Sunday, August 2, 2015

Introspection's the Name of the Game: On Liberating Yourself by Examining and Analyzing

Last week's slogan pushed at the boundaries I've put around my practice of Buddhism, pushed further than I had - and I had been thinking about the way I, in the past, drew distinctions between my practice of Buddhism and my everyday life.

This week's pushes even further:
Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing. 
Introspection's the name of the game again, it seems.'s translation supports my interpretation, too: "Find freedom by probing and testing." The same can be said of their brief explanatory passage:
"If you don't push the limits, you will stay as you are. Push on patterns, question assumptions, and don't take anything for granted."
Judy Lief's piece at Tricycle gave further support to the idea that this is about truly looking at myself with an eye for growth:
"The tendency to pretend everything is okay, while avoiding unpleasant realities, can be seen in external social relationships and internally as well. But to train your heart/mind you need to stop pretending. Lojong is not about putting on a show, or keeping up appearances. Instead you bring all aspects of your experience to the surface, even those that provoke you the most."
It's odd how often my professional life dovetails with my spiritual life, and this is another whopping example of that. I've been working, very recently, with a group that is learning about autoethnographies with the ultimate goal for each of us to write a chapter in a book that collects the autoethnographies of academic librarians. So this idea of questioning assumptions and looking deeply and unflinchingly at my plusses as well as my minuses is a bit of a theme right now.

Lief's advice is going to be difficult to follow, but important:
"Bring to mind something that gets a rise out of you. Notice the heightening of emotionality and the arising of a kind of frozen and solid self-regard. Try to stay with that experience and to examine it in depth, as a mental, bodily, and emotional sensation In doing so, remember that lojong is gentle, so don't begin with your most challenging and deep-rooted habit patterns, but with something more ordinary."
I'm going to have to spend a while with this, going to have to keep coming back to it again and again. So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

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