Re: advancing on the path Posted by John on July 25, 1998 at 12:15:03:
In Reply to: RE: Paths of Life posted by Deirdre on July 23, 1998 at 07:34:49:
No, first of all, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater! Go ahead and cherish, cherish, cherish! I didn't mean that everything we cherish is ego. I only mean that--as we are--unawake, and not really knowing our selves--*we don't know* if what we cherish is love, or ego, most of the time.
This we can only know, Deirdre, by waking up and starting to study the human self -- beginning with *our own* human self.
Even the most despicable people always assume that what they cherish is righteous. Humans are made in such a way that we justify to ourselves everything we do. We always think that what we want is right, and what we cherish is righteous. Those people in other countries that we think of as the "bad guys?" . . . . over there, they think that we are the bad guys. Even if they commit atrocities like ethnic cleansing, or gassing peasants, they believe that they are right, and they are only protecting what they cherish, and everybody who doesn't see it that way, to them is the *bad* guys. Whether it is righteous or unrighteous is another question, but that people start fights and wars over what they cherish may be seen at any time by using awareness to study human behavior.
Studying human behavior is what I mean by "advanced status" in this school, by the way. Beginners are here to learn what awareness is and how to use it in the hours of their days to be in touch with vivid life within them and around. Advanced awareness work begins with learning how to use awareness to study human behavior. And this always begins by taking a clear look at one's self.
Fights getting started for what people cherish happens in our homes, as well. One person's "good" is another person's "abomination." We see this in every family--between brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives. Parents may cherish "a little peace and quiet around here." That seems good. Children may cherish a little rock n' roll. That seems good. They do cherish each other, too. Yet fights--sometimes overt, sometimes covert--occur.
And, tragically, people *are* "throwing out" their cherished babies all the time. When they are being "cute" they cherish them. But what about when they are "misbehaving?" (And children cannot valuate everything the way adults do all the time. What value in it can a child understand that . . . . . "Brocolli is good for you."?) There are children every minute on this globe getting hit for spilling their milk. Left on their own, they would paint with it, or lick it up off the high-chair shelf.
To adults, whose egos are all bound up in controlling their children, and mistakenly seeing their children as a reflection of their own ego-driven selves, and such things, it is unbearable to see their cherished children not being who they want them to be. They see their attempts at forcing their children to be who they want them to be as an aspect that *proves* how much they cherish them.
Children do things spontaneously and *then* find out the parents are outraged about it. Like a whipped puppy, children know, at these moments, "Oh, no. Here it comes again. I'm gonna get whipped (or "a talking to") because I'm bad." And even words can hurt as much as spankings, and *more*! "You're no son of mine!" "What's wrong with you?" "How could you be so stupid?" "I'm only spanking you because I love you and want you to grow up right." Statements like these leave wounds that may never heal in the child's whole lifetime.
And the conclusions children come to in these traumatic scenes may haunt them and compromise their lives and rob them of happiness again and again--happiness that is only meant for them, yet is unattainable because of these conclusions they came to as little guys in the clutches of their parents' egos. And yet their parents cherished them, and every parent will say, "I did the best I could."
And that's true. People can't do any better than that unless they happen to learn mindfulness and some kind of training (whether spiritual or other) that shows them how to recognize when their ego is in the picture, and that what they cherish is really selfish, insensitive, wounding, and such things. On the other hand, sometimes when they cherish it is egoless and real love, an experience, an awareness, a clarity, an understanding, a natural *knowing*.
Deirdre says: "So John, what SHOULD be precious in our lives?"
The real answer to this can only be revealed to you if you will begin studying human behavior. That is the only way it can possibly make any sense to you that "should," itself, is a kind of behavior, and thus, not the question to be answered here. It is not what "should" we hold precious. If it's a "should" thing, then we have to hold it as an obligation, or guilt. Incomprehensible as it may seem, we can get away from any questions about what we "should" hold precious, and *still* be loving and egoless and caring, and even nurturing and healing, and spiritual. "Should" is what you got in that last kindergarten you attended.
It is quite honorable of you to ask this question, however. I do not mean to disparage that. In your question, I gather, you are only seeking for direction: "How do I guide myself in an ethical way?" Isn't that what you mean here, basically?
People cherish money, admiration, their image, having power over others, their opinions and beliefs, their social position in life, having advantages over their neighbors, winning out (even at others' expense). If they only cherish "life" and "love" because they "should," there is no hope for the human race.
What is needed to answer your question is that you recognize that humans--and you, your self--*do* cherish many, many things. In some cases, this is egoless, and love. In other cases, it is only selfishness, or egoism. This you can only tell by watching and studying your own behavior. When you can make this distinction in what you learn of your own make-up, then you will be able to understand how to make this distinction in studying others, as well.
Even though it can drive individuals among us around at times, for a little while, guilt ("I should") has never been enough to get the human race to straighten out the tragic state of human affairs. Guilt isn't strong enough to *really help*. Even as it makes us feel guilty, (and we "pay that price," so to speak), by "paying for it" in that way, guilt becomes only "an excuse" to do it all over again.
For a person to actually begin changing anything in their life, they must be able to establish a division between an observing self (mindfulness) and the observed self (the perceptible composition of our ordinarily patterns of daily behavior), seen objectively, just the way it is.
The "instinct" for the mindfulness model of personal growth that you say you seem to have, Deirdre, sounds like a manifestation of your "true self" to me. It seems so. It doesn't matter if one is "conservative," or "liberal," or whatever. Those are just aspects of the personality (the observed self, that is to be studied).
If you are really "cut out for" this kind of study, daily practice of mindfulness is the only way to progress in that. And at some point--if you are not ready to do so now--you will have to undertake *the study of your own personality* in order to really understand the answers to these advanced questions that you are asking. Undertaking this study will provide many opportunities for daily practice. This study of the "self" can be very practical, as well as interesting and fun.
In this approach, that is the dividing line between "beginners" and "advanced" students. A person has to make up their own mind if they are ready to "get on with it."
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