From flapping about to settling down

wasp-on-flower-480x320So…flapping about when wasp are near really disturbs them and increases the chances of being stung. Understanding this can change our behaviour  and so decrease the chance of being stung. Having a benevolent attitude towards them either because we see them as helpful, or in a bigger way as part of what is, may also help. Creatures certainly can be sensitive to our attitude towards them.

Perhaps we have a similar approach to other human beings who we feel are a threat and may sting us – maybe we flap about in our anxiety – but if, either on a relative or ultimate level, we can understand the conditions operating in the situation then this can soften our tension and, if we are stung, allow a quicker release of the pain.

A dharma investigation will take us back to fundamental ignorance and the arising of the five poisons on the basis of that misunderstanding.

With that, the Buddha’s story about the man hit by a poisoned arrow is very helpful. How much time do we want to spend working out who fired the arrow and why, what the arrow – shaft and tip – is made of, and what kind of feathers the flight, before we pull the arrow out?

Our sense of injustice, with questions like ‘don’t they know?’ and ‘why can’t they see?’ and ‘how could they?’ can often simply answered by… ‘no, they don’t’, ‘because they haven’t looked’, and ‘because they are them’, respectively. The conditioned nature, with egoic centrality, does not invite a questioning tentative approach and, if we had their conditioning, we would behave exactly as they do. The spinning around these questions takes up a lot of time and energy, often to no good effect, and can keep the wound from healing – it’s like scratching the top off  a scab.

So perhaps there is something useful to be said or done, perhaps not. If there is then it is likely to work out better if we truly know who we are and so have the space to be curious about the other, holding gently in mind the question of who they are – both in their true nature and its current precise expression. With that approach our response will be to be more attuned to the actual circumstances prevailing at the time rather than a defensive reactivity based on the past or imaginings.

Sometimes when something hurtful is being chewed over and over I suggest this is a bit like picking up a poisoned dagger which someone has thrown towards you and sticking it in yourself over and over again. There is the possibility just to leave it on the ground where it fell ( if you’re not so ‘solidly defined’ then what will it stick to?).

And  while we are talking about what we and others get up to there is a saying I like which is – as one points a finger at the other there are three fingers pointing back at oneself or, as the Buddha said, ‘a man winnows the faults of others whilst hiding his own like a crafty gamester covering his throw.’ Turning the mirror around to look at what we’re up to is challenging, and sometimes we are too close to the mirror to see clearly, it’s all a bit blurry or we focus just on what seems attractive or unattractive to ourselves – which can be where a teacher comes in very handy – but it’s by altering our own way of being that we really can make a difference. Trying to be helpful while being tangled up is hard to do… we may just become more entangled. But if we can see that happening then, as we are trying, we are learning. To offer to help someone being swept along in a river is a kind expression but it’s more likely to be effective if you are standing on the riverbank with a rope and a lifebuoy than if you are being swept along beside them.

Which leads to Dharma practice… and the old Zen saying if you haven’t got time to meditate for twenty minutes you need to meditate for an hour!

The lads in my village take every opportunity they can to practice their tricks on their skateboards…. I talk with a young woman who is a keen rower and she makes sure to go to bed in time to get up for training…and we who are practising the dharma and trying to turn around the course of, or our relationship with, the supertanker of our conditioned habits and beliefs…how much effort/precision do we give to this?