Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mood, Self-concepts & Time

"Sometimes I go about with pity for myself
and all the while Great Winds
are carrying me across the sky."

Ojibeway Saying

     Regardless of our situation, be it objectively pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, we can embody EITHER 
         • a pleasant, natural, peaceful, authentic, nurturing mood, intimate with whatever is in the present moment OR 
         • dysphoria, in an adversarial or defensive mood (filled with fear, anger, impatience, distractedness, bitterness, cynicism, etc), escaping from the present moment, to the past & future.
     Such dysphoria is caused primarily by our attempts to create & maintain a solid, permanent "self", despite our deep understanding that the "self" is just an ephemeral concept. 
     'Excessive self-concern' or 'noisy ego' is closely tied to another human idea: time. (For a detailed examination, see: David R. Loy. “Lack & Transcendence. The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism.” Wisdom Publications, 2018) 'Time-poverty' is a major stressor these days. Paradoxically, the more anxious we are about not having enough time, the more time we squander by dwelling in the past & future.

     We all know what it's like to have an intimate relationship with people, pets, hobbies, projects, etc. Intimacy means being completely open to & engaged with whomever or whatever we're with. We also know the effect that intimacy has on time - instead of 'time-poverty,' we experience timelessness, 'the eternal now.'
     Being in an adversarial relationship with anyone or anything (eg our job, car, computer etc) clearly feels unpleasant, stressful, unhealthy, unnatural - a situation most of us would like to correct as quickly as possible.

     Being intimate with literally everyone & everything - 'life's 10,000 joys & 10,000 sorrows,' 'the good, the bad & the ugly' - is ideal from a Buddhist perspective, and shared by mystics & saints of all the world's wisdom traditions. Avoiding difficulties is an important primitive biological reflex but is inconsistent with human maturation & wisdom. Acceptance, including self-acceptance, self-compassion & 'leaning in' with kind curiosity to deeply examine & understand all that we once feared, are essential to growing up. (See: Kristin Neff. “Self-Compassion. The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.” HarperCollins, 2011) Intimacy feels 'like home,' authentic, natural, healthy, right.

     "I was born
      when all I once feared
      I could love.”                  Rabia Basri 

     “The whole idea of compassion is based on the keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings which are all part of one another and all involved in one another… 
     The whole purpose of life is to live by love.”            Thomas Merton


No comments:

Post a Comment