I must admit that today does not find me in the best of moods. If I were to be very “mindful” about the whole thing, it would have to boil down to my frustrations on wishing to find a Teacher to guide me a bit more skillfully on this path that I am on. However, seeing that this is my blog… I am going to take this time to bitch about it instead. I must admit, it feels good to let it all out sometimes.
Tonight in my Sangha marked yet another in a now long-running series of dharma talks that are really just self-help books wrapped in a bit of meditation and the occasional quote from some Buddhist text. I am just sick and tired of it. I am tired of looking around the room at every Buddhist meeting I go to and seeing that I am either the only guy, or one of two guys in attendance. I went to one group (not my Sangha) the other week ago and the lady leading the group spoke on how meditation can help us get healed from past rejection and hurts. I was one of two guys there, and the thing ended with about 20 middle-aged ladies crying on each other’s shoulders over how their dads were not there for them, someone was mean to them in high school, or over some marriage that fell apart. The whole thing ended in a sobbing, wet, group hug. I returned last week, hoping that it was a fluke, and it was none the better. I go to meditate at someone’s home and have to sit through a dharma talk by one of those mellow-voiced monks, smiling, sitting in front of some picture of a flower or something, and talking about the power or love and how beautiful we all are. Tonight in my Sangha was yet another (and they do this a lot) night where the lady reads from a self-help book written by some other lady about how meditation can help us all get over our fears… fears of rejection, or failing, of being ugly, fat… whatever.
Books like: How Buddhism Can Help You Get Over Past Hurts. How Mindfulness Can Help You Lose Weight. How Meditation Can Heal Past Family Wounds. How Buddhism Can Heal the Wounds of Daddy Not Being There Enough. How Meditation Can Help You Get Over Not Having A Prom Date.
Tonight the topics in the discussion ranged from how someone is afraid they are fat, or another that they are not as smart as their sister or another girl, how someone is afraid they are not as good looking as the next girl… Then, someone else mentioned how Truth sets us free, and used the example of how they are afraid that someone may be bad for them or hurt them, and that if they got over that fear and gave that person a chance… it would all work out and that person would wind up being nice, good, and good for them.
That was when I offered my own thoughts on the matter.
I said that Truth does set us free, but noted that all of their examples were warm and fuzzy, flowery, and that the Truth is not always that way. Truth is truth. Sometimes it is not flowers and sunshine. The Truth is that person who you are afraid of hurting you, may, in fact, hurt you. Or, to take the opposite position, you may be deluding yourself into thinking that someone is good for you when the Truth is that they are bad for you. The truth IS that you may be overweight, maybe that other person IS more attractive than you, and maybe your sister IS going to always score just a little bit higher than you on that test in school. So what? Really, so what? That truth is also liberating, and can set you free. Isn’t the point to embrace reality? Being trapped by irrational fears that are holding you back from enjoying real life is delusion. However, fooling yourself into thinking that life is a bed of roses all the time a delusion that holds you back as well. Embrace the reality of the situation, and then you can effectively deal with your shit.
Seriously, I think there has to be more “Suck-it-up-ness” and “Deal-with-it-ness” in the practice.
I then told a funny story from my own life to make the whole thing a bit more human and light-hearted.
When I was in High School I started to get into acting. My junior year I landed a key role in my first-ever play. On (and several days before) opening night I was petrified with fear that I would forget my lines and make a fool of myself–scared to death of it. So what happened?
Well, I forgot my lines.
Yup, totally froze, right up there on the stage, lights on me, in front of hundreds of people. Totally bombed, and forgot all my lines within the first few minutes of the first act. I was embarrassed, scared, horrified… but I somehow managed to fumble my way through the scene, exit the stage, and not freak out. Then all the sudden, this enormous sense of ease came all over me. Why? Well, that was my worst fear, and it just happened… and I am still standing… I am still ok. I lived. After that was over, the fear was gone, and I went through the rest of the performance without any problems. I did many a play and musical after that night, and never had that same crippling fear of forgetting a line again. It already happened; it sucked, but I got through it, and it no longer had a hold on me.
So there is truth in that as well. Maybe you have to face some fears. Maybe everything is not always ok. Maybe you need to lose some weight. Maybe you are not the brightest bulb in the bunch. Maybe that really bad thing you just don’t want to happen IS going to happen, and maybe you are going to have to learn to be OK regardless. Maybe you will soon learn that it really isn’t that big of a deal anyway.
So what is your worst fear? So what if it were actually realized? Really, so what?
P.S. I hope that this rant did not come across as my saying that what is wrong with Buddhism today is that we have too many females in charge. Not at all! I know some great “no nonsense” Buddhist ladies. Besides, most of those books I am complaining about having to listen to were written by men (eunuch’s?). But, I think this current movement of reducuing Buddhism to a non-religious self-help philosophy is sad, and that it has to go. I do wish that there were more strong males in the practice for me to relate with though. I had to do studies for churches (growth, lack of, and demographics) before where it was found out that teachings like this touchy-feely self-help crap will only drive most males away, and then when new ones come… they will leave after seeing that there are no men there to relate with. Then the vacuum continues.
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