When I was a little girl, Pin the Tail on the Donkey was a popular party game. Now, I am 66-years-old, and I am discovering that many of us play the game of life with about as much precision as we played the donkey game. With blindfolds in place, we circle around and around and stagger toward some goal that we believe is somewhere ahead, but only a bit out of sight. Sometimes, that game of blind man’s bluff works fine, but I am realizing that all of us would do much better if we would take away our blinders and take a more penetrating look at life; ask a few more questions; seek a few more answers; and hopefully, begin to see through a clearer lens.This would be especially good for those of us who write in our blogs.
For example, I write a great deal about Denial and Delusions and Avoidance. I even write about mindfulness. For quite some time, I have had an elemental understanding of what mindfulness is and how meditation would supposedly help all of us–even me. A couple of times, I have begun reading books about mindfulness and meditation, but before now, I have understood precious little of why meditation is helpful. This week, however, I discovered an excellent set of videos in which Robin Wright, from Princeton University, has simplified the explanation of mediation and other tenets of Buddhism, and some of this is beginning to make sense to me. I want to learn as much as I can from these videos.
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the nature of feelings and emotion, and I have had difficulty understanding why some people seem to have no feelings at all. No doubt, this question led me to my graduate study of William Blake, who wrote volumes about how the people who were unable to feel were doomed to what he described as an emotion-less Hell. Like Blake, I have an oversupply of emotion, and I am frustrated by the people around me who seem to be emotionally bankrupt.
You can register for this free, online course from Princeton Here
You can look at the first of Wright’s videos Here or at YouTube.
In the second of the videos that accompany the Princeton Univesity Free Online Course on Buddhism and Psychology, Robert Wright says that Buddhism teaches that we should be suspicious of our feelings. In the first of the videos, he had explained that in its efforts to survive, mankind has evolved with several defense devices that have prevented them from being eradicated. If my understanding is correct, he is saying that we should be suspicious of our feelings. He says that they are part of the system of devices that have evolved with us, simply to help us survive.
At the time of writing this, I have only watched two of the Wright videos, and I feel sure that I have only begun to unpeel the layers of Buddhism and how it relates to modern psychology, but I have begun to rethink some of what I had thought that I had understood before. Again, if I am correctly piecing things together, my having an overly abundant range of emotions says something about what I needed to help me to continue as part of the human species; and by the same token, another person’s lack of emotions is what they needed to survive. Again, if I am correctly understanding this entire thing, neither the non-feeler nor I have completely figured things out yet, and until we do, we will suffer or feel a certain amount of angst.
I have already begun having a conversation with my readers about Buddhism, but I have very few answers. I myself have just begun to dive into the depths of Buddhism’s understanding, but the important thing is that I am not afraid to dive.
The very liberating thing to remember is that none of us is expected to have all of the answers, but in my opinion, our journeys will be more sure-footed if we at least remove our blindfolds.
©Jacki Kellum July 201, 2016