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Thread: Struggles and Stumbles

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Struggles and Stumbles

    Jundo recently wrote this on another thread:
    if someone is experiencing all life ups and downs and tears and disappointments and stresses and struggles ... and is not struggling with all that ... is at home to the marrow in this crazy life ... ... not struggling in the least with the fact that we all must struggle in life sometimes ... taking all conditions as they come ... up down smiles and tears, the whole catastrophe YIPPEE! ... that is Enlightenment, being wholly "at one" with life as it is, the "self's" demands and "should be's" on this life-world dropped away, all the walls to life knocked down.
    So if we define struggles as a noun, the stuff life throws our way, the ups, downs, tears, etc. mentioned above,
    And if we define stumbles as a verb, those times we veer off the Bodhisattva Path, violate the precepts, especially the gross violations,
    Then is it fair to say that the more we practice the less likely we are to stumble when dealing with those struggles?

    I'm thinking, Yes, because the act of struggling with life's ups and downs, etc. leads to the act of stumbling. But being at home with life's struggles would imply you are in balance and thus less likely to stumble. So by continuing to sit zazen, a pretty stable posture, you are less likely to stumble because you become at home (and in balance) with those struggles. Have I got that?

    On a side note, years ago I had some friends in a band named Reckless Pedestrian. It has become the custom to name tours and then have t-shirts advertising that tour, so they gave me a t-shirt that says "Reckless Pedestrian" on the front and "The Stumble and Fall Tour" on the back :lol: I've always liked that shirt, but I had no idea how profound it might be some day 8)

  2. #2

    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    To answer your question is the most precise and clear-cut way possible: Maybe, Maybe not :mrgreen:

    I don't believe zazen will make us stumble less. In fact it may make us more aware that we stumble more than we thought. But it will make stumbling and falling a bit more of what it is. I can't say easier because sometimes it will suck, I can't say less often because I'm not psychic. Maybe it allows us to fall with a bit more grace. We still will look like fools, we still may get frustrated, but we will do so with an air of humility and grace (or maybe we wont!).

    There has been turbulent news in my family as of late. I should say that 6 months ago I would have shut down and just ignored it. I take it with more humor now, I see that people are just what they are. I can't change everything, so I try to put my arm-floaties on and deal with the waves in the sea as best I can. I may get dragged under, or I may not. Either way, I'm still in the water.

    Gassho,
    Taylor

  3. #3
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    There has been turbulent news in my family as of late. I should say that 6 months ago I would have shut down and just ignored it. I take it with more humor now, I see that people are just what they are. I can't change everything, so I try to put my arm-floaties on and deal with the waves in the sea as best I can. I may get dragged under, or I may not. Either way, I'm still in the water.
    Taylor, I'm mixing our metaphors now, but this sounds like you are not stumbling, or stumbling less, where in the past you would have stumbled. I like your idea of stumbling with more grace a lot. Stumbling less and doing so with more grace might be just about the same thing, because if it's graceful then it's not really a stumble, it's... wait for it, Jundo... a dance! :P

    I'm doing laundry at the moment and I think my Reckless Pedestrian shirt is in there. If/when I find it I'll post a pic, because we're all on the "Stumble and Fall Tour" called life.

  4. #4

    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa

    I'm thinking, Yes, because the act of struggling with life's ups and downs, etc. leads to the act of stumbling. But being at home with life's struggles would imply you are in balance and thus less likely to stumble. So by continuing to sit zazen, a pretty stable posture, you are less likely to stumble because you become at home (and in balance) with those struggles. Have I got that?
    Hello,

    In my experience, one becomes more AWARE of the potential to stumble with each step; there is always going to be instability. The question is, is one sensitive enough to move the other foot, making it a step, rather than a fall.

    Disregard that if it makes no sense.

    Perry

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    Makes lots of sense, Perry, and your point about awareness is very well taken. But I'm going to mix metaphors again because I love to do that. A moving bicycle is much more stable than a bike standing still, so I like your analogy. But is moving forward, one step in front of the other, more stable than standing still? There are times when standing still will keep you from stumbling forward.

  6. #6

    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Makes lots of sense, Perry, and your point about awareness is very well taken. But I'm going to mix metaphors again because I love to do that. A moving bicycle is much more stable than a bike standing still, so I like your analogy. But is moving forward, one step in front of the other, more stable than standing still? There are times when standing still will keep you from stumbling forward.
    Standing still will keep you from stumbling forward, no doubt. But how do you search for the Ox?

    --Perry

    (edited to sign my name)

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Struggles and Stumbles



    Perry, the ox is a groupie with the band, dude!
    Edit to add: Okay, seriously this time, I am only suggesting a pause on the search for the ox, not a full stop. Besides, the ox is right there where you are. No need to move.

  8. #8

    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    There has been turbulent news in my family as of late. I should say that 6 months ago I would have shut down and just ignored it. I take it with more humor now, I see that people are just what they are. I can't change everything, so I try to put my arm-floaties on and deal with the waves in the sea as best I can. I may get dragged under, or I may not. Either way, I'm still in the water.
    Taylor, I'm mixing our metaphors now, but this sounds like you are not stumbling, or stumbling less, where in the past you would have stumbled. I like your idea of stumbling with more grace a lot. Stumbling less and doing so with more grace might be just about the same thing, because if it's graceful then it's not really a stumble, it's... wait for it, Jundo... a dance! :P

    I'm doing laundry at the moment and I think my Reckless Pedestrian shirt is in there. If/when I find it I'll post a pic, because we're all on the "Stumble and Fall Tour" called life.
    Perhaps, but i'm sure not terribly aware of it :P A stumble, a step, what ground do we even have to hit? (BAH! Abstract metaphors :shock: :mrgreen: )

  9. #9

    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    So if we define struggles as a noun, the stuff life throws our way, the ups, downs, tears, etc. mentioned above,
    And if we define stumbles as a verb, those times we veer off the Bodhisattva Path, violate the precepts, especially the gross violations,
    Then is it fair to say that the more we practice the less likely we are to stumble when dealing with those struggles?

    I'm thinking, Yes, because the act of struggling with life's ups and downs, etc. leads to the act of stumbling. But being at home with life's struggles would imply you are in balance and thus less likely to stumble. So by continuing to sit zazen, a pretty stable posture, you are less likely to stumble because you become at home (and in balance) with those struggles. Have I got that?
    I think everyone is pretty much on the right track here. Yes, I believe that this practice allows us to stumble less into the mud and quicksand of greed, anger, ignorance, jealousy, unwarranted fears, excess emotions, misusing sexuality etc. etc. We do get better at it, like athletes in training.

    We become more self aware of the traps, the triggers and how things work.

    But LIFE IS A MINEFIELD! Throwing one thing after another at us. So, even the finest athlete is bound to stumble sometime (I have never met a living Buddhist priest of any denomination or flavor ... likewise a Catholic Priest, Minister or Rabbi, who I would judge to be completely beyond all potential to stumble in the wrong circumstances). It may be true of the Buddha and Ancestors but, I feel, that is only because the stories about them ... in a process of hagiography ... were stripped of all human failings, whereby they were dipped in gold and put on pedestals of superhuman "never making a mistake, never stumbling, never saying the wrong thing".

    A hagiography is a biography, usually of a saint or saintly person, and usually written to idealize their life or justify their sainthood. In other words, a hagiography is usually a positive presentation of a life, rather than an objective or critical biography. When using a hagiography as a research source, the purpose and style must be taken into consideration, as the writer probably omitted negative information and exaggerated or even created positive information about the subject of the hagiography. Lives of the saints are typically hagiographies.
    So, sometime in life ... we will stumble. However, thanks to this practice, and greater self-awareness of our self, we will, in fact, stumble less and less.

    BUT, what this practice ALSO does is allow us to accept the ups and downs ... even as we try to avoid the stumbles. In other words we seek to avoid the stumbles, and get better at avoiding the stumbles, and do not give in to potential stumble temptations ... even as, hand in hand with all that, we fully accept a stumble when it does come along. (as it is bound to do).

    This practice also helps us, like fine athletes, recover our footing when we do fall. We dust off, learn from the mistake, right what can be righted ... and move on.

    This practice also helps us be totally 'at one' with the full, complex, multi-sided catastrophe of life above described.

    And that, to me, is much better than being dipped in gold and stuck lifeless on a imaginary pedestal of "never ever failing".

    Gassho, J

    PS -

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor

    There has been turbulent news in my family as of late. I should say that 6 months ago I would have shut down and just ignored it. I take it with more humor now, I see that people are just what they are. I can't change everything, so I try to put my arm-floaties on and deal with the waves in the sea as best I can. I may get dragged under, or I may not. Either way, I'm still in the water.
    This is the kind of situation where you can see some of the value of this practice, where the rubber meets the road. Well done.

  10. #10

    Re: Struggles and Stumbles

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    This practice also helps us, like fine athletes, recover our footing when we do fall. We dust off, learn from the mistake, right what can be righted ... and move on.

    This practice also helps us be totally 'at one' with the full, complex, multi-sided catastrophe of life above described.

    And that, to me, is much better than being dipped in gold and stuck lifeless on a imaginary pedestal of "never ever failing".
    Shall we sit with that? :wink:

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