Sunday, March 15, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lent week 2 : Attachments.. Buddhism and Merton at war with my mind PART I

This week I have been quite frustrated. I'm not going to lie.. EXTREMELY frustrated. And in thinking about why I am frustrated, how unproductive it is, and how I can remedy this feeling of total annoyance, it brought to mind the concept of attachment. In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths discuss such attachment.

1. The Nature of Suffering (Dukkha):

"This is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."

2. Suffering's Origin (Samudaya):

"This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."

3. Suffering's Cessation (Nirodha):

"This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."

4. The Way (Mārga) Leading to the Cessation of Suffering:

"This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

After meditating on these concepts, it's clear that my frustration is due to attachments. But it's something I already knew. I mean, DUH. Of course I am attached to things, and yes, DUH these attachments are BOUND to frustrate me at some point.. so the question is how am I going to eliminate these frustrations AND attachments?

First let's start with what I'm frustrated with and attached to....
Those who know me well, know that I am ridiculously self-competitive. Everyone always tells me: "Lis, you're too hard on yourself." Very True. I probably am. However, I know my potential, and I get VERY mad at myself when I fail to reach that benchmark.

I KNOW I can do it. It should be easy for me to do it, and yet I fail? Geezus, Leelee shame on you!

I also have very same high bars set for the people I know around me. And when they don't meet what I feel is easy, minor, or common sense, I get frustrated with them. This is where I start to sin. Where is my compassion, patience, and understanding? Oh yes, forgot to tell you, I lack those as well..

I could give you many examples about how friends of mine, or family members drive me absolutely nuts because how can they not clearly see the path they are supposed to take?! How come I could do it, and they can't??!! Can you see the problem.... it's very obvious.
I am trying to project my ideas of what the right path is for someone else!! HOW VAIN and arrogant is that?!!

Merton knows what I mean:

"To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell. Selfishnessis doomed to frustration, centered as it is upon a lie. To live exclusivelyfor myself, I must make all things bend themselves to my willas if I were a god. But this is impossible. Is there any more cogentindication of my creaturehood than the insufficiency of my own will?For I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other peopleconform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my ownbody obey me. When I give it pleasure, it deceives my expectation andmakes me suffer pain. When I give myself what I conceive to be freedom,I deceive myself and find that I am the prisoner of my own blindnessand selfishness and insufficiency." from "No Man is an Island"

My way is not THE way.. everyone is at their own level, with their own goals, potentials, and benchmarks. They carve their own paths in their own ways. Just because I think they should take a left turn, rather than a right, doesn't mean they should or they will.
By trying to force my own opinions on them, I am actually causing another sin for myself by trying to take away their Free Will. I'm not God.. for even God gave us the right to choose our paths.

No wonder I am frustrated! But what does this mean?

Attachment #1:
This means that clearly I am a control freak. I am attached to my control over others. This is the first thing I need to let go. With that, hopefully the first two steps of the Middle Way will come into play:

1. Right View

Right view is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realise the Four Noble Truth. As such, right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right view yields right thoughts and right actions.

2. Right Intention

While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.

Thomas Merton phrases this rather nicely:

"...In religious terms, this is simply a matter of accepting life, and
everything in life as a gift, and clinging to none of it, as far as you are
able. You give some of it to others, if you can. Yet one should be able to
share things with others without bothering too much about how they
like it, either, or how they accept it. Assume they will accept it, if they
need it. And if they don't need it, why should they accept it? That is
their business. Let me accept what is mine and give them all their share,
and go my way." ~Thomas Merton

Omnes in Christo unum!!

Self-annihilate the ego, attachments, and the will (in this case PATH) that we feel we make for ourselves, and find not emptiness, but your complete self, unified....

Certainly a point to ponder for today.

Floor's open to comments!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lent Day 5

Extremely well said comment,Earl. Christ's Sacrifice is truly the cornerstone of Christianity...but I'm not talking about Christianity in general. Bring it even more specific. What sets Catholics as Catholics specifically within Cristianity? Here's my thought - The Eucharist. To me, that's why I go to a Catholic Church. Something so intimate as being present for the Transubstantiation, and taking the Eucharist...

The Handsome one has been asking me questions about Lent, and why we don't eat meat on Fridays, things like that. I try to explain it to him, but it leaves me as such.. when I explain the reason, as I'm saying it, I'm thinking wait a minute, this must sound so silly to him.. wait.. does this soud still y to me? Or even worse, I don't know the true reason behind it... so it looks like I don't know my own faith and I am a true Cradle Catholic..

Ok people, how do I deal with this one? Floor's open..