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Thread: Roller coaster Location

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Roller coaster Location

    If we accept that life is like a roller coaster -- lots of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, shocking turns and slow parts -- then how important is it to know where we are on the roller coaster of life? Recognizing the peaks and valleys is relatively easy, but I am talking more about those sections in between. How important is it to know we are heading up or down to a peak or a valley? Seems to me there is something important in all the relativity of the roller coaster acceptance process.

    I'll leave it at that, for now.... I hope this made sense.

  2. #2

    Re: Roller coaster Location

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    If we accept that life is like a roller coaster -- lots of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, shocking turns and slow parts -- then how important is it to know where we are on the roller coaster of life? Recognizing the peaks and valleys is relatively easy, but I am talking more about those sections in between. How important is it to know we are heading up or down to a peak or a valley? Seems to me there is something important in all the relativity of the roller coaster acceptance process.

    I'll leave it at that, for now.... I hope this made sense.
    Hi Al,

    The roller coaster of life is one of my favorite talk (and dance) themes ...

    Roller Coaster (Oh baby, you know what I'm talking about)

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/2 ... aster.html

    I think it one of the best analogies for this life ... up down up down, YIPPEE!

    Now, I agree with you so much that we must develop sensitivity to when we are heading up or down and, as we can, avoid that. I mean that the Precepts can be a good guide here: ...

    DOWN is heading in a way harmful to our health, relationships, self or others because of anger, clutching, excess.

    UP is heading in a way healthful and beneficial to our health, relationships, etc. , avoiding greed, anger, excess.

    The Precepts are a guide to heading UP and avoiding down. We need to develop sensitivity to when we are falling in to traps of anger, greed, ignorance, excess, and do our best.

    However, when life goes down despite our best efforts (for example, when we have poor health or a broken marriage despite being careful) .... just let go, and ride. It may be pretty scary, it may look like you are about to head over the abyss (there is no true abyss on either a roller coaster or in Buddhist philosophy) ... but YIPPEE!

    Gassho, J

  3. #3
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Roller coaster Location

    Yes Jundo, I purposefully threw one in your wheelhouse. :wink: You wrote:

    Now, I agree with you so much that we must develop sensitivity to when we are heading up or down and, as we can, avoid that. I mean that the Precepts can be a good guide here: ...
    That's what I was trying to say. I have been discovering lately the important question is not where am I? (on the roller coaster of life) Rather, it is where am I going? There is a profound difference between the two questions. Asking where am I is what I call outcome thinking, but asking where am I going is process thinking. It is much more helpful to be able to recognize where I am going, heading for a fall or moving away from a fall, rather than just recognizing that I have fallen. Asking where I am going is a much more difficult question that already includes the relatively simple question of where I am.

    The other thing, however, is that I find I need to be careful about attachment to going up and aversion to going down. I find that when things are good I want to keep them going good, but too much of a good thing leads to a fall. It's like getting cranked up that big hill to start the roller coaster and you're going "Oh, yeah, this is going to be great!!!" and then, ZOOOOOM, the bottom drops out and you're screaming like crazy. I sometimes think it is easier, much easier, to keep to the precepts when things are going down because they help turn things back up. But when things are going up I sometimes seductively get lost in that "up" process to the point I forget about the precepts. As a result, I become less aware of them and end up not following them. Then life goes ZOOOOOM on me again. Oversimplified as it is, does this pattern sound familiar to folks?

    Anyway, I am finding that it is very helpful to know where I am going on the roller coaster AND how the precepts can be applied in whatever direction I am going.

  4. #4

    Re: Roller coaster Location

    Curiously, I've found that it's sometimes harder to mentally step in and remind myself not to get too attached to a positive upswing than it is during a bout of negativity. I think this is similar to your insight that it's easier to keep the precepts during a down phase.
    This is why Ango has been a blessing. Vigorous and consistent practice is the only way to develop the mindfulness needed to address our situation and answer the question "where am I going?".
    A lot of people come to spirituality because of getting sick of negativity; no one ever complains that they're happy too much!
    But when I look at my own experience/practice, feelings of elation have become a warning signal to me because they are frequently followed by a dark phase.
    Not that I'm suggesting being a constant buzz-kill, but indulging in positive sense-pleasures isn't a really good way to avoid attachment.

    Just my two cents...
    _/_
    -K2

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Roller coaster Location

    Thank you Kliff. You wrote:
    But when I look at my own experience/practice, feelings of elation have become a warning signal to me because they are frequently followed by a dark phase.
    Yup, which I find very interesting, sort of puts a whole different spin on the meaning of upswing, don't it?

  6. #6

    Re: Roller coaster Location

    You've got mad dancing skills, Jundo.

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