A noble truth: the activating of agonizing (suffering)


  • Statue of Buddha in Vietnam

    Statue of Buddha in Vietnam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    What is agonizing? When I believe that I really need to know something that I do not know, repeating that sincere belief is agonizing. “I really need to know what I do not know. Something I do not know yet is what I really need to know already, or at least very, very soon….”
    That is also the activity of frustrating. “But, I REALLY need to know this one thing that that I just do not know yet, and it is so tragic and frightening and sad and disappointing and I just do not know what to do about not knowing what to do!” That is agonizing. We might even call it angst or grief or grieving or distressing (or just whining and complaining).
    When the activity of agonizing is clear as an activity, then there is no agonizing about the idea that “I may agonize in the future,” for there no urgency to prevent something that is easily ceased. People can ask me “yeah, but all that is clearly SOOO complicated and confusing and so must be only for VERY advanced masters, so how does someone like me stop agonizing.”
    How to stop agonizing may seem so mysterious at one stage and at another stage is ridiculously simple, like asking “how do I stop facing east?” Just face any other direction!
    For other people, there is a desperate, distressed search for methods to stop agonizing (to stop suffering), such as “take the weekend retreat introducing you to 101 steps for how to eventually face south instead of facing east.” There are also many chants for “how to face west instead of east after only 8 minutes of repeatedly chanting a six word foreign phrase.” There is also the alleged great importance of the method of talking to a competent teacher who is facing south, so, in order to face them, you face north, which prevents you from facing east.
    “Ah! That is how to stop facing east! Thank you, master for showing me the secret method.”
    This painting depicts Devadatta on one of his ...

    This painting depicts Devadatta on one of his attepts to kill the Buddha. He tried to make a large boulder fall on the Buddha while Buddha was walking in a mountaineous region. It is said that the boulder miraculously split in half while going through the air. A splinter of the rock entered the Buddha’s foot, and drew his blood. Because of this bad karma, at the time of death Devadatta was reborn in the very deepest hell, a hell which is known by the name Avici. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    For the Buddha, perhaps agonizing or not is not important- no more important to the Buddha than having a teacher to guide the Buddha or having scriptures to learn how to become a Buddha. The one who is already Buddha can sit down and practice agonizing for an hour straight without any lasting momentum (karma) the moment after that hour of practicing agonizing.
    Agonizing is just a linguistic exploration for the Buddha- no different than inquiring or curiosity. However, this is not because the Buddha the Buddha has something that others lack. This is because the Buddha lacks something that others have, a belief or self-concept or self-image or linguistic identity of someone like me.” The Buddha is not confused about self-concepts, recognizing them as mere self-concepts in language. They can come or go as little phrases of conversation, but the Buddha does not believe in them for the Buddha does not believe in words.
    The Buddha uses words, pointing with them. However, the Buddha is not deluded by concepts, including self-concepts. The Buddha is clear that linguistic concepts are just linguistic concepts. The Buddha does not confuse linguistic concepts for something else. The Buddha does not confuse language for something else.
    The Buddha does not confuse the label on a jar with the actual contents of the jar. The label in language is just a label. The physical contents of a jar (if any) are not linguistic. “Someone like me” is just linguistic. The reality of “me” includes language, but the idea that “my life” excludes any of life at all… is just an idea, a concept, a model in language.
    The Buddha may even use language to reveal irony, telling jokes. “This is not language.”
    Vishnu as the incarnation Buddha

    Vishnu as the incarnation Buddha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    So, the Buddha may say things like “why ask how to stop agonizing? Why stop agonizing? Do you even know what agonizing is? Do you even know what you are?”
    The Buddha can take a year-long retreat to figure out the best way to agonize, to get many famous teachers to certify that their way of agonizing is the most agonizing, and still the Buddha can agonize with other people (also called arguing). However, while the Buddha can do all of those things that everyone can do already, the Buddha can also stop doing any of those things, which not everyone seems able to do, perhaps because of a belief in a self-concept.
    Also inside the Tsuglagkhang Temple, a statue ...

    Also inside the Tsuglagkhang Temple, a statue of Avalokitesvara (or Chenrezig), the bodhisattva of compassion. (McLeod Ganj) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Can anyone face west at the same time they face east? I do not mean one of those statues with several faces pointing in different directions. I mean someone like you.
    We cannot face west (recognizing self-concepts as just being concepts) at the same time we are facing east (as in believing in a self-concept). However, when we first are exposed to language and linguistic self-concepts, it is natural to “believe” them, to even worship them idolatrously. We then learn that self-concept can change, so that one can have a different self-concept over time. Next, we may recognize that these various self-concepts that we can have are in fact just concepts. We can stop worshiping them, defending them, justifying them, and so on.
    English: Painting of Gautama Buddha sitting in...

    English: Painting of Gautama Buddha sitting in Dhyana, unharmed by the demons of Mara. Sanskrit Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript written in the Ranjana script. Nalanda, Bihar, India. Circa 700-1100 CE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Does the Buddha fear agonizing? The Buddha does not fear the concept of agonizing because the Buddha does not fear any concept (including fear), nor does the Buddha cling to any concept or resist any concept. Concepts are just symbolic constructions of language.
    Distressing is just an activity. Agonizing is just an activity. Suffering is just a pattern of activation or arousal or a symptom of something else.
    Is there a self-concept that is the seed of some pattern of agonizing? What is the self-concept? Can one stop agonizing and relax enough to inquire, to wonder, to open, to pause, to stop, to notice, to be mindful?
    The Buddha does not resist any activity, cling to any activity, or avoid any activity. Or, the Buddha practices resisting and avoiding and clinging, but mindfully. How does one mindfully cling and avoid and resist? That is like mindfully facing east. In other words, it is a secret that can only be taught to the most advanced students who recognize the silliness of words.
    Finally, what is the concept that the Buddha says is the guiding concept for how to resolve any dilemma and simplify any challenge? “As the situation arises,” says the Buddha, which of course is the concept that some label “mindfulness.”
    English: Painting of the miraculous birth of G...

    English: Painting of the miraculous birth of Gautama Buddha, out of the side of Queen Maya. Sanskrit Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript written in the Ranjana script. Nalanda, Bihar, India. Circa 700-1100 CE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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10 Responses to “A noble truth: the activating of agonizing (suffering)”

  1. lantanagurl Says:

    Reblogged this on Exploration of the Sacred & Conscious; including Sexuality.

  2. livvy1234 Says:

    I tell you, it gets tiring. Years ago, I never had to “think” about being mindful of what I was think I N G. Decipher I N G all the time, what I am think I N G or sens I N G. I am taking a break from all of it. Balanc I N G!

    • jrfibonacci Says:

      And then you can take a break from taking a break. Being mindful is not an assignment for the identity to do, like something that the identity needs so as to fix the identity from some alleged flaw. Being mindful is just a way of being.

      Being mindful is deeper than the identity, even perceived by the identity as a threat to it. Maybe the exhaustion is to redirect attention away from “premeditated mindfulness” to something even simpler and gentler. Be mindful of withdrawing and engaging or arousing. When there is a signal to reduce engagement or arousal or effortful focus, then naturally relaxing happens. That is a very important stage.

      • Janet Says:

        Appreciate your thoughts here. I have aligned myself the last 12 years with two methods of mindfulness. One method of practice has been in a Soto Zen temple. The other path is my study of Jiddu Krishnamurti texts. I find engaging in organizational mindfulness exhausting. I think I am burnt out right now.

        Jiddu Krishnamurti’s discourses have had a profound effect on me.

        Your statement about fixing the flaw in identity really hit me, with regard to Soto Zen practice. It is a tiring practice…to show up all the time. I feel that I can never do enough there. I think I feel toasted.

        I have had many deep meditations over the years leading me to understand the Nickolodeon way (Gengo Koan) our mind operates.

        Firewood is firewood. It cannot become ash. Firewood has a fixed identity. The NIckolodeon images are all separate; yet when you start cranking the machine ithe images seem to flow together.

        Spring does not become summer. Each has its own identity

        How many years I spent trying to fix the identity.

        I am interested in reading any articles you have on arousing,engaging and withdrawing.

      • jrfibonacci Says:

        I address withdrawing and introspection here: https://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/the-four-noble-truths-of-landmark-education-nlp/

      • livvy1234 Says:

        I do not know of Toni Packer, but will research her work. Thank you for this lead. Yes, I am drained from monastic doings.

        Whoa! You brought up the point (helpful) that there are no seasons at the equator of the planet. NO FIXED IDENTITIES, but there is the identity of “no seasons at the equator or shall I say concept?

        You make sense. “I did not try to fix the identity. I had “one identity that identified” with fixing an identity of my own awareness with a neuro-linguuistic dream. I am still waking up. Excellent to reflect upon!

        Click to access cauce24_03.pdf

        I am going to read the article you suggested in your reply. Will comment later after reading. Thank you~

      • jrfibonacci Says:

        Janet, you probably do not know that I lived briefly at a Soto Zen Monastery (in Mount Shasta, CA, USA). I liked it enough to stay a few months, but no more than that. I was more interested in authors like Jiddu Krishnamurti and the Buddha than in that particular monastic tradition.

        Do you know of Toni Packer? If you appreciate Jiddu and Soto Zen, she is one I would recommend for you as an author and a living guide. I have never met her, but she is amazing. She speaks more simply than Jiddu (and less). You may find her personal history to be notable and familiar.

        As for the labels spring and summer, they are just labels. At the equator of this planet, there are no seasons at all. It is currently winter in Australia and summer in Europe (all at once).

        Identities are linguistic, as in empty forms, as in symbolic codes. However, the contrasts of winter and summer are real, as well as day and night and equatorial and polar. Empty forms are real empty forms.

        Right now, it is really both day and night as well as both winter and summer. In Australia, it is a winter night while in Europe it is a summer day.

        So, you did not try to fix the identity. That was just one identity which identified with fixing an identity and tried to fix itself. That was not you. You are the one who witnessed the identifying of your own awareness with a neuro-linguistic dream. You may still be waking up, but a dream is always only a dream.

        This is about you: https://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/song-recording-perfect-miracle-of-god/

  3. livvy1234 Says:

    I will also get back to you ont “This is about you:”


  4. livvy1234 Says:

    Wow! Just listened to your song on youtube: Perfect!
    Absolutely floored me. I posted it on my facebook page with the following words: Your perfect, then you learned to worship an ideal. What you are is magical YOUR PERFECT!

    You are quite talented, kudos for your blog, too!!!

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