Samsara

I don’t know if this is true for everyone but in my life I tend to go through many emotional phases.  Some are angry, some are sad.  Some are joyful and some are tender.  The pleasant feeling phases are always short-lived and the more unsettling ones usually stick around for a while.  Of course the emotion is almost always tied to some sort of event or events which have taken place in the past, present or future, but it’s not always easy to understand what emotion belongs to what event.  I suppose an emotion can also simply be there with no attachment to anything in particular, but I would think it to be hard for an emotion to exist without some reason.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad but I usually tend to try and search for the reasons behind my emotions.  Many times I believe I have found the reason but a deeper one still remains and even if I find that deeper reason, this by no means will get rid of it, if that is what I desire.

My current phase in life is one of anxiety and nervousness.  I’ve talked about nervousness many times before but this emotion is apparently encoded in my DNA and habitually rises more often than I would like so I must once again work through these feelings.  In my recent entry entitled “Nervousness, It’s All in My Mind”, I came up with a mantra which would banish nervousness and fear in my life and create a self which would treat the unknown with absolute confidence.  By stating, “I will face the unknown with confidence, it will work out, it always does”, I would teach my subconscious the proper way to behave and whip it into shape.  It seemed like an excellent idea at the time and I was repeating the mantra constantly, but as the process wore on my nervousness was becoming worse.  In my effort to constantly train my subconscious, the moments when I would be feeling relatively peaceful, I would begin stating the mantra and suddenly feel nervous.  It was as if the words I came up with had become attached to the emotion of nervousness so that when stated, my “negative” emotion arose.

The more I think I know, the more I realize I know nothing at all.  Over and over again in my life this becomes apparent.  The minute I think I have a large piece of life figured out I get smacked in the face and come to realize that I know nothing.  This usually frustrates me and causes pain.  Buddhists call this samsara, meaning suffering caused by the constant cycle of comfort and pain as we continually try and seek out permanent pleasure in life.  We believe pleasure is meant to be found and everlasting, but the truth is, for now anyways, that life is full of impermanence.  Nothing lasts forever and the more we attach ourselves to the idea that feelings last, the more we will suffer.

During my downtimes I’m constantly wondering why it is I feel that way, immediately label the negative feelings as bad and rack my brain to figure out a way to get rid of them.  Whenever pleasurable or disturbing feelings arise in people the first instinct is always to run away from them, to discover some way to cover them up so that we do not have to face being uncomfortable.  Life is not a constant walk in the sunshine.  Rain and clouds will always move in but yet the clouds also will soon come to an end letting rays of sunshine break apart the mist.  There is no stopping the constant transitioning of our emotional states because life is constantly changing.  It is our idea that pleasurable feelings should lasts forever and the uncomfortable ones are unnatural and imposing.

I’m learning recently that the downtimes is not a curse but can be embraced as a gift to learn more about myself and my deeper insecurities.  It’s a chance to discover my fears, overcome them and grow in spirit.  Instead of banishing my fears I need to get to know them and become intimate with that which shakes the ground of my foundation.  It is by shattering the ground on which I stand, on which I believe is permanent and everlasting, that I may shatter the suffering I impose upon myself believing that life is meant to stand still during the good times.  Good times come and go, bad times come and go.  This fact must be accepted so that a peaceful understanding may be reached and I can intimately know my full self good and bad.  Instead of scolding the bad feelings and praising the good, I must have compassion for each and in so have compassion for myself.  It’s only until one gains full compassion for oneself that one can have compassion for others, and that is where true peace can be found.

Befriending our fears in life is not an easy way to live.  Peeling away the layers of insecurity will last a lifetime and it will be a life of constantly taking oneself to the edge, constantly living life each day diving headfirst into the chasms of emotions whose depth is infinite.  It is however an honest and noble way to live for the deeper one wishes to go, the closer one reaches towards the true self and the more one can open themselves up to the rest of the world.  The more honest you are with yourself and the more willing you are to face emotional adversaries with courage, the more God’s light will shine through your pores.  It is my path in life to dig deeper and deeper into the depths of myself.  Many times I wish I was like other people who are unaware of the thick shell which surrounds them.  Instead of chipping away at the shell, it remains protecting the ego and deflecting insecurities.  A relatively comfortable life is lived but habits, addictions, and a constant need to satisfy oneself rather than others remains.  You live life repeatedly reaching for impermanent, material gains and the hunger is never satisfied.

At the present time I am not looking for escape route from my nervousness.  Instead of trying to kick my nervousness out the door, I am inviting it in and getting to know the side of myself which I constantly try and ignore.  I’m no longer trying to fix myself because there isn’t necessarily anything wrong.  Each moment I live is different than the last and will be different than the next.  I will love the self I encounter at each moment and realize there is no attachment to any moment good or bad because nothing lasts forever.  Pleasure is meant to be found and lost only to be found again and all the while I will remain.

I’m getting back on the horse tomorrow and waterskiing again.  Hopefully the story I will tell will be much less exciting than the last.

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14 Responses to Samsara

  1. Patricia says:

    Again that weird thing – I was just talking to a friend of mine about this – she and I call the hard times – "growing pains" and somehow this makes me feel okay about being down. I have been struggling in the weirdest ways by trying to find happiness in the wrong places lately. It seems a phase. A learning process that seemingly has taken me many ways backwards instead of forwards – but backwards I went and I guess I learned that that didn\’t work too well – old habits and new ones.
    I sense that you came to some peace by writing this – it soothed me somehow – the knowledge of all feelings coming and going. I think as I sit here that there is so much pressure to be happy ALL the time – I mean even commercials on tv are all about this. The thing is – as much as I strive to be in a good mood – I find that sometimes my down moods are …what would be the word? maybe the most "educational" – I learn more and time seems slower for me to notice more things – of course the bad things seem more dramatic during these times but there is something about those rainy day feelings that brings peace – I can\’t describe it and I\’m not sure it is healthy. I try to approach it the way a child would sometimes and find it interesting. I mean do you remember what you did as a child when things weren\’t going as according to plan or it seemed like a bad day? – the thing is I don\’t think that I thought of things in terms of "day" as a kid – time was measured differently and not by clocks or anything. The emotion came in, spent its time, and moved on. I don\’t know – I\’m rambling. loved this entry. Hope you are doing great! Have fun waterskiing! – best to ya -patti

  2. Unknown says:

    somehow, you made my day! actually right now is in the morning, but you
    know… it\’s a great start. 🙂 the believe in God, having compassion & humility is
    wonderful. as there are always people in heavier hardships
    than us, it\’s only the right thing to be grateful, & give our best.

  3. Patricia says:

    Colin, I couldn\’t be happier for you!! Way to go!! Dreaming big and living it! – my best to you always 🙂 patti

  4. Unknown says:

    Great personal insight! Good luck waterskiing. Hope it is very very boring. Ha! 🙂 Lessie

  5. Casey says:

    Colin
     
    What you are feeling is completely normal and understandable! In this life where nothing is certain we have to cling to something that is true and everlasting for me that is God! God is the one that is in control, he already knows the future and loves and cares for us! It is normal to feel nervous and anxious about what is in the future because it is out of our control but we know that God is already there so for me I trust in that fact and it brings me great peace! Embrace your fears, dont let them get the best of you (which is alot)!!!
    Good luck waterskiing and horseback riding, sounds very eventful!!!
     
    Casey 🙂

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  7. BP says:

    Colin,
    I found this particular blog to be quite compelling. I have several questions I would like to ask you, but you can always e-mail me and I will fire away. Getting back to your interesting entry, it is normal for people to have different emotional phases of their life and you obviously have a great grasp of philosophy and psychology. To me, it is quite evident you have done a considerable amount of reading or taken some interesting courses while pursuing your degree.
    Anxiety and nervousness were feelings I had to live with for the early portion of my rehabilitation and initial transition back into the real world, the other world being my insulated society within the hospital. These particular emotions, however, do not dominate my life any longer and while I do experience down swings, which border on depression sometimes, it always endeavored to find out what is causing these particular feelings and try to get back to my normal positive attitude. One of the main lessons I learned during my rehabilitation was that if I became to nervous about a particular situation or started to panic, my caregivers, particularly ones that are not trained extensively in SCI care, would be prone to panic. This lesson, unfortunately, led to my building up a "shield" around myself. I do let it down for some things, but I do try to prevent a perpetual state of depression by deflecting potential he emotional damaging events from affecting my life. Is this healthy? Probably not. It does, nonetheless, work for me and I feel as long as I embrace all of my feelings, I will live a long a productive life.
    I seem to find that my low periods seem to be when I am getting on myself the most for not accomplishing what I think I need to be. It is a constant struggle to remind myself that I need to live one-day at a time and enjoy life to its fullest right now. Waiting for tomorrow can be extremely dangerous as I found out 11 years ago.
     
    Keep up the good work and continue to share your thoughts with everyone. Your thoughts seem to e above the majority of other people.
    Billy

  8. Theresa says:

    I love that you take the time to look inward, question, and then articulate that journey in your writing.  Whatever conclusions you come to, the journey, the process of examining it in a very raw sense – that is where one experiences growth.
     
    Cheers.

  9. Amber says:

    Colin-
    When I experience anxiety and nervousness these quotes really help me.  Perhaps they will bring you a measure of peace too.
     

     "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

    Philippans4:6-7
     
    "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
    Matthew 6:34
     
    God Bless,
    Amber
     
     
     
     

  10. Patricia says:

    Hope you are having a great weekend. 🙂 -patti

  11. Shannon says:

    Hey Colin,
    Just wanted to stop by and say hello.  Hope you are doing well.  Are you still taking off for San Diego within the next week or so?  I thought I remembered you saying something about visiting Project Walk.
    I got rid of my space…I just got bored with it and wasnt very motivated to write anything anymore.  Ive got a MySpace thing going on, but its nothing exciting. 
    Anyway, take care and keep in touch!

  12. Unknown says:

    Hey Colin,
    You pull me into your world, for a short visit, each time I stop by.  The courage you show by sharing so much of your self and your life is amazing to me.  I even have a hard time writing this short note to ya.  The reason I forced my self is simply to say I truly know where your coming from in regards to you nervousness.  Mine lasted for about two years and then one day I realized it had been couple days since i felt strange.  Then days turned into weeks and now i can go months without problems.  Why i had it to begin with I dont know why it left I dont know.  But I wanted to share the fact that you to will have days then weeks then months that you dont have the hebejebes ( medical term my family uses ).  I cant offer words of wisdom or any thing concret I just know that it comes and goes like the tides and your tide will go out one day and not return for months and that your not alone in these feelings. 

  13. Unknown says:

    Colin,  I enjoyed reading your history, and continuing journey of \’a road less traveled\’.  I had an incomplete sci at the age of eight, back in \’67.   I went on to get a degree in physical therapy at the age of 35.  While my injury was not as severe, I empathize with your struggles.  I am proud of you for facing the daily battles head on, inspired by your eloquence, and support your soul\’s search for spiritual guidance.  You wondered what path you would take:  I think you have a gift for writing in the vein of spiritual searching.  Many people have a gift for writing but your history places you on an accelerated path, and one that many readers would follow because your journey is just a little different.  On a more practicial side, getting a degree in biology, and pushing the untapped limits of stem cell research, would be a noble path.  Stem cell research holds the greatest promise for people with many life affecting
    challenges.  A path of science or faith, maybe both.  Carry on.   rod

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