Friday, April 10, 2020

Blogger as Blob

After you've meditated a lot (like a lot a lot), and have reexamined your priorities and shifted your thinking and behavior to a more clarity-based approach, there's an immense sense of having dropped burdens, leaving you in a state that's cathartic and blissful while, also, paradoxically, peaceful.

The term for that psyched-up/calmed-down state is satchitananda, a Sanskrit word people have strained for centuries to define. "Equanimity" comes close. Eventually, 20th century America, of all places, produced the perfect term: "bulletproof".

Once you realize you're here to pretend you're in a dramatic narrative - you've essentially been playing a role in a movie, raptly viewing yourself on-screen in real time - stress and suffering vanish in the blink of an eye. Such is the power of reframing. You're bulletproof!

With less sense of embroilment and stakedness (the "attachments" Buddhists keep going on about), the world seems less enthralling. You no longer get bent out of shape from needing things to go any certain way. It’s all mild entertainment, a Disney ride despite the horrors and heartbreak. It’s all worn lightly. It’s like serenely walking home from a horror film.

You still play along with the pretending, letting yourself get elated, crestfallen, angry, and all the rest, but you're never fully punked (until you eventually are, and get lost in the pretending again. It's a circle). At least for a while, one foot remains planted in the baseline framing where it's amusingly clear that this is all concocted; a cheesy attraction flaunting its flashy rewards and punishments while you remain untouched (un-tempted, in the Christian version).

I've posted several versions of the above explanation over the years. It's ancient, though I describe it in an informal and modern way.
Also, I talk to you as the awareness you are (which knows it's always been pretending) rather than to the pretense (the movie character you play) which can't read or hear or frame because he/she's nothing but a name tag, a body, and a bag of stories and opinions. The reason spirituality's so notoriously difficult to teach is that it's impossible to talk truth with a delusion. You can't convince an object it's a mere object, but you can, much more easily, remind the subject that it's the Subject.
But I've never mentioned the kryptonite. No one mentions the kryptonite. It's so strange that nobody mentions the kryptonite.
Also there’s yet another peril - not full-on kryptonite - in store for those who recognize the non-perilousness of existence, and that one, too, was unexplained before I noted it here (with a follow-up here).
The unacknowledged kryptonite can best be explained via a story.

I was up on a high ladder. Teetering on the top step, I needed to reach upward with both arms. Bulletproof mofo that I am, I hadn't felt deep fear in years. But in that moment an icicle of dread began forming in my gut. So I did the reframing move that never fails to shower me with bliss, erasing melodramatic delusions of peril: I relaxed and let go. And, naturally, I started to fall off the 25 foot ladder.


Pause for a moment and imagine how horrible it is when your tried-and-true go-to move not only fails, but fails when the stakes are likely paraplegia. There'd been an impulse to panic, the antidote popped up on cue, and, for the first time ever, that trusty countermeasure was, ahem, ineffective. Not great, Bob.

I get mad and sad and all the rest, but it's movie theater stuff, a lighter and more bemused version. I rarely forget that I'm being mad/sad/glad/quarantined in paradise, ensconced cozily in a dark, cold, deadly universe's sole outpost of color and oxygen and trees and water and potatoes and action. When I do forget for a moment, I simply reframe back to baseline. Back to satchitananda. "Letting go" is the magic key, the most salubrious of reframings, as affirmed by countless sages throughout history. But then what about ladders? WHAT ABOUT FRICKIN' LADDERS?

It was a conundrum for a few years. Then a daredevil friend, who waterskis without skis and jumps cars over things, suggested a partial answer:
Relaxation...that's good. Letting go of dread...that's good. But then focus, with total single-mindedness, on the not-falling-off-the-ladder part. You went too far. "Letting go" is fine, but, for god's sake don't literally let go, you moron.
The best letting go - the really good stuff - is when it feels total. But just because you've figuratively let go doesn't mean you need to literally let go, like with your hands. I realize as I write this (this is exactly why I Slog, btw) that it's another aspect of the misunderstanding that made me over-relax into failure as a basketball player. Even while deeply relaxed, you can remain connected, kindling a small flame of cool, calm desire:
Simply don't forget - amid all the prep and tricks and quieting down and whatever - to also hit a bullseye. Don't leave that part off the to-do list. Don't forget to also hit a bullseye!
Anyone who’s done it will attest that letting go is simply everything. Atlas did not need to hold up the Earth. It never helped. He was deluded, and could have just as well walked away at any moment. Similarly, when we (every one of us Atlases needlessly bearing the weight of the world) let go, and let the world self-support, we realize we've been bulletproof all along. But we don't have to drop the eggs and the coffee cup along with the universe. You can go too far.

The ladder experience was another example of how you can get stuck - or worse - aiming for infinity, a lesson I never stop learning. Relaxing into a blob may be a miraculously effective antidote to stress, but if you always go all the way to the lazy delicious bliss safe haven, you'll perennially overshoot worthwhile way stations such as "Attentiveness" and "Responsibility". It needn't be "all or nothing at all".

Take it away, Steverino:

The other option, for those fully committed to blobbiness, is to blithely accept the paraplegia and go ahead and fall off the ladder. Wheee!

Sure, that sounds deranged, but less so if you realize (per explanation here) that your body lives in your awareness, not vice versa. The body is born into awareness, and it will die into it, while this awareness (which is what you are) never wavers ("It's the omnipresent fount of Now, and Now is the only real thing.")

This odd-seeming recognition (never a popular framing) is, in fact, where one goes for one's bulletproofing.

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