January 18, 2013

Killing the Buddha, In the Portal to Step One

I have been making time to apply The Wisdom of No Escape to my program shibboleths.

I thought this would simply take me a few weeks. But I look back and realize it was back in October that I began applying what I was learning from Pema Chodron, to closely examine how I was doing my program.

Sometimes you the reader may tire of  this process, or even think that what I am saying reveals something "negative" about my program.  Feel free to tell me. 

But first, I want to challenge you to pause and look at yourself in the mirror when you feel like pointing out my "program" flaws. I also want you to remember we are all works in progress. 

Kindness and compassion are helpful.

I left off  in my last post, looking gently at what happens inside of me when I discover myself holding  too tightly to my belief in Step One.  

Remember, the operative Step One that I am apply in my program work,  is the statement, "I am powerless over my emotions (emotional responses to people, places or things)." The other part of this sentence as those of you in Sister program know, is that as a result of my lack of awareness, "my life became unmanageable." The harder I tried to fix my emotions, the more tangled up my life became.

Once I have admitted  Step One,  can I remain comfortable sharing my understanding, when someone chooses to challenge my admission on a loud note of disagreement? How do I respond? Do I have anger? What is the anger really?  Defensiveness. Fear of losing my religion. Sadness at not being able to share the journey with someone I could learn from.  Fear that they may not find what they need. The little girl inside me sometimes feels motivated to "just try harder" to explain using the "I" voice. 

But I am powerless when others understand my words differently than I intend. I speak out of my current belief exploration, and  I continue to be a work in progress.  You, the reader, read out of your current belief system. My job is to let you be a work in progress. 

Because we are learning together, there is nothing to judge. Our beliefs need not clash, even if you are questioning the most powerful understanding in our program. The concept of being powerless. 

Imagine the many ways your own belief system could actually make you blind.  In the Middle Ages, people accepted an idea that everyone had to believe the same way, or be the enemy.  This killed creative thought--there were all kinds of things that people could not see or hear because those things were outside of their belief system.  It happens today, between world religions that are threatened by one another's beliefs. This can happen especially when we attach to our religion's "central sacred figure" as the truth sayer everyone should worship, just as we do.  Safe in our religion, we feel confirmed and righteous.  This is fundamental theism at work. I was surprised to find that even Buddhists can be guilty of it.

I like to study from time to time, how those of great learning in each  tradition in the world religions try to challenge  this human tendency to "attach"  to the right-ness of their respective faiths.  Buddhism has a saying for how to do it:  "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha."  Surprisingly this is not as violent as it sounds.

To kill the Buddha is to make friends with whatever is considered especially correct or particularly wrong or different.  Buddhist experience is that when something truly seems bad, it will let go of itself if you get to know it completely. This is different from condoning or tolerating. This is being curious, but with good, open-hearted boundaries. 

It helps me to meditate first, and ask for HP's help in doing this. Even when having a Socratic-dialogue on the portal outside the door to Step One. Inside whose foyer many of us in program spend the most time. We might even look like we are worshipping on Step One. But only because we return to study it so often. 


  1. Hello friend! Undoubtedly I have replied to past posts illustrating my perception of your words, then sharing how it applies to my life and i am sure I have been waaaaayyy off. I apologize.

    Regarding what the reader perceives, believes, comprehends, though, is really not of great importance to me. That is not to say that I don't care if the reader gets me or not. It is to say that my blog is my personal space where I can feel comfortable writing ANYTHING. I have a beautiful group of gracious readers and to agree to disagree happens often and THAT'S OK!!!

    Open - mindedness. This is uncanny, really. The two prior posts I have replied to today was on this very topic. I shared over at "Sober Boots" where I am finding myself in a place I have never rested in. One of living my life with an open mind. I spent too many years of my life in judgement - and I judged you because I was afraid realizing I didn't even know who I was. So I grabbed hold of specific tenents and held tight - Oh, I believed these things, but I thought you were wrong if you did not apply my values to your life as well - yuck,, huh!!

    Today I have come full circle on SO MANY issues. Learning someone in my family has just come out announcing his alternate choice in lifestyle, ie; being gay while being Christian and married for twenty years to my sister. This is heavy stuff, , but today I can continue to love him and accept him for who he is,,, His lifestyle is between he and God, NOT ME.
    I'm rambling though, so I'll end with this. Emjoy your weekend!

  2. I had an experience a few days ago, in which someone attacked me verbally after a meeting, going from 0 (calm) to 60 (face shoved an inch from mine, ranting and raving, calling me names) in a matter of seconds. I was stunned that this was happening after a meeting, and I am occasionally taken aback by how unkind a reader can be, with their comment on my blog, although by far the greatest number are wonderfully encouraging.

    I have to remind myself that their vitriol is not my fault, whatever they may claim, and work to feel compassion for their struggle. I delete the rude comments, and try to let them go, remembering what a good friend said years back: "Happy people don't behave that way."
    So true.
    Good wishes to you.

    1. Yes, it is exactly when a situation goes from 0 to 60... in the intensity of a personal interaction.. that I too am stunned. I've noticed I go from 0 to 60, when I participate in something is written or spoken and forget to ask questions about our assumptions.

      H.A.L.T. helps!

      Thanks for taking time to share deeply from your experience.


  3. Dawn, there is nothing you have said in your past posts that has been off the mark, in my book. I really am open to all comments, as long as they are not nasty. I need others' perspectives and honesty.

    I am sure the anonymous one who clipped me one while reading, felt they were on-mark. And so I let the comment stand for itself.

    TAAAF, perhaps you have a point. When someone is particularly unkind, in a comment, I could simply delete. Compassionately give the benefit of the doubt and let the God of the Electronic Ethos.... erase the misunderstanding....

  4. It's helpful when I recognize that those who become angry at something I said or did may actually have their own problems and in some cases, after I inventory myself, I find that their anger wasn't about me at all.


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~