Opening Ourselves Up To Fluid Possibilities of Being

A Buddhist Perspective on Addiction: Nothing is Vital – 3 Quarks Daily

Addiction comes from the Latin dicere, related to the root of the word dictator. It’s like having an internal dictator usurping our agency.

Furthermore, an addiction is like a useful set of armour that helps us through the world, but eventually it gets too heavy and cumbersome until we’re finally ready to start shedding it. Addictions offer a temporary illusion of protection from suffering that then becomes a cause of suffering. Specifically, addictions offer protection from the present moment. We’re fighting just being. We get a little bored or aggravated or sad, and we reach for a drink to soften the hard edges or start to scroll through social media to distract ourselves – anything to take us away from being right here right now. But if we can sit with the present and tolerate our discomfort with it, then what we might consider negative emotional states can be opportunities: boredom can become creativity, aggravation turns to innovation, and sadness can bring us to the awareness of the precious beauty in the world.

Our conventional growth and development involving learning to wear psychological masks and armour to fit into society. Post-conventional development involves learning to let go of these facades and thus stand out from society but in the process learn to fit into and just be ourselves.

Instead it develops the capacity of awareness of the moments of quiet that already exist between our thoughts. They’re there already; they just need to be noticed. These moments of nothing are vital. It helped me to understand like to a piece of music has rests that provides moments of quiet that are indispensable to the music, or similar to how a painting has areas of restraint, areas with nothing happening that are necessary for us to better see what is happening. Without the moments of nothing, music, art, and our minds are just chaos. We meditate to find that nothing. Once we can find these gaps between our thoughts, we can work to sustain them a little longer each time. It’s not about stopping our thoughts or fighting to get them to settle down, but just noticing those slivers of peace between them.

And then, once we grasp these moments of nothingness, we can begin to appreciate that we aren’t our thoughts. The self isn’t just a collection of ideas that come to us wrapped up in a brain in a stable body. We exist in the moments between our thoughts as well. And when we start to look at who we are, if it’s not our thoughts, then we’re nothing, but in the best possible way. We can be without having to be something. I can never remember this for long, though. I set up reminders because I’ve found nothing more useful to distance myself from ideas or arguments or expectations than mere observation of the inner world as distinct from identity.

To take it just a little further, this craving we all share comes from adhering to the illusion of having a separate self. We meditate to find that we don’t exist as a distinct entity. This is great because then we don’t have to worry about doing all the things!! We’re all part of a bigger ocean.

“Nothing matters.”

Without “emptying our cup” and holding space for ourselves, nothing new came come into being, emerging from that space deep within us.

“The New World is often found within the in-between moments of the Old World.”

We are not the character, the identity, we construct and are playing but are the limitless player behind the character.

We’re not comfortable with emptiness, so we try to fill it, grasping at fixing problems or finding that one solution to solve our issues instead of coming to terms with our true nature. People worry that finding the emptiness within will be like falling through space, but it’s more like floating in warm water or opening the door to an empty house that is rife with possibilities. Our dissatisfaction with ordinary life provokes us to seek a permanent euphoria, but everything is constantly changing anyway, so who really benefits from elevating the importance of particulars?

My intuition is telling me that there is something profoundly important about this statement that relates to a previous post of mine talking about using knowledge (via concept maps) to create a sense of “solid ground to stand on.” It’s almost like it’s telling me that I’m going in the wrong direction by striving to use knowledge to seek certainty.

Wait a minute. Or is it that I’m using knowledge as a crutch in this way? I am addictive in saving every article and paper the I read in PDF form, highlighting and annotating the parts of them that I find important. I think I do this because I believe that they can validate what I’m experiencing, seeing, and perceiving that others seem perceptually blind to. So it’s almost like I don’t trust myself and accept myself, the being that I becoming.

But to fully accept and trust myself, I need to let go and “float in the warm water” of possibilities, without trying to contain and codify myself within a “collection of ideas” that solidly define an identity that I can stand upon (thus defining me as one thing but also limiting me in the process of my becoming something more). I think this is one of my greatest fears and frustrations, my inability to articulate my identity in a conventional way that people will understand, because the scope of what I’m working on seems so massive and encompassing, as if to include all of life itself.

It’s funny. I remember decades back talking about my frustration with categorizing the content on my website because I felt like I couldn’t contain it within one area or discipline but rather it needed to straddled multiple borders. It sounds like I’m experiencing the same thing in terms of categorizing my identity.

What’s poignant about this all though, particularly the quote about “floating in warm water,” is that I already realize what I’m talking about here. It is the continuum of creativity.

In effect, so much of life is initially seen as crossing rivers as obstacles by creating bridges across them. What I’m slowly learning from vertical development though is that the “river” isn’t something to avoid but something to eventually immerse oneself within, as it is the creative source of life itself. Thus life is about learning to master creativity by experiencing it in greater forms.

Yet as been proven time and again, knowing something and truly understanding the wisdom of it on an experiential level is two completely different things. That’s because immersing yourself in a new realm of being can be just as fearful as immersing yourself fully into water for the first time when you were young. Once the initial shock and disorientation wears off though, it becomes quite exhilarating and wondrous in its nature.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for the roleplaying game called Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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