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Thread: idea + L = suffering

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    idea + L = suffering

    Yesterday, I finally completed our Ango/Jukai/Rohatsu retreat. By dropping all concepts of schedule, I did it right on time and not six months late. Dropping all concepts of completion, I have done nothing, and actually, that’s a fair statement of how I feel: I did two days of “just this” practice without getting a hill of beans out of it. But as Jundo likes to say – Oh, but there is more to the story.

    In past retreats the first day was always easier than the second, but this time that was reversed. The night before I got some news that a girl I am attracted to had in fact hooked up with another guy. This was not surprising news; it was just my age-old pattern of unrequited attraction. I held absolutely no expectations of ever hooking up with this girl, and I fully expected that she would hook up with the guy she did, who happens to be a friend of mine that I am happy for. So there should be no problem here… right?

    Well, the first day was all agitation, and I mean c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-a-g-i-t-a-t-i-o-n. I must have come back to “just this” moment a thousand times. Every time I did I found space and stillness, but it lasted ever so briefly. That thousand times of peace may have lasted all but a few minutes, if that, and it was overwhelmingly outweighed by what I finally identified as jealousy. But I get now in a deeper way than ever before that phrase about how a moment of zazen is worth more than kalpas of time, how zazen truly transcends time.

    Before soto I followed vipissana, and I remain a big fan of how identifying something allows an easier dropping of that thing. Insight meditation calls for spaciousness and metta, especially self-metta, as the antidote to dropping jealousy, which fits perfectly within a soto retreat. Thus, my second day was a breeze by comparison.

    In one of Jundo’s wonderful dharma talks he talked about how our practice leads us to liberation by wanting it less. In one of Taigu’s very beautiful dharma talks he talked about how he was in touch with his suffering. Wow, these touched me, and so I found the key to at least this one aspect of my suffering.

    Here’s what I do: I set up an idea but then I add in extra emphasis until it becomes an idea+L. Yes, that’s it, an ideal, or, as I now like to think of it, ideaL. Then I use that ideaL like a stick to stir up a hornets nest of thoughts (delusions) about things like inadequacy (all the things I lack) and/or fear (that I will forever lack them) and then I get stung over and over again by those wasps of ideaLism while trying to ease my suffering in various worldly balms - aka delusions and breaking of the precepts. BUT all I need to do to end my suffering is put down the stick; drop the ideaL

    So here’s my worthless advice: Drop your ideaLs, people, and you might find the world a better place. But of course, never drop your Buddhist ideals, a totally different thing.

    Allow me to sign off by saying I just got this album by the Avett Brothers and love this line, which seems to totally fit how I feel right now:
    "There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light"

  2. #2

    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    So here’s my worthless advice: Drop your ideaLs, people, and you might find the world a better place. But of course, never drop your Buddhist ideals, a totally different thing.

    Allow me to sign off by saying I just got this album by the Avett Brothers and love this line, which seems to totally fit how I feel right now:
    "There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light"
    Al, thanks for your advice. Your retreat description sounds like my daily life I think dropping Buddhist ideals is OK too because you can pick them up when needed. Something like that. Anyway I don't really have any answers anymore, just enjoying space.

  3. #3
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Yes, Rich, but killing the Buddha is not quite the same thing as dropping Buddhist ideals.

    Wait, come to think of it, maybe it is... just this being of Kannon.

    Never mind ~

  4. #4

    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Wow, wonderful! Thank you for sharing your experience, and reminding us that this truly is a no-space/no-time sangha. I keep feeling guilty for "missing" zazenkai, but that's not correct!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Alan wrote:
    Here’s what I do: I set up an idea but then I add in extra emphasis until it becomes an idea+L. Yes, that’s it, an ideal, or, as I now like to think of it, ideaL. Then I use that ideaL like a stick to stir up a hornets nest of thoughts (delusions) about things like inadequacy (all the things I lack) and/or fear (that I will forever lack them) and then I get stung over and over again by those wasps of ideaLism while trying to ease my suffering in various worldly balms - aka delusions and breaking of the precepts. BUT all I need to do to end my suffering is put down the stick; drop the ideaL
    I really like how you view things Alan! This is a very healthy practice of yours and one I will have to try sometime. Thanks for sharing it! As Matt says thanks for the reminder that space and time are only relative.

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    So here’s my worthless advice: Drop your ideaLs, people, and you might find the world a better place. But of course, never drop your Buddhist ideals, a totally different thing.
    How about this?

    Hold some important ideals close to you and firmly, and work diligently and passionately toward one's important ideals and goals ... for a better life, world, self, career, family, love life, skill mastery, art creation, garden, mountain climb, archery shooting, tennis game, cookie baking, attaining world peace (WHATEVER IS ONE'S TARGETS!!) ... Hold these ideals firmly in hand, fingers closed securely and tightly around them, work toward them energetically without easily letting go ...

    At the very same time ... hold all ideals with an open hand, not clinging ... willing for some goals not to pan out when they do not ... letting them go when needing to let go ...

    At the very same time ... be guided by the Precepts toward healthy and balanced goals and ideals, avoiding those which are eventually destructive to self and those around us (e.g., a career goal that may be good in itself, but also out of balance and excessive, thus hurting our family relationships) ...

    At the very same time ... DROP ALL IDEALS through and through ... no goal in need of attaining from the start, no target to hit or miss (thus always Hit!).

    ALL AT ONCE AS ONE.

    (this Life-Game is very much related to the version of "Zennis" posted on a thread today) ...

    So long as one plays diligently, running here and there to score the points that one can, with the goal (amid 'win some and lose some') to win what can be won ...

    ... all the while as there is nothing to win or lose, no place not the court, no "out" possible, no game that is not already One and Won ...

    ... experiencing from time to time amid the serves and returns, that court, racket, ball, net, sun, sky, you and your opponent are truly One and Won ... just Tennis Tennising Tennis ...

    ... THEN this "Open" is simply Shikantaza ... Game, Set, Match. 8)

    Gassho, J

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Yeah, that.

  8. #8
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: idea + L = suffering

    I agree with everything Jundo said above, but I want to revisit and maybe clarify a bit this concept of ideaLz. (Yeah, I changed the spelling a bit in order to more clearly differentiate it from ideals.)

    IdeaLz are the toxic "should's" of life that are, by my definition, held on to too tightly. IdeaLz are the ideas that you need something to be complete, but you are already complete. If you think thoughts like "I should have the perfect _______" or "My life should be like this" (whatever "this" is) to the point of closing off aspects of your life, then these are ideaLz that are better off dropped. Holding on to such ideaLz does not allow for the blossoming of reality as it is, the realization of your life as it is, as you are!

    You are ideal as you are, so there is no need for ideaLz.

    The ideaLz that I am talking about, that I am discovering in myself these days, are very insidious, very subtle. They have been around for most of my life without me ever even noticing what they are or how they affect me. They look and seem like reality, something so normal as to be unquestioningly accepted. But that view is wrong. I see that now because I can see how they have closed me off to some of the most important things life has to offer, which have been there all along only waiting for me to open up to them. But I am learning to let go of my ideaLz in order to realize the ideal that is here and now.

    I hope this helps.

  9. #9

    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    I agree with everything Jundo said above, but I want to revisit and maybe clarify a bit this concept of ideaLz. (Yeah, I changed the spelling a bit in order to more clearly differentiate it from ideals.)

    IdeaLz are the toxic "should's" of life that are, by my definition, held on to too tightly. IdeaLz are the ideas that you need something to be complete, but you are already complete. If you think thoughts like "I should have the perfect _______" or "My life should be like this" (whatever "this" is) to the point of closing off aspects of your life, then these are ideaLz that are better off dropped. Holding on to such ideaLz does not allow for the blossoming of reality as it is, the realization of your life as it is, as you are!

    You are ideal as you are, so there is no need for ideaLz.

    The ideaLz that I am talking about, that I am discovering in myself these days, are very insidious, very subtle. They have been around for most of my life without me ever even noticing what they are or how they affect me. They look and seem like reality, something so normal as to be unquestioningly accepted. But that view is wrong. I see that now because I can see how they have closed me off to some of the most important things life has to offer, which have been there all along only waiting for me to open up to them. But I am learning to let go of my ideaLz in order to realize the ideal that is here and now.

    I hope this helps.
    Thank you for that, Al.

    Yes, I would say that some 'ideals' are good and healthy, for a better way of living, society, world. We can work toward those ... even as we hold them lightly, even as we drop all goals and ideals.

    But some ideaLz such as you describe here are simply poisonZ in almost any form. If we cannot turn them into something more balanced and sane, we should lose them altogether.

    Gassho, J

  10. #10
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: idea + L = suffering

    And the antidote to ideaLz and it's poisenZ is metta, lotsa metta.

  11. #11

    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Some ideas are worth following. But the important point is that you have a choice. Choosing no idea is like thinking non-thinking. I think
    Humor helps with holding them lightly.

    Q: What happens when a Buddhist becomes totally absorbed with the computer he is working with?

    A: He enters Nerdvana.

  12. #12

    Re: idea + L = suffering

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Q: What happens when a Buddhist becomes totally absorbed with the computer he is working with?

    A: He enters Nerdvana.
    lol

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