1 Matching Annotations
- Jun 2021
There is a tendency to hold unrealistic expectations regarding “spiritual”leaders and teachers, and likewise for what spiritual practice might eventually do for ourselves. One is that mindfulness and Insightcan somehow magically transcend the causes and conditions that shaped ourlives and personalities. To paraphrase the Buddha, what arises in dependence on causes and conditions onlyceases dueto causes and conditions! Meditation and dharma practice create the specific causes and conditions for certain things to arise and others to pass away–but not everythingwe might wish for. Ihave discovereddeeply embeddedautomatic patterns of respondingin fundamentally unhealthy waysto certain situations. Theseautomatic response patterns are the productof an extreme emotionally, psychologically, and physically traumatic childhood, compounded by coping methods I developed in the decade or so after leaving home at 15. From being a homeless adolescent living on the streets, never attending much less graduating high school, I obtained a PhD andhaveled a successful and rewarding professional and spiritual life. However, those conditioned response patterns and coping strategies that had served me well in a life with such difficult beginningswere ultimately disastrous –in my interactions with my wife,then whenconfronted bythe Board of Dharma Treasure. Within themlies the root of much of my unskillfulness.The personal work and therapy I’m doing now continues to clarify these. Becoming aware of them has allowed me to make progress in overcoming them.What I realized through working with my therapist and a life coach was that, for all my life,I’ve had almost no ability to establish and maintain clearpersonal boundariesin interpersonal interactions. If someone was upset, angry, hurt, disappointed, afraidorwhatever, I tendedtotakepersonal responsibilityfor their mental state. Regardless of the cause, or whether or not I hadanything to do with their being upset.Or even the reasonableness or unreasonableness of their reactions!Iwouldbecome inappropriately over-committed to relieving their distress, and likewise inappropriately over-committed in every other part of my life as well. I havealsobeenextremelyconflictavoidant.When confronted with angerand/or aggression,I woulddo almost anything to placate. Itendedto avoid conflict by beingexcessively compliant, acquiescingtoo quickly, andengaginginvariousconflict avoidance strategies.I too readily acceptedtheviews ofothers,or triedto find waysto side-step issues of conflict, to relieve another’s pain and anger whiledisregarding the cost to myself or future consequences. If attempts to placate failed, and full-blown conflict seemedinevitable, I wouldoften disengage, withdraw, surrender, and even take a beating if necessary.