Tuesday, December 20, 2022

What Are We to Do?

     Yesterday, a long-time meditator friend asked how I was. I answered, "No complaints at all - the timeless aspect is perfect; the temporary part is doing its temporary thing." The answer entirely depends on who answers - the "small self" or the "Self." We all are a mysterious combination of these very different ways of being & experiencing, depending greatly on how, in the moment, narrowly focused we are on ourselves vs how intimately connected we feel with others & the environment. The practice of self-inquiry involves repeatedly checking in by asking ourselves, for example, 'WHO is suffering?'
small self is a way of being & experiencing life with a very narrow, self-centered, short-term-goal-oriented, survivalist perspective. Intermittently, for brief periods of time, this approach is entirely appropriate - WHILE performing a specific task, and WHILE one is in danger. Balanced, short, intermittent action of the small self is referred to as the "quiet ego."
    Most of the time, what's more appropriate is a broad, allocentric (others-centered) & ecocentric (environment-centered), timeless, peaceful, spacious, unconditionally-loving perspective, often referred to as (capital s) Self. This is a dimension within each of us - our true nature - that is deeper or higher than the continuous movement of thinking/self-talk
. The Self is dominant in highly-evolved individuals, often with a long-time meditation, yoga, tai chi / qi gong or prayer practice. Historically, mystics, saints & monastics, but today increasingly ordinary people are awakening to this evolved level of consciousness

lives of dictators, stridently aggressive politicians, CEOs & other cut-throat movers & shakers are dominated by the 'noisy ego' of small self. Sadly, due in large part to the increasingly toxic nature of our culture, many otherwise decent people see only danger & experience nothing more meaningful & profound than the noise of their own self-talk, which too easily drowns-out awareness of the silent, still, peaceful Self.

    "The most important question a human being needs to answer according to Einstein: 'Is the universe a friendly place or not?' ... If we believe that the universe is unfriendly ... peace will be elusive at best." Joan Borysenko. “Fire in the Soul. A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism.” Warner Books, 1993.

    “the world we believe in becomes the world we live in. If I see the world as a hostile place where only winners thrive, I may well become aggressive, selfish, and grandiose to survive in such a milieu. Later in life I will gravitate to competitive environments and endeavors that can only confirm that view and reinforce its validity. Our beliefs are not only self-fulfilling; they are world-building.” Gabor Maté, Daniel Maté. “The Myth of Normal. Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture.” Alfred A. Knopf, 2022. IMPORTANT BOOK!

    “Emptiness is two things at once:
the absence of self
and the presence of the Divine.
Thus as self decreases,
the Divine increases.”     Bernadette Roberts

    "There’s only one happiness and it’s who you are. There’s only one place to find lasting happiness, and that is to know who you are and to be who you are.” Francis Lucille

     So what can we do? Perhaps practice & do our best to continuously embody mindfulness, which Caverly Morgan defines as: “Being here and now with kindness.www.peaceinschools.org


Kindness is the Way ... by Mollycules www.BuddhaDoodles.com


  1. Yes, so much helpful perspective here. While I expect to continue my consciousness in some individual way in a life beyond life, I realize there will be many surprises as well, particularly in regards to the collective consciousness. Preparing for the yet unknown now seems prudent. Meditative prayer that looks forward is an important aspect of that preparation for me.

    The beneficence of the world in the vastness around us is an important grounding belief amongst the others that spring from my Judeo Christian worldview, which of course is augmented by other traditions which share many commonalities. My circle of concern is larger than my circle of influence. Belief and trust in a creating and re-creating One cares for the angst of how much responsibility I should feel in the world with its mix of functionality and the dys. of that. And so, doing what I should, which is related to what I can, it is very possible to experience a good measure of the hope, peace, joy and love associated with the Advent season and its coming culmination.

    1. Somewhere in the above response there should be an acknowledgement of the elephant's focus on Kindness to others, particularly to those who suffer and of course to the world we share with all life.