well-ok-sure” to eight of them, “that’s just too much Pollyanna” to one, and “ I’m sorry but you just said bullcrap “ to one. Or something like that, your mileage may vary.
“Everything is perfect in the universe - even your desire to improve it. - If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. - Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice. - What you choose to think about controls your life”
I think that worrying about soldiers killing puppies over there and fathers raping daughters somewhere, or anything else one has no control over is pointless wasteful and self destructive. There is no “there” there is no “other” It is all here now between my ears. If I am angry or miserable or satisfied it is because that is what I have chosen. Being aware of what’s going on “here-now and living a life of compassionate action is all I can do. I must continually label my thoughts to determine if I am doing the next right thing or trying to avoid personal unpleasantness. It’s not just navel gazing if I realize I’m indulging in distraction and get back to work.
Comment by daveb on March 23, 2008 at 11:13am
Ps; Dyer link is here.
Buddha said all life is suffering all is dissappointment. It is our desire to avoid unpleasentness, for things to be other than they are (appear to be). Our desires cause our dissappointment our fears cause our suffering. You cry right up untill you achieve satori. When you rid yourself of desire and fear only then do you become a buddha,and begin to laugh.
Comment by BO on March 24, 2008 at 12:14am
A little Socrates to clear things up perhaps...

Apology: The Examined Life

Because of his political associations with an earlier regime, the Athenian democracy put Socrates on trial, charging him with undermining state religion and corrupting young people. The speech he offered in his own defense, as reported in Plato's Apologhma (Apology), provides us with many reminders of the central features of Socrates's approach to philosophy and its relation to practical life.

Ironic Modesty:
Explaining his mission as a philosopher, Socrates reports an oracular message telling him that "No one is wiser than you." (Apology 21a) He then proceeds through a series of ironic descriptions of his efforts to disprove the oracle by conversing with notable Athenians who must surely be wiser. In each case, however, Socrates concludes that he has a kind of wisdom that each of them lacks: namely, an open awareness of his own ignorance.
Questioning Habit:
The goal of Socratic interrogation, then, is to help individuals to achieve genuine self-knowledge, even if it often turns out to be negative in character. As his cross-examination of Meletus shows, Socrates means to turn the methods of the Sophists inside-out, using logical nit-picking to expose (rather than to create) illusions about reality. If the method rarely succeeds with interlocutors, it can nevertheless be effectively internalized as a dialectical mode of reasoning in an effort to understand everything.
Devotion to Truth:
Even after he has been convicted by the jury, Socrates declines to abandon his pursuit of the truth in all matters. Refusing to accept exile from Athens or a commitment to silence as his penalty, he maintains that public discussion of the great issues of life and virtue is a necessary part of any valuable human life. "The unexamined life is not worth living." (Apology 38a) Socrates would rather die than give up philosophy, and the jury seems happy to grant him that wish.
Dispassionate Reason:
Even when the jury has sentenced him to death, Socrates calmly delivers his final public words, a speculation about what the future holds. Disclaiming any certainty about the fate of a human being after death, he nevertheless expresses a continued confidence in the power of reason, which he has exhibited (while the jury has not). Who really wins will remain unclear.
Plato's dramatic picture of a man willing to face death rather than abandoning his commitment to philosophical inquiry offers up Socrates as a model for all future philosophers. Perhaps few of us are presented with the same stark choice between philosophy and death, but all of us are daily faced with opportunities to decide between convenient conventionality and our devotion to truth and reason. How we choose determines whether we, like Socrates, deserve to call our lives philosophical.
Comment by waldopaper on April 29, 2008 at 1:04pm
How IS "the war" going, anyway? To quote the beadles... all we are saying...


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