pain

7 01, 2010

Forgiveness

January 7th, 2010|pain, relationships, Self, transformation|7 Comments

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it??s about letting go of hatred. ?Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged. ?To me, that??s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That??s it. ?No more than that. ? And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”. ?Letting go means a positive non-attachment. ? It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change. ?Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is. ? Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it. ?We want to look that way too.

3 05, 2008

The flame of blame

May 3rd, 2008|buddhism, emotions, Intimacy, love, pain, relationships, transformation, wholeness|4 Comments

I don’t know about the rest of you, but past months have had some wild emotional swings to it, and some days I’ve felt as depressed and dark as I have felt in my life. It doesn’t help that my mobility is very limited by this illness which continues, of course!

One big issue of being online a good deal is the blame game. You know the story: you don’t see the other person face to face to see their inflections, so you can easily interpret words in a way very different than the other intended. Then this triggers emotions, and of course this means that the other person must have issues – or at least should have said things differently. It’s them, not me! This is not just online; it is reproduced all through our culture at all levels, as demonstrated by one of my own thoughts not so long ago:

“Why am I feeling so awful, like I’m being hit by something again and again? Let me look at what’s happened to me recently. It must be because of one of those things. Well, my best guess is you, so I’ll go with that.”

Blame

One definition of the word blame is simply “to hold responsible“. The more standard usage of the word is more “to assign fault” – but I like the responsibility aspect more. I’ll get into that later.

Now, what’s wrong with that thought I had? Aha – there is nothing wrong, for that would be blaming in itself! But if you look deeply at my mental processes, there was an assumption that there was a cause, a singular factor that produced my state, and that changing this one ingredient in the broth would change everything.

It’s all very well to say “do not blame” as an unspoken commandment of maturity. But if you look deeply at this urging, there’s a blaming aspect in that too. So what if you do blame? That makes you ‘wrong’. And thus you start blaming yourself for blaming.

Some of the online discussions that I’ve seen lately have quoted “let he who has not sinned cast the first stone” as a way to shut up and hold responsibility to someone who brought an issue to the public eye with a little bit of blaming. But of course, directing blame to those with some blame doesn’t help move out of it. In fact, the use of that quote for such a purpose is quite ironic, is it not?

Responsibility

Rather than continue to focus on the word “blame”, I prefer to use “responsibility”. Blame is a loaded term; you hear it and you think “bad! evil! I can’t have that!”. But if you think in terms of holding someone responsible, perhaps you can look at it differently. So let’s look at one basic thought here:

“You are responsible for these feelings in me.”

This is one of the most common thoughts in relationship fights. It’s happened in talks with my own mother countless times, which probably makes me rather normal. It’s happened with friends and strangers, on both sides. Yet beyond the pervasiveness of it, I hope you can see that it is never true. How can someone else have responsibility for my emotions? They may have an effect on me, but so does the weather, the day at work, back pain, getting interrupted by telemarketers, and so on. There is no way to isolate another person’s effect on you, and there is certainly no way another can avoid triggering me at all times. In Buddhism, this falls largely under the thought of dependent origination; there are so many factors involved that it is impossible to truly isolate a cause. And yet we do this because we seem to need to. Assigning responsibility is just another form of the blame game.

Some people see this, see the futility of blaming others, and then go the other direction. “I am always the one responsible for my experience.” While this sounds empowering, what happens if you have one of the darker days of your life? What if someone yells at you and you feel awful? What if you get let go from a job for economic reasons? Are you responsible for this, in the sense that we’ve talked about? This is a heavy burden to take on, if you think this way. While appearing noble and mature, it is in fact a way to blame yourself. Culturally, this may get you pats on the back, the image of maturity, and sympathy from friends, but it is absolutely unnecessary.

Letting go of it all

It is impossible to not blame when you have any thought of assigning responsibility to anyone or anything.

Let us repeat that: By assigning responsibility to anyone or anything for a given result, you are assigning blame. It is the need to look for a cause for an experience that is the major factor in blame. So if you want to let go of the blaming process, you must let go of a need to assign responsibility.

You may be thinking now, “But what is life like without this? Isn’t our culture based on people being responsible for their actions? Wouldn’t the world go to hell if there wasn’t responsibility placed for everything?”

In a word, no. Keep in mind that we’re talking about mental processes here. Much in the same way there’s a difference between the physical sensation of main and the experience of suffering, there is a major difference between the natural consequences of one’s actions and assigned responsibility. Consequences are how we learn and grow. There is no way that these can stop. However, the mental “it’s because of him” thought process can stop.

Eckhart Tolle, who’s been very friendly with Oprah recently, bases his entire teaching on being completely present in the Now. In other words, it is by surrendering to the experiences of living with such utter completeness that you can work on letting go of the ego-mind and the pain-body. This applies especially to the times when you are immersed in pain, anger, and the attribution of this to something.

So how does this relate to what I’ve been saying? It is simply that the root of the need to assign responsibility and blame is the desire to avoid whatever experience you are going through. If you have peace and equanimity about what was brought up, you would simply let them be there, and they will move on as all experiences do. But when there is a desire to avoid the experience, then you must find a reason for it so as to control future experiences to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Again, any time there is blame, there is always a lack of surrender to an experience. It is this resistance that creates the labels of ‘bad’ which turn into the desire to control events and hold someone accountable. When a feeling is seen as just a feeling – no matter how uncomfortable it is – then it enables you to move away from the perception of blame into a more expansive perception. Ironically, this expanded perception also enables you to make more conscious choices in your life about what experiences you wish to attract. In other words, it is by letting go of control that you can choose your life more consciously.

The wrap up

Working on the blaming tendency is not a simple “oh, just stop doing it.”? It is a lifelong process.? It is also connected with so many things; the journey to balance the centers, mentioned in the last article, is very connected with it.? But let us end with something simple.

So the next time you are in a situation where you want to blame, ask yourself these questions:

  • What experience do I want to avoid at this moment?
  • What, exactly, am I labeling as “bad” here?
  • What would happen if I simply allowed that experience and what is “bad” to be present to the ultimate degree?
  • What would happen if there were no labels at all?

There is no magical solution to blame; all such attempts will naturally have blame in them, because they will be based in the labeling of blame as ‘bad’. It is the allowing of Self and others, simply as they are, that is the different path to blame.

21 01, 2008

Slavery in our lives – Martin Luther King Jr day

January 21st, 2008|activism, choices, life, love, pain, suffering|16 Comments

In the United States today is Martin Luther King day. This man, through the work of millions of other people, has come to symbolize human rights and a desire to end slavery’s legacy in all forms. He understood, as do others, that slavery still exists in different forms even now. It exists as institutions, it exists in economic forms, and exists in the minds of people. This last part is rarely mentioned.

So what is slavery?

To expand the idea of what slavery is to include both the world and internal states, I would redefine it as the following:

Slavery is the state of living with no perceivable choices.

2 01, 2008

The essence of compassion part 2

January 2nd, 2008|allowing, buddhism, innocence, love, pain, suffering|21 Comments

The topic of compassion is of course very close to the purpose of this site âs it is an aspect of Love. However, this was instigated recently by the ‘Spread the Love Now!’ project of Wade of The Middle Way, Kenton of Zen-Inspired Self Development, and Albert of Urban Monk.Net. This site, as the ‘About’ page shows, has two writers, and we thought we’d each contribute something to this. So there are two articles about compassion, one for each of us. This topic is, after all, central to the purpose of this site – why else would we call it Loving Awareness?

If you haven’t read the previous entry on compassion, please do so. I’m going to add to it, starting with the first comment as a basis question – on the subject of child abuse. It’s a very good question, and representative on most people’s initial response to thinking of compassion in terms of awareness and acceptance, rather than having a duty to do something to solve a problem. I realize this is a touchy subject, and that what is written here may be controversial because of the massive cultural pain that exists. However, bringing compassion to such a painful area brings a huge amount of clarity to how it is applied in the world.

2 12, 2007

Emotions as beauty itself

December 2nd, 2007|emotions, life, love, pain, transformation|15 Comments

For this post, I’ll include more of my personal journey: that of dealing with emotions. I’ve always been someone who has had had very intense emotions to deal with, especially those related to my past sexual abuse. Because of this, many emotions have come at any and all times, without apparent ‘reason’: at work, in relationships, light social times, and with family. Without any visible reason or sense, at least in the immediate context, it’s easy to hold judgment about strong emotions in our culture. It can appear to make others uncomfortable.

This isn’t particular to sexual abuse; it is quite common to anyone sensitive and emotionally open, dealing with pain in any way. Emotions are emotions. They don’t make sense. If they did, they would be thoughts, not emotions. The heart has reasons the mind knows not of, and never will. Our need to make sense greatly depends on how allowing we are of the emotion. A grand sense of joy flittering like butterflies across our hearts when we see, for example, kittens playing with string for the first time, won’t require much sense. And yet, when it comes to ‘negative emotions’, such as pain, fear, anger, self-hatred, or a mix of them that could be called inner conflict, we often simply don’t allow them to come forward as naturally. We want reasons, explanations, labels, and hopefully a way to protect ourselves against them appearing again. This is the illusion of control reasons give us.

To me, how this manifested was a desire to expunge all the emotions. They obviously caused problems, so it made sense to want to get rid of them. I thought of them as a water well containing nothing but poison stored there from all the past pains in my life. So I tried to ‘get it out’ as much as possible, whether it be via counseling, venting, punching pillows, or even meditation and trying to transform myself in that manner. Eventually, things would be ‘clear’ and I would be more ‘balanced’. Of course, things didn’t work that way, because implicit in all these actions was a fundamental lack of love for those emotions â???? which creates even more negative emotions to vent. The perception that there was something wrong with me created more problems. The never-ending process continued. Thinking there was something wrong with me because I had pain simply created more pain.

A different way of looking at them instead is what was channeled to me recently.

At this time, perhaps you would like to think of your emotions, instead of something you need to get out and express, think of them as art, as a creation that you are constantly perfecting. They’re not finished yet, but you see their beauty in whatever state of creation they are in. You don’t need to share it even, because they are so beautiful. Bring this creation, all the beautiful colors that you know, and all the love you have inside you, for you love this creation. It is the most beautiful creation you have ever made, and you derive great satisfaction from the process of creating it. Take your time. Use visuals if that helps. Look around you. Find elements of what you see that perhaps might be included in this creation of yours. You will know it when you see it – anything that needs to be included. Have fun with this process, for it is yours. It is the first thing that’s truly belonged to you.

This brought up much tears in me, because it went to the heart of who I am: an expressive person with an intense of love of beauty and art. And if I do not see myself as a work of art, then of course there will be a lack of love for Self. Corresponding to this was indeed a visual image of moving and surreal color, much like the movie ‘What Dreams May Come.’ We see art and beauty in Van Gogh, Dali, or other artists who express darkness or ‘craziness’. After all, it’s on the page and there are skills involved. However, there is an implicit dismissal of the skill involved in simply allowing emotions to come to fruition and expressiveness in this society. There is tremendous skill in this. We see this in movies, on the stage, of an actor being very true with emotions, but it is easy to discount this in ourselves. This is not the same as being able to pick the right words and expression of them. It lies simply in being those emotions, in allowing them fully.

 

 

As I reach new levels of allowing of my emotions, I’m encountering vastly new perceptions of my life and my past, and even hidden memories. Finally remembering who crawled into my bed at night, the helplessness, shame, impotent kicking, and a split of consciousness that persisted into adulthood. There are, of course, many emotions connected to this journey, much like any prisoner might feel after coming into sunlight after thinking a cell block was home for many years. There is frustration, there is helplessness, and yes, there is self-hatred. I’m finding this isn’t a contradiction in any way to loving myself. It has its own beauty; a disconnected aspect of myself that’s screaming from years of being walled away. There is beauty in goth designs, and there is intense beauty in these emotions as well. They are a valid journey home.

Love, especially for ourselves, isn’t a thing or something to gain, or anything to ingrain into our minds through writing a million affirmations or reading thousands of blogs. It’s a perception – an awareness. Shifting how we look at something, especially ourselves, creates transformations. In fact, every transformation is precisely a change in perception. There is nothing but this, because there is perfection in everything, including intense pain. In the case of emotions, my experiences have created a subtle yet powerful difference in my experience in them. There is wonder in these emotions, simply as an expression of what is. The simply perception of beauty in utter vividness is, in the present moment, more loving than a thousand affirmations.