Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Positions

EVERY TIME I FIND MYSELF attempting to take a position, I see in my mind one of my mentors, Greg Goode, take up another side of it.  That’s the end of that position.  I wrote him about it today, wondering if this theoretically lofty “I don’t know” could in fact become a subtle position in itself.  He said it could and gave some good examples—one of them involving someone who should know better.  He passed along some excellent questions to look at and ask myself about, as he always does.  Let me share those with you here:

"It can indeed be its own subtle positions.  "I am a non-knower.  I da man!!!"  You can check.  Is not-knowing itself something that you feel sure about?  Is it serving a purpose?  One can notice when this position arises as something sort of solid.  [Does it arise] at times when you feel vulnerable?  Is it used as a therapeutic measure?" 

THESE ARE WONDERFUL questions to help us unearth the subtle positions ego is always trying to take.  For me, upon close examination, I can say that this relinquishing of positions upon arrival, or shortly after they arise does not feel as if it’s being directed by the mythical me.  I can’t actually know, mind you; I really can’t.  Ego is fully capable of laying out the perfect bait for Fred at every point.  Who doesn't want to get a good report card?  The fact that I'm the one who filled it out is a minor technicality.  Having said all that, I can report that this position dropping feels more like spontaneous surrender, or what the Taoists call wei wu wei, action without action, or “effortless doing”.  We'll see.

I'M NOT OFF THE HOOK FROM THIS THING, THOUGH.  I begrudgingly noticed--and reported to Dr. Goode--quiet pride arising from my having suspected the new “I don’t know” as yet another developing position that needed to be seen through.  What a fine student.  What amazing insight.  What a load of crap.  Do you see that?  Do you see how, just as we feel we’ve made it through the entrance to the foyer, ego comes in the back door to lead us right back out to the front stoop?  It’s amazing to watch; it can be painful to drop. Am I more interested in impressing a spiritual mentor than I am in making spiritual progress?  I sure hope not.  I try to make self-exposure a simple matter of habit; that way I don't have to go back and forth with myself every time.  See it, drop it, move on to the next error.  

THAT'S REALLY THE ONLY DEFENSE WE HAVE: spot it, be willing to own it for what it is, then noticing any arising guilt or pride, and be willing to report (or acknowledge) that, too.  It is no fun to tell on yourself.  Here again, what separates the men from the boys is, "Do we want truth more than we want comfort."  Sometimes it's a close call, is it not? I could easily fool myself by twisting his helpful pointers and questions into being something they aren’t, or or representing something they don't.  I have the magical ability to turn virtually anything into a confirmation of my “terrific spiritual condition” and “deep well of wisdom”.  Shine him up, folks!!  It's enough to make you shudder.  For better or worse, I don’t think I get to fast-forward through any of this.  I doubt you do either.

THE PRIMARY PROBLEM IS that if I do exercise the very dubious, but nonetheless warm and fuzzy option, rightly known as lying to myself, then I  also sabotage myself.  It’s my guess that most spiritual aspirants who crash on the rocks do so via their own guidance system which is set too far in the direction of comfort; comfort here being a synonym for ego pleasing.  I can’t back that up; it’s a visceral notion; but I bet there's a lot of truth to it.  

SO, I HAVE TO ASK, Do I want to impress a mentor, or even worse, do I perhaps just want to think I impress a mentor, or do I really want to learn?  Do I want to pat Fred on the back over how far he's come and how well he's doing, or do I want to jump the fence and open for real into not-Fredness?  These are serious questions. Spiritual alertness is all about right now.  Am I willing to be alert to this situation—the one I’m currently going through?  If not, then I’m playing the wrong game.  If I go backward very far in dedication to that sort of delusion, I may very well find out that I cannot get moving forward again.  It’s not punishment because of some shallow, egoic, faux pas; it is punishment by the shallow, egoic faux pas.  The deed itself does the damage; no outside help is needed to trap us.
FOR NOW, I'LL TAKE TRUTH. Sometimes a sock in the jaw is exactly what I need, even if I’m the one who throws the punch.

Housekeeping Notes: Posts are written and published spontaneously, under no particular schedule.  If you wish to have posts sent directly to you, you can sign up on the gadget a little ways under the Buddha statue. I see we've picked up several subscribers in the last week, and that overall readership is on the rise.  Thank you!  Most emailed posts will arrive without a hitch.  Once in a while there's a technical glitch; I apologize in advance for that.  If you go the subscriber route, it still pays to check in at the site from time to time; features come and go, just like everything else in our experience; only the experiencing remains constant.  Thank you for your precious attention.  Namaste, Fred

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