Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Entries in Feminism (14)

Monday
Sep042017

The Other Narrative: Pretty women...

my mom, so prettyAt the close of a zen retreat, we have a practice called Open Sozan, which means that after a week of silence, people take turns speaking from the heart. It's almost always hilarious and touching. Gratitude spills over onto everything and there is a sort of sleep deprived giddiness that feels like bliss.  

After the Open Sozan this year Roshi commented that it was interesting which narratives were selected to be given voice. Indeed. Because I certainly had been wrestling with a demon with whom I am quite intimate--the pretty woman. As I've mentioned, I come from a long line of beauties and I am not one. Please don't pity me or compliment me. It's a good practice.  

The thing is that our Shuso (senior student practice leader) is gorgeous, really beautiful in that simple and elegant way that is completely unattainable for many of us. She is also really kind in a humble and elegant way that is disarming. So my hatred couldn't find any traction. And then, during her first Dharma talk, she proceeded to knock it out of the park, abandoning preparation and facing the moment honestly and boldly.  

What I realized after all this is that her complete and beautiful manifestation of herself takes absolutely nothing from me. In fact, I feel more free to express my own thing now. Why is this different from what I felt with my matriarchs?  Well, Shuso isn't there to approve or disapprove.  I don't need to measure myself against her. And we can co-exist, supporting each other. I don't blame my matriarchs, mind you, it's just a big set up.  

 

Photos (c) A. Jesse Jiryu DavisThat is all.  Thank you, Shuso.

 

September 5, 2017

 

Monday
Jun192017

Fountain of Oldth

This happened.  It was my first experience creating and directing and producing my own work. I will write about it soon.   

Thursday
Mar232017

Understanding Trump? Running Amok

Image by Liz West“Can he help himself?” a client asked.

There is an idea out there that because Trump has malignant narcissistic personality disorder, he is not fit for office.  Without a doubt the man has narcissistic personality disorder, but don't you think most titans of capitalism are similarly afflicted?  Are they not grandiose, entitled, arrogant, driven to dominate and inflate their status?  Do they not lack empathy?  Are they not interpersonally exploitative?   

But using a mental illness paradigm to describe the ugliest aspects of human nature undermines the purpose of mental medicine.  A diagnosis should be a heuristic label, a summary that suggests a treatment, so the use of a diagnosis as an insult impedes the healing of mental illness every time.  If we find a narcissistic quality in ourselves and insult ourselves about it, narcissism defends itself and gets worse.

What to do about narcissism varies according to what theory you prefer.  Some say the narcissist has never been truly heard, never understood from the inside, so their needs for external affirmation are insatiable.  Some say the narcissist suffers from a lack of limits.  Usually relationships provide an ample supply of limits, because people are actually limited.  Unfortunately, some situations trump normal limit setting.  For example, great wealth.  For example, being a white male in a culture that disproportionately empowers and values the white male.  For example, (not quite on the point of Trump, but still…) having mothers who believe their own needs are not important.

As I was working this out, I said aloud in conversation that Trump hadn’t been properly limited and a person trying to be open minded blurted out:  "You don’t know that!"  This phrase has caught on in the Zen community.  Of course we want to encourage don’t know mind, but I don’t need evidence from childhood to know that Trump has not been limited.  All the evidence is in what he has acquired. No one stopped him.  Our culture praised and admired him.

And the same could be said for all the people who acquired great wealth at the expense of the poor and vulnerable who could not stop them, and who were entirely supported by our greed-admiring culture and the government bodies that greed has purchased.

So let’s shift focus from Trump the man to Trump the Running Amok of Greed, Anger, and Ignorance.  I understand what greed feels like, but I've been stopped from sucking up resources that don't belong to me.  I understand what anger feels like, but I also experience love and respect, which stop me from doing great harm.  I understand that I am ignorant and so I encourage myself to learn from those who know what I don't.  

Let me be clear.  We can't heal Trump the man but we can stop Running Amok.  Reckon, Refuse, and Respond. Repeat.  

Tuesday
Mar212017

Linda: The Nagging Crone

I walk around oozing questions about aging, beauty, and power, so people around me respond and make suggestions.  One wise woman told me to see Linda at the Manhattan Theatre Club, so I did.  

The play opens with an extremely pretty woman, Linda, claiming to be 58, making a presentation to a cosmetics company for a product called Visibility.  Inwardly I roared in response.  Hear Hear!  Or, rather, See See.  This unasked-for invisibility is a major theme that I and my actors are playing with.

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Monday
Jan232017

Reckon. Refuse. Respond.

What we thought was reality is not reality.  What we thought was a nightmare is actually reality.  

But, what is it?  Is it the man, Trump, who caused misogyny and xenophobia?  If so, we are merely victims.  Better to understand what his rise to power tells us about human tendencies and structures.  

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Thursday
Nov172016

Reckoning

I've written and dumped a few blog posts since It happened.  Oddly, I started with Reasons for Hope, then hope gave way to lament, so I parked hope and wrote First, Lament, but by the next day the fever had subsided and I felt empty, so I wrote nothing.  Nothing spawned new layers of understanding, and then more confusion, and then a sense of community, because actually we are all fucking confused, and maybe that's a good place to start.  

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Sunday
Nov062016

Vote for a Vagina!

A vagina has not yet planted itself on the seat behind the desk at the oval office.  The oval office!  

A vagina with a skilled woman attached to it is running for that seat against a brute.  In response to decades of sexist attacks, overt and subtle, this woman has not crawled into a hole, has not given up, has not murdered anyone, has NOT made huge mistakes, has not given up her core principles.  She has constructed a persona that this nation can barely tolerate--somehow delivering a medley of intelligence, ambition, kindness, steadiness, and enthusiasm.  And in response, people hate her.   Young liberal people preferred an older white gentleman offering slogans, and deplorables prefer the Deplorable.  

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Wednesday
Oct192016

Am I a Woman?

and Who is the Other?  

I don't mean to be elliptical.  On the other hand, maybe "egg shaped" is exactly what I'm going for. This year I'm co-facilitating a class exploring how we project onto others what we can't welcome in ourselves.  Our categories are Disability, Race, and Gender.   We started the examination of gender with the question:  

Am I a woman?  Why or Why not?

Here is my answer

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Thursday
Aug112016

In Defense of Marie Kondo, or, Insider Feminism

Does it spark joy?  If not, let it go.  

It's easy to mock this instruction from the adorable and slightly insane master of tidiness, Marie Kondo, but I contend that it is an invitation to a radical revolution. Master Kondo advises us not to engage with a thing in the usual way.  Don't read the book or try on the clothing; hold it to your heart and notice what you feel. 

"Pay close attention to how your body responds when you do this.  When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.  When you hold something that doesn't bring you joy, however, you will notice that your body feels heavier."

Attention to rising cells is revolutionary; it changes everything.

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Monday
Aug012016

The Main Point, or, a Few Ignoble Truths

You may have noticed that I've been gone a while.  I've been busy doing nothing.  What happened is that I had a pretty good idea and I started to write, but then it went sideways and I had a hundred more ideas, and they led to a hundred more, so I started jotting everything down, and it was all connected, so I couldn't finish it, or, rather, them.  I suffered. 

So I decided to step back and remember the main point.  

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