Path Dangers: Rigidity and Frigidity

So here we are with our sweet meditation practice and we come to a funky sticking point. There’s nothing wrong really. Just another temporary phase to move through. You reach a pretty common issue, I know because it happened to me. You reach a stage where the risk of rigidity and frigidity become a matter of real concern. What do I mean by rigidity?

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Rigidity is a firm handed inflexibility, an inability to change and adapt. This shows it’s ugly face when we meet differing points of view that challenge our own. You some how reach a point where you “know” things. Trust me when I say, if you think you’re close to an attainment you’ve never been further away. As my teacher told me, “One must always come to the Dharma with their cup empty, so that it can be filled”. I’m sure at some point you’ve needed to teach someone something, whether it was part of your job or you needed your kids to learn how to work the washer and dryer, that know it all attitude is never of any help. Thinking we know the way often leads to very opinionated hard line outlook. This danger is very real when working with a self led practice. Now that you are aware of it keep an eye out for it… you know “Chiggity check yo-self” (if you don’t get the reference I’m sorry). Once you’ve become aware of the problem you have already overcome one of the most difficult issues, that of ignorance. Just as we found in our piece on Vipassana, when we see something that is an arising issue, we make note of it, watch it rise, watch it fall, when we’re sharper with it we can begin to trace the thoughts backwards. Sometimes all the way back to their origin. Awareness of an issue is the first step in that process. Next let’s discuss frigidity.

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Fridigidity, yes I know not really a word, but the idea is sound. Becoming cold or aloof in your practice is another common issue for us self led yogis or as some in the Theravada school of Buddhism would say pratyeka-Buddha (yup new vocab word meaning you do this on your own). It’s quite strange that working on a practice steeped in selfless-ness, compassion, and, humility can breed this in the nicest people. It’s just as it sounds you turn away from people and develop this kind of indifference to them, which is obviously antithetical. Many people sense this and say “Oh no this is equanimity arising”. Equanimity is one of those elevated states of practice where you’re beginning to let things flow, you’re becoming founded in the present and becoming pretty solid in the concepts of the Dharma. It’s a good thing but it is light years away from the apathy and indifference that many develop in their practices. You’ll begin to cast a blind eye to the pain of other’s saying ” This disaster or plight, it’s their karma”, like you’re all the sudden some Indian hermit guru… when in reality you are slowly becoming an arrogant ass. This one is super common. Want to see it in action join as many Buddhist discussion groups as you can on Facebook and just lurk. I have seen people get ripped to shreds in the comment section over the silliest things. Spelling, misinterpretations, poor analogy construction, and, everyone’s favorite (and true sign of a weak thinker in my opinion,the grammar attack).

The biggest cause of this… ego. That’s correct the dirty mofo we set out to squash is running the show. This is where people talk about “Wearing your spirituality as a crown” and it ain’t cool. You are not doing yourself or others any good. There’s hope! Humor that’s right being able to laugh at yourself is vital to overcoming the ego and the dumb crap it’s trying to pull. Obviously it isn’t seperate from you, just a part that is all too often wrongly at the helm.

The above 2 factors are the reason I starting meme-ing meditation and Buddhist philosophy as my main topics. I was becoming that guy, I was setting records for the most “actually” moments overall. I was becoming cold to my family indifference was the commodity I was handing out. It was a rough time. One day I realized I was surfing the web looking for people to argue with. That is terrible practice. So I started looking to the lighter side, enjoying a laugh (particularly at myself) and was noticing I was beginning to lighten up. My understanding of my practice and of teachings were really only mine. I could share of course but clubbing people with my point of view was stifling to all parties involved. I was better than that, the world, the Dharma, and, I myself deserved better than that.

These issues, they don’t seem big or malicious, but they can become the basis of a skewed view of all things spiritual. For that reason you owe it to yourself to stand guard over your mind and the ego in it. You can count on some growth serious if you do, no matter your faith

-JMartin

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