Have You Ever?

Have you ever woke up in the morning, aware but not of what or who you are?

Have you found yourself spontaneously wrestling with the compression of time at relativistic speeds, watching space-time map out in four dimensions that your mind can sort of grasp, but can’t translate into the daily run-of-the-mill mapping available to conventionally recognized senses?

Have you been thrashing with sharp bursts of energy from inside, like electrical shocks that are intense but not painful?

Have you watched your self-story fall screaming into oblivion, only to re-appear a moment later as it tries to gain purchase for the day?

Have you smiled as you acknowledged that the price of a body-brain system is a self-story, and even though it seems possible to work the system into a shape where such a story doesn’t appear to occur, it seems like that would be a lot less of a fun trip?

Have you watched the whole play from a place beyond the whole subject/object circus?

A place so bright that it burns everything seen into a dim vision by comparison?

Have you longed to share that vision with just one other person, but recognized that all you can ever do with words is talk about what you see, which is never that which is seen?

Have you ever… ?

Yeah, me too.

Cooperation, You’re Built To Be Doing It

Here’s an excerpt from a transcript of an interview on Oprah:

“If you talk to people in aboriginal or indigenous cultures, you find the highest societal values is cooperation. And competition is a very low value. And competition beyond certain boundaries is considered mental illness,” says author Thom Hartmann in I Am. “You look at our culture, and cooperation is considered a relatively low value. And competition is considered the highest value. We celebrate the most powerful competitors.”

But is competition the true essence of human nature? Thom says that scientists decided to test this hypothesis and found that it is not.

“What [scientists] found was that democracy was being played out literally every day by … animals,” Thom says. He recalls his own experiences of going scuba diving and seeing schools of fish dart around as a collective group, and also remembers watching flocks of birds in his backyard fly together and change directions suddenly while still remaining together.

“How did they know?” Thom asks. “Well, it turns out, when you do the slow-motion photography, they’re all voting literally with every wing beat or with every gill beat. They’re voting hundreds of times a minute. And [the scientists] said, ‘We found this from insects all the way up to primates.’ The basis of nature is cooperation and democracy. It’s in our DNA.”

For me this brings up one of the core arguments of the Atma Vichara practice; namely that the cause of a great many dysfunctions in our lives is being attached to the idea that what we really are is these separate individual lives.  Once that lie has been swallowed we cut ourselves off from life, along with each other.  The world at large then becomes “the other” and is filled with danger and competition.  We set ourselves against basically everything else.  Even those we have a seeming alliance with (friends, family, loved ones, co-workers) are kept at a distance with one eye on their activities as we remain ever watchful of betrayal.

That seed of poison fouls the whole works.  If we step back from that assumption for just a moment it begins to fall apart.  As I was reading the above article I was eating a sandwich I’d made for lunch.  Examining that sandwich just slightly past the level of raw appearance reveals an infinitely complex wed of interrelations with every part of the world and even the cosmos.  From the milk harvested for the cheese, to the workers gathering the grain for the bread, to the trucker who brought the avocado to my local store, to the sun which fuels the whole process at very few degrees of separation, to the oscillation of our solar system within the Milky Way.  All is connected in a web of interdependence and interrelations not because they are separate components working together but truly because reality is complete and ultimately one.

P.S. – It was a damn fine sandwich!

Keep These In Your Pocket

Life can be tough to navigate and deal with sometimes.  For my money it’s a good idea to have some tools & tricks to deal with the bugger when it goes pear-shaped, or gets weird.

I once read that the reason why Buddhism is given in lists (4 noble truths, 8 fold path, 3 root poisons, etc) is because the Buddha taught before such things were written down, and it is easier to remember lists.  Being as I have a terrible memory, I can really get behind the idea of keeping it simple.

To that end I think there are a few things everyone could use to keep handy.

A way to keep fit that you enjoy. For me that’s Aikido and Tai Chi.  Those have the added bonus of keeping me a bit safer too.  Tai Chi is awesome for its portability.  I also collect odd body-weight exercises that I can always do should I need a quick workout.

Some level of knowledge of how to keep your system fueled. Here I am thinking about a modicum of knowledge about food and how to make healthy choices.  I also have a simple food-plan I picked up from my active time in OA – three meals a day, no snacks, no sweets, no peanut butter, no pizza.  That combined with a basic fear of fast food keeps me well fueled.

A philosophical model/modality that helps you get through life. I keep a few basic truisms close to hand – “The map is not the territory”, “Opinion is not fact”, “We all see through our own distinct reality-tunnels”, and my personal favorite, “All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.”  I also like, “Don’t be that guy”, and (thanks to Diane) “Just be cool, dude.”  I also like Buddhism for compactness and a basic strong grounding in psychology, Taoism for simplicity, and the Integral Model for catch all applicability/orientation.

A way to connect to the truth. Atma Vichara and Meditation are my mainstays here. Atma Vichara you can find out about (my take on it) here.  For Meditation you can poke around my tagged posts here.  The vichara gets me zeroed in on the basic truth of what I am, and by extension since there really is not-two in this reality, the truth of everything.  That may be a bold statement, but luckily the truth cannot be spoken so i don’t have to bother to try.  ;)  Meditation helps me develop equanimity and sharpens my awareness.  Two very useful skills for dealing with this wacky world.

What are some of your tools for getting along in life?  I would love to hear them!