Tag Archives: ego

monthly buddhist carnival – the weird and cranky edition

angry buddha sculpture

it is a sticky little
mouse trap that
running us in
get off.

(from full on arrival)

today is a weird day for me, completely, it seems, driven by ego.  today is june 15, time for a buddhist carnival, like every 15th of the month.  today, i will take you on the back alleys of the carnival – you know, the ones with the empty boxes just barely stacked behind the circus tent, with the lion tamer hissing at the trapeze artist, and the guy who runs the merry-go-round lighting up a joint for the fourth time today, and it’s only quarter past five.

let me show you a bit of the ego that drives the circus of this blog.  maybe the shock of the 100-watt light bulb will scare the ego away.

aha!  and already we have the ego talking – because that’s the language of the ego:  “scare”.  fear works, doesn’t it?  just ask any abused woman who stays with the guy who beats her day in day out.  ego knows that fear works, it keeps people trapped.  trapping – that’s another thing this ego knows about.  i’ve spent most of today trapped behind the computer, and not because someone put me in a cage, no – simply because i trapped myself there.  cranky, with only a glimpse of pleasantness here and there, i didn’t want to go anywhere and do the things that move my mood ahead.  and you know what?  there was a grim satisfaction with all of that.  check up on lexulous, go to twitter, check email, round and round and round – “a wheel running us in circles”.   “you hate this!”  “yes!”  i can feel my teeth clamped together, ready to snap at anyone.  i haven’t started dinner.  i haven’t written this blog post.  grrrrr.  “you hate this!” “yes!”  round and round.  there’s a sense of wicked pride in wasting time.  grrrr.

(there’s probably something underneath all this. )

it feels strange to spew all of this forth in a blog post; i’m not supposed to do this – what am i, a 15-year-old emo who regales her audience with every detail of her oh-so-fascinating inner life?


but it felt like i needed to try something different.  so there you go, you heard my ego talking.  and now for some people who have way more interesting things to say, this time simply as links to interesting buddhist blog posts i came across in the last little while:









where is the “you”

there’s so much “me” in this head
so much “i know” and “you don’t” –
this gestalt, this entity they call “i”
is full up, like a closet whose owner refuses
to take those old rags to the sally ann.

where is the “you”?
where is “would you like?” not “but you should”
where is the soft “you”, the other, the “thou”,
the curious, loving, patient, warm gaze
that longs to rest on the richness
of more-than-i …

right here. no need to wait.
i’ll just open my heart.

a solution for “but”

this morning i posted this on twitter:

question to my buddhist friends: fear of connecting deeply with dharma/the divine = fear of ego death?

william replied in a blog post, ego and the self.

he has some interesting thoughts there that i encourage you to explore, and finishes thusly:

the more we meditate and practice various forms of mindfulness, the less it — the ego — feels a need to hold on, knowing that we always come back to the body and its collection of smaller selves we call “me.”

my immediate reaction was, but meditation is exactly one of those things that my ego resists like crazy!

my second reaction was: i just returned from a few hours of solution focused counselling training and would like to see if i can apply some of the things presented there (by richard hyams, by the way).

you see, one of the things we talked about was BUT.

as in,

  • i’d like to apply for this job but i’m too old
  • i think going to school would be a good idea but i have to wait until my law suit is over
  • it’s really time for me to go on a vacation but with this bad economy …
  • i guess this would be a good idea but my friend joe tried it and it didn’t work

you get the drift.

here’s a little dialogue i wrote out in response to my objection:

question: on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being next to nothing and 10 being superhuman force, how strong would you say the resistance is?

answer: different on different days.

q: that’s interesting! what’s the range? maybe 3 on one day and 9 on a really tough day?

a: hm. i’d say somewhere between 4 and 10.

q: superhuman force? you’re pretty strong!

a: well, maybe not superhuman force. enough to keep me from doing it; but i WOULD meditate if i had to or if others were doing it, too.

q: that’s a … what on the scale?

a: 6.5, maybe. actually, a 5.5 because it’s not that i don’t want to. i just don’t do it.

q: interesting. and what would life be like without that resistance?

a: aaaaah. very free.

q: what does that freedom feel like?

a: free. joyful.

q: free and joyful.

a: yes. real good.

q: hm. so. so i take it you’d really like to have that freedom?

a: absolutely! but …

q: but …?

a: but i’m afraid it wouldn’t last.

q: you’re afraid this freedom wouldn’t last?

a: yup.

q: do you think it’s possible to NOT have that fear?

a: oh, yeah, definitely.

q: you sound quite convinced.

a: oh yeah.

q: so you’re convinced that … never mind, why don’t you tell me in your own words. you’re convinced that … ?

a: i’m convinced that it’s possible not to be afraid of losing my freedom. the freedom i’ve gained from losing the resistance to meditate.

q: i wonder what that would sound like if we made it shorter; it’s hard to say it with all the “not’s” in there. what would it sound like?

a: let’s see. okay, here: “i’m convinced it’s possible to … live in the freedom … the freedom that comes from wanting to meditate, and meditating every day.”

q: mmmmh. what’s that like, saying that?

a: it feels like there’s already some freedom. it feels like there’s some space that opened up in my head.

q: in your head?

a: yeah, in my head, because that’s where that fear and reluctance sit.

q: and now there’s more space?

a: yeah. and … i have a question.

q: what’s that?

a: how can i hold on to this, and act on it?

q: let me ask YOU a question: how would you know that you ARE holding on to it, and acting on it?

a: that’s pretty obvious. i’d be meditating every day.

q: and you’re wanting to do it, and it feels very free,

a: yes. i’m wanting it, and it feels free.


a: you know what? how much time do we have left?

q: about 15 minutes.

a: could we meditate together, right here and now? would that be alright?

q: of course! about 10 minutes?

a: perfect!

… and 10 minutes of meditation ensued. thank you, richard!

now what, you wonder, has that to do with NaNoWriMo? you may recall that i pledged to connect every post in november to NaNoWriMo.

it’s actually quite simple. certain of my creative endeavours have a strongly spiritual element. my novel is one. somehow it connects me to the divine. in fact, when i first posted the tweet that i mentioned in the beginning of the post, i was thinking of the slight reluctance to work on the novel.

nuff said. i will now continue with my good novel.

a buddhist carnival on father’s day

laughing, imperfect buddhahello friends, and thanks for visiting this month’s buddhist carnival!

before we start, i want to say:

happy father’s day!

and i want to tell you a bit about my father, who passed away 12 years ago. it was my father who awakened my interest in buddhism. buddhism was a philosophy that suited my father well. when i think of him, the first emotional images that arise are of a calm but passionate man, who was intimately aware of the nature of illusion, and who was infinitely compassionate yet unentangled with other people’s suffering. he also had an all-encompassing sense of humour that often seemed to hold the whole world’s vast absurdity in his loving, warm hands. yes, he talked about buddhism here and there, but more than that, he was an example of it. i don’t think i ever heard him use a phrase like “living in the moment” but even in his darkest days (and there were many!) there was always a sense of presence about him; perhaps he often did not live in the moment but he was frequently aware of it, and it showed.

it is interesting that this immediate recall i have of him is always much louder and more intense than the other stuff: like many “gurus” (a very charismatic man, he was a strong influence on those around him, most of them fellow artists), he was fallible in countless ways. he was manipulative and had that impossible sense of entitlement so typical of the european aristocracy that had survived the upheavals of history anything but intact. this man was also addicted to just about anything that caught his fancy, and struggling, for his life many times, with bipolar disorder.

and yet, as i paint this all-round picture, these all-too-apparent shortcomings serve nothing but to enrich the image of my father that i carry in my heart.

i am deeply grateful that i can say “yes” to all that my father was. that, too, comes from him: this fierce doctrine of inclusion and acceptance.

thank you, father. or let me talk to him directly, in german:

pappi, danke fuer all die geschenke, mit denen du mich ueberhaeuft hast. danke, dass du mir den buddha geschenkt has.

and now: let’s move on to the carnival:

the essence of the sutra is a poem
i really like opening this carnival with a poem. in this post, the sutra on knowing the better way to live alone – thich nhat hanh we hear

the essence of the sutra is a poem. the buddha wrote poems, but the poems of the buddha were more designed to show us how to practice. the gatha which talks about the art of living alone is called the bhaddekaratta gatha, bhaddekaratta means “the best way to live alone.” many people have mistranslated this title: one master translated it as “practicing for one night.” there’s also another master who translated this title as “being present.” the correct translation is to say “the better way to practice living alone.” this poem says:

do not pursue the past.
do not lose yourself in the future.
the past no longer is.
the future has not yet come.
looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.

all of the essence of the buddha’s teachings lies in these words.

next, a post on loss by our friend chris, the martial artist, who has been a welcome guest here on this carnival quite a few times already. he talks about a topic that i have been thinking about lately, so i was happy to hear more about it. it is called investing in loss, investing in ego

the hero’s journey starts with self-reinforcement, passes through acceptance and internal quietude, to arrive at listening, learning and perhaps, ultimately, transcendence. this is the common path of spirituality and martial arts. to win, one must first be sincerely willing to lose more than just their footing.

as often, i am presenting this carnival in two parts. i find it contradictory to praise the simplicity of buddhism and then at the same time flood you with even more words than i usually do.

the second part will come out in the next few days, some time before june 20.

in the meantime, if you have an article about buddhism you would like to see featured here, please use this submission form.

and don’t forget

do not pursue the past.
do not lose yourself in the future.

in gassho,


(image by T a k

a buddhist carnival – 2nd edition, part 3

okay, here we go, part three of this month’s buddhist carnival. the first post is directly related to buddhism; the other ones discuss topics that are often dealt with in buddhist practice and literature.

talking to your zen mind
the middle way, you’re soaking in it is a post we can find at traviseneix, describing the big mind process of genpo roshi.

the process really is as simple as asking to talk to a certain voice, and answering in the affirmative, naming yourself as that voice. to get an idea i highly recommend watching the youtube series which begins here.

this method is also very valuable for meditation. the simple process is to center yourself, like you would for zen sitting … then, in the role of facilitator, ask to talk to the non-seeking non-grasping mind, “may i please talk to the non-seeking non-grasping mind?” then, answer back as that mind, “yes, i am the non-seeking non-grasping mind.” then you simply sit as that non-dualistic mind for the duration of your meditation.

ego or soul? who’s driving?
tupelo kenyon says “even though i identify my sense of self with soul, there seems to be another “something” inside forever jockeying for position and making its presence known. this is the ego. what’s the difference? how can you know which one is in charge? what are their characteristics?”

since i prefer peace to mayhem and contentment to perpetual, blind striving, my goal is to keep soul in the driver’s seat as often as possible. instead of an either/or situation, i like the idea of soul and ego peacefully coexisting in a manner that best serves the greater good.

as always with tupelo’s posts, you can listen to instrumental music as you read plus songs with lyrics related to each article.

here are a few more posts that were submitted:

robert emmons on the positive psychology of gratitude
the importance of self-control for the yogi
forgive and move on
how we can find healing in nature

that concludes this edition. submit your blog article to the next edition of a buddhist carnival using our carnival submission form.past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

a buddhist carnival – 2nd edition, part 2

here’s part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival, a conglomeration of voices from the buddhosphere. wonder where part 1 is? it’s here.

integral buddhism human spiritual development
my blogging friend william reflects on what he sees as a shortcoming in famous atheist sam harris‘ view of buddhism, which, william thinks, concentrates too much on the “technique” of meditation.

as individuals and as cultures, we develop through a series of ever more complex and more compassionate understandings of the world. these stages can most simply be defined as egocentric, ethnocentric, and worldcentric. buddhism serves each of these stages in different ways.

love and aloneness – unravelling the ego and pride
albert talks about this topic at urban monk:

why is loneliness so painful? there are many reasons – but there is one in particular i’m starting to notice. loneliness is a curse because we don’t know who we are – and that is our basic anxiety. when you are alone, all your self knowledge, your identity, your personality – your ego begins to unravel. the deeper into your aloneness you go, the more you see all your self-knowledge as they are – false.

and it is scary Рwhat you have known your entire life Рfalse! it is so scary that much of our culture is based around this fear. social clubs, associations, political parties, and even caf̩s Рthey all exist for one thing: so one can avoid being alone. and what if we are by ourselves? then we turn to music, alcohol, the television, the internet Рall to avoid being in our own company.

but the strange thing is – losing our false identity, it is a blessing. it can be scary, yes, but when we turn around and face it – when we turn our loneliness into aloneness -that is when we begin to experience what is real.

here are a few more posts that didn’t really talk about buddhism but allude to topics covered in buddhist literature: kindness, generosity, and the connection between thoughts and what we call reality:

the cosmic wheel of kindness…pass it on!
the generous december group writing project
why your thoughts create reality – thought, energy, and matter

that’s it for part 2. part 3 will be posted by the end of this week. in the meantime, if you have an article that talks about buddhism, use this carnival submission form to submit it.

the interpretation of dreams

108 years ago today, sigmund freud’s most significant work, the interpretation of dreams, was first published (it was later forward-dated to 1900). dreams, freud thought, were “the royal road to the unconscious”. chapter one of this book starts with these words:

in the following pages, i shall demonstrate that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and that on the application of this technique, every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state.

further, i shall endeavour to elucidate the processes which underlie the strangeness and obscurity of dreams, and to deduce from these processes the nature of the psychic forces whose conflict or co-operation is responsible for our dreams.

like so many other scientists and psychiatrists, he was a little overenthusiastic in what exactly a new technique or discovery could do. i know of no psychologist worth her or his salt who is convinced that every dream will reveal itself as freud described, or that it can always be “assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state”.

nevertheless, freud’s contribution to our understanding of psychology today are immeasurable and got us all moving in a dramatically new direction (to what degree it was only freud who devised these ideas is a matter of debate. often ideas are “in the air”. you may want to read here for some thoughts on how and whether freud was influenced by nietzsche, for example).

by “us all” i literally mean pretty much every even semi-educated person anywhere in the world today. everything from arts to education to marketing strategies to politics is embued with findings that originated as a direct result of freud’s writings.

and this book is where it all began. it is the book that first talks about the ego, and introduces the idea of the oedipus complex.

you can read the book online, and more about freud all over the internet, on my bookshelf or in a library near you – or you can go here.