September 25, 2014 § 2 Comments
I note within myself something that may benefit others and wish to share that today.
There are times when I tense up and feel a bit anxious, usually over nothing of consequence. It’s an automatic reaction that probably dates back to childhood; perhaps to times when I might have done things my parents or teacher would disapprove.
To give you a better idea of this, recall a time when you thought you lost your ID or wallet. Do you recall that sudden feeling of, “Uh? Oh!” As if you’ve just had all supports taken away and fallen into a big hole in the pit of your stomach? Well. That’s the feeling I’m talking about but usually not so extreme.
A Buddhist might say this feeling reflects attachment to the sense of self, symbolized by the ID or wallet. When this identity is suddenly taken away we may feel suspended in air without any ground to walk on. One suffering PTSD knows this feeling in a very extreme form. Most, however, are acquainted with it as tension and a wish to withdraw when criticized, given a look of disapproval or something small of that nature.
Our reaction to personal criticism, to use that example, begins with tension but may end with anger, fear, depression or any of a variety of responses depending on how deeply attached we are to the self. The reason for this is clear. Criticism of the self is a negation of self.
If you think yourself artistic, popular or attractive and someone comes along and criticizes those qualities, that criticism is equivalent to having a hole punched in your self-image: a hole that reveals your self to be empty.
Meditation can help ease the tension and meditation should be used to bring stability to one’s thoughts and emotions before progressing onto any deeper forms of discipline. But there does come a time when progress depends on facing the truth about your true nature.
Emptiness is your true nature.
That may sound quite unappealing. In fact, most would prefer to spend their entire lives filling the emptiness of their true nature with things, thoughts and activities than to actual come face to face with it. But you can use those holes in the self, if you want to know your Self.
The key is found in the simple affirmation that emptiness lies behind your feeling of discomfort and tension.
Now. Usually when we feel discomfort we automatically begin to deny and withdraw. So it may take a bit of time to slow that reaction down to see that what is really making you uncomfortable is your own emptiness revealing itself to you. But if we stop our automatic reactions we can learn to feel at ease with our holes. Eventually we will even be able to recognize our true nature as emptiness and be comfortable with that. And when we are comfortable with emptiness, have we not transcended the self?