To Be Distracted or Not to Be Distracted
Like it or not, we are going to form plenty of distractions in our lifetime. Whatever earthly identity we give ourselves we are likely to give ourselves more of the positive aspects of this identity. We are equally as likely to hand out potentially negative qualities to those who do not belong to ‘our group’. Young, old, white, person of color, rich, poor, member of one political or religious group or another, smart, talented, dog person, cat person, boss, employee, prisoner, prison guard, attractive, not so attractive, the guy in the white hat, the guy in the black hat, we all know, and use stereotypes. They can at times be helpful as a sort of ‘shorthand’ to help us understand and help one another. They can also be used as one of the three poisons to distract us from our pain.
Another type of distraction involves time. For example, when we use the past as the present, “I need to do this” becomes, “I wish I would have done that.” “I want to love every bit of you, just as you are,” becomes, “I wish I could have loved you back then.” In place of keeping our intent, energy, focus and inquisitiveness in the now, we lose our focus to a distraction that never was.
Taking the time distraction to the future, most of us at one time or another loses our focus to a time in the future. “I love my classes and that wonderful person who sits next to me,” becomes, “I wish I were done with school and starting my family!’ Some would describe this as impatience. I would either look for who they are, “What excited you today?” or what pain they are carrying, “What were you afraid of?”
So how does Buddhism and Emptiness work? Well, when Buddhists talk of ‘Emptiness’, they are talking about seeing the world clearly, without distraction. Seeing the world through Buddhism and Emptiness is really anything but empty. It is seeing the world as it is, as it passes from one moment to the next. It is not so much seeing the world, but being one with the world as a drop of water in a flowing river.
Buddhism and Emptiness Help You See the World Clearly
As you might imagine, it takes effort (Buddhists call it Right Effort) to even begin to realize when we are distracted and when we are really focused on the way things are. This work is done in the here and now. This is the only place where we can experience our own ‘second opinion’. When we ask our friends about how they perceive us, not too surprisingly, they tend to agree with how we see things. When we ask ‘our enemies’ about how we perceive things, we will likely get an equally distorted negative picture.
From a therapeutic perspective, when we talk to a counselor, they will likely avoid ‘our story’ and help us to get moving in the direction of our stated choice. The therapist will listen to our story, how we tell it, and then help us come up with a plan of action. Afterwards, they watch for thoughts, feelings, and actions that don’t seem to match our story and allow us to make the appropriate adjustments.
Counselors who works with our stated ‘ultimate values’ can work with us by using our values to make decisions while we move along the existential direction of our choice. An ‘existential therapist’ will use our stated beliefs as the template upon which to achieve our desired results while allowing us to incorporate collarless to our beliefs as we build wisdom by applying our ultimate understanding to our life path. A ‘Sangha’ or Buddhist Spiritual Community focuses the intent, energy, attention, rapport and constant questioning to see the world clearly and relieve the suffering in each group member and in each person they touch in their lives.