Letting Go of Fear-Based Strategies
7:04PM Sep 21, 2021
Today is September 19 2021. And the teisho this morning is going to be I guess the title could be letting go of fear based strategies. Let me say a little bit about that. All of us, to one degree or another, sabotage ourselves, our lives, our practice, with all the strategies that we've built up, to avoid the things we don't like -- things we're afraid of.
Our zazen is a process of opening up to our life in this moment. But we get tripped up again and again, by all these habits that we built up that we're not aware of.
Sometimes people think I'm comfortable, everything works well for me. But Heidegger, the German philosopher Heidegger said, anxiety is there. It is only sleeping. Its breath quivers perpetually, through our experience of being.
If nothing else, each of us is up against the reality that our lives are limited. going to die. We know we are. We don't know when. There's so much more though that throws us. So anytime we try to do anything difficult. And of course, what we're trying to do on the mat is far from easy. Anytime we try that we're going to run into ancient, old old fears about our worth, our safety and our capability. Everyone at one level or another, has these uncertainties, these questions. And that always trigger is old and not so skillful ways that we've developed over time to shut those fears down. And somebody who really gets into this is late Zen teacher from San Diego. I've read from her before and I think Donna read from her in the recent, fairly recent session that today's session that she led. And like Donna, I'm going to be reading from the book, ordinary wonder, Zen life and practice by Charlotte Joko back, and it's been edited by her daughter, Brenda Beck has. So this is right on point for what I want to talk about this morning. And I will just plunge in.
This is from a chapter called that icy couch. And it leaves off with a quote from Hubert bhanwar wrote a book called The Supreme doctrine. But the quote the quotation is, at least let me rest on that icy couch. And then there's a note from Brenda Backhouse. She says you were been while 1904 to 1992 was a French cycle therapist and writer. My mom first read Ben was the supreme doctrine in the mid 1960s. She felt it was an extremely difficult read. She returned to it over and over throughout her life. And I still have her original dog eared copy. You know she's joeckel back and other writings as is praised this book, and I went out and bought it long, long ago. And it's sad in my bookcase barely touched for maybe two decades, three decades. I went back to it and look through it and I can see how really, it is profound. It's It's It's excellent, but it's so hard to read. And I guess joco found the same thing she found it was an extremely difficult read, but she kept going back to it and evidently got a lot out of it. She says the sentence from that book used as an epigraph here, that at least let me rest on that icy couch. And when she paraphrases in this talk stuck with her most of all, this was probably the most important influential book she ever read for his Empress. does.
And let me say a little something about reading Zen books, since we're, since we're reading from one here. A lot of people wonder, you know, is it, is it appropriate? Zen practice is about direct experience. It's not reading somebody else's experience of Zen. It's getting on the mat doing zazen, looking into my own mind, you know. Does book reading have a role to play? Roshi Kapleau used to say, famously, many people have heard this, the best Zen book is the one that makes you close it and go sit. And that's, that's good. That's, that's I agree with that. But sometimes it doesn't mean that you read two pages, and then you got to stop and do zazen or you're wasting your time. There's a lot of, we have a lot of blocks and wedges, as the old Chinese masters used to say, in our selves that affect our practice, and that cut us off from reality, from the bare experience of our lives. And sometimes it helps to read and to get some insight into these things and and be encouraged on our in our practice. So everybody has to figure this one out for themselves. This is a koan for each one of us. Does reading help me in my practice? Am I doing too much? Am I doing too little? I wouldn't obsess about it and worry too much. If you find a book and you find it inspiring, then go right ahead. But do get to the mat as well. Because that's where it really, that's where the real action is.
Okay, so starting with joco. She says, when we practice, we begin to understand our mind. And we begin underneath our thoughts to experience for the first time. And underneath our thoughts is so significant. For many people, thoughts, it's all the mind is just thoughts. They're they're all there. introspection is basically following skipping along the path from thought to thought to thought, but there's so much more going on in the mind. Yes, Tony Roshi used to say that used to hold up a ballpoint pen and say, the intellect, the human intellect, if you represented it as part of this ballpoint pen would be the tip, just the tip. All the rest are depth.
And that's what Zen is great for is to begin to get us beyond the level of our thoughts to experience for the first time. Once we see underneath all the thoughts we have covering up our experience, what does that feel like? That unknown places where the practice is not in the endless analysis of our thoughts? And when we experience without reacting or judging, we can start to get curious about what we're experiencing? What is our core self, that getting curious is such an important part of practice. I think sometimes it gets cut off, because we're more focused on performing well. I think in the beginning, it's often there, because we have no idea what to expect. You sit down on the mat and just let it rip. And oftentimes people will have some, some deep experiences, you know, on one level or another, they'll settle in a way they never have before. And that can be really inspiring. But then as you go on, there is a tendency to think well, I should be at this point, or I should be at that point. And I see these people and they appear to me to be more developed than I am. I gotta I gotta get further and then then your designs in the Curiosity is lost, and it's all about performance. It's an important point to look at in yourself, and we'll talk about that more. She says our first work is to know ourselves. This is a lifelong task.
Because to know ourselves requires returning to, and uncovering beliefs and decisions we made when we were first when we first formed our identity many many years ago. These beliefs and decisions if we can call them decisions, these are things that happen naturally, we start out with a pretty clean slate. And we haven't yet divided the world into self and other. It happens all too fast. But it happens gradually. And these decisions that she says we've made, we're not aware of having made any decision, I think the way habit formation works is you do something and then you're more likely to do it again. And then you do it again. And then you do it again. And then that's how you do things. It really is an unconscious process for the most part. She says, before we are born, we actually have a pretty good for most of us, everything suits us in the womb, we're warm enough, we have enough to eat. Nothing threatens us. The minute we are born, though, we no longer experienced that totality of being fed all the time in a warm, peaceful environment. It doesn't mean that our parents are not good parents, there's no parent who can supply the craving of an infant for total love and safety. The infant's view is that they should have everything they wanted immediately. Of course, that's what they had when they were in the womb, it's just not possible. We aren't physically equipped to serve anything, even a baby in that way. So very early on, the infant without thinking, of course, begins to get the idea that this is a rocky road out here. Perhaps there's even a pre verbal version of the thought, I'd really like to go back. But here I am. Not sure what that would look like. But now that we're adults, we know we'd like to go back. problem is if you go back, then you got to be born again. And I think the big head to fit through a not so big opening. The baby doesn't know what to do. So as it grows into a child, it works out its own plan. We could say its own pattern. And when things go wrong for you as a young child as they will, you can't conceive that it's because the adults around you might be something less than perfect. You can only conceive that there's something wrong with you. And that is why you're not getting this thing you need. Think actually at that stage of development. when a baby is being frustrated by not having its needs met. It hasn't yet divided the world into me and my parents is basically if there's any pre verbal thought it's this sucks. I don't like this. The only answer that as to what's wrong, is it something individually wrong, that something wrong kalsang that something wrong calcifies into something negative, which I call the core belief. The reason you're not getting what you need is a small child has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the grownups and the world they live in. But from the standpoint of this developing little human being, the belief arises that there's something wrong with them. I'm unworthy, good things can't happen to me. Depending on the exact sort of circumstances you went through as a child, your belief will have its own tenor. That's true. Everyone has a different upbringing, so many things that go into that, you know, the circumstances of your family, your parents, siblings, if you have them, tremendous influence. And of course, she doesn't mention those, but what you bring in your own genetic makeup. And your belief will have its own tenor, no two are precisely alike. But there are always some form of there is something wrong with me. It is excruciating Lee painful to have this belief running your life. Babies can't stand it any better than anyone else. Since they're so smart. And they're very smart. They quickly begin to devise ways of handling that. And if total love just doesn't seem to be appearing naturally, we've been looking for it somewhere else and devising means of getting it. Depending on what you learned. And we're taught, this may look like anything from being good to acting out, from trying to from trying to disappear, to making a big fuss. If you're a parent with more than one children, one of the one child, you see the variation, some of the variations on those core beliefs.
And jogo goes on to say every single person over the age of two or three has a core belief. It's just the nature of being human to have one. We can also say we just have a default mode. We have a mental module. All that kicks in when we're threatened. We've talked about this in a previous, I think, a Dharma talk that I made a while back when I was reading from Robert Wright, who wrote the book, why Buddhism is true. We have these patterns that get deployed, not because we say, Okay, here's a good strategy, and I'm going to try it out. It just gets triggered. It happens below the level of consciousness, we all have these. But to go on with joco, she says this core belief is not something true, it's always negative. This is because it is the product of the ego or separate self, the nature of which is to feel threatened. The minute we divide the world into self, and other than there's the threat, she says, nothing is truly separate. So if we feel separate, we feel threatened. the separate self use life is something that might either please me, but I can't count on this, or threatened me. So there's always tension and uncertainty there. As small children, when we feel threat or actual pain, we try to separate from it. Usually, without conscious thought, we have to figure out how to handle this very difficult and even potentially life threatening situation that without any fault of our own, we find ourselves in, it is in figuring out how to respond to something out of our control, that we formulate a negative belief about ourselves, this young ego, the separate self is frightened and angry. And the core belief arises out of this situation, we often first experienced this as a scream, I can't, I won't help. The older we are, the more this belief, this core belief gets hardened and buried, requiring more practice to uncover. Once we are old enough to have awareness of these structures, then I think it is appropriate to refer to the core belief also as a core decision, the decision to continue to live our lives in this anxious way. So pretty below the surface decision. But yeah, I could go with that. That's how we choose we want to do what we've always done.
She goes on, we all have a core belief, you may not know it yet, if you haven't thought about your life in this way. But it's there. I'm not saying it's all you are. But it's there to one degree or another. If you've practiced for many years and are aware of it, maybe it's very weak, and almost non functional, but it's there. And it will come up, particularly in times of crisis. So one good point to make about habit energy is we can we can get past some of our most difficult habits, replace them with other behaviors. And the old triggers lead us to do something more healthy than they did. When we used to grow angry or drink or do whatever it is we did that was harmful. But as she say, we'll come up, the habit never goes away, that pattern is laid down, it's there. And in crisis, it can still be activated. It's just like what they saying in Alcoholics Anonymous, you know, you never are cured of alcoholism, the best we can hope for is to be in remission. And that can be a pretty good place to get to. But there's nothing there's very little in our life where we can just flap our wings and leave it behind. She says our work is to know and experience the core belief so we can understand the way we sabotage ourselves. Our core belief for most of us comes down to some version of I feel worthless. This can look like I'm not enough. I'm hopeless. I can't do anything. I'm disgusting. I'm not lovable. There are a lot of variations but always on the same separate, miserable state.
Yeah, a lot of us feel not lovable. We have a critical mind and we turn it against not only the people outside us but against ourselves. She says this belief is like the hub of a wheel. out of it come the spokes, the systems and strategies we use. So we don't have to feel the pain of this false core belief. And more on this below. But in short, it's too painful to bear. We can't stand to feel it. There's no one who can stand to feel absolutely unlovable. People who feel their core beliefs strongly And remain unconscious, others often withdraw more and more and begin to do harm. I'm not just talking about extreme cases here, to some degree, we all do this, we cannot bear to feel so bad. So we develop different strategies. Sometimes they're aggressive. Sometimes they're placating, very nice and charming, they can be anything. They may look wonderful in the eyes of the world, or they may look disgraceful in the eyes of the world. Depending on how you're working this out within yourself. The important thing is not the particular content of your strategies, but that you notice that they are strategies and begin to trace the spokes back to the hub.
I think it's really helpful to understand that sometimes the things we're proud of stuff are in service of covering up that pain that we don't want to feel. And I think Joko talks about this some more as we go on. You may not know what your core belief is, most of us don't, we don't want to see it. Because it's always so bad. But not seeing it as just self protection. And it's not something you come to know through analysis, or just playing around with your head. And absolutely, the worst thing to do with this would be to go and try to figure out what your core belief is, by sort of flipping through your thoughts. It's there, but you're gonna feel it in your body. She says a lot of people deny it. I'm so comfortable with myself. I always say this. But if you dig enough, if you meditate enough, there it is. When you really see it, it goes Bing. And you know, that's it. It's always always painful. It's like you're about to vomit is that awful feeling. That's the one, when you feel something like a punch in the stomach, that and then you know, you've got it. And with that great awful feeling is the beginning of relief. Because it's not hidden anymore. you're beginning to relieve yourself of the tension of hiding this core belief. Every time you felt threatened as a young child each time you didn't feel safe in your mind let out a scream. Even if it was as simple as being three years old and seeing another kid take your favorite toy, and nobody tried to get it back from him. Even in such innocent situations, usually a scream comes out, I must be worthless. And for every one of these screams, the child makes a decision about itself. It's inevitable. Each one of these screens contributes to the mass of the core belief, the building feeling of who I think I am painful, exceedingly painful. Each one of these is like a close to death feeling. And every one of us grows up screaming something, maybe two or three things. Maybe the whole caboodle don't ignore me Just love me. There is one that's primary, whatever that was, it is for you. Once the screams has solidified into the core belief that pain has to be dealt with is too unbearable, you have to deal with it. And then it's to say you have to find a way to deflect it. So you begin to set up your core requirements for life, your systems, your strategies, so you don't have to feel at least in full blown measure the pain of that core. Most of us spend years decades or our whole life busy with these efforts to avoid feeling what's there. But practice offers another approach. When we sit day by day by day, we begin to develop very slowly, very tentatively. The ability to return to the only thing that will give us peace, which is to enter right down into the pain of that core belief. You have to dive right into it and learn to live there. It doesn't mean it looks any different to different to your friends, they won't see what's happening. But this is your practice to learn to just rest in the pain. As denoised says, At least let me rest on that icy couch. There is nothing else to be done except to rest directly in this pain. When you're resting in the pain itself, you begin not to need the covers. You don't need covers for something that is already uncovered. You're in the middle of it.
You may notice in sitting that there are various uncomfortable feelings that come to you on the map. The attention in your chest. feeling in the pit of the stomach. Notice how quickly we try to deflect from those, it's dealing with this kind of discomfort, which is related to deeper feelings of whatever it is worthlessness or frustration or anger. Learning to deal with it is, is very similar to dealing with physical pain. And a lot of it does come out in physical sensation. But anybody who's done extensive sitting like in sesshin, or an all day sitting or whatever, even a two hour sitting in the evening, may have had will have had to deal to one degree or another, with pain in the legs or in the back. And you learn over time, that your salvation is not all your strategies that you try out at first to get away from it. But to open up to it, just to be there, to drop your story about it, and your fears. You're wondering when it's going to end, waiting for the bell to ring all those things we do these those unhelpful things we do drop those, and just go to the pure experience. And many people have found this, it's amazing. What was previously looking like it was going to be unbearable, is okay. Some cases it did completely disappears. But I think for most people, the pain is still there, but it's not such a big deal. And it's the same with these, you know, more psychological things. She says at first you do adjust a little bit, don't worry, we're not going to do it all at once. fact, we can't do it all at once. But we have to be willing to do something, sitting builds the power and the sensitivity, so that we can be with ourselves. At first, we can do it for maybe 10 seconds. Then over time, three minutes, 10 minutes. Finally, we can sit in dignity in the middle of that. Just sit there and let the pain and the misery be. That's the dignity of sitting. When unreality the core meets reality, which is experiencing, then slowly the unreality just fades away, and you go back to your Buddha nature, your open, compassionate, loving self, you begin to recognize what's underneath the surface? what's underneath even that core belief? There you are.
We're going to go on a little farther. This is a chapter called see what you do. That's, that's a really good point. I was doing other reading for this, this teisho and Kima cars across an article that was talking about how difficult it is to know what we really think and feel, you know, our thoughts, but to know what's what's beneath the surface. And a lot of us when we're sort of evaluating ourselves, we base it on our thoughts. But it's it's you probably get closer to the truth. If you look at yourself the way you'd look at another person. That is if in Joe's words, you see what you do. Everybody has this self bias where we know the reasons for all the unfortunate things and unfortunate acts that we commit. And most people try to give themselves the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, when we see others acting out, we are quite critical. So one way to sort of overcome that self referential bias is to just look at the raw facts. So here's what I did. Here's what I said to so and so here's the person I made cry. Here's the person I stood up and not dwell in the free will. You know, if you'd been in my situation, you would have done the same. It's one of the favorite lines in a if you were living my life you'd drink too. And maybe you would.
She's got a little quotation that starts off this section from TSL Eliot, we shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be To arrive where we started, and to know the place for the first time, it's really poetic explanation of coming to awakening, we arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. She says, your core belief, this foundational perception of who you think you are, informs your way of dealing with your life. It's what I call you your basic strategy. Your basic strategy is how you behave in reaction to the thought, I am this, therefore, this is the action I must take. And then she gives a good example, I want to do a little boy who had a difficult and punishing father. This father was very strict, yelled a lot, and occasionally he hit his son. Now Naturally, this little kid had to do something to survive. He tried yelling back. That didn't work at all, he got physically punished if he did that. He tried ignoring his father. That didn't work. He tried agreeing, that didn't always work. Eventually, he found that the survival strategy that worked best was to be very quiet and docile. He became a sweet little boy, who was almost invisible. That didn't work perfectly. But for whatever reason, it worked best. And he was able to occasionally get a little piece. After a while, the boy began to unconsciously respond to everything in his life with this same strategy. If something happened that he didn't like, he would shrink from it and try to disappear. The strategy became automated. As he grew into a young man, he used it in just about every situation, it might have been a very poor strategy for some situations, and a great strategy for others. But it didn't matter. It was his habit now. And more than that, it was his basic strategy. He no longer had any choice. Whatever difficulties entered his life, he stepped back and tried to become invisible. Eventually, he became an adult with only one way of dealing with difficult situations. But as we know, from experience, life is unpredictable, it's flowing, and it throws up all sorts of things. So a simple rigid reaction doesn't work very well. It doesn't feel good either. And yet, most of us have some kind of habitual automatic reaction leftover from childhood that we use for almost any challenging situation. This unconscious basic strategy might work pretty well for a while, but eventually it stops working.
She says we do all sorts of things, and they may look very different from one person to another. One person has to be busy all the time or talking all the time. Another person is always so quiet, you wouldn't know they're there. Some people will tell you off in a minute. Some people will never say anything that could hurt your feelings. It's all strategies. Unless you learn to know and explore your own strategy. It's automatic, it just runs. Once we have our set way that we handle life. That's what we do. And we'll do it until we're 95. This is this is the tragedy of life that we never turn within. Says the thing that brings people do practice is where they when they begin to see that the strategy doesn't work.
The thing that keeps them at practice to for example, perhaps your core belief is I can't. This is the belief underneath what you do. How people would phrase this belief can vary. It's impossible. I just can't, I'm worthless. I can't do it. The strategy is how you deal with that belief. You develop whatever you think's works with that. It might be complete withdrawal. If you're really hidden away, nobody can find you. That's one way. somebody like me, this is Joko would say, I absolutely can't do it. So therefore I will do everything I can do to do it. Well, it looks much better from the standpoint of the world, but it's not really any better. So I was good at everything I did. I made sure of that. Because that was the only way I could handle the fear underneath. It looks good, but it's not a solution. And then she makes a good distinction. Now if somebody told me I had to walk 30 miles today I might say I can't do it. But that's a that's there's a difference between realistically knowing I can't do something and that core belief about myself that I can't do it no matter what it is. They feel different. And you know the difference in your body between the two? running to so many people when you suggest something that's a little hard their first reaction is, Oh, no, I can't do that. That would be impossible. And then talk with them a little more in Yeah, okay, maybe I could try it. And sooner or later you find out Yeah, they can totally do it. But what's interesting is that first unconscious reaction. And it's not just I can't do this, sometimes it's this is going to hurt too much. I'm going to die, I'm going to be destroyed. So many things that flash flash up when we're under pressure. One of the hardest core beliefs is you can't make me do anything. It may not be stated that way, but it's there. If no one can make you do anything, you'll resist everything in your life. I think we all have a little of that in us. You can't make me. There's there's held over resistance to any kind of authority. I don't care what you say, I may look like I mean it, but you can't make me No way. Yeah, yeah, I got some of that. I'm sure some of you do, too. And, you know, sometimes when we, as a parent, you're dealing with a child that, you know, just doesn't seem to get it how many However, many times you tell them you know, you have to you have to do what the teachers say, you know, you have to do your homework. Whatever it is. And as a parent, my my really unskillful in hindsight, stupid approach was to try to get the child to see how shameful it was that they weren't doing what I was asking. But that just feeds into that core belief. You know, you think well, if you know if I can just get him or her to see it the way I see it. Just wake them up to how ridiculous they look in the light of any any normal person's eyes, suddenly, they'll have a will wash over them. And they'll have a sudden realization, Oh, I can't do that anymore. And maybe there are people for whom in the right circumstance, that kind of beat down will turn them around. But it's much more likely that it's, you know, a feeling of I'm worthless, and then they're just back into that avoidant behavior that's causing the problem in the first place. So this stuff is good, not only for working on ourselves, but for the way we treat other people. For just seeing what's going on. She goes on, one way to see your basic strategy is just to watch and see what you do. The next time somebody does something you don't like, or you do something you don't like, what do you do? Because we're remarkably consistent. We will all do our strategy. Perhaps your strategy is quite active, performing, helping accomplishing a lot of success stories in our country are based on a core belief that says I'm nothing I'm on cable, I'm incapable. So I'll spend my life proving I'm capable. That may be a very outwardly successful yet lifeless way to live. Or perhaps yours is more of a passive strategy, withdrawing, hiding, perhaps putting up a smoke screen of excuses, even drug use.
drug use is incredibly effective for a while. The best way to become aware of what you're doing what you do have your strategy is to notice an experience in which you really get everything you think you want. And then it still doesn't feel right. You're still not satisfied. It's It's such a common thing. Sometimes you're satisfied for a moment or you tell yourself you're satisfied. But later on, you realize No, that wasn't so that wasn't as great as I had hoped it would be. Our basic strategy is always unsatisfactory. It's limited, and even if we don't feel actively miserable, we feel uneasy unsatisfied. Once you get an inkling that no amount of stuff, no strategy will actually satisfy you, then you begin to be interested in practice. Otherwise, you won't do the work. You'll just run toward your next strategy and that's all.
skip ahead a little bit. She says this is little This section called the wonder of surrender, sometimes we get right to the edge of the feeling underneath our strategy and we veer off, that's happened to me the other night at 2am, perhaps you know something about that, I could tell I was right at the precipice of awareness. And I wanted to swerve, like anything, anyone else, I didn't want to experience that which I didn't want to experience. It took a long time for me to be willing, finally, to just rest in this experience, even after almost 30 years of practice, it's not easy. And when you finally see that you have no choice. It's a surrender. What are you surrendering to? You can call it God, or you can call it something else. But it is the present moment. We don't want to enter that present moment minus our ego, our preferred version of ourself. If you truly experience your own pain without quote, I'm experiencing my pain. without judgment or analysis without even an eye, you've given yourself up at that point. Sometimes Zen teachers talk about how you die on the cushion. You have to give up your own personal version of life, and just let it be. It's hard, but it's not impossible. And then the Wonder happens. If there's wonder there, you may ask, why don't we just go there right away. We don't go there. Because our whole life is predicated on maintaining the system that we're running. And this is true, even though our basic strategy has never worked, never will work. And we even know that it doesn't work. But each time we hit a crisis, unless we practice, we come up with a new version of our strategy, a new excuse, a new way of analyzing it, and getting control. Practice is seeing what is there without our basic strategy.
Don't know if for everyone listening to this, this resonates, if everyone has access to some of the painful things that are buried beneath the surface, but you don't have to worry about it. Because life life is gonna bring it to you one way or another, especially when you begin to live somewhere other than in your thoughts. But sooner or later, things don't work out the way you want. And you're going to, you're going to get old, your body is going to fall apart, I've experienced a little bit of that someone's gonna leave you gonna lose a job. So it's it's remarkable how often those kinds of things are the catalyst for a real deepening of our experience of life. It's remarkable how many people times people look back with gratitude at the bad things that happened to them. I remember a day or two after I was stopped for driving under the influence, and realize that I was in a bit of legal trouble and things were about to change in my life pretty dramatically. I realized at the time, and you know, this is probably the result of having been practicing for a while practicing and drinking Of course, I realized that this might be good. This might be this might be something really wonderful. And, and it turned out it was things really started changing fast. Once I got into recovery and started letting go of my idea of my superiority, my perfection, my attempts to maintain a veneer of that superiority or perfection, once I was okay with just being at best a lovable *#@( up things really, really changed and it was because you know, looking back on it, I was dropping that strategy, that that core belief that I have to look good afternoon avoid showing weakness. I saw a really interesting documentary about the tennis player, American tennis player Marty fish. And I sort of knew a little bit about him back in the 2000s. He he went from being sort of a competent player in the ATP the tour to being one of the Top 10 players in the world. But underneath, he carried a tremendous amount of anxiety. And it came out when he was at the US Open, and I think he had made it into maybe the quarterfinals. And he was going up against Roger Federer would come on the scene and was beating everybody on site. And he just started to decompensate on the car ride to the, to the open. He was just a basket case. And his wife told him, you know, you don't have to do this. And he withdrew, he withdrew from the tournament to was, it definitely did not make CBS happy, or whoever was broadcasting. And he went through quite a journey, dealing with what was really, really a serious anxiety disorder. But it's so tough because you know, coming up as a tennis player, you're taught, never show your weakness. You know, you need to be the the alpha, the Alpha Dog, the alpha wolf. No geography, he likes to think of himself as a wolf. But that doesn't always fit with who we are. It's not a good strategy for life. And I sometimes wonder about even the most successful tennis players, how their life is after they leave the tour, and go to something not quite so glamorous. Some do well, I think, but I think many do not. Many wounded warriors. Want to read one more thing here from Pema children. It's not terribly long. And it's in the same vein, what we're talking about.
For those who don't know her, she's a Tibetan teacher has a monastery, Abbey, I guess in in Canada.
And she says this. She's quoting her teacher, when we realize that the path is the goal. There's a sense of workability whatever. Trungpa Rinpoche Shea says said, whatever occurs in the confused mind is regarded as the path everything is workable. It is a fearless proclamation, the lion's roar. Everything that that occurs in our confused mind, we can regard as the path everything is workable. And she says a little more about that. If we find ourselves in what seems like a rotten are painful situation. And we think well, how is this enlightenment? We can just remember this notion of the path that what seems undesirable in our lives doesn't have to put us to sleep. Or we could add make us freeze up or make us quit. What? What seems undesirable in our lives doesn't have to trigger habitual reactions. We can let us show us let it show us where we're at. And let us let it remind us that the teachings encourage precision and gentleness, with loving kindness toward every moment. When we live this way, we feel frequently, maybe continuously at a crossroads. Never knowing what's ahead. It's an insecure way to live. We often find ourselves in the middle of a dilemma. What should I do about the fact that somebody is angry with me? What should I do about the fact that I'm angry with somebody? Basically, the instruction is not to try to solve the problem, but instead to use it as a question about how to let this very situation wake us up further, rather than lawless into ignorance. I would say, feel it, feel it in your body, especially with anger. so helpful to see what's going on. Notice that your heart is racing. Notice the tensions. They are where your life is. right in that experience, the raw direct experience we can use she says we can use a difficult situation to encourage ourselves to take a leap to step out into that ambiguity. This teaching applies to even the most horrendous situations life conditio out. John Paul Sartre said there are two ways to go to the gas chamber, free or not free. This is our choice in every moment. Do we relate to our circumstances with bitterness or with openness? This is why it can be said that whatever occurs can be regarded as the path and that all things not just some things are workable. This teaching is a fearless proclamation of what's possible for ordinary people like you and me.
I want to finish by reading a poem was written by somebody named Thomas tid home guessing he might be Swedish. Anyway, it was translated by I'm going to mispronounce his name class of under in Jena Woodburn for the sweetest Tsongas 30th anniversary. And I think something that I saw in something that Amala sensei wrote, anyway, it's a great poem The problem with our times people have said there is no way out, but I say there are too many ways out all that is offered our ways out, but no way in. They also say always out are already used up, but I say then try to find a way in because the way in cannot be used up. As soon as you come in you are already there. Then you have it all around you then you can sit beside the fire. But when a way out has been tried and you will finally gone outside the next moment you want to get back in because out there there is nothing but absence in the chill of space. And so this bitterness and this disappointment with ways out. Now as I say do not go out. instead go in. If the house starts shaking, remain seated, remain seated with a beautiful smile. Okay, stop here and recite the four vows