Thought is Like Quicksand

Cartoon duck

“What’s the big idea?” ~ Donald Duck

Thought is like quicksand–one step, and “you” are in it up to your neck.

But we can learn all about quicksand, mostly how to recognize it, so you don’t get stuck in the mire.

Then you can step around it, like a seasoned eco-traveller.

Or go ahead and sink, losing all–or nothing.

Whaddya know?

Want to join the Thinking Dialogues? Click on the hat!

quicksand

 

Specialness: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Snow WhiteWhen you see through the need to be special, no one and no circumstance can hold you hostage. And lo and behold, everyone else appears to be just fine.

But first, you need to look and see, to find, that need. If you’re in conflict with others, it’s there–no matter how humble or self-effacing the facade. Sometimes, those who have a secret not-special identity, and who Ironically tend to be experts at letting others know they’re not special, seem to have the greatest need to be special. It’s just harder to see, harder to find, but running the game (the separation game) nonetheless. Pain is running the game, often disguised as self-assurance, or even arrogance. Spot it; you got it.

People strive to be special simply because they don’t feel special. Those who can’t abide specialness don’t either. Forgive it all.

Specialness is the ultimate gatekeeper, the burly bouncer at heaven’s door. Oneness precludes special. You can’t have both, and there really isn’t both, only the painful illusion of special and not-special. They are the same misapprehension. It hides well, wears many masks. Look for the need to be special, and/or the adverse reaction to seeing it rear its head in others. Specialness is the perennial itch that gnaws, whether you scratch it or pretend it doesn’t exist. It is the pea that keeps the princess/prince in constant discomfort, obscured as it is by so many mattresses.

The need to be special will knock you on your ass, over and over. Or, if you pay it no mind, it will slowly, silently, take down your house like a drywood termite. The false self, this character we play, will always strive to be special, boldly or in stealth, but it will never succeed because it is false; because it is only a character in a short-run play. Because it is not real, even in its most stellar moments.

Postscript: all posts here are written from personal experience. This ain’t book-learnin, nor is it a YouTube-generated epiphany. What I would learn is this: I am neither special or not special, but I have discovered it is a very heavy suitcase to lug around, and when I stop long enough to open it, it is surprisingly empty.

“Specialness is the seal of treachery upon the gift of love.” ~ A Course in Miracles

At Peace With Not Knowing

4169318053_561c68de17The topic being discussed on Wednesday’s Look-See is At Peace With Not Knowing. What does that mean? Not knowing and its relationship to peace is similar to a line from Faith Mind (published here yesterday):

“Do not seek for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”

Science, philosophy, psychology, physics—all the ideas of yesterday become outmoded like the fabled myth of a flat earth. The string theory of today cannot hold, if we but empirically witness the historical falling away of one so-called truth after another. Conversely, in psychology, the adherence to behaviorism to the denial or a disinterest in genetics is to hold an opinion. To hold to a gold standard, whether as a metallurgist, an economist, or a moralist, is of course nothing more than opinion.

To espouse nonduality, Advaita, Christianity, Buddhism, or atheism is to have a perspective, an opinion—a way of perceiving and expressing that perception. Even to say, “We are all One,” is an opinion. Everything written in these pages is a way of expressing a perspective. It is not true, nor are these words or any of the above perspectives untrue, as long as they remain in the lightly-held realm of opinion, viewpoint, and perspective. There is nothing wrong with any of them as far as points of view go…until they are taken as hard-cold facts, as reality. Even unquestioned “consensus reality” is an opportunity for amusement rather than argument.

So what does this have to do with peace? The argument, the conflict, the separation of families, friends, tribes, and nations is what arises from cherishing opinions. Seeking and presumably finding truth is taking a stand, and then having to defend the very ground you stand on, even if only to yourself.

Matter is…mind is…enlightenment is…the truth is…the way to truth is… none of these things are known. Yet the attempt and the assertion of certainty in these matters keep us from equanimity, a relaxed uncertainty that allows us to see without “the smallest distinction” that heaven and hell are set apart only because we have made such a distinction. If knowing for certain pits us for or against this or that, we thus have something, sometimes everything, to defend and protect.

What if not knowing is the source of The Buddha’s smile? We don’t know. I don’t know. Letting go of the need to know feels like the deepest peace, releases the deepest and longest-held sense of contraction. The fist opens to reveal welcoming palm.

If you wish to join Beth Bellamy and I in this discussion on Wednesday, contact me here. We will not figure anything out; we will not become certain of anything, but we might very well smile, and be at peace by and by.

Faith Mind: All You’ll Ever Need…?

sunsetpic2Each line is a gentle persuasion, a nudge, an irresistible morsel of wisdom. The deepest peace is in every line. It takes only one, perhaps, to point towards the end of you and your suffering. Read, and see.

Verses on the Faith Mind by The 3rd Zen Patriarch, Sengstau

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. Continue reading

Annoyance: Looking at Difficult People

mmmkkkk_broken_glasses_1dygoqhneA Course in Miracles says something to the effect that annoyance is actually thinly-veiled rage, that there are no levels of discontent. If this were empirically true in your experience it could be seen, at the very least, that this gnawing feeling is an opportunity to look at annoyance in a different way.

So if there is a “difficult” person in front of you (and another clue to the depth of dissatisfaction is that they are not in front of you presently, but continually popping up in your head as a source of annoyance), you can look right at the person, or the image, and see that the reaction is happening within you. The person, or their image, is just doing what it’s doing, but the physiological response is in you. This is where the conflict is going on, not out there. This is easy to see, if you look honestly.

Continue reading

This Shouldn’t Be Happening…But It Is.

hhcuffedsigSo this sticky wicket we call life-gone-wrong seems to go something like this:

There is a circumstance that does or does not happen, a someone or somebody who does or does not do something. We don’t care for the circumstance or the behavior. Sometimes this not-caring-for turns into rage, desperation, or deep hurt. This is the recurring theme of life. I want this; I don’t want that. A tight spot, indeed. This is the dynamic called suffering.

Regardless of all our attempts to explain, whether from a psychological, moral, or practical perspective, it all boils down to “This shouldn’t be happening.” None of the explanations change a thing. No matter how smart we are, or how many justifications we come up with, or how many witnesses we gather to bolster our argument, the thing simply did or did not happen, and there you have it. This is the only possible realization. Explanations are simply attempts to dress up the pig. The only humane response: “Ah, but it is.”

The next order of thinking is the attempt to change the situation. “It shouldn’t be raining on my wedding day,” changes to moving indoors. Problem solved? Or does the “shouldn’t” persist, the rain continue to be cursed, and the day inevitably ruined? Or, sometime after the wedding day, we could, and often do, try to change the person who did or did not do what they should or shouldn’t have…and so there is the “Something must change; this is unacceptable; we need to talk,” pronouncements. Sometimes it works, for a short respite, oftentimes it does not. Attempt to change situations and people all you want, and we all have already  done so many times, but sooner or later, the next thing always arises, and there it is, again: “Wait. This shouldn’t be happening.” It’s a constant; it is the first noble truth in Buddhism; it is the first sentence in M. Scott Peck’s seminal book, The Road Less Traveled: “Life is difficult.” It is difficult because life just happens and not always according to our plans or expectations.

So where and how does peace, the deepest peace, come in? There’s a good chance you already know the answer, and equally possible that there is some resistance. There may be a “no” in there somewhere. But we can get to yes, to the smile, to the peace just underneath the surface of all this tumult, toil, and trouble.

And one way to get to that peace is simple and readily available—here and now. Can you see it? If not, it can be pointed to, and when recognized, thus begins the recurring chuckle in light of how we all have made so much ado, literally, about nothing. Chains come undone; we are no longer bound up in our expectations of the way things should be. Peace is found in events, people, and circumstances, just as they are.

Anger, grief, and all the rest may still happen, but they are grounded in, and received with noble equanimity by, that all-emcompassing peace that passeth all understanding. It is a way to live that surpasses all our vain attempts to create the right kind of world. And so we are humbled and comforted in untold hours.