I do not see a recent post on this and it is where I am currently spending a lot of thought so I wanted to start dialogue.
As I understand it, the Eightfold Path is to be worked on simultaneously. I have noticed areas involving social settings are not getting the practice needed. I have been spending too much time in hermitude doing what I like to refer to as incubating my understanding of reality. I feel this is not allowing me as much practice as I should be getting in other areas and putting undue strain on the few social encounters I have.
I notice one of my biggest challenges is turning my mindful eye on my interlocutor regarding their perception of me. Then finding myself viewed in a particular way which causes my behavior to change as a result of the perception. Freeing myself of this challenge is one of my greatest struggles.
What others think of me is not my business nor should I let it affect me, however with enhanced presence of mind in the current moment, observations of body language, tone of voice, are difficult to ignore and once observed, difficult to dismiss without behavioral change. This reveals itself in ways such as socially anxious speech or socially anxious silence. A perception of less-than or apart-from. Hmm...maybe I cling to desire of being perceived as equal-to.
How does one skillfully navigate such clear indicators observed from others when those others may not be aware of, or care, what their non-speech conveys?
How does one do this as if they are family and the relationship must be maintained and built upon?
I am not sure if this will work for you but, the 8 FP works better for me when the "right" livelihood of the 8 FP is viewed a bit more inclusively as the "right" relationship or interactions (with others).
Here, the boundaries between the ordained and the laity, dissipate and the whole 8 fold path better applies to everyone, everywhere in this exact moment that anybody experiences themselves in.
It’s interesting, I found growing a beard caused quite a few people to react more positively towards me. Ones appearance does affect how others perceive one, and finding the right kind of personal style can be a worthwhile adjustment.
While you say “I shouldn’t let the reactions of others affect me” it’s a perfectly valid social input, which one can take into account. But one should treat it with a certain reserve, if you find it upsets you then you are clinging to a certain vision of self still, rather than coolly perceiving how you would like to be perceived.
Maybe you does …
Clearly not equal to or in maths terms <>
As a natural consequence of independence from our internal family of fiends and friends we are never alone or ever alone. What to do?
A little further to what @lobster mentions above, often I get anxious when talking online to more senior management that I work with (which I often have to do).
One method I find useful is to silently wish them well and send loving kindness to them as we speak. This calms the heart and the anxiety immediately disappears when I change the focus of attention to them rather that on myself.
If I understand correctly, being present-minded in conversation allows one to utilize the skill of Right Relationship or Interaction.
Right Relationship or Interaction utilized correctly will yield to a dissolvement of perception of social hierarchy amidst conversation which makes room for Right Speech to be employed skillfully?
How does one perceive how they would like to be perceived without attachment?
It depends on why you want to be perceived in a certain way. If there is pride or a desire for status or some insecurity like not wanting to be seen as lesser, then there is a measure of clinging. If on the other hand you want to be seen as normal so that you can connect to people and help them, then there is no clinging or self-centredness in the motivation. If I could show you how different those two would feel, it would make explaining it easier.
The eight-fold path can be likened to a compass that Buddhists develop to navigate away from the fostering & maintenance of their delusions. Those eight aspects of the 8 FP represent the potential sticking points in a practice where the free movement of that compass's needle can be impeded.
This compass's usefulness is only ever as effective as the least addressed sticking point that the needle needs to clear.
For some, the sticking point of right livelihood has been better addressed when included with the more demanding requirement of right relationships & interactions with others.
It can be interesting to discover how many other compasses around us function more freely when our does.
I got a lot of value from this author/psychologist "Rising Above Social Anxiety" on insight timer app on my phone. Ellen Hendriksen PhD
Here's a link to YouTube, I think it's the same material and definitely same author. She also has a book on this material but I haven't read it
@Bunks posted this in another thread, which I think provides some food for thought...
"You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time" and this so it would seem, includes one 'self'...
Hmm the more I remain focused on Right Livelihood extended to include Right Relationships as @how described, along with mindful observation of both speakers' and listeners' actions and outcomes, an understanding develops. I can do this all without agitating the egocentric mind since this understanding does not yet threaten its delusion directly.
Understanding leads to application. My application of concept is a different set of practices from my understanding of concept. I understand true skillful application of concept must be preceded by my deletion of the mind's ego. My mind instantly jumps to defend its delusion of self.
I cling to self perception of under-appreciation. I desire to be appreciated. More than that, to have my mind's ego fed.
When faced with ego-death, my ego seeks to grow. To take more than it is given, in the name of preservation. A parasitic relationship.
Too big to fail?
I think my mind's ego-bank just wrote a spiritual check it can't repay.
Younger me developed an internal mechanism of inflated ego to see me through difficult times. Older me, with the understanding learned from the 4NT and 8FP, realizes this previous mechanism no longer serves me.
My inflated ego was once a makeshift raft I built to stay afloat in difficult waters. Now through direct experience I see that I am and always was the very water the raft separated and protected me from. However I am still afraid of drowning.
When the leaf tries to be the best leaf and then discovers they are also the tree,
And in discovering they are also the tree, they come to realize they are also every other leaf on the tree they previously saw as competition.
Relinquished of conditioned purpose, the perception of that specific individual leaf dies a sorrowful death in the eyes of that which perceives it in such a way.
That which perceives the conditioned purpose remains.
Still clinging to the emptiness, purposelessness, where meaning of the individual leaf used to be.
A desire to exist and be relevant.
Relinquished of previous purpose, of previous relevance, of anything to cling to from previous understanding of individual leaf,
But still with longing to be, to cling, even to emptiness, even to meaninglessness of the concept of the individual leaf.
How does one take that final plunge of ego-death? To breathe the water they have learned to be hospitable yet goes against everything they have been conditioned into?
How does that which perceives the individual leaf, now seeing the whole ecosystem of the tree for what it is, allow itself to die so the realization of the whole tree can flourish unchallenged?
It's as if the belief in the Dhamma allows one to survive in its practice beyond dukkha. Where the lack of belief in the Dhamma causes one to drown or experience dukkha in its practice.
Sorry for so many words. This is often how I often process except I usually delete it all and don't post once I've understood better what I set out to realize. Here I am still trying to completely delete my ego and this is my path to understanding how I do that. My action as a result of understanding is still not clear to me other than to "just do it". To which I must honestly reply "I am afraid to".
Maybe I'll delete a portion of my ego but keep some as a pet. Anyone else have a baby pet ego? How does that work compared to complete elimination?
Approaching your ego for a fight is like trying to scare away a grizzly bear that you've been habitually feeding.......... by offering it more tasty treats.
If you** really** want the grizzly to stop coming around, observe how you've already been feeding it and just stop doing that.
The method of doing that observing is what I call Buddhist meditation.
While pretty simple to describe, the diet plan part of it can be notoriously difficult to act upon & follow through with for any distance.
Bingo! That's it. I am still avoiding resolving ego-feeding habits within.
Eager to learn how to help others so I can avoid helping myself...
I must fix my machine first before my machine can skillfully help others.
This is core dharma. We do not perfect the machine. We do however learn to operate skilfully.
… and it's work … but so worthwhile …