Meditation (personal view)

I learned TM when I was 12. My parents took me to a center and I was instructed as an adult. My family would meditate together on occasion but both my parents work schedules were erratic and we never established a regular pattern. I meditated on my own irregularly for many years until I became interested in religion. As I said, my father is a Zen Buddhist whereas my mother is a barely spiritual occasional Quaker. We went to unitarian church when we bothered to go at all.

I became interested in religion because I was brought up as an atheist. My mother was more tolerant of theism but my father was not when I was younger (he has softened his views since) so I was not going to tell him I was searching for something he thought was foolish. I began going to different churches – Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Jewish and an occasional Buddhist service. None of them quite appealed to me in a broad way. I became interested in Wicca and started learning about it when I was about 15. I learned many different variations on meditation mostly referred to as “white light” exercises. Astral Projection was the idea that the body has an astral/ethereal/incorporeal presence that can be taken out of the physical. Naturally I was curious abotu that and began practicing it frequently. It was easy. I learned years later that what i was doing was really a sort of mindful TM or perhaps guided TM – acheiving a meditative state with a goal in mind by focusing my attention on my physical body instead of a mantra. I realized I did not need a mantra – quieting my mind is achievable without it. I could in fact use the meditative state of my body in deep relaxation to focus on anything inside of myself that I wanted to. I explored a lot of myself and who I am on different levels of the self. This tied in nicely to my interest in psychology. I followed several less popular psychiatric scholars (Reich, Piaget, Lacan) and discovered many of the theories they had were a good vocabulary to look within myself and catelogue in a sense who I am and who I wanted to be. I wish I could say I was a regular practitioner but I was sporadic as I was working and going to school as well. I also always seemed to have some boyfriend or girlfriend to take care of as well. INteresting that I was so busy focusing inwards that in the outer life I was drifting aimlessly, unconcerned with where my life was actually going. I realized meditation (at least eh sort I was doing or how i was using it) was becoming a way to create an apathy towards being present. A concept I am familiar with from growing up with Zen. Being present was easy to pretend by being removed and aloof -emotionally detached. It was a good way to avoid being dynamic and making real choices. I realized I also resented what Zen represented to me; a way to avoid emotional turmoil by denying its power and potential. I didn’t want to be an emotional robot forever analyzing everything with logic from an apathetic viewpoint. I had no agency in that regard. I wanted the opposite – to know how to experience the present without being ruled by it. I wanted to be able to feel in control of myself while letting go of control of my environment. acceptance, that elusive paragon of Buddhist “enlightenment” was a lot harder than Zen makes it sound! Especially when the Western interpretation is that one becomes “above” suffering of life by gliding over it rather than mastering one’s reaction to it. Rather than choosing my own state of mind, I was removing my mind from all states. Which was also why I managed to pick up a lot of wounded birds along the way and not know what to do with them.

One of my best friends is a Buddhist priest and he used to call me “Kuanyin” because I worried so much over my own emotional connection to the world that I jeopardized my connection to my own spirit. It isn’t hard to let others crowd out your own self-regard. But what he didn’t understand is that I reject Buddhism’s hyper-focus on lack of suffering. It too often translates into a rejection of emotional power. Buddhism is based on an idealized state – enlightenment but the picture of enlightenment in the West is one of detachment, rather than non-attachment. There is a crucial difference. And Buddhist practice is based on an idealized life that does not exist in the West or most industrialized nations. One does not live like a monk;full of simplicity and self-denial. Self-denial is easy when life only offers you little choices. Sandals or shoes? Robe or wrap? Pffft. Small inconsequential choices that allow a person to believe their state of mind is a clean slate when in fact is it simply in a clean environment. Throw a mirror into a crystal clear lake and your reflection is beautified. Throw a mirror into muddy waters and you’ll see nothing but filth. I cannot possibly expect to achieve the state of mind a monk has while living as a “regular” American. (and believe me, my life has hardly been “regular”) In order to attain some sort of peace within I need to accept and embrace the complicated chaotic state I am surrounded by first.

That is why TM eventually became a failed endeavor: it comes from a state of being that I do not have and do not want. I like running water, indoor toilets, sanitary conditions, transportation, easy access to information, devices that allow me to keep ties to people I love but cannot be near. I want to keep my “modern” life. It does not have to be ostentatious but I do not believe that I must throw away where I am in order to be in touch with who I am. Surely any method of self-actualization can encompass a variety of environmental differences? I don’t think TM does. Yoga does – it does not matter who you are or where you come from when you do yoga. I never was brave enough to try yoga but I have thought about it a lot lately.

On the practical side, TM involves sitting – which is uncomfortable and eventually painful for me. It also involves quietude which I have in rare precious quantities. Most of all, it involves focusing on nothing and becoming “empty”. The Tao has taught me the importance of real emptiness, I do not need meditation for that as a goal. I have different goals that I think go beyond TM – I don’t want to just relax and feel refreshed, I want to be able to actuate my inner knowledge and explore my true self. That is my connection to Godhead, of course, in whatever incarnation she may be. TM failed me there: it was a method to be calm and stop being two eyes peering out from my face but it went no further. If all I need is to relax, I can read a book or listen to music. or sing. Or dance. Or watch my daughter draw. or just be in the presence of someone who is dear to me. Those activities give me relaxation and a sense of connection to godhead because I am connected to someone else. TM just cuts me off from everyone and everything. It makes me feel void, not empty. I become a shell, not a vessel. 

After everything, I truly believe that emotional detachment is the wrong way. Of course being mired and controlled by your emotions is not good – it blinds you to the possibilities of change and you lose agency. But denial of emotions is wrong as well – it forces an artificial state and an unreal expectation. It also leaves you open to exploitation which I have learned enough of to know I want no more of ever. Emotions are powerful when they are examined and used as lessons – sometimes rewarding, sometimes punishing, but always emotions teach us something even if its just “pay attention!” I have acquired amazing energy and resolve through self-examination and realistic goals for my growth. Emotional guidance is something I think never stops teaching. 

and to be honest,what little I have learned from a small study of  Tantra has been far more helpful and introspective than anything I learned in TM or Zen meditation. TM has come to seem like a beginning to me in retrospect. I’ve only been able to understand and practice some Tantra but hopefully with the right circumstances I may be able to get back to it some day. 

From what I read on the Art of Living site, it seems that Sangha is hardly any different than TM or Chopra’s Bliss. Not that that is bad or wrong…

Different meditation styles for different stops along a path. Mine left mantra-laden TM  a while back. I need more than just mindfulness and relaxation. I aim to maintain my connection to godhead. Dharma is important but I want to get away from believing dharma alone will substitute for inner mindfulness. No matter how many rituals I perform or gurus I listen to, it all amounts to nothing if the lesson does not ring my bell inside.

Workers don’t want to come back? It’s not because of unemployment

I agree that people, by and large, need to stop worshipping at the altar of “work”. Martyring yourself for your job is not a good thing. We shouldn’t be admiring people who ruin their social /family life in favor of working all the time. That’s not a healthy or good thing; not for the person nor for the economy. Yes, there’s been countless studies on how important a balanced life is for workers in our economy. Any company who tries to short-circuit that truth is not just greedy, they’re short-term greedy. But that’s another rant. The thing is, your life shouldn’t be defined by your job or how hard you work or how much you sacrificed for your freakin job. There’s something to be said for being in a place where you can do what is your passion, your calling, your love…


On the other hand, not everyone *has* a passion/calling/love. Not everyone is endowed with the brains and fortitude to just forego working in order to survive. The flip side to that is that we still need basic workers in our world – it doesn’t matter whether it’s a capitalist economy or socialist economy or anything in between; we’ll always need someone to set the table, sweep the floor and dig the garden. And there’s always going to be people who are only really equipped to do those things. We used to call that “menial labor” but that became a bad thing? Like there’s something to be ashamed of just doing a basic job and then getting paid and going home? In fact, in some ways, it’s far better than any “higher profession” – people who do menial labor can finish their job and go home and not worry one iota about the business once they leave. They can still do their job with a sense of pride and there’s no reason they can’t be praised for doing a good job, whatever it is. Menial labor can be fulfilling and satisfying. And there’s nothing wrong with that.


And there’s people who went up the academic “ladder” and found it to be the most exciting, fun and fulfilling thing they ever did. They want nothing more than to sit in their lab/office/podium/desktop forever working on that amazing discovery or breakthrough. And there’s people who learned a trade that has limitations of quality and promotion and they’re perfectly happy to do that to the best of their ability.


It all can fit into our society. None of it has to be thought of as bad or lesser.
What matters is the ability to CHOOSE what you’re going to do and even change later if you want to. Choice is what matters to everyone. In our mixed-mostly-capitalist society here in America, choice is what’s curtailed and punished the most.
That’s what’s really wrong.


So what we’ve got to teach our corporate overlords right now, is that we have realized that even though many of us “need” to work (survival) none of “need” the punishing jobs that corporate-orama are trying to force us into. I see this lesson starting to be taught by the “menial laborers” and I’m hoping it doesn’t fizzle out, I hope it doesn’t die down. Because middle management, corporate overlords and CEOS – they may run things, but they don’t make the company RUN. If your drones don’t show up, you can’t do the business part that actually makes the money. You’re left with just people who push the paper and count the beans. Not to say there’s anything wrong with pushing paper and counting beans – those workers should be treated well too! – but those people aren’t the ones who make the donuts every day.
If you take away the choices, punish those who try to balance their lives and then shove the workers into barely-survivable boxes, there’s nothing left to be proud of. There’s nothing left to desire. It’s all just drudgery and sadness.
Well we just spent a year getting our priorities in order and we are starting to realize that there are other ways to survive. Maybe, we can make it without you, corporate-orama. Maybe we can hold our longer than you can. You think gig economy is a flash in the pan? It’s gone to street-level now. Gig economy is now normalized.
It’s not that government paying us means we’re lazy. We had enough time to take stock of our lives, grieve our losses and ask ourselves some hard questions about the quality of life. And our answers don’t really include being afraid of you anymore. When our priorities changed. our perspectives changed.

Maybe you better start getting YOUR priorities in order, corporate-orama.

The sound of seven shots – defund the police

I don’t talk about politics much on this page because I talk on my facebook page. I don’t get much feedback because I don’t have much readership here. But every now and then I post something here and cross-post on my social media because this is a better presentation.

I’m not going to bother talking about how I’ve been following the BLM movement and all the events leading up to it. Whoever you are, reading this, have likely made up your mind about BLM and you aren’t going to change. BLM has been challenging a system of inequity and inequality for some time now. They have been ignored, swept aside and ridiculed for as long as they’ve been in public. I believe there are people who have been sitting on the sidelines and carefully avoiding making any choices about this situation in our nation. People who have too many associations with BLM that incline them away from empathizing with their message. But forget about BLM for a minute. BLM has been joined by so many people that no one can ignore it anymore. No one can really sit on the sidelines of opinion anymore. Because it’s gone beyond BLM.

What’s happening now is the next step: The system is trying to defend itself against the challenge.

Do I really believe that more people have come to care about BLM? No. I wish it were so because I believe in their message too, but the reality is that as BLM has protested, marched, spoke up and gone viral, people have realized that the system is rotten for everyone. And people have joined, slowly, over time, to join the protests because they can see that even just challenging the rotten core of the system results in havoc and death for everyone. Maybe people have woken up and realized that the system may be coming for them, maybe people have finally had a closer degree of separation from the people who are being gunned down. Maybe people saw one too many videos. Maybe people just heard one too many shots.

And the word needs to spread.

This is tragic. This is beyond tragic. This is alarms and sirens for our nation. This is past “warning shots”.

What has been happening for years and years is now to the point where people are done being “nice” about it and are now protesting in the streets in whatever manner will get the attention and keep the focus. Things have progressed to the point where even the protests have stopped being “nice” and people are starting to legitimately riot – burning buildings, trashing edifices, smashing businesses, even occasionally threatening other people.

I’m not going to tell you that’s all wrong. I’m not going to start pretending that cherry-picked quotes from MLK are applicable here. I’m not going to caution people to “go high” and “be the better person” or anything like that.

Because I can’t care about that anymore. We are way beyond that. There have been too many shots fired.

Don’t you see? It’s so horrific…. we can’t take it anymore. I read about Jacob Blake in Kenosha and my heart just shredded into pieces. I’ve been upset and angry and cried and argued and pleaded and screamed and I’m just so fucking exhausted now. And at this point, is it only Black people who are being gunned down by the police? No. But they are still the main targets. They are our martyrs and examples. They are the crucified, held up to warn the rest of us what will happen if we keep shouting against this nightmare. The police are still firing “warning shots” at us all. And those shots are still killing people. The sound of shots is supposed to scare us, keep us in check, make us cower and bow down to the people with uniforms and weapons. But it doesn’t matter if we do those things… they are still shredding our hearts with the sound of more shots. How many shots can you listen to before you break down and stop letting this happen? How many deaths can you stand?

What happened to this man, and all the people gunned down by police, is just beyond heinous; it’s offensive to everything we associate with being an American. Our justice system is a system that trumpets how “fair” it is supposed to be. How we give accused people the presumption of innocence and force the prosecution to prove guilt – we do not make the defense prove innocence. This is our system and we have reason to be immensely proud of it; in theory. Because this system is not being offered to anyone who isn’t White and Able, and Hetero and living their assigned gender from birth and walking around with citizenship papers. It’s not. And what’s almost as bad is that now, that same system is trying to raise its powerful fist to crush anyone who speaks out about it. And that goes against everything we SAY we believe as Americans. We have freedom to protest. We have not just a right, but an obligation to make our government – national or local – to listen to our grievances and address them. This is one of our many rights too. We have rights that other nations dream of, yet here we are, letting the authorities pay lip service to those rights and get away with murder. We raise up the words of our founding fathers (knowing many were slave-owners and rapists) because the ideals they touted, the fine words they uttered were the goals of our nation. Even though our founding fathers couldn’t *follow* those words, they still wanted to believe in them; they wanted to build a nation that followed those ideals.

And here we are.

All those people who are protesting, you look at them and what do you see? You see reprehensible folks who aren’t bowing down to the system? The system that perhaps protects YOU just fine?

I see people who have gone from sad and grieving to angry to rageful to outraged to despondent and so many other emotions… this is our country, our culture and we look around and see a system that is trying to break us, enslave us, censor us and if we don’t comply, they kill us. All the laws in the world won’t save us if the system behind those laws puts its boots on our necks and begins to press down. All the speeches in the world won’t help us when the sound of shots ring out again.

So when I look at those crowds, I don’t just see my fellow activists, fighting the good fight to get something changed, I see people who have cried, like I did, when they read just one more damned story about someone getting killed by the police. I see people who thought about their friends, their family, their online pals, people they care about and maybe even people they don’t know – getting caught under the boot of this system and having their lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye… in the sound of seven shots.

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/08/24/us/kenosha-police-shooting-jacob-blake

More Musings on OkCupid

So here’s a hot take on my process of weeding through OkCupid profiles:

Well you’ve got a stupid picture, goodbye.

Sportsfan huh? I suppose I could… whoa REALLY big sportsfan. Goodbye.

You pose with an animal you killed? While it’s still BLEEDING? Goodbye.

You sure like posing with hot chicks. Goodbye.

You just HAD to talk about your sexual proclivities in the first paragraph huh? Goodbye.

Another couple. Goodbye.

You’re a really hot chick, why are you on here? Not gonna pass but not gonna like… maybe there’s something in your profile… oh, no, there’s nothing. ‘Bot check, goodbye.

Well aren’t you bitter? Goodbye.

You want a “partner in crime”, a “special lady”, a “gorgeous creature”, a “queen” et cet Goodbye.

Another couple. Geeziz

Wow, you seem perfect! Oh, you’re 25. Dangit.

6’6??!? *sigh*

Only want hook-ups? Goodbye.

Already married? Goodbye.

One word answers to all the questions. Goodbye.

NO answers to any questions? Goodbye,

ANOTHER Couple. Omg

Wow you really look like shit in that photo. You couldn’t at least comb your damned hair? Goodbye.

“Country boy” Huh? No thanks.

All your photos are of work. *yawn*

Wow, you travel a lot. How could I ever keep up? Goodbye.

You clearly want a hottie. Goodbye.

ANOTHER COUPLE. FFS

ANOTHER MARRIED MAN. Oh he wants something “discreet” you know there’s sites specifically for that dumbass

You really love your dog…. a little too much.

If God comes first in your life… goodbye.

I really don’t need to see photos of your damned dog.

Another married man. Oh and he’s very up-front about wanting me to be a side-piece. Goodbye.

Wow, you’re exactly what I’m looking for and it looks like i’m exactly what you’re looking for – you’re 6’3 GODDAMMIT

Well you seem cool – YOU’RE 23?! GODDAMMIT

ANOTHER COUPLE

Oh you are so clever making sure your face doesn’t appear since you’re looking for “discreet fun” – fucking dumbass.

Oh I like you. I’ll send you a message based on what your profile says. I’m sure I’ll never hear back but let’s try.

Oh I’m so glad you mention 420. Several times. “nudge nudge wink wink”v Goodbye.

Ahh the inevitable edgey asshole. Glad you outed yourself early on in the profile so I don’t waste my time reading the rest of it. Goodbye.

“Fluent in sarcasm” – yeah I get it, har har. Goodbye.

You only read instruction manuals???

Another couple. But they want someone “clean”

Your favorite movie is Weekend at Bernies? Really!?

Married man alert!

Spellcheck exists for a reason, dumbass. (yes this is still a problem)

Butch Lesbian who is looking for a sub. *sigh*

Gorgeous lesbian who refuses to talk to bisexuals. *sigh*

Transwoman who is older than me *sigh*

Married man who links me to his wife’s profile. Oh yay.

Cute profile that is silly and inventive. Me likey. Never hear back after three exchanges but hope springs eternal.

which kind are you?

two groups of people…

Group one is 50% homicidal maniacs who can’t wait to get their hands on some knives so they can go on killing sprees. The other 50% are kinda-sorta holding them back but mostly just doesn’t care if they go on a killing spree so long as the maniacs leave all the goodies behind for them to eat.

Group two is a wide-range of weirdos who have a hard time getting along but mostly just want to split up everything fairly. They argue A LOT. There’s probably a homicidal maniac or two mixed in there but it’s hard to tell because everyone’s always arguing. Most of the time, though, when a maniac shows up, the rest of the group gets rid of them. In fact group two is pretty harsh on themselves whenever someone shows up who isn’t “acceptable” they have a tendency to oust them quickly.

Are these two groups the same? comparable? Which group would you rather be in? The take-your-chances-with-murder-for-big-reward group? or the never-find-peace-but-live-fairly group?

Carrot Sticks – a side view

https://thethinkingorc.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/carrot-sticks/

 

 

 

This, and the resulting very civil comments, is absolutely worth reading. is not that long. he’s talking about the mindset of the angry, rights-busting conservatives from an anthropological prism and I think he’s totally right.

I would add that for some of these people, the consternation is twisted higher from the source: some people are upset at the government’s complicity in over-throwing the moral feudalism they grew up with and it makes them believe in conspiracy theories. but some are aghast that their own children have rebelled against the very system which afforded them the “rightful” privileges the parents expected gratitude for bestowing.

I watched this shift as an outsider my whole life. I like the fact that the newest generation takes most of our “non-conformity” as their baseline; their “normal”

I remember reading a book from the 50s, in it, one of the characters remarks in how it’s too bad the children have to shun a particular little child because their parents got divorced. I had to ask my parents what the hell this meant: why would kids shun another kid whose parents were divorced? they struggled to give me an answer that made sense but I could see the situation did not surprise them.

I also would expound upon this aspect:
“It used to be about not doing anything weird, and looking down on anybody who did.
Now it’s about not doing anything cruel, and looking down on anyone who does.
There used to be people it was not only OK to be cruel about, but REWARDED to be cruel about.”
The first shift happened (I think) when people were forced to share space with others who had genetic differences – skin color, hair structure, body ability – and realized that they could detect a similar humanity with those “other” and therefore changed the rules to “we extend non-cruelty to those who may APPEAR different but are actually accepted as fellow humans” and the definition changed to “if they can’t help it, you can pity them instead of being cruel” Which essentially was the moral model of disability (and here “disability” includes anyone who cannot conform due to genetic differences)to the pity model. People used to think it was morally superior to feel sorry for POC. That was considered “enlightened”

this is why it became important to change the rallying cry of human rights past “we can’t help it so stop being mean to us” because it exonerates the perpetrator from continuing to exclude “the other” so long as they are no longer actively harming them. Passive harm through inaction, refusal to help and systemic harm was acceptable because of the pity model “too bad, that’s just how things are. Just adjust” (and be happy we aren’t outright killing you anymore”)

At this point, we are still stuck in different zones between “it doesn’t matter whether I choose to identify as this person type, I have the right to exist and move through society just like anyone else” and “look, just stop killing us” when it comes to oppression in our developed country of America. We recognize that “choice” and “genetic difference” make no difference in how cruelty is applied – it’s against our beliefs of opportunity and freedom to continue to allow society to structure itself around the notion of “those of us who are good” versus “those of us who are abnormal”

One of the things those people cannot see is that (at least from a purely pragmatic POV) eliminating “good versus different” model actually results in a larger, stronger social fabric. They cannot see this because they were indoctrinated with the notion that the strength of our society relies upon purity.

Exposure and tolerance are self-perpetuating feed-cycle: the more time spent around “the other” without harm, the more tolerance builds. It is as simple as that. But growing up without the mindset of “you are a good citizen when you act like us” gives new generations a jump-start into that cycle. Even as far back as the 90s, children were being raised into and around families that fought hard for respect and recognition and saw the pointlessness of cruelty as a social fabric. So I do believe this is a construct that is crumbling.

 

It seems glacially slow, but it is happening with lightning speed to those of us who remember the earlier days.