STEADY CONTAINMENT is (what I call) the 'ninja' way of holding (what can be VERY !!!!) unpleasant emotions in consciousness WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.
Steady containment is what I call enlightenment.
(The other way I have heard this described is as 'Becoming a strong vessel'. Its sort of similar and I might explain that more in another post.)
It is a place in the mind where there is PEACE OF MIND in the presence of ALL SHADES OF EMOTION OR BEING. It is ALL ALRIGHT. There are NO BIG DEALS. That DOESN'T mean there is no emotion. That just means that ALL emotions are OK. They are DO-able. There is NO judgment or anxiety about them. It is essentially TOTAL ACCEPTANCE of the HUMAN CONDITION. The 'normal' aspects and the 'weird' indescribable, and unfathomable aspects. There is acceptance of the UNKNOWN, and the anxiety that accompanies new growth when we embark on uncharted territory.
There is something INCREDIBLY tough about this type of mindset, but to describe it as 'tough' alone would be misleading, because it is also characterized as a terrible beauty or gentleness. It can be incredibly joyous. (See the Dalai Lama). Like when you see a great chef prepare a fabulous meal and make it look so natural and easy, monk-type-people make this joyous, balanced, non judgmental state look like a 'normal day'. No big deal. Par for the course.
That doesn't mean it is EASY for them. They are working INCREDIBLY hard, often in extremely difficult and uncharted territory. They are not pansies! They are going to ANY LENGTHS. Not a moment is wasted. They just don't make a 'big show' of all the effort they are making. That would be FAR to ego feeding. Like it says on the just for today card..
JUST FOR TODAY—I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and NOT GET FOUND OUT; if ANYBODY knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I DON'T WANT TO DO—just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it
But to cultivate such a mind can be the result of many lifetimes work. Some are just born that way. But we all have the capacity to try to reach for a more balanced way of relating to our (seemingly IMbalancing) inner experiences.
This is a teaching that can only really be FELT as opposed to UNDERSTOOD. Often you need to be in the presence of a teacher. But it IS possible to 'connect' with a teacher through words and books. I find myself 'connecting' with Thich Nhat Hanh through his written word. But we do not really 'choose' our teachers. The choice is made for us, by the way we respond to each one. I have listed book recommendations and retreat centers that are reliable.
The Dalia lama teaches all over the world. So does Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Lazy Lama. They are all 'top dollar' I have their teaching schedule permanently featured in my links menu.
Also there is a fabulous monastery in redwood valley, California. Free to stay! As far as I know. Also thy may be able to recommend other good retreat centers in America. If you live over there.
This site shows you where the worldwide chain of monasteries of the Theravada tradition are (Which I am lucky enough to have on my doorstep). They (meaning the senior monks and nuns) know ALL the cool meditation places to go. If I need any 'leads' this is where I go to get info. Why? Because they are WESTERN. A person who grew up in Thailand (for instance) has a completely different set of emotional programming than myself as a result of their cultural conditioning. Just look at the difference between the way the local populace responded to the Tsunami as compared to the way the locals responded to the Katrina in New Orleans. I rest my case..
Its no different than doing AA. You could never 'learn' AA without going to meetings could you? You need to SEE the people face to face to believe it. Well the same is true about this. You learn it much more powerfully if you can find a person that you can be in the same room as who has this quality. That's why I tell Sponsees to go on retreat after step 9, so they can see a whole new 'WAY OF BEING' demonstrated by these types of people. The skills they have go FAR above what can be seem in an AA room. But perhaps if enough AA's supplement their programme with a highly developed step 11 practice, then these skills might filter into AA rooms. I DO know that my (former) Sponsees appear to be learning this lesson pretty well. The ones that have gone on retreats anyway. Some retreats are utter rubbish by the way. Organized by charlatans! Not ALL retreats are good! Some are just not very good, and will only really do a half baked job, or will just be too tough, or imbalanced in the areas of development. You need all round skills really. 'Heart' practice and 'collecting/ quieting the mind' practice
Right I'm off! Too long. Gym, Library, the usual!!!
Hope you are all well and all that... Thanks for everything. You are a pretty cool bunch!
- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
'Steady containment' is what I call enlightenment
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