Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dependent Arising + the Dodgers

At my last sitting, our moderator raised a couple of insights I wanted to share. First, that the fundamental concept of dependent arising, that nothing happens in isolation, in Buddhism connects with the problem many have of taking ideas out of context. Then, extracting phrases, elevating persons, exaggerating points generates the distortions that can plague us when we loosen moorings. We drift from the safety net.

That is, meditation can ground us into a state of awareness, to explore the realm where our mental (and sometimes to me visual if less so than it "appears" most people who report their recollections) constructs solidify or emerge under a contemplative situation. This may seem airy, but becoming more cognizant of how we respond in our interior to forming awareness around an image, a thought, a thing can help us understand how the formative process works within to solidify the intangible, to reify the imaginary, and to harden the fluid. In turn, this reveals how we conceptualize and then may try to hold on to the ever-changing as if permanent. And we see, I'd add, how many huddle around their role model, their candidate, their champion, as if he or she can solve their problems and offer solace or success if only we believe enough in Her or Him to rally to their party, to vote, to hope. Change comes no matter.

As I've stated often, my disengagement with this status quo grows with age. But all around me, pain and unease manifest themselves. In those who fear the new power, in those who cheer the new power. But transferring our own actions and identities onto another clashes with our own capability to create change in ourselves and in those around us, practically rather than politically or ideologically. For those removals of "agency" (a buzzword now, but it works in philosophy...) to a figure we idolize or disdain distances ourselves from the true force of energy and enthusiasm, that we possess within us.

If a lesson in impermanence is needed, it's all around us. Administrations come and go, programs get implemented for better and worse, and campaign promises evaporate more than they find fulfillment. Too many in my estimation have rushed the past year and a half into worshiping one figure or another. They forget that, like rooting in my analogy for the red team or the blue team, that losses will happen and victories may diminish or increase, beyond the desperate intercessions made by the fans.

I used to watch the Dodgers much more (and not at all since they were blocked by cable in their hometown due to an endless dispute), but I realized that their own instability provided me with more worry than pleasure. What should have been entertainment became for me a struggle, as my emotions rose or fell with the hapless Blue Crew too often. So, while I remain loyal, I remain detached. That sort of emotional removal may not work as well for a society where a supposed leader can unleash sorrow or promote joy through his or her policies, but it may be necessary, for one's own sanity.

Part of me wants to engage, part of me to disengage. Within a system I dislike, my atavistic allegiance is to the underdog, the marginal, the misfit. That may include the befuddled home team, who never fail to fail again, since 1988''s World Series. I believe that more self-consideration will benefit me so when I choose a response, it's better informed and less knee-jerk or group-think. Meanwhile, CNN blares in the room above, the newspapers I get grow thinner and more expensive, and the reasons I have to put my trust in the powers-that-be dwindle as I try to look inwards, to take my own path, even if that means I blaze it and it lacks any definition or label, any post or marking.

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