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Nothing is Forgotten

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An Instagram-sized videoette excerpt from the recent video, “Trauma, ZEN, and the Storehouse Consciousness”.

It’s really impossible to understand what Instagram is, what mentality it really comes from and to what point it is designed in this way? I’m totally stumped. Hi joined it two or three years ago after being urged and hectored relentlessly some of my students, who claimed that I must put dharma teachings there because that is where all of the eyeballs are nowadays.

But I just don’t “get“ — and quite possibly simply do not want to admit – – that something so universally viewed is centered completely on the most fleeting, ephemeral experience of this truncated attention span, this image-only superficiality, this lack of anything that penetrates any deeper than the outer surface of your cornea: a color, a figure, a pose, a dish of some thing, a facial expression, an exotic locale.

It does exert a very powerful suctioning force. Whenever I have participated in it several times in a week to attempt to use it for spreading teachings consistently (my students tell me that the algorithm there only respects and spreads your works when it notices consistent engagement), there is this feeling that you have been latched onto by a vast sucking lamprey.

I am really starting to believe that my inability to comprehend this is not because of any difficulty. It might simply be my deep-seated resistance to knowing that I would need to give up a better part of hope for humanity in order to really see what is going on with this device. ”Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.“ More and more, that just seems to be the portal of resignation and utter defeat that I resist allowing myself being willingly dragged into for this necessary evil.

Dumbing Down

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Saved up for two years doing killer-hours slaving away in New York City law firms — and still piling up tens of thousands of dollars of debt! — just to study for a Master of Theology degree at Harvard? Should’ve just kept the old bong, that’s for sure.

Trauma, ZEN, and the Storehouse Consciousness

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Carl Jung has said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it Fate.”

A friend has been a flight attendant for over 30 years for a major European airline. She has a very, very stressful job on long-haul trans-oceanic flights. She has very unsettled sleep, often screaming loudly, so much so that her partner must wake her. She often needs to walk around in the middle of the night just to make it stop.

She says that so many of the people she has known on her flight crews are deeply involved in heavy drinking and smoking. Many have died from strokes and aneurysms. There is great suffering in this relatively new, unusual profession for which our evolutionary development has not developed sufficient mechanisms for absorbing and integrating the extraordinary levels of stress and high-performance mental functioning that needs to be carried out with great precision packed among other stressed-out human beings in a narrow tube. They are constantly jamming their body clock, and their jobs entail breathing artificial air for hours and hours on end. I have always admired flight attendants very much for the daily “trauma” they receive, body and mind, just so that we can go here and there at will.

She began meditating daily since last August, and her screaming dreams have disappeared.

This talk reflects on that.

Trauma, Zen, and the Storehouse Consciousness // Hyon Gak Sunim

Materials presented in the video include this important excerpt from the classic, The Compass of Zen, by Zen Master Seung Sahn (full disclosure: although I am listed as the compiler and editor of this truly historic text which every student of Zen should consult, there is no personal financial benefit — all proceeds go to the Kwan Um School of Zen, as they should.)

Only Real to You

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It has often happened that someone will come to me and report, “Sunim, you appeared in a dream I had last night. You said some very difficult things to me/very harsh things to me/very strong things to me/very bad things to me. I was very hurt/very shocked/very angry/very frightened.” (There are quite a few variations on the menu of dreams and strange interactions.)

There’s not much to reply to that but an “Oh, really?”

“Yes, and I am still very upset at you for that.”

This happened a lot more in Korea than it has happened here in the West. This might be due to that culture giving an inordinate amount of meaning to dreams as portents of things happening or “about to happen” down here in awakened reality.

But there have been people who have literally had a hard or difficult or changed experience with me — for that day, or for some period going forward — as a result of things that they have experiencing “me” doing or saying in their dream-state. And then there are all of the other unrealities that get projected on you from what people react to or imagine in their eyes-wide-open dream-states of semi-conscious life, bouncing around within activities and their daily flow. Perhaps this is an experience common to other “teachers” or “guides”. It certainly must be.

It might be helpful to print out the above graphic as a card to hand people in these situations. It would definitely save lots of O2. It could be totally useful in a whole range of encounters. We are certainly interconnected, and when I am not behaving with clarity, I definitely do have some real responsibility for fostering in someone else a mind-state that should be real to me, if I have caused it through some sort of willful blindness. For sure.

But as the ancient philosopher Epictetus (c. 50 – c. 135 CE) said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” We all bump up against each other in this life, and sometimes painfully so. It is really each and every one of our own responsibilities to have mindfulness that we do not project that “reaction” back onto another person and attempt to convince them that it is the reality you both share. To experience this is one of the most tiring things in the world.

People think that those who get a little insight — much less a profound awakening — are no longer “bothered” by the narrow handicaps of others. But no — it is quite the opposite, sometimes: The narrowness of some other’s entrapment, if they hold it as their precious treasure or — much worse — their weapon, can present a truly excruciating level of discomfort in the ears of one whose life is really no longer interested in ascribing any sort of substantial meaning or “reality” to such shadowy delusion, either in himself or in others.