Rooted in Confidence and Stillness

The Mind  |  The Scene  |  The Tribe   |   Douglas Powers  |   May 22, 2011, 5:15 pm


There is hope!

There is a place of inner confidence from which we can see what’s going on. This isn’t the false bravado of ego that represents an over-compensation for not knowing. Nor is it the misguided sense of certainty through which we set up an external symbol and to which we give up our own sense of inherent wisdom. This misguided reliance on ego and fetish projections is based on a lack of confidence grounded in fear—a fear that our own process of experience is not up to the task of living. Such fear drives us to attach to limited identities, and in turn, tries to force experience into conformity with our limited projections and expectations.

If we are honest, there has been a constant dissatisfaction and low-to-high grade sense of suffering that continually intrudes on our hyperactive attention to threat.

But how are we to uncover and manifest this confidence? Obviously, we must deconstruct our limited frame of reference, through which we are currently interpreting our perception, emotions and thoughts. This process will be painful and disconcerting. We have relied on this structure of interpretation to keep us deluded and safe from what is really going on. It has never worked completely.

If we are honest, there has been a constant dissatisfaction and low-to-high grade sense of suffering that continually intrudes on our hyperactive attention to threat. It is clear that the modern sense of identity (grounded in lack which drives our need to enjoy and accumulate at every moment) is based on this pervasive sense of fear and threat. To face the ground of the threat, we need to get rid of the mechanism that we hold onto so tightly. It is exceedingly difficult and counter intuitive — a psychologically contradictory task.

The first step in developing a true sense of confidence requires us to pass through this gate. For many today, this step is made easier by no longer having a structure of interpretation (that is thought to have the authority of truth) and is clearly understood to be provisional. But this leaves one in post-modern limbo, wandering lost in a sea of disconnected experiences and emotions. There is no confidence there.

There is a prejudice against looking to the inherent wisdom that lies within each individual. It is built into the Western construct and mitigates looking within.

This is where humans raised in the traditions of the West are at a disadvantage. Those in the Western traditions have been indoctrinated by ideologies of pessimism regarding man’s inherent nature. Western religious thought pushes the pathology of dualism, human imperfections and original sin. The secular political and economic tradition is selling the Hobbesian notion of man’s inherent aggressive and non-cooperative nature, which must be controlled by social institutions. There is a prejudice against looking to the inherent wisdom that lies within each individual. It is built into the Western construct and mitigates looking within. This Western view has, of course, worked well for the few who can manipulate the many—those who have made the fatal mistake of accepting this disempowering and distorted view of man as truth, or even as common sense. Religious leaders, political authorities, and now oligarchical self-interests have been well served by this purposely imbalanced and delusional view of man.

We must be taught by a dysfunctional, distorted culture and ideology to misunderstand and mistrust ourselves.

The Buddha clearly taught and demonstrated a very different view of humanity. Man is inherently complete, lacking nothing. If we can develop our natural tools, we can know ourselves profoundly and understand cause and effect skillfully. Our inherent awareness, which lies at the ground of our experience, is not limited. The world we know through our senses and thoughts is not foreign. We would naturally work together if we understood our true self-interest. The world and our relationships with ourselves and others are not inherently distorted and alienated. We must be taught by a dysfunctional, distorted culture and ideology to misunderstand and mistrust ourselves. Insofar as we have injected those limitations and distortions into our identities and personalities, we must eradicate them. But that is destabilizing and difficult.

We must learn to trust our still, quiet, unmoving, and observing nature. Of course, being moved by our emotional and impulsive habituations will not lead us to clarity. Emotions and impulses (which we ourselves have given power to in our past interpretations) fill our clear, inherent awareness with very limited and highly habituated content and cover over our inherent mechanism. This has been the problem.

Emotions tell us how we are based on past experiences, but they also take up the clear, observant psychic space that we need to empty in order to be aware of what’s going on.

Many people have recognized the need to deconstruct the dysfunctional habits of interpretation built into our modern identities, but they have fallen back into the confusing world of unchecked impulses and emotions. This inner emotional world is in constant flux and change and provides no ground for observation. Emotions tell us how we are based on past experiences, but they also take up the clear, observant psychic space that we need to empty in order to be aware of what’s going on.

We need to be quiet, enjoy silence, and listen carefully with an open mind in order for our awareness to become manifest. This awareness is who we are at every moment that we are alive. We need to cultivate this silence to gain a true sense of who we are, listen with full attention to the other in order to communicate, and be beckoned back to our natural oneness with the world.

Doug, you wrote a very powerful dissecting of inner everyday problem we face, if I read between the lines, I might get a glimpse of what you are trying to say.
I will have to read it again and again, then I will probably get another version of it.
anyway, I enjoy all your aritcles here and everyone else as well.
thank you for your post.
I was going to get a book called Wise Mind, by Jack Kornfield.
I have not read it, but it sound like a great book so far.
also your quote “you must be taught by disfunctional….”
this reminds me of “looking for true within the false” and vise versa (reconizging false within the true) that’s powerful.

sometimes I will feel confident, not so at other times…but my faith does not falter, if I feel the 8 winds coming, I sure hope I reconize it and stop it/or cut it with the wisom sword.
I need to remind me(self) that if it is proper I will follow, if it is not, I will stay away.

clara 05.24.11, 11:15 AM

correction on the book: Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield

clara 05.24.11, 11:16 AM

It might be helpful when looking to cultivate this fundamental awareness, through which you can see what’s going on, to have a mechanism to understand your consciousness. You might want to look to the shastras, in particular, “The Hundred Dharmas”, where it discusses the different afflictions rising in consciousness. The sooner you can catch them in the development process in perception and emotion, the sooner you can cut them off.

Douglas Powers 05.27.11, 11:13 AM

I’ve read a bit of Wise Heart and some other Jack Kornfield essays. He has a very emotionally oriented, western psychology influenced perspective.

James Roberts 05.27.11, 12:51 PM

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