Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Envy Chaos Peace and a Rat's Ass.

Brad Warner's latest post on goalless practice is really good. I really dislike his blog comments area. It's too scary, mean. Not welcoming. The regulars seem to pretty much shred newbies.
What do I want? To reach out and ping, and say hey, and exchange ideas, and see if anyone gives a rat's ass. That's really it.
Brad's video comes from Dogensanghalosangeles.org. When I was looking at that I stumbled on the Dogen group in Belgium. I've traveled to Brussels a lot in the past on business and so felt a kinship for the near-Brussels location. The leader is an older woman. The pic's show her so calm and cool and collected and together, it just sent me into a tizzy. If I were to drop in, or email, or say, 'Hey, you look really cool', well first, how lame, and second, would she give a rats ass?
I think every Buddhist blogger I follow has 'it' together. None ramble or complain irrationally. At first I'd say you can't, but maybe you're very open to your humanness and can imagine how hard it is to blog what's really bouncing around in my head.
One of my blogger friends - I guess, I don't know for sure, could all be naivete on my part - often says "persevere brightly." I really like that. I try, but I don't always achieve it. I think he would probably dislike me if he ever met me. In truth I am not always bright. Though I think ultimately, even after every push and shove I have an innate optimism that still embraces the concept.
I want to know what it would be in Japanese. Though it is close to 'gambaremasu' it also makes me think of a scene in the Seven Samurai when one pore sod was near dead and the Mifune character encouraged him to 'brace up!' (or at least that was the English subtitle). We used that for years in an Aikido school I helped run to get people off complaining streaks. 'Persevere Brightly.' 'Brace Up!' These are good ideas.
I just want someone with Buddhist authority to tell me I'm doing okay. I am really a pretty piss poor Buddhist by the common yard sticks. I don't do zazen every day. Sometimes not for weeks. When I do, its never for 30 minutes. I don't have a teacher. There's one about 30 minutes away, but I can't get visiting that zen center into my routine.
I got into Zen because of Warner's first book. But he doesn't want 'remote' students. Which feels like he doesn't give a rats ass.
So why do I stay on this Buddhist bent and give such a half a rats ass towards my practice? I guess its that iron ball thing. I can't swallow it, and I can't spit it out. I completely accept the thesis of delusion, and that all I perceive is mind, and mind is wrong, and if I could drop mind, suffering would drop with it, and that there is no true individuation of anything, just a varying density in fabric of the universe that I choose (was taught) to understand as 'me' and 'not me.'
So maybe you are a bit like me. Your mind occasionally gets hyper tangled in intellectual discernment. Your mammalian herd instincts long for some alpha Buddhist creature to throw you a bone and give a rat's ass so you can have a few moments of peace. You have moments of complete at-easeness  interspersed with feelings of fear, loneliness, isolation and confusion.
If so, then I hope it gets better for you. I hope you learn to just accept what you feel in any moment and take comfort in knowing it is 'just' your brain doing what brains do. Your thoughts are not you. You are a part of the great mystery. All the buddhist sages were no different from you. Any ideas of good and bad, better and worse, famous and insignificant, are empy constructs. Breath in, breath out. That is the whole universe. That is Buddha. Sit and stare at a wall for as long as you can. Enjoy the infinite no-time that might pop up in the experience. Do one thing and then do the next thing. Pay some acceptance forward. Remember all people are ignorant of 'it' in some way, even you (and me). When it seems like it might help, find the compassion to give a rat's ass to your self and to someone else.


7 comments:

Jordan said...

Hey Lauren,

First off, I just skimmed over your post and did not dig too far into it. I say that for the sake of honesty, as I need to get back to studying for a SEC+ examination that I am pretty clueless about.

Second off, Im going to share, cause I give a rats ass. I don't worry about other buddhists.
Or any Buddhist for that matter.
I don't worry about Buddhism big or small.

I think that all that stuff is just someones idea.
Anytime someone tries to pigeonhole me into their concept of what a good buddhist is, my first reaction is to reject it.

We learn the way of waking up through our own actions and reflections. Not out of somebody else's framework being forced on us. Yeah, we study those great teachers like Dogen, Asvaghosa, and Gotama, but they were just these guys who lived along time ago. Sure, they were bright and all. And they layed down some pretty brilliant dharma, but each and every one of us is also a buddha in the process of waking up…. Got sidetracked… We study those guys but not to do as they said, but to discover what they discovered.

forward and upward,
Jordan

Harry said...

Hi Lauren,

Good post. Well observed.

It sort of amazes me that I sit zazen every day... it's really not something I'd expect myself to do. I don't do it out of any great religious feeling, or a tangible sense of duty to some principle or teacher or 'truth'. I do it because I've trained myself to do it as one would train a dog or a monkey. How glamorous and spiritual is that!

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

"I completely accept the thesis of delusion, and that all I perceive is mind, and mind is wrong, and if I could drop mind, suffering would drop with it, and that there is no true individuation of anything, just a varying density in fabric of the universe that I choose (was taught) to understand as 'me' and 'not me.'"

BTW, this thesis of delusion seems deeply deluded. Be careful of what you completely accept.

While you wrongly consider your mind to be wrong, you're deluded. While you wrongly consider suffering to wrong or something that you can drop, you're deluded.

The purpose of 'dropping body and mind' is not to avoid suffering (which is inevitable), nor is it to 'correct' the mind. The mind and our relative, limited perceptions, like everything else, are already in their correct place, we just don't realise it.

Regards,

Harry.

Lauren said...

Jordan,

Good luck with SEC+. I'm guessing it's not related to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thanks for the encouraging words. It really helped me to "come back from the edge" a bit. Not anything related to mortality, but more the edge of chaotic thinking. Actually chaotic feeling.
I often have waves of feeling that I cannot make sense of. You and Harry are very good tent stakes for me at times when I think the whole thing is buffeted by too many contrary winds. The industrial ones for circus tents that weigh 50 lbs and are 5ft long. “I am but mad north-northwest. When the wind blows southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.”
Logically I agree with not caring about comparing to other, or any, Buddhist, and yet at times a whole salvo of “oughts” and “shoulds” seem to be firing off. I guess I should just lie down (or sit) until the feeling passes, but I also want to try and capture my doubt and confusion to possibly help anyone who might read understand that doubt and confusion are a normal part of the trip. Most of the mainstream “Buddhist writers” only seem to put out what is polished and together.
Your rat's-ass-giving has and continues to mean a great deal to me.
“every one of us is also a buddha in the process of waking up”... have you ever woken up from a nap feeling grumpy as hell?
Thanks for the note.

Lauren said...

Harry,

Thanks for the perspective on your zazen. I suppose there are some things I do well, and I think I have the same “ain't nothing special about it, I just happen to have succeeded in training myself to do” perspective. I suppose I should just stop reading Brad's blog. It reliably provokes my mind into a “am I a good Buddhist” pissing contest.

Thanks also for the further cautions in your second message.

“While you wrongly consider your mind to be wrong, you're deluded. While you wrongly consider suffering to [be] wrong or something that you can drop, you're deluded.”

I believe I understand (and resonate with) what you are saying, so I will test it.

I don't mean “my mind is wrong... bad mind (whack of newspaper on my nose)”, I mean I experience shame, doubt, envy and yet I know (and this is delusion characterizing delusion, so maybe it only compounds rather than illuminates?) that this is normal and appropriate, and yet not real (or rather 'is empty'?). But I was thinking the suffering was something I could drop. Reflecting further I see that suffering is part of the “is” and not to be thought of as avoidable. And, breathing this in and out, “Me suffering” can become “me suffering.” (emphasis in the capitalization).

I think you have a perspective on Dogen that I don't yet grock (US term from the 60's, I hope it translates). It feels like there is still something just around the corner that I haven't turned yet.

Harry said...

Hi Lauren,

Maybe you should jump in and say whatever you want to say on Brad's blog... if it's bullshit no one will pay attention, or else some anonymous will flame you. Maybe that would be better than avoidance. At any rate, I don't think you'll do too much time in avici hell for spouting off a bit.

How would one apply the principle of 'dropping body and mind' to commenting on HZ? Avoidance/denial seems too extreme, but then being a total indulgent asshole troll seems like another extreme...?

Brad is a big zen baby just like the rest of us. He needs people to keep him on his toes I reckon. What you said here is very valid: he wusses out of engaging with people... maybe he doesn't feel he has his shit together enough to engage with others, but that shouldn't stop anyone. He just seems lazy. Hakuin seemed to be bipolar (as we call it now), and he was a renowned teacher, so its not like you have to wait til you're Doctor Phil or anything. His brutal honesty would carry him through, if he could stick to his guns with it and not get sidetracked by bullshit.

Nice sword work, BTW. Cool vid.

Regards,

Harry.

Jordan said...

Hey Lauren,
I passed my test, no nothing to do with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but a little bit with exchange servers. Boring stuff only marginally related to what I do.

I am glad to offer encouragement and I have often appreciated your support along the way as well.

Sometimes happy buddha, sometimes grumpy buddha, sometimes in between.

This all starting to sound a bit smarmy to me as I read over it, but I think your going in the right direction.