Friday, December 3, 2010


             It’s been a hard few days, I must confess. Not sure why. I think it’s the economy. People are struggling. I feel under-utilized. My circuits jammed on me. I had a meltdown. Found myself very frustrated. Negative. Physically upset with a headache that wouldn’t respond to meditation or medication.
Who wants to hear about a helping professional and life coach having a trying few days? 
“I have enough of those, myself,” I can hear you saying, “I don’t need to hear about yours.”
I was worried. How could I write something that might help someone else when I can’t keep myself from feeling this way?
I felt like a bit of a sham.
I sometimes envy people who seem to glide through life, like the old James Bond, seemingly without a sensitive, self-reflective moment of doubt, worry, weakness, or a bit of despondency.
Do those people really exist? They might, and bully for them. Oh, I have my days, and even my weeks and months, when things are just going swimmingly and everything is great with the world, days when I could probably kick 007’s butt.
Then there are, what I call, the ‘drowning’ days, days when I have to work hard to keep from sinking. And though they’ve gotten fewer and further apart and less severe, I still have my drowning days. That’s how it is.
I know there are billions who have to struggle. Maybe everyone struggles, sometimes, and James Bond is a big fat liar. He leaves out the parts where he’s lonely, and worries about that arthritic shoulder and, well, sometimes, even with a beautiful woman, he just doesn’t seem, well, as solid down there as he once was.
Know what I mean?
Sure you do.
Anti-depressants, anxiety medication, joints, pints, and kegs are sold by the boatload each hour to help us get through the tough work of being a human being.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about: how you make it through the tough times, how you behave, how you show up, how you keep going.
Do you get your work done, the real work of living? Can you keep loving those around you, lending a helping hand and a listening heart? Can you forgive yourself when you fall so that you can get up stronger and more quickly?
The Prophet Mohammed said, “There will always be times tougher than these.”
The Buddha said suffering is part of the world.
So, it’s all about how you handle the tough times. How you learn from them. How you take responsibility and action. How you move on.
The tough times will always be with us.

But why do I compare myself to others, even James Bond, or to myself on better days?
It was the teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti who first showed me the damage we cause by comparing. I can hear his high distinctive voice with his British-Indian accent and I can see his raised finger as he admonished his listeners, “Never to compare.”
What would a mind be like if it were never to compare, but to simply be with itself just as it is from moment to moment?
There is a Buddhist practice of labeling our thoughts and feelings as they are happening. You experience a thought and you label it, “thinking,” for instance. You feel an emotion, and you label it, “fear”, and so on.
But that already has a separation between the part of you that is experiencing the emotion or thought, and the part that is labeling it.
It seems you have to compare your experience to something else to be able to know it is fear, or anger, or desire, or joy.
You have to compare it before you can label it.
But what if you could never compare?
But what did I do just then? Did I compare my good-old comparing self to some amazing me who might someday never compare?
What a drag, because obviously you can’t use comparison as a way to get to a point in your life where you no longer compare, just like you can’t go north by going south.
            Never to compare, and to go on doing your work and living your life from moment to moment. What would that be like?
But if I don’t compare, you might ask, how will I know how I’m doing?
Why does it matter? Why do you need to know how you are doing? Who will tell you? How will you keep score? What will it mean?
Of course you might use a scale to see how your weight is doing, and things like that, but you would not use anything to tell you how you were doing. That’s the kind of comparison we’re talking about, not whether this box of cereal is a better deal than that box. Never to compare your self with anyone and anything, but to simply be yourself from moment to moment.
What would that be like?
I don’t know, but I do know the pain of comparison. That I know. Comparison has often made me miserable.
There’s an old eastern teaching that says, “You suffer because you spend 99% of your time thinking about your self, but there isn’t one.”
I think comparison gives rise to the self. When you are not comparing, but just being and doing in the moment, it’s like you, your self, are not there. You forget about yourself and simply drop into life. When you’re really happy, you don’t know about it in the moment, because you’re so in the thick of your happiness. It’s only afterwards, when it’s over a little bit, that you can compare and notice how happy you were. You have to come out of your happiness a bit to even know that you’re happy.
 It’s like a great orgasm. In the middle of it, you’re gone. That’s what we love about it. Great sex or lovemaking is one of the best ways to get out of your own head so that you’re not there for a while.
And then, of course, we return and say, “Wow, that was great. Can we do that again?” It's amazing how good it feels to have your doors blown off for awhile so that you're gone, even if only for a moment or two.
 Check it out for yourself. Observe how comparing serves you and hurts you. Let me know what you think.
So, there it is. I wrote it. My commitment is two articles per week and this is article number two. That’s all I can tell you. You put one foot in front of the other, eyes open, mind quiet or mind in turmoil, you do what you can to keep walking the walk. You walk through fear, confusion, doubt, worry, moodiness, and even depression. You walk like you’re on some great mission like Frodo, in Lord of the Rings, because you are. You are walking the path of your one and only life—at least till you get to heaven or you reincarnate.
             I can be reached at or 805/680-5572.

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