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Old 01-26-2013, 09:39 PM   #1
intothewoods
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Paging Netz & EasternSun & Others Knowledgable About Eastern Philosophies/Religions

So I was listening to Marc Maron's podcast and he said something that struck me -- something like, it takes as much "ego energy" to be negative about yourself as it does to be an egotistical jerk.

I thought -- oh damn - I do that! I can't take a compliment to save my life. I feel so uncomfortable that I start spewing out all of this neurotic shit. And I am always doubting myself -- which, ok, maybe there's some legitimate stuff there but a lot of it is just me spinning my wheels.

So I started googling and I found some Oprah dude self help guru -- Eckhart Tolle? And then I read that he basically took a bunch of Eastern philosophies and a sprinkling from other religions and put them all together in a nice package.

So I started digging around to try and find this idea of "ego" and what it is and where it came from. I found a little about ego and Buddhism, but I feel like I'm drowning in info. I'm trying to understand this idea that ego is you trying to control -- what? -- what others think of you?

I was wondering if either of you or anyone else can recommend some books...er...not even sure on what. I honestly don't know where to begin, but I figure this idea has some roots in one or more eastern philosophies and I would rather read something close to the original rather than new agey bullshit. Though I'll take new agey bullshit if it's helpful!
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:14 PM   #2
eastern sun
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Check out "Cutting through Spiritual Materialism," "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior," "The Myth of Freedom," or "Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala" by Chogyam Trungpa.

If he doesn't make sense, try "When Things Fall Apart" or "The Wisdom of No Escape" by Pema Chodron (his most well known student). Most of her books and teachings are very accessible to a Western audience.

I've also read and listened to Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama when I wanted additional perspectives on Buddhist texts and teachings.

(You may notice "eastern sun" in the title above . . . I had been calling myself eastern sun on the internet for about three years, when I came across this book with "Eastern Sun" in the title . . . Grandiose as I can be, I took it for a sign. . . . I've been studying ever since and it has been very, very helpful, transforming my life in significant ways.)

One reason I like Chogyam Trungpa as a teacher is that his behavior was very erratic. His student Pema Chodron claims that he comes from a lineage of madmen and murderers who found their way to enlightened mind in spite of their outrageous behavior. Since many of my most interesting spiritual questions have arisen from my experience as a sex slave and addict, I've felt almost comfortable revealing myself in the company of his students. And that's saying a lot for someone prone to withdrawal and isolation because of the content of my mind and the nature of my desires . . . .

I'll be curious what others suggest.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:23 PM   #3
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In my understanding of the Buddhist perspective, ego is the psychological structure or "construct" we create out of thoughts/emotions/perceptions/memories that gives us the impression of a "me."

Once "I" exist in my own mind, I then have to protect "myself" from the many external and internal forces that threaten "me."

Through meditation, Buddhists (and others) train their minds to rest in a more formless, "empty" state, in which the "me" that I am usually so engaged with becomes just a small part of a much larger view.

By seeing the larger view, we have access to greater wisdom, and are less likely to respond to changing circumstances from a fearful, anxious, or aggressive mental state.

I am probably oversimplifying it all, but that is my current understanding in a few sentences.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:56 PM   #4
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Fantastic! Thank you so much. I'm enjoying reading Trungpa's bio on Wikipedia. The books you recommended were available at the library so I requested them.

The last time I read anything about Buddhism -- it was some very basic book on Zen Buddhism and all I remember is, basically, let go of the things you can't control. Very helpful at the time, actually. I just can't remember anything more than that.
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastern sun View Post
One reason I like Chogyam Trungpa as a teacher is that his behavior was very erratic. His student Pema Chodron claims that he comes from a lineage of madmen and murderers who found their way to enlightened mind in spite of their outrageous behavior. Since many of my most interesting spiritual questions have arisen from my experience as a sex slave and addict, I've felt almost comfortable revealing myself in the company of his students. And that's saying a lot for someone prone to withdrawal and isolation because of the content of my mind and the nature of my desires . . . .
Interesting -- I think this all came about because I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and it feels very scary.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:01 PM   #6
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Interesting -- I think this all came about because I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and it feels very scary.
Yes. One of the best suggestions I have ever been given is to focus on the present moment - by paying attention to my breath - when I'm frightened. Since fear usually gives rise to the impulse for "fight or flight," it takes some effort to stay mentally present. That's where meditation practice can be helpful. It literally strengthens the mind over time, like a fitness program.

If you're moving out of your comfort zone, and you're able to keep relatively calm, breathing and alert, it can be an exhilarating experience. You'll gain access to stores of energy you may not have experienced before.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:59 AM   #7
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I always go back to the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao and its amazing copious footnotes, especially, which lead me to Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, but start with that.

There's really no point at which it hasn't helped me out.

Seung Sahn (Dropping Ashes) shows up in those footnotes a lot. He used humor, startling, absurdist koans, and laughing at yourself and your own foibles a lot as a way to literally get over yourself. You learn who you are when you're annoyed and you don't know why, and you realize you're being Abbot in the Abbot and Costello routine of life.

If this has to do with sexuality and oh noes, my sexuality is *filled* with absurdist ego-minimizing moments for myself as well as those I dick around with. It's one more arena in which I try to sit back and see what happens and where the ride goes.
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Last edited by Netzach : 01-28-2013 at 04:11 AM.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by eastern sun View Post
Yes. One of the best suggestions I have ever been given is to focus on the present moment - by paying attention to my breath - when I'm frightened. Since fear usually gives rise to the impulse for "fight or flight," it takes some effort to stay mentally present. That's where meditation practice can be helpful. It literally strengthens the mind over time, like a fitness program.

If you're moving out of your comfort zone, and you're able to keep relatively calm, breathing and alert, it can be an exhilarating experience. You'll gain access to stores of energy you may not have experienced before.
I gave up on meditation a long time ago and decided yoga was my meditation. But now I do power yoga and it's not even close. Maybe I can do a few minutes each day.

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Originally Posted by Netzach View Post
I always go back to the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao and its amazing copious footnotes, especially, which lead me to Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, but start with that.

There's really no point at which it hasn't helped me out.

Seung Sahn (Dropping Ashes) shows up in those footnotes a lot. He used humor, startling, absurdist koans, and laughing at yourself and your own foibles a lot as a way to literally get over yourself. You learn who you are when you're annoyed and you don't know why, and you realize you're being Abbot in the Abbot and Costello routine of life.

If this has to do with sexuality and oh noes, my sexuality is *filled* with absurdist ego-minimizing moments for myself as well as those I dick around with. It's one more arena in which I try to sit back and see what happens and where the ride goes.
Great - I'll look up both of those!

Actually, when it comes to my sexuality, I'm pretty good at letting go. Probably because I compartmentalize like crazy (too much) so when it's the time my head has designated for sex, I just let go and don't think.

This has to do with my writing and sharing it with other people in different ways. I guess actually doing what you want to do is kind of scary. I'm much more comfortable (if not happy) with a structured environment where I get feedback and there is a clear path for advancement. I know what I need to do and I am in fact battling my fears to do it, but my fears are still here fighting the good fight. Terrifying stage fright. Feeling uncomfortable in my own skin (have not felt like that in ages!). Obsessing on the people I think don't like me or have any interest in what I have to say.

The thing is that everything I write isn't going to be genius by a mile. I have to actually fuck up or worse just be average in order to get better. It's not rocket science. But it is outside my comfort zone. And I feel like telling myself -- you're awesome! - doesn't really work. But this idea of -- okay, all of this STUFF is just ego. Like get outside it and, yeah, get over yourself, that seems to click for me. I feel like that's what I need.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:50 PM   #9
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If you want to go further back read parts of the Gita in Mahabharata.

Lord Krishna is explaining to Arjun about life, death and the concepts of ego and humility. It is from these teaching that Buddha received his path to Moeksha.
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:04 PM   #10
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In terms of Buddhism, there have already been some good recommendations. I would also add you can gain a lot from reading books and writings of the Dalai Lama. One of the things I like most about his wisdom is unlike many of the theoretical texts which sometimes make it feel impossible to achieve the idealised point of consciousness, or books by others embracing Buddhism, he presents a more realistic view and shares his own weaknesses openly even when they contradict the principles of Buddhism. Gives one hope to realise even the Dalai Lama is vulnerable to the temptations and weaknesses the rest of us face.

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Old 02-01-2013, 08:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scentofawoman View Post
If you want to go further back read parts of the Gita in Mahabharata.

Lord Krishna is explaining to Arjun about life, death and the concepts of ego and humility. It is from these teaching that Buddha received his path to Moeksha.
Thank you!

I just started one of the books recommended above today and I'm kind of floored humans actually thought this shit up! It seems really complex, though presented in a pretty straightforward way.

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Originally Posted by catalina_francisco View Post
In terms of Buddhism, there have already been some good recommendations. I would also add you can gain a lot from reading books and writings of the Dalai Lama. One of the things I like most about his wisdom is unlike many of the theoretical texts which sometimes make it feel impossible to achieve the idealised point of consciousness, or books by others embracing Buddhism, he presents a more realistic view and shares his own weaknesses openly even when they contradict the principles of Buddhism. Gives one hope to realise even the Dalai Lama is vulnerable to the temptations and weaknesses the rest of us face.

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Thank you, I know what you mean. It's funny. I started reading one of the books today and, in the introduction, Chogyam Trugpa writes that the book is a collection of teachings to his students as he saw them sort of going down the wrong path. They thought they were seeking spiritual enlightenment but they were failing. I felt my competitive "good student" mind think, well, I don't want to make that mistake! And that made me laugh at myself -- pretty sure that the path to spiritual enlightenment is not BE THE BEST BUDDHIST EVER!!!! Lol.

Anyway, so I have a lot of, uh, light reading at my house at the moment!!

I do feel slightly...I don't know...uncomfortable, maybe, because I am definitely not interested in adopting a spiritual belief system. I am just interested in the philosophy. Maybe that's the same thing. I don't know.
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