These days I value more than ever conversation and communication that explores rather than asserts. There is something intimate and expanding in that. Thinking; when it is rigid and mindlessly reflecting dogmatic claims is unappealing to me. Even claims about how one should practice in a spiritual way are not appealing as such. Buddhism has no shortage of claims to expertise.
In my own search and experience I have discovered that there is something of my intuitive essence that is aware of deeper truth that somehow, was conventionally deferred to other , assumed experts. It is something of a more authentic being that had been covered over in my learned attentiveness to beliefs, assumptions and deference to others. I support the search for scientific understanding but in the end much of the research regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease relates to a more conventional understanding of the self. Coming to a point where I am more clear about dogma and my own experience and the contradictions between them has been a most beneficial arising.
Recently I was involved in a discussion about the concept of dementia with a group. The discussion was not neccesarally focused on scientific explanations. As a social worker having worked in crisis, mental health for many years I am aware of these. There was some discussion about how it relates to self and/or no self but in the end there seems to be an absence of a sense of what a very Buddhist notion points to; that attachment to the small self and its related beliefs and assumptions have a lot to do with prolonging and perpetuating our suffering.
I cant help but think that the onset of dementia does nothing to all this; in fact it might possibly intensify this experience of suffering.
Awareness of the truth of self and how that influences the thinking process has been very helpful for me in reducing suffering that was once an affliction that was the consequence of my attachments and delusions.
We seem to habitually look to our words and the story they form for resolution of our difficult experiences. But could it be that the story we create insulates us from that direct experience as do the emotions that arise in that selective speculation.
It seems that it is fundamentally important to be with that experience and to pass through it unfettered by thoughts that might provide superficial and fragmented understanding. Nothing in our words can replace that experience. How can we be sure that our analysis, configurating and differentiating mind and arising related emotions can be creating a complete and authentic grasping of the whole of that experience.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties -this knowing, this feeling … is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.” Albert Einstein 1879-1955
The Buddha was just some guy who got serious and figured it out for himself, so maybe that is his real teaching; that you can figure it for yourself.
Much of what is written from the perspective of religion and spirituality has given me little or no solace. It most often strikes me as fantasies that have been elaborately constructed and forcefully imposed in order to stave off the possibility of death and nothingness: the more apparent reality for me. They have no power compared with the groundless vacuum that they seek to mask, and my reflective mind will have nothing of the consolation they may provide.
it is through this realization that there is an awakening to truth.
I want to understand who I am (if anybody), and how I’m connected to the rest of it. And yes, I want to stop suffering and I want to help others stop suffering.
When I was in despair, time passed slowly, so slowly. Now it sweeps by faster and faster, gathering momentum; now the shortness of life stuns me.
— Susan Moon
It’s not in striving to improve or perfect myself or in effort to become something other or to change what I am that I am focused in my living despite the fact that it very often seems to be the focus of others who follow Buddhist and other spiritual disciplines. From those individuals, I very often hear words that imply that one should be and act in a certain way and as well I so often encounter a deferring to teachers and teachings that seems more to suggest that I should ignore a more direct and intimate experience and inner revelations. So often it is pursued in a way, it seems, so that they might bring peace and a reduction in stress, with the intent that one might be better equipped to live a life as they have come to be molded and conditioned to do, so that they might better fit in or be more successful; ultimately, I surmise in the hope that one comes to be more content and accepting of one self. For me it is other wise, in that the way is more towards a way that is accepting of what I truly am illuminated by a way of being that I have forgotten myself to be of. It is in this that I am most aware of what is authentic, or not, as it relates to my existence. In that awareness another quality of internal light provides guidance. And that is what I am most concerned about. I have no doubt that in that orientation to what is authentic of myself there is an experience of contentment that is not as we might imagine it to be. It is not of a conventional notion of what comfort and peace of mind might be however it is we might perceive it to be and it does not seem to me that truth is discovered in striving for this ideal. It is more for me in the search for truth and in that a shift has occurred that involves adjustment and acceptance of a way that involves endless, ongoing change and all the discomfort that this might bring that is inevitably a part of life and death and a new way of coping and living and dyeing with that.