A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Shadow (a.k.a. the First Noble Truth)

In the grand scheme of things, it's been a very decent day (give it a 6.5 on a scale of 10), plenty of pleasant moments, and yet what interests me now is noticing the "background static of ordinary unhappiness." (Tolle) All the fidgeting, all the restlessness, all the boredom, all the "wanting things to be different" amounts to a kind of unease and rejection of the present moment. There's a friction against the present moment- a clash behind mind and is-ness - which manifests as a vague sense of discomfort or unsatisfactoriness, also known as dukkha, the first noble truth.

It's the first noble truth because it is a revelation to realize the magnitude of subtle unhappiness in even supposedly happy human lives. While the acute unhappiness of major difficulties is recognized, there remains a huge ocean of suffering that is largely invisible, unattended to, discounted, overlooked, glossed over, because it's considered so normal; it's written off as "just the status quo" and therefore unworthy of attention.

It's staggering how much subtle unrest there is in a typical day, in the form of impatience, craving, a nebulous sense of dullness and tedium, or any other of the thousand flavors of ordinary unhappiness. If all this grittiness is overlooked, one could become a spiritual ninny. I've definitely fallen into this error of spiritual bypassing - basting in all the joy of clarity and deceiving myself that dukkha was a thing of the past for me. But that felt off. Yes, it's possible to sense the naturally joyful buoyancy of awareness that is ever-present behind the mind-parade; and that joyful buoyancy is in no way diminished even when the mind-parade is full of dukkha, dukkha, dukkha. It's also possible to sense that the open presence of awareness is actually one's self, whereas the transient surface moods of discontent are only passing clouds. Still, becoming conscious of and honest about dukkha is helpful. What is habitually unconscious can become conscious, what is ignored can be examined. Which may open up noble truths two, three, and four...


Cindy said...

Interesting Colleen. It is interesting to look at the inverse of awareness of life and look at the underlying itches. I feel an intense desire to get to the next moment, that much I know. Even now I wait for Val to return, only to probably wish she was all settled in so we can watch Netflix, only to wish it was over so I could go to bed, only to wish I could have the morning things over with so I could get on the road, only to wish all the chores were done, etc. I remember working full time in the city and feeling this incredible gigantic magnet pulling me to the weekend, it felt like I was being pulled into a long string I was desiring the future so much. :) Anyway.... guess I just felt like telling a little story.

Colleen Loehr said...

Wow Cyn- I think it is awesome to notice that weird pull to get to the next moment and to escape or breeze over the current moment. I have noticed this also and I think it is a vital thing to become increasingly aware of. What is my relationship to this moment? is a question that Eckhart recommends asking. Often my answer is "I'm in a tug of war with this moment, I'm wrestling with this moment wanting to get to the next moment. I view this moment as an obstacle to being where I really want to be- which is somewhere else than here!" The question helps me realize just how much I am resisting the present moment, just how much I am fighting against life without even realizing it. It's shocking and disturbing to see, but it's also a relief, because seeing is freeing. That which sees all the discomfort with the present moment is outside of the mind-craziness. Thanks for sharing your story! It is also my story, it is everyone's story. Now Jack says it is time to tuck him- bye.

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