Opening Things Up

I have a tendency, I guess we all have, to close down any thoughts and feelings about something that happens into one, usually quite judgmental, opinion.

So, the comment: I can imagine the way you live must be very relaxing, not worrying about anyone else, had led to some pretty negative judgments of my own suitability to be telling people about what Buddhism means in practice.

This process can be justified to ourselves as a focusing on what is really going on – when it actually feels a lot like a closing down of seeing things. If in response to this I can reverse the process and instead open up the associated insights and realisations that come when we just look and ask – then what do I find?

Well, I yes wonder if I gave a misleading impression on the extent to which, as Buddhists, we care about others;

and: this was the only comment out of a large bundle that I was picking up on, and conceivably the only one with which I could find a way of criticising myself;

and: maybe my fear of being misunderstood isn’t really about being understood or not at all but is actually about being judged and criticised and thought to be hopeless;

and: I remembered a question during the class which went something like ‘isn’t it unfriendly to sit and face a wall with your backs to the the people who you are meditating with” – what a good question! and my answer was something about how we have to work on our own stuff and not worry about what other people are doing AND that somehow this helps us all and doesn’t feel like we are cutting them off;

and: maybe that was what she meant and maybe there is a sense in which we don’t have to worry about other people even when we are helping them;

and: I remember being 12 and worrying a lot about what other people thought and felt, and isn’t that sad; and in fact isn’t it sad that I still worry a lot about what people think; and wouldn’t it be a relief not to carry this burden of worry and related fear.

and: it goes on.. and on…

And I find myself with this collection of perspectives and insights all laid out in front of me, and somehow the original concern seems to dissolve.

I used to think of this opening up process as a bit like following a thread that would lead somewhere, and often it did lead to thoughts and feelings long buried and not acknowledged. And thinking of it like that seems now to be too closed mind again – looking too much for some single underlying cause. So now I think of it much more like pulling a thread and the whole jumper just unraveling.

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2 thoughts on “Opening Things Up”

  1. Thank you Andrew for sharing your thoughts and feelings on your opening process. I am a Dutch lay practitioner, so my English is different.

    Msunderstandings and being misunderstood, it can hurt me. It can be painful. I have learned over the years after analysing situations over and over again, to just stay with the pain. That isn’t easy (to let go the thoughts etc and don’t run away from the pain.)ánd it is so simple (´hey the pain is gone, I don’t understand how is that possible?´). Every body has to deal with it in his own way. Everybody has his unique background. It is a miracle that we people can understand each other through words, having all different minds so to say.

    My ‘opening up’ to the pain of being misunderstood, has given me an unexpected gift: I understand myself each time better and better, and because of that I seem to understand others better and better (thats also what I hope because there is no garantee).
    Maybe thats what my training is all about.

  2. Thank you Wick for your comments. I really think you are right and it is a miracle that communication and understanding does seem to happen. Maybe this is what is important – believing that the miracle happens and its worth trying.

    After all I have written about it the abiding feeling about talking to the school students is that something passed between us – from them to me as well as me to them – that couldn’t really be put into words at all.

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