I believe that every human being has valuable qualities and deserves some kindness and compassion, but I can’t always feel and act this way. The desire to reconcile this ‘so called’ discrepancy distorts my thoughts and feelings, and can keep me trying to correct my actions, rather than understanding how this view* is intricately woven into my daily life. Sometimes, it just sucks that I can’t surgically remove this complex from my experience, fix it up, and then put it back into my life for a more congruent and better acting self.
So do these ‘distortions’ realistically begin to fade? On their own, over time, within a meditation practice?
I will offer three illustrations below from my life and practice of reflective meditation, given with the intention to prompt your own investigation and our explorative dialogues in July and August. I welcome a conversation with you soon, online or in person, as the retreats I am leading in the Fall will have me traveling for most of September and October.
1. There are not that many things in my daily practice I am able to do ‘no matter what’ and yet, the expectation to be consistent in my awareness, interactions and activities, including meditation, still arises. It is important to me.
-My view of a ‘True and perfect self’ has opportunity to fade
2. One of the reasons I chose to create a non-profit organization to continue teaching is because it requires me to be accountable to myself and others, within an intentional community; I am finding my independence, but not solely on my own.
-My view of ‘you and I as separate, not-dependent selves’ is fading
3. Each segment of my life has had a sense of being ‘it’. In college I chose to study Sociology rather than Psychology. A few years later, I went back to school to study traditional Chinese medicine and ‘the body’. After that, I dove into Buddhism, meditation, and ‘the mind’. Now, I am getting an imaginary PhD in ‘the integration of all of the above’.
-My view of karma as ‘fate or destiny’ has been fading away
*The Buddha of the early discourses often refers to the negative effect of attachment to speculative or fixed views, dogmatic opinions, or even correct views if not known to be true by personal verification. In describing the highly diverse intellectual landscape of his day, he is said to have referred to “the wrangling of views, the jungle of views”. In a set of poems in the early text Sutta Nipata, the Buddha states that he himself has no viewpoint. According to Steven Collins, these poems distill the style of teaching that was concerned less with the content of views and theories than with the psychological states of those who hold them.