How It Is Supposed to Be

People can have a hard time coping when their suppositions about life are not met, when things don’t work out how they are supposed to. I’ll even go so far as to say that people really don’t like it at all. If things don’t gel with an imagined trajectory, it grates. But life does not always conform or comply with how we think it should pan out. Life alters the narrative, changes the scripts and otherwise fucks with our best laid plans. The longer we cling to our suppositions and that should and ought, the more we suffer. The sooner we switch to is and are, the easier life becomes.

Once the horse has bolted, the genie has left the bottle, the camel’s back has been broken and the milk has been spilled, we cannot undo. Life does not have an undo button. Even if these things were not “meant” to happen, they can, and they sometimes do. People can feel extremely hard done by when their cunning plans fail in their execution. “That is not how it is supposed to be! Boo-hoo, boo-hoo. It wasn’t meant to work out like that.”


Although we may wish that we could, we cannot always have life on our own terms. The universe is bigger than us. There are other people in the world, we are not the sole arbiter of how they will behave.

Having cued this up:

Do I get upset when things pan out in ways other than how they are supposed to?

If so, why?

Is it possible that I have some control-freak tendencies?

The Busybody Distraction

We all have opinions. I suspect that many of us have opinions about how other people might fix their lives, what it is they need to do and some of us interfere. Being fixed up on a blind date might lead someone to marry a prince after all. What others should do and how they ought to behave, isn’t an uncommon topic of conversation. This tendency to be a busybody, whether active or passive, runs through society. And many feel the urge to give advice even if that advice isn’t asked for. We can inflict that advice on others. In a sense it could be said that I am doing this. I can justify my behaviour because it is so easy to click away. I am not forcing my views on anyone. They can come and go as they please.

I used to have a role giving “advice” way back and I even did courses on personal development. I have stopped doing the latter and no longer have that role. Unsolicited advice is generally unwelcome. There has to be some kind of need and willingness before advice is sought. It is a funny thing this giving advice but many of us do it. Others seek advice so as to argue with it, it is a kind of game. Many enjoy dabbling in the affairs of others, we have The Busybody Distraction. It can distract us from what is going on in our own lives and trying to fix others can be a pass time. Others like to save people from themselves. There is a fine line between help and over evangelism.

The best way I have found to reconcile this is summed up in this phrase, “respect the journey of others.”

This is so much more empowering than playing the busybody, in the long run. If someone is hell-bent on a particular direction, let them find out for themselves. It is related to an Aikido principle of getting out of the way of someone rather than fighting. It is not contending. There is quite enough contention in the world already. Many expect contention because they are contentious. Each being has their own journey.

Few are ready to acknowledge that The Busybody Distraction is just that. The world is a better place once we have opined. Herein lies a treasure. The advice we give to others will in some way apply to ourselves, not always but often.

How we use our time is a matter for each of us. I’ll hypothesise that the time we spend in The Busybody Distraction, might be better used in evolving ourselves. Being a busybody requires intelligence gathering or stalking and usually some gossiping. Neither of which are life enhancing, really.

Here are some questions pertaining:

How much time to I devote to The Busybody Distraction?

Am I prone to giving advice to others?

Do I respect the journey of others or can I simply not resist the temptation to interfere?

Conditioned Things

As we move ever closer to the season of conditioned things, it may be useful, if a little Grinch like, to turn to this subject. At this time of year, and it is weeks and not days, we are bombarded by adverts and conditioned towards that perfect Christmas. The illusion of familial harmony is presented to us and our love is measured in presents. One has to have a good show and tell, Christmas. Though the seasonal statistics on divorce proceedings and suicide show a different side. As it is practised globally, there is not a lot to do with its original intended meaning anymore. The world gets caught up in a feeding frenzy of consumerism and of appearances.

Attached to my desk I have one quote from the Dhammapada and a table of symbols from set theory, which is a reminder of what I was up to over the summer. The Dhammapada quote says:

“All conditioned things are impermanent – when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.”

These few words, if attained and practised, are in stark contrast to the normal way of the world. Pretty much all of “normal” life is in the world of conditioned things and the world of appearances. I spoke a little yesterday about identity, which is an appearance.

One could write a whole book using the Dhammapada quote as a seed thought. It is a jewel of considerable depth. Whilst one may say intellectually “gee that is nice and makes sense”, this is not the same as living it.  If you live immersed in the “wisdom” of conditioned things, the world of a being not so enamoured is so different that you could not meaningfully assemble it. They may as well be from another planet, another galaxy.

Experimental evidence for the impermanence of mankind, his ideas and life-trends, can be found on all sides. What was in yesterday, is out today. What is on-trend and the font of knowledge today will be quaint history in the fullness of time. Yet people will argue and defend that the current way and its ethos is the only way, the best way. What is cutting-edge thinking now, will be superstition later. I am not being overly cynical or negative here, I am trying to show a clear perspective.

Until you attain the notion of impermanence it is likely that you will take much for granted and flail around as if you have all the time in the world. Your actions and thinking will be slack, because there is always tomorrow. Strangely one of the key results of the Dhammapada quote is focus and the realisation that time here on earth is finite. This realisation shows how we squander our time. It follows that it is better to be fully present in everything we do, in each interaction, to live now and not tomorrow. This is pretty difficult because most people do not live now, in the now and can’t easily handle it if you do. If one is focussed and alert, it can unsettle. It one is purposeful in each action, it can remain unseen. Without being overly harsh many like to play games and fanny about. Our fellow beings may not cooperate in our wish to be now.

If you read much of what is attributed to Siddhārtha you can see that he was a pretty focussed being who had a great deal of clarity. He was keen on people applying stuff and not fond of political games. Although Buddhism is often seen as being laid back, the Buddha himself was focussed. The accounts suggest that in his early days he was quite driven and was bold enough to renounce his familial bounty and comfort. He was on a mission to find enlightenment and not wondering what to wear to the Christmas party.

If our happiness and our relationships are based around conditioned things, then that can be taken away. To use a trite example; “be nice to me and buy me diamonds and I will give you a blow job”. This theme of conditional negotiation can be found, albeit in different forms, all over the place. If you noticed I have been on about should and ought, the core mantra of conditioned things. And these conditioned things do not bring happiness, equanimity or peace. If you don’t get what you want, you sulk, if you do get it you are often disappointed and want more. This is suffering.

Our time here is precious, I don’t think game playing is the best use of it. Our relationships are conditional and more in the way of negotiated and volatile alliances of convenience. One has to get past the conditional towards the unconditional in order to get even an inkling of love as opposed to cupboard love. A reckless orientation towards impermanence is wasteful. If one says; “all conditioned things are impermanent man, so like dude it doesn’t really matter.”, one has missed the point and meaning by several light years. There is no wisdom in such a fatuous approach.

Unless one is willing to try to let go of attachment to conditioned things and the world of appearances one cannot nor will not see, what is on the other side. These are what obscure the now. The fullness of now, is on the other side of the veil. It is pretty amazing and quite profound, this now thing.

 “All conditioned things are impermanent – when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.”

The Forgotten Duality of Tango

It seems that metaphorically speaking many forget that it takes two to tango especially when the invention of the human social mind, blame, is to be apportioned. This concept of blame, fault and in a related way, responsibility, can be found on all sides. There is a tendency to blame, everyone other than ourselves, whether that be a person, the weather or the phase of the moon. Out comes the pointy stiletto finger and it is driven home with gusto. Blame and culpability are bedrock to the legal system and in our litigious times, there is cash at stake.

“It takes two to tango is a common idiomatic expression which suggests something in which more than one person or other entity are paired in an inextricably-related and active manner, occasionally with negative connotations.”

Blame is a very emotive word as is fault. There are many for whom much of life is spent blaming, some for the purposes of manipulation, are forever playing the victim. With blame can come punishment, which may satisfy a desire for revenge. The trouble is that if one is forever blaming, one never takes responsibility for own action and as a consequence nothing changes. The blame-game perpetuates. This can lead to a very bitter “it is not fair” orientation in life in later years as the vinegar does its work. People can become pickled by the blame they apportion to others.

It is easy enough to blame someone else for miscommunication. It is easy enough blaming someone else for an outcome of a stupid situation which we have gotten ourselves into. If you jump into a lion’s cage, don’t blame the lion for eating you. The psychology of blame is truly vast as are the motives for it. I don’t know where blame is sourced historically. Blame personally may stem from childhood, “look mummy she did it, not me!”  It is a strange beast; this blame thing and it must have a wide variance in the population. Some have a greater tendency to blame than others. Blame can be an excuse for underperforming, it can be a smoke-screen, but the summation of human blame is in the ritual need of scapegoat. Once someone has been hung out to dry, the problem is “solved” and the discomfort forgotten. The sacrificial scapegoat has been burned at the stake and “justice” has been seen to be done. All the pent-up emotion and anger has been cleansed in a shamanic ritual. For some reason there has to be a head on a plate to release the tension. It never solves the underlying cause, it puts it into abeyance until the thirsty Gods again call for human sacrifice.

This blame-game is prevalent. We have the forgotten duality of tango.

Everyday, in all countries, the blame-game plays out in relationships intimate or otherwise. It happens in the supermarkets, around the breakfast table, in the bedrooms and in the boardrooms. At its most ritualistic it is in the courts of law, you may even in some countries, get to wear a groovy wig.

Blame it seems is an integral part of society, which is a shame. It is nobody’s fault that this is the case, it just is. Blame is here, and it looks like it ain’t going anywhere soon. Any therapist will tell you that many blame their parents. Life just isn’t fair…. Blame is both a cause and an effect of dissatisfaction. Above all blame is a habit and an escapism. It is lazy to simply blame rather than to do anything constructive.

In terms of communication it so easy to blame others when communication fails or breaks down. But according to the law of duality of tango this cannot be a unilateral thing. People blame others for walking away when thy have had a hand in driving them away. To use a favourite phrase of mine, it is a bit fucked up.

Blame can have roots in should and ought, the conditions which the world must fulfil according to our personal Divine plans. When we don’t get life on our own terms we sulk and then look for someone to blame, sometimes the real God interferes with our own Divine plans, or the planet rains on our wedding day.

Sometime life just is and as they say, shit happens.

 

How do I feel when my personal Divine plan does not work out exactly?

Who is to blame?

What Fries Your Brain?

And no, I am not talking about puzzles, quantum mechanics or freaks of nature. I am referring to the more mundane, the day to day. There are a set of rules, commonly held, about how life situations are meant to evolve. Things are supposed to go one way according to some set of precedents. There is a sense of established patterns, a kind of predictable causality. “If I do this then so and so is likely to do that”. There is a kind of protocol, that may work. Many attempt to manipulate situations according to an established method with a view to a particular outcome. We have the “cunning plans” of Baldrick and Black Adder. In TV land there is a comedic outcome, in reality when things don’t pan out, it can fry your brain, blow your mind.

This supposition can lead to a “what the fuck just happened?” moment.

These quirks, these unexpected things, can really mess with the set of world-rules which people have. There ought to be some kind of reliable trajectory of causality, some predictability even certainty. Humanity, as a whole, is coming to terms with an end of certainty in so many spheres. Yet there is still marked complacency in regard of the general applicability of world-rules. Life is more volatile these days.

When cunning plans go wrong, as they can do, people can be crest fallen. Life, for whatever reason, does not comply with the terms which we seek to foist upon it. Many persist in trying to shoe horn their terms onto life, to make it fit the shoe of their expectations. The universe can throw multiple spanners in. The narrative of how it should be, can fail. And even should it fail people do not like, how it is.  This conflict between the actuality of is and the insistence of should, causes suffering and angst.

Sometimes, in life, it is just like this and not how we deem it meant to be.