Monday, March 5, 2012

Dissolving the Disruptive Self

It has now become clear, what gets in the way of peace. Sitting quietly on the usual chair, taking a walk amidst the hills behind Stanford campus, savoring a meal . . . the familiar knot makes itself felt, sooner or later. THE knot usually comes with a various of emotions, always in the unpleasant category. Anger, fear, doubt, desire, well up in the heart and obliterate the possibility of ease. Some times, out of sheer habit and long time conditioning. On other occasions, in reaction to outer circumstances, not wished for. THE knot hits me right in the stomach. 

When I sit long enough, the root cause of such unease, inevitably shows itself in the form of  thought clusters, around various facets of 'I'. I know myself well enough to have the list down by now: the competent one, the savior, the victim, the scared little girl, the worried one, the ambitious amazon, the depressed young woman, the lonely soul, the greedy one, the aversive personality . . . They show up at inopportune times. They disturb the possibility of inner happiness. The disruptive self is no more than a collection of sticky, dirty mind habits looking to attach themselves to the pure moment-to-moment experience. It takes time to disengage. 

When faced with manifestations from the disruptive self, I like to ask myself the following questions:

What facet of the self is being triggered?
Does that aspect of the self belong to this moment?
What does the resulting suffering feel like? 
Where is it being felt? in the mind, in the body?
How old is that self habit?

The older the habit, the harder to let go of. Years of stickiness cannot be undone that quickly. One needs to be patient, and kind, same one one would be with a stubborn child. One also needs to trust that persistent 'seeing', and relaxing of the bothersome thoughts and emotions will pay off in the end. 


  1. patient, and kind, same one one would be with a stubborn child. One also needs to trust...

    A powerful 'recipe' for relating to self, to others, to the living world. Seems as if old habits came from reactions that might have been useful once but somehow became ingrained and hold on long after any having any benefit to the detriment of peace and mindful presence.

  2. Yes, JDB. I now understand why liberation and freedom are about letting go or renunciation, however way you call it. Ridding one self of the accumulated debris in the mind, those thought patterns that tend to get caught and get us in trouble, over and over again.

  3. What also amazes me is is how, if one is honest and serious about working with/through these moments, messages and often positive "helpers" appear out of nowhere. Finding the right book at the bookstore, coming across a video which gives you a much needed message.. or, in this case, your post.
    I had a situation which caused that familiar knot last night (and it might test me for a few more weeks). I relate to what you write and have been diligently working on separating the "old stories" created in my mind (thus building those knots) from the Now. Taming/embracing the scared/threatened little girl and filling the heart with love and "letting go" through meditation has so far been the only successful method I have found.

    it is a hard uphill battle but well worth it. Thank YOU for sharing these thoughts and helping others (me) feel like we are not alone.

  4. Oh! thank you, Michele. I am glad the post was helpful to you. Another reading you might enjoy about 'the knot' is a passage from Ajahn Chah, which I shared in a previous post:

    May you be well, may you continue to reap the fruit from your practice.