Friday, March 24, 2006

Me, Minus the Bullshit

I've had a tendency when embarking on a given spiritual path to put on an act - to "act spiritual", as it were. Talk kindly to everybody. Smile all of the time. Avoid all the fucking swearing. Have sex, sure - but for God sakes, don't enjoy it!

I've seen this enough in other people to know it's not my own personal foible. I fall into this trap for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I have a tendency to want other people to accept me as a "good person". I engage in what Trungpa Rinpoche labeled "spiritual materialism", and what Ken Wilber calls "Boomeritis". I embrace spirituality for what it will win me in the material world, not as an end in itself.

I check this tendency nowadays using two techniques. First, I meditate on impermanence, particularly the fleeting nature of fame and fortune. As Shintideva says in the Bodhicaryavatara, only your state of mind will help you when you die; the number of "followers" you've accrued, the number of books you've published and sold - none of this worldly success will mean anything when Mara comes a-knockin'.

That doesn't mean that doing well in the world and contributing to civilization isn't important, on one level. And it certainly doesn't mean that the love of friends and family aren't important! I love my wife and children to death. But you can't take it with you. Engagement of the world shouldn't obscure the fact that our tenure of this earth doesn't even amount to a fraction of beginningless time.

My second technique is to avoid the temptation to obtain "instant spirituality" by rewriting my personality. Emulating the virtues of the Buddha and the great Bodhisattvas doesn't mean putting on a show, and being other than who I am. The teachings are water; the mind is a vessel. Vessels can be of many different shapes, sizes, and colors - but all can hold liquid, so long as they aren't punctured or overturned. That's why the Buddha disseminated 84,000 discourses of Dharma.

Rather than act, I'm trying simply to be me - but better. No...not "better". This isn't a race or any other kind of striving. I guess what I'm doing is practicing just being, free of the clouds of confusion. I watch my anger. I don't snap when someone interrupts me when I'm doing something "important". I don't evolve self-important stories about how the world is mistreating me when someone's behavior rubs me raw. Me, minus the bullshit.

Hey, it's a start.

Comments:
A beautiful post; one I can identify with.

I call my "me minus the bullshit" being 'authentic.'

I have been disappointed that 'authenticity' is not a word that is used very often in the spiritual crowds I go with or in many of the books I've read -- and this disappoints me. Which is not to say that there aren't a lot of 'authentic' people out there who, so far as I can tell, act as they are, warts and all.

Krisnamurti is one world teacher whose great virtue seemed to be that he was absolutely authentic. He let his impatience show. I think it was necessary for him to be authentic -- which was easy and natural and the only thing he could be -- in order to have the insights into the way things truly are that he had.

Unfortunately for me -- a mistake I am sure -- my "authentic" self is often angry and snappish. While I damage my relationships with others by being this way, I do follow a Golden Rule, of sorts. I very much do prefer that others tell me, genuinely, what they think. [Or, even if they are unaccustomed to being 'authentic,' what they think they think.] Straight, no chaser.

We human beings are crazy, you know: Constructing so much of lives into cheap novels -- missing the golden opportunity to be real and jump safely out of the plane without a parachute.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?