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Embarrassment and Enlightenment

Last post 12-25-2006, 6:51 AM by charlesb. 8 replies.
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  •  12-21-2006, 9:56 AM 16958

    Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Hi All,

     

    Embarrassment is a well known phenomenon; but for the most part examination of it is scanty. Let’s look a little deeper into it; here’s my simple working definition: Embarrassment has its roots in the psyche, in what could be called a gap there. It’s a gap between how we perceive ourselves and a possible judgment of how we ‘should’ be. Living with this gap is not comfortable; typically our tendency is to paper over the gap in a sort of ‘now you see it now you don’t game.’ This proves to be an energy intensive activity requiring at least some level of continual attention; alas, experience demonstrates that suddenly, when least expected, our ‘papering over’ tactic is subject to shredding by circumstance. Our gap is revealed. We are embarrassed.

     

    By this definition perception and judgment are deeply involved, and at birth these qualities exist only as potentials. Infants typically know nothing of embarrassment. But with the passage of time, and some needed stage development these qualities become vivified, and when a sufficient level of identity has been established embarrassment becomes possible, if not likely.

     

    The question arises then, what if a person perceives themselves exactly as they are? What if like Popeye, the cartoon character, our judgment is, “I am what I am.”? Would any circumstance arise then that would be seen as personally untoward? I think not.

     

    This scenario fits nicely with a threefold stage development scheme; pre-personal, personal, and trans-personal. This sort of (admittedly simple) analysis leads to possible statement of a principle: show me a person, eliminating the underdeveloped, beyond embarrassment, and i’ll show you at least an approximation of an enlightened being.

     

    But a reasonable person may ask, “Does this simple test actually work in the real work-a-day world? Well here are a couple of examples. It was 1972; Bobby Fischer was in match play with Boris Spassky for the world chess championship. I was vacationing at a camp on an island in Puget Sound. Also present was the late Paul Reps, the Zen guy, and author of the classic, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. When Reps heard that i had met and played chess with Fischer he asked to meet me, and was interested in my perception of him. This led to Reps and me playing about 7 or 8 games in a row. All of which he lost, a loss about which he was completely at peace. He was the only person in my chess career who was beyond winning or losing. Then there is the cherished example of my own teacher and friend, who when it was pointed out that something untoward or perhaps socially inappropriate had occurred, would turn coyly to the observer saying, “Oh, have I made a fool of myself, again!”

     

     

    The Way is not so

    Difficult, if we can give

    Up our need to choose.

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

  •  12-22-2006, 5:12 AM 16988 in reply to 16958

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    You are quite a guy, Charles B. Your Yang outweighs your Yin!
    JC
    33° 13' N 87° 37' W
  •  12-22-2006, 8:37 PM 17039 in reply to 16988

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Hi JW,

     

    The question of balance between yin and yang is an interesting one. At first blush, it looks as though majority rule or preponderance of evidence is at stake; but not so fast. Take the situation where there are a group of three persons, two of one gender and the third of the opposite. By the first blush rule the two would have their way by out voting the third; but does observation hold this to be the case? Is it not more likely that the two would be in contention for the attention of the third? And if so, the third then being put in this position would have more influence on the group and its possible decisions?

     

    But on a personal, individual level, the actual balance between yin and yang, i.e. 51 to 49, 60 to 40, 70 to 30, or whatever is less important than being able to access either as demanded by circumstance; skillful means requires nothing less.

     

    This morning for example i donned my red and green Noël Noël apron, cut butter into whole wheat pastry flour and rolled out dough for a home baked holiday pie.

     

    How grateful i am for a teacher that took the time and trouble to cook for me, week after week; by whose grace, eventually an appreciation of balance and flow of the play of the opposites seeped into my thick head, while simultaneously piercing my heart.

     

    If you were guest here, i’d boil water for tea, and cut a slice for you. Alas, mere words must suffice.

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

     

     

       

  •  12-23-2006, 4:08 AM 17067 in reply to 17039

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Who or whom is the controller?
    JC
    33° 13' N 87° 37' W
  •  12-23-2006, 7:39 AM 17071 in reply to 17067

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

     

    Hi JW,

     

    You ask, “Who or whom is the controller?

     

    Let’s treat it as a serious and sincere question.

     

    In the voice dialogue process as developed by Genpo Roshi the controller appears as one of many possible voices, albeit a crucial one, in the possible unfoldment of the totality of a human being.

     

    The controller is a voice of the tail of the dog; an appendage that mistakes itself for the whole dog, forsaking its natural function of wagging a happy hello, as in -Oh Hi, I see you are a human. I am one too! -in favor of an attempt to run the show -a terrible misreading of what it means to be a ‘whole dog’, by any other name an integral being.

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  •  12-24-2006, 1:26 AM 17112 in reply to 17039

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Take the situation where there are a group of three persons, two of one gender and the third of the opposite. By the first blush rule the two would have their way by out voting the third; but does observation hold this to be the case? Is it not more likely that the two would be in contention for the attention of the third? And if so, the third then being put in this position would have more influence on the group and its possible decisions?

    If all three people in this scenario are integral beings, then the Controller does not exist, right? But, if three are somehow the opposite of integral, then you will have one or more trying to be the Controller externally? An integral being, however, manages The Controller on a personal level? I am trying to follow you...


    JC
    33° 13' N 87° 37' W
  •  12-24-2006, 5:14 AM 17118 in reply to 17112

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Hi JW,

     

    There is risk of misunderstanding when metaphors are mixed.

     

    Relative weighting of yin and yang in a given individual is not necessarily relevant to realization; although realization might more fully expose it. Put simply yin and yang, or dark and light, are handy terms to describe the world of duality; a non-dual realization transcends these two, i.e. it’s not that they no longer exist, but they are put into context. Usually i stretch things a bit and describe this context as relational, where the opposites are seen as complementary rather than antagonistic. This is why it is possible to state with confidence that realization brings an end to the ‘war between the sexes’, as well as struggles between other pairs of opposites, like North and South.

     

    The controller could also be called a voice of the contracted self, or in my analogy the ‘tail of the dog’, an appendage that mistakenly thinks it is the whole dog.

     

    Simply put, it’s a question of “Who is in charge here?” If the contracted self is in the driver’s seat conflict is inevitable; better to allow it along for the ride, back seat is a fine place for it; just like a tail on a dog.

     

    Its vital to remember that the word is not the thing; if i say ‘kiss’ does not mean that the lovers lips actually touch, if i say ‘table’ that does not mean we can eat off of it, if i say ‘realization’ its just a word, albeit one that points to That which is beyond measure.

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

  •  12-25-2006, 4:43 AM 17147 in reply to 17118

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Recently I met with two females in our local library. One is into Buddhism, one into Reiki, and me into Christian mysticism. The conversation started with bows to each divine light. But, it was always the female who was into Buddhism that wanted to be the controller. It was still a fascinating exchange between the three of us. When we said our namaste's, I felt nothingness. I guess that is the plight of the Buddha?
    JC
    33° 13' N 87° 37' W
  •  12-25-2006, 6:51 AM 17153 in reply to 17147

    Re: Embarrassment and Enlightenment

    Hi JW,

     

    It is a category error to mistake ‘feeling nothingness’ with what the Buddhists call ‘emptiness’. ‘Emptiness’ when used in this way could equally be described as ‘fullness’.

     

    Here is the general rule for what goes on in exchanges between humans; the more evolved person has the greater responsibility, i.e. the greater capacity to respond. So if it was a Buddha meeting someone of lesser realization, the Buddha could not but be aware of their differing states; and if he/she had a ‘plight’ it would be one of selecting which ‘skillful means’ could best help lift the veil of darkness in the other; and not of experiencing a feeling of nothingness.

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

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