Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday, June 23: 3 Choices: Robot low functioning, robot high functioning, or awake

Here’s the bad news. Most of life is lived out at one of these two levels: low functioning robot, or high functioning robot. Much of what passes as lurches toward happiness are merely upgrading our robot status. From worried and annoyed with ourselves and the world, we upgrade to content with ourselves and amused with the passing entertainment. Indeed, the huge function of almost endless entertainment in our culture-- music, videos, DVDs, television, movies, plays, concerts, the local musicians-- all this is our way of getting out of the “thinking” that keeps us bummed out or at least anxious, the low grade robot “thinking” along the lines of “what to do next, what to do next,” and “so and so will disapprove if I do this, I’d better do that,” or “ so and so should be nicer, smarter, kinder more whatever,” or “ so and so should like/love/appreciate me more.” On and on the thoughts and feelings that keep us tense and worried and borderline unhappy, or at least propel us into stressed action to avoid knowing how unhappy we are.

Along comes a good movie, a TV show, a poetry reading. We can at last focus our attention on something besides our worries and anxieties. We can stop thinking the thoughts that make us miserable, by diversion.

And this is good. This is part of life, knowing when to give ourselves diversion. This is how we upgrade from low functioning to high functioning robot. We are trapped now in something more positive, something at least a little different than our usual lairs.

But are we awake to the breathing, to our breathing, not as an abstract idea, but as moment to moment sensation? Are we awake to the position of our spines and arms and legs in space? Do we notice anything other than the screen or the performer or the television? Do we see the light in the room? Do we notice the quality of air and how our clothes feel right now on our skins? Do we have that blissful under-feeling: I am alive right now. This is me, here, taking this in. This is me, here, now, breathing in and then having a pause and then breathing out and having a pause.

That’s the good news. There is a third choice, to wake up to the moment. Sometimes we take this choice out of desperation, when our lives are awful: someone has just died, or we have a serious illness, or the partner has left us and the pain is too great unless we are dead still in the present. In other times we take this choice because of the delight and freedom it brings, the sense of anything’s possible, the sense of joy and option and choice in our lives when we are here, now, awake to life and to being alive.

It is worth noting that what passes as modern “health care,” at it’s best is helping people upgrade from low functioning to high functioning robot, encouraging people to clear up their relationships, undo their stress and take walks and eat healthier. But mostly, it is merely this, our so called “health care,” the helping of people of low functioning robot lives with symptoms, get rid of their symptoms and become low functioning robots without symptoms.

This isn’t a pretty picture. Oh, well. Coming to waking can be anyone’s experience in any moment of any day or any life. That’s the good news.


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