Witnessing Ram Dass

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Sometimes I crack myself up when I see myself seeing myself. Who is it that is cracking up?

I have been thinking lots about something I heard recently from Ram Dass. He was talking about being a witness to our thoughts and actions… a witness to ourselves…

I say I have been thinking lots about this, and whilst that is true, I have not tried to penetrate deeper meaning into it. That is unusual for me, but it is for two reasons I have left it alone – 1) the thought felt complete enough on its own – I didn’t feel my normal sense of ‘dharma-battle’  of attacking a ‘teaching’ to see what fails in the attack and what holds true; and 2) because of #1, I felt a conscious decision to not mess about with the thought – as it would only become mental masturbation (which I absolutely love lol).

But back to the thought – the reason I have been thinking about this thought so much – or rather, holding this thought – is because this is what I do, almost always- I am witnessing my life before my eyes – I am usually ‘stepped back’ . I can see Richard getting excited, or upset, or sad – I can see how Richard needs to move, or act, or think to accomplish Richards’s goals. It is odd. Who is this witness?

Yes – who is this witness?

I see Richard’s life unfolding and I rarely get caught up in this unfolding – I would just get in Richards way otherwise, lol. When I find myself not being a witness – I feel like a slave to my thoughts and emotions – or rather- I sense my witness trapped and unable to help the maniac who is freaking out!

Have you ever gotten really angry? Super pissed off, fuming – and in the middle of that emotion laughed? Laughed because perhaps you saw your face in the mirror and you looked, well, funny! Red face, downturned eyebrows, scowl ? Or laughed simply because you realized your brain was freaking out of control ?

Have you ever sensed that witness in those situations and felt, ‘no, they aren’t allowed in here right now, I have the right and I deserve to feel this anger – it is justified!!’.  Your witness obeys –it must – and cries in the back of your hollow skull.

So, who is the witness? Who is the Master? Should not the master listen to the witness? Then does not the witness become the master? If the witness always stays the master, than the old master becomes the servant.

BE careful – do not detach yourself from your witness or your master. Ultimately, these are just made-up distinctions. It’s all made up. The master, the witness, they are the same, and neither exists. I say this only so attachment isn’t given to any of this.

So, back to my point – who is this witness who is witnessing myself?

It is still an illusion, the witness – when you are ‘stepped back’ and see yourself doing whatever – making yourself crack up laughing when the witness sees you freaking out – whatever – turn that witness onto itself – witness the witness.  WHO turned that anger into laughter?  – Now the laughs turn into something else – wonderment – at a minimum – of what is ‘witnessed’.

 

 

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Outrageous!

bumper sticker

(not my own photo)

I remember many years ago seeing a bumper-sticker and it really resonated with me. In our world, there are numerous things to be outraged about..and the more you look, ie. pay attention, the more outrageous things you will see.. and this will start to extend into things that are currently accepted as legal and normal…

I think the bumper sticker needs another verse however:

If you’re outraged, you’re not paying attention!

This brings it back home, back inside. … When we view our world, we may get full of rage, outrage… and feel more than justified… for example, feeling rage when learning about 53 people being murdered in a nightclub. No matter how justified we may feel with this emotion of hatred and rage, we should look at the origin of this feeling. (The origin is the shooting, idiot!) Anger and rage are natural.. why did we evolve these feelings? To help our survival… to put us in a fight-or-fight response. However, when we see these images on our computers, thousands of miles away perhaps, the flight-or-fight response becomes unnecessary…. we are too far away to help protect the people and too far away about trying to get away from the danger. Sure, you may say that rage fuels our fight response, which we can take to stopping others before they get the chance to do the same in the future. But this type of ‘fighting’ would require a strategy, and therefore the immediate ‘fighting’ could not be achieved (ie. the rage we may feel can not be acted up in a constructive way).

So, bringing it back inside ourselves… if we pay close attention, we do not need to be filled with rage, it will not help anyone. Sure, when we first learn of horrific events, we may feel anger and rage.. that is natural… but it is not natural to hold onto this anger… in nature, we evolved to have an immediate response to this anger…

When we look inside ourselves, we may see that running or fighting/protecting isn’t a valid choice given our position. So what shall we do? Let it fall away and see what remains… Once the anger and rage are released, we may begin to see things more clearly and have a better idea of what could be done.

 

 

Shortcomings

A different night to the story below, but the song remains the same. Love.

A different night to the story below, but the song remains the same. Love.

Being kind to ourselves is sometimes the hardest thing to do. We constantly judge ourselves and perhaps magnify what we feel are our shortcomings. We never therefore are the person we think we should be. Who should we be if not who we already are?

Now, I feel I should be an understanding father, for example. And sometimes,  when I am feeling ill, for example, I will not be so understanding as a father. The other night, when reading bedtime stories to my 4-year-old son, he said he was thirsty. I was tired, in pain and wanted him to fall asleep already. I was impatient and the thought of having to walk down the stairs to get a glass of water made me imagine the burden on my hurting legs. I was fed-up. He also said his feet were cold and wanted socks on. I admit, I brushed his requests off and told him no, and to go to sleep. I was almost angry. Then I looked at his face.  He is 4. He was sad. He was cold and thirsty and I was being, well, frankly a jerk. To my own son. I swallowed my ego-mind, looked at him in the eyes and told him I was sorry, and I will get him water and kissed his head. His sad face melted a bit. After I got his water and he was drinking it, I got him some socks and put them on his feet for him. We laid down and he held me tight., now with a smile. I read him a story from his favorite night-time book and he quickly fell asleep.

I would have cried if I wasn’t still feeling angry.. though my anger was now at myself. I accepted my shortcoming and moved on…. But getting back to my opening … I think I should be a better father, and this keeps me trying,trying trying to always be the best father…but it also means I never accept myself for who I am right now. Sure, I never want to be complacent and think I am the world’s best papa, but I also know living in the future of some version of myself is not helpful.

So, there is a balance. Accepting who I am right now, but not giving up on becoming more… to unfold the Buddha already inherent inside me.

Reading a bedtime story can be the best Buddhist practice. Learning about compassion is there. Learning about Ego is there. Learning of acceptance and non-attachment is there. Learning about love is there.