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Advice from Zandtaomed
Zandtao meditation page

Zanshadtao - Z-quest


Recently spiritual bypassing has been an issue that concerned me. For the seeker's quest - journey into the unknown - there cannot be complete consciousness (of the unknown), the journey itself brings conscious awareness. Can this quest be confused with bypassing. The intellectuals need conscious awareness, and have been using bypassing as a reason not to follow the path. Are they restricting the quest?

Does this bypassing include the “false-teachers” who can’t keep it in their pants? By definition, no; as a grey area of confusion - of obfuscation, maybe? As a schoolteacher I look at these "false-teachers" and think professional schoolteachers with limited spirituality have to keep it in their pants, and yet for some reason spiritual teachers delude themselves they can exploit the vulnerable because it is legal. I am describing here an issue with male teachers; female professional teachers and female spiritual teachers may have similar defilement but in the patriarchal world of spirituality I have not heard of it with women – it is not common amongst professional female teachers either.

The issue of concern is seekers being discouraged from following the spiritual path. Seekers are reaching the world of wellness, finding that wellness can help them cope with society, and are not then following the path. In the Treatise I came up with this path description, and it seems appropriate to begin with it here.

What is beyond wellness on the spiritual path? In Commune I assess that many of the reknowned teachers are following their spiritual paths – I have no personal knowledge to make this judgement, and of course judgement is egoic. But the Commoonity (a Russell Brand slip-of-the-tongue that has stuck with me) is primarily interested in Wellness, and there appears limited spiritual interest in forum comments.

I began this Z-Quest because of Connie Zweig – a reknowned shadow expert, and this Batgap interview with her (stored file). In the same way that some seekers might stop at dealing with wellness they also stop at shadow. In the description of path above I described path as beyond conditioning, shadow arises from conditioning so the path is beyond shadow. So what is it in the path that is beyond shadow?

When I consider shadow I consider the 4 foundations of mindfulness, and the shadow arising from the first three foundations. So an initial indicator as to what is beyond is the fourth foundation. In my personal practice with the 4th foundation as the 4th tetrad of "Mindfulness with Breathing" by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

, I begin with the 3 characteristics of anatta, anicca, and dukkha, move to atammayata that leads to interbeing and then use the faith accumulated in the first 3 tetrads to reconnect with consciousness, emptiness and perfect wisdom – Prajna. In this Z-quest I will later (somehow) examine these steps of the 4th tetrad but initially this points to what is beyond shadow is Heart - is that Prajnaparamita? But Prajna work risks bypassing if the groundwork – atammayata – has not been done. And yet that is the very criticism that Connie is getting at. There is Connie’s list given at TIME – emotional, cognitive, moral and artistic – I am going to add physical. With my addition of physical we have the 1st 3 tetrads of kaya, vedana and citta, and if these 3 tetrads are not integrated then there is clear bypassing.

Sila in part is the “pants” issue – what is moral. I am going to use the term siladhamma here because it is broader, broader by integration with the 4th tetrad of Dhamma. I draw an arbitrary distinction here to explain why I have raised the term siladhamma that will be discussed later. Sila is concerned with an individual moral act, with siladhamma there is a depth of moral integrity that pervades all actions. Siladhamma is an integration of the morality associated with the 1st three tetrads, and it arises from the 4th tetrad. Siladhamma develops beyond the conditioning of the 1st 3 tetrads, is this a property of the path that is beyond the shadow work of the 1st 3 tetrads?

Connie also mentioned artistic development. For me creativity comes from the path – it is consciousness creating, it is a connection to the muse – a spiritual connection. Whilst art might bring out buried shadow, whilst “images of art” might be shadow images the process that brings them out is a spiritual process of the path. However conventional boundaries of spirituality and creativity are not clear; for me following the path brings out creativity for creativity and consciousness are the same, hence I have included the path as compassion, insight and creativity. The boundaries of shadow, creativity and spirituality will be looked at later.

Connie realised for herself her life was about teaching consciousness TIME, and I can see that making shadow conscious is about this. But there is an aspect of the path that looks at this. What about the seeker's journey into the unknown? Making shadow conscious, becoming integrated is this what awareness means? Or is there more of the journey into the unknown? What is the connection between making ourselves aware of consciousness and being integrated? Being completely conscious? And is this the final step of the journey? Does awareness of consciousness force us to go further? Is this Eckhart's two mysteries? Integration as the first? Continuing the journey into the unknown - the second, that of prajnaparamita. Does shadow impact on these two mysteries? Can we go beyond the first mystery with shadow? Would we know?

If there is consideration of prajnaparamita there has to be a study of the Buddha's warning first - the Diamond sutra. For me this is connected with atammayata - no concocting, but how? How true is it that we need atammayata before prajnaparamita? If we are journeying into the unknown we need faith. Perfecting the vihara could be seen in part as integrating shadow as shadow would concoct unconsciously. Faith is used because atammayata - perfecting the vihara - in conventional life is so difficult, and we need faith to bridge that gap of the unknown. But what if that gap is large then using this faith is maybe bypassing; so when is it legitimate to use faith as bypassing? When is it legitimate to journey into the unknown when the shadow has not been integrated? Do we have faith in the path to do this? Faith can move us further into consciousness, making it conscious, when we journey into the unknown we are not conscious of it all. So there are questions that arise concerning this = can the unconscious be affected by shadow? Must shadow be integrated before we go into the unknown? What are the dangers if it isn't?

As Zandtaomed whenever I am working through MwB, "Mindfulness with Breathing" by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

, as teacher the seeker meets shadow. Integrating this shadow is part of my teaching work. But integrating shadow is lifelong work on the path as can be seen in the Manual and my own development. At some point good teaching becomes consolidated and the seeker guides their own path; at that point there will still be shadow but hopefully insufficient for the seeker to follow their own path. As elder I hope to have helped clear the way.

I have met depression, and the seeker did not appear to be following the path; I was unable to help. Perhaps that seeker needed professional psychological help – they were receiving medical help whose drugs were restricting their connection to the path; I personally did not see deep personal trauma as restricting their spiritual development. I have no doubts at all that there is trauma I cannot cope with, integrating such a trauma shadow (eg PTSD), letting go of these attachments are beyond my capability. Such seekers I would refer to conventional professional help but I would have to be discerning. Will such help enable the seeker to follow their path or will the professional stop at the wellness of integrated shadow where the trauma has been dissipated? the decision that has to be made - is the seeker a seeker or simply seeking wellness to cope with life? In the Z-quest of Zanshadtao I will be investigating spirituality and the benefits of following the path beyond shadow wellness.

Contents / Next -> Path, me and my shadow

Zandtao Meditation page Advice from Zandtaomed

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