Monday Madness (March 16, 2008)

¡Hola! Everybody,
Happy St. Paddy’s day, people. great day to take advantage of a drunken lass! ::grin:: Today an mad prelude (really a poem) and a map!

* * *

Nows [no. 2]

You’re fighting me I find,
and you will fight me all the way
to that painful
instant of surrender
we can both already sense.

You will fight
my instant messages
my postcards
my presents
and my desperate calls.

You will fight
the endless affections of my tongue
and I will ignore
your enormous eyes
and that unbearable smile.

I can buy you
airplane tickets,
dinners in San Juan,
and clothes you must learn to
love yourself to wear
and still you will fight me.

Because I have taken away
your practiced old
game of giving,
and made of you
an honest trader again.

— Edward-Yemíl Rosario

* * *

A Map

Not too long ago, I sat beside a woman on a panel. We were addressing college students, and what struck me about this particular woman was the level of her selfishness. I found it interesting because she sought me out before we spoke and mentioned that she too was a “practicing Buddhist.” Her version of Buddhism, it seemed to me, was simply meditation. I had a teacher who once joked that practicing Buddhism without ethics was like trying to row a boat without first untying it from the pier.

What struck me about this woman was that her whole existence centered on her and she was oblivious to how she was connected to her environment; how her actions reverberated and caused ripples. In her world, what mattered was the conscious cultivation of her ego. She could actually see the “logic” in the needless death of an infant. This is what happens when you mix Ayn Rand with meditation! LOL Nothing could be further from my vision of Buddhist practice.

Two people, two different worlds.

This got me to thinking and I have come to realization that “practicing meditation” or any set of practices isn’t enough. I have come to realize that we create our world according to what level we operate from. It’s the same with love. For some people love’s ultimate reason for existence is to satisfy the individual. Love is something that you go “out there” to get in order to satisfy your hunger for connection. similarly, religion and everything else is filtered — distilled according to where you stand in terms of growth.

I’ll explain. Let’s look at moral development as a starting off point. Let’s say moral development has three distinct stages. An infant at birth hasn’t been socialized into the culture’s ethics, standards, and conventions; let’s call this the preconventional stage. It’s also known as egocentric, in that the infant’s awareness is largely consumed with self — self-absorbed. but as the young child begins to learn its culture’s rules and norms, it grows into the conventional stage of morals. This stage is also known as ethnocentric, in that it’s focused on the child’s particular group, tribe, clan, or nation, and it therefore tends to exclude those not of its group. But at the next major stage of moral development, the post-conventional stage, the individual’s identity expands to include care and concern for all peoples, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed, which is why this stage is also known as worldcentric.

If you’re still with me, you can see that moral development tends to move from “me” (egocentric) to “us” (ethnocentric) to “all of us” (worldcentric). This is an example of unfolding waves of consciousness.

Using this consciousness “map” one can see how religion (or love) will manifest itself differently in a person who’s at the egocentric stage than a person who’s at a worldcentric stage. Both people can be just as devout (or “in love”), but spiritual practice will evolve according to any one individual’s level of moral development.

So imagine love from an egocentric perspective. Love at this stage resembles a yearning — something like a need for a fix — an ego boost. Same thing with almost anything you look at in life: it changes according to what level you choose to engage the world. religion from an egocentric perspective probably resembles the scary wave of fundamentalism currently threatening our existence. And I mention fundamentalism in all its manifestations — including our own home-grown Christian fundamentalism.

I find all this quite interesting because a lot of my work involves helping people move from one stage to another. But it’s also interesting because it helps me tease out the idiosyncrasies when someone says, “I love you.” Perhaps we need to know a little more about others and ourselves when we travel the terrain of the heart. For what may sound like “I love you” may in actuality mean “I love me.”

I would like to start using this “map” as a way to discuss different issues.




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