Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wandering in the Weeds

Late winter woods
I have modified this comment from an e-list I follow, but kept the flowing syntax.  This should give you the flavor of it:
John, none of us care about your gripe with Mary.  We're supposed to be supporting one another on this list, so please take your argument private, you are only going to cause people to leave the group. So grow up....
Don't you love that last friendly last admonition?  How nice is that, as we say flatly.  How helpful, for two people who are both acutely ill right now.  Then another person popped in to refer to it as "high-school drama."  As for me, reading it enhanced my high-summer problem of heat.  Aggression rises easily in my poor stomach, which finds some of my required meds, and some human meanness, hard to digest.

I had an impulse to reply to Perennially Irritable, but took a deep breath and thought I really don't know how to help.  I looked back over the threads on this subject and found others who were  upset by John or Mary's quarrel, and handled their pain by aggressively telling them not to be aggressive.

So what's a Buddhist to do?  In confusing times I go back to the basic commitment Pema Chodron writes about in her forthcoming book, How to Live Beautifully:
I vow to do no harm.
(I highlighted that in the hope that I will get it.)  The first reaction I always have when I have to bring this to mind is, Whoa.  Slow.  Down.  Chill out. Don't say it.  And especially, Don't write it on the internet.
I'd written the above yesterday.  Last night, I myself got annoyed by a supercilious (judgement word) comment about me made by a Facebook acquaintance.  (Yeah, friend, I don't remember how that happened.)  I wrote an answer, deleted it.  Wrote another, delete.  One more, trying to explain that I am not the idiot she seems to think I am.  Delete.  Went to her page, clicked the Friend button, clicked again, fixed it so nothing she writes will come through anymore.  I will not miss her.

Kind of thing I've learned in almost 15 years of practice (!!!!!) is that this hodge-podge self I am, made insane by my childhood, is hypersensitive to criticism.  And meanness, even when it's not directed at me.  All the King's horses and all the King's men, in the form of a succession of therapists and self-help books and practice and journaling and retreats, you name it, I've done it - these things have not changed this part of me.

What getting to know myself has done, though, is that I know how I feel.  I can control my impulses.  And then, I guess a form of wisdom, I accept that I am who I am.  Hypersensitive.You are not a thing to be perfected by meticulous work.

Got to reading Shunryu Suzuki last night before bed, and God bless him, he was talking about how it is exactly when we are working with the weeds in our life that we are enlightened.  This is our practice, to work with our weeds, not to sit on a cushion in bliss.  Though he does advocate nonthinking.

So I'm okay this morning, and didn't set the internet ablaze last night.
[These photos are among those Tom found yesterday on the retired digital camera.]

postscript next day:  One long-term group member, who was valuable and a frequent commenter, has resigned from the list over that quarrel.


  1. we are what we are. I guess what you're pointing out is that we can expand and modify things, but there are some core traits we have that just make us who we are.

    Incidentally, I'm pretty sensitive to criticism too, and don't have much tolerance for mean-ness.

  2. Thank you, Karen. I know I feel a rapport with you. It's hard to be like us. It must be so hard to live with Jack.

  3. Dear Jeanne; Thank you for your post and the message 'do no harm'. Perhaps you'll visit our site at: . In any case, take care and be well.

  4. "You are not a thing to be perfected by meticulous work" Thank you for this. We live in a world that makes us constantly feel inadequate, that if we just tried harder we could all be perfect...or the same...boring...monoculture. We learn from our imperfections, we become more loving and accepting. I too am hypersensitive to criticism and I work with it. I use it to cultivate listening, listening without judging, listening without preparing a response, listening from the heart even. And way to go deleting your responses, I always feel so good when I do that and then walk away from the computer.