Monday, April 28, 2008

Householders and then the rest of us....


There have been several events over the past few weeks that have given me the needed kick in the behind to forge forward.

Sometimes I get stuck, not knowing who I am. That's a weird reference so I'll explain. Outside forces can come into play and we forget who we really are. We think we should be something else and get caught up in the expectations of meeting those standards. It's sort of basic sociology that acknowledges that people don't like to be "not average". It's scary to stand out, to be different. We learn very early to stop speaking our truth and simply give in. Like Babbit who never did a single thing he wanted to do, we give up and do what is expected of us.

As long as I can remember, I've been all about ideas, the larger picture and I'm happiest when I am exploring new ways of thinking. I ponder. Endlessly. When new ideas are presented to me, it's my greatest pleasure to dig in, learn the history of the idea and explore how it can be applied to real life situations.

In other words, I am not a householder. Family life and the incumbent responsibilities have no attraction for me - and I don't even understand the desire that others have to create these small, autonomous units and build their personal empires. It has always seemed rather transitory and useless.

Well, you can imagine in a culture such as this one, that leads to harsh judgment. I've been criticized for not wanting to take on responsibility, have been called "lazy" and told that I "lack ambition".

Two of those things are true. I do not have ambition and don't want to be burdened with day-to-day responsibilities. Resentment builds each time I am dragged away from the things that I find important to handle some petty household concern. My housemate, on the other hand, loves it and feels empty when she doesn't have enough "to do".

After trying to live in that world for 40+ years, I'm finally letting it go and accepting what I have to offer as being perfectly valid and just as necessary. I want to put more of my energy into my practice, into learning, into offering something to the world that way. There is a lot involved in spiritual development and no one who is truly committed sits around on their asses eating popcorn (although there is a place for that occasionally, too). If I was free to do so right now, I would take up residence at the temple and spend all of my time on those concerns.

It actually requires a rather rigorous discipline to keep growing in any kind of practice. It means I meditate when I'd rather be watching CSI. It means helping others, even if I don't happen to feel like it that day. It means remaining vigilant about making sure my own spirit is clean so that I can help others from a position of authenticity.

It means rigorously making sure I don't fall into negative, judgmental thinking. It means practicing endless lovingkindness, even when I'd really rather tell someone off or criticize them for their shortcomings.

It means sticking to a strict standard of acceptance of others - where they are - not where I want them to be. It means forgiving all the time, not only the times I am able to somehow reconcile it.

It means stepping outside of myself, even when it's hard ~ because being selfish is always easier than the alternative.

Over the past few weeks, some of my major shortcomings have been brought to my attention. Not by others but through circumstances. Often that is how we learn. We see a pattern and recognize that it is trying to tell us something.

In response and recognition, I've decided to step out into terrain that is a bit more difficult and challenging.

I've been following the Five Precepts for a long time now. Now I am going to attempt the Eight Precepts.

One of the ways this is going to manifest most obviously is that I am not going to get further involved with things that I believe are contra-indicated in fully actualizing this practice.

The reason I am writing about this here, even though it is essentially a rather private matter, is that it will affect how I participate in the blogging community from now on.

I am no longer going to try to "fit in" with people where I am clearly having to try too hard.

I am no longer going to participate in contests, awards, tags or other social games that I find offensive and offensive to my practice. While I appreciate very much the kindness and the intent behind those who have generously offered me praise, it is not what I am here for. Your reading and an occasional comment if something I say is meaningful for you are more than sufficient validation.

I am going to comment mindfully. When you see a comment from me, it is because there is something I really want to say - and it is to you - not the others who may be reading. I am not going to comment for any other reason than simply my desire to communicate with you authentically on your topic, to encourage you or to comfort you.

I will do my best to respectfully respond to your comments because they matter to me and you deserve that consideration. Sometimes I might fall on this or respond a few days after you've left it. I commit to doing my best though.

I am no longer going to engage in social networking, competing for hits and comments or other trappings of "popularity". That is a craving that has distracted me too many times. It hinders my growth. I'm letting it go.

What I do offer is a glimpse into transformation. I will offer wholesome discussion of topics that will hopefully uplift and encourage. Sometimes I will try to bring your attention to something that needs fixing ~ a social justice issue or a larger cultural issue. In other words, I will simply "talk" to you.

I hope you will choose to continue reading.
~*

32 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

Bravo!!!

blooming desertpea said...

I certainly will because that's why I was here for in the first place. I like your thoughts on things that matter and even if I don't always comment (because sometimes I don't have anything meaningful to say or people have already said it all) - i do read. In fact, when I'm really busy, you're one of about 3 blogs I always read.

I read the Five and Eight Precepts. A very interesting topic and somewhat new to me. I think you're brave to want to follow the Eight, I could do the Five as I realised that I am already following those without much knowledge of them but to be honest, I couldn't do the Eight. So, nothing left to say than to wish you all the best for your new milestone. :)

the psycho therapist said...

/cue sound of a resonating string instrument

*

Olivia said...

Chani,

I think we are all here because we like you as you are. The more we become you the more we love you! I echo Anvilcloud's "Bravo!", O xxoo

meno said...

right on.

jen said...

Good for you for knowing exactly how you need and want to participate in this world and in the rest of the world too.

I'd not heard of householders before, I appreciated that description very much.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The first step in accomplishing any kind of change is to get clear about what you WANT to change.

While I have never considered the possibility that you were in any way UNclear about your intentions, I congratulate you for clarifying further for yourself, and for us, where you are going on this earthly voyage.

I think you will find that you have many more riders than you expect.

Catherine said...

Sounds to me like you've given yourself some good blogging advice. I remember starting up my blog and deciding NOT to learn learn Jr. High lessons the hard way twice - and instead, to just be who I am, which will end up being, if nothing else, better and more satisfying than trying to be someone else.

As for loving the deep thoughts - as you can probably guess I am 100% with you. I'm horrid at any and all household tasks. But - I have found caring for my boy to be the most satisfying thing I've ever done; and I'm grateful for that.

Here's to knowing who you are!

womaninawindow said...

My first time here and I think maybe there's a lesson here for me if I can just look hard enough. I know what it is. Just got to apply it.

thailandchani said...

Anvil, thanks. :)

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Desertpea, my favorite of real explanation of the Five Precepts is TNH's "Five Mindfulness Trainings". The following three are usually only done on major holidays ~ so it's not like I have to do it every day. Who knows though? If it feels right, I'll do it daily - or perhaps just for a while until it becomes habitual.

I'm glad to be one of the three you read. Thank you :)

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Wendy, which instrument? :)

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Olivia, thank you. I guess I finally realized that if I can reach a few people - but reach them well, that is what matters most.

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Meno, .. :)

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Jen, it is important for me to clarify those things. Having direction matters to me a lot.. and I needed to get out of that other mindset. It was destructive.

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Susan, for some reason, it seemed important to clarify it for others, too. That way, everyone knows what I'm doing. (I dislike surprises. Have I ever mentioned that? :) This way, we all know what's going on.

The appropriate riders will find their way here.

~*

Catherine, I'm grateful to you, too, for actually enjoying raising your son. That is the most important thing .. and there's nothing wrong with householding. I wasn't implying that at all.. but just acknowledging that I don't seem to have it in me. It also lets people know what they can realistically expect from me.

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Window Woman, I would be glad to hear about your lesson...

Thanks for coming by. I visited your site as well. It is really beautiful! Those pictures! :)

~*

RKK said...

I always look forward to - and read with great interest - your posts. I'll always be here, reading away...

I'm so glad you've verbalized your path. I especially like your stated focus on non-judgementalism and unconditional forgiveness; I try to work on those two things as well, as I believe they are two of the most important things we all need to strive for while here.

Christine said...

chani, i can't imagine NOT coming here to read your thoughtful and insightful posts.

you need to be true to yourself and your needs so good for you!

slouching mom said...

good for you. those sound like perfectly reasonable and sensible precepts!

crazymumma said...

I'm reading. It seems you have been moving in this direction for awhile.

Sober Briquette said...

great, Chani. I'll be reading. And commenting.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Congratulations on trying to streamline and gain more clarity!

Chatty Crone said...

First of all thanks for the comment on my Blog. Attachment and cravings I believe IS an issue for me. It's hard to let go of things I think I need. I'm trying!

Second I love your Blog and your decisions. I feel very much the same way.

hele said...

Each one of your transformations inspire me. I look forward to reading more about this one.

Ian Lidster said...

I shall certainly continue reading. I probably come from a similar 'place' to you, but I am not as diligent. I'd end up watching CSI in lieu. So, good for you and I think your attitudes to both blogging and life are admirable.

thailandchani said...

RKK, they really are the greatest challenges of the path, imo. Yet I can easily see where it would be so satisfying to go through life without getting caught in the samsaric drama.

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Christine, I'm glad you're going to keep coming by. :)

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Sarah, they're just common sense... really. It always amazes me when common sense seems so uncommon. :)

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Anne, yes.. I have been going more in this direction. The truth is that I'm quite aware that my time on earth is limited.. more limited with each year that passes. I don't want to waste it with all the spackle.

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De, cool! I'll be glad to have you. Your common sense is refreshing. :)

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JenA2 - thank you! :)

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Chatty, it's hard for all of us. There's been considerable brainwashing that went into the trouble most of us raised in this environment struggle with.

Grab on to something plastic and hard.. and hold it really tight. See how it feels? Then let it go. That's sort of an object lesson in letting go of craving and attachment.

~*

Hele, thanks. :) I'm going to try to write about it here as I can. Some of it is too experiential. But I know there will be plenty of things.

~*~

Ian, thanks. :) It just feels to me as though taking these kinds of more deliberate steps will get me across a barrier I've had in place for a while.

~*

Defiantmuse said...

I got a lot of what you were saying. As in, understood it on a soul level.

It's interesting that everything you were describing about your interaction with the blogging community has been on my mind lately - you expressed all of the reasons I decided to go private with my blog. I have lots to expand upon there at some point when I can gather my thoughts.

I really enjoy reading about your spiritual evolution/progression because it gives me hope. I try in vain sometimes to find my way but am too often sucked into the shadows.

JCK said...

This sounds intriguing. I admire your path and acknowledge the difficulty of it in our society.

thailandchani said...

Defiant, I will be curious to read along as you sort it out. There just comes a point where the freedom to express ourselves is more important than fitting into a social network with unspoken rules and arbitrary requirements.

I'm too old and tired. I hope that's not the case for you, meaning.. I hope you are not yet old and tired. :)

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JCK, thank you. :) It's not all that difficult. Fortunately, it's not too hard to block most of it out.

~*

Angela said...

Congratulations on your decision to deepen your practice, Chani. I appreciate the mindfulness you practice in your blogging and look forward to continued thoughtful reading.

the psycho therapist said...

Wendy, which instrument?

Why this one, of course. (smile)

Love Song
Rainer Maria Rilke

How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn't resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws *one* voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.

we_be_toys said...

Yes, yes, yes!

I couldn't agree with you more - I'm not a big fan of popularity contests, and it sure feels like that sometimes in the blogging network.

I applaud your integrity and sense of truth - its what I love about you!

Let's talk!

Molly said...

I always find something meaningful when I come here, something that stays with me long after I've left. If everyone would practise the five precepts the world would be in a lot better shape. There are so many parallels with the ten commandments....makes you think it's not WHAT religion you practice but HOW you practice it...... Way back in the mists of childhood the nuns used to tell us "It's important to obey the ten commandments, and that extra, most important one about doing unto others as you would like them to do to you, but not just to be able to say,like the pharisees, that you are just and good,[implying "better" than everyone else] but to be good for it's own sake." If everyone was good because it's better than the alternative, there'd be such good vibes, governments wouldn't have to step in, because people would look out for one another....Okay, enough.....You obviously get the picture!

thailandchani said...

Angela, thank you. :) I will continue trying to do just that.

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Wendy, that's really beautiful! Thank you. :)

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We-be, any time. :)

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Molly, I was listening to Joseph Campbell the other day and he mentioned that "do unto others" is the one universal principle that transcends all religious and cultural dogma. So.. you're right! And so were those nuns. :)

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Chanda (aka Bea) said...

Im so glad I found your blog. Always thoughtfull, and always food for thought. I struggle with those same desires for popularity in the blogging world, when honing my writting skills and personal growth was the original intent. I applaud your dedication to your spiritual journey. I will certainly continue to read, comment, talk and listen.

Angela said...

Letting go is so powerful. I admire your desire to be fully present and authentic and not pander to the inklings in you that take you away from your true path and nature. I enjoyed reading this today as I have been feeling a similar struggle. Peace and blessings to you!

wheelsonthebus said...

It is so very easy to be caught up in such things, and can create so much anxiety. I blog for a few reasons: to record our family's life, to keep writing and working on my voice. I also blog because I know my words reach people this way, which means a lot to me, and it has been a wonderful way to have a sense of community. I have tried to remove some of the pressure to read everyone who reads me because I cannot do it and it makes it a less meaningful activity for me.

Your words mean a lot to me. I know I am not around much lately, but that is about me, not you.

Sending love (and Benjamin, as always, sends blueberries.)

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

BRAVO ! Don't forget:
"I do my thing, and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine..." Frederick E. Perl
Love your blog -
A bientôt :)