Sunday, June 13, 2010

Walk the Walk

I recently had an incident where I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Under a lot of stress at work, I vented when I should have remained silent. I posted caustic remarks on Facebook. A co-worker that is on my friends list had to have logged on for my supervisor, showed them the remarks. I got chewed out and it got posted all over the facility, as an example of what not to do. Now, I can hear all you rebels out there screaming about freedom of speech, and privacy acts. My first thought was in that direction, also. I deleted all my coworkers, and all suspicious people from my friends list, and posted a lot of crap about freedom of speech, those that have successfully won cases involving facebook postings, etc. I was indignant over what I perceived as Gestapo tactics, invading a private sphere that I used to blow off steam over a really bad few weeks at work. So, what was the outcome?

Strained relations at work, I can tell you. Anger. Resentfulness. Feelings of persecution. I considered making a big issue out of it. Then I re-read my previous posts.

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
Kahlil Gibran

Wise words. Now I have to come to some sort of conclusion about the whole mess. As I look back at my words here, I realize that I have, as we used to call it in my youth, 'backslidden'. This is a term to describe Christians that have fallen away. They are still technically part of the Kingdom, but they have lost their way- hopefully for the moment. As an anger junkie, and one with a large chip on my shoulder, I backslid and gave way to my old, comfortable feelings. All issues about privacy aside, my actions are the real problem here, not the outcome.

Conquer thyself, till thou has done this, thou art but a slave.
Sir Richard Francis Burton

Ah, more wise words! And isn't that the real reason for the journey? To improve ourselves, to be better people? To leave this place better than we were, in hopes that we have improved things just an iota? In the martial arts, we are taught not to gauge ourselves against others, for that is self defeating. No, we compete against ourselves, sometimes showing little to no progress. But the journey is the reason, not the progress! Due to injuries, I have been plodding along at the same level for years, and it never seemed to bother me. I rejoiced over any small improvement, and was glad I was able to do it at all. So why can't this attitude spill over into other areas of my life?

Again, I see the habit of confusing our 'spiritual world' and our 'physical world'. We want to separate it, to live one way here and another there. We want to be enlightened when the heat isn't on, basically. And that is a failing. For it to be of value, it must work all the time! Since it didn't work for me, then I must be faulty. My personal philosophies have to work not just here at the keyboard, where all is fine and the world is peaceful. It has to be useful to me when I am in the thick of it. My job is very stressful, but that is no excuse. I need to either find another job, or find the key to this one!

Well, looking back over my postings about change, and shifting through all my notes, I decided that the best response was for me to start fresh, with a new perspective. I have done so, and the last few work days have been very rewarding for me. And, being the type of place it is, others have done things so horrendous that my little faux pas is now considered old news- all this within a week! So, I did get something out of the experience, a reminder that all is fleeting. Had I not been so absorbed in the problems of the moment that I forgot to view the 'big picture' I would not have had to relearn this particular lesson.

The moral is: if you live in a glass house, be careful what you do. Everybody can see.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Those Selfish Buddhas

It is said that Gautama Buddha lived a life of pleasant distraction, and didn't see misery until he was quite grown, with a wife and children. The experience led him to leave his sheltered life, and seek a solution for human suffering. His conclusion was that we suffered because we had desires. So- and, let me state I have sought long and hard, studied many texts and authors before I came to this conclusion- his solution was to not care. If you care, you hurt. Want nothing or nobody. Desire not! Do not get involved!

Selfish crap. This is the world we live in. If you cant' make it a better place, at least don't wash your hands of it! You are the constant, not the sutras or the Buddha. He was just a man trying to deal with his inability to accept life as an adult. Real warriors don't run from the troubles of the world!

Again, let me stress that my definition of a warrior needn't be one that involves weapons or other forms of military conflict. A fighter is one that fights simply to fight. A warrior has a moral imperative as well, a focus. He fights for a reason. If may just be to raise his family in a chaotic world, or to bring stability of some sort. He may want to do something positive in his community or simply be a good neighbor. A warrior is part of a solution, and rarely the problem. When he does become part of the problem, he corrects it. It is akin to doing your duty. But you have to care about the world around you to do this!

I am not knocking Zen, or other philosophies. I am just saying that somewhere in there, the 'chop wood, carry water' is being overlooked and we, particularly those not raised in this tradition, are more drawn to the trappings and the fact that it is exotic than we are to the meat of the subject. Here is a Zen parable I like a lot. An 'enlightened' monk was carrying a heavy load; it may have been Hotei, the 'Laughing Buddha. At any rate, he was asked what enlightenment was; he put his sack down. He was asked what the realization was: he picked it up. So, real enlightenment isn't about ignoring the world, or finding distraction. It is attending to all the things we always do with an enlightened attitude. Once more, the thing different is you!

Speaking of Hotei, he is a good example of thinking outside the box. His sack was full of goodies for the small and poor, and he would much rather laugh and play hide-and-seek with children than study old scriptures in a stuffy room with serious people. He lived his Zen, he didn't preach it or become caught up in being stylish. He is a good example of how to attend to your obligations in life and still have a life worth living!

The same can be said for most Christians. Can you walk the walk while putting up with all the foolishness at your workplace? Is your faith something you can take with you to Wal-Mart? Do you feel you have to put it aside to get ahead? Anybody raised in church knows what I am talking about- the urge to fit in, to not be the strange one walking this lonley path while others seem to be having fun while you observe your list of rules and sigh over the things you feel you are missing. The fact that people only seem to be having a great time- in reality, this is the only way they know to relate to things, the meeting of wants- they aren't creating anything lasting or worthwhile in the long run. It is all momentary, fleeting!

There! I have even given myself some things to think about!