Is this you?
- Are you always searching for a new thing?
- Is there a new book/system out that will supercharge your life, make you become more this or less that?
- Is there a new idea that will give an explosive start to your journey to lasting happiness?
- When faced with a choice to either do the work or talk about doing the work, you’d love to talk, wouldn’t you?
- When faced with a choice to either go to the park to do a workout or to YouTube to watch a video about a guy who does a workout, you’d watch a video wouldn’t you?
I sure am guilty of all this and more.
Long time ago I heard a term “Self-development Jackass” being used.
Again! Guilty as charged!
Google helped me to remember that it was in Tripp Lanier’s podcast:
So, have we not learned anything the good teachers have told us?
Learn to love this life, and live it, then philosophy and self-improvement will have a value. Only if you accept this one as it is now and engage with it, you will have something to improve.
I have a lot of interest in all this stuff, and somewhat geeky relationship to finding new cool ideas to put in use. I am not saying at all that one should not read that cool new book or try that workout program or that mediation to the sound of Tibetan Singing Bowls! Not saying that you shouldn’t give them all a go!
Just saying that you must have your expectations aligned correctly and you must know from where the effect, if there is any, will come.
Traps to fall into
Philosophy-consumer – searching for the best deal
There is a lot of stuff out there for you. There is a trap of being a spiritual shopper, browsing from one thing to another, expecting that it will magically “work” for you. It is easy to seek for instant gratification from teachings, tips and tricks, snippets of cool ideas and whatnot. Grass is greener on the other side, so it is tempting to jump to the next one when this one does not seem to “work”.
Nothing will “work” for you by itself, you make it work by working on it. Unexamined “wisdom” stays just that.
I believe that it is not about choosing the right system, or choosing the right components to your eclectic practice, or having met the right guru online or offline. The magic component is what you put in to it all.
The consistency and the actual work.
Hiding from the Real World
This is a trap of indulging yourself with self-development, practices, theory, books and workshops instead of facing the life and its problems head-on. There is a great temptation to do that.
The temptation comes from the feeling that “I am working on myself” when you are not. Don’t fall for it. It is always easier and more tempting to dive in to the teachings rather than applying any of them. Easier to go your room to meditate rather than having a difficult conversation.
Ask yourself if there is something that needs to be done.
Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48OjGzZQPUY
When you have real-life problems to deal with and spiritual work to be done, real life should take precedence. You should not sit Zazen when your house is on fire.
(There are also people who are only concerned with practicalities, completely ignoring the philosophical side of life. I am obviously talking here to the likes of myself who have the opposite tendency.)
“Spiritual bypassing, a term coined in the early 1980s by psychologist John Welwood, refers to the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with uncomfortable feelings, unresolved wounds, and fundamental emotional and psychological needs. “
“Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”
Mind what’s going on with you
Stay vigilant, keeping an eye on each thought, impression and reaction that passes your mind. Notice every interaction you involve yourself in and notice every response you give, be it inside your mind or one that comes out of your mouth.
No-one said it is going to be easy.
The good ol’ Stoic does a morning meditation to kick off the day with strong intentions and an evening ritual to go through the day and review his/her actions to find areas of improvement.
This is all good and necessary but the real practice is the one that goes on moment-to-moment each minute of each day.
You said something to someone. Was that something productive, truthful and coming from love and caring?
You felt impatient when listening to someone. Was that impatience making your or someone’s life better? Could you have learned something if you had been more patient and actually listened what was said to you, maybe even engaged in a conversation?
You got angry at someone about what they did or did not do. Was the thing objectively so bad that it warranted your strong emotions? Did you get carried away with those emotions?
Did it help?
Could something better have been done about it?
Keep an eye on these. Ask yourself hard questions, give honest answers.
If you are trying to implement a philosophical system or a piece of wisdom in your life, check these observations against that; does it all look right? Are your responses aligned with what you want to see changing?
Correct your words, actions and responses as you go.
- Observing your responses and catching unhealthy ones early, rather than reading, workshopping or attending courses, is the real work.
- The real work is done moment-to-moment, day-in and day-out, not during one epic sitting.
- You may need some theory, but only so much of it.
- Do the push-ups rather than watch a video where a guy does push-ups.
- If your bathroom faucet leaks, fix it or call the plummer before administering yourself Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
- And hey; why not learn to love _this_ life?