Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MonkeyBrains: Oh, Yeah? Zat so?

This week someone challenged me about my  beliefs, saying that clinging to our cherished beliefs is the cause of much suffering. She wasn't referring so much to belief systems or religion, but bread-and-butter beliefs.  I'm pondering this, and I think it's true.

Some examples: "I didn't sleep well, so I won't have a good day."  "I can't find my keys. This is a disaster." "This guy is always a bore." "My friend just landed a book contract.  I can't get anyone to read my stuff."  Often these thoughts are triggered by some small perception--the sight of mud ground into the carpet "means" that I'm not staying on top of things, that that house is somehow decaying around me...

Everyone has their own beliefs and their own triggers...I've only been up for about an hour, and I've already "believed" myself into a bad mood!  Gotta take a walk and think about this!

Just because I always land in these situations doesn't make me a sewer rat!
**THE NEXT POST WILL BE MY
INTERVIEW WITH WRITER
AND ZEN PRACTITIONER JESS
ROW.









Monday, January 9, 2012

MONKEY BRAINS, V: AFRAID OF SILENCE

http://www.flickr.com/photos/visualpanic/
 
He understood me, he said.  My pastor knew why I was drawn back to the silent meetings of Quakerism after years of churchgoing. I had been abused by adults as a kid and therefore had an "issue" with authority.  Quakers are "anti-authoritarian." Ergo.

Actually, I was simply famished from all the words. So much talk in church!  Silence is nourishing.  There's a place much deeper than than the mental fitness center where we process events through words or images.

Silence is also scary.   Hence "an awkward silence followed" and "Freddy gave me the silent treatment" and "Shhh in the library" and (when I was a kid) "children should be seen and not heard."  If you Google "Democrats silent" or "Republicans silent" you'll find that the American political system is hiding under the bed with tape over its mouth.

Why is it up to religious people to set the record straight on silence? A Catholic website declared in October that "Vatican Spokesman Discusses Value of Silence."  It's not a religious thing.  It's just...silence.

"In truth this "Internet" baffles me" GF, 1697
George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, went to a meeting where people were having all kind of arguments about God.  He kept his mouth shut: "I sate on a haystack and spake nothing for some hours, for I was to famish them from words."  When he did speak, it was electrifying. 

When you're struggling with a problem, sit in silence.  Focus on something neutral or pleasant--your breathing, or the sleeping cat.  (Play this Funeral March for a Deaf Man by Alphonse Allais.  Okay, that's a joke)  Keep silent for five or ten minutes.

See what shifts.