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Thread: Life after disappointment

  1. #1
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Life after disappointment

    I assume I'm not the only one here who's come to this place... So I'm asking you all, in perplexity, how you dealt with finding yourselves here, if you ever did.

    It's a place you get to on a "spiritual path"... perhaps a sort of crossroads. When you started out on this path, you had a lot of hopes, and dreams, of what might lie ahead. All the mysticism and magic in the universe. Transcendence, revelation, ecstasy. Life-affirming knowledge of why we're here.

    But along the way, you've discovered that for all the magic and ecstasy there can be, much of what you hoped to find just doesn't seem to be there. You've desperately tried to cling on to anything promising you that you've just missed it, that you just haven't gotten there yet. But it becomes increasingly harder to believe, as you see the writing on the wall. How we create these visions out of our own needs. There's really nothing there. If God exists, he doesn't have a special message for you, or any meaning to give you. There's no cosmic plan. He's as in the dark as you about how we ended up in this mess.

    You've spent years of your life chasing after this spiritual vision. Years you could have spent in Dionysian revels, you spent instead buried in the mystic. And the mystic's there, all right--Mind is an endless mystery--but is there really a point to seeking it out? Maybe your "spirituality" was just a cover for your psychological afflictions. A way to dress them up to yourself. And now that you can see yourself naked in the mirror, with no more spiritual costumes to put on, and you see all the scars, all the ugliness--where do you go with that? You're not Jesus, battered for the sake of some cosmic narrative, you're just a mess. A mess without a reason. Just another sad story of unrelenting cosmic loneliness.

    You find yourself at this crossroads. Either you can continue on with a spiritual path, knowing that it is not likely to bring you to any of the places you hoped to reach, or you can abandon it. Sure, your spiritual practice has brought you a measure of calm, of balance, of clarity--but if there is nothing really to see or discover, why bother with balance and clarity? Maybe life is more fun, and bearable, without it. Without seeing and knowing so much. Maybe it's nicer to forget. And just find whatever ways you can enjoy yourself until this pointless ride called life grinds to a halt.

    Maybe it's better to distract yourself than to look into the abyss all of the time, to see into the suffering all around you, the lies, the emptiness. God isn't going to descend from the clouds and reach out to you anyway. God is just your own consciousness playing games with itself. Why play the straight game, why discipline yourself and sacrifice when you know it all amounts to a giant fucking zero in the end? When there's no one beyond us self-deluded apes that gives a damn what goes on in our tiny corner of the galaxy?

    Some people here still seem to be in the honeymoon phase of spiritual life, but some of you had to have gotten here at some point in your spiritual careers. What did you do? What did you learn? How did you choose to live, and how do you feel about that choice now? I know that no one can give me the "answers," but at least knowing what some other people did might help. For all the bazillion Dharma books there are out there, I haven't found a one that really speaks to this.

    And I'm not talking about psych issues, or depression, here. That's another, though related, issue. Questions of meaning are what have brought me joy and inspiration for years now, regardless of my mood or state of mind from month to month or year to year. Now I'm coming up dry. I just can't make stuff up any more. This is about confronting the purpose of a spiritual life in a world, and universe, in which there very well seems to be no purpose.

  2. #2
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Christian mystics might call what you're going through 'The Dark Night of the Senses'.

    Life doesn't add up to a big zero at the END. It adds up to a big zero now. I don't really think you've seen the big 'zero' yet though, because it doesn't leave you with a feeling of despair. Thinking about an imaginary big 'zero' brings despair. What you really need to investigate is why you think it should have come up with some other number. Your dissatisfaction seems to be coming from the fact that you want 'it' to be some other way than what it is.

    You describe life as empty, but you're not empty. You're full of ideas about the way the world should be. The world is going to win every single time. The world will be the way it is every single time. I don't think you've really seen that there's no way to win yet. If you were 100% hopeless, you'd drop your need for the world to be some other way - and then maybe you'd be able to enjoy the world as it is. You could act in ways to try to make it better without despairing that it's meaningless. What causes your suffering isn't that the world thwarts your attempts to make it or see it as better - you're going to war against the world with your judgements about how it should be, and since you are at war, your world is at war.

    Many of us see human greed, stupidity, carelessness, and life's meaninglessness without despairing.

    In your posts, I see a very intelligent woman - and sometimes the world seems cruel to the intelligent or the imaginative - because it doesn't live up to their imaginations about how it should be. The thing is, you have to realize that the source of this war is not the world - it is you. If you want the suffering to stop, you have to stop insisting that the world be different than it is.

    Your disappointment is a very good sign! If you can look into yourself and see the real source of your disappointment, you'll have broken through a very difficult barrier. Pain usually forces me back to this realization in my own life, as I often go astray on this issue. For me, my expectations eventually crushed me. After that happens, there's hope. Some people can put down their expectations without being crushed, but I am very stubborn - and I suspect you are stubborn too.

    You present your argument as though you have a choice - but I think you and I both know you don't have a choice. You haven't skipped the Dionysian because you made a choice. You know that the Dionysian will leave you feeling empty. EVERYTHING has left you empty. You hoped the dharma would not leave you feeling as empty, but it has. Why has it?

    Ask yourself what it is you want from Buddhism. Therein lies the problem. Everyone's trying to fill that hole - and you hoped Buddhism would fill it, and it hasn't. You should look very closely at that hole, at that feeling of lack. Where does it come from? What causes it? On what basic assumptions is it predicated?

    As for books - I'd recommend something outside the realm of Dharma books. Specifically, I'd recommend Byron Katie's 'Loving What Is'. More specifically, I'd recommend the audio version. As a matter of fact, if there's any advice I've given you, this is one piece of advice I'd most hope you take.

    You are a very smart, beautiful woman (I saw your blog photo - your avatar here doesn't do you justice :wink: ) - but you'll never find what you're looking for because it's based on very inaccurate assumptions about reality.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Stephanie

    What a beautifully written post, you write very well. That's not what you want to hear, of course; you want an answer, now. And Disastermouse, I thought your reply was spot on too.

    Have I been in the "place" where you are, Stephanie? I can't know, but I think somewhere similar. And how did / do I cope? I suppose I didn't. I gave up, in the end. Not on living - that kind of carried on without me agreeing to it. But on the search for "meaning". On the "spiritual path", if you like. I gave in to the nagging voice that I'd tried to push away, and that you express so eloquently, saying that there was nothing there. And the odd thing was / is that now life doesn't seem "meaningless" (or "unspiritual") to me. It doesn't seem to have "meaning" either, mind. It's just life. But, for me, at least, "What's the meaning?" was, or became, the wrong question. Life isn't an answer to that question, which was only ever in my head, it's an answer, if anything, to the question "What is life?" Nothing, is there.

    But I think you know all that, and you've read that, only put better, before, in your dharma books. As to how I live, having given up on meaning? I'm afraid I don't know, and maybe others will be able to give better answers. It sort of takes care of itself. I think the dharma books say "Chop wood, carry water". I don't have a lot of wood to chop, or water to carry, actually, but I do the best I can with what comes next; it's not as if there's an alternative.

    Gassho

    Martin

  4. #4

    Re: Life after disappointment

    martin - good to see you back, i post sporadically, and wasn't sure if you were back from your operation

    steph -- well, i know this can't still be a "honeymoon", since my formal path started about 40 yrs ago -- hate to sound boring, but nothing has changed -- i took a bunch of lsd, read the "lazy man's guide to enlightenment" -- all the lazy man's guide was lacking, for me, was a method, and i found that in buddhist meditation -- i can't say anything significant has happened in the "whats it all about?" department since then -- for me, life is "same day, different shit", at least on one channel(re:jundo's 2 channels) -- time is an illusion, every event the same, every place the same -- no place to go, nothing to do, not really -- again, thats what i found on acid at 18, and if i see anything differently, i will certainly readjust my view -- i indulge a bit, plan a sailing cruise("won't that be fun"), anticipated my retirement by crossing the days off for 3 years -- guess what, nothing changed -- i can do anything i want now, only problem, nothing to do!! -- its all the same! -- whats left? -- "chop wood, carry water" -- just like people have done for ages, long before they had our luxury of introspection -- or, as i saw in my last long retreat, when the teacher asked me how i was doing, i admitted that i could now see there really wasn't anything to "do" in life, other than awareness, and metta -- beyond that, its all relatively inconsequential: go/stay, happy/sad, blah, blah, blah

    had depressed clients who shared this same view(it certainly sounds depressing) -- only thing is, i'm not depressed! -- at least, not about this -- i think, for some reason, i've been able to keep my heart open, if not for me, for others(all the same anyway)

    so i'm just fine with this path i'm on -- and its not like i have any choice -- i couldn't lie to myself, thank god, not on something as basic as the structure of reality -- i am wierd in that i think we all know exactly what's going on, on a very deep, sometimes hidden, level, and do not need any one, or book, to see it -- just a desire for the "truth"

    the true test, and the beauty of practice, is that this is not what i "think", this is what i am confronted with whenever i go to that place, whether its while i'm running down the road, sitting zazen, dropping acid -- little(running), or big(acid) gaps in the illusion -- and i don't think i'm alone in that, since many have written, or attempted to write, of similar
    experiences -- so even when i don't think this, or think anything, its what is

    at about 7 or 8 i began to freak out, cause there were little cracks already appearing in the illusion of "everyday" life -- i tried to push that out of mind, as we're programmed to do -- the panic attacks soon followed, for years -- at first it seemed easier to try and go back to sleep, and some folks do -- but if you can't, you can't

    when i first retired, i was going everywhere, doing everything -- grand canyon, zion, paria -- like stuffing myself at a banquet -- the old farts at the trailer park would ask me why i was driving 200 miles to see pretty stuff, when i could just walk outside the back fence

    now i just jump over the fence, look at the beauty of what is, and try to be good to people -- not because this is what i've read, but because this i what i've seen

    gassho, bob

  5. #5

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hey Steph.
    boy have you struck a chord with me. it took me some time to read and some time to answer but i know exactly what you mean.
    frankly i have never considered myself a spiritual person, but i guess i fit the bill.

    for a long time i felt the world to be wrong and searched for something to give it meaning and peace for myself. i never wanted felt anything mystical about it but i did find the world frustrating,i felt lost. when i stared practicing zen and meditation i wanted to reach enlightenment, to become perfect, to find the meaning, the answer. the big secret to make it all understandable and bearable.
    at first my practice brought me peace of mind and happiness, it was great i couldn't believe how good it felt. but with time i started to want more. and i never seemed to get any further. i felt i was stuck in one point and i have reached the peak of what my practice could offer me. so i started skipping sitting sometimes when i didn't feel like it or just wasn't in the mood.

    and the more i studied i felt i couldn't get anymore of this practice, i knew i could never find those answers i seek, it made me a bit sad... how could it be? with time i understood there are no answers anywhere. needless to say it made me feel a bit depressed, i will never find you those things i wanted to find answers too because there are none.... FUCK THIS SHIT was definitely one of my reactions to this realization.

    i can't say it ever went away, i still sometimes sit and look at the world and notice how amazingly beautiful and magical it is and i am so close to knowing and tapping in to that great secret answer and i know there isn't one and i will never find it, it makes me feel melancholy, bitter sweet is a better way to put it.

    i cant tell you what happened exactly that i don't feel that way anymore but what i can tell you is this...
    i think that the only thing that changed within me is my perspective, my point of view.
    those things became less important to me and i understood i don't need them in order to live my life to the fullest extent.

    so i don't really have any good advice but it will pass and it is a part of life and just accept it and let go...

    Just let go i hope it helped

    p.s.

    Remember you are not alone

    Gassho
    Daniel who knows the real answer to life the universe and everything is 42 :wink:

  6. #6

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Steph,

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    When you started out on this path, you had a lot of hopes, and dreams, of what might lie ahead. All the mysticism and magic in the universe. Transcendence, revelation, ecstasy. Life-affirming knowledge of why we're here.
    But I found all that in my Practice! Yessery Bob. I ain't trying to sell you the Brooklyn bridge. It is what keeps me doing this, day in day out. All the mysticism and magic in the universe. Transcendence, revelation, ecstasy. Life-affirming knowledge of why we're here. Your colorful description doesn't even cover a corner of it all.

    What, you think I do this Practice cause it is some kind of valium or band-aid on the "Big Questions"? Just a bit of "calm" in my hectic day? Heck no!

    I keep telling you, Steph, time and again when you raise this ... that you are looking in the wrong places and asking the wrong questions.

    There's really nothing there. If God exists, he doesn't have a special message for you, or any meaning to give you. There's no cosmic plan. He's as in the dark as you about how we ended up in this mess.

    ... A mess without a reason. Just another sad story of unrelenting cosmic loneliness. ... the suffering all around you, the lies, the emptiness.
    Ah, the stories you write for yourself. You are really as wonderful a story teller as those Tibetans on the other thread, with the 1000 armed Chenrezig in a beam of Golden Light.

    Now ask yourself: which is the real story, and which is the unreal story? What makes you "lonely", a "mess"? What is this "suffering" "lies" and "emptiness" (I think you mean the bad kind of emptiness that is just empty). So, what makes "beams of Golden Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    You describe life as empty, but you're not empty. You're full of ideas about the way the world should be. The world is going to win every single time. The world will be the way it is every single time. I don't think you've really seen that there's no way to win yet. If you were 100% hopeless, you'd drop your need for the world to be some other way - and then maybe you'd be able to enjoy the world as it is. You could act in ways to try to make it better without despairing that it's meaningless. What causes your suffering isn't that the world thwarts your attempts to make it or see it as better - you're going to war against the world with your judgements about how it should be, and since you are at war, your world is at war.

    Many of us see human greed, stupidity, carelessness, and life's meaninglessness without despairing.

    In your posts, I see a very intelligent woman - and sometimes the world seems cruel to the intelligent or the imaginative - because it doesn't live up to their imaginations about how it should be. The thing is, you have to realize that the source of this war is not the world - it is you. If you want the suffering to stop, you have to stop insisting that the world be different than it is.
    This is very well said, Chet. The only thing I would add (as I always add): Embracing the world "as it is", and bonding with it, need not mean some resignation, discouraged acceptance or disappointment. Quite the contrary.

    It is also seeing the Beauty where, before, one only saw beauty and ugliness, tasting the Endless Treasure, Wisdom, Care and Meaning in what (to some) is a world of greed, stupidity, carelessness and meaninglessness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin
    I gave up, in the end. Not on living ... But on the search for "meaning". On the "spiritual path", if you like. I gave in to the nagging voice that I'd tried to push away, and that you express so eloquently, saying that there was nothing there. And the odd thing was / is that now life doesn't seem "meaningless" (or "unspiritual") to me. It doesn't seem to have "meaning" either, mind. It's just life. But, for me, at least, "What's the meaning?" was, or became, the wrong question. Life isn't an answer to that question, which was only ever in my head, it's an answer, if anything, to the question "What is life?" Nothing, is there.
    Or Everything is There. And all the meaning in the universe.

    Glass is half full, glass is half empty, or glass is crystal clear pure emptiness which drinks the whole of time and space!

    Gee, all depends how you look at it! :shock:

    What the hell is with all the "there are no answers" folks around here? Geez louise! I don't care if you have been walking this path 40 years or 4 days or a moment.

    DON'T YOU EVER EVER THINK THAT, JUST BECAUSE OL' JUNDO KEEPS SAYING "THERE IS NOTHING TO LOOK FOR" ... THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO FIND!

    Good night.

    Gassho, Jundo (really, makes me want to put a padlock on the door to the place, and burst into 1000 pieces like Chenrezig. Really). :evil:

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    DON'T YOU EVER EVER THINK THAT, JUST BECAUSE OL' JUNDO KEEPS SAYING "THERE IS NOTHING TO LOOK FOR" ... THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO FIND!

    Good night.

    Gassho, Jundo (really, makes me want to put a padlock on the door to the place, and burst into 1000 pieces like Chenrezig. Really). :evil:
    Don't get discouraged. I for one have not decided to make resignation my practice.

  8. #8
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    I appreciate everyone's feedback.

    Maybe I've just had a streak of bad luck, but my life experiences have ripped out my capacity to believe there's a point to all this, much less one that is worth all of this. I never thought I'd be saying this, but in a way, I now wish I'd never set out on this path. Every way that my engagement with the Dharma has affected my life choices has led me further and further away from any sort of safety, solace, or comfort. And I used to think that was a good thing, but now that I confront the fact that there's no pot of gold at the end of this long, exhausting rainbow, at least not for me, I see no point in all the loss that staying on this path required of me. My neurochemistry may be responsible for the emotional tone of my life, but I have the Dharma, and Zen practice, to thank for taking away my ability to hope for redemption and believe in anything transcendent. I think I could have been happier if I'd left well enough alone. Too fucking late now, though.

    Life. What a piece of shit. At least I can laugh about it.



    You know, I think if I'm being honest, at the end of the day, as much as I sincerely wanted truth, what I wanted as much as anything was for people to love me. And I thought maybe if I was good enough, or enlightened enough, I'd finally discover the secret to being loved. And it was all wrong, because even if you do become a better person, people don't love you for it. I thought by looking for love in Buddhist circles I would at least be guaranteed some measure of compassion and understanding. But if anything, it's been the opposite.

    The greatest love and kindness I've been shown has come from anywhere but Buddhists (though you folks here are a noticeable exception--at the very least, you've been kind and patient and supportive), whereas for all they could pontificate about compassion, the Buddhists I've known have had a shocking capacity to treat other people like they're nothing. The "compassion" and "goodness" is a show to prove some point to others about themselves, but when it came down to it, those people had no problem turning their backs. Which is why you find me so skeptical of all of the same platitudes you all sit there typing to me about how wonderful the universe is, and love and light blah blah blah, because I've heard the same crap before from people who would then turn around and do the most cold, horrible things to me or other people.

    And I look at the world out there, all the people in so much pain and trouble who've got no one, who don't have family and friends who are there for them, and who even us social workers usually ultimately abandon because that's the way the system goes... Yeah, you could gloss over all of this with some sort of cosmic justification for how it's all really beautiful and meaningful on some level, but the simple human truth is that it isn't. People suffer and die alone, they look other people in the face and other peopl look away -- I often find myself one of the people who looks away, because if you responded to every call for help on the streets of New York you'd go bankrupt and lose your job and everything else... It is this way for so many people, the people in our institutions, our homeless shelters, our jails, even our schools, workplaces, homes... and even if it is possible for a person to attain some sort of enlightenment that takes the sting out of our existential situation, what then of all the people who suffer and die without that?

    This is where I stick on all this... what good is Heaven or enlightenment when so many people are in Hell? But what you learn when you go out and try to reach the people who are in Hell, is that there is just so much suffering out there, it's impossible. And if there's no God, no transcendence, no cosmic order underlying all of this, it means that all of these people suffer and die alone for no reason. No one will ever hold them and tell them that it's okay. I think you can make all of this okay on the level of intellect, but you can't feel it in your heart and bones, how much people suffer, how they struggle with no one to lift them up, and know that not everyone will know love and happiness, and be okay with that. You have to have faith that there's something that makes it all okay in the end. And if you lose that faith, it's fucking impossible to go on in the trenches without succumbing to a sense of utter defeat. And then what?

    I haven't seen a damn shred of anything in the Soto worldview that addresses this need. Saying that a person can experience wonder in the world is great and all, but what about all the people out there who don't get to that point? If you don't believe in some sort of soul that continues beyond death, it means that you have to accept that a lot of people out there just lead sad lives and die. How the hell do you live with that? I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but it's really the thought that so many people out there who have suffered just like me, all the people out there who have suffered far worse than me, and who won't be lifted up in some way, that is the real killer. I could suffer any number of horrible things and find strength if I believed there was some purpose in it, some way that this could help others. But just knowing that there's one person out there who might not be "saved" makes the whole thing fall apart like a house of cards. I mean, at this point, it's looking like even I can't be saved--what about all the thousands and millions out there, even, who have it far worse than me? It makes a person want to drink!

  9. #9

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Steph,

    As I always tell you, and always will tell you:

    You choose to see life this way. You don't need to do so. It is your choice.

    Sometimes, we find the suffering strangely cozy and familiar, and we are afraid to leave it.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I appreciate everyone's feedback.

    Maybe I've just had a streak of bad luck, but my life experiences have ripped out my capacity to believe there's a point to all this, much less one that is worth all of this. I never thought I'd be saying this, but in a way, I now wish I'd never set out on this path. Every way that my engagement with the Dharma has affected my life choices has led me further and further away from any sort of safety, solace, or comfort. And I used to think that was a good thing, but now that I confront the fact that there's no pot of gold at the end of this long, exhausting rainbow, at least not for me, I see no point in all the loss that staying on this path required of me. My neurochemistry may be responsible for the emotional tone of my life, but I have the Dharma, and Zen practice, to thank for taking away my ability to hope for redemption and believe in anything transcendent. I think I could have been happier if I'd left well enough alone. Too fucking late now, though.

    Life. What a piece of shit. At least I can laugh about it.

    Gotta love despair.com!

    You know, I think if I'm being honest, at the end of the day, as much as I sincerely wanted truth, what I wanted as much as anything was for people to love me. And I thought maybe if I was good enough, or enlightened enough, I'd finally discover the secret to being loved. And it was all wrong, because even if you do become a better person, people don't love you for it. I thought by looking for love in Buddhist circles I would at least be guaranteed some measure of compassion and understanding. But if anything, it's been the opposite.
    Well at least you're honest about what you want. I can totally relate - I just spent two years chained to a bad relationship desperately hoping to be loved. I rode that suffering out, and now that it's over, I feel like I ground down most of that need.

    Maybe you need a season in hell to wear out your delusions? Of course, you don't have to let your load crush you, you can put it down at any moment...but when you're stuck in a pattern, you have to keep putting it down again and again, or prevent yourself from picking it back up. Pointedly, I want to ask you why you think you're not worthy of love now? If you try to play this game with people, they will just echo back your own beliefs back at you. I had two dreams the night before that pointed at my two biggest problems. In the first one, I got into a new thing with a girl and she left (I never get the girl in my dreams, LOL). In the second, I screamed over the phone over a $12,000 phone bill for a cell phone I bought for my mom (totally fictitious situation). If you think your life will reflect anything back at you that's too radically different than your dreams, you're wrong. You HAVE to extend some love to your own bad self...the world can take care of itself. Or, you can burn through it in a season of hell.

    The greatest love and kindness I've been shown has come from anywhere but Buddhists (though you folks here are a noticeable exception--at the very least, you've been kind and patient and supportive), whereas for all they could pontificate about compassion, the Buddhists I've known have had a shocking capacity to treat other people like they're nothing. The "compassion" and "goodness" is a show to prove some point to others about themselves, but when it came down to it, those people had no problem turning their backs. Which is why you find me so skeptical of all of the same platitudes you all sit there typing to me about how wonderful the universe is, and love and light blah blah blah, because I've heard the same crap before from people who would then turn around and do the most cold, horrible things to me or other people.
    The universe isn't wonderful and it isn't terrible, it just is. You apply your own paint-job. When you argue with people about the 'love and light' shit, you're really just arguing that you have a better or more accurate paint-job on your universe. Buddhism, IMHO, looks beneath the paint.

    And I look at the world out there, all the people in so much pain and trouble who've got no one, who don't have family and friends who are there for them, and who even us social workers usually ultimately abandon because that's the way the system goes... Yeah, you could gloss over all of this with some sort of cosmic justification for how it's all really beautiful and meaningful on some level, but the simple human truth is that it isn't. People suffer and die alone, they look other people in the face and other peopl look away -- I often find myself one of the people who looks away, because if you responded to every call for help on the streets of New York you'd go bankrupt and lose your job and everything else... It is this way for so many people, the people in our institutions, our homeless shelters, our jails, even our schools, workplaces, homes... and even if it is possible for a person to attain some sort of enlightenment that takes the sting out of our existential situation, what then of all the people who suffer and die without that?
    They're in their season of hell. You can't lift them out if they believe they should be there. It just doesn't work. They will find a way back because, at heart, they believe they should be there.

    Look at yourself - you're well fed, you could easily get a hug, you've got a place to eat. Your suffering is mostly mental. We've all been trying to pull you out of it, but we can't. Why are you making us suffer, dammit??? (I kid)

    This is where I stick on all this... what good is Heaven or enlightenment when so many people are in Hell? But what you learn when you go out and try to reach the people who are in Hell, is that there is just so much suffering out there, it's impossible. And if there's no God, no transcendence, no cosmic order underlying all of this, it means that all of these people suffer and die alone for no reason. No one will ever hold them and tell them that it's okay. I think you can make all of this okay on the level of intellect, but you can't feel it in your heart and bones, how much people suffer, how they struggle with no one to lift them up, and know that not everyone will know love and happiness, and be okay with that. You have to have faith that there's something that makes it all okay in the end. And if you lose that faith, it's fucking impossible to go on in the trenches without succumbing to a sense of utter defeat. And then what?

    I haven't seen a damn shred of anything in the Soto worldview that addresses this need. Saying that a person can experience wonder in the world is great and all, but what about all the people out there who don't get to that point? If you don't believe in some sort of soul that continues beyond death, it means that you have to accept that a lot of people out there just lead sad lives and die. How the hell do you live with that?
    You offer them the Dharma. If it's not their time, there's nothing you can do about it.


    I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but it's really the thought that so many people out there who have suffered just like me, all the people out there who have suffered far worse than me, and who won't be lifted up in some way, that is the real killer. I could suffer any number of horrible things and find strength if I believed there was some purpose in it, some way that this could help others. But just knowing that there's one person out there who might not be "saved" makes the whole thing fall apart like a house of cards. I mean, at this point, it's looking like even I can't be saved--what about all the thousands and millions out there, even, who have it far worse than me? It makes a person want to drink!
    Then have a drink! Hell, get wasted! But then get up and take a fresh look at the world. I'm not going to tell you it's wonderful, but I don't believe it's terrible either. It is what it is.

    How do you get free from hell?

    Chet

  11. #11

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    And if there's no God, no transcendence, no cosmic order underlying all of this, it means that all of these people suffer and die alone for no reason.
    No. It means that all of these people suffer and die alone for no reason that you find acceptable, in your position of 'Supreme Judge of The Universe.' (I don't mean that in a dismissive or derogatory way; we all play that role much of the time, don't we? Let's just not pretend it's about 'Truth' or 'Reality' or 'Meaning' or somesuch.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I think you can make all of this okay on the level of intellect, but you can't feel it in your heart and bones, how much people suffer, how they struggle with no one to lift them up, and know that not everyone will know love and happiness, and be okay with that. You have to have faith that there's something that makes it all okay in the end. And if you lose that faith, it's fucking impossible to go on in the trenches without succumbing to a sense of utter defeat.
    In all of this you should say 'me' where you say 'you'. You're not talking about universal principles, or the limits of human consciousness. You're talking about your own suffering, your own inability to resist a sense of utter defeat after losing faith. And it isn't universal. It's your issue, your stuff. Not God's stuff, the Universe's stuff, Reality's stuff, or anything else other than your stuff.

    Or, to put it another way: the world isn't failing to be an acceptable place because of other people's suffering; the world is failing to be an acceptable place to you because of your suffering. People who've gotten a handle on their own suffering are in a much better position to be strong in the face of others' suffering; they don't succumb to despair, lose hope, etc. In my experience, these issues start at home. They aren't about the suffering of others, they're about what's going on with oneself.

    --Charles

  12. #12

    Re: Life after disappointment

    steph -- i was taking a break from posting, but had to see how you were doing, and i'm gonna stick my nose in one last time --

    i don't know how to help, but i think a few things -- first, you're obviously so stuck in your head, i can't imagine how a practice like zazen couldn't help -- remember the old suzuki thing? -- trying to figure it all out with your little mind is like trying to scratch your foot with your shoe on! -- you need to take the shoe off -- how much are you sitting? i have trouble imagining all those tenacious thoughts going on if you're sitting a few hours each day -- and how about a retreat? -- go up to ims as a work retreatant, no charge, they always need workers -- if i felt as bad as you describe, i'd definitely make working on me #1 -- where did you ever get the idea that you needed answers to this stuff in order to feel well?

    and the other thing that comes through loud and clear, is if you think you're doing metta, you ain't -- i read all this "conditional" love in your post -- there's a place for conditions, like that "tough love" stuff, but metta ain't that -- you have these heavy conditions, the world has to be a certain way before you can love it -- well, that means you've got to be a certain way before you'll love you -- anyway, very clear, heart closed, bad -- heart open, good -- how open heart? -- metta practice -- get rid of those conditions-- if the heart is open even briefly, it can undo a whole lot of crap -- groove on it, indulge in it

    and i'm gonna sit -- and when i do metta, you're in there

    gassho, bob

  13. #13

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hello to Stephanie and to all others posting here!:

    Dai E Zenji's Vow for Awakening:
    Our only prayer is to be firm in our determination to give ourselves completely to the Buddha's Way, so that no doubts arise however long the road seems to be; to be light and easy in the four parts of the body; to be strong and undismayed in body and in mind; to be free from illness and drive out both depressed feelings and distractions; to be free from calamity, misfortune, harmful influences and obstructions; not to seek the Truth outside of ourselves, so we may instantly enter the right way; to be unattached to all thoughts that we may reach the perfectly clear bright mind of prajna and have immediate enlightenment on the Great Matter. Thereby we receive the transmission of the deep wisdom of the Buddhas to save all sentient beings who suffer in the round of birth and death. In this way we offer our gratitude for the compassion of the Buddhas and the Patriarchs. Our further prayer is not to e extremely ill or to be suffering at the time of departure, to know its coming seven days ahead so that we can quiet the mind to abandon the body and be unattached to all things at the last moment wherein we return to the Original Mind in the realm of no birth and no death and merge infinitely into the whole universe to manifest as all things in their True Nature and with the great wisdom of the Buddhas to awaken all beings to the Buddha Mind. We offer this to all Buddhas and Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas of the past, present and future in the ten quarters and to the Maha Prajna Paramitra.

    and also:

    Hakuin Zenji's Song of Zazen
    All sentient beings are essentially Buddhas. As with water and ice, there is no ice without water; apart from sentient beings, there are no Buddhas. Not knowing how close the truth is, we see it far away--what a pity! We are like the son of a rich man who wandered away among the poor. The reason we transmigrate through the Six Realms is because we are lost in the darkness of ignorance. Going further and further astray in the darkness, how can we ever be free from birth-and-death? As for the Mahayana practice of zazen, there are no words to praise it fully. The Six Paramitas, such as giving, maintaining the precepts and various other good deeds like invoking the Buddha's name, repentance, and spiritual training, all finally return to the practice of zazen. Even those who have sat zazen only once will see all karma erased. Nowhere will they find evil paths and the Pure Land will not be far away. If we listen even once with open heart to this truth, then praise it and gladly embrace it, how much more so then, if on reflecting within ourselves we directly realize Self-nature, giving proof to the truth that Self-nature is no nature. We will have gone far beyond idle speculation. The gate of the oneness of cause and effect is thereby opened, and not-two, not-three, straight ahead runs the Way. Realizing the form of no-form as form, wether going or returning we cannot be any place else. Realizing the thought of no-thought as thought, whether singing or dancing, we are the voice of the Dharma. How vast and wide the unobstructed sky of samadhi! How bright and clear the perfect moonlight of the Fourfold Wisdom! At this moment what more need we seek? As the eternal tranquility of Truth reveals itself to us, this very place is the Land o Lotuses and this very body is the body of the Buddha.


    Stephanie, I chanted these weekly at the One Drop Zendo LA (Rinzai), and for a time repeated them daily.
    I would find certain phrases would float up during the day and, like a splash of water on my face, would refresh me. I am very grateful to Dai E Zenji and to Hakuin: their words were like a lifeboat to sit in when the ship-of-myself-as-I'v'e-always-thought-of-myself-to-be was going down.
    Of course nothing was going down, but my experience was as real as the hypnotized woman on stage drinking water and told it was pickle juice.
    All of us have mesmerized ourselves. There is mind and there is reality itself. Perceptions: straight forward, or already colored by thought?

    It reminds me of a joke: a man comes into a tailor's to buy a suit. There is a light grey suit in the window, just his size, but he wants a blue suit.
    The tailor calls out to his assistant--Max! Turn on the blue light!

    While all of us here, there, and everywhere can offer you many many many words, and you, yourself, with many many eloquent, wise, witty and poignant words can respond back it is the wordless place in which to go. These chants I've typed--it isn't words of these great, now long dead practitioners--it is between and beyond their words.

    You are in pain, you are suffering. How else would you be able to understand 'pain,' 'sufferiing.' You have no hope. You despair. How else can you possibly ever be of benefit to anyone who is in the midst of no hope and despair?
    If you want to work in a nursery school: be prepared to have a constant cold for the first several years!
    I do not mean to or intend to make light of or diminish any of your anguish.
    Do not attach to your anguish. Do not push it away. Do not dwell in it. Anguish comes. ANGUISH! Something else comes and then something else after that followed by a myriad of something else's. Like colors in a crayon box--not one is more important or more significant than all the others.
    They are just all colors. We attach to which ones are 'pretty' or which ones are our favorite combinations, which one's uplift and which one's bring us down...

    Again, I very much apologize for the wordiness here.

    You mention the coldness you've experienced from other zen practitioners. Interestingly enough I talk a little about the cool/warmth I experienced from zen teachers and senior practitioners in a post on Chet's thread Borderline and Buddhism--for which I used a metaphor of 'inert, noble gas' (as in periodic table of elements); which may or may not be helpful as a description of a friendliness which does not foster dependency.

    Truly no one can do this thing (zazen, walking the middle path), for us. In spite of any trail marks others such as Hakuin and Dai E Zenji may have left we have to get to that part of the path--or close enough to that part of the path--to see the trail marks--and all that does is to confirm to us that we are, indeed, on the path (as if we didn't know that already).

    Your sense of humor is an invaluable asset, among all the other invaluable assets you possess.
    A cake half-baked says 'when oh when am I going to be done?'
    Well.....it depends: on everything else! the temperature of the oven, the type of batter, the type of cake tin or cupcake tins being used.....
    I always found it quite frustrating reading Fanny Farmer's cookbook with the final instruction 'bake until done.'
    But you know, it truly is the most accurate directive to give!

    May we all realize the Buddha-way together!

  14. #14

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Stephanie,

    I read your posts on this topic and felt some of your suffering. I'm taking a guess here, but I think that what you are tapping into that leaves you feeling so sad and despairing is our shared humanity. To my mind there is nothing wrong with that, if anything it could be a gift. The Buddha said that suffering is a reality. The point is to connect with the nobility within you to live with life, even in its darkest moments. I, too, can have times of despair when I witness the suffering. Some of the kind that we experience and are disillusioned by is our compulsion to seek self-improvement (coming from a place of seeing ourselves as less than). Our culture and advertising industry thrive on it. We embark on a spiritual path as we would a self-improvement program. Perhaps our approach should be different. What if we were to stop obsessing over our faults and always measuring our progress along the spiritual path, and start to slowly accept our humanity. Compassion towards ourselves (the antithesis to self-improvement). I love what Zorba said about embracing the "full catastrophe" that is life.

    Metta and gassho

  15. #15
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    I really appreciate all the heartfelt thoughts, empathy, and advice you all offer here. And Chet, in your kidding comment, you hit on something--I feel guilty about finding myself doing this to you all repeatedly. I come and post the same sort of stuff over and over again, and you all try to help, and sometimes I feel a little better, but usually all your efforts seem wasted on me as I languish in the same emotional state. I can only imagine how frustrating and annoying this can be. It was mentioned in one of my classes that you know you're dealing with a depressed person when you want to reach out, grab them by the shoulders, and shake them!

    All I can offer in return for your efforts is to assure you all it does help, even when it doesn't seem to--or I wouldn't keep coming back. It's helped me just to find an outlet here, for one thing--I don't tend to talk about this with my loved ones, because even when I try, it's generally met with confusion or resistance or changing the subject. My parents especially don't respond well. I even told them how depressed I was getting last winter and both changed the subject.

    I don't want to talk about this with my best friend because the psychic space I share with her is one of the few where this crap doesn't intrude, and I want to keep it that way. The couple of tentative friendships I have locally I don't want to derail by suddenly getting too intimate too quick with all the details of my dark psychological state. So having a supportive group of people I can come to right now, even if it's only on the Internet, means a lot. You all offer a reality check and keep me questioning my thoughts. It helps.

    Bob, you busted me--my zazen practice has very much gone downhill in the last several weeks. I went from sitting every day (with the occasional missed day) for three or four years to missing more and more until I've gotten to where, in the past month, I'm sitting only once a week. I'm struggling to get back on track. But I just don't have the strength to face myself on the cushion sometimes these days. I need to start dragging myself to the cushion, crawling if I have to. My ability to express metta, especially toward myself, has also dried up.

    I'm sick, and I know it, but the annoying thing about it is that I'm not "with it" enough to harness the discipline and organization I need to do what I need to do to help me get better. I'm trying, though, and once the dust settles with the moving in and starting the semester business, my first priority is going to be to find a counselor and start seeing him/her. Even if that is the total focus of my non-work energies for a while.

    My "season in hell" really started in about January or February of this year. I experienced a number of setbacks in my efforts to build a supportive social network here--two friendships I thought were going somewhere fell apart, for different reasons; I became disillusioned with my efforts to make a connection with a local sangha I was attending, and stopped going... And then the winter depression hit me hard. I became even more socially disconnected. And that's when I really knew how chemically afflicted I was, because I started having some of the more classic severe symptoms of depression--insomnia being the biggest one.

    Honestly, the last four years or so of my life have been difficult and disappointing and it's been a slow downward trajectory throughout that time, despite minor successes here and there. But it's only gotten really bad since this past winter. Something has to give at some point and I don't think I'll be in this hell forever, but it's definitely a hard climb, given that personal setbacks and challenges, revelations and disappointments in relationships, the most challenging professional / academic engagement I've ever had, adjusting to life in New York City, etc., have taxed a mind/system already drained from an endogenous depression.

    I think it's difficult for me to express myself here because I recognize the depression as "its own thing" and am trying to deal with that. The spiritual questions coming up around all this are related, but independent of the depression. In the past, when things got bad, I had faith, hope, and beliefs that helped inspire me and keep me out of the worst of that. I've lost so much of that and it's that I'm coming to you all with, the struggle to find a source of strength and meaning without a basis of belief or hope in some sort of transcendence or redemption. These are hard questions for me and I appreciate you all engaging me in this.

    I want to respond to you all more individually at some point but I've got to run--just wanted to take the time to put this out there first.

    Gassho--

  16. #16

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Stephanie,

    Many of your posts have been very helpful to me, clearing up my own spiritual/philosophical knots. So it's upsetting that the insight and generosity which you extend to others is not helping you as well. The best I can say, as a newcomer here and a complete stranger, is that your presence is appreciated, every day, and I hope you are able to find a way to be as good a caretaker to yourself as you obviously are to others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I never thought I'd be saying this, but in a way, I now wish I'd never set out on this path. Every way that my engagement with the Dharma has affected my life choices has led me further and further away from any sort of safety, solace, or comfort. And I used to think that was a good thing, but now that I confront the fact that there's no pot of gold at the end of this long, exhausting rainbow, at least not for me, I see no point in all the loss that staying on this path required of me. My neurochemistry may be responsible for the emotional tone of my life, but I have the Dharma, and Zen practice, to thank for taking away my ability to hope for redemption and believe in anything transcendent.
    I read somewhere that if the path does not lead you towards happiness, solace, the cessation of dukkha, all the good stuff, it may be that you've chosen the wrong vehicle. You are much farther along in your practice than me, so I guess you've explored the many "vehicles" out there and made your pick of what's out there. Maybe you can invent your own vehicle. That's what Shinran did. He was convinced of his total incapacity to follow the path. "Hell is my only home," he said, and then developed a Buddhist practice for those who felt the same way. It's not my intention to advocate Jodo Shinshu on a Soto Zen site...just to say that the position of extreme doubt you are in can be productive as well as distressing.

    It wasn't my understanding that Zen is supposed to kill our urge for "something transcendent"; transcendence, at least to my naive eyes, appears to be one of the basic assumptions underlying Zen. Otherwise how could Mind function in the way Zen masters describe? Yes, we focus on the here and now, on the wood and the water, the broken light fixture and the leaking faucet, but not because we think we're all equally meaningless, but because the cosmos is sentient. And sure, finally we go beyond the duality of "sentient" and "non-sentient" but that requires enlightenment, I would think. In the meantime...

    You know, I think if I'm being honest, at the end of the day, as much as I sincerely wanted truth, what I wanted as much as anything was for people to love me. And I thought maybe if I was good enough, or enlightened enough, I'd finally discover the secret to being loved. And it was all wrong, because even if you do become a better person, people don't love you for it. I thought by looking for love in Buddhist circles I would at least be guaranteed some measure of compassion and understanding. But if anything, it's been the opposite.
    Tell me about it! When I studied music, I thought I'd be surrounded by, wow, artists and people with wonderful souls, not neurotic careerists. Then I went to creative writing school. Then I went into a Ph.D program. Must be a glutton for punishment. At least by the time I got to Buddhism, I was jaded enough not to entertain expectations. Actually, thinking this way is looking to externals and dooming ourselves to disappointment. But I don't have to tell you that.

    The greatest love and kindness I've been shown has come from anywhere but Buddhists (though you folks here are a noticeable exception--at the very least, you've been kind and patient and supportive), whereas for all they could pontificate about compassion, the Buddhists I've known have had a shocking capacity to treat other people like they're nothing. The "compassion" and "goodness" is a show to prove some point to others about themselves, but when it came down to it, those people had no problem turning their backs.
    Haven't had any experience with a non-virtual sangha (this is my first experience of Buddhism as anything but a solo practice), but I don't doubt what you're saying is true. People usually don't turn to "the religion thing"unless prompted by affliction. And unfortunately affliction also tends to make us self-absorbed. It's the airplane oxygen mask principle -- gotta grab yours first.

    And I look at the world out there, all the people in so much pain and trouble who've got no one, who don't have family and friends who are there for them, and who even us social workers usually ultimately abandon because that's the way the system goes... Yeah, you could gloss over all of this with some sort of cosmic justification for how it's all really beautiful and meaningful on some level, but the simple human truth is that it isn't. People suffer and die alone, they look other people in the face and other peopl look away -- I often find myself one of the people who looks away, because if you responded to every call for help on the streets of New York you'd go bankrupt and lose your job and everything else... It is this way for so many people, the people in our institutions, our homeless shelters, our jails, even our schools, workplaces, homes... and even if it is possible for a person to attain some sort of enlightenment that takes the sting out of our existential situation, what then of all the people who suffer and die without that?
    I know this is a really obvious thing to say, but the irony here is that you're describing dukkha, the very problem that Buddhism was supposed to address. Buddhism acknowledges dukkha is unavoidable. You would know better than I whether the practice outlined by Sakyamuni has helped you. For me, it's too early to tell.

    if there's no God, no transcendence, no cosmic order underlying all of this, it means that all of these people suffer and die alone for no reason. No one will ever hold them and tell them that it's okay.
    But where in Buddhism is it taught there is no transcendence or cosmic order underlying all of this, or that people suffer for no reason? Everything I've come across suggests the opposite. Maybe our practice of Buddhism as Western intellectuals is too "sophisticated" for our own good. Millions of ordinary suffering people go to the temple, light incense and ask the bodhisattvas for help. It's just karmic destiny to be born into an environment or positionality in which it's hard to overcome skeptical doubt. Just something we have to accept -- goes along with the more pleasant aspects of here and now, such as scientific knowledge, internet, I-pods, etc.

    I haven't seen a damn shred of anything in the Soto worldview that addresses this need. Saying that a person can experience wonder in the world is great and all, but what about all the people out there who don't get to that point? If you don't believe in some sort of soul that continues beyond death, it means that you have to accept that a lot of people out there just lead sad lives and die.
    This is the crux of the problem, isn't it? I personally am coming from a materialist/skeptical background and for a long time didn't want to hear anything about "afterlife" or "rebirth". But the more I learn about Buddhism, the more I see how such teachings are essential, for the reasons you describe. Whether we take them literally, devotionally, philosophically or figuratively is not so important. I also see that my resistance is a kind of intellectual bigotry, steeped in unexamined assumptions. There are plenty of reasons to doubt a purely materialist explanation for consciousness, whether or not things work exactly to the specifications laid out in ancient Buddhist sutras. You might find Douglas Hofstadter's work interesting -- a rational, science-grounded, 21st century argument for the "soul". The choice, to paraphrase your own words, isn't between a) some ultra-literal, empircally testable, neuroscience-friendly view of these questions or b) nihilism.

    Have you read Thurman's "Infinite Life"? What did you think of it?

    How the hell do you live with that? I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but it's really the thought that so many people out there who have suffered just like me, all the people out there who have suffered far worse than me, and who won't be lifted up in some way, that is the real killer.
    But how do we know they aren't being lifted up? On what basis do you say that? How do suffering people that you know find solace?

    Gassho, Rob

  17. #17

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I really appreciate all the heartfelt thoughts, empathy, and advice you all offer here. And Chet, in your kidding comment, you hit on something--I feel guilty about finding myself doing this to you all repeatedly. I come and post the same sort of stuff over and over again, and you all try to help, and sometimes I feel a little better, but usually all your efforts seem wasted on me as I languish in the same emotional state. I can only imagine how frustrating and annoying this can be. It was mentioned in one of my classes that you know you're dealing with a depressed person when you want to reach out, grab them by the shoulders, and shake them!

    All I can offer in return for your efforts is to assure you all it does help, even when it doesn't seem to--or I wouldn't keep coming back.
    Hi Steph,

    I am going to speak directly here, as a friend and former long term depressed man.

    You keep coming here and going away, month after month. The cycle repeats.

    You need to see a professional counselor working with a psychiatrist who can --try-- anti-depressants with you.You are always welcome here, but I do not want the cycle to repeat again without you at least trying that. You need to do that now, today. You need to try the medicine (it takes a few weeks to kick in sometimes, and sometimes they have to play with various types and combinations before they hit one that is effective). Today. Try.

    Like the alcoholic uncle who won't try to get treatment, I am going to have to close the door on you here soon because I think that, in a real and direct way, our inviting you to this party is enabling your condition. We are enablers, and I do not want to be that for you. So, tough love baby. How about reporting to us by Friday that you have arranged something? You are working, yourself, as a mental health professional in a big city ... you can find where to go.

    Our way of Zazen is based on dropping thoughts and emotions. You are trapped in all these ideas and emotions that we see (at least I see) for the trash that they are, but which you cannot or will not see through right now. Sometimes the grip of alcoholism, other addiction or depression is so heavy that not even Zazen can shake them alone (just read about the late Maezumi Roshi, whose students sent him for alcohol treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic, or Daido Loori and his multi-pack a day cigarette habit). I hope that after your depression is treated, you will try Zazen again (and Shikantaza Zazen, the way of dropping thoughts and emotions. Is that, by the way, what you are practicing? You are never very clear on that). In the meantime, all you are doing is dumping garbage-mountains of words and emotions on a page like a temporary band-aid, using us to support your "habit". You are wallowing in those words and emotions, and no matter how much we point you to the way to step out of the mud hole you are in ... you just wallow.

    That's it, and it is said with much love and concern.

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Dear Stephanie

    just to chime in.

    When you are ill you need to seek treatment and god knows I have had enough of Doctors. The Sunday before last I went for a run, and then had blood in my urine - I really wanted to ignore this but my wife and friends insisted I see a Doctor last Wednesday. I have now been fast tracked to a haematuria clinic for a battery of tests this Friday. The tests will be embarrassing (especially as I work in the hospital) and painful (especially the cystoscopy). I really don't want to do this - I really don't, but this Friday I will present myself for six hours of tests because I have too. I will know on Friday afternoon if there is anything wrong - hopefully it is not related to the bowel cancer I had two years ago. I am sure it won't be - but being investigated is the right thing to do.

    I do hope that you work out what is the right thing to do for yourself. You will be in my thoughts.

    best wishes

    Jools

  19. #19

    Re: Life after disappointment

    i'm not sure being responsible for your own health means taking "anti-depressants" -- or maybe it does

    my view may be in the minority, but it is shared by a few others, and is based on years as both a mental health clinic director, and supervisor of the admissions area of a state psychiatric center -- do not take anti-depressants without yourself doing very exhaustive research -- by "yourself", i mean you, not friends in the field, etc. -- certainly not someone who's taking them(good luck finding someone who's not) -- are they safe, are they effective, how do they work, are there any long term effects? -- there is an incredible amount of hype, that has been so effective, that i am skeptical of most professional's opinion on this, but i think if you do good research, you will then be able to make an informed choice --- and since it is your brain you're messin with, you need to be the one to make the decision

    and if you do take them, hopefully it will be with a therapist who is neutral on this issue, and will be able to help you get off them -- i have seen them be very difficult to discontinue, unless you have a supportive therapist

    if you can find a good therapist, thats great -- but if the one you find seems like an asshole -- they are(i'm sure you already know how messed up therapists are, and lets not even get into psychiatrists)

    ok, end of equal time segment

    gassho, bob

  20. #20
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Jundo,

    It's not "tough love" to banish someone from a place she has just stated is the one place in her life she's been able to work through some of the greatest inner turmoil she's ever faced, a place where she's felt safe to share things she's found too difficult and humiliating to share anywhere else. I don't come here to troll or start trouble, I try to contribute positive things and express appreciation for what people offer me.

    I've felt ashamed every time I've posted about my struggles and have only done it out of the genuine need for feedback from people who have engaged life in the same manner I have. As I've written, these dialogues here have helped me recognize that I am ill and to begin to separate that from my spiritual questions. That has been a huge step for me, and a challenging one.

    All that coming here has "enabled" me to do is recognize that I have a problem and work on figuring how I'm going to address it. These kinds of changes take a long time. The fact that I haven't bootstrapped myself up from a deep depression in a matter of months doesn't mean I haven't been working at it. It's hard work, and if you had any experience at all in social work or other related professions, you would realize I've actually made a lot more "progress" in a matter of months than many people struggling with mental illness.

    By rendering me an outcast, you've sent the message to everyone in this community that certain parts of themselves are not welcome here. Just because I'm the only one voicing these struggles doesn't mean I'm the only one having them. Shutting another door in my face doesn't accomplish anything but add another hurtful, icy rejection from a Buddhist to my memory bank.

    And you are not a psychiatrist--it is not responsible for you to assume that role. Issuing a command that someone who suspects she might be bipolar get on antidepressants is incredibly reckless. For people with bipolar, antidepressants can lead to manic episodes, which in themselves can lead to reckless behavior and, in some cases, suicide.

    I feel especially hurt since my last time coming back here, I did so because you reached out to me. What a setup. And I've been sitting for years, shikantaza probably since 2006, if not before. Just because I've fallen off in the last bit, and just because it hasn't done for me what you think it should, does not mean I haven't been practicing. I'd have no reason to come here and seek participation in a zazen-based community if the practice of zazen wasn't a huge part of my life. I've been trying to get back to daily sitting and coming here has helped me maintain the motivation to do so; I've never had any intention of ever stopping this practice.

    I hope you don't delete or censor this post as you have done with some of my posts in the past. I respect your request for me to leave and won't be coming back--it was humiliating enough to put myself out there to begin with, there's no way I'm going to come back after being rejected for it. Trust me. But I think it's only fair to let me say my piece first.

    And I ask of you that you never again issue reckless, uneducated mental health directives or advice again. You could really hurt someone.

    Stephanie

    P. S. I really like a lot of you and will miss interacting with you. My e-mail address is stephaniehairston@hotmail.com , feel free to contact me any time, I would love to hear from you.

  21. #21
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Also, I apologize to anyone who has found my posts frustrating, as I can imagine they must be to some of you. I can at least assure you that your efforts to help me have not been in vain. I value the patience, kindness, and empathy I have encountered here. Gassho.

  22. #22

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Steph,

    if you are bi-polar, get treatment for that. Or, at least, try.

    I am not a psychiatrist, but you should seek a psychiatrist's "opinion" for your condition and not neglect it (in fact, get two or three opinions, always the best to do). I will not be shutting the door to you here, and who is asking you to leave? But neither will I enable your refusal to consider taking some action.

    What I said has to stand. This has repeated for too many months, I am sincerely worried about you as a friend and human being. Get checked, consisder doing what the doctors recommend, just that.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I have only censored two posts in the entire history of Treeleaf, one a dirty joke and one the start of a verbal fight between two members (as I recall) ... and never, ever any of your posts. Apologies, because I just recalled shortening a post of yours when I was trying to make the point, about a year ago, that you sometimes wallow in words. Yes, I did cut a post short to make that point.

  23. #23

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Sorry Jundo, I can't let that stand unquestioned.

    Are you saying that Stephanie is barred from the forum unless she follows a treatment programme?

    Are you really turning away a sanga member because she may be unwell?

    I respect you right to ask people to moderatate the content and length of posts, and even to have things slow/quiet down a bit but to ask some one to leave because they have issues/questions/ideas is a lot more than tough love.

    I even respect your right to tell it like it is and say 'look for help', whilst they have the right not to.

    But to bar her seems extreme and unkind. I was once very ill, I went to my then 'sanga' (for want of a better word) as it was the one place I thought I'd be safe and welcome. I was asked to leave because I was unable to play my part in the ceremony that was to happen. The ground dissolved under me, I was heart broken. It didn't give me the kick to 'find help' it actualy pushed me over the edge and it has taken along to time to climb back up.

    Yes we should be told if we are at danger of working ourselves up into a storm, not being present, but please threaten someone that they're not welcome unless they do as you say???????

    People always have the option of not reading threads, skipping over posts, not replying if they feel the need.

    If I've missunderstood you Jundo, I'm sorry , and will delete this but at present I can't see I have.

    In gassho, Kev

  24. #24

    Re: Life after disappointment

    i guess i have to not be a wimp and admit that the post kev wrote is closer to the way i really feel than what i actually posted -- i simply was afraid to criticize my teacher, as usual, for fear of hurting feelings -- and i know, jundo, you'll say that i had nothing to fear, but it's me being "nice" -- sorry, better to be honest -- and in this case, closer to the precepts

    i respect your role as teacher, and moderator of the forum, and your taking it seriously is what i want from someone in those roles -- but i think you may have been a bit too protective of us, including stephanie, in this case -- really, i consider stephanie my friend, but i certainly was not reading all her stuff at a certain point, and i don't mind her knowing that -- i made it quite clear that my way of connecting with others is more in the zen hall than the forum

    and i have to also admit, that hers is not the only posts i've fast-forwarded thru -- as i'm sure folks do with mine -- i think its the downside of cyberspace -- no physical presence, no eye contact, so you can't see the eyes glassing over(like my wife's do whenever i discuss "zen philosophy") -- so less editing -- blah, blah, blah

    in fact, i'd be happy if treeleaf zendo was just that -- zen hall, no forum, personal interviews with the teacher

    gassho, bob

  25. #25

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Kev & Roky,

    I will not bar anyone. But, you know, if I encounter someone who has a potentially serious, perhaps self-destructive situation which I cannot judge from here, I need the person to be checked by a professional before they practice here. Sorry. It is common sense. There is a point where I need a doctor's note and a check-up, just like your local gym, or summer camp or school. Buddhist Sangha of all kinds (online or not) have standards for these things, and they are the subject of discussion among teachers. When in doubt about a student's safety, direct the student/Sangha participant to seek a doctor's opinion. In this case, I am in doubt.

    It is rather a bad situation either way. Would you advise taking no action, and thus risk facilitating and enabling someone's harmful situation? Or would you advise taking the safe course, and requiring that the person, at minimum, get checked out and (if necessary) be under a doctor's care?

    If a person exhibiting what seem to be symptoms of deep depression, bi-polar didorder or the like (I am not a doctor, so I cannot diagnose what is ongoing) will tell me that she has gotten checked, and is under some care, that person can play in our playground all he/she wants. Please understand, some things are a matter of making a tough call. Some things have to be "in the discretion of the manager".

    Gassho, Jundo

  26. #26

    Re: Life after disappointment

    It is very strange.
    My last two attempts at posting here just aren't displaying!

    I guess I am encountering the 'limitations' of being moderated!

    what a shame

    wishing everyone well

    My favorite quote of Matsuoka Roshi "Ichi nichi kore ko jitsu!" (Every day a happy day).

  27. #27

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    It is very strange.
    My last two attempts at posting here just aren't displaying!

    I guess I am encountering the 'limitations' of being moderated!

    what a shame

    wishing everyone well
    Hi Keishin,

    I moved one post over here as its own thread, because it was an important post. I hope that is okay.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1147&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

    I have not done anything else to your posts. Gassho, Jundo

  28. #28

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Jundo,

    I'm sure there are times and reasons when some one should be barred, I just don't think this is one of them, you do. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying this has been a quick or easy decision for you and from the rest of your post I can see where you are coming from.

    However, I am concerned that it gives a message that if you've got issues, keep 'em under wraps cos we're not too interested here. Now that is a bit unfair to you, as you haven't just dismissed anyone quickly, but that's how it could come across and where's the line drawn? People with mental health issues or possible/inferred mental health issues are already outcasts in so many ways and to inforce that belief isn't necessarily a good thing.

    As an aside, but relevant and taken from recent postings, is there a problem here that the forum isn't working as you'd like it too? Topics/threads aren't going the direction you envisaged or of the nature you'd prefer? I'm not been arsey here, a genuine query. As some one stated before you could segment the forum into sections for e.g. literature, sitting, other philiosphies, chat so that any off soto zen talk was seperated out. Would that help keep the direction/flow?

    Anyway said my piece and now I'll sit down and shut up :lol:

    In gassho, Kev

  29. #29

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Jundo,

    Making suggestions is one thing, demanding someone take action is another. Making decisions for another person is both unethical and ineffective. You have NO idea what is REALLY going on with Steph. You are both male and a lawyer and probably have no idea about a person's need to vent (yes I know this is an assumption, but trust me, it's a girl thing). This is setting a very bad precedent for the forum. It is also assuming that Steph has the resources to get the medical assistance YOU have decided she needs. She has said she is not suicidal and said she has done herself any physical damage, just that she has issues that she has not resolved. These issues are the most standard, common metaphysical, ontological, "why are we here" "the purpose of existence" "what MATTERS, why does it MATTER". These are exactly the issues struggled with by every great religeuse and philosopher. Steph has merely posted her thoughts on these most significant issues. That she has sometimes possibly intense emotions connected with these issues is only, PERHAPS a problem to her.

    By the way, so-called "antidepressants" are not a cure for "bi-polar", there are entirely different meds for that.

    But most significantly, you haven't said what the problem is with Steph posting here!!! (sorry, I can't find the BOLD key) I can't see any problem caused either to her or anybody else by what Stephanie has posted. She has no advocated violence or racial hatred or other antisocial actions. So what exactly is the problem? But before you answer, you better think long and hard about the effect of your answer.

    But the issue is not what destructive thing Steph has done on/to the forum (she has done nothing except be repetetive), but the serious damage YOU have done to the trust and welcomeness of the forum. You have just asserted that you both have the right and will demand certain actions from people if YOU judge that it is in their "best interests". By the way, I suggest that Steph should send you the medical bills since she has said to me "she hopes to be able to see a therapist in a few months" which suggests to me that she doesn't have the resources now.

    Steph is not an alcoholic and you are not shipping her bourbon. Analogies are not reality.

    I have known people to kvetch for years, it makes them feel better so they do it.

    I do appreciate all your efforts on the list.

    gassho to all,
    rowan

  30. #30

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Jundo,

    I'm also bothered by the way this was handled. The "red flags" for me are:

    -- crossing the line by directing someone to a specific course of treatment ("you need to see a professional counselor working with a psychiatrist who can --try-- anti-depressants with you"..."You need to try the medicine")
    -- using someone's personal information, communicated by them in their posts, as the basis for making judgments and issuing directives. The fact that we speak about ourselves doesn't give another the right to speak for us. That's common sense.
    -- threatening them with a ban unless they followed your directives
    -- the overly strong tone, bordering on disrespectful ("you need to"... "tough love baby")
    -- dissing the community by calling us "enablers". At the very least, reckless deployment of pop psychology jargon!

    I didn't see a Terms of Service for the discussion board. Is there one, and does it say that users with medical or psychiatric conditions must have approval from a professional before practicing here? If that is one of the terms, it should be stated somewhere. Schools, gyms, etc have specific liability issues and legal requirements to deal with. I doubt these are applicable in the same way to an internet forum. You may know better.

    Also, since you have known Stephanie a long time and consider her a friend, wouldn't it have been possible to convey your concerns and suggestions in a private e-mail, rather than humiliating her in a public discussion?

    I was a teacher for many years, and at my job now I manage a few people. It's true that some calls are tough and even the best teachers sometimes make a questionable one. It seems to happen especially when the intent was good, when one was really trying to help. In all respect, sincerity and appreciation, I think that out of your deep concern you made a bad call. It can happen to anyone in your shoes; it has happened to me. No shame. But how you follow-up can be crucial. Not just for you and Stephanie, but the community as a whole.

    And I can well imagine that this is a difficult spot to be in, and that no one really welcomes this kind of feedback. People wouldn't offer it if they didn't care, though -- about you and what you have built here.

    With all best regards,
    Rob

  31. #31

    Re: Life after disappointment

    I am bit hesitant to add to this thread since I am afraid this is heading into the Asbestos Wear area.
    My only comment that I hope folks don't use the word "censor" too casually.
    To state that someone is censoring or censoring you, without proof, is start to deteriorate a discussion.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Wherever the next mediation is. Every now and then I make it back to Norfolk, England.
    Posts
    217

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Well, Jundo said it wasn't an easy call. Some agree, some disagree. Me, I'm so dense that I hadn't even noticed the alleged "ban" until a couple of posts after. But, Rowan, (and others) I do hope that it doesn't undermine anyone's "trust" on a permanent basis. I thought it was clear that Jundo acted out of concern for Stephanie. So, too, do those who disagree. Perhaps only Stephanie will know who called it "right", and maybe Stephanie won't know yet. I'm not medically qualified enough or otherwise experienced enough to have an opinion (which isn't to knock those who do). But I think everyone's trying to help as best as they can; we're on the same side here.

    Gassho

    Martin

  33. #33

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Rowan, Robert,

    I am sorry that some don't think it was the right decision. But I called it like I saw it. Tough situation all ways around. I feel it was the right thing. to do.

    I recognize that you would have handled the situation differently, and I disagree.

    I am sorry you are not comfortable here.

    Gassho, Jundo

  34. #34

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Dear Jundo - I think you have tried to make the best decision you could, with the best intentions and within the context of the hundreds of posts made over the last two years. You have tried to be as open as you could be. Thank you for the sangha you have created, the thoughtful teachings you give and the efforts you make.

    Dear Stephanie - get well soon. Hope to see you again - & perhaps with shorter posts

    Gassho

    Jools

  35. #35

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Jundo,

    I appreciate the response, and trust that you did what you felt to be right. Not fair for me to judge, given that I don't really know you, or Stephanie, or the overall context...so doubtless some of what I said was out of line. I made the decision to comment because I needed to bring up my concerns in order to continue feeling comfortable here; thanks for hearing me out.

    Gassho,
    Rob

  36. #36

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by robert
    Hi Jundo,

    I'm also bothered by the way this was handled. The "red flags" for me are:

    -- crossing the line by directing someone to a specific course of treatment ("you need to see a professional counselor working with a psychiatrist who can --try-- anti-depressants with you"..."You need to try the medicine")
    -- using someone's personal information, communicated by them in their posts, as the basis for making judgments and issuing directives. The fact that we speak about ourselves doesn't give another the right to speak for us. That's common sense.
    -- threatening them with a ban unless they followed your directives
    -- the overly strong tone, bordering on disrespectful ("you need to"... "tough love baby")
    -- dissing the community by calling us "enablers". At the very least, reckless deployment of pop psychology jargon!

    I didn't see a Terms of Service for the discussion board. Is there one, and does it say that users with medical or psychiatric conditions must have approval from a professional before practicing here? If that is one of the terms, it should be stated somewhere. Schools, gyms, etc have specific liability issues and legal requirements to deal with. I doubt these are applicable in the same way to an internet forum. You may know better.

    Also, since you have known Stephanie a long time and consider her a friend, wouldn't it have been possible to convey your concerns and suggestions in a private e-mail, rather than humiliating her in a public discussion?

    I was a teacher for many years, and at my job now I manage a few people. It's true that some calls are tough and even the best teachers sometimes make a questionable one. It seems to happen especially when the intent was good, when one was really trying to help. In all respect, sincerity and appreciation, I think that out of your deep concern you made a bad call. It can happen to anyone in your shoes; it has happened to me. No shame. But how you follow-up can be crucial. Not just for you and Stephanie, but the community as a whole.


    Hi Robert,

    Thank you for saying this far more elequently than I did or could.

    rowan

    And I can well imagine that this is a difficult spot to be in, and that no one really welcomes this kind of feedback. People wouldn't offer it if they didn't care, though -- about you and what you have built here.

    With all best regards,
    Rob

  37. #37
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    If there's one thing I've learned about forums, it's that anyone can be banned at any time for pretty much anything.

    I think Jundo was offering advice as a person who has struggled with depression and not necessarily as an expert when he suggested Stephanie see a professional and possibly try antidepressants.

    I also think that Jundo was attempting to urge her to seek help by cutting off a treatment method that wasn't working - that is, posting about hopelessness and ennui in this forum. Perhaps without access to us as amateur shrinks, she'd seek professional help - correct me if I'm wrong, Jundo.

    As someone who suffers from psych issues, I empathize greatly with Stephanie. I understand her anger too - hell, when Jundo doesn't answer my questions with answers I find appropriate, I also tend to get angry. At first. And then I have to ask myself: "Do I want a spiritual teacher who only gives answers I like?" The answer to that is, most likely, "no". If, to be my teacher, one has to agree with me about everything, then why HAVE a teacher? It would appear one of us would then be unnecessary.

    Nowhere in his reply did I get the impression that the mentally unwell were unwelcome here. The impression I got was more along the lines of, 'I can't help you in Zen until you get help for you depression.'

    I hope Stephanie stays. It seems like maybe some people don't like reading the long posts, but I relate on a very personal level to what she says and I really get where she's coming from. I've never seen Zen or a sangha as a let-down though, mostly because any disappointment I have with Zen leads me right back to myself as a likely cause and also because I've never really gotten involved enough with a sangha or teacher to BE disappointed (I don't get involved with teachers I think are bullshit). I really do understand being frustrated with things not getting 'better' though, and I also appreciate just how hard it is to move forward at all with some of these issues. I too feel devastated when what feels like spectacular effort in these areas yields result that are dismissed by others as trivial.

    Chet

  38. #38

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Chet, thank you. You describe my thoughts and intentions as I see them, and I suspect, Steph's too. You are a very wise man.

    Deep deep bows. Jundo

  39. #39

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Reading the posts, both Steph's and others', on the topic of disillusionment with life, I've been thinking about the spiritual path and the Four Noble Truths. Many of us embark on a spiritual quest without being aware of our motivations. Yes, we often do it for self-growth, realization, etc., yet I can't help but wonder if we also do it to escape from suffering. There's an assumption that if we meditate long enough then we'll become better people and somehow transcend suffering. Perhaps we're not even consciously aware of this.

    For me, the Buddha didn't espouse an escape from suffering. He said that suffering is a reality of life. He talks about the four "noble" "truths". I've often read about the Four Noble Truths without taking the time to reflect on the terminology. Why label them as "noble"? Perhaps it's not by accident that they were labelled "noble" and "truths". Suffering is a reality (truth); it is a large part of the human condition. For me, the wisdom is not in trying to escape suffering, but rather meeting it head on with nobility and dignity. How can I live my life in a courageous and respectful way?

    Metta and Gassho,
    Marina

  40. #40
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Marina S
    Reading the posts, both Steph's and others', on the topic of disillusionment with life, I've been thinking about the spiritual path and the Four Noble Truths. Many of us embark on a spiritual quest without being aware of our motivations. Yes, we often do it for self-growth, realization, etc., yet I can't help but wonder if we also do it to escape from suffering. There's an assumption that if we meditate long enough then we'll become better people and somehow transcend suffering. Perhaps we're not even consciously aware of this.

    For me, the Buddha didn't espouse an escape from suffering. He said that suffering is a reality of life. He talks about the four "noble" "truths". I've often read about the Four Noble Truths without taking the time to reflect on the terminology. Why label them as "noble"? Perhaps it's not by accident that they were labelled "noble" and "truths". Suffering is a reality (truth); it is a large part of the human condition. For me, the wisdom is not in trying to escape suffering, but rather meeting it head on with nobility and dignity. How can I live my life in a courageous and respectful way?

    Metta and Gassho,
    Marina
    Not to be too picky, but I think we should avoid reducing the Buddha way to mere resignation in the face of suffering. That's a pretty dismal, lifeless path, if you ask me. Maybe someone like me with a personality disorder is the last person to lecture on suffering, but the tastes I've had of liberation suggest that the path is not about mere perseverance in the face of suffering - it's a radical striking at the root of suffering. The first Noble Truth may be the truth of Dukkha, but the third Noble Truth is the reality of the cessation of suffering.

  41. #41

    Re: Life after disappointment

    I wasn't saying that the Buddha's teachings were about resignation. Not at all. A significant part of my own Buddhist practice is to try to live with what is in my life. This doesn't mean that I am not proactive in dealing with issues that come up in my life. What it does mean is that I try as often as I can to be aware of those times when I want an escape, and this means even in matters spiritual. Escapes can even take place in a forum such as this one (e.g. retorting rather than reflecting).

    From what we know, even after the Buddha became enlightened he continued to live as a human being with all that that entails. His enlightenment didn't mean that he became immune to the human condition. His enlightenment came as a result of his suffering. He didn't try to run away from it anymore through extreme spiritual practices. Instead, he sat under the bodhi tree. A simple yet powerful act. Courage and dignity. The Buddha embarked on his spiritual quest not just because he witnessed the suffering of others, but especially did so when he saw a holy man walking with dignity and compassion amidst the suffering. Connecting with my own humanity, rather than attempting to escape it, helps me to connect with that of others.

  42. #42

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Marina S
    I wasn't saying that the Buddha's teachings were about resignation. Not at all. A significant part of my own Buddhist practice is to try to live with what is in my life. This doesn't mean that I am not proactive in dealing with issues that come up in my life. What it does mean is that I try as often as I can to be aware of those times when I want an escape, and this means even in matters spiritual. Escapes can even take place in a forum such as this one (e.g. retorting rather than reflecting).

    From what we know, even after the Buddha became enlightened he continued to live as a human being with all that that entails. His enlightenment didn't mean that he became immune to the human condition. His enlightenment came as a result of his suffering. He didn't try to run away from it anymore through extreme spiritual practices. Instead, he sat under the bodhi tree. A simple yet powerful act. Courage and dignity. The Buddha embarked on his spiritual quest not just because he witnessed the suffering of others, but especially did so when he saw a holy man walking with dignity and compassion amidst the suffering. Connecting with my own humanity, rather than attempting to escape it, helps me to connect with that of others.
    Hi, Marina and Chet, et al.
    I took Marina's comments to mean that all 4 noble truths are true. Not simply the last two (the more "optimistic" ones). I also do not think that Chet was suggesting that only the last two are true, but I think many folks end up focusing on one or more truths without seeing them as an integrated whole. I might be misreading, but that seems a wise, and very Soto viewpoint.

    -Bill

  43. #43
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    Quote Originally Posted by Marina S
    I wasn't saying that the Buddha's teachings were about resignation. Not at all. A significant part of my own Buddhist practice is to try to live with what is in my life. This doesn't mean that I am not proactive in dealing with issues that come up in my life. What it does mean is that I try as often as I can to be aware of those times when I want an escape, and this means even in matters spiritual. Escapes can even take place in a forum such as this one (e.g. retorting rather than reflecting).

    From what we know, even after the Buddha became enlightened he continued to live as a human being with all that that entails. His enlightenment didn't mean that he became immune to the human condition. His enlightenment came as a result of his suffering. He didn't try to run away from it anymore through extreme spiritual practices. Instead, he sat under the bodhi tree. A simple yet powerful act. Courage and dignity. The Buddha embarked on his spiritual quest not just because he witnessed the suffering of others, but especially did so when he saw a holy man walking with dignity and compassion amidst the suffering. Connecting with my own humanity, rather than attempting to escape it, helps me to connect with that of others.
    Hi, Marina and Chet, et al.
    I took Marina's comments to mean that all 4 noble truths are true. Not simply the last two (the more "optimistic" ones). I also do not think that Chet was suggesting that only the last two are true, but I think many folks end up focusing on one or more truths without seeing them as an integrated whole. I might be misreading, but that seems a wise, and very Soto viewpoint.

    -Bill
    True! I think that most people who come to Buddhism are intimately familiar with the first Truth, and take the rest as a working hypothesis. I remember Hagen discussing that the literal image for Dukkha is 'a wheel out of true' that consequently delivers a very bumpy ride.

  44. #44

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Hi Marina,

    You said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Marina S
    Reading the posts, both Steph's and others', on the topic of disillusionment with life, I've been thinking about the spiritual path and the Four Noble Truths. Many of us embark on a spiritual quest without being aware of our motivations. Yes, we often do it for self-growth, realization, etc., yet I can't help but wonder if we also do it to escape from suffering. There's an assumption that if we meditate long enough then we'll become better people and somehow transcend suffering. Perhaps we're not even consciously aware of this.

    For me, the Buddha didn't espouse an escape from suffering. He said that suffering is a reality of life. He talks about the four "noble" "truths". I've often read about the Four Noble Truths without taking the time to reflect on the terminology. Why label them as "noble"? Perhaps it's not by accident that they were labelled "noble" and "truths". Suffering is a reality (truth); it is a large part of the human condition. For me, the wisdom is not in trying to escape suffering, but rather meeting it head on with nobility and dignity. How can I live my life in a courageous and respectful way?
    Ah, F*ck!
    Aah, F*ck!


    Got your attention, didn't it? It certainly got mine!

    During retreat, the speaker was introducing Buddha’s “Parable of the Two Arrows.” In more measured language, he went on to quote the Buddha and explain:

    “’When afflicted with a feeling of pain those who lack inner awareness sorrow, grieve and lament, beating their breasts and becoming distraught. So they feel two pains, physical and mental. It is just like being shot with an arrow, and right afterwards being shot with a second one, so that they feel two arrows...”’
    “Thus the Buddha explained the distinction between pain – an affliction – on the one hand, and, on the other, our suffering from pain, -- how our experience of pain can discomfit, frustrate or agonize us. We can see this on any hospital ward, where the responses of patients to much the same affliction may vary very widely, from depression and despair to a buoyant and inspiring good state of mind.. This is an extremely important distinction whether in helping ourselves, in offering help to others, or in trying to do something to remedy the injustices in the world. In the ancient practice of emotional awareness our first step is to lean to distinguish between the two arrows in the experiences of our own lives….”

    Read the speaker’s discourse in full at http://www.wisdom-books.com/FocusDetail.asp?FocusRef=24. It's worth your while.

    With metta.

    Gassho

  45. #45
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Life after disappointment

    Dear all,
    First, I would like to say that the discussion / debate to date is the sign of a robust community in my mind. I would like to thank Jundo for all the work he has done to bring us together, and the fine balance as teacher he has to maintain between open dialogue and the progress/safety of his students and sangha. I would also like to thank Stephanie for the openness with which she has shared her journey, her thoughts and emotions. If our welcoming presence is helpful, then in some small way we are there for her. If we are unable to contribute anything, then our patience itself is practice - it helps us, and it helps Stephanie to work things out. I have found her posts thought provoking, and if they are long, that is more than compensated for by the quality of her writing. If her posts raise some uncomfortable feeling or reaction on my part, that is something for me to work on.

    If there are specific signs that lead us to be concerned for the physical / emotional welfare of one of our compatriots, there are ways to convey that concern. I am not an expert on online fora and safety guidelines, but I can both appreciate Jundo's experience, perspective, and concern as a teacher and one who has had experience with depression, as well as Stephanie's place in our community.

    I think of Jefferson's statement that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism." Also, Bakunin's quote "anarchy is the mother of order."

    We are all a bright and considerate bunch here. There is something for each of us to learn form this episode. We are all thinking of you Stephanie, I hope you stick around.

    Gassho,
    Alex

  46. #46

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBr
    Hi Marina,

    You said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Marina S
    Suffering is a reality (truth); it is a large part of the human condition. For me, the wisdom is not in trying to escape suffering, but rather meeting it head on with nobility and dignity. How can I live my life in a courageous and respectful way?
    ...

    “Thus the Buddha explained the distinction between pain – an affliction – on the one hand, and, on the other, our suffering from pain, -- how our experience of pain can discomfit, frustrate or agonize us. ….”
    Hi Mike,

    I think Mike's point is right on, and I just offered a "sit-a-long" talk or two on this very point. Please do have a listen ... Pain, even natural sad times, natural grief at the death of a loved one, and the like ... that not be "suffering" in a Buddhist meaning ...

    So, what is 'Dukkha'?

    No one English word captures the full depth and range of the Pali term Dukkha. It is sometimes rendered as 'suffering', as in 'life is suffering'. But perhaps it's better expressed as 'dissatisfaction', 'anxiety', 'disappointment' 'unease at imperfection' or 'frustration', terms that wonderfully convey a subtlety of meaning.

    Your 'self' wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X. The mental state that may result to the 'self' from this disparity is Dukkha.

    Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples ... sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life), loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments ... such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times ... can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, are attached to those things.

    In ancient stories, Dukkha is often compared to a chariot's or potter's wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.

    ...

    In life, there's sickness, old age, death and loss ... other very hard times ...

    But that's not why 'Life is Suffering'. Not at all, said the Buddha.

    Instead, it's sickness, but only when we refuse the condition ...
    ...old age, if we long for youth ...
    ... death, because we cling to life ...
    ... loss , when we cannot let go ...
    ... violated expectations, because we wished otherwise ...

    Our 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment', 'unease' and 'frustration' ... Dukkha ... arises as a state of mind, as our demands and wishes for how things 'should be' or 'if only would be for life to be happy' differ from 'the way things are'. The gap is the source of Dukkha. Our Practice closes the gap

    What's more, even happiness can be a source of Dukkha if we cling to the happy state, demand that it stay, are attached to good news, material successes, pleasures and the like ... refusing the way life may otherwise go.

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/09 ... -four.html
    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/09 ... a-xxi.html
    I also offered a talk on "Right" and gentle speech just today ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/09 ... ii_19.html

    Ah, F*ck!
    Aah, F*ck!
    But every Precept has an exception if for Skillful Means!

    Gassho, J

  47. #47

    Re: Life after disappointment

    There is life before, during, and after disappointment. There is life before, during and after satisfaction (opposite of disappointment?).
    Is this life the same or different?
    If you say same, you'll get hit 30 times! If you say different, you'll get hit 30 times! If you are silent, you'll get hit 30 times!

    ?

    whack
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  48. #48
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Life after disappointment

    I think the smart-alek 'I'm so Zen' folks should get hit first.

  49. #49

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    There is life before, during, and after disappointment. There is life before, during and after satisfaction (opposite of disappointment?).
    Is this life the same or different?
    If you say same, you'll get hit 30 times! If you say different, you'll get hit 30 times! If you are silent, you'll get hit 30 times!

    ?

    whack
    whack
    whack
    whack
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    whack
    whack
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    "Because you're crazy and I'm crazy to be here"

    (OK, so i stole it from Zen Comics....)

    Please excuse me, I must go get ready for bed now.

    gassho,

    r
    still fox but thinking maybe the ox is getting closer...............
    but maybe fox is just getting more pompous, certain people keep writing nice things to me......

  50. #50

    Re: Life after disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I think the smart-alek 'I'm so Zen' folks should get hit first.
    Darling!

    I keep telling you I'm vanilla!

    r

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