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Thread: Restraint

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Restraint

    Hey guys,

    Restraint is something I struggle with - not so much in my formal zazen practice, but certainly when I'm not sitting zazen.

    Zazen is an interesting example of sometimes strong feelings not necessarily needing action or commentary - it's very needed lesson for me. But restraint in the face of strong attachments off the cushion is something I fail at more often then not.

    Any advice?

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: Restraint

    Gassho,

    For me, it's easy to be on the cushion. This is my place of "peace, mindfulness," and the rest of that ridiculousness. It's not like that really though, the cushion is a place of fights, arguments, discussions but only with the phantoms in my mind. So some time, and by that I mean a good portion of the time, I wake up only before the bell rings. What then? Just a smile for my own foolishness, and I get up.

    As cliche as it is, a deep breath before speaking or acting always helps. And it's never too late to take one, even in the midst of acting or speaking, even if it may make it look like we're insane for just stopping :P

    When I first came here you spoke on not judging our practice. It's one of the kindest pieces of advice I have ever received.

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  3. #3

    Re: Restraint

    I'm sorry , I don't have any advice. What I know is just too limited. My most recent unrestrained action closed one door but seems too have opened another. The only thing I can rely on is 'don't know' which is like now.

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Restraint

    Chet,

    I don't know if this is at all helpful, but what comes to mind is realizing that any benefit we take away from sitting into our "real" lives is going to be piecemeal...excrutiatingly slow...as it should be, since if we try to force it nothing will happen. I do, however, still find myself expecting on a certain level that I can have major breakthroughs, so I can often find myself disappointed. But that's just me...not sure if that applies to your situation at all.

    Good to see you back.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  5. #5

    Re: Restraint

    Hey Chet,

    Well, I wonder if this could be based in the fact that restraint is a loss of control, or maybe even freedom? So by having to restrain yourself, you feel maybe you are losing one or both of these?

    If so, then maybe the path would be to realize what freedom and control truly are.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  6. #6

    Re: Restraint

    Posted this in another thread:

    Suzuki Roshi:
    "To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.

    The same way works for you yourself as well. If you want to obtain perfect calmness in your zazen, you should not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come, and let them go. Then they will be under control. But this policy is not so easy. It sounds easy, but it requires some special effort. How to make this kind of effort is the secret of practice."

    "It sounds easy, but it requires some special effort" is true to most advice on this matter... I guess you will have to work on finding som sort of awareness of your thoughts and reactions, so that you can one day say to yourself "wow, that comment made me really angry. I feel like writing a really abrasive post back. No, I think I'll wait a couple of hours and see if it still seems as outrageous or important then, before I post." Thought labelling could be useful for getting to know your mind's inner geography and the nature of your thoughts. I did that when I started meditating. It didn't help with meditation, but it helped me get to know myself and how my mind works a little better. Just don't mix it up with your Shikantaza, since it's a totally different practice, but I don't have to tell you that. Practicing reading and listening without judging and without having an idea of your own to compare it with could be useful too I suppose (for all of us), but that's also very diffucult. Maybe you could just try to set a new standard for yourself when it comes to the low water mark of your responses and thye abrasiveness of your language? You can still be very clear, very straightforward, very honest, but there are different ways to say the same thing and a less hurtful way of saying things might not be less true.

    I'm sorry I'm mostly rambling here. Maybe you can find something useful in this post. Otherwise just discard it.

    Good luck and thanks for making the effort. Try to see it as very, very good practice!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Restraint

    Chet, I read your post shortly after you posted it, and my first reaction was to say "Take a breath, Chet." But I showed restraint and waited, seriously, because I thought that might just be too cliche or flip or taken in all sorts of ways that might not be as beneficial as it was intended. So I pondered, took a breath, for probably too long, until I have now finally decided that, yeah, that's what I really do want to say.

    In a recent thread (I can't remember which one; it was one of those things you get into with Taigu, you know the thread better than I do) you posted and then got some criticism for its bluntness and then you revised it and then you revised it again, or so you said in that thread. Maybe a couple of breaths before the original posting would have prevented all that post editing. In a way it's a lot like a flaming email here... you might want to pause a while and consider all the consequences before hitting submit.

    All that being said, there can be a fine line between spontaneity, which I think gets you into lots of trouble, and planned responses that are drained of any emotionality, which I think is an impossibility with you. All that brings me back to taking a breath.

    It's not about never saying something wrong or even hurtful. I do that all that time. It's about minimizing those things said that are wrong or that are hurtful without reason. It's about saying things that are interpreted as helpful as much as possible.

    You have a lot of great insights, Chet, but they often get lost in your heated rhetoric. The result is we end up spending all sorts of forum time sorting through your rhetoric instead of dealing with the more important issues you point us to. Admittedly, sometimes those things are hard to sort through anyway, but you could make your insights more helpful by making them more restrained, so to speak. What is it that the Buddha did, helpful means? Something like that.

    On the one hand zen is about spontaneity, thus being unrestrained, but on the other hand, ultimately, zen is about unrestrained compassion. Take a breath to ask yourself if your posts are compassionate, which is not to say nice or polite, but not so rude or impolite that the zen message gets lost.

    Honestly, I am ambivalent about your being back here. On the one hand I welcome your stirring the pot, but on the other I think your lack of restraint often ends up distracting us from the benefits of that stirred pot. I welcome a restrained Chet and am gladdened by your asking this question. I don't doubt your desire on this, but I so dearly want to see more progress, and you are better by far than when you first joined.

    Gosh, did I write all that? Only the first paragraph was done with restraint. The rest was pretty spontaneous ramblings (ok, a little editing to restrain any inflammatory or stupid mistakes, as usual).

  8. #8
    disastermouse
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    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Chet, I read your post shortly after you posted it, and my first reaction was to say "Take a breath, Chet." But I showed restraint and waited, seriously, because I thought that might just be too cliche or flip or taken in all sorts of ways that might not be as beneficial as it was intended. So I pondered, took a breath, for probably too long, until I have now finally decided that, yeah, that's what I really do want to say.

    In a recent thread (I can't remember which one; it was one of those things you get into with Taigu, you know the thread better than I do) you posted and then got some criticism for its bluntness and then you revised it and then you revised it again, or so you said in that thread. Maybe a couple of breaths before the original posting would have prevented all that post editing. In a way it's a lot like a flaming email here... you might want to pause a while and consider all the consequences before hitting submit.

    All that being said, there can be a fine line between spontaneity, which I think gets you into lots of trouble, and planned responses that are drained of any emotionality, which I think is an impossibility with you. All that brings me back to taking a breath.

    It's not about never saying something wrong or even hurtful. I do that all that time. It's about minimizing those things said that are wrong or that are hurtful without reason. It's about saying things that are interpreted as helpful as much as possible.

    You have a lot of great insights, Chet, but they often get lost in your heated rhetoric. The result is we end up spending all sorts of forum time sorting through your rhetoric instead of dealing with the more important issues you point us to. Admittedly, sometimes those things are hard to sort through anyway, but you could make your insights more helpful by making them more restrained, so to speak. What is it that the Buddha did, helpful means? Something like that.

    On the one hand zen is about spontaneity, thus being unrestrained, but on the other hand, ultimately, zen is about unrestrained compassion. Take a breath to ask yourself if your posts are compassionate, which is not to say nice or polite, but not so rude or impolite that the zen message gets lost.

    Honestly, I am ambivalent about your being back here. On the one hand I welcome your stirring the pot, but on the other I think your lack of restraint often ends up distracting us from the benefits of that stirred pot. I welcome a restrained Chet and am gladdened by your asking this question. I don't doubt your desire on this, but I so dearly want to see more progress, and you are better by far than when you first joined.

    Gosh, did I write all that? Only the first paragraph was done with restraint. The rest was pretty spontaneous ramblings (ok, a little editing to restrain any inflammatory or stupid mistakes, as usual).
    Hey Alan,

    Yeah, it seems that most of your post was about stressing the need for restraint in my case. I'm pretty aware of that already, I'm just looking for ways to implement it. Probably starting with small stuff first is better. I have very powerful reactions to unpredictable things and I can't figure out how to insert a space into my response when the emotional reaction is very high. It likely looks like I don't care about my effect, but that's really not true. It's not fun to go through high-temper, embarrassing outbursts and then contrition later.

    Also, thanks for being patient with my inappropriate outbursts and emotional temper-tantrums. They aren't something I'm proud of or something that I particularly want to continue. They seem so legitimate when I'm in the midst of them, but they look as ridiculous to me as they do to all of you when I look back.

  9. #9
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Restraint

    Yeah, mostly unrestrained unhelpfulness, sorry.

    Yeah, it seems that most of your post was about stressing the need for restraint in my case. I'm pretty aware of that already, I'm just looking for ways to implement it. Probably starting with small stuff first is better. I have very powerful reactions to unpredictable things and I can't figure out how to insert a space into my response when the emotional reaction is very high.
    A small stuff thing would be to take a breath after that powerful reaction. That's the space you need to insert before your response. How? By taking a breath, which is a pretty small step. How to do that first? That's up to you, but breathing is pretty natural, so pausing to take one might be pretty probable. That mindfulness practice from zazen might help. It's one of those pointless points of practice.

    As for myself, I am learning through (pointless) zazen to be more unrestrained, not that you are asking, but it's how I take it from the other point of view.

    Hopefully this was more helpful.

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Yeah, mostly unrestrained unhelpfulness, sorry.

    Yeah, it seems that most of your post was about stressing the need for restraint in my case. I'm pretty aware of that already, I'm just looking for ways to implement it. Probably starting with small stuff first is better. I have very powerful reactions to unpredictable things and I can't figure out how to insert a space into my response when the emotional reaction is very high.
    A small stuff thing would be to take a breath after that powerful reaction. That's the space you need to insert before your response. How? By taking a breath, which is a pretty small step. How to do that first? That's up to you, but breathing is pretty natural, so pausing to take one might be pretty probable. That mindfulness practice from zazen might help. It's one of those pointless points of practice.

    As for myself, I am learning through (pointless) zazen to be more unrestrained, not that you are asking, but it's how I take it from the other point of view.

    Hopefully this was more helpful.
    Both posts were helpful, Alan! I guess what I meant is that inserting that breath before slightly less reaction-inducing situations is maybe the best way to start. When I feel 9/10 reactions, it's harder for me to 'not act'.

    *gassho*

    Chet

  11. #11
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Restraint

    Hey Chet, here's another idea that might fit in the "spacious meadow for your cow" analogy mentioned above, which I find such a funny image. Anyway, the idea is that if you are 100% reaction then maybe you can channel all that reaction energy in a safer way and maybe even learn from it. Have your word processing program open and when that reaction hits type your response there. Let if fly! Have no restraint at all. "(Damn you Taigu, you &%$#@ *&^%$ etc.)". Then save it as a file. Close that file. Then come back to it the next day, or whenever, as long as you have put some distance between you and that initial reaction. Note the response you have now versus the reaction you had then. What differences are there? What happened to create those differences? Which reaction is more valid? How would people react to each of those reactions? And based on these and other questions you can come up with on your own, choose how you want to respond and then post that response. Does that make sense? You create a safe space, a mindful spacious meadow, if you will, from which to look at how your immediate and later reactions differ, and maybe in that space you can learn to... pause... enough... to show... restraint.

  12. #12
    disastermouse
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    Re: Restraint

    That's not a bad idea at all, Alan - and it would diminish my outbursts among my sangha.

    *gassho*

  13. #13

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    type ... "(Damn you Taigu, you &%$#@ *&^%$ etc.)". Then save it as a file. Close that file.
    That's exactly what I do with Taigu.

    Gassho, Jundo


    PS - just kidding! :wink:

  14. #14
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Restraint

    Chet, you might still need to insert a breath before going to the word processor. Also, it might be helpful if you frame the issue not as avoiding outbursts but rather as avoiding public outbursts here on the forum. So burst out all you want, but keep them private for a while first until you can evaluate them more carefully for their potential effects.

  15. #15
    disastermouse
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    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Chet, you might still need to insert a breath before going to the word processor. Also, it might be helpful if you frame the issue not as avoiding outbursts but rather as avoiding public outbursts here on the forum. So burst out all you want, but keep them private for a while first until you can evaluate them more carefully for their potential effects.
    Thanks for the advice, Alan. Have you had to overcome anything like this in your own life?

    Chet

  16. #16
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Restraint

    Advice giving, Chet? Oh no, just idea sharing. What you do is up to you. As to your question, I learned as a kid that outbursts only multiply grief, so lack of restraint has never been a problem for me. If anything, I could maybe benefit from less restraint in some ways. I am trying to be more spontaneous as part of my practice.

  17. #17

    Re: Restraint

    I struggle with too much restraint! I think both are equally bad...

  18. #18

    Re: Restraint

    Hello Chet,

    Where is the difference between life "on the cushion" and life "off the cushion?"

    It's still you, no?

    Metta,

    Perry

  19. #19
    disastermouse
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    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello Chet,

    Where is the difference between life "on the cushion" and life "off the cushion?"

    It's still you, no?

    Metta,

    Perry
    On the cushion, I don't need to remember to breathe before I act, as a space has already been made for non-action.

  20. #20

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello Chet,

    Where is the difference between life "on the cushion" and life "off the cushion?"

    It's still you, no?

    Metta,

    Perry
    On the cushion, I don't need to remember to breathe before I act, as a space has already been made for non-action.
    Is it possible to have that space after you stand up? Lord knows that I've had issues in the past, and in my experience, just keeping the "sitting mind" for a couple of breaths longer after each sitting does wonders; learning that sitting and standing are fundamentally the same is not the least of which.

    Metta,

    Perry

  21. #21

    Re: Restraint

    Hey Chet,

    Well, I'll tell you my experience. I, too, have some trouble with catering to my anger and temper. I have, recently (the last year or so) been better able to modify it to where it's not so bad. For me, it all started with trying to figure out why I got so mad. I came to the conclusion that I had some idea in my head of right or wrong. Very black or white. And what I thought was "well right is right, and that means it's right for everyone. It is my responsibility to ensure that what is right is being followed by the people around me." That went for all types of things. Someone says something I regard as unintelligent, I would immediately let them know that they were wrong and how to think, act, behave correctly (to my way of thinking). I did it with my wife, and my kids too. I would get upset and angry with some of the things they did, and fly into a tirade, because I would think, "I don't ask for much, so what I do ask for had better be done." My responses were immediate.

    After a while I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I was doing something wrong. After all the natural state of a person can't be to be angry all the time, right? This also coincided with the beginnings of my practice, so I had some support from that front. When I finally came to the realization that there was no set "right and wrong" that I was following my own opinion, just like every body else, I started trying to look at things in terms of "helpful and harmful". I realized pretty quickly which one of those my own actions were falling under more often than not. So I would watch for it. Some one would do something I didn't like and that familiar feeling would start, the heat in my guts would spread up to my face and through my limbs, but this time I just sort of said, "Ok." I think my kids broke something. I just sort of looked at it, realized they broke it and flipping out wasn't going to put it back together, and if I flipped out they'd just remember the flipping out and not that I wanted them to have more respect for things. It was a struggle, because I wanted to yell, to assuage my insulted ego, but I consciously did not. I spoke calmly, and got my point across, and after a little while the anger drained away, and I was left with a broken thing-a-majiggy and two boys who understood that they need to have more respect for other people's things.

    This is not to say that I don't "fall off the wagon". I do. I still get angry, and sometimes I still yell. But it happens less these days, and I'm slowly allowing it to come to a place of balance. Anger and the temper have often been compared to a fire, and I find that apropos, because if you feed a fire too much, fan the flames to often, it gets too big, too hot, it consumes everything near it and spreads out of control. But, if tended appropriately, not feeding it so little that the flames die out and all you are left with is a cold, useless pit of ashes and charcoal, nor so much that it becomes a conflagration, you can keep it to a comfortable level. Anger is a part of the human condition, an emotion we can't get rid of. That's why I like our precepts, which don't say, "Thou shalt not be angry" but rather to refrain from anger. This to me says that we should acknowledge it as a thread woven into the tapestry that makes us human, but not to succumb to its lure to the point that it now controls our thoughts. As Buddha said, "with our thoughts we make the world", so angry thoughts, angry world.

    But we are all far from perfect. And I think of my own work with my anger as a "work in progress".

  22. #22

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Hey guys,

    Restraint is something I struggle with - not so much in my formal zazen practice, but certainly when I'm not sitting zazen.

    Zazen is an interesting example of sometimes strong feelings not necessarily needing action or commentary - it's very needed lesson for me. But restraint in the face of strong attachments off the cushion is something I fail at more often then not.

    Any advice?

    Chet
    Hi Chet,
    In the face of our greatest obstacles we humans seem to overcome them when we become determined. You have defined your problem very well and that's the first step in changing it. With great determination anything seems possible and without it nothing does. Mediocre determination also fosters mediocre results. Do you lack the proper determination doesn't require an answer, just personal evaluation. Good luck and great to see you back on the forum. Gassho, Zak

  23. #23

    Re: Restraint

    Just speaking for myself, as a result of too many years of war, I have been prone to anger- even rage- issues. (rage and anger are VERY different things. You can talk to anger, reason with anger. You cannot reason with rage. It just makes it worse, because while an angry person might actually be "right," a person in a rage is way past "right and wrong," but WANTS to still be "right," knows he really has blown it, and is tangled in an empotional net of anger, shame, guilt, self pity, etc...) It's easy to "blow up" when confronted, and it's insidious- it "feels" right at the time. Having to go from an environment where "Shoot him in the face" was literally an acceptable response, where being trained for violence and using one's negative feelings can actually SAVE lives to the "real" world where all that does is damage self, others, reputation, credibility, and relationships has been hard.
    Thich Nhat Hanh, a person who has certainly had reason to be angry, has written extensively on how to recognize and then "care for" welling anger as if it were a small child... "Hello, anger, I know you. You are my old friend..." See, anger may not actually be "wrong" to feel. It's acting on it that is wrong, just as it's wrong and self damaging to act on any strong negative emotion. Little things... I don't have to hate someone who wrongs me. I don't have to get mad at someone who disagrees with me. I don't have to act tough when my ideas are thought wrong... and so on. None of our reactions to these things is going to do anything but escalate both the situation AND our own negative feelings. If I yell at a guy who cut me off in traffic, he'll yell back... then where anm I? If people don't like an idea I've offered, and I get petulant, pissed, or confrontational about it, they're even less likely to hear me or respect my idea(s) now or later. I can FEEL angry, hurt, whatever... but that WILL go away, as long as I don't compound the problem by acting on my anger, hurt pride, ego, whatever.
    I have found that the emptiness of the cushion (or walking meditation, work meditation, or just a couple of minutes focusing on the breath in the men's locker room,) has helped my own introspection, and helped me identify not only the anger that might well up, but it's real causes.
    Don't know if everyone's experience is like this, or if any of this even means anything to anyone else. I do know I haven't been in a fight or punched a wall or thrown a tantrum in years, and for me, that's a good thing and it works.

  24. #24

    Re: Restraint

    Deep bows to you, my teacher.

    Very humbling and so true. Memories.

    My dad and his guns...Another man torn by war but he didn't know better.

    Thank you for this


    gassho


    T.

  25. #25

    Re: Restraint

    Deep bows to you, my teacher.

    Very humbling and so true. Memories.

    My dad and his guns...Another man torn by war but he didn't know better.

    Thank you for this


    gassho


    T.
    Bows back for a lesson you just taught me without knowing it.

  26. #26

    Re: Restraint

    Chet,

    You seem to be suffering from an inflated ego. Don't worry. It is a common ailment. In fact, we all have it. You just seem to have a little more hot air in yours.

    While it is a painful condition, it is curable. Zazen is good medicine. But it is only part of the prescription. The other part is the practice of morality. Without morality our sitting becomes stale and pointless. We are no better than a frog. Even worse. You give hints sometimes that you are interested in non-dualistic thinking. This is good. But still, without the practice of morality, it is cold and useless. What is the point of knowing who you are if it doesn't affect how you are?

    All of us have our own personal set of circumstances. I don't know what yours are. It's easy to tell someone to act a certain way. But you have to know where that person is coming from. I don't know Chet. I only know disastermouse. I'm only about 1/10 of the real Greg on Treeleaf. I'm sure the same goes for you. Sometimes I act abrasive on this forum because I need an outlet. Maybe I'm up against somethint in my real life that I can't deal with head on. So I take it out on people I never have to look at face to face. Kinda like kicking the dog because your boss called you a turd. It isn't fair, but it's human. The zafu is so comfortable and dangerous because we don't have to change anything for those minutes that we sit. We can be Jekyll and Hyde [i]and[i] the narrator, all at the same time. It is liberating. We see what a drama our life is. And we see how we create that drama with our thoughts.

    So try this.

    In an emotianlly charged situation, when you find it difficult to concentrate on giving your best,
    pretend you are an actor on a stage. Play the role of someone who is detached and give
    your best to your performance.

    If someone contradicts you, just sit back and watch; it's all part of the play.

    This isn't hypocritical. Anger, resentment, judgement, using rude language,
    these are hypocritical.

    When we play the role of someone who is detached, who is kind, we are really just learning
    to be ourselves.

    This may sound ridiculous but it works. Try it for yourself.

    gassho (and give yourself a break)
    Greg

  27. #27
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    Chet,

    You seem to be suffering from an inflated ego. Don't worry. It is a common ailment. In fact, we all have it. You just seem to have a little more hot air in yours.

    While it is a painful condition, it is curable. Zazen is good medicine. But it is only part of the prescription. The other part is the practice of morality. Without morality our sitting becomes stale and pointless. We are no better than a frog. Even worse. You give hints sometimes that you are interested in non-dualistic thinking. This is good. But still, without the practice of morality, it is cold and useless. What is the point of knowing who you are if it doesn't affect how you are?
    It has affected how I am. I haven't been suicidal in years. I haven't had a full borderline break in years either. I was just thinking about this, actually - how much more 'normal' my life is than it was when I started sitting zazen when I was 19. As for the little tantrums I've had here, they ARE part of my real personality - and I think part of why a sangha has been good is that all of who I am comes out here. I really can be as unhinged as I come across in some of my posts here.

    All of us have our own personal set of circumstances. I don't know what yours are. It's easy to tell someone to act a certain way. But you have to know where that person is coming from. I don't know Chet. I only know disastermouse. I'm only about 1/10 of the real Greg on Treeleaf. I'm sure the same goes for you. Sometimes I act abrasive on this forum because I need an outlet. Maybe I'm up against somethint in my real life that I can't deal with head on. So I take it out on people I never have to look at face to face. Kinda like kicking the dog because your boss called you a turd. It isn't fair, but it's human. The zafu is so comfortable and dangerous because we don't have to change anything for those minutes that we sit. We can be Jekyll and Hyde [i]and[i] the narrator, all at the same time. It is liberating. We see what a drama our life is. And we see how we create that drama with our thoughts.

    So try this.

    In an emotianlly charged situation, when you find it difficult to concentrate on giving your best,
    pretend you are an actor on a stage. Play the role of someone who is detached and give
    your best to your performance.

    If someone contradicts you, just sit back and watch; it's all part of the play.

    This isn't hypocritical. Anger, resentment, judgement, using rude language,
    these are hypocritical.

    When we play the role of someone who is detached, who is kind, we are really just learning
    to be ourselves.

    This may sound ridiculous but it works. Try it for yourself.

    gassho (and give yourself a break)
    Greg
    Is it inflated ego? Maybe, but I've noticed that more than overall inflation, where all rebuffs would engender overreactions, instead it seems distorted - some sorts of jabs or imagined jabs will trigger a response and I'm halfway through it or have gone all the way through it before I recognize the distortion - but then other times they don't. It's often the inconsistency that creates a lack of trust in myself that consistent, ego-inflated responses might not.

    I don't know if that makes any sense or not, but if it was a more consistent problem it would be easier to formulate a strategy to address it....

    And then other times, it seems like 'formulating a strategy' is a fools gambit anyway. The only thing I'm really thankful about regarding this is that it thankfully does seem to be diminishing with time and practice.

    Chet

  28. #28

    Re: Restraint

    It has affected how I am. I haven't been suicidal in years. I haven't had a full borderline break in years either. I was just thinking about this, actually - how much more 'normal' my life is than it was when I started sitting zazen when I was 19. As for the little tantrums I've had here, they ARE part of my real personality - and I think part of why a sangha has been good is that all of who I am comes out here. I really can be as unhinged as I come across in some of my posts here.
    Well, for me, the point is, when I have these outbursts or tantrums, here or elsewhere in my day to day life, am I making a point to those I want to? No. Am I affecting anything for the better? No. Is my temper going to make me right? No. So... in the self gratification that this stuff really is, who is it that actually gets hurt... me, or the person walking away looking at me and thinking, "What an asshole!"?
    What you say is true... these things ARE a part of our real personalities... but our personalities ARE NOT set and fixed in stone, any more than our minds are. If what I present to the world is an asshole, it's up to me to change both the presentation and the internal causation. That isn't hypocrisy, acting, or "not being real." It's maturity, acceptance, and effort to be something more.

  29. #29
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    It has affected how I am. I haven't been suicidal in years. I haven't had a full borderline break in years either. I was just thinking about this, actually - how much more 'normal' my life is than it was when I started sitting zazen when I was 19. As for the little tantrums I've had here, they ARE part of my real personality - and I think part of why a sangha has been good is that all of who I am comes out here. I really can be as unhinged as I come across in some of my posts here.

    Well, for me, the point is, when I have these outbursts or tantrums, here or elsewhere in my day to day life, am I making a point to those I want to? No. Am I affecting anything for the better? No. Is my temper going to make me right? No. So... in the self gratification that this stuff really is, who is it that actually gets hurt... me, or the person walking away looking at me and thinking, "What an asshole!"?
    What you say is true... these things ARE a part of our real personalities... but our personalities ARE NOT set and fixed in stone, any more than our minds are. If what I present to the world is an asshole, it's up to me to change both the presentation and the internal causation. That isn't hypocrisy, acting, or "not being real." It's maturity, acceptance, and effort to be something more.
    I was responding to ghop's statement that he only puts out a small part of who he really is here. I think a lot of 'who I really am' comes across here. I wasn't trying to defend the behavior.

    *gassho*

    Chet

  30. #30

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    It has affected how I am.
    That's great! Not everyone can say that. Most people aren't even aware that they need improvement. They just dump blame on everyone else. Be thankful that there is change.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    As for the little tantrums I've had here, they ARE part of my real personality
    Bullshit. You don't know your real personality. The tantrums are a result of your real personality getting bullied by an inflated ego. You want release and can't find a way out. So you attack. It's normal. But it's also insane. It's what we are all doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    The only thing I'm really thankful about regarding this is that it thankfully does seem to be diminishing with time and practice.
    That in itself should give you some relief. It shows you that it isn't real. Anything real doesn't come and go. And you say this is diminishing with time and practice. So what is left? Your real personality. Not the tantrums. Not the confusion. Just a simple awareness. Look Chet! You say you are aware of the tantrums...and of things getting better...and...but what counts is the fact that you are aware. Just be that. That is the eye of the storm. Nothing can shake it.

    gassho
    Greg

  31. #31
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    It has affected how I am.
    That's great! Not everyone can say that. Most people aren't even aware that they need improvement. They just dump blame on everyone else. Be thankful that there is change.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    As for the little tantrums I've had here, they ARE part of my real personality
    Bullshit. You don't know your real personality. The tantrums are a result of your real personality getting bullied by an inflated ego. You want release and can't find a way out. So you attack. It's normal. But it's also insane. It's what we are all doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    The only thing I'm really thankful about regarding this is that it thankfully does seem to be diminishing with time and practice.
    That in itself should give you some relief. It shows you that it isn't real. Anything real doesn't come and go. And you say this is diminishing with time and practice. So what is left? Your real personality. Not the tantrums. Not the confusion. Just a simple awareness. Look Chet! You say you are aware of the tantrums...and of things getting better...and...but what counts is the fact that you are aware. Just be that. That is the eye of the storm. Nothing can shake it.

    gassho
    Greg
    Thanks Greg! A word of caution though - sectioning off parts of our personality or behavior that we don't like as 'not really us' can be problematic - in that it can foster an internal war that doesn't really work - at least not in my experience. Sometimes just a change in perspective changes things. I'm not as stressed by work lately because (I suspect) I'm now heavily engaged in paying down debt - so it doesn't feel as much like I'm stuck and hence I don't resent the crazily dysfunctional aspects of my job as much as I used to.

    *gassho*

    Chet

  32. #32

    Re: Restraint

    I was responding to ghop's statement that he only puts out a small part of who he really is here. I think a lot of 'who I really am' comes across here. I wasn't trying to defend the behavior.
    That's apparent... I wasn't suggesting you were.

  33. #33

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    It has affected how I am. I haven't been suicidal in years. I haven't had a full borderline break in years either.
    Have you been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder?
    The people I have met with this diagnose have naturally and slowly become much better during their twenties.
    So, if you have, I'm pretty sure that in ten years you will be a much more balanced person, with or without Zazen. Take refuge in this.
    I suspect Zen practice may speed up the process though, as a positive side-effect. So if I were you I wouldn't worry too much, continue to do your best like you're doing now, accept who you are and what you have to work with and sit Zazen every day regardless of whether you feel like it or not.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  34. #34

    Re: Restraint

    I've enjoyed this thread on anger. I keep thinking of one aspect, and forgive me if I'm off base here. Like others here I grew up with a parent (Mom) who was extremely volatile. She holds in feelings, and then at any moment, any tiny thing will set off this volcanic tirade. I was terrified of her. I finally learned to accept it and deal with her anger, but it took a long time. I still get the same fear feeling when any one is angry with me for any reason--if my dear husband gets mad, I start shaking. My boss, some thing. Not as bad as it used to be, but still there.
    My anti-response was to try my best to NEVER get angry, and NEVER do something knowingly that will upset anyone around me, which leads to it's own set of stuff. I studied music for decades, but could never get beyond a certain level because I played like a robot--no real emotion came through the cello or the bow.

    I don't know if people dealing with anger know about the fear response in others, and I'm pretty sure that in the heat of the moment it may not even matter.

    Just my thoughts that won't go away until written.

    Gassho, Ann

  35. #35

    Re: Restraint

    Just happened to think of this... I guess sometimes my thoroughly Western upbringing does come in handy. There's a line in the Book of Psalms I learned years back that actually fits pretty well both with this discussion and with the Dharma as we're discussing it. (Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of its source or brand name, right?)
    Psalm 37:8- "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil."
    Basically, anger is fine... it's an emotion, as real as any other strong emotion. It's what we do with it that matters, and clinging to it is a choice, nothing more.

  36. #36

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Basically, anger is fine... it's an emotion, as real as any other strong emotion. It's what we do with it that matters, and clinging to it is a choice, nothing more.
    Thanks for this KvonNJ.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Thanks Greg! A word of caution though - sectioning off parts of our personality or behavior that we don't like as 'not really us' can be problematic - in that it can foster an internal war that doesn't really work
    I agree. I don't mean denying certain parts of our personality as real in the moment. We just need to see that they have no ultimate reality, no lasting value. In other words, like KvonNJ pointed out above, we can just let go whenever we are ready. It's up to us.

    Don't feel alone. You are a puzzle made of many parts. "Chet" is made up of Chet's parents, Chet's circumstances, Chet's environment, Chet's thoughts and emotions, of earth, sky, water, fire, etc.
    There is alot of support all around you that perhaps you are not even aware of. When you are getting
    swept away with emotion just feel how solid and good the earth is under your feet. It ain't going
    anywhere. Feel how spacious the sky is above your head. And beat us up if you have to. We're
    your family. We can take the blows. Just do whatever you have to do to find peace. Or, I guess
    I should say, realize peace. Because it is already here.

    gassho
    Greg

  37. #37
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Alberta, Canada
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    812

    Re: Restraint

    Just wanted to thank Christopher, Karl and Ann for your posts. Anger and rage have hurt my family very much. I am trying to stop this chain of violence (any acting out is violence, even if you don't hit anybody), but I do fall into the same patterns as my father used to every now and then. Karl's definition of rage was very helpful for me. Ann's words about fear resonate with me very much, as I was terrified of my Dad for such a long time ; but I also realize that I create fear in my partner with my own outbursts. And Christopher, you stated the root of the problem in very clear words: "It is my responsibility to ensure that what is right is being followed by the people around me." Spot on diagnosis of what's going on. Thank you all.

  38. #38
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    It has affected how I am. I haven't been suicidal in years. I haven't had a full borderline break in years either.
    Have you been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder?
    The people I have met with this diagnose have naturally and slowly become much better during their twenties.
    So, if you have, I'm pretty sure that in ten years you will be a much more balanced person, with or without Zazen. Take refuge in this.
    I suspect Zen practice may speed up the process though, as a positive side-effect. So if I were you I wouldn't worry too much, continue to do your best like you're doing now, accept who you are and what you have to work with and sit Zazen every day regardless of whether you feel like it or not.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Yes, I've been diagnosed. Yes I know it gets better with age but zazen-type meditation is an integral part of one of the primary treatment methods for it. One of my therapists said that it was probably a rather large factor in mediating the effects of the disorder during my earlier life.

  39. #39

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Yes, I've been diagnosed. Yes I know it gets better with age but zazen-type meditation is an integral part of one of the primary treatment methods for it. One of my therapists said that it was probably a rather large factor in mediating the effects of the disorder during my earlier life.
    Ah, OK. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you are or have been in contact with therapists that you have trust in. With 'zazen-type meditation' I'm guessing they mean mindfulness training, which has seen a big renaissance in late years both in somatic medicine and psychiatry. The being in the present moment and not judging is supposed to have a positive effect on everything from high blood pressure to schizophrenia. It is not my field of expertise though and you probably know much more about it than I do! But I do think you should sit every day and maybe not not think so much about why or how? Just do it.

    Thanks both Chet and all the rest for a very good thread, about life (Zen).

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  40. #40
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Yes, I've been diagnosed. Yes I know it gets better with age but zazen-type meditation is an integral part of one of the primary treatment methods for it. One of my therapists said that it was probably a rather large factor in mediating the effects of the disorder during my earlier life.
    Ah, OK. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you are or have been in contact with therapists that you have trust in. With 'zazen-type meditation' I'm guessing they mean mindfulness training, which has seen a big renaissance in late years both in somatic medicine and psychiatry. The being in the present moment and not judging is supposed to have a positive effect on everything from high blood pressure to schizophrenia. It is not my field of expertise though and you probably know much more about it than I do! But I do think you should sit every day and maybe not not think so much about why or how? Just do it.

    Thanks both Chet and all the rest for a very good thread, about life (Zen).

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Marsha Linehan developed DBT, one of the most successful treatments for BPD - she's a 30-year Zen student.

    Of course, I didn't even know I had BPD when I began sitting zazen. I'm thinking about maybe posting a 're-introduction' thread so that I can sort of explain that although I'm still 'difficult' - I've come a long way from where I started.

    Chet

  41. #41

    Re: Restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Marsha Linehan developed DBT, one of the most successful treatments for BPD - she's a 30-year Zen student.
    Ah! I didn't know. Thank you, I will look into it some more!

    /Pontus

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