An Integration Process|
Integrate what is behind before it comes and bites you in the arse. This sounds like something Teal would say, I thought it this morning - I hope I'm not plagiarising.. For me I see this biting occurring amongst spiritual people whose egos are so fragile. I describe this as the spiritual ego being fragile but in truth this ego is a spiritual process that has become fragmented. This could be a typical description. An “enlightenment” process that has been extremely helpful for the teacher so they selectively identify with it. When they teach the student learns in part so it is not as effective for the student. So the student forces themselves to imitate the teacher as much as possible but the forcing and imitation cannot work. It has to be insight, and in the end it has to be complete insight. This complete insight has to have a sound basis which is an integrated self transcending. Because of the lack of emphasis on integration it is usually partial selves that transcend, fragmented selves that remain in the shadow, leading to a fragility when the spiritual side is questioned by being. The student does not have a complete grip on insight because it is only a partial self that has transcended. This is why the teaching of integrated authenticity is so important.
Put in the integration processes here as they have to be understood before the criticisms of Buddhism can be understood.
I want to describe in general terms how this lack of integration affects Buddhism. I know Buddhism a bit, that is why I can describe it but I suspect the lack of integration affects other spiritual traditions as well. This is not a criticism of what the Buddha taught but a distortion that has come over time to the way others teach “what the Buddha taught”, and sadly I have to include Ven Bdasa in this. This is not a criticism of Ven Bdasa himself, he is now dead, I never met him, and his insight to me demonstrates a completeness that I can only hope to aspire to.
I think it can be best understood by the important teaching of atammayata. This unconcoctability is based on the khandha sankhara concocting the mind, once concocted there is ego leading to suffering. In this series of talks Ven Bdasa describes how atammayata does this – a very good teaching.
But my concern is with his teachings on the other khandhas specifically vedana and sanna. To explain this I want to use this meme that I made based on a talk Santikaro ( Still Water Flowing Banks) gave as to where Ven Bdasa was heading at his death:-
Remove I and mine from the 5 khandhas (body, psyche and consciousness), remove the I from self and there is connection to sunnata – my summary.
In the meme the psyche represents mind and energy as in vedana, sanna and sankhara. The emphasis in Buddhism is on the mind. I have much to learn of the work done on the mind as atammayata based on the khandha “sankhara”, but I have to ask about the work done on vedana and sanna. I think it would be fair to describe vedana and sanna as feelings, perceptions and memory, and if we think of those words then it is not great jump to look at shadow work and the need to integrate the shadow. In my summary above I talked of removing I and mine from the 5 khandhas so this would include removing I and mine from the khandhas of vedana and sanna – feelings, perceptions and memories – as well of course as removal of I from sankhara. Now the removal of I from sankhara is covered in bucketloads in Buddhism, but I have to ask how much is done on the removal of I and mine from sanna and vedana. (Out of a sense of fairness I want to point out a concern I have about Teal’s work. She speaks of integration although she focusses on vedana and sanna – very little on sankhara. But how much of her teaching goes into the removal of I and mine from the integrated self? It is there but where is the emphasis?)
This emphasis on sankhara is prevalent in Buddhism. When Ven Bdasa is talking of unconcoctability in atammayata, it can be seen in all the concoctions of Buddhist theory. For a religion of anatta why are there so many proliferations (attachments to sankhara)?
For some Buddhists there is not even a focus on transcendence with Buddhism being seen as an understanding of all the theories that make up sankhara. For other Buddhists there is the focus on transcendence but in the end it appears as if that transcendence is only concerned with the partial self of sankhara – or perhaps rupa (body) and sankhara (thought including concoctions and mental proliferations).
Ven Bdasa teaches anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) as the practice of which atammayata is the result. Within this practice it would be hard not to detach from the selves (egos) that are within the shadow. But integrating the shadow egos and detaching from them is not a focus, and I question whether that is a weakness.
Buddhism creates objectives such as mindfulness, it could be perceived as a failing within Buddhism if there is not 24/7 mindfulness. I subscribe to the Agreement (AppA) “Always do the best you can” but don’t beat yourself up about it. 24/7 mindfulness is hard, something I cannot do – an enlightenment characteristic? “Don’t beat yourself up about it” was a phrase a Buddhist abbot used to me as a description of how to approach these things, but is that a general approach? Do Buddhists consider themselves failures with 3/7 mindfulness? Do Buddhists consider themselves failures when the mind is not still in meditation? Do Eckhart’s followers consider themselves failures if they cannot feel presence – cannot feel the Power of Now?
When you look at Buddhism it might be fairer to say “be good 24/7 but don’t beat yourself up about it”, but does it come across that way? And as Teal says after meeting these teachers behind the scenes they themselves are not 24/7.
Buddhism is something I know a bit about, Teal describes the broader spiritual community in a similar way. NOT FINISHED HERE EITHER.
Lead up to
As pathtivism I am perfectly comfortable in recommending this integration process:-
Integrate the 5 khandhas by embracing Teal, follow Ven Bdasa to understand sankhara to develop atammayata and anatta to connect with sunnata – the Source.