Monday, September 19, 2005

A Half Empty Cup?

Having just had my first real positive breakthrough with my slipped disc, after 7 years of pain, I was reflecting on what different views it is possible to form on the myriad shifting conditions of ones life, and how differently those views must then impact on your life.

I've just had a successful course of physiotherapy, and as a result, now have less pain than for many years, and some means by which I can manage my pain, without resorting to pain killers. That is quite a breakthrough!

However, I've had many rounds of physio in the past, and been referred to various different agencies and different treatments in that time.

So now that this treatment has been effective - primarily because I was referred to someone in the physio department who was a 'specialist' in back treatment, rather than to the other physios, what is my response?

Is it to curse my 'luck' that only now has a solution been found? I could have been referred to *that* physio at any time, but I wasn't. No-one thought to do so, it seems, despite the lack of success of their own treatment.

So you could say that perhaps I could have been without so much pain had things happened differently - had someone thought to pass me on to their colleague.

but they didn't ... and that is cause and effect .... karma ..... and dependent origination.

But what of my view ... my ideas about what is? Should I hang on to what might have been, and wasn't ... and feel regret, or even anger at the missed opportunity, and all the things in life I've missed due to chronic pain?

Or should I just be grateful for what I have now .... that I'm relatively pain free ... and can now do simple things in life again?

How do we form these views? Well, we form views by selecting out of myriad facets those that fit a particular angle, a particular 'take' on things. And we leave out all the aspects that don't fit with that .... reducing something immensely complex and constantly shifting, into something simple, neat, and ultimately, untrue.

And what are the consequences of these views? Is it not the case that once we have a 'view' on things, then we always then disregard all the arisings that don't fit with this .... and just keep picking up on that which seems to ratify our view?

Do we not only selectively pick out what suits us, but also respond feelingly in such a partial way too?

Do we not have a 'mood' which is a result of the 'view' we have?

If we feel we've been hard done by all these years due to settling on a view which says it *should* have been different .. then how will that make us feel?

Or if we simple say ... that's karma, that's dependent origination ... and let go ... and just get on with what is .... without partiality ... then how will we feel?

Falsify what is, come up with a view ... then filter what comes to be .... and get caught up in negative emotions .....

or just stay with what is ... fluid, complex, shifting always .... and spontaneously respond to needs as they arise, without prejudice, without partiality .... and without reactivity ....

hmmm .... do we see life as a glass that is half full, or half empty?

Do we need to see it is exclusively either? Do we need a view of this sort?

Perhaps half-full is a more useful skillful means than half-empty ..... but beyond skillful means and provisional understandings lies what is .... which lies beyond views.

Open, receptive, responsive ....

Unrestricted .....

Allow the heart to open ... and the mind's natural expansiveness to just be ....


Mark said...

Congratualations. Less pain...wonderful!

Re glasses half-empty/half-full: my friend once turned my understanding of the world on its head by telling me: "don't see the glass as half-empty or half-full; drink from the glass as though it were already broken. Enjoy things for what they are". Wonderful advice for me... it stops all this angst from loading up our experiences of things with our own point of view.

Anonymous said...

"Or just stay with what is ... fluid, complex, shifting always .... and spontaneously respond to needs as they arise..."

Yes, indeed. This speaks volumes.

"James" said...

Sounds as though you have transformed your back suffering into a shining gem.

I really appreciate this post as I am currently in a situation where I "suffer" from my mental illness from time to time.

I have to remind myself not to make my suffering worse by regretting everything that I have lost. Instead I need to just take everything for what it is.

Thanks for the reminder.

Bodhiwater said...

temporary pains of life help lead us to our illusions, but a state of constant pain can be a source of understanding. Being mindful of pain, it becomes waves and impulses. I had a 6 month migraine that nearly killed me, but the experience of living every second with the "pain" demonstrated the illusion, and once I had a nibble, I started to apply it elsewhere. I stumble at times, but I can often count on a migraine to remind me on the dependepent origin of phenemena, of form and feeling, of selfhood. (enjoyed your post!)