While I don’t idealize sugarcoating, I never mean to be cold or unfeeling. In the world of waking up and ending suffering, it’s not helpful to “pretend.” Egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate pretends (to be nice, be polite to people’s faces) in order to stay safe, unseen, hidden. It’s the quintessential puppet master, pulling strings just out of sight. That has no place in awareness practice.
Communicating clearly, offering clear information, is kind. Bodhidharma was called Grandmother because he was so compassionate, never hesitating to hit someone along side the head if they were lost in conditioned mind!
Walking the path of waking up and ending suffering, we choose to take advantage of all information we find in our path. If it’s in my path, it must be for me. Because we’re practicing to see karma/ego ever more clearly, nothing is perceived as too harsh. Only ego reacts in defensiveness.
Early in my tenure at the monastery where I trained I received a huge “spiritual opportunity” when I asked my teacher, in a rather large group of people, a “why” question. I never knew so much could be said about why without ever addressing the why! It was brutal. If I’d wondered before what of me was authentic and what was ego, that question would have been answered through those grueling (what seemed like) hours but must only have been minutes. It felt as if at least 100% of me was being crushed, sifted, and discarded. Much later I realized the authenticity was there, not at all concerned about ego’s mortification, right ready to bring me back to the next opportunity. Praise be!
Oh, and I never asked another why question. I got the lesson.
My point? If we are to be free, we must go through and let go all of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate’s resistance. I don’t want to, I don’t do that, that’s not me, I don’t feel like it, it’s crazy, I’m too tired, it’s too hard, it’s scary, I can’t and all that digging-in-heels ilk must go. They must cease to be a part of our reality. No longer will they pull us up into conditioned mind, siphon off our energy, and make us believe that ego’s whining is our whining.
People suffer over all sorts of life content, as we all well know: relationship, money, jobs, security, future, anxiety, not enough, benefits, depression, the past, health, appearance, sex, worth, etc. There’s endless agony as the voices of self-hate drag a person from one misery-producing “thing” to the next. “How will I?” “But should I?” “What if…” “I’ll never…” “You didn’t…” “Well, you should have…” Conversation after conversation with one focus and one outcome—suffering.
In practice we have many, many opportunities to confront the voices and get out of the conversation. Some opportunities we’re allowed to participate in, some the voices say no to. Ah, yes, it is voices saying no. We’re brainwashed into believing “I make the decisions in my life,” but in a lucid moment we know believing that is silliness. The voice in the head calls the shots. Moderate resistance means I probably get to do whatever; a lot of resistance means I don’t. No matter how long I’m willing to pretend authenticity is making my choices, sooner or later I’ll have to admit I’m a slave to the voices in the head.
I started this series of blogs writing about money and money karma, but we’re expanding beyond that because money is only one piece of content, interchangeable with all content. Given that, here’s the straight scoop. Not mean, not sugarcoated, just the “how it is.”
If we are suffering over something and we don’t want—which includes we are afraid — to address the cause of the suffering, we need to face that we’re choosing suffering and we need to stop complaining.
If I’m choosing suffering, I might as well acknowledge my choice and accept that I choose to suffer rather than having to go up against egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate in order to end the suffering. No pretending here. No saying one thing and doing another. I don’t want to face those voices when they start shrieking and threatening so I’ll just do what they say. My choice.
This could be a quick way out of the conversation in the head. The conversation is about what’s wrong, yes? If I admit I’m choosing what’s wrong because I don’t choose to end what’s wrong, what’s there to talk about?
Of course, the voices will switch to “Well, you should,” but we know what that’s about, yes? So, we can just sigh, look aggrieved and acknowledge, “Yes, I probably should, but I don’t choose to.”
A tangential, yet significant, point we do well to consider as conditioned human beings is this: In believing I am ego and ego is me, I am agreeing that the conversation in the head is me talking to me. In agreeing to that, I am agreeing to indulge the suffering drama in the head—and the ruined life it results in—rather than face the fear of “not being me.”
One advantage we have in practicing awareness is that we know—at least intellectually—that we will stop “being me” one day anyway. We’re going to die.
The old expression “you can’t take it with you” applies to money and possessions and can give the impression there’s a “you” that’s going somewhere and will have to face what you can’t take with you. Good to clear up that misconception for ourselves as soon as possible! If there is no I and there is no me, which an awful lot of our spiritual heroes have strongly encouraged us to prove for ourselves, then it’s unlikely any “one” is going to make the journey and the main thing we won’t be taking with us is I/me!
The “would you rather be right or be happy” got very popular because people can sense the truth in it—though most people still choose “right.” In awareness practice the question is even more direct: Would you rather suffer as an ego or be happy?
I’m still looking for those folks who want to take the next year to see and see through the whole mess, those intrepid spirits looking to face and face down egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate once and for all. Not someone who’s just curious, might be interested, would like to find out more…. Nope. Not that person. This is the “I’ve had enough; I’m in if I die in the effort.” Those are the ones.
As someone who is already doing the year-long “getting past money and all other karma” retreat said, “I have wanted to face this (ego torture) all my adult life; I just never had the courage or the support.”
It’s available now.