If I feel excluded, one of the questions is how do I exclude myself? And then look at how I exclude myself in my mind, in how I interpret the situation, and also how I exclude myself in a practical, everyday sense.
This comes up now and then in relation to our local spiritual group. It is usually not a big thing, but enough to slightly bother me.
More precisely, I slightly bother myself as an invitation to look a little closer, find what is more honest for me, what feels better, and what is more wise and kind in a practical, everyday sense.
Here are a few small examples:
At the last retreat I went to, the teacher made a big point out of how everyone were there because of suffering. I can of course find that in myself, as a facet, and it is good to notice. But for me, curiosity, exploration, and a sense of coming home is more in the foreground. Why not acknowledge the wider range of motivations? Also, we could say that love is the reason we are all there. Love for ourselves, wishing the best for ourselves and – yes – a release of discomfort. Love of truth and reality. Love of the path. Love of curiosity and exploration. Love of God.
He also emphasized the practice of noticing the “gap” between thoughts, as a way to recognize pure awareness. This was the main practice for many of the sessions, and one that it is very difficult for me since it involves pretending that there really is a difference between the two. For me, it is much easier and more interesting to notice that all appearances are awareness itself – awake no-thing appearing as something. Again, why not give those two options? They seem equivalent, but for each of us, one may work better than the other.
When I speak up in the group, I notice it tends to be misinterpreted. I often like to play devil’s advocate, or look at something one or two steps beyond the conversation, or sometimes pull it back to the most simple and basic, and i get the sense that others are not willing to play with this – or recognize that it is a play.
So in each of these situations, I can tell myself I am (somewhat) excluded.
Is it true? No. I see that I exclude myself. I tell myself I am excluded, and that’s how I exclude myself. It is my interpretation. My choice. My habitual tendency, to some extent.
What feels better? To take responsibility for this sense of being excluded. I do it to myself through how I think about it, and also through how I act – including as a response to that thought.
What is more wise and kind in a practical, everyday sense?
When he emphasized suffering as the reason and motivation to be there and do practice, I could have spoken up. There is obviously some truth to it, but it also seems very limiting to reduce all motivations to suffering. Why not include a wider range of motivations? For instance, why not also explore how it all comes out of love?
When I was given the instruction to look at the gap, it would have been more wise and kind to first try it out as presented by the teacher, and then find a way that works better for me, such as noticing that thoughts – and everything else – is awareness (awake no-thing, insubstantial, ephemeral). I did that to some extent, but also continued torturing myself by trying to follow instructions that didn’t work so well for me. I ignored my own (limited, yes) wisdom.
When I speak up in a group, and notice it is misinterpreted, I don’t have to give up. I can stick with the conversation until there is more of a sense of mutual understanding. That would feel better to me.
After writing this, I notice a thought and feeling come up. I feel that this is too obvious. Something I should have learned in childhood. And so on. It is good to notice. And also recognize that yes, this is something that many do learn in childhood, but not everyone. If we don’t, we’ll just have to learn it later in life. That’s OK too. It is part of the human experience, part of our collective and individual exploration, part of existence (life, the universe, God, Brahman) exploring and experiencing itself.
– retreat, everyone there b/c of suffering (me, for exploration, curiosity, entertainment)
– practice, look at the gap between thoughts, for me, look at all appearances as awake no-thing (have to work very hard to try to create a difference between thought/space between thought)
– speak up, misinterpreted – tend to feel it is not worth it, but could keep going until more mutual understanding
– “they exclude me” -> how do I exclude myself?
– not a big thing, but enough to slightly bother me, slightly bother myself as an invitation to look at little closer, find what is more honest for me, what feels better, and what is more wise in a practical/everyday sense
– what feels better, as guide for what is more honest for me, for truth/reality