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Jun 14

Written by: nanzo
6/14/2009 7:53 PM

While discussing the topic of the Reverse Vector at the June TAT Meeting, Augie Monge mentioned my previous blog (which also appeared in the February 2009 TAT Forum), for which I am deeply grateful, as I hope that my writings can be of some benefit to those on the spiritual path. From the first paragraph he quoted a passage where I described how a hypothetical “youthful seeker,” while in a mood, makes a commitment to find self-definition and realizes the need to reverse his vector. However, the initial enthusiasm wanes, and while in a different mood is replaced by feelings of failure, deprivation, and inferiority. The youthful seeker compensates by trying to achieve certain goals to prove his self-worth, and indulges in various gratifications in order to fulfill them. The seeking of these goals and gratifications dissipates his energy and weakens his will to reverse the vector. He stays in this quandary, between enthusiasm and hopelessness, for many years to come.

First of all, let me admit that the description of the youthful seeker in my previous blog is autobiographical. The youthful seeker has turned into an “old-timer” still fighting the good fight. Now I would like to add some personal insights, which reveal how I stayed in this quandary for so long.

When I first joined TAT as a young college student in 1974, I, then as now, sincerely believed I wanted the final answer to who I ultimately was, and to the question of life and death. My motive was genuine. But like most everyone else, including sincere spiritual seekers, the motive was not “pure.” It was contaminated by gravity, which included everything from heredity, environment, social conditioning, the effects of behaviors, traumas, humiliations, and what Rose called “the exigencies of living.” Our organism is hard wired for mundane survival. The young, insecure and living at the dawning of adulthood, are driven to develop the skills necessary for the continuance of the race. If certain wants and needs, real and perceived, are not met to this end, inner and outer conflict ensues. The seemingly elusive goals of esotericism and metaphysics are prone to take a backburner.

By the time I was in college, the feelings of failure, deprivation, and inferiority were so pervasive that despite reading the Albigen Papers, hearing Rose’s talks, attending Pyramid Zen meetings, and spending six summer weeks down at the farm in 1976, I fell into a massive rationalization. Being young, and with raging hormones, I figured I needed to achieve certain goals, and satisfy my wants and needs so that I could better focus on seeking the Truth at a later date. This, even as I knew what Rose wrote on the subject. Well, here I am at 55 years of age, and I now finally realize I’m never going to satisfy most of what I wanted. Attrition due to old age is one reason, but it also turns out that most of what I wanted, and what I thought I needed, I didn’t need, anyway. Not only that, but if I got what I wanted, it probably would have gotten me into more trouble. I’ve concluded I was not meant to have what I wanted.

Just so you get an idea, here briefly is a short list of what I wanted. I wanted, no—needed to prove I was an “intelligent” person, partly because I was the kid that flunked kindergarten, and partly because I didn’t score as high on aptitude tests as others. I was not able to get into a professional school. Being a professional was the mark of being intelligent. I wanted to be able to earn a middle class salary, and if not marry, at least have enough income to support a family. That was the mark of not only of success, but also of the ability to make spiritual effort. After all, being a spiritual seeker doesn’t mean you have to be poor. In high school and college, I never dated a woman. What was it like to date? Etc, etc. All these issues overwhelmed me for many years. I was deeply conflicted by them.

Hindsight, utilizing our current wisdom, is easy. “If only we knew then what we know now,” as the saying goes. Richard Rose, citing this saying during a talk, remarked by saying that, “Everybody becomes wiser as they get older. It’s no great accomplishment.” And I would add, especially not a spiritual one. With that as a caveat, let me suggest an approach to the quandary I would like to have used in hindsight.

The approach involves first finding, then accepting, our limits. By limits, I mean the limits of all we need (real or imagined), want, aspire to, and achieve in our mundane lives. To do this, we must first make sure we keep our eye on the target, which is our desire to Become the Truth. No want, need, or goal in life is more important. It is our prime motive. But, as I mentioned earlier, the motive is not pure; it is contaminated by gravity. Gravity includes not only the factors I previously mentioned, but also our illusions and obsessions. Feelings of failure, deprivation, and inferiority were my illusions and obsessions, causing me to want to fulfill certain goals and desires. This is where, in hindsight, I would have “thought through” the matter more thoroughly by engaging in a relentless self-inquiry. The self-inquiry would have involved making an inventory of all I wanted and thought I needed in the mundane world before I could give adequate focus to my spiritual aspirations.

Then I would have asked myself enough questions to get to the truth of the matter. What I mean is, I would have “beat the thing to death” with questions, until the right answer was given. “What are the absolute limits of your abilities, goals, wants and needs?” “Do you have the capacity to achieve and fulfill them?” “If you can achieve and fulfill them, then what?” “Will you be satisfied, and proceed to focus on the spiritual path?” “Or will you crave for more in the mundane world?” “Will continuing to strive for them be an impediment on your spiritual path?” “What if I keep failing in life, don’t get what I want?” “Could failure in the mundane world be a good thing spiritually?” “Could I pay a fatal price trying to ‘succeed’?” “Is it actually better if you are ‘limited’ in your abilities so that you won’t be diverted, and perhaps be more motivated to pursue the spiritual path dynamically?” I believe such a relentless self-inquiry, engaging myself “holistically,” with my body, mind, and heart, might have led to greater spiritual progress.

My particular illusions and obsessions had to do with my relationship with others in matters of success and failure. I had a low opinion of myself. Others were better, smarter, and more successful than me. But they, too, had their limits. What did their being “better, smarter, more successful” amount to in the greater scheme of things? And here was I, who actually had the “gift of perception,” by which I mean I had at least realized there was the possibility of Enlightenment in this lifetime. Why did I put myself in an inferior position? By the way, I haven’t overlooked the irony that feelings of “inferiority” could actually be feelings of superiority in disguise. But in that case, is there not a limit to my “superiority?”

No doubt a major reason I remained in this quandary was that I was not mentally celibate. I am certain that if I had success in mental celibacy, I would not have been in the rut so long. Desires are generated by reverie. I now realize that all I thought I needed and wanted was largely reverie-driven. I’ve seen my limits in that area. But also, I have just gotten sick and tired of not being celibate.

So, after thoroughly thinking the thing through, and intuitively perceiving that, as Buddha realized, all phenomena is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and unsubstantial, would I have accepted my limits? Perhaps.

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3 comments so far...

Re: On Finding and Accepting Limits

Well said and written my friend always good to see you at the TAT meetings.

By Gary on   6/25/2009 10:57 AM

Re: On Finding and Accepting Limits

Great post Nanzo. Great post.

By Freedom on   6/25/2009 10:58 AM

Re: On Finding and Accepting Limits

Excuse my ignorance Nanzo, but I can't stay physically celibate for very long without also practicing mental celibacy. I take it that you can.

By selfdef on   9/19/2011 12:02 AM

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