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Is veering off the path still the path?

Ren_in_blackRen_in_black Georgia Explorer

This question is practically moot, because what's done is done. But I wanted to get your perspectives on it.

Paraphrasing from memory, Pete Townshend once said that he didn't like himself for being an alcoholic because it took him off the path for years. But then he realized that alcoholism (and subsequently what he learned from recovery) WAS the path, or at least his path.

So what do you think? Are those years off the path wasted years, do you forgive yourself as conditions not being ripe...even though intellectually you already understood? Or do you still harbor some disappointment in yourself?

Shoshin

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    There is a quote from Osho that I’d paraphrase here, that many people think that they would have liked to do things differently, but the awakened man realises that he already did the best he could. I think it is very apt, there are no do-overs, and if there were, in identical circumstances you would do the same again.

    But I don’t think years off the path are wasted. I had a spiritual childhood, then I spent many years just working hard, until a life-changing illness put me back on the path of spirituality. Buddhism was something I felt an affinity for but I came to it late. Were those years wasted? I think they were essential to my growth, I am who I am because of those years and the hard times afterwards.

    Then I’ve always been very wary of addictive substances, and have only had a light brush with alcoholism. You could argue my time was as it was out of choice, while Pete Townshend was captured by the drink.

    Ren_in_blackadamcrossleyShoshinperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Some people can be counter productive to others on the path. So for example, 'I am now still on the path as an alcoholic' (see 'Rinpoche' Chogyam Trungpa for details) does not bode well.

    However sometimes the very rigid need life experience - a break from constipated spirituality. It varies.

    The aim is to practice, even a little, as well as you are able. <3

    Ren_in_blackadamcrossleyhowShoshin
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    From one meditative perspective, I am not sure that "the Buddha's path towards sufferings cessation" is something that is possible to veer off.
    Each moment simply offers us a choice of either stepping towards towards sufferings cessation....or away from it. Each nano second, as fluid as the expressions of existence upon this path, offers all participants a completely new possibility of either taking the next step toward sufferings cessation or away from it.
    I think that an existence "Off" the path, is just our identity selling more dreams of it's own validity.

    Ren_in_blackBunksShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    So what do you think? Are those years off the path wasted years, do you forgive yourself as conditions not being ripe...even though intellectually you already understood? Or do you still harbor some disappointment in yourself?

    The only things wasted are ones thoughts of what could/might have been...For there's no time like the present to be present....

    @lobster posted this in another thread... which I feel says it all...

    BunksFosdickRen_in_blackperson
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    From one meditative perspective, I am not sure that "the Buddha's path towards sufferings cessation" is something that is possible to veer off.
    Each moment simply offers us a choice of either stepping towards towards sufferings cessation....or away from it. Each nano second, as fluid as the expressions of existence upon this path, offers all participants a completely new possibility of either taking the next step toward sufferings cessation or away from it.

    The mind tends to make pictures out of what you know, I’m not so sure there is only suffering’s cessation or the path in the other direction. It’s very possible to look at Buddhism as a ‘via negative’, a path that leads one away from life itself, and to say I don’t want that and instead be simply aware of both suffering and joy in one’s life.

    You might find yourself not moving in one or another direction on the path, but striking out into the wilderness at a ninety degree angle. There is not only suffering, but a whole panorama of emotion, pleasure and discomfort in various measures. Any of those could be taken as a cardinal direction of a new compass.

    It is certainly possible to set your mind in another direction. Whether that is fruitful is a very personal decision.

    Ren_in_blacklobster
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    Your either on the path or off the path, but either way you're still on the path

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Lee82 said:
    Your either on the path or off the path, but either way you're still on the path

    ¿Qué?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Lee82 said:
    Your either on the path or off the path, but either way you're still on the path

    Not sure I entirely agree...
    It's rather like deciding to take the train to a destination, but then jumping off and walking alongside the track... Sometimes, for whatever obstacles, hurdles, diversions and distractions might come up, you have to deviate and wander off into unknown territory.

    You can't follow the track faithfully and religiously (see what I did there?) but you have to lose sight of the track and make your own way...

    That's when your mind has to decide whether to forget your destination entirely, and just go somewhere else, or bear in mind what your objective is and stick with it, even though you have an outdated map, and a poor sense of direction.

    So no. If you veer off the path, that's exactly what you've done. Veered off the path.

    The good news is, the Path doesn't care.
    It doesn't cling to you when you're on it, or miss you when you're not.
    It just is.

    But you can't claim to be swimming a length when you're not even in the pool.

    Au revoir, a bientot, well hello there, welcome back.

    Now put your boots on, grab your stick and start walking.

    Ren_in_blackpersonlobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Its all grist for the mill, or as Ajahn Brahm says, manure for the mango trees.

    Start where you are. And we're always starting anew. We can't change the past, but we can use the past to create a better future, even if its just knowing what not to do.

    One of my great motivators for practice is knowing what kind of mind a non spiritual life leads me to. As much as I may feel resistance to practice if I start down that road it doesn't take too long before I start getting that taste of that old road again. That always seems to put me back on the cushion.

    Ren_in_blackKeromelobster
  • Ren_in_blackRen_in_black Georgia Explorer

    "Manure for mango trees."
    "Garbage into flowers."
    "The lotus grows in the mud."

    Time after time the masters have given me clues as to what my dirty, muddy, shitty days might be about. I get it and then somehow I forget it. Over and over...talk about a wheel!

    BunksShoshinlobsterGlass
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    The path needn’t be straight but can still get you to the destination. You can jump off the train and take the dirt path for a while, you can travel away from your destination, but nothing is stopping you from moving forwards on your journey. There may be days/years where you feel like you’ve gone backwards, but every day is a new and it is unhelpful to dwell on yesterday’s progress. You learn, you move on, and you are what you are and where you are based on everything that has happened thus far. Thus as I said, you can be “on the path” or “not on the path”, but you’re still heading towards the end of this life’s path regardless.

    BunksRen_in_black
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited April 22

    Is veering off the path still the path?

    You can't stray from the path, once it's formed inside your head (Meditation/Contemplation)
    But obstructions can be many, so be careful where you tread
    There is no real path to speak of, except the pathway in the mind
    which is full of bends and turns that thought patterns have designed

    Tis said one might fall off the wagon when the axles buckle under strain (Dukkha)
    and the mind becomes full of confusion which can driving one insane
    (becoming charmed by its own thoughts)
    But from a Buddhist perspective to say wagon, is somewhat daft
    for to cross the ocean of Samsara one must ride upon the raft
    (of Dharma)

    Veering off the path is when one 'thinks' that it is so
    These thoughts will soon pass, if one's prepared to let them go ( Meditation practice)
    With all that's said and done... I think it's safe to say
    one will overcome all obstructions...by sticking to the Middle Way

    (The Eight fold Path)

    personRen_in_black
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Time after time the masters have given me clues as to what my dirty, muddy, shitty days might be about. I get it and then somehow I forget it. Over and over...talk about a wheel!

    Exactly. That really is the wheel that breaks our set backs.
    Lead the life. Return to the cushion and the right way. <3

    Turn around and face The Dharma Sun. B)

    Ren_in_black
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    So what do you think? Are those years off the path wasted years, do you forgive yourself as conditions not being ripe...even though intellectually you already understood? Or do you still harbor some disappointment in yourself?

    Experience is a very real teacher. She never disappoints in that regard ...
    Ripe for forgiving? Always!


    We have you/your back. We try. Touchdown!

    I am dissapointment. Fortunately I am not a wasted Buddha.

    FrogpondRen_in_blackKeromeWalker
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Exactly right @Lionduck <3

    Falling happens. We catch each other ... onwards ...

    BunksGlass
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Glass said:
    Oh I spend a good amount of time these days cursing myself for how I’ve lived. I can feel that my next process will be forgiving myself, but for now I’m still angry, regretful and ashamed. That’s fine. But...I think it’s time for some present moment gratitude. Then the forgiveness. Then all
    The gifts that come with experience can be used for compassion and kindness towards myself and others.
    But for today, I’m really mad I’ve gotten myself into this situation.

    Welcome @Glass - there’s none of us here on this site who haven’t had those periods in our lives where we’ve gone “how the hell did I get in this situation?” Or “Shit! I promised myself I’d never do this again and here I am! I’m such a loser”.
    Gratitude is a good start and forgiving yourself is important.
    Good luck!

    Shoshin1lobster
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    It's an interesting question when we ask of what this present fleeting nano second of existence offers anyone.
    With an endlessly changing universe being faced by an endlessly changing observer, if our existence is as a bubble in a stream, a phantasm, a dream, why not allow this present moment of fluidity to be the new truth of your evolving existence, over some dusty old luggage of someone else's past.

    Shoshin1lobsterBunks
  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran
    edited November 7

    @Glass said:
    Oh I spend a good amount of time these days cursing myself for how I’ve lived.
    I can feel that my next process will be forgiving myself, but for now I’m still angry, regretful and ashamed. That’s fine. But...I think it’s time for some present moment gratitude. Then the forgiveness. Then all
    The gifts that come with experience can be used for compassion and kindness towards myself and others.

    But for today, I’m really mad I’ve gotten myself into this situation.

    Dualism ...This too shall pass......eventually...

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Ren_in_black said:
    This question is practically moot, because what's done is done. But I wanted to get your perspectives on it.

    Paraphrasing from memory, Pete Townshend once said that he didn't like himself for being an alcoholic because it took him off the path for years. But then he realized that alcoholism (and subsequently what he learned from recovery) WAS the path, or at least his path.

    So what do you think? Are those years off the path wasted years, do you forgive yourself as conditions not being ripe...even though intellectually you already understood? Or do you still harbor some disappointment in yourself?

    I'm still a little bitter but I'm getting a little better.

    I'm 48, been studying and practicing since my early 20s and I'm just now taking proper refuge.

    Oh well. No time like the present, right?

    lobsterBunks
  • Is veering off the path still the path?

    Great insights everyone. Why? Because we are all always on the circle/cycle/wheel of Life. How strong the commitment when we turn from hindrances and distractions?

    Talking of bikes. Ride on.

  • I find no real continuity, just a fluid self as @how mentions.

    Sure we have characteristics and karma that we form around but we also contain an emptying spaciousness that is not tied to anything but our pretended past, unknown future and flitting being ...

    A good way to think of it is as a grasping fist that wants to hold a shadow never cast. As we open the hand, we find it was always empty ...

    As @Shoshin often mentions we can let go of our delusions. We can experience the present, without referring to me, I, did, doing, gonna ...

    🎶We are off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Nirvana ...🎵

    Jeffrey
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Glass said:
    But for today, I’m really mad I’ve gotten myself into this situation.

    Welcome @Glass ... I’m sure it will all in the future turn out to have been a teaching moment towards ourselves. If we can learn to let go of a few more of the misconceptions which keep us stuck in habit patterns, then it will have been valuable.

    lobster
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran
    edited November 8

    Every so often, for some more than others, we veer off the path. Perhaps from inattention, we blinked or any number of reasons. Happens to near all of us. As long as we remember where the path is, we can get right back on and keep on keeping on. Until the next time. This is life. Ya aint perfect. We just have to keep trying. The reward is not in reaching the summit (there will be mant summits),; the reward is in the climbing.

    Peace to all

    lobster
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