Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Sermon [The Full Catastrophe]

Hola mi Gente,

My first day at my new gig is tomorrow. I’m still looking to rent a room or studio, if anyone knows… 

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The Full Catastrophe

Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? I’m a man. So I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe.

 -- from Zorba the Greek

Those of you familiar with the author, Nikos Kazantzakis, are probably familiar with the above quote. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) Clinic named his book on the subject of using mindfulness meditation as a way to address pain management, Full Catastrophe Living.

It’s an interesting proposition: using all of life -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- as grist for the mill. I hear too many people talking about how they want to remove “negativity” from their lives. I question the notion to ignore/ remove at least 50% of your life. Actually, I’ve tried this and I’m here to tell you that living in a sensory deprivation environment (otherwise known as solitary confinement -- true story), is not all it’s geared to be.

I mean, I’m not saying we should go out of our way to create or engage “negativity,” but why turn away from it? Why not use it? I don’t know jack about gardening, but what I’ve learned from gardeners is that refusing to engage negativity is a lot like refusing to use manure, or compost to cultivate your garden. And what is negativity but some kind of shit anyway? Sadly, negativity is oftentimes some shit or some one you don’t like. And no matter how much you try to turn away from negativity, everywhere you go, there you are -- with all your own negative baggage. If you perceive it as merely negative, whatever it happens to be, then no amount of turning away will erase negativity because you are creating the perception of negativity in the first place.

Check this out: every situation, accurately perceived, becomes an opportunity to heal. That means negative situations too. No, it doesn’t mean life will be all pleasant and the sun will be shining all the fuckin time. What? Didn’t you get the memo?! If you want fair, go back to kindergarten. Sorry to break it down in such a cold manner. LOL Honestly, I see a lot of unrealistic expectations from the adults of the world. It seems many of us actually believe spending our lives running from unpleasant feelings and clinging pleasant ones is a viable life strategy.

It isn’t... 

People will disappoint you, the fates will conspire to fuck up your plans, your kids will sometimes never appreciate your sacrifices, and not all women will find me sexually attractive. Shit, Rosario Dawson doesn’t even know I exist.

I’m not saying I should deny my feelings. I am actually saying we all should do the opposite: feel your feelings completely. Feel the full catastrophe of your life. What happens to anger, sadness, fear, hate, and envy, lust when you stop trying to categorize / analyze them and just feel them? What happens when you invite the negative as well as the positive and embrace both as a mother would embrace both a “good” and “bad” child? I’ll tell you what happens: you become free as you are healed and made whole.

All healing is essentially letting go of fear. Playing the run-around game based on your likes and dislikes is in reality fear-based living. Try it one day: stay with the hurt without giving in the compulsion to attach a story to it. What we often do is we substitute neurosis for suffering and that just makes it all a lot more painful. Add stress to pain and you have suffering. Let me break that down:

pain + stress = suffering.

I think that’s also a good formula for neurosis.

Coming to wholeness is actually a release from the past. Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. People will rightfully point out that there is a process that leads to letting go, that leads to grief. The thing is this: how many times must you do the process before you start getting it without having to go through all the stages?

Suffering, my friends, is optional.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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