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Leaving ‘must’ and ‘should’ behind

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited October 12 in Buddhism Today

I find lately that any kind of having to do things continuously, or having to believe things, weighs on me like a heavy stone. When I come across a teaching such as “the wise do this”, then there is an immediate response, don’t you want to be wise? Shouldn’t you do that?

But ultimately it is learning by imitation, one is trying to become wise by copying the wise, and this is not conducive to inner growth. At best you become a clone of what some person in the past thought was wise. It is not finding and developing your own sources of wisdom within.

So, following the dictates from books gives you rules by which to live your life, a kind of guidelines. Recently my experience has been that such guidelines get in the way of just living, evolving and expressing yourself. It is like your inner lens on your own nature gets obscured. It seems to me that a desire for freedom leads to leaving guidelines behind.

Compassion and an easy-going nature come to be by themselves once you leave the ideas of ‘must’ and ‘should’ behind. Trust yourself to do what is right, to manifest what is at your core. It helps to have done practice, to have spent time purifying oneself, but I think ultimately freedom should be ones guide.

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited October 12

    Hey Kerome

    So how are you not just imitating those who have said that the "must" and "should" teachings just hobble our abilities to spontaneously respond to the kaleidoscopic unfoldings of each moment of existence.

    Perhaps the answers you seek might better arise within a transcendence of self
    than in trying to just give ones self a more agreeable tag line to follow.

    Cheers.

    Keromeコチシカ
  • My experience is I can not trust any self. I can trust the templates that are the wise. Spontaneity comes after the emptying of self that @how mentions.

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    So how are you not just imitating those who have said that the "must" and "should" teachings just hobble our abilities to spontaneously respond to the kaleidoscopic unfoldings of each moment of existence.

    Are there such people? I haven’t come across anyone teaching this, it’s just my conclusion from what I notice from happening within me. It’s mindfulness that has shown me what was happening inside, and Papaji’s Satsang talks that were creating the different atmosphere that made it flourish, but calling what I was objecting to ‘must’ and ‘should’ is something I take responsibility for.

    Perhaps the answers you seek might better arise within a transcendence of self
    than in trying to just give ones self a more agreeable tag line to follow.

    Perhaps, it could be so. It is often said of the Buddha’s teachings that they are a raft to cross the river and should eventually be left behind. I merely do what feels like the right action for the next step, according to my inner sense of direction.

    A transcendence of self, I would not know where to begin to effect something like that. So far any experiences I have had have been of a passing sort, not a lasting transformation. The things that have lasted have been small changes, letting go of things mostly.

    In a way this feels like another letting go, of things I must remind myself of. Setting down a burden.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited October 12

    @lobster said:
    My experience is I can not trust any self. I can trust the templates that are the wise. Spontaneity comes after the emptying of self that @how mentions.

    Thanks @lobster, that makes a certain sense. I have been working for a long while on letting go of things, pride, some ill will, jealousy, other things. Mostly with some success.

    I have to say my decisions are not perfect, I doubt whether I would class myself as among the wise. I have on occasion done myself an injury with some foolishness.

    But all we can do is carry on. Over the years I’ve slowly become convinced that the best path is the one you forge yourself, learning from the wise but keeping your own counsel.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is uniquely your own.

    -- Bruce Lee.

    Didn't the Buddha say something similar in the Kalama Sutta?

    Shoshin1Keromemarcitko
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited October 13

    @how said: So how are you not just imitating those who have said that the "must" and "should" teachings just hobble our abilities to spontaneously respond to the kaleidoscopic unfoldings of each moment of existence.

    ...

    @Kerome said: Are there such people? I haven’t come across anyone teaching this, it’s just my conclusion from what I notice from happening within me. It’s mindfulness that has shown me what was happening inside, and Papaji’s Satsang talks that were creating the different atmosphere that made it flourish, but calling what I was objecting to ‘must’ and ‘should’ is something I take responsibility for.

    So....
    I think you have already heard someone teaching about this on "I'm looking for some Zen instruction thread", a week ago on Oct5th to my expressed doubts about imitating others where you said you thought it would make teaching difficult.

  • I have to say my decisions are not perfect,

    You should make less decisions. That is a must. :p

    I doubt whether I would class myself as among the wise.

    Even the Wise are doubtless in the Beginner Classless, thoughtless, homed tutoring school of fishiness ... 🙄

    I have on occasion done myself an injury with some foolishness.

    Ah ha. Another daze, another holla ... ;)

    But all we can do is carry on.

    Eh ... or not ... [no nihilists getting depressed now ...] o:)

    Over the years I’ve slowly become convinced that the best path is the one you forge yourself, learning from the wise but keeping your own counsel.

    Tsk, tsk. I must have gone wrong again. Should have kept your counsel. What now? 🙂

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    So....
    I think you have already heard someone teaching about this on "I'm looking for some Zen instruction thread", a week ago on Oct5th to my expressed doubts about imitating others where you said you thought it would make teaching difficult.

    I have been thinking about this for a while, it is true. But I am still surprised the final impulse was so clear. I just wondered if anyone else had reached this point, which is why I wrote about it.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    You should make less decisions. That is a must. :p

    You might be right. But that leads to staying more often on the path one is already on...

    Should have kept your counsel.

    I couldn’t help myself, I felt like sharing :p

  • 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

    Iyanla Vanzant: "Don't Go 'Shouldin' ' on yourself."

    Louise Hay: "Transform the 'should' into a 'could' and then you will know why you don't."

    Language is how we communicate with ourselves and with others.
    It seems that @Kerome has found limitations that jar on his chosen existence by seeming authoritarian, or controlling, but how else are we to learn, appreciate, confirm, question, accept, reject, adopt, abandon what resonates or repulses?

    if you cannot 'listen' to the Wise, appreciate their clarity, and walk in their footsteps, to emulate their influence - how else are you to evaluate and discern Wisdom from Folly?
    Whatever you do now, you have already learnt at the feet of Giants.
    There is nothing original in your thinking.

    You deem it appropriate to walk a solitary path designed by your own calculations.

    It is a path already trodden by Wiser Men, before you.

    Nihil sub sole novum.

    KeromeVastmindlobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Sorry to not come with more cheerful tidings @federica, I’m sure there are still things we can learn from the wise, and I’m not planning to abandon Buddhist teachings.
    But you don’t become a bird by flapping your arms in imitation of its wings. What I’ve found is that your own lived experience is what feeds your wisdom, and the thing that most helps in transforming one into the other is the attitude with which you approach things.

    howlobster
  • 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

    Oh... so you think you are 'wise' by instinct? Like a bird learns to fly, as a spider spins its web, you think we don't need guidance, teaching, direction? You think Wisdom is inherent?

    That's really quite amusing.

    Don't make the mistake of filling your cup so much that it can take no more.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited October 13

    Hmm maybe not inherent, but learnt at an early age probably. It’s not just the attitude of learning, but taking your lived experience and distilling life lessons from it that I think makes you wise.

    I once had the opportunity of sitting in on a peer counsellor training session, the participants were set the task of writing their “recovery stories”. These were short essays on their experiences with mental health, the ways they found to cope, and their journey to recovery. Those stories contained a lot of lived wisdom, and writing out that journey is definitely one kind of process that produces wisdom.

    Now I am not saying there aren’t others, if you go looking you might find many more, but I feel lived experience is the key.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited October 13

    In the end, what theory is more than another mastication of the mind. Trying to look Buddha-ish is usually just our human condition squirming around to secure a better fortified position to rule from.

    The issue in training is no less a facing and letting go of our self wrought layers of identification as we find them, as it is an acceptance of that resulting absence and more pertinently, the where-with-all to not refill that space with anything else.
    When any self wrought layers of identification are found and dropped....add no more.

    The Wisdom that we think we can acquire and possess, is limited to the same degree that one believes that there is actually someone that can acquire and possess such a state. I think actual wisdom for a Buddhist meditator is more safely defined as the absence of delusion, than as a potential commodity that can be spiritually owned.

    Shoshin1Keromelobster
  • 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

    I really don't think you completely understand how almost everything you know, you have learnt either through others or because of others.
    You cannot just dismiss and forget all the influence you have had up to now, and put it all down to 'personal experience'. Before you came across this notion (and where did you pick it up, again?) you were quite happy to rely - and have hitherto relied - on the examples set by others.
    Suddenly, you think you can go it alone? Well, you might well be able to. But only because of what you have been influenced by so far... Don't you get it? Wisdom comes through learning, conjoined with experience.. Your 'experience is not isolated. It is always, but always touched by the presence and influence of others.

    personVastmindlobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    Don't you get it? Wisdom comes through learning, conjoined with experience.. Your 'experience is not isolated. It is always, but always touched by the presence and influence of others.

    I’m not denying that the influence of others plays a role. I’m merely saying there is a limit to what you can learn second-hand, through the words of others. They can provide you with useful pointers, they can also send you off in the wrong direction. Lived experience is the key.

    If you find a day-long description of what a wise man does and how he thinks, and you copy that as well as you are able, do you think you would be wise? During the day you might have spoken some wise words, but will it help you the next day? Or in different situations? Would you want to have a list of some sage’s advice to apply?

    Yes, wisdom is accumulated through the years, but we don’t know how. If it were just a question of learning, avid readers around the world would be the wisest men. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, it’s the people who have actually lived emotionally rich, thoughtful lives that seem to make it to a point called wise.

  • Dharma teachings=Influencers>Seed planters>Finger pointers...

    Lay people's minds =Fertile soil>for the mind's spin doctor to work its karmic magic on the incoming data...take in the information, process it (through experiential understanding), throw out the unnecessary, store the necessary (experiential knowledge=wisdom)...

    In a nut shell..."Ehipassiko" in a sense, we put what's been taught into practice to we see for ourselves then fine tuning to see what works best for us... developing navigational skills to keep the raft afloat and heading in the right direction, as we cross the ocean of Samsara, often encountering Dukkha waves along the way.......

    It would seem we learn to speak read and write and for the most part to think, through imitating others and then adapting the imitation to our own personal style...with the help of what karma as in store...

    After all....We are karmically conditioned creatures...

    The psycho-physical phenomenon we call the self is just...
    A vibrating bundle of energy flux held together by karmic glue, influenced by our surrounding in what we think say and do...

    howlobsterコチシカ
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    What comes to my mind is something like mastering a musical instrument. For a good long while one needs to practice scales and chords, follow the rules and learn from teachers. At some point far down the road though one needs to let the technique and rules go so passion and creativity can fully express themselves.

    But its like when do you do that? I could sit down at a piano and let go of the technique to really express myself but it would sound like total garbage because I can barely play Old McDonald and Twinkle, Twinkle.

    Maybe it depends in part on your goal. Are you trying to earn a spot in a major orchestra or do you want to be able to play songs for friends and family around the campfire?

    Vastmindlobster
  • The Wisdom that we think we can acquire and possess, is limited to the same degree that one believes that there is actually someone that can acquire and possess such a state. I think actual wisdom for a Buddhist meditator is more safely defined as the absence of delusion, than as a potential commodity that can be spiritually owned.

    Perfect.

    Actual wisdom. No qualities. No stasis. Not acquired. Not possessed.

    ... nothing to join =)

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    I think actual wisdom for a Buddhist meditator is more safely defined as the absence of delusion, than as a potential commodity that can be spiritually owned.

    For a Buddhist meditator perhaps. But if you were a counsellor sitting opposite a client, the process of offering them advice would be driven by insight, empathy, being able to place yourself in their shoes and apply the benefit of your experience and creative thinking. All these things contribute to wisdom.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    There are contrasting stories. For example this:

    Buddha taught the ten non-virtues to help us navigate our path to light. They are simple and straight-forward, but often we “put them off” — oh a little lie now won’t hurt, I’ll make up for it later. The reality is, that purifying all of this negativity requires vast virtue. For example, the great Tibetan Milarepa, who murdered people in revenge for his family, had to give years of hard labour to purify the negativity, then practice Dharma for the rest of this life.

    But when you listen to Papaji or Hein Thijssen you hear them say that practicing virtue doesn’t have much effect. Papaji focuses on self inquiry in the here and now, and Hein looks to a kind of primal therapy to purify the spirit.

    In any case, the main virtues are natural-feeling to keep to. Hein says that a natural man will out of his own free will be virtuous, and I think that is true, as long as he is not given the wrong examples or damaged when young.

  • 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

    @Kerome said: In any case, the main virtues are natural-feeling to keep to. Hein says that a natural man will out of his own free will be virtuous, and I think that is true, as long as he is not given the wrong examples or damaged when young.

    You have just made my point.

    Wisdom comes through learning, conjoined with experience.. Your 'experience is not isolated. It is always, but always touched by the presence and influence of others.

    You claim that you can now make an independent choice and use your own personal discernment.
    I say, we are constantly evolving and adapting, according to personal circumstances and environmental, social, political, educational influence.
    I do not have the same Mind-set I had a year ago. Why? Because Life, and experience, in the guise of other people, has told me I need to let go of entrenched views I might have established, and listen instead to the Voice of Reason, emitted by others.
    You believe you are going it alone.
    I say, you have no original thought; only those implanted in you by the forefathers of your life.

    What is skilful and wholesome? You know, because of what you have been told.
    What is UNskilful, and UNwholesome? You know, because of what you have been told.

    You believe you are thinking for yourself.
    Not so.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    If there is no such thing as original thought, how do you explain the evolution of science? It wasn’t there five hundred years ago, and now it has changed the world... there were many original thoughts in there.

    In any case, I wouldn’t go so far as to say we don’t learn from others. It’s imitating other people based on a set of rules that I was argueing against.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited October 14

    A few idle thoughts that dropped by for a visit while reading this thread.

    Eventually all meditating practitioners must leave their guru's nest or suffer that fate of forever being stunted by their lack of flight skills.

    Consider trusting the guru's who tell you this.

    Be watchful of gurus who clip their followers wings to stop them from ever straying.

    Consider carefully when considering your own flight training, what the consequences may be for discovering too late that your spiritual wings were not yet ready for the task away from the nest.

    The origins of a thought becomes a pretty irrelevant point to anyone when faced with the ethereal nature of this imagined being within the kaleidoscopic chaos of existence.

    Be grateful for all that has enabled you to be present for this one movement of breath while also being mindful of what really causes anyone's suffering.

    Cheers all.

    KeromeShoshin1コチシカ
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    Be watchful of gurus who clip their followers wings to stop them from ever straying

    I wholeheartedly agree. In Buddhist circles I have not yet come across a teacher actively encouraging the development of intelligence or specifically wisdom, more often do you hear of large amounts of practice being given. Few monastics stay longer than five years, or so I have heard.

    In the case of Osho or Poonja, they give a great deal of freedom to their followers. There are very few even implicit guidelines that are given to groups, although they are more specific with individual followers in response to questions.

    It makes you think about the kinds of teaching that might be appropriate. The teaching that is often given about rebirth, that it takes many lives to reach enlightenment, that there are different fruits, of being a six-times returner or a once-returner, all of that encourages a very long view, a laid back attitude.

    Be grateful for all that has enabled you to be present for this one movement of breath while also being mindful of what really causes anyone's suffering.

    Well said @how. I am grateful for the time i have had, the teachings I have received, for the insights I have explored. The insight into suffering is something that is still developing.

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