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The Endurance to Observe

--by Paul Fleischman (Jul 06, 2009)


There is little I have heard from others -- and it is my daily business to listen -- that I have not seen in myself as I sit. But I also know the necessity of work, training and restraint. Dependence, loneliness, sensuality, exhaustion, hunger, petulance, perversion, miserliness, yearning and inflation are my old friends. I can greet them openly and warmly in people close to me, because I know them from the inside and therefore cannot condemn them without condemning myself. I also have been learning to harness and ride their energy.

Sitting pushes me to the limit of my self-directed effort; it mobilizes my willed, committed direction, yet it also shatters my self-protective, self-defining maneuvers and my simple self-definition. It both builds and dismantles "me." Every memory, every hope, every yearning, every fear floods in. I no longer can pretend to be one selected set of my memories or traits.

If observed, but not reacted upon, all these psychic contents become acceptable, obviously part of myself (for there they are, in my own mind, right in front of me); yet also impersonal, causally-linked, objective phenomena-in-the-world that move ceaselessly, relentlessly, across the screen of my existence, without my effort, without my control, without me. I can see more, tolerate more, in my inner life, at the same time that I am less driven by these forces. Like storms and doves, they are the persona of nature, crossing one's inner sky. Psychic complexity swirls up from the dust of cosmetic self-definition. At the same time, the determination and endurance I have to muster to just observe, grow like muscles with exercise. Naturally the repetition of this mixture of tolerance and firmness extrapolates beyond its source in sitting, out to relationships.

I sit because knowing that I will die enriches and excoriates my life, so I have to go out of my way to seek the discipline and stability that is necessary for me to really face it. Sitting rivets me on the psychological fact that death is life's door. No power can save me. Because I am aware of death, and afraid, I lean my shoulder into living; not reactively, but with conscious choice and decision of what will constitute each fleeting moment of my life. To embrace life I must shake hands with death. For this, I need practice. Each act of sitting is a dying to outward activity, a relinquishment of distraction, a cessation of anticipatory gratification. It is life now, as it is.


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On Jul 7, 2009 marsha wrote:

I think about death every day.  It helps me take the long view of things.  I really appreciated Paul's passage.  It was timely in that I have a draft email sitting in a folder for the last few days, deciding if I should send it or not.  I decided to let it "sit" and see what unfolded as the days passed.  I will not be sending it.  Sometimes waiting...sitting, as Paul put it, gives us a chance to take the long view rather than the short view, which may include reacting rather than responding.

A favorite quote by Tagore's:  Death is not extinguishing the Light.  It is putting out the Lamp because the Dawn has come."

Thank you.



On Jul 7, 2009 susan bradley wrote:

Mr. Fleishman... I read and now reread your post... I'm inspired to truly sit and listen to the quiet, to me, to the outside... the theme of death stopped me at the first, then in rereading I'm understanding the idea...

I've a need to listen, to stop and listen and to hear. 

I appreciate the humility in your statement , "There is little I have heard from others ... that I have not seen in myself as I sit."  We're all so much the same, it's good and ok to love ourself as we appreciate and love and listen to someone else.

Thanks for a well written thought and a well stated discipline and practice... I'm inspired!

Susan



On Jul 6, 2009 zameer ahmed wrote:

A small story right as of now i am based in saudi arabia.  I would like to tell you a story about a Haris ( Peon , Watchman) in building  he made learn to ride a bicycle for a Haris ( Peon) of the other building you know after learning the bicycle his ripe age is around 7oyrs.  He was happy to ride the cycle that he is enjoying like flying aeroplane. I was amazed that the people like the expartirates share their values of goodness.  Early he used to walk long distance without any hesitation and frustation. I would like to tell u the man who made learn the bicycle was an Indian (Abdul Rasheed ) working for our Company .  The person who learned the bicycle was a Pakistan person. The ties you know that  god keeps in everyone a good relationship like love your neighbour.  I am baffled by this small contribution, however tiny may the gratitude respect he showed to make the person learn at this age is a commendable task. I pray god and wish one thing always  See full.

A small story right as of now i am based in saudi arabia.  I would like to tell you a story about a Haris ( Peon , Watchman) in building  he made learn to ride a bicycle for a Haris ( Peon) of the other building you know after learning the bicycle his ripe age is around 7oyrs.  He was happy to ride the cycle that he is enjoying like flying aeroplane. I was amazed that the people like the expartirates share their values of goodness.  Early he used to walk long distance without any hesitation and frustation. I would like to tell u the man who made learn the bicycle was an Indian (Abdul Rasheed ) working for our Company .  The person who learned the bicycle was a Pakistan person. The ties you know that  god keeps in everyone a good relationship like love your neighbour.  I am baffled by this small contribution, however tiny may the gratitude respect he showed to make the person learn at this age is a commendable task. I pray god and wish one thing always that my quote "When mankind do not have more time to live on earth where does the time come for the hatred".  Hope i am sending this message across will it be posted and will it be viewed by all others.  The Moral of this story is Mankind never belives in hatred.

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On Jul 6, 2009 Liz, iJourney Audio Editor wrote:
This passage made me thoughtful of two milestones I’ve achieved, by the grace of G-d:  awareness and surrender.  Once I become aware of my physical and emotional reaction to my feelings --drifting thoughts-- while meditating, I can acknowledge these and then choose what to do.  Surrendering all of my mental activity brings me closer to G-d, back to the here and now, to peace.
 
I also love Fleischman’s line that, “Dependence, loneliness, sensuality, exhaustion, hunger, petulance, perversion, miserliness, yearning and inflation are my old friends. I can greet them openly and warmly in people close to me, because I know them from the inside and therefore cannot condemn them without condemning myself.”   When reading this I felt my self-judgment and judgment of others melt away.  How wise, Fleischman suggests, to harness, ride and make useful that energy!


On Jul 6, 2009 Prasad, iJourney Visual Editor wrote:

Considering that I don’t sit regularly, I took several days to reflect on the passage and observe myself and others. I also found my ability to listen, see, pay attention are all connected to being here and now. That means no mental chatter, no expectations, no judgments but just being present. Being present without curiosity, without anticipation, without guilt or regret but being open. In that process, my mind disappears, ego gets out of the way, identity dissolves and what I say, do becomes a response to what I listened to, saw or observed. It is as if both are two sides of the same coin — as if we are interconnected. When my mind gets in the way, then there is an artificial separation and neither me nor the other is present — except the memories, regrets etc. It takes effort to listen and observe without getting in the way. It happens infrequently and when I practice, it becomes more and more frequent. Interestingly, everywhere I looked, the message to me was &m  See full.

Considering that I don’t sit regularly, I took several days to reflect on the passage and observe myself and others. I also found my ability to listen, see, pay attention are all connected to being here and now. That means no mental chatter, no expectations, no judgments but just being present. Being present without curiosity, without anticipation, without guilt or regret but being open. In that process, my mind disappears, ego gets out of the way, identity dissolves and what I say, do becomes a response to what I listened to, saw or observed. It is as if both are two sides of the same coin — as if we are interconnected. When my mind gets in the way, then there is an artificial separation and neither me nor the other is present — except the memories, regrets etc.
It takes effort to listen and observe without getting in the way. It happens infrequently and when I practice, it becomes more and more frequent.
Interestingly, everywhere I looked, the message to me was — practice, practice and practice. Let go of expectations from the practice and just practice for practice sake.
I am listening, I am listening, I — not sure -- am listening...
 

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