12/26/17 Analytical Meditation on Guru Devotion
This journal entry Is a bit different than the others. I thought maybe one day it would help someone if they could peer into my mind while I am analyzing my lessons. My journal entries so far have been mostly conclusions and writing down my thoughts and experiences. I have been using the journal to reveal myself after the analytical meditations. In this journal entry, I am writing down my thoughts while I am analyzing the lesson and myself. I went through it afterwards to clean it up just to be readable, but I haven’t removed anything. I have given titles to different chunks of my thought process in hopes that it would clarify the transitions in my mind.
It also would be useful if someone pointed out if I am doing analytical meditation wrong as I have never really received any instructions. All I have been told is that you analyze until you get an insight and then rest on that insight as long as possible. I didn’t talk about the insights while writing this, so I guess I will have to do another journal entry like this again including pauses so people know what was insights. I can’t remember where the insights were now so I can’t edit them in.
I feel so discontent. Why am I avoiding Dharma practice? Maybe, this is a consequence of pushing myself too hard. Maybe, this is a consequence of not having a good refuge practice. Maybe, I do not have a good enough routine. My entire life has been chaos which leads me to believe that I cannot have a routine. That as soon as a routine is established my life will change again. I have desire to sit down and plot out a plan. I like to take refuge in plans. I like to believe that if I can just plan everything out perfectly then everything will just fall into place, but in the past month I have become more wise to my bullshit. I use planning to avoid the pain inside. To avoid having to admit the reason I have been avoiding practice is not due to my outside conditions, but due to my inner conditions. Admitting I am the only one to blame for not practicing causes me to feel shame. I know that if I feel depression it means I have gone too far and am now beating myself up. This will bring no benefit to anyone.
I find the journal I once feared writing I have been craving to dive into in hopes of sorting out my thoughts once again. I was surprised at the response I received from people who read my blog. I was surprised people read it at all. I thought my closest family would read one page. I amused myself by thinking the entry I believe titled “I Am Going to Hell” would be enough to make my family and friends lose interest in this blog all together; then I would be free. The reaction from people really surprised me. A couple of people said they liked the honesty and that it was well written. Well written? I can’t even comprehend what that means. Being able to write well does not match my image of self. It is funny how a compliment can make me feel so uncomfortable. I feel myself grasping to it wanting to hang onto the reputation, but I don’t even know what they are referring to. I can drive myself mad trying to figure out which qualities of my writing is good and which are bad or I can just write this journal and feel the ease of no worries. I seem to fluctuate between the two.
I think I wrote the last paragraph to distract me from revealing the sensitive underbelly of why I have been avoiding spiritual practice. Ironically, I am using the journal itself to avoid formal spiritual practice. So, I am both avoiding spiritual practice and the reason why I am avoiding spiritual practice.
Personal Self-Reveal 1
I am approaching my inner self with a kind of gentleness; thinking to myself, for a moment, I will not judge any thought that comes up, but listen to it and try to understand… I believe the reason why I am avoiding spiritual practice is because I realize that I am not good at it. I am not a natural at spiritual practice. This is so hard to admit because this is my identity. I have always put my career and worldly pursuits on the back burner for my spiritual practice, and now I am learning that my spiritual practice up until now has been nothing more than a worldly pursuit. This is a huge blow to my ego. “I” is a sham. I thought before I came here that I was such hot shit and it has been very humbling to be reminded over and over that I am just a beginner. On one hand, it gives me such peace of mind to not need to protect this perception of self anymore. I no-longer need to look holy because worldly people aren’t holy people and I am a worldly person. I just wish to be holy one day. On the other hand, I think to myself that I have been pursuing a spiritual path in a worldly fashion for 12 years! This heart breaking.
I have been practicing and thinking about these spiritual concepts since I was 14 years old and I have wasted every year of it. The first five years I wasted pursuing spiritual materialism in the form of sorcery. I thought that expanding the mind and challenging everyone’s perception of reality was spirituality.
The next two years was about admitting my family was not the cause of my problems. I came to the conclusion that they were the source of my problems in my childhood, and now that I was an adult, I had to admit that my problems were now my problem. Having moved out of my family homes, my family wasn’t around when I was experiencing suffering; therefore, they couldn’t have been causing my current suffering. Now, I realize everything that happened to me as a child was due to my karma and that my family was merely a part in the dependent arising. For those two years, I went through cognitive therapy with Lynn Rountree in Redding every week for 6 months until my panic attacks went away. Grandpa Tom and Laurie had been kind enough to pay for those visits, or as I like to call it, the beginning of the rest of my life; as in, everything sucked until this period of my life and now finally I have a chance of finding happiness. I had been in therapy since I was small, but it only began to transform me when I realized my problems were my fault and that I needed to change; before this, seeing the therapist was something I used to feel good about myself.
The next five years was after I had found Buddhism. How amazing that I found Buddhism, but not knowledge on the 8 worldly concerns. Up until now and still today, my “spiritual practice” has been motivated by these, so I haven’t really practiced Dharma at all.
Personal Self-Reveal 2
I feel this discontented feeling inside of me. Similar to anxiety, but somehow different. Like an inner voice taring itself out of my chest. It says, “please practice Dharma…please free yourself from hell.” It’s true isn’t it. I worry so much about going to hell, but that thought ignores that I am in hell right now—never content, always wanting. I don’t want to want anymore. I have had no responsibility. I can do whatever practice or no practice that I want. No one is monitoring or watching me. There is no Dharma policeman waiting for me to screw up, and yet, I can’t just be happy and in the moment. I have no where to be, nothing to think about, no expectations to fulfill, plenty of pleasant things in my life, and yet, I can’t be content and happy. I always feel a little anxious. I’m always worried others will judge me because I am always judging myself. I never get to blame the external world for my problems again.
Remembering the Lessons Associated to Topic 1
Lama Zopa Rinpoche said that the real guru devotion is Buddha nature. That within every sentient being; behind all of the cloudy and muddy thoughts, they already are Buddha. We already are perfect. This sounds incomprehensible. I am perfect. I can’t even think that phrase without immediately rejecting it. The reason why I never want to do any formal practice is because then I come face-to-face with all of the delusions that I have. More specifically, how many I have. I can’t be free of a delusional thought for 10 seconds. So … many … negative karmic imprints. They are unpleasant by nature. It is painful to experience grasping even to something you already have and have no immediate fear of losing. It is just painful to grasp at all. I find myself currently grasping to the food on my teeth. I want the food to go away because I think the sensation in unpleasant, but I have already brushed my teeth. I judge myself to the point that I will not allow myself to brush my teeth because that is just worldly concern for comfort; well, not brushing my teeth out of self-judgment is the worldly concern for reputation or pride. By constantly confusing my delusions, craving, and grasping as me, I always judge myself as bad because those things are bad. It is hard to not see them as me, since others will say it is me. That is how doing everything out of self-judgment becomes the worldly concern for reputation.
Applying Lesson to Self 1
Lama Zopa Rinpoche said that Buddha nature is our guru, and that, you always see the guru as having good qualities and not the bad. I can’t even process how to think this way. I immediately think, “then how will I improve?” but then I think, “when has beating myself with a stick ever lead to a lasting change in self?” Ah, but that’s right, that changing phenomena, those negative qualities I wish to change are not me. There is no change in self because that is not “self.” That is not my holy guru Buddha nature. I’m not even sure how to think about myself as holy because I judge everyone else the way I judge myself. I am ashamed to admit I even judge Lama Zopa Rinpoche the way I judge myself.
For some reason, I have great desire to avoid this topic of seeing myself as perfect. I know this is the case, because I find myself desiring to give up this journaling session, eat some candy, and watch TV. That is crazy isn’t it? It seems like always seeing yourself as good would be so pleasant, and then I imagine it would spill over to see everyone else that way too. Mastering this would be like living in a pure land without ever leaving earth. I decided to dedicate at least the next two weeks to seeing myself as guru, but my immediate reaction was that is wouldn’t really be spiritual practice or too easy of a practice. Now, seeing how uncomfortable and tense I am just approaching the topic, I realize this may be the hardest practice I have taken on yet, and years ago, I used to be suicidal.
Personal Self-Reveal 3
Why do I not feel comfortable seeing myself this way? … Because, I am afraid it is not true. I see now how much I wish it to be true. I desire to know that there is this perfect self within me, but I am so afraid of being wrong. What happens if I am wrong? … I will be a fool, I will have wasted time, and helped no-one.
How ironic then. In order for me to rely on the inner guru, I must rely on the words of the outer guru. It shouldn’t be blind faith though. I have evidence this is true. I have accidentally stumbled upon the clear nature of mind during concentration meditation. I didn’t know what it was, but it was incredibly peaceful and I thought I could stay like that for a long time. I just treated the thoughts in mind like clouds drifting through during the meditation in hopes that that would be an easy way to let go of them and next thing I know this clear mind appeared. It was similar to the sun’s light rays(if our sun was clear) appearing through the clouds in the sky as the clouds begin to part. I came to the conclusion that this was the true nature of the mind. Yet, where is my faith now?
Maybe, what I really fear is losing this concept of self—my ego. Maybe, the fear that Buddha nature is not real is just a distraction I have created to avoid losing my sense of “me.” I don’t think taking refuge in Buddha nature is the same as realizing emptiness, but perhaps I have grasped too hard at the idea of treating myself as guru. Even there, I used the word myself instead of the words Buddha Nature. Perhaps then, there is some desire that taking refuge in Buddha Nature will eliminate the parts of myself that I have labeled bad. Wow, turns out even my desire to desire to practice Dharma purely comes from the motivation for reputation, because I am still trying to rid myself of “bad” and be “good.” That might be why I never make much progress.
Am I supposed to see Buddha nature as self? Seeing Buddha nature as self, would imply rejecting the other parts of self and this would cause great fear of losing my current notion of self. I am not sure I can sustain this. Reflecting on emptiness is good, but I’m not sure I can take refuge in it currently. I think I would run away if I tried. I find myself desiring to get to this point one day, but I need a solution for today. I need an internal foundation for my current practice. Maybe, this means I cannot practice guru devotion fully at the moment, but that I’ll need to work my way up to it. Perhaps, I should come up with a easier practice for the moment, or maybe, I am completely delusional to think that. Maybe, the key is to find that clear light of mind every time I experience difficulties that requires me to take refuge. This is a bit unrealistic to do when you can’t go ten seconds without a disturbing thought. Maybe, refuge isn’t the meditation itself, but the faith and understanding that I am already Buddha and that disturbing thoughts aren’t me. Maybe, I’m not supposed to take refuge when I experience disturbing thoughts, but when I want to run from or give in to them. Otherwise, just let them pass on through because they are not me.
I just had what I judged immediately as an egotistical thought, but then remembered I am not judging in this internal discussion. The thought was to keep a relative sense of self that will admittedly not be inherently correct, but will make it easier for someone as undeveloped as me to practice. The part I judged as arrogant was the thought that I could judge qualities like funny as me, but qualities like selfish as not me. I’m not sure this sounds right, but maybe I could break it down a bit farther. Qualities like enjoys making people laugh and enjoys laughing can be my relative me, but desires like stealing someone’s cookie as not really me. Maybe, the way you always judge yourself as good and not bad is to see the pure nature behind your actions. I have done this before. Once, when I desired comfort, I realized that I wanted to feel loved and then I realized I wanted to feel love. Love comes from Buddha nature, so the result is refuge in Buddha nature.
Remembering the Lessons Associated to Topic 2
I just remembered Lama Zopa Rinpoche clarified what he meant as always judging as good. He said our compassion, love, kindness, and wisdom. I don’t remember exactly, but at the very least they were traits similar to these.
Applying Lesson to Self 2
I remember Karuna Cayton transforming some of the ways I saw myself to make me realize I was more compassionate than I thought I was. Oliver and I had just broken up, but since I was leaving the country it didn’t make sense to date someone else. Though, I still wanted to have sex. I wanted sex even more because I had felt unattractive for a while and now that I was single men were starting to notice me. I had attachment to that kind of attention. It also had been a while since I had had an orgasm. I blamed in on Oliver, but realized later it derived from self-judgment and not being able to let go of control. I both was encouraging men to desire me and crushing their hopes and dreams of anything happening at the same time. I thought I was a horrible person only judging myself as bad; in the end, I would end up having sex with them because I felt bad for torturing them for so long. When Karuna began asking questions, he started saying, “that is your compassion” to some of my responses. This was a shocking concept and at first I didn’t believe him; but when I put more thought into it, I started to view myself differently.
I’ll give an example. Both when I talked about leading them on and shutting them down, he pointed out my compassion. When I lead them on, yes, I desired attention; but also, I didn’t want to destroy their self-esteems. I wanted them to feel good about themselves. On the other hand, when I rejected them I wanted to spare them the pain of getting too attached to me since I was about to leave. It would have been better if I had no attachment in this process; but yes, I did have some compassion mixed in there. If I reflect on this, I was not feeling both compassion and attachment at the same time. I was fluctuating back and forth—sometimes quickly. Perhaps, if I only reflect on the good intention and not the bad, I can drop the bad intention and sit with the good. Perhaps, this is taking refuge in Buddha nature. I remember after Karuna pointed out my compassion I was able to be compassionate more of the time and eventually my strong grasping towards a particular man ceased. Now, when I talk to him I have only compassion and not desire.
Holy crap! I think I have figured it out. At least in some sense, I have figured something out. Maybe, were are to constantly reflect on our intentions, seeing all of the variety of intentions fluctuating in our decisions, and instead of putting heavy emphasis on the negative we should instead put heavy emphasis on the positive intention. With time, we will naturally move in that direction. Thank you Karuna, and of course, thank you Lama Zopa Rinpoche.