And so it’s not the right thing to do. It leads to all sorts of unclarities and bad expressions, wired into the brain as an acceptable response in this world of stress and ubiquitous hyper-connectivity.
The malformation of my own cranial fucking amygdala, through over a decade of very savage abuse by an older male relative some 10 years my senior, has wired me with this in-built mechanism for ill-expression. The beatings were physical, sometimes to blackout, and they were more cruelly verbal, twisted put-downs and punishments meted out randomly to me (and/or to two even younger siblings) for leaving some puddles of water around the sink after washing our faces for bed. Sent to sleep under some towering tirade, maybe a shove, a whack. A taunt as the door is being shut on you, shaking in bed. I’m surprised sleep came so many of those times. No wonder my favourite scrawl, when spending hours drawing on typing paper, were row after row after row of torture chambers. An obstacle course of torture, some stick man needing to run through. Machine guns with bullets spraying, stickmen with clubs, and the various trap door openings during the course that drops to sharks or alligators gnashing upwards to the falling stickboy. Who is it?
Fight or flight.
This fight or flight thing became a thing for me, for too long. I’m only now beginning to appreciate that has caused behaviours, over the years since I became famous in Korea. The sheer artificial terror of an artificial super-fame exploded up, from my karma. And there were far more strange and novel situations to respond to. Too much freedom from normal group training. And while I always felt that, if this has now appeared, I am always only going to use it for correct transmission of the Dharma I was then learning. Because I was still training, still not missing the Kyol Che’s (looking forward single-mindedly toward them!) But the terror of this fame-mirage really blinded me, and I developed this habit of following fight-or-flight synapses. Add the arrogance that may come from renown and influence and praise and material assistance and greater practicing “freedom” — and I could really use that flight-or-flight telegraphing to other people, to jettison them or be jettisoned by them. This habit of shunning people can, sadly, appear.
So, this is the current life of one trying not to operate out of his bent-up amygdala, that limbic spazz. It has been a great few months since I began discovering this through breathing exercises, strong ketogenic stability than in my entire 7 years of doing it (save Yorae’s years here), and an organic sangha-family here who have grown more sensitive and skilled at how to arrange our community matters for optimal flowing. My own mind has been allowed to grow more appropriately distant from office-y type matters. And during that time, I have been exploring matters of my own newly-discovered trauma mechanisms. Things I have flaggingly done over the years to “right” some injustice. Some vengeance. The trauma work has shown me what a deep-set the narrative of having justice paid on my aggressor became a template for so much I have expressed, either within an original sangha during some years of wonderful formation or from “without”, when I resigned my trusteeship only.
Check out this amazing dialogue with Andrew Huberman on the matter. Pure gold for optimising our body-minds for meditation. These things cannot be ignored, for modern meditators. Proper neural firing is essential for meditation. Masters were regulated with the food they put in their bodies as medicine/food which was regulated to the season and the soil where they were. Our whole eating lifestyle is over several cultural expressions in a week — so unregulated. The blind eating of hidden sugars causes crashes and dullness. That’s why there is no sugar permitted in the Zen Center. It is as strictly forbidden as meat or alcohol.
And these are some of the ways that I have de-regulated bad neurochemistry, as these never-integrated abused wounds — and my wounding of others, all in the name of “dharma” — start to come for full realisation, and hopefully digesting. Ashtanga yoga practice was essential for that, which is why I am always grateful for having met Kristina Karitinou. She marched me right through the system, but without rushing, yet with vigour and passion and many deep principles. Ketogenic eating has been a deal-breaker for going through this kind of deep-trauma work I have been engaging for nearly one and a half years. I appreciate from 7 years of (mostly) keto the physical grounding and the early-morning deep-fasted clarity. This has helped with clear morning karma-digestion (repentance) in meditation. And I am eternally grateful to Anetta for the patient deep reflecting and guiding and challenging and mirroring, and similarly to Stefanie, and Do Tzong, and to Dae Haeng. Then there is profoundest gratitude to the work of deeper voyaging with my guide out in the southern hills.