Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do We Just Want Buddies?

I've been guilty of this:

Q: Can you mention something hurtful?

A: Surely most people can do that.

To me, it is hurtful to have to deal with people whom you would like to teach when - pretending to themselves that they seek knowledge - they only want a social community, friendship, 'togetherness', attention and the like.

All these things are delightful: and all the more delightful when consciously indulged in, rather than found by means of deception. Deception in this case is pretending to oneself that one is studying when one is seeking stimuli.

Such people may have the capacity to learn. But they overlay it with shallow aims. They may have been trained to seek smaller satisfactions and to give them grand names. They may, on the other hand, simply be carrying on the demands of babyhood. Rumi said: "When will you cease coveting nuts and raisins?'

The condition can be so well established that people are to all intents and purposes unconscious of its presence.


From: Learning How to Learn - Psychology and Spirituality in the Sufi Way, by Idries Shah

38 comments:

sigurd said...

We're not just teachers. We're first of all students.

Don't preach. Teach.
Don't teach. Pretend to learn.

I'm learning from my student. She teaches me sweet love. ;)

Siegfried said...

What for?

BTW, who was Rumi?

Alexander M Zoltai said...

*Love* that new Banner !!!

~ Alex from Our Evolution

Sophia said...

Sigurd,

Sometimes I wonder if "she" is your half.

Sophia said...

Siegfried,

Are you having an identity crisis? ;)

You know who Rumi is!

Sophia said...

Thanks, Alex. This banner feels more like home.

Mossy said...

It is helpful to be with like minded people but it is naive to think that people can suddenly leave the old world completely and embrace only the new. It seems to be a very slow process.

One method of filtering out people with little valuation is the principle of payment. The payment must be higher than the entertainment value.

Payment can be made in many forms such as money, work, physical discomfort or psychological discomfort.

Happy Halloween!

Sophia said...

Hi Mossy,

I was just getting ready to go to bed when I saw your message come in. I have a bad headache so I can't concentrate on the meaning of your comment. Can you reword it differently? Are you speaking of the payment required by a Teacher of a student?

Happy Halloween to you, too! This year we've decided not to hand out candy. We're just going to turn out the lights. Mostly it's because of our beagle who makes a lot of noise anytime there's someone at the door.

Kingsley said...

Hi Sophia,

I am reminded that Shah talked a lot about the difference between 'need' and 'greed'. He often said that 'greed for wanting to do good' was still greed. And the greed to feed the need for our own attention was distracting many people from working on themselves.

Shah's final words in this life were: "Do not look at my outward shape but take what is in my hands"

We all learn from each other :-))

Don said...

"To me, it is hurtful to have to deal with people whom you would like to teach when - pretending to themselves that they seek knowledge - they only want a social community, friendship, 'togetherness', attention and the like."

"People whom you would like to teach."

A lot of that going around - everyone trying to teach everyone else what's right, their own right.

Maybe global communication will bring about some sort of consensus.

donstockbauer *att* hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethic_of_reciprocity

Mossy said...

Hello Sophia,

Did you manage to avoid T.o.T.s?

I meant that a teacher may filter out students who do not have enough valuation by demanding payment.

The practice is also used (perhaps unwittingly) in other sorts of orginazations.

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Sophia said...

Hi Kingsley,

It is true that feeding our need for attention can steal energy from others.

It's a hard thing to do to look back in my past and realize that I took a lot of people's energy away from them by seeking their attention.

Someway somehow there has to be a balance of give and take.

Sophia said...

Hi Don,

I see a difference between forcing a teaching down someone's throat and teaching when asked to teach.

A lot of Teachers will not teach unless a student comes to them and asks for their teaching.

Sophia said...

Anonymous,

I'm sure this is one of the reasons some of these spiritual teachers want money in return for teachings.

Sophia said...

Hi Mossy,

Are you speaking about the Rumi poem you posted about the other day? If so, I read it the day you posted it, but I have so far failed to comment on it. There is not a reason for this other than I've just gotten behind. :) I've actually read it two different days, but I need to read it once more to make comment on it so that it is fresh in the mind.

I wonder when the payment asked for becomes excessive. For instance, someone who offered to be my Teacher said that if I wanted his guidance I'd have to give up everything, including my home to go and be with him. When I told him I couldn't do it he said I'm not a sincere spiritual seeker since I'm not willing to give up everything. In today's world, what is realistic? I have responsibilities.

Sophia said...

Kids Bedroom,

And thanks to you for choosing to use my blog as free space for your advertisement.

Siegfried said...

Elvis was God!
-- A Dutch mother.

Anonymous said...

Elv is alive and kicking.

Anonymous said...

And singing: you ain't nothing but a hound dog!

Don said...

I think that we all like to tell other people "the way it is", and then when they think up counterarguments to that (or just plain deny it) it's hard to accept, but somewhere in all the back-and-forth the truth will hopefully sort itself out through the combination of minds.

donstockbauer *att* hotmail.com

raymond said...

Hi Sophia

I like the following idea from the I Ching: Chong zheng = “centered and thus composed exactly as needed.” If I am centered I suspect I will respond to all people effectively. It won't matter what they want from me. And even if their intentions are not appropriate, both of us may learn a lot from the encounter.

ciao,
Raymond

Sophia said...

Siegfried,

When my dad was young, my grandmother would not let him watch Elvis on t.v. because of the way he used his hips to dance. Nowadays, that is nothing!

Sophia said...

Don,

Teamwork!

Sophia said...

Raymond,

I like your perspective. After all, a lot of people might not even be aware of their own intentions. I've had my intentions pointed out to me before by someone else and it was quite a shocking experience that I denied vehemently but now it's all clear.

To be aware of my own intentions, however, seems a lot easier in hindsight. I mean, I can more easily see the intentions I had when I look back.

Thank you for your visit and comment. It is nice to meet you. I look forward to reading more of your webpage. I thought you might be interested to know that a piece of software I use to make fractals is called "Apophysis".

raymond said...

Well said Sophia. I assume that I continually have motives I am not aware of. Knowing this gives me a slight advantage in my game of trying to beat the ego. (Most of the time I win only when I keep a sense of humor available.)

I hope that a book I am writing will be an improvement on the apophatic mysticism web page.

Thanks for hosting this interesting web page.

On another subject, here is a favorite of mind:

“When the mind is transparent and pure as if reflected on the mirror-like surface of the water, there is nothing in the world that you would dislike. When it is serene as the light breeze in the sunshine, there will be no one whom you would like to forget.”

Pa-ta Shan-jen 17th century painter
Translated by Chang Chung-yuan in his book “Creativity and Taoism, A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art, and Poetry.

Sophia said...

Hi Raymond!

I have found that sometimes when I become aware of my own motives I feel a little embarrassed. At the same time I know that to be wrapped-up in any feelings of embarrassment, shame or guilt keeps me too focused on myself and makes me less aware in the end. Even with this knowledge it is such a tough cycle to beat!

How long have you been working on your book?

Thank you for thanking me but the real host of this blog is Google! :)

Mossy said...

Hello Sophia,

I just found your response to me.

My feeling is that we must give up everything but not all at once. You might give something up and then after you let it go you might get it back. ("If you love something set it free..") Then you can work on giving up something else.

All giving up is the giving up of internal things but this certainly does not make it less painful.

I think that the "teacher" you describe may have been trying to force you to make a serious committment to be obedient to avoid wasting his time. In practice we are not really able to give up a lot at once. We would go insane or replace old attachments with new ones. Anyway it is not necessary.

"If you want to get rid of a bad habit you can not just throw it out the window, you have to walk it down the stairs one step at a time."

Mark Twain (I think)


One point of view is that everything is given by someone. If someone wants you to have something then you will still have it even when you stop clinging to it.

raymond said...

Hi Sophia

About ten years I have been working on it.

I have found all emotional energy is useful, whether generated from a positive or a negative. Have you tried alchemically processing shame and guilt? They can provide very strong transformative energy.

ciao,
Raymond

Sophia said...

Mossy,

It seems impossible to me that married homeowners can just give up their marriages and their houses and responsibilities to go and receive a Teacher's instruction. Something about that just seems unrealistic to me. I'm willing to make commitments and to be obedient but I couldn't give up the responsibilities I have accumulated in this life. If these are the steps we must take then I'm a bit late; it's something I should have considered when I was 18, but at that time I was not driven by spirituality.

Sophia said...

Hi Raymond,

I guess this is where I admit that I don't know what alchemy is yet. I know it is more than just changing copper to gold and that it is a hermetical practice, and that there are even alchemies that don't involve alchemical labs, but I don't know what it is yet.

There is so much for me to learn.

I can say that the past few months I feel I have let go of a lot of shame and guilt. Every now and then it will show itself but I don't think it has the strength over me that it used to.

Can you tell me what it means to process something alchemically?

Mossy said...

Sophia,

Just relax. You do not need to make any big external leaps, it is all internal, in your heart. You are doing great.

Small efforts are best.

The giving up all of those "big" things is only practice for giving up 10,000 very small things that constantly keep us away from this moment.

raymond said...

Hi Sophia

Alchemical processing on the most elementary level is switching attention from the talking mind to the visceral-emotional feelings. This simple switch releases enormous power. There are very esoteric schools of alchmey. But the truth is that your own mind-body will teach you alchemical methods that are so subtle that they can't be put into words. One starts with the simply practice above. One finds out that there is no point of wasting any guilt or other negative feeling since all feelings have such huge transformational power.

The practice of "Focusing" is related to alchemy and might be useful to read. There is some info on it at: http://www.focusing.org/

"You can sense your living body directly under your thoughts and memories and under your familiar feelings. Focusing happens at a deeper level than your feelings. Under them you can discover a physically sensed "murky zone" which is concretely there. This is a source from which new steps emerge.

At first, this murky "something" may seem opaque. Although concretely there, it may not seem promising. With certain teachable steps of bodily attention it opens. How you sense the situation shifts. New possibilities for fresh thinking and action arise beyond the already-given alternatives. The whole scene changes. An intricate territory of factors, events, conditions, and new questions emerges where there was only a slight bodily sense at the start."

ciao,
Raymond

Sophia said...

Hi Raymond,

Thank you for your explanation.

I'm interested to know what you mean by switching attention from the talking mind to the visceral-emotional feelings. Does this mean to shut off the mind while allowing oneself to feel the feelings? To not do all the talking in the mind that the feelings might cause?

Wow, this all seems so abstract to me at this moment. I'll read some of the Focusing web page to see if I can get a better understanding of it.

Sophia said...

OK, I'm reading some about this and it is still abstract at the moment, but I think I may be getting an idea. The idea that I'm getting, however, may be entirely incorrect, I don't know.

I'm wondering if this Focusing is similar to normal meditation, where, as we shut off our gabbing minds we just focus on our bodies, like FEEL our bodies. Some people focus on breath, some people focus on nothing, but is Focusing the same thing as just feeling our bodies without having any thoughts?

I'll read some more. This is something new to me so naturally I'm curious.

Sophia said...

I'm doing one of the experiments with the word "Beloved". That is my chosen word.

raymond said...

“I'm wondering if this Focusing is similar to normal meditation, where, as we shut off our gabbing minds we just focus on our bodies, like FEEL our bodies.”

Yes it is similar. I think what is important is doing this both formally and also anytime when strong feelings come up during a typical day. To work through some real terror, sadness, anxiety, even if only done for 30 seconds is quite valuable. I think it is not useful to get stuck on the definitions. It is not very important to know exactly what “focusing” is, or “alchemy” is. Just take what is useful in the reading and let your mind-body develop its own practice.

The story of the tears in the Zohar, part of Kabbalah tradition, reveals some of the workings of alchemy:

“One may ask, If a man deeply troubled and sunk into sorrow, and his heart is heavy, yet because of tribulation he feels the urge to go to the heavenly King to see, solace; is he then to desist from praying because of his sorrowfulness? What shall he do, since he cannot help it that his heart is heavy.

The answer is that “from the day of destruction of the Temple, all gates to heaven have been closed, but the gates of tears have not been closed,” and suffering and sadness are expressed in tears. Standing over the gates of tears are certain heavenly beings, and they break down the bars and locks of iron, and allow the tears to enter, so that the entreaties of the grieving supplications go through and reach the holy King, and the place of the Divine Presence is grieved by the sorrow of him who prays, as it stands written: “In all their afflictions He is afflicted.” (Zohar: The Book of Splendor, Edited by Gershom Scholem)

It is interesting to note that the “gates of heaven” (Tian Men) also play an important role in daoism. Getting through the gates is equivalent to a mystical breakthrough in a number of traditions, both East and West. Working inside the gates is mentioned in Laozi: “Without going out the gates she is able to realize everything she needs to know.” (paraphrase)