Monday, August 25, 2008

Question to Ponder...

submitted by Celeste W.:

"Buddhism (in a nutshell) teaches us that we seek escape from suffering through the three "lords" of materialism. By seeking refuge in these lords, we deny ourselves the honest path through our suffering to truth and change. On a lighter note, we busy ourselves with this and that so that we don't really have to look hard at the things in our life that our uncomfortable- the things that might prompt us to make real changes for the better.

These three "lords" are
1. The Lord of Form (e.g. sex, food, shopping, TV, internet)
2. The Lord of Speech (e.g. -isms, political movements, feeling "right")
3. The Lord of Mind (e.g. falling in love, spiritual transcendence, getting high, etc)

Not all of these "lords" are "bad" or addictions. In fact, most are benign, or even good- they wouldn't be "lords" if we used them differently. They can be any strategy that we resort to to take our minds of what is really bothering us- to feel instantly comfortable and to avoid the larger questions.

Easy question: What are some of the "lords" in your life?
Medium question: How are they categorized, or are they pan-categorical?
Hard question: which of your lords seems "good" and "right"? What will it take for you to free yourself from the "lord" in this activity/mindset while still holding on to the positive aspects?

Overall guidance: when answering these questions, avoid the temptation to beat yourself up or to feel badly about your list."

(Reference: "The Places that Scare You" by Pema Chodron


Pam said...

Thanks for your question, Celeste. Something I definitely use for comfort in times of stress is food and more specifically, pastries. When I feel crappy and want to make myself feel better, I tend to reach for that delicious icing dripped cinnamon roll from Specialty's cafe or something like it. Intellectually, I know this food will not make me feel better past the pleasure of eating it, and in fact, will most likely make me feel worse, but there is still some primitive part of my mind that thinks this food is my savior.

Celeste Winant said...

I should answer first!

Here are my various "lords", listed easiest-to-identify to hardest

1. TV (Lord of Form): at night, its so easy to be "tired" and just plug in, as opposed to taking the effort to have good conversation or work on productive projects with my partner.

2. Internet (Lord of Form): Lots of time at work spent trolling non-work related sites, often because the problems I am working on at work are too "difficult" and I need a break.

3. Music (Lord of Form, Speech, Mind). This is a hard one to reconcile, because Music is a very important and positive part of my life. But, I have been using it as a way to fill my calendar, as an excuse to not leave the Bay Area, to not commit to other things, to not push my career (either spend more time at work, or really think hard about a more satisfying line of work). I use it as an excuse to spend less time with non-music friends & loved ones. I may even be using it as an excuse to hold off deciding on building a family. I am constantly telling myself that I need to spend more time making music, and much much less time worrying, planning, organizing, etc. The latter really serves as a major procrastination device in my life.

It is a "lord of speech" because I play music and career off each other, saying that well, I can't get too involved in one, because I have to save part of myself for the other.

Jake said...

Interesting question. My biggest lord that I've been working on letting pass by for about a year now is the Lord of Self-Improvement and Self-Actualization (Lord of Mind).


I have spent so much time and energy battering myself up one side of my head and down the other to Be Better! to Avoid That! to Find The Joy! that I realized it was contributing to some pretty serious depression and was directly preventing me from achieving what it purported to be all about. I was fighting myself, living a double life - the "good" me and the "bad" me. Finally it hit me that I am just "me" and you know what? that's just fine.

Still not there yet, but this has been the most honest path I've ever been on.

Celeste Winant said...

Wow, Jake-

Thast pretty insightful- and come to think of it, I guess that I battle this one, too.

The book that I reference in the question might be a good read for you. You know that something has to change in your life, but can't find the productive path forward. The book really speaks to this. Or, maybe you've hit on it with your realization that you are just you! which is wonderful...