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So I was considering what to do with my job situation. I asked my supervisor for an opinion in order to strike up a conversation to keep the lines of communication open in case I wanted to sign another contract with them. Also, I needed to know something about the number of vacation days on the contract which, as it is written, is quite ambiguous. Depending on the interpretation of that, I was ready to sign up again immediately.

She was initially almost in tears asking me if I was going to marry my girlfriend. This threw me a little off, because I thought my supervisor had gotten over her attraction to me and just considered me a friend. I made a pretty dismissive comment about the idea in order to calm her down and then proceeded to talk to her about the amount of vacation time I would have.

Now, I’ve been in friendly enough terms with my supervisor that she already knows I want to take a ten day Vipassana meditation time. Also, she knows I was speaking with a Zen teacher a well. What was interesting was the amount of condemnation she ended up heaping onto my wanting to do these things. She is, herself, a Buddhist and had scheduled a meeting with a famous teacher on the South of the island during Chinese new year. Instead of attending the meeting, she cancelled it and rode horses all week long.

Now, what’s interesting is the elaborate reasoning she comes up with about my spending time meditating. The thing is, she does it in a way that appears quite well-meaning, and remarkably sincere. Her favorite is, “you probably already have the answers” to which I responded, “yes, perhaps, but I am looking for a teacher or some time to spend to help me see them for what they are” and she goes on that I’m impatient (to which I respond, I’m not hurting to wait, but I’m also not trying to waste any time) or that I’m being selfish (to which I respond, I am kind to others, but it seems that if I’m completely lost, I may not even know what kindness IS) or that I think too much (but anyone whose spent time meditating has discovered that yes, you think WAY THE FUCK TOO MUCH, and meditation is the only hope you have to get that chatter to cease)….

How sincere and reasonable she is in all this, enough that I found it unsettling. Mind you, it didn’t seem like “attacks” or anything at the time. I am sure that in her mind, it’s all kindness and “realistic” ways of thinking of things (as if pragmatism demands selling one’s soul to join some world of conformity). I was thrown off by all this until I remembered the beginning of the conversation. Then I remembered that she is in love with me and wants me to stay near her, and every things she says is to serve that purpose. Does SHE even realize this?  My guess is no.

Pretty much everything is a tactic, a ruse, or a strategy. Even being honest just gives one a personal sense of justification, and a socially granted one as well. Ghandi, along with plenty of Jewish scholars and Christian theologians, pointed out that Jesus’s ideas about turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, and giving someone who sues you for a cloak, your shirt along with it might have been very strategically useful for the oppressed Jews of his time. I’m not saying that it’s ‘wrong’ in any sense, to use whatever method one feels is most congruent and effective in order to finish a task, I’m just saying that it is what it is.

I teach kids. I see this every day. Doing well on a test gets appreciation and acceptance from teachers and parents, and a boost to mood and feelings of personal security and well-being. 99% of my kids don’t give a shit about learning ENGLISH per se. When someone sees a reason to learn it, like my student who loves computers and noticed that the BIOS is always in English, my job is easy and they learn quickly. Until they get inspired, I just manipulate social cookies to coerce and convince them to do what I want them to. It’s a sickening game sometimes.

“Following the rules” may be anything from a way to manipulate others into giving one what one wants to a way to feel justified in self-pity when things don’t go one’s way. “Nice” is a nice way to create a reality that believes oneself to be a “good person” or some such crap. At the worst, ones self righteousness is a game to build ones own ego without reproach because you can threaten anyone that gives you a well-deserved ass kicking else with state violence. The thing is, I’ve played all these games, and I watch kids do it, and I watch people do it, and I’m sick and fucking tired of it, in myself more than anybody else!

So, it’s hard as fuck to know what I’m doing right now. I’ve looked inside myself and seen the same thing. I, yes I, use an immense amount of sincerity as a means to an ends… I use a ‘pragmatic approach’ sometimes, or a ‘ruthless’ one, or ‘the one that fits the situation’ but it all seems to be ego-gratifying as well as basically self-serving WHATEVER I do. What I would give right now to know my own truest intention!

From a standpoint of innocence and pure intention, means is irrelevant. You are always choosing means anyways, to serve whatever intention you have. And until I am coming from a standpoint of innocence and pure intention, even honesty is a lie.

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I have this habit, it’s a very bad one.  I’ve decided I need to face this since as long as the potential exists and I’m simply repressing myself, I haven’t actually dealt with the underlying issue.

Yesterday I was having around my family again and I got into an argument with my mom.  I truly felt she was being completely unreasonable about something and putting me into a very unpleasant bind.  However, the proper response would have been to ask for clarification, or to tell her that I felt she was presenting an impossible dilemma for me on something very important.

Instead I more or less reframed things in a way to place her in an impossible position, then she escalated the situation and I went for the jugular, saying things carefully as to leave her in tears, doubting her own self-worth (her particular weak spot).  I kept telling my dad to butt out, but his vocal observation at the time was that everything I said sounded fair.  Of course, I knew what I was doing.  Moreover, I intended it very cruelly at the time.  Later that evening, she left church early because she felt completely sickened and unable to practice piano.

My Qi Kung teacher pointed this out to me as well.  One time I and my Kung Fu schoolmates were out at a bar.  Some guy walked by and was an ass to me.  I said and did a couple of perfectly “harmless and reasonable” things and he nearly assaulted me.  My intention being that the other school mates would probably stop it from going too far and I would press charges against him, screwing up his employment, his relations with his family, taking money away from him etc, etc…  My Qi Kung teacher called me aside and essentially said, “I know what you’re doing, stop it.”

Further, and addressing the point of my writing about all this, my teacher was able to show me why I do this.  The basic feeling I have is that nothing I say matters much to anyone.  I don’t really feel like I have any social power, or social worth, and I don’t feel like anyone would really give a damn what I feel.  Usually in arguments I find people are pretty reluctant to show that they give a damn what the other person feels, so I tend to sense a lot of things that confirm my suspicion.  So when I become convinced that someone steps on me, I often form the intention to destroy them completely, or at least strike their weakest point as hard as I can, and proceed based on that.  My basic feeling is that anything less just won’t be noticed.

Interestingly enough, after the conversation about the guy in the bar, because of the way my teacher presented the situation to me, I harbored a lot of hatred towards my teacher.  I took it upon myself to actually damage the form of martial art that he had spent his life and love developing, to poison it subtly and carefully after he was gone.  I didn’t reveal this directly to him for awhile, but I have had a way of simultaneously holding all my good motivations and bad motivations inside my mind without feeling too bothered by the conflict.  All the time.

I’ve improved this in the last few years, taking what’s arguably an even colder approach and weighing out the advantages of destroying them or hurting them versus keeping them as an ally.  I know that sounds sick, but in a lot of cases, if I boil it down and don’t give myself any quarter for what appears to be self control, that’s what I’ve done.  So progress, I guess, was dropping the intention to hurt my teacher’s art and seeing learning it properly as more worth my time.

Regarding my mom, I stepped away, had some hot chocolate and read some law books for awhile.  As I was reading I was thinking that as long as there’s a potential for this to happen, then whatever the underlying cause is, I haven’t addressed it.  So I went back to my mom and asked her to give me a chance to listen to her and not try to take what she’s saying in the context of all the opinions I’ve formed about her throughout the years…  to try and listen with new ears.

Of course, she appreciated this, but ten times more important to me is that I felt like I shifted at least some of the potential for this to happen between us.  In other words, instead of merely repressing my deep-seated disdain for her and acting polite (which I could make a cost/benefit analysis for and probably maintain for years), I actually think I started getting past some of the crap we’ve built between us.

Beyond the specific issue with my mom, I often struggle to feel enough security in my worth to others regarding things I might need or want, like employment or someone caring for me, or even my friends caring what I have to say, to cease to be such a calculating reptile about it.  In social reality I still tend to use all my intellect, creativity, friendliness, and insight to try and prove worth to my friends, family and people I meet.  And I frequently don’t trust people to listen to me or care about me at all on the merit of my value as a person.  Though recently I’ve been fortunate to have some friends that have shown me they do care on those merits alone.

I’ve been around both my mom and my dad lately and noticed my patterns with them;  now I also see how I’ve developed symbiotic relationships with many of my friends and social groups to give me support based on the fact that they all basically like the persona with which I try and garner value.  I take little and very cold solace in the fact that most people are engaged in some kind of tacit bargaining like mine.

I cherish freedom and one of the only things I think is unethical is controlling others.  But all that I’ve been talking about are forms of control and methods to try and subtly and quietly negotiate it behind someone’s back.  It makes me feel sick to think about my whole issue with this, the extreme ends of my reactions to insecurities as well as the everyday manipulations involved — a big chunk of my entire lifestyle is built around it!

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Guidance?

One of the things that Myss talked about in her course was that the heart would give guidance if we paid attention to it.

If I put my attention in my heart, I feel equanimity.  Generally this gives me a lot of joy.  But I don’t feel any specific urges.  I do feel certain things I want and don’t want generally.  Some things that I know would be more right and some things I know would just waste my life and my energy.  But sometimes I feel like I could continually focus on my breath passing into my heart and eventually just wander out into the forest until I fell down from hunger and exhaustion and just be eaten by bears (I mean this as a bit of a joke, but equanimity isn’t really attached to anything).

Yet I find myself in situations where I need to make some decision (indeed even not deciding is a choice).  I focus inside my heart and I could sometimes start laughing, sometime just feel peaceful, or sometimes just know I am at home…  but how to make a choice?  Currently my choice is between more teaching abroad, or law school, or god knows what else…

So I try to be attentive, and think things through clearly.  Certainly the equanimity of my heart directs me towards a clear mind.  Actually, today I even learned a little more how to allow expansion and contraction and maintain my attention on equanimity.  So I’m continuing to grow in this awareness, as I knew I would.

But I don’t have a compass inside.  One day I’ll feel like law school now is right, but then I look at the costs, and the fact that I neglected to apply to the better schools because I applied late, and I don’t know.  It’s not that I’m afraid of the debt, just that I don’t have clear determination.  Then I look at jobs in other countries teaching, and nothing is clear.  Some part of me has thought that maybe it’s just that going to law school in five months or doing it in another year or two is basically irrelevant.  Okay, I accept that’s a possibility.

So…  like…  do I then just choose whatever I think would be the most pleasurable?  Even looking with my brain, the center of my mind is empty as well, and I find a different sort of acceptance and peacefulness within there (discounting the little dust devils of thoughts that are constantly whirling around and around).  But what I don’t find is any clear pull, any clear compass inside me.

This is also becoming a bit of a problem when talking to people.  Occasionally it is clear that I need to say a specific thing.  For instance, my cousin asked me a direct question and I know for sure how I must answer him.  However, I also notice that if I put my attention in my heart, much of the time there is nothing crucial to say.

So in some of my conversations lately I direct my attention to what the person is saying and I notice that either I will feel I relate to something the person said, and respond passionately about something that relates to them.  Or else I’ll think about it and not come to anything clear that I should say.  Or I’ll think it through and something will appear important and I’ll ask about that or mention that.  However, I would like to speak from what I feel in my heart — or as my friend suggested today, not just say what I think that someone would like to hear — but I’m not sure what that is!

All I would have been able to come up with in the convo today would be just kind of laughing and saying “good luck, I believe it will be okay.”  And actually, in the conversation my friend asked me to be more directly honest in, maybe that would have been the most proper response.  At least it would have been what I feel in my heart.

I think I can learn to do this with regards to speaking to other people.  But I still have no clear indication with regards to making life choices.  And I feel a bit ill at ease.  Partly this American diet feels sedative to me and I hate it.  Partly I have this sense that I should do SOMETHING, that the time for recuperation and growth in solitude is passing and I need to choose a way to move forward.

Thus far I have just been waiting, feeling very peaceful and happy, and trusting that when I see the correct path it will be obvious to me.  Maybe this is true.  Yet I don’t sense that merely remaining poised is the correct approach right now.  I have a distinct feeling that I need to be pro-active, to apply intention in some direction.

So as I’m talking through this, I’m feeling maybe I’ll check more job boards.  Maybe the right answer will spring off the page and I’ll feel clearly inspired and know that’s what I should apply myself towards.  Perhaps this is the beginning of finding a compass to follow in my heart.

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Inevitability

“If, when you enter battle, you see your opponent is already dead, then victory is inevitable.”

“When someone blocks your moves, they’re just showing you the detours you need to take to get to your target.”

—TaiRuiKe, Senior School Brother at the School of Cultivation and Practice (wujifaliangong.blogspot.com)

For many years I have wanted to become a lawyer.  I spent time with a nice lawyer, who took me under his wing when I was a teenager, and learned that I loved the negotiation aspects of it.  I participated in U.N. simulations to increase my debating skills.  I majored in Sociology because it’s a reasonable precursor to a law degree.  I studied aspects of law on my own time.

Then, years passed and I was just floundering, wondering what I wanted to do.  I liked teaching English.  I was still interested in law.  I thought maybe I should be a bioenergetics therapist or a Rolfer.  I felt adrift.  I waffled a lot.  Years of working and going to college, helping my family and dealing with my own bullshit, and I’d lost my own compass.

Lately, with the help of some friends and some honest introspection, I remembered the truth that drives me to want to be a lawyer.  When I looked inside, I realized I want to help people in those ways that only a lawyer can.  I want to help the guy whose getting screwed by the insurance company.  I want to help the lady that’s getting discriminated against by her employer.  I want to help the stupid kid that’s about to have his life ruined because he got caught with a half an ounce of marijuana.  I want to do so skillfully and powerfully, with compassion and kindness towards my clients.

As soon as I really felt the truth of the matter, a lot of other stuff ceased to be important.  The fact that I am only moving towards what is true for me makes success inevitable.  My feeling that “time was catching up to me” went away.  I know I will succeed, so there is no pressure as to “when.”  My selectivity in colleges changed from wanting a place with prestige and with the most recruiters for big law firms that pay a lot, to caring about where I will receive good training and an environment where I can study and master the law.

Pressure about “when,” appears to be nothing but a way to waste time.  I think a lot of decisions made based on those pressures are precisely the decisions people regret later.  Better to take the time and effort to discover authentic truth now, than at 45, with more than half of a “settled for” life behind me.  When I make friends with one of those people, in law school, who came back at 45 or later (and those people exist), I’ll buy a drink and say sincerely, “you’re my hero.”  Compared to the masses who waste their whole lives not in service of their hearts true desire, those older students slaving away are far better off.

In fact, it’s not even specifically necessary that I pursue it through law.  I choose that method simply because law is within the range of things I can be most excellent at, things I enjoy, and is a powerful method of helping people.  Now every movement feels like an opportunity for cultivating skills to be a better student of the law and a more skillful lawyer.  Indeed, everything in my attitude has changed because I know that I am pursuing what’s True for me and I feel that Truth is inevitable.

This all reminds me how much I love and cherish authenticity.  I am wondering now if I can bring this same Kung Fu, of doing what is deeply truthful, into the rest of my life.  Specifically, I would like to have the courage and integrity to approach my romantic relationships in this manner.

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