Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the rejection of others

I don't think that we see quite clearly the manner in which we reject others.

This part we have within us which I call the "rejecting part" is quite subtle. It manages to run a great deal of our life while convincing us that it does not exist. It operates so reflexively, so automatically and mechanically, that we take it for granted and don't even bother to observe it. In fact, we are completely identified with it, and accept its manifestations without question.

I bring this up pursuant to the last post. We need every single manifestation of ordinary life for our work. Every individual we encounter and every circumstance we dwell within is material that feeds us. Our failure to actively participate in this fact of life is the chief reason that our inner life is starved of the substances it needs for our growth.

Christian and Buddhist practice make a great deal of compassion, and rightly so. The difficulty is that our compassion is largely intellectual. We think about compassion. It is a concept, an idea. Living it involves seeing that we don't have it, and that seeing needs to be an active seeing that is born of a certain kind of connection.

This connection is the connection between the mind and the body. Now, all of you have heard that idea many times. The difficulty, I see for myself, is that most of the time, we think that connection. The connection between the mind and the body is a very organic, immediate, and the literal connection. It is a physical connection that is experienced in the conjunction and intersection of the mind and the body. Just thinking about it is not enough. It has to move beyond an idea and into an actual, active, living and organic experience.

My wife pointed out to me this morning that it may not be that way for us initially. And of course that's true. It comes first as an idea, and it sounds right, or it sounds appealing. The effort of intimate attention, applied conscientiously over a long period of time, is needed in order to turn it into something more than an idea, and because we are relatively passive, we often don't bother with that.

If we do manage to reach the point where this becomes more than just an idea, then and only then do we have the opportunity to begin to do the work that Jeanne DeSalzmann calls "staying in front of our lack." Iif we do that work, we may begin to see that what we chiefly lack is emotion of a certain kind.

This emotional quality I speak of is not any casual emotion. Under ordinary circumstances, the only time when we get a taste of any emotional force close to this is through our negativity, which is, of course, an inversion of what is needed. But at least it is a taste, and that may lead us somewhere, if we begin to have a different relationship to our negativity.

On that note, I might mention, I myself find it is better to allow my negativity and live within it than to deny it. To allow it and see it feeds me more than any artificial repression could.

In any event, the rejection of life is all connected to this question. When we have a less partial relationship to our self, we begin to see that it might be possible to be in relationship to others in a different way. Instead of rejecting them reflexively, we might insert ourselves directly into our lives, inhabiting our body and our mind, seeing that something is missing there, while we are in relationship with the other. A more active awareness of how we are reveals the "vacuum" in the center of our being where there might, just might, be something more real that could relate to the other person, instead of letting the machine engage in its usual routine of finding fault with them, arguing with them, thinking that I am superior to them.

How do I experience that change in inner attitude?

I see that the other person is just as helpless as I am, unable to affect the quality of their manifestation. If they reject me, if they are cruel, or uncaring, or criticize me, it is only because we are all equally helpless. A little sympathy for that may cause me to raise the level of my sensitivity, not only for myself, but for them.

This work, this insertion of our awareness of our being, our mind and our body, in organic relationship, into the midst of absolutely ordinary life conditions -- not while sitting in meditation -- is the chief motive force for the beginning of real work in life. It requires a wish to meet life head on, look it in the eye, and squirm beneath the gaze of something that sees our own inadequacy. Only that discomfort, combined with the occasional and very real physical organic awareness of something that feeds us much more deeply, will call us to work harder, and with more love.

May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.


  1. Just what I needed today, lee, thanks.

  2. This is a rather intellectual post when compared to the practicality of your post in relation to how we must accept and not reject others. But I felt to post it anyhow.

    Having being raised Catholic and then having spent few years into the practice of Buddhism I always felt the difference in approaches between Christianity and Buddhism when it comes to our relationship with our neighbor. Buddhism is centered in Compassion which I always found to come from the Mind. Chistianity is centered on Love which I always found to come from the Heart.

    In some way all this may be connected to what it is said in Beelzebub’s Tales that all forms of pseudo-teachings we have seen throughout ages come from distortions in Buddhism while Christianity has been the Religion which best have served to make Life more tolerable among three-brained beings of the planet Earth.

  3. Thank you. I'd like to add a question or a suggestion, if the answer to the question is yes.

    Could it be that when we are more receptive to our bodily being we have also a possibility of being more receptive to the bodily being of another person? Could it be that receptivity to other person's bodily being helps us to be more open also to his/her mind and feelings?


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