Archive | May 2014

Posting Issues

“You > your brains > the space around you > your family and friends > society > state > media > so-called world affairs” http://taotechingdecoded.com/01to10/0500b.html

This snippet comes from a weird, little website that I have long found intriguing about the Tao. I don’t really understand it, but I resonate with it.

I like how the article’s emphasis is on taking responsibility for your thoughts.  Thich Nhat Hanh is so right about how an un-peaceful person cannot create peace. Take whatever you think and multiply it by millions of people and you quickly see how an ugly thought pattern can create chaos rippling out in every direction.

I like how Zen is a marriage of Taoism, Buddhism, and Japanese culture. Taoism gives Zen its balanced, holistic nature. Buddhism gives Zen its Bodhisattva generosity, and Japanese culture gives Zen its minimalism (funny how minimalist one can be living with a gazillion others on the same rinky-dink island).

After all, what we see depends on what we have been programmed to see. Put any two people in the same situation and they will walk out with completely different impressions and conclusions. The minute you try to change others in this self-selected version of reality, you will encounter their resistance coming from their own projections.

Harmony comes from taking responsibility for one’s own projections and meeting one’s own needs, not looking for solutions “out there” because there is no “out there.” Those unmet needs are “in here”, come from the past, and can’t be met today because we are foisting them subconsciously upon unsuspecting others. Been there, done that. You end up playing a game with yourself. The solution comes from dealing with the unresolved feelings within yourself. You can play out the situation and complete those incomplete actions (by yourself or with a therapist) because your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between the past and current “reality.”

In a world that continually demands more, Zen/the Tao says, “For what?” What need are you trying to meet? How will having a physical object scratch this psychic itch? Consumerism is endless because it is ultimately pre-defeated. It has no ability to address the needs it claims to fulfill. The argument and its resolution are all within.

I once heard this definition of addiction: creating a fantasy world and then trying to live there. That is consumerism. It is so tempting…and empty.

“You > your brains > the space around you > your family and friends > society > state > media > so-called world affairs” http://taotechingdecoded.com/01to10/0500b.html

This snippet comes from a weird, little website that I have long found intriguing about the Tao. I don’t really understand it, but I resonate with it.

I like how the article’s emphasis is on taking responsibility for your thoughts.  Thich Nhat Hanh is so right about how an un-peaceful person cannot create peace. Take whatever you think and multiply it by millions of people and you quickly see how an ugly thought pattern can create chaos rippling out in every direction.

I like how Zen is a marriage of Taoism, Buddhism, and Japanese culture. Taoism gives Zen its balanced, holistic nature. Buddhism gives Zen its Bodhisattva generosity, and Japanese culture gives Zen its minimalism (funny how minimalist one can be living with a gazillion others on the same rinky-dink island).

After all, what we see depends on what we have been programmed to see. Put any two people in the same situation and they will walk out with completely different impressions and conclusions. The minute you try to change others in this self-selected version of reality, you will encounter their resistance coming from their own projections.

Harmony comes from taking responsibility for one’s own projections and meeting one’s own needs, not looking for solutions “out there” because there is no “out there.” Those unmet needs are “in here”, come from the past, and can’t be met today because we are foisting them subconsciously upon unsuspecting others. Been there, done that. You end up playing a game with yourself. The solution comes from dealing with the unresolved feelings within yourself. You can play out the situation and complete those incomplete actions (by yourself or with a therapist) because your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between the past and current “reality.”

In a world that continually demands more, Zen/the Tao says, “For what?” What need are you trying to meet? How will having a physical object scratch this psychic itch? Consumerism is endless because it is ultimately pre-defeated. It has no ability to address the needs it claims to fulfill. The argument and its resolution are all within.

I once heard this definition of addiction: creating a fantasy world and then trying to live there. That is consumerism. It is so tempting…and empty.

Commitment to Love

“When we commit to love in our daily life, habits are shattered. We are necessarily working to end domination. Because we no longer are playing by the safe rules of the status quo, rules that if we obey guarantee us a specific outcome, love moves us to a new ground of being. This movement is what most people fear. If we are to galvanize the collective longing for spiritual well-being that is found in the practice of love, we must be more willing to identify the forms that longing will take in daily life.”Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love, bell hooks, Shambhala Sun, July 2006

http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2940&Itemid=0&limit=1&limitstart=0

 

I am learning the power of love. The idea is interesting that committing to love is not “safe.” What could be less safe than living in a world not committed to love?

As people grow tired of being abused by those in power, I am seeing a letting go of the abusers. People are done arguing or intellectually debating; they’re just not consenting to their own abuse any longer. Those in power look around and panic as they realize they are ruling over fewer and fewer people.

I have stayed in bad situations many times, out of a blue-collar sensibility that “commitment” is necessarily a good thing. After complaining about being treated poorly, some rational friend will always ask me, “Then why do you stay?” At the age of 46, I am finally out of good-sounding answers.

Love must start with oneself. If you can justify abuse against yourself, you will be justifying it against others post-haste. I don’t ever want to be the person that encouraged someone to stay in an abusive situation and then that person is permanently injured or even killed. I don’t want to be the voice saying, “Stay just a little longer…Just a little longer.” Living in an abusive situation makes life not worth living. Been there, done that.

Balance

My friends seek me out for advice, including career advice. I let them know the irony of going to someone unemployed for career advice. “Are you sure you want me to critique your resume?” I ask.

How did my words become so valuable? I’m sure my education has something to do with it, but there are lots of educated people whose advice they do not seek. I believe my words have value due to my education and an even more important factor: I dispense them sparingly.

How do you make something valuable? Ensure its rarity. DeBeers gets it. They go to great lengths to maintain the illusion of diamond scarcity. Diamonds are not rare and they know it. Humans can even manufacture diamonds that the world’s best gemologists cannot distinguish from the natural version.

I have always had a fascination with monasticism (Christian, Buddhist, or otherwise) and the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Lay people sought them out. The same with Roshis. Imagine knowing that the only way you could see so-and-so would be to hang around a particular cactus for a week or two. Or if you saw your guru or roshi every three years for two minutes. You would be examining every nuance of their words and gestures for meaning.

People seek balance and sanity. I know I do. That’s part of why I don’t go to church anymore. GAP (Gays, Abortion, Porn/Politics) sermons are a dime a dozen. Hearing about the same topics all the time makes paying attention extremely difficult. How do you not tune out? I’ve seen congregations obsessed with these issues, which is an indication of an extreme lack of balance. When I would see this, I would know instantly that I had no desire to emulate their actions/attitudes.

I have been learning about Aikido lately. I cannot take classes or do anything that takes me away from Barry for too long, so I am starting real small. I have doing the “Horse Stance” for a few minutes at a time. It’s too soon to tell, but I noticed last evening that I did not have restless leg syndrome. Are the two related? I don’t know, but it would make sense. Using my leg muscles more just might eliminate the need for my legs to release energy through twitching. It’s all about balance: increasing those things I don’t have enough of (exercise) and eliminating things I have too much of.

As I get older, balance becomes more mandatory. Wherever I have been out of balance in the past now kicks my butt. My lifestyle choices now show in my life. Excesses now demand abstinence and the forsaken parts of myself now demand my attention. I couldn’t get people to listen to me when I was younger. Now that I don’t talk as much, people are hunting me down for advice. Balance rules.

Human Evolution

I think (but am not sure) I want to be part of the next phase of human evolution. Everything in my life seems to point in this direction: MBA, obsession with leadership, desire to be part of a solution, systems thinking, and fascination with change. I seem maladapted to any environment I find, which hints that I need to create my own (as opposed to looking for one ready made).

Change is so inevitable, but is accelerating. My desire to understand the Tao comes from its relationship to change. The Tao is about balance and harmony. Who doesn’t want that? I see people/organizations traumatized by change they were not prepared for. Their solution? Pretend the change is not real and question the loyalty of those kooky people (like myself) who are insubordinate enough to say or even imply that the pretenders should change. Seeing the inexorable nature of change, I am only looking for ways to make change less traumatic for us all.

How can I make anything happen when my life isn’t about me right now? I would love to take an aikido class, for example, but that would require too much time away from Barry. I assume I will do so when I escape Michigan.

Change is either occurring too fast for the people in my life or seemingly not at all for me. I get so frustrated. I am in this seemingly endless holding pattern.

I believe this in-between netherworld I reside in is why my emotions are right on the surface, subject to random TV shows triggering them. I got accustomed to a high level of intellectual stimulation in school that I no longer have. I find myself going onto controversial websites just to try to get a reaction from myself, even if it is just to stay awake. That strikes me as lame. I really feel stuck. But I also suspect that, when changes do start to occur for me, like an earthquake, I will move forward very quickly. That level of pent-up pressure is not sustainable and change is inevitable. When the tectonic plates of my life do start to move, watch out! I will need to be very careful at that point. Evolutionarily speaking, this is referred to as “punctuated equilibrium.” I may be part of the next phase of evolution, like it or not.

Dysfunctional Traumatized Energy

Everything is energy. Energy, movement, change, and heat are all the same concept applied differently. Everything is changing, so what’s the problem?

Things get stuck. I am currently reading about trauma. Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine is fascinating. In a world of fight-or-flight, I always freeze. The book is about how animals handle trauma and then release it. This is profoundly interesting because, in my experience, we are all traumatized to some degree. We humans positively suck at releasing trauma. We think our way into PTSD. We short-circuit the automatic emotional release mechanisms that would make us healthy. Unthinking animals simply let go in instinctive ways. We try to think our way into solutions, which is fabulous when we are not traumatized, but completely unsuccessful when threatened on a primitive level.

The energy we do not release wreaks havoc in our lives. Talk therapy only helps a small degree because the intellect isn’t the problem in the first place. The solution needs to be somatic. Thinking about traumatic events seems to only re-traumatize ourselves. I can vouch for that. I’ve had enough therapy to be acutely aware of what talking about a problem can and cannot accomplish. I have lost much of my faith in verbal communication due to its ineffectiveness for resolving deep issues. If talk fixed things, my life would have been perfect a good twenty years ago.

I see people re-enacting dysfunctional behaviors everywhere, all the time, including myself. It looks like we are all just working out our issues on each other. I am tired of watching myself and others go around in circles. There has to be a better way to use my energy. I want to help people and organizations to listen to each other, but how can they, if they are frozen in place with fear? I am looking for answers.

Energy Trauma

Everything is energy. Energy, movement, change, and heat are all the same concept applied differently. Everything is changing, so what’s the problem?

Things get stuck. I am currently reading about trauma. Waking the Tiger by Peter (?) Levine is fascinating. In a world of fight-or-flight, I always freeze. The book is about how animals handle trauma and then release it. This is profoundly interesting because, in my experience, we are all traumatized to some degree. We humans positively suck at releasing trauma. It looks like we think our way into PTSD. We short-circuit the automatic emotional release mechanisms that would make us healthy. Unthinking mammals simply let go in instinctive ways. Our intellects/brains are not equipped to think our way out of being literally scared stiff. We try to think our way into solutions, which is fabulous when we are not traumatized, but completely unsuccessful when threatened on a primitive level.

The energy we do not release wreaks havoc in our lives. Talk therapy only helps a small degree because the intellect isn’t the problem in the first place. The solution needs to be somatic. Thinking about traumatic events seems to only re-traumatize ourselves. I can vouch for that. I’ve had enough therapy to be acutely aware of what talking about a problem can and cannot accomplish. I have lost much of my faith in verbal communication due to its ineffectiveness for resolving deep issues. If talk fixed things, my life would have been perfect a good twenty years ago.

I see people re-enacting dysfunctional behaviors everywhere, all the time, including myself. It looks like we are all just working out our issues on each other. I am tired of watching myself and others go around in circles. There has to be a better way to use my energy. I want to help people and organizations to listen to each other, but how can they, if they are frozen in place with fear? I am looking for answers.

Accelerating Change

World Speeding Up

 

No matter how far off course I get, I am no longer stuck as I was in the past.

Many years ago, when I started business school, I decided that I wanted that period of my life to be one of going deeper within. I wanted to resolve as many issues as possible.

That was a fateful decision. Once a ball starts to roll, you may or may not have the ability to stop it. It’s a lot like becoming a minimalist, only with psychological issues. You start to clean up this one issue and another entire layer is revealed. Perhaps the process ends at some point, but I am not sure I will reach that point in this lifetime. Even when I cannot resolve an issue immediately, the spiritual/emotional excavation process has exposed the inner processes keeping a problem stuck in place.

I went off on a spiritual tangent lately because one of my Christian friends is upset about something going on at her (formerly our) church and the death of a really kind older lady there. It is hard to watch people I love suffer bad outcomes, but the whole thing made me see the hazards of making other people’s problems my own. Should I just abandon my Christian friends? I don’t know, but I do know that I am done making new ones.

There are many good people in this world of every imaginable (or no) religion. I want to be part of as many solutions as possible. The next time someone complains to me about anything, I plan on asking them what they plan on doing about it. People will probably stop telling me much of anything. I am so okay with that. I badly need a break at this point. I try to have empathy for everyone, but if it doesn’t lead to creative problem-solving trains of thought, then maybe I am contributing to the problem.

Every change that occurs is an opportunity for something positive. For example, my friend in Maryland is working for a family law firm that may be going under soon. She is worried, understandably. However, she is using the chaos in the office to learn about family law out there. She studies QDROs in her spare time. By expanding her skill set, she becomes more useful where she works and is becoming more valuable in the job market in general. I think that’s awesome.

It sounds awful, but I want to find ways to use the negative consequences of other people’s behavior to my advantage. I want to create positive outcomes for myself and others by using my willingness to change and learn new skills. There is so little I can change in this world, but change is a’coming—faster than ever.

Not Holding on

What if I learned to never hold on to anything? I know it sounds like a strange question, but let me explain.

I am sitting at a red light. I am in the right turn lane. The green arrow is lit, allowing the car in front of me to turn. The pickup behind me honks. I do not care. It was a little annoying the car in front of me was so oblivious, but not a big deal. Perhaps he was so far under the light he could not see it. I doubt he was aware the pickup was honking at him. He may have thought it was me honking. I am not participating in this exchange, and neither is he. The only one doing anything is the guy in the pickup, and he may have been thinking he was honking at me. I am an onlooker, nothing but an indifferent witness.

Perhaps being the indifferent witness is the only sane way to go. Even if the honking was directed at me, so what? I could not turn. Even if I had been able to go, I would not have done so had I deemed it unsafe. So the honking was irrelevant. Period. If the pickup driver had confronted me, would being upset have helped? I doubt it.

Letting go is not exactly a new spiritual concept. So what is my problem? I am over-responsible. It feels irresponsible to just not make the emotional investment in various situations. As a teenager, my brothers did not take responsibility for their actions. I actually remember deciding that I would be “the good one.”

I watch and listen to everything closely. I think in systemic terms. I often can see what will occur next. When I have spoken up in the past, I have been accused of creating the negative events that have subsequently occurred. (I wish I had that kind of power!) People do not want to hear what I have to say. However, when others reach the exact same conclusion at a later date, suddenly their opinions need to be respected and taken seriously. Really? This has created problems for me regarding my family of origin, various employers, and, at various times, churches.

The reality is that it hurts a lot to not be taken seriously in virtually every environment. It is painful to watch people I care for a great deal do things I know can only end badly. And then, to add insult to injury, to be blamed for the inevitable bad consequences is enough to make me question committing to anything or anyone ever again. “You were never really committed,” my priest told me when I had had enough BS to last a lifetime and warned him of some of the things now happening in the church (a couple years later). I thought to myself, “I guess I’m not committed now.” I am sure there is no memory of my forewarnings now that my presence is no longer there irritating them. If I were still there, somehow I would be seen as responsible. I may as well have never even attended.

Emotional investment seems to accomplish nothing. It complicates things and makes solutions less likely. It short-circuits rationality. I have not found an upside yet. Is there one?

Part of what I find profoundly disturbing is how authority figures will tell me what I should care about. I remember being a teenager and being informed how I should feel about a family member. I wanted to feel that way and was unable to do so. I learned at an early age that even I do not have the power to make myself feel something I did not feel or make myself not feel something I did. Manufacturing emotions has always felt fake. I have seen the same attitudes in religious writers recently. Of course, it works no better today than it did 25 years ago. It is disrespectful on a very basic level to tell another human being how to feel and it violates their free will. If I can’t make myself feel a particular way about something, how exactly do you plan on accomplishing that mission? Such attitudes miss the point of being human somehow.

I can let go of anything eventually. It may take a while, but feelings come and go. I have let go of many things already. Life offers daily opportunities for me to forsake emotional attachments. Every day I get better at it.

Are any battles mine? Even if some are, would I (and the world) be better off with or without an emotional investment from me? I would like to add value to the world and help individuals and organizations to function more compassionately and efficiently. I just don’t know what would work best.

 

 

Not Qualified but Who Cares?

My friend out east called me yesterday. She is having trouble with the crazy and inappropriate people she works for. She really wanted my guidance. I told her that she must remain centered regardless of how bizarre their behavior is. Keep re-centering. Keep your physical senses open. Can I feel my feet? What do I hear? I told her to do this so she wouldn’t be in her head and risk them throwing her for an emotional loop.

She is a law school graduate making $16/hour. I am unemployed. She’s looking for my counsel? Seriously?

I am not a life coach and am definitely not qualified to play the role of one. Maybe someday. But my friends seek my advice regularly. I find that fascinating.

I feel like Groucho Marx when he said that he would never join a club that would have him as a member. His membership standards were higher than his own conduct—and he knew it. I feel like my friends should have more sense than to seek career advice from someone unemployed and not even looking for a job. I am flattered and baffled.

What I have done is to stop investing emotional energy into anything. I leave the extremes alone. They are unsustainable. I need my energy to deal with practical problems and issues, not drama.

I have been reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. It’s good. Like most good books, it doesn’t say anything particularly new; it just says it better than most and in a way that is easily relatable. Let go of everything. Allow everything to go through you. Keep coming back to center. This is a big part of spirituality and a legitimate path in and of itself.

It’s kind of like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. That book contained nothing new, but it was extremely well organized, easily understood, easily memorized, and very practical. It was one of the first books I was assigned to read in business school. I instantly understood why. It was the first book I ever read that made the distinction between the urgent and the important. Back when it was published, that was a new distinction. Today, it is commonplace.

If it works, it works. When that is your yardstick, things have an amazing ability to find their own level and work themselves out. I have nothing new to offer, but maybe that’s not all that important.