Author Topic: Appropriate anguish?  (Read 2174 times)

Hungry Ghost

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Appropriate anguish?
« on: December 15, 2009, 07:49:37 am »
We are all on this path to end suffering. We* know body and mind and open to all experience. Equiniminty develops around thoughts, feeling, impules etc. Sometimes we are awake (not suffering) sometimes not (suffering).   But this raises a question....

  If you have a beloved dog, and one day on a walk this dog strays a bit and is run over by a truck.  His hind quarter has been crushed flat, and he is screaming in agony.   What is equinimity around emotion at that moment? what is being awake, not in terms of action, but in terms of felt experience at that moment?  If you do not feel anguish at that moment, is that equinimity, or pathology?  What is the answer, not in theory, but from your practice?







*please..."we" is just way of speaking, not atta.

Offline humanitas

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Re: Appropriate anguish?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2009, 07:52:47 pm »
From my personal practice (even though I've only been practicing a short time :D), I've found that if you feel anguish it's perfectly natural.  If you don't feel anguish it's also perfectly natural.  We* (I) have a tendency to distance that which hurts, to keep ourselves (myself) cocooned in our (my) ignorance.  Not feeling anguish would simply be an expression of this ignorance, nothing more nothing less.  I guess I could put all kinds of psychobabble words on it like dissociation, pathology, but really, in Buddhist-speak it's just Ignorance (with a capital)...  Maybe if you don't feel anguish it's because it's too much to bear.  But that is what it is, no need to judge it.  That's the ignorance displaying that we don't have the tools in that moment to stay with the moment.  If you'd been a vet, how differently would you experience that very same event?   Being "awake" and in the moment to me would be to be aware of how present you are in that moment (if that's watching yourself "going away" or feeling anguish, or whatever it is that is occurring inside and outside your mind).

One time a dog got hit in front of me as I was waiting at a crosswalk.  The dog was howling in pain, obviously its whole side just met the front end of a pickup truck... but I couldn't feel anything in that moment.  Maybe it was shock, who knows.  But even thinking back on that time, I still can't really feel the desperate pain of that specific instant and what had happened to that animal, maybe because of how it happened so fast, I just couldn't connect with the grisly scene of blood spattered everywhere, its back broken in two.  It was so heart-wrenching I couldn't "FEEL" anything WHEN it happened.  If I'd been a vet, I may not have frozen like I did because I'd have known how to keep cool with a badly injured animal.  When I've been in crisis situations where a person needed stitches yesterday my reactions have always been very rational, "unphased" is the word that those who know me describe my behavior during emergencies.  I have a knack for staying collected.  Something I'm learning to break open a bit...  But after that initial moment passes, the shock and exhaustion kick in.  With the dog stiuation, it was like the shock just kicked in.  For as long as I've been ignorant (apparently since beginningless time) I've learned it's really hard to predict how I'm going to react to any given specific situation.  I've also learned to just accept what I'm reacting like and try to not judge it or "guilt-trip" myself that I could/should have done more.   What I've learned and I'm taking a really long time to write it, is when you are confronted with a really emotionally difficult situation be very very gentle with yourself.  Practicing that kind of gentleness will eventually transpire in the ways you feel in new situations where you are confronted with fear/anguish/pain/suffering in a very raw manner. 
 >:D<  :heart: :hug:
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Hungry Ghost

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Re: Appropriate anguish?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2009, 10:24:54 pm »
Did you really say psychobabble?  :ack2:

Offline humanitas

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Re: Appropriate anguish?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2009, 11:10:08 pm »
Did you really say psychobabble?  :ack2:

I did...  do you think it was inappropriate?  :-S
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Offline Pema Dorje

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Re: Appropriate anguish?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2009, 11:11:16 pm »
I personally believe that actually feeling anguish in the here and now is completely acceptable, but not becoming attached to ones thoughts due to this. In example not thinking negatively about the driver of the vehicle etc  :namaste:
-Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.-
Gautama Buddha

overmyhead

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Re: Appropriate anguish?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2009, 01:26:38 am »
Good timing on the post HG, I was about to ask a similar question.

My grandfather passed away recently.  I did not experience anguish for myself - I was not too upset about *my* grandfather dying.  However, I was overcome with grief when I thought about my mother, and thinking about *her* father dying.  Just a few days ago, I said goodbye to my best friend, who I might not see for a very long time.  Again, I was minimally upset about leaving *my* best friend, but I was overcome with grief at the thought of him leaving *his* best friend.

It seems unavoidable.  Just as we allow for pleasure without attachment or aversion, it seems that we allow for anguish without attachment or aversion.  I suppose we could avoid this by projecting our equanimity onto all our relations, but this is almost always massively deluded.  They have attachments, and empathizing with them requires that we recognize this.

Hungry Ghost

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Re: Appropriate anguish?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2009, 07:36:13 am »
Did you really say psychobabble?  :ack2:

I did...  do you think it was inappropriate?  :-S
No, just being cheeky.  Wheres the emoticon for cheeky.... :wacky:  oh here..  :teehee:.



I think indifference is a "near enemy" of equinimity. Cant reference a canonical source for that, perhaps some else can?    But surely to not feel anguish at the suffering of others is pathological.  There is this teller at my bank who has worked there for a number of years, a woman in her thirties. I dont know her that well but she was nice enough.  The other day while walking by I saw her being escorted out of the bank by two cops. There was no struggle as they handcuffed her outside the patrol car.  She was sobbing and looked absolutely stricken, like someone whos life just ended.  To look at that situation and just say "this is what you do, this is what you get" may be technically true, but to not feel a broken heart is sick.  This is perhaps off topic, but it does raise the issue of what true equinimity is.  
IMHO to have equinimity around emotions, means to completely feeling them, not in an indulgent way, but in a conscious way. That means being pain, being joy etc. not being cool and disconnected.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2009, 07:56:46 am by Hungry Ghost »

 


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