Log in

No account? Create an account
12 August 2007 @ 11:15 am
Tao of the Day  
Some quotes from Bill Moyers' interview with Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun...

"You quickly learn that distractions are not just phone calls and emails and outer phenomena. Our own mind, and our longings, and our cravings, and our fantasies and everything are also major distractions. And, as time goes on, and you're feeding it less because no talking. You begin to sink deeper into the undistracted state. And then you begin to realize that life is always pulling you away from being fully present."

"So it's all about that the end of suffering has to do with how you relate with pain. Let's distinguish just for semantics, the difference between, let's call pain the unavoidable and let's call suffering what could what could lessen and dissolve in our lives. So, if there's sort of a basic phrase you could say that it isn't the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it's how we relate to the things that happen to us that causes us to suffer."

"I mean, not only has something, evoked a response in me but it's going to be difficult for me to let go. Anger is like that for sure. Prejudice is like that. Critical mindedness is like that. You don't want to let go. There's something delicious about finding fault with something. And that can be including finding fault with one's self, you know? So that's what I mean by hooked. You're sort of it because of the image of a fish and the hook and it has this juicy worm on it and you know the consequences aren't going to be good. But you cannot resist. It's addiction. And one of the main things we're addicted to is escalating aggression."

"But, you know, if you're trying to avoid being triggered, I read something recently where someone said that's like becoming a celibate nun like me or monk and then trying to get rid of all the sexually attractive people in the world in order to keep your vows. You know, it just doesn't work. You have to work on your side of it, you know?"

"Everything else seemed to be saying look towards the good. Chant until you're in an ecstatic state. You know, like that the underlying assumption was there was something wrong, and you wanted to avoid this groundless state, or this unformed state, or this state in which you felt uneasy and queasy. And Trungpa Rinpoche is saying not at all. It's like the matrix of creative potential. The matrix of the spiritual life. It's like if we could rest there, which I suppose would be the description of enlightenment or the mystic, you know. Rest in that place, and is completely happy. That's why, you know, they always say, with someone who's very, very awake, just to use a term for enlightenment, you know, the walls could start crumbling in and they wouldn't like freak out or something. Because it would be the whole -- everything in life, anything could happen. And they're kind of ready for anything to happen. Do you see what I'm saying?"

"We still bite the hook, we still get towed under. And we can still, I say clobber people with our peace signs, you know. So, it really doesn't matter what religion we are. We can be a fundamentalist, or a non violent, non aggressive propagator of love in the world, and fellowship of humanity. And you see what I'm saying?"

"Free from fixed mind. Free from closed mind. Free from bigoted mind, or fundamentalist mind. And it all starts with the Shenpa. It all starts with getting hooked, you see what I'm saying. So that's where the work has to get done and no one can be naive and say, "I'm Shenpa free," you know. That might be a description of enlightenment, you know. Or maybe a description of enlightenment is Shenpa's not big problem when it happens. It's just another blurp on the radar screen, you know. But it doesn't set off the chain reaction."

"You can see it in other people. When you're talking to them you can see that they've just been hooked. Their eyes kind of glaze over or whatever. And if it just stayed there it wouldn't be a problem. But then you just think about it, and think about it, and think about it. And it's like a chain reaction. So let's say that the Shenpa, or the charge, or the hook quality is very subtle. And then the charge gets stronger and stronger and stronger. Until you're blind, and you're able to actually harm another human being, or start a hate campaign. So it's a chain reaction. And you can actually, if you come to your senses anywhere in the chain reaction you can interrupt it. But it gets harder and harder 'cause you become more on automatic pilot. And it's like an undertow. It's very seductive."

"A basic Buddhist teaching is that sentient beings, none of them want to suffer. But their way of going about getting happy escalates the suffering. So yelling when you're angry would be an example."

"I'm fascinated by that seductive pull. That urge to keep doing, as the Buddha would say, where your desire for satisfaction and happiness are not in sync with the methods you go about using. And then you could say the consequences, you know, of war and prejudice and so forth, they all come from that moment of the urge to do the same thing you've already done."

(this part is worth watching the interview for, she's so funny)
"I love this word, Dunzi. It means distractions -- distractions that just sort of, you can waste your whole life in Dunzi, you know, just, like, the lifestyle of just sort of flipping through magazines. Or -- I don't know. The thing is, what we find if we're not used to sitting quietly with ourselves and not used to meditation and not used to having any inner solitude in our lives, we find that we're very threatened by nothing happening. And we are addicted to dunzi addicted to distractions. And that's why you get on an airplane, and it's as if, I think they're just, like, terrified, what would happen if the video went off and there was no food, and we all had to sit there for the whole, you know, 1 1/2-hour flight, You know, and not have any entertainment? And, you know, all the books, you forgot your book and everything. It would be kind of interesting to see if people would, like, freak out. Because you look up -- you walk up and down the aisles, you know what everyone would do, they'd close their eyes and go to sleep. They'd just try to not be there. I try to meditate on airplanes. It is not easy, actually, because there is so much, the -- the videos are going like this, change, change, change, and there's all this electrical sound going through, and everyone is working with their little gameboys. And their little things and there's, like, so much happening in that little space, you know? Everyone's sitting in their little seats, and there's just, like, chaos. But it's all in the name of entertainment, you know, distracting you from being in this dreadful experience of being in this airplane for, you know, for however long. This lousy world, this lousy people, this lousy government, this lousy everything. Lousy weather, lousy blah blah blah blah. Pissed off, you know, it's too hot in here, it's too cold, I don't like the smell and, the person is too tall in front, and -- too fat next to me, and they're wearing perfume and I'm allergic, and just -- unnnh! So he says, the analogy is that you're barefooted, it's like being barefooted and walking across blazing-hot sand or across cut glass. Or in a field with thorns. And your feet are bare, and you say, this is just, you know, it's really hurting, it's terrible, it's too sharp, it's too painful, it's too hot. Do I have a great idea! I am just going to cover the whole, everywhere I go, I'm going to cover it with leather. And then it won't hurt my feet anymore. That's like saying, "I'm going to get rid of her and get rid of him and get the temperature right, and I'm going to ban perfume in the world and, you know, there will be no, nothing that bothers me anywhere. There -- I am going to get rid of everything, including mosquitoes, that bothers me, anywhere in the world, and then I will be a very happy, content person." We're laughing, but it's what we all do. That is how we do approach things. We think, if we could just get rid of them or cover it with leather, then our pain would go away. Well, sure, because, you know, then it wouldn't be cutting our feet anymore -- I mean, it's just logical, isn't it? But it doesn't make any sense, really. So he said, "but if you simply wrap the leather around your feet" -- in other words, shoes -- then you could walk across the boiling sand and the cut glass and the thorns, and it wouldn't bother you. So the analogy is, if you work with your mind, instead of trying to change everything on the outside, that's how your temper will cool down."
junoimeldajunoimelda on August 15th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)
You mentioned a week or two back that you had her book and you'd be willing to loan it out. I'd be interested in reading it... probably not for a couple of weeks or so as I'm in the middle of a book and have another one "on deck" to read next. I have some very mixed feelings on Buddhism, both based on my academic understanding of it and my interactions with a couple of Buddhist co-workers. Would like to learn more from someone who seems to have a very practical, "how to make this work in real life" perspective on it.
Kburgunder on August 15th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
I have never been very open to Buddhism for a whole slew of reasons in the past, the greatest to date of which is how I feel like their ultimate goal is to disconnect completely and leave reality. I think maybe one of the things that makes Pema such an interesting read for me is, she's an American, has kids, was a wife who's experienced divorce... I guess, ultimately, she's more relevant to me than a lot of Buddhism has seemed to me in the past.

As for the book - perfect timing. Lauren and Maxx are borrowing it right now, Anthony is next in line if he still wants it when they're done, and then I'll drop you a line when it's available again. (Watch me use this as a perfect excuse to lure you out to chess night at the Canterbury on Mondays ;> )