Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Integration

The phenomenon of self loathing is really quite odd, isn't it?  One part of you is disliking another.  Presumably the part that is doing the disliking considers itself wonderful.  Only from such a position could it judge another part to be lacking or defective.

And consider the phenomenon of inconsistency.  You determine to get up at 5am and exercise, and within a day, a week, or a month, you stop.  You determine to count calories, or to only eat certain foods, and within a short period of time, you stop.  What is this about?

Given psychological integration, you would WANT to do the things that are good for you.  But the fact for most of us is that different parts of ourselves define "good" differently.

All of us encounter force in some form in our childhoods.  Somebody--usually a parent, and usually teachers, at least--compel us to do things we don't want to do.  We comply, but only because of fear.  We are not taught WHY we are doing X, Y, or Z.

For some of us, fear was almost all we felt.  Everything was forced.  Everything was compelled.  In such a situation, it is natural that the part of ourselves responsible for protecting our identities, our sense of self, our AGENCY, to use the modish word, goes into hiding, but does not disappear.  For it to fully disappear, you have to become psychotic.

In my own case, it feels like I have retained this habit of trying to force everything, and since this force originates within me, it encounters continually another part of me--the more honest part--which resists it.  That part was not consulted.  That part knows this is a parental voice pushing me continually, always in the direction at least of anxiety.

For many of us, feeling low grade anxiety and not screwing up are more or less the same thing.  Even if I'm not doing something, if I'm worried about it, that is tantamount to doing the needed work.  That this is highly neurotic does not change the fact.

I am not a Buddhist philosophical historian, but I suspect they never said "No Self" was an absolute doctrine.  In the sutras I have read they tended to say "X neither is, nor is not".  The self neither is, nor is not.

And if you think about it, in cases of internal conflict and ineffectiveness, which is the real self?  Who is talking?

It seems to me if  we were to use a word, the true self is more or less congruent with the sense of personal agency.  But this itself comes and goes.  We are driven by many forces, some habitual, some instinctual, some environmental.

The Self, then, comes and goes.  It is neither accurate to say it doesn't exist, nor accurate to view it as something with being, as a sort of thing.  And practically, Buddha taught people at their level.  It seems obvious to me that for everyone, what they think of as their real self is just a pale shadow of what is possible, and so like a shell in a growing lobster it has to be cast off.

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