April 4th, 2002

The gentleman is always properly dressed

"Take him to the Tree of Woe"

It truly never fails. Express contentedness openly and the malcontents will descend upon you like so many vultures. Then, you start to realize that you're tied to the Tree of Woe and largely unable to defend yourself. Sure, you might be able to swing your head around enough to tear the throat of one or two of them, but really, you're at their mercy.

So really, that's how my day went yesterday. Well, sort of.

The odd thing was that in spite of it all - all the calls, all the sniping, and all of the various fires that needed putting out - I managed to hang on. In spite of my immobility, I managed enough courage and energy to say, "Screw you all. I deserve a day where I'm feeling something besides melancholy and anxiety." I felt playful and (dare I say it?) loved. Just because you've got your own concerns doesn't mean you get to take that away from me. If you can't appreciate the profundity of that, you're just going to have to wait in line to take a peck at my flesh. Don't be surprised, though, if I start laughing like a maniac when you try.

On another matter entirely, I'm starting to think that psychotherapy and buddhist practice are something at odds with one another. Yeah, I know that this idea probably comes as no big surprise to you practitioners out there, but do give me this moment. It's difficult to reconcile the concept of "no self" with the "self-exploration" that occurs as part of the therapeutic process. Perhaps I'm missing something fundamental because I'm more of a curious (thrill-)seeker rather than an actual devotee. I mean, is it enough to acknowledge that the grandiose assumptions (good or ill) we have about ourselves and the things we expect to do are illusions and that it is the expectations themselves that lead to disappointment and pain? Or, must I acknowledge that Self itself is nothing more than a grandiose assumption?

Maybe even asking the question itself is wrong thinking? I feel like I should read more, or maybe find someone to talk to. Of course, that's when I again find my way into the ironic:*

It is a great turning point in our spiritual lives when we go from an intellectual appreciation of a path to the heartfelt confidence that says, "Yes, it is possible to awaken. I can, too." A tremendous joy accompanies this confidence. When we place our hearts upon the practice, the teachings come alive. That turning point, which transforms an abstract concept of a spiritual path into our own personal path, is faith. - Sharon Salzberg


*Screw you too, Dave Eggers. Irony has more utility than the narrow definition into which you've pigeonholed it. (And yes, I'm one of the freaks who read through the appendices of your book.)
  • Current Music
    Cake, "I Will Survive"