Photo by Ibrahim Firaq via flickr.com
This is a thought provoking movie with a Buddhist philosophy thread to it. I love it when the main character makes his hopeless trek to the top of a tower in order to wrestle with his ego which he finally lets go of from off the top of the building. It is a bit of a boy flick and rocky flick and karate kid movie.
The thing that brings the main character to his best self is his being present in the moment. It seemed odd that they never really approached one of the most difficult issues with gaining that kind of awareness or having those kinds of moments. The issue of being so judgmental that you don’t want to see what is here or be in the present moment because what is here and now is just not “ok”. That is one of the biggest hurdles.
“When you are you, zen is zen, not when you get to be zen enough you will finally be cool.” This is a quote from Edward Brown quoting another zen teacher in http://www.tricycle.com/images/audio/EdwardBrown_FacetsOfSelf.mp3 (a podcast already reviewed previously in this blog). And more quotes from the talk:
“At last an authentic movement, you are not just posturing.” (from a yoga teacher) It was interesting to think of yoga as being an avenue for bringing your authentic self into the present.
“You are attempting to do you in a way that gives the right impression to the world…”
“Do you really want to be here?” “Can you welcome yourself home?”
“How will you ever become acceptable if you can never measure up to your scale or standard?” How do you get comfortable being you if you have all these other things besides you, that your are trying to be? Meanwhile knowing you grow and develop and change.
When you have a daily habit of listening to what is in there, you are don’t have to hold back in fear of what might be sitting there that might come out. The keeping yourself in check, lets go more and you find yourself freer. And people love that you are there. That gives them liberty to also be present.
When you obtain realization it might not look the way you thought it would, it seems certain it will be you there when it happens.
One gets especially hard to meet yourself is when you are suffering and think oh I have done all these right things so I can’t be suffering and yet there you are suffering something. So we are human once again.
I am beginning to wonder if a very basic difference between some versions of philosophies which may be associated with a religion or not is the assumption made about our innate goodness or lack thereof.
If the assumption is that we are all at our core good people, than you don’t need all these threats, shaming, and blaming to convince people to be good because ultimately they are all already wishing for the good (however effectively we may have defined that notion of the good). The idea is that we have a tendency towards wishing for happiness, wishing not to suffer. So a person by their very nature would tend towards these things without having to be yelled at about them and threatened and judged.
In fact judging and not trusting closes up someone’s natural tendencies to be open and kind and do good and puts them in a defensive secretive combative state.
Rules can be set up that you have to be this or that to be happy or good. Someone told me about a Rabbi saying to a class if you want to be Jewish you can’t have a Christmas tree. That seems true doesn’t it, like it you want to dance the Cha Cha you can’t put on a karate outfit and tap shoes and go dance the Cha Cha. It is just not the Cha Cha anymore than it is something else.
What I want to ask is isn’t happiness hard enough to attain without feeling forced to add rules to the point where you are miserable? If it really makes you miserable to try to follow a large group of “live up to’s”, than how is that setting you free? How is that filling your heart with love?
Ed Brown comes along and says how can we find and grow ourselves when we won’t let ourselves sit at the table? When the only one we want to see there is that one we want/ought/should be. That is the one, that person is not allowed. Get out of here! Well how is that going to work? How do we get it so that on the one hand we say that person isn’t allowed to be and on the other we say be the best person you can be?
There is a guy yelling at a street corner nearby to anyone passing by that they are all sinners and going to hell and that we should be ashamed of ourselves and we are proud and selfish, etc. just yelling and yelling these things at the top of his lungs holding upright a huge sign with similar threats in writing. As I listened I thought he is right we have problems. I think one of the biggest ones is our lack of love and compassion and kindness. It has not worked for me to be yelled at by myself or by anyone else to develop those things. And yet I think if you really develop love and compassion for yourself and others then when you go to volunteer it will be truly out of love and not out of fear of being judged. You would then have love to offer instead of anger, resentment and fear.
If we try to hurry our progress in any direction we can have a discouragement big enough to make you quit trying all together. So it is important to give the change we aspire to, space to grow in the way it will. Not having so much weight and seriousness can actually be helpful in the long run for progress to take place. Things will happen when they are ready. By putting a lot of focus on where you want to be you get to trip over the smallest crack in the sidewalk.
Buddhism claims this simple assertion that we are all at our core good.
That we can afford to be mindful and be who we are, without critical mind without replacing who we really are with a religious figure. The goal isn’t to be like Buddha it is to be you and for you to let you be you.
Then you ask well what if me is terrible and needs constant chastisement? Well, I suppose that is you then in this moment, still at the core the assertion is everyone is good.
How are we good? Then it makes the obvious case that we all want what is good, no one wants pain and suffering, everyone wants happiness. It reminds me of Plato’s case that a person might say, yes I know, for example, smoking is bad for me, but if the person really knew in a meaningful way that smoking is injurious they would not smoke. There are different levels of knowing. Think of knowing on a spectrum. On some level we might know we are good and to some degree we might say yes all but this part that part needs constant attention, hiding, judgment, stuffing, [fill in the blank].
Does it strike anyone else that this idea feels a little foreign somehow? If it is true then why all this struggle for perfecting? Then is there a perfect?