Another Skeptical Question

The Skeptic Troythulu has posted yet another thought provoking question:

“Are there ever times when life just doesn’t seem to go how you want it to?”  (Click Here for the blog entry)

Troy, to answer your question, truthfully, I’m at the point in my life (pushing 50… wow…can’t believe it…), where I can say “very rarely” life doesn’t seem to go the way I want it to. I can, almost, but not quite, take pride in saying I’ve gained a large measure of ataraxia. It has been extremely difficult in many ways, but I’m able to accept just about everything as it is. Note that in one sense there’s a tension between “acceptance” and “skepticism” (acceptance of everything requires “surrender” while the skeptical attitude requires that one hold out), but in a strange way the two are also similar. Eckhart Tolle–pure genius, the guy is incredible–says it best when he says it’s downright illogical not to accept what IS. No one wants to spill hot coffee into their lap and no one wants a rainstorm to ruin a day at the Hawaiian beach, but to rebel against these events makes no sense on many levels–logical and spiritual.

Aloha!

6 comments on “Another Skeptical Question

  1. Hi Aliman! I’m glad to find your wonderful blog today. I found it through a “Google Blog Alert” I have on Eckhart Tolle. I love your quote here from Eckhart that it is downright illogical not to accept what IS. I also enjoyed learning the word “ataraxia” which I had to look up on Dictionary.com- great word. I enjoyed attending some recent talks by Eckhart and wrote about this on my blog. I find I still get pretty reactive when things don’t go my way, or should I say when things don’t go my ego’s way. At least there is more acceptance of the conditioned reactivity. Here is another question for you: Do you think there can be a tendency or potential trap for spiritually inclined folk to deny or repress our “non-spiritual” reactions, such as anger, fear, sadness? This has been my experience at times- I’m embarrassed even to myself at how unenlightened my feelings can be, so I squelch these feelings down and put on a pretty spiritual face. Lately I have been longing for more authenticity, but sometimes I don’t even know when I’m lying to myself. I’d be grateful for your comments on these concerns. Thanks! Colleen

    • Thanks for the comments. There are a few videos on my YouTube channel (“directspirit”) on Tolle, also. You have to find them in the midst of all the stuff on Ontology and Process philosophy/theology which litters most of my channel. Aloha!

  2. Colleen, you ask the same kinds of questions I ask myself. My latest awareness is putting scare quotes around ” ‘non-spiritual’ ” like you did. I think you’re right on here. Because anger, fear, sadness, and other negative emotions probably aren’t really non-spiritual. They’re part of being human. Tolle (nor my spiritual experience) never discloses there’s anything out of place in a normative sense with anger, fear, and sadness. Jesus blasted the money changers in the temple, and Buddha still had emotional reactions even after he blissed out and stood up and walked away from Bo. I think the question is, How do we deal with these things when they arise? Do we deny them and push them down (I do this sometimes), or do we let them control us and we take it out on others (I do this, too!), or do we use the coping skills we educate our clients about, like stopping, closing our eyes, let it go for a moment, count to 10, then open our eyes and go for a walk around the block (re-direction of our attention)? Or do we feel we’re somehow bigger than those emotions and stand back and observe them? I do this more and more. “How interesting. There’s supreme frustration happening now. It will pass.” In fact, with the radical and chaotic funding crisis in Hawaii in mental health (I’m sure it’s the same in your state), after I feel that frustration I often transition it into a sardonic laugh… Are we REALLY supposed to panic and run screaming at the top of our lungs, and try to outrun the 80-foot tsunami that is 30 seconds from us traveling at 50 MPH? Or should we feel a calm surrender and raise our head and arms to the sky and embrace the power of God in a worshipful gesture and greet with courage and faith the next step on our journey?

    Aloha!

  3. Thanks so much for your enjoyable, honest, and helpful reply Aliman. Something I’m wondering about today is how pain can become fuel for consciousness. Can painful emotions and conditioned ego-reactivity be fuel for an increase in consciousness? Eckhart says that suffering has a noble purpose. I wonder if I “waste” my suffering when it could be jet fuel for greater presence?

    Something else that comes to mind today is that on a physical level, what determines healthy blood vessels is not that there is never any high blood pressure. What is healthy is the elasticity of blood vessels that can bounce quickly to a high blood pressure when faced with a major stimulus, and then quickly regain a normal blood pressure. It’s the flexibility of the system that is a sign of vibrant health, and not having a constant blood pressure that never changes.

    To put this on a parallel with the spiritual or psychological realms, I wonder if the exquisite reactivity of our psycho-spiritual-emotional apparatus is not necessarily a bad thing…We are alive and sensitive creatures and we FEEL things deeply and strongly and quickly. The sign of health may be the capacity to ride the waves of the nervous system with our higher consciousness and return to a baseline of equilibrium quickly after disturbing emotions arise. To numb-out and mistake that for being spiritually advanced is an error.

    • Yes, I think you’re right: Most of us waste or suffering. I think we waste it in two ways: 1) by denying it as you point out above (“To numb-out and mistake that for being spiritually advanced is an error.”) If we deny it, we can’t use it to grow. And 2) we secretly (or unconsciously) indulge in and enjoy our suffering. We gain satisfaction from telling others about our suffering. We vent, and we enjoy venting. After all, it feels good. This is another guise of “complaining.” Again, if we do this we can’t use it to grow.

      BUT HOW DO WE USE IT TO GROW? I think this is what Tolle is talking about in the video I posted called “Whatever is, IS” (also titled, “It’s never too late for awakening”). The way we use it is NOT tell anyone about it–don’t vent–don’t complain. Rather, keep it to ourselves and feel it fully. Channel it directly into ourselves, our awareness, our ego, and accept it for what it is. Sometimes I’m able to do this. I did it one time last week. The ego (for lack of a better word) is what causes the suffering. Suffering, in a sense, is destructive. When we channel the suffering into the enjoyment of complaining about it, we bring that destruction into our present “public” moment and it negatively affects our relationships and the suffering strengthens and perpetuates itself. It boosts the ego.

      On the other hand, if we keep the suffering to ourselves, and channel that “destructive” force into our ego, it helps to knock down the ego, so that the next time around there’s less ego there to indulge in suffering. The ego causes suffering, but we can use that very suffering to erode at the ego, thus making it easier next time to surrender the suffering.

      I’m reminded of Santiago Sia’s “From Suffering to God.” (Process philosophy/theology)

      Caveat: This isn’t easy to do. I’d never recommend it to people as a mental health professional. It puts too much pressure on an already stressed system. I think you have to be fairly psychologically healthy to engage in this kind of channeling of suffering.

      Aloha and Mahalo for your comments, Colleen. Your words are gold!

  4. Hi Aliman,
    I enjoyed reading your response enormously, and what you say clicks with me. Thanks for mentioning “From Suffering to God”, which I’m not familiar with, but it sounds like a great read and I will look it up.
    This whole perspective of suffering as guru (to use Eckhart’s term) really interests me. We learn how to ride a bike; could we possibly learn how to spin the “straw” of suffering into the “gold” of the peace which passes understanding? Hard times may lie ahead on this planet, and already it is very hard times for many…so the question of suffering itself as a valuable resource may be worth exploring deeply. Thanks so much for your reply Aliman, and for all the wealth of wisdom on this website. Namaste, Colleen

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