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Thread: Self, Non-Self.. Acceptance.. True Bodhisattvas

  1. #1
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    Self, Non-Self.. Acceptance.. True Bodhisattvas

    I just re-read this post, and writing it helped me realize a lot of what I am feeling. I'm still pretty shaken so I am sorry if it is difficult to read, but felt I needed to share something, anything related to this weekend. Me, my husband, and my close friends could use some metta sent our way. I wrote a few posts about this weekend, then deleted them before posting, so I know this is vague but we all have been put in a blender and shaken. Gassho, Dani

    I had a very comforting train of thought after Zazen a few days ago. I had a pretty traumatic weekend, got hit from every side, and it made me think a lot about expectations and projecting ideas, concepts (like morals) and such onto other people, animals, and ones own "self."

    I realized that a huge part of my personal identity problems over the last few years stemmed from the pressure that I alone was placing on myself. I felt I had to live up to this image of who I was becoming when I was 18- I was kind then still, not a hell-raiser, but I was wild and unafraid of everything in life and able to face tough situations and push them aside and never let them get to my core and get me down. Well, this weekend I was shaken to my core, from my relationship to my husband (which is good still) to my pets to my job to my friends to internal reflections... and I realized, I need to just accept myself, accept who I am, not feel bad that I feel bad about a situation that happened.. not feel bad that I am softer about things like death now. Not feel bad that I am not a world-class horse trainer and that I needed to ask for help. There are paths that we pass up and situations that sometimes put us back to where we made our decisions and ask us to question them. That is okay too. I need to accept who I've become, who I am in this moment, and be as kind and gentle with myself as I try to be with others. I had an inkling of this in a zazen session earlier in the week, I suddenly felt really gentle with myself, but I didn't fully take it to heart until the end of the weekend. This is in sharp contrast to Sunday's zazen (I think it was Sunday.) When I sat then, I felt like my core was shaking, I could not find my center and relax into just sitting. When my meditation timer went off I stood and felt as if I was literally going to fall into a thousand pieces.

    Anyways, this all led me to the self/no self train of thought. Where do we draw the line between "mine" and "yours,' "you" and "they" and "me." Whenever I look close and try to explore the line, I find that it has further expanded. This weekend was so traumatic because I drew my line of self around my dog, my husband, my good friend, and a little goat that passed away rather violently. I felt everyone's pain as if it was funneled straight into my chest and then amplified by my own emotion. I almost couldn't handle it. In a strange way, I felt like once that vortex was opened it drew others to me from new situations to release their emotions- co-workers called and passed on anger and confusion, other people called and passed on fear, almost like a magnet. Lastly the intense depression feelings came when I re-drew my line of self securely around my core when I reflected on the situation and did not look at the larger picture. I had realized earlier that we were all my "self" but it didn't stick; as a self-protection mechanism my mind retracted my line of self like a scared, scared little girl and made the situation in my heart worse.

    I saw this clearly when I thought about how my lines expanded and contracted. To me it is one of the marks of a Bodhisattva to have the line permanently drawn around all sentient beings, feeling their pain as if it is their own (because it is) and feeling as much love for them as if they are their selves (they are.) I feel like I perhaps got a taste of that this weekend, and realized that the Bodhisattva ideal is not always happy. I feel like it is presented as happy- look at this savior, this person who takes on others suffering and turns it into happiness! Who just cares, and cares so much! I think the reality is that true Bodhisattvas have an immense capacity to carry pain, a capacity far beyond what I almost could not carry this weekend, and that was very sobering. I don't think I will ever look at a Bodhisattva the same way again, no matter the form- Kuan Yin, Kannon, Avalokitesvara. They are wonderful, happy, able to bear pain but I think the reality is they bear intense, unending pain in their hearts, wear smiles on their faces, and always realize an unlimited line of self.

    Today, I feel like I'm accepting myself without judgment and accepting that all others are my self. Don't know how sustainable this is, but in this moment, I am accepting. It is all fine- when someone calls me to vent negative emotions, when our close group gets hit with situations, when I act according to my own current nature, it is fine.

    Metta,
    Gassho,
    Dani

  2. #2
    I am not sure all that happened, Dani, but we all sit with you.

    As we get older, we truly can become wiser about life. I hope that you do become gentler and more accepting of yourself.

    Sometimes, being shaken to the core is where we first truly find our stable center.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  3. #3
    Like Jundo said Dani, be kind and gentle to yourself ... everything is as it is.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  4. #4
    Dani, It sounds like you may be projecting too much. A Bodhisattva is not some ideal or something in your mind. Its what you do in the present moment to help the situation. I think we all put pressure on ourselves to perform, to take care of our family, our friends and that's OK but let it go sometimes. I think sitting helps with this. Take care.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  5. #5
    Sometimes when you go through pain and suffering, you emerge on the other side feeling completely calm and peaceful. And truly compassionate.

    This is a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye:

    Before you know what kindness really is,
    You must lose things,
    Feel the future dissolve in a moment
    Like salt in weakened broth.
    What you held in your hand,
    What you counted and carefully saved--
    All this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be
    Between the regions of kindness,
    How you ride and ride, thinking the bus will never stop,
    The passengers, eating maize and chicken, will stare out the window forever.
    Before you learn the gravity of kindness,
    You must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
    Lies dead by the side of the road.
    You must see how this could be you,
    How he too was someone who journeyed through the night
    With a plan and the simple breath that kept him alive.
    Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
    You must know sorrow as the other deepest thing,
    You must wake up with sorrow
    You must speak to it until your voice catches the thread of all sorrows
    And you see the size of the cloth.
    Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
    Only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day
    To mail letters and purchase bread.
    Only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say,
    “It is I you have been looking for,”
    And then goes with you everywhere
    Like a shadow
    Or a friend.
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  6. #6
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Dani, It sounds like you may be projecting too much. A Bodhisattva is not some ideal or something in your mind. Its what you do in the present moment to help the situation. I think we all put pressure on ourselves to perform, to take care of our family, our friends and that's OK but let it go sometimes. I think sitting helps with this. Take care.
    I'm with Rich here.

    Dani - LET YOURSELF FALL OFF THE ROPE. You won't die and you'll learn that there is an incredible amount of freedom when you stop insisting that you occupy a certain place as a self-identity.

    As someone with clear self-identity issues, I can only tell you that it gets more comfortable as you get older. Zazen helps acquaint a person to non-self, and in general, to a world that is a bit friendlier than it seems sometimes. Extend compassion to yourself - this has to be the first step as a Bodhisattva, IMHO. Until you stop filtering your identity through the eyes of others, it will be very hard for you to help others do the same for themselves - and this is the beginning of sanity and true mutual friendliness.

    As someone who has also had a lot of his relationships (friends and lovers) fall apart, I can say that I have learned a lot studying the exact nature of the feelings of break-up. A teacher from another tradition mentioned something about how we often use our relationships as 'lifelines' for our egos....and so when we lose a significant other, we feel like we're dying because from the perspective of our internally projected sense of self, a significant building block of our identity is being ripped from us.

    But the crickets still chirp and the sun comes up in the morning. Nothing has essentially changed.

    Chet

  7. #7
    Hi Dani - try not to judge yourself for the fact 'the line' sometimes contracts and then sometimes expands.

    As Jundo said - we don't know all that happened - but it feels that expanding the line can cause vulnerability?

    We may strive to be Bodhisattvas - but we're also human - and in some situations it may be very necessary to draw a line around our selves. This doesn't mean that we can't feel compassion - but I think in buddhism it's essential that compassion is used with wisdom.

    Rich always speaks wisely - like he said sometimes it's fine to 'just let it go'. I think Chet is saying the same.

    Take care,

    Gassho

    Willow

  8. #8
    Hi Dani,

    I don't know you personally, but just a few random thoughts on your post.
    First of all, I hope you feel better and things are getting better.

    Without bad times we would not appreciate good times as much. There can't be mountains without valleys.
    When there are no ups and downs everything is flat.
    I've had some really bad times in my life as well - however, they can give you the chance to learn something about yourself and life itself. You can become stronger with their help, although it might not look like that when you are right in the middle of a catastrophe.
    When it really gets tough I remember the story of the farmer and his son.

    About Bodhisattvas - forget this. Don't be attached to images, ideas, expectations, etc.
    Just be a human being who suffers, enjoys, laughs, cries, does good things, does stupid things, etc. And accept that you are a human being in this world (although you are actually more than that, of course).
    Before you can really help others you must first "help yourself".
    Don't feel attached to goals about who you want to be, ideals or certain concepts.
    Don't feel attached to expectations others might have concerning you - sometimes this requires a hearty "F**k it!', a few deep breaths and a smile.
    Don't feel attached to expectations you might have about other people and life.

    Don't even be attached to Zen or practice - they are pointing to the moon, they are not the moon themselves.
    Lots of things that can be liberating can also become (unknowingly) a kind of prison - let go if that's the case, and relax your grip.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Dani,

    Like the others, I don't know what happened there, but for what I read, maybe you are intellectualizing things too much?

    If you had a hurtful experience, sit with it.

    Then go and do something good for someone else, without thinking about you. And then some more.

    I have found that a great help against sadness, angst and depression is just to do something good for the universe. This way you get the I out or your mind and gives you solid ground to face your problems.

    But that's just a silly idea of a non yet caffeinated mind.

    Much metta.

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Hi Dani - try not to judge yourself for the fact 'the line' sometimes contracts and then sometimes expands.

    As Jundo said - we don't know all that happened - but it feels that expanding the line can cause vulnerability?

    We may strive to be Bodhisattvas - but we're also human - and in some situations it may be very necessary to draw a line around our selves. This doesn't mean that we can't feel compassion - but I think in buddhism it's essential that compassion is used with wisdom.

    Rich always speaks wisely - like he said sometimes it's fine to 'just let it go'. I think Chet is saying the same.

    Take care,

    Gassho

    Willow
    Perfectly human, perfectly Bodhisattva. These are not two.

    Gassho,

    Chet

  11. #11
    Nicely put Chet

    Willow

  12. #12
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I read every reply and am thinking about them. Sorry for the silence, things are straightened out now, I was definitely overthinking/overfeeling but in the end it was helpful. Somewhat back to feeling normal, felt like I was breaking apart for a bit there!

    Gassho,
    Dani

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