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I sometimes fall into a rut and desperately look for answers on forums and such, @satcittananda .
But there is no answer out there. Be a lamp onto yourself, Buddha said. There is some deep yearning within you that fuels your search- forget Buddhism for a while and explore that yearning instead, with as open a mind as you can master. Let the chips fall where they may.
I have gone through those periods of doubt many times but so far I have always landed in a Buddhist-y space. One day I might not and if so, that'll be totally fine.
You are free, find your answer, not a "Buddhist" answer.
Some good argumentation there from environmental/social perspective. My wife has that view as well (coming out as a "no" regarding deliberate procreation)...Let me clarify my take, though. I see the primary lesson of Buddhism as recognizing the worldly life as full of suffering and I am coming from that recognition.
I remember my own recent experience of growing up, characterized by the burning thirst to become something in this society, to prove myself, to build my own corner but ultimately losing every battle. Starting from wild confusion of adolescence, going on to shining idealism about a better/ different way of being in the world, then falling into depression over how narrow and stifling it really is...then settling into a comfortable but potently empty life of a corporate worker and consumer. Watching my parents and older friends slowly disintegrate with nothing to stop or even significantly slow down the process, I cry out why was all the drama necessary and nobody and nothing has anything resembling an answer.
In my mind, wanting to create new life is wanting to create those unsatisfactory cycles for someone else over again. Someone else will then deal with bucket loads of bs to ultimately become the dreaded "average person" focused on their bills and trying to hold on to their waning youth. And all along the way I would know that the young one's struggles will lead to a station in life that is very similar to my own but I will have to act, to pretend as if there is a wonderful kingdom to be had, half believing the fiction myself just to not go crazy.
I really hope the buck stops with me. I want to help those I can as best as I can, I want to make their suffering lighter and I want to make sure I do not make the world even crazier than it already is...but when I'm outta here, I am really outta here. I am looking forward to non-existence and find its inevitability the best consolation that there can be.
I feel the frustration, @Hozan . Listened to DJT's address in real time and felt hopelessness.
And yet, we gotta step back and realize that we do not get to live in a world that aligns with our ideals. In fact, the powers that be have never been particularly enightened or moral. If anything, by many accounts, the world today (at least Western one) is at its best like ever, even if recently it seems like it is backtracking some.
At any rate, these global political shifts is not something we can control any more than we can control weather (I realize the sad pun). We are dealt some set of cards and we have to play those cards and no other. That's how that goes.
So no point in getting worked up into a frenzy by the news. If we are worked up, we cannot help even in small ways, let alone bigger ones. All we have is our immediate environment and if due to being paralyzed by negativity we can't even properly show up there, then all is truly lost for us. Let us accept that the world is a mess, step back, balance ourselves and be the best that we can be, right here, right now.
There have been a few times in which I experienced a deep spiritual crisis, doubting my association with Buddhism and yearning for a more traditional (to my background) outlook and way of life. The most recent episode of such inner turmoil was right after the US election.
I am a part of a local Zen group and for the most part that association has given me more grounding and sense of belonging than I had experienced in a long time. Yet after the election a few prominent members of my group went into a sort of a freak out mode that lasted for something like 3 months. Since I rely on my sangha a lot for socialization, that collective freakout dragged me down with it in a dark and severe way.
I sure did not vote for Trump and am praying for his departure from the White House every day. But my reasoning is just that he is an ignorant, angry and deeply corrupt individual. A very bad boss, caring only for himself and suckering his underlings to do his bidding. I really do not see much more to this. I do not see him as some kind of unique evil that will end life as we know it.
The take on the matter from some in my sangha was different. I heard people seriously comparing Trump and the Republican Party to Hitler and the Nazis-- a delusional comparison to someone who, like me, actually had relatives fighting on the Allied side in WWII. I heard talk about a second American Civil War breaking out. I heard about immigrants being hunted down (I am one myself and so is my wife and find that beyond ridiculous) and transsexuals having to be afraid. People were going to sign up as Muslims on Trump's mythical "Muslim Registry". White Supremacists were supposedly out on a rampage..yeah, that was close to being a full blown hysteria.
Since then we returned to normality but those traumatic months reminded me just how many in the American Sangha have their thinking deeply rooted in the extreme Leftism of 1960's and 1970's. Having had some deeper conversations on these subjects, I have come to believe that the hard Left is its own religion with irrational dogma and nastiness to those who question it. I am not at all sure that it is any better than the Hard Right. And I share neither dogma, aspiring to the Center (Middle Way?) when it comes to our cultural wars.
So how in the world Buddhism, with its emphasis on personal responsibility for one's happiness or lack thereof, has become so intertwined with the Far Left? I do not see anything in the original teachings that would align with zealous Progressevism that quite a few of their followers seem to espouse.
I apologize if this is too divisive or harsh but this is giving me a real headache. I just really need normality, reasonable-ness and calm. Can anyone relate? Share any experiences? I greatly enjoy the take that Sam Harris has on things, any more recommendations of more middle of the road reading?
While this will sound like magic, I really believe it, based on personal experience:
At times there is someone in my life that I perceive as being negative to me in some way. At first my reaction is: they are over there, I am over here and they are doing this bad thing to me. The instinctive reaction then is to do some other thing to them so that my discomfort from dealing with them eases. Well, that always makes the situation more confusing and the headache stronger.
Instead, when I make an effort to bring meditation stance to the interaction, the quality of the interaction changes and it is no longer a problem. By "meditative stance" I mean a combination of the following: breathing slowly and diaphragmatically (Zazen style), keeping a questioning/open mind (asking internally "what is this?" without trying to concoct an intellectual answer) and, finally, visualizing that other person, myself and all other living creatures as one ocean with many waves that thrash about without much purpose. That last one often brings about a kind of light softness in the chest, which I think is related to compassion.
Usually, the situation just falls away or appears as a part of some bigger, and less objectionable, process. In the end I end up feeling a sort of a gratitude for the encounter for opening me up. At times, I form a positive relationship with the person that feels very genuine. At times I aquire the courage to just walk away or stand up for myself un-apologetically.
I think the issue that many of us Buddhists have is that we've heard over and over again that reactive emotions are bad and we instinctively try to suppress them, which brings the feeling of fakeness and disconnectedness. Instead, I believe, we need to feel those emotions much more fully than we naturally do, really dive into them, let their energy flow. Without acting on them but being very mindful of them in our bodies and curious about them in our hearts.