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Going around in circles

“We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here”

Pink Floyd, Wish you were here.

Browsing this forum, I’m continuously finding discussions about how to interpret some K.’s statements. And these discussions never lead anywhere. It’s like going around in circles, never really advancing but always staying where we are. I wonder why we are like that. We live near a river and yet go and look for water somewhere else. Do we really want to understand ourselves and life? Why not look directly to it? Why should another person tell me who I am and how my brain works? Am I so blind that I can’t see it with my own eyes? Or is it that I actually don’t love myself and life and so I’m not really interested in looking there?

I had a short exchange of ideas with someone here privately about awareness, with the aim to discover why it’s so difficult to be aware our ourselves. But is it really so difficult? Or rather it’s only a matter of not being sufficiently interested?

The people who were discussing how to interpret K.’s words were not beginners, on the contrary they were supposedly good connoisseurs of K.’s teachings and they even showed it proudly.
Sincerely I doubt they are. You can read or listen K. through the filter of your own opinions and convictions and so miss – consciously or unconsciously – all those points which do not fit with your ideas. I have seen doing this trick to many cultured and deeply religious people in some of K.s videos. One of these points, perhaps the most neglected one is: “Be a light to yourself”.
Do we need to interpret these words? I’m sure a lot of different interpretations will come out…
Again, going around in circles… are you not fed up of that?

Essentially K. is just a pointer to the actuality of life and ourselves. And as they say in Zen, the finger (which points to the moon) is not the moon. Why wasting our time and energy, arguing each other about the finger and not looking to the actual moon?
Life is always here with us, and so is myself. If we are not interested in the actuality of ourselves and life then we should better forget K. and everything he said. There are so many beautiful and satisfying things to do in life. That is exactly what I do when I realize that I’m going around in circles.

We spend too much effort trying to judge and compare the “level” of others compared to our own achievements.
This is just the movement of the self jockeying for position and self love.
Knock the gurus off their pedestal okay - but also give some honest attention to the guru in our own head.

Well said! And I feel, regardless if it’s my opinion, a fact that must be seen in order to actually live a life, free from any conditioning. As a simple example, do we yell at the violin for the way it works? Maybe, but only out of frustration. The violin is as it is. One can either work with the violin’s nature, or fight against it. One might never “master” the violin, but that’s not really the point, is it?

I’ve also been looking into awareness, and had a real, physical, “flash of insight” about it today. When we try to figure out what awareness is, we are forming an idea about awareness. Yet, anything such an idea points towards, has to be from memory. And as such, we are dealing with ideas about awareness, not the actual thing.

Does any idea point to something real? I’ve thought about some examples, and at the end of it, it seems like ideas never meet what is actually happening. Also, to give something a name, a title, a description… is the idea about it.

To stop “going around in circles,” one has to see wanting/desire, in this manner. When we want to “deal with wanting,” that in itself is wanting. Wanting is the “finger”, and the idea about “the moon”.

Exactly! Well said. That is why I said “When we think we are aware we are not”. Awareness is like death, as K. said once: “you cannot discuss with death”, we can also say : you cannot discuss with (and of) awareness.

"To stop “going around in circles,” one has to see wanting/desire, in this manner. When we want to “deal with wanting,” that in itself is wanting. Wanting is the “finger”, and the idea about “the moon”.

This is a precious completion of my speech. Yes, wanting, wishing and then feeling frustrated at not reaching anything. I had realized intuitively this point and understood that it was useless to cling to K.'s words as if some kind of “illumination” could come from them. And also I accepted my imperfect understanding of myself and life. In wanting to attain the “perfect” comprehension, not only I was going around in circles but I was negletting real life, the only reality I can possibily live. That’s reminded me a statement from an old Indian guru I’ve read long ago. “The only thing we can possess is that portion of ground our feet cover when we walk.”

If my pursuit leads me around and around in a never ending cycle of thinking/pain/pleasure/anger, yet I continue on day after day, in spite of the warnings given by you and others…what does that tell us? Doesn’t it clearly say that this “insanity” is another form of comfort/security?

We live by habit or from habit and habits are very strong. Once we are used to something, we no more see the insanity of it. Habits give us a deceiving sense of comfort, yet there are moments when one gets fed up of them. I wouldn’t call it security but rather confusion. In my view it’s useless to try to do something (or to understand something) for too long. Clearly there must be something in me which prevents comprehension or I am adopting the wrong approach. In both cases I think it’s better to take a break and stop thinking about finding a solution. Doing something different in real life breaks the spell and maybe the solution comes naturally. Life is the best teacher.

Hello @voyager,
I have observed and experimented as much as possible as a completely new user to online discussion forums for about 15 days. Thus I may be somewhat qualified to respond to this posting. The reason I feel compelled to respond to your posting is because you seem to be a person who is serious about wanting to have a true dialogue.

I have tried to read/scan nearly most topics (of interest) and their posts. Thus far my observations can be put in three categories: the content, others, and myself. I arrive at no definitive conclusions as they are bound to change but what is important to me is to find out if this online discussion forum allows for a complete dialogue and if I am able to observe myself in relation to others?

Here are some questions that I ask myself while I am here. Is this activity dangerous for the mind? Can we really connect with others here to be able create a friendly landscape to freely disagree and agree with one another? Are people serious? Can we learn and unlearn from one another?

About this…It seems some are convinced that you must quote him and not make any interpretations when considering his take on truth. As if K’s findings is the final word and should not consider others or one another. Have we considered that he may not be saying the truth? Or he was unable to express it accurately or that we may want question everything (including K)? (And I am saying it with respect to him, his findings, and all those that love him) I see the necessity of preserving his words for all to have access, so it is not misconstrued, and so on. I also see that in a discussion about anyone X (K, Buddha, etc) there will be your own discernment (or insight) of X that you will be expressing. Nonetheless, I was stating my observation and I am completely okay in discussing with you if you are of this school of thought.

You and I and possibly others, can attest to many negative aspects of this forum. As I see it, the journey to the self as well is ugly. This alone is not the final consideration.

Four good questions. I guess there is no point in trying to answer them. Each one of us, if interested, might ask those questions to her/himself. To see the dangers of one’s activities, including what’s going on in this forum, is after all a matter of intelligence.

Of course. When you meet the Buddha on the street kill him!

There is something I don’t quite grasp here. What do you mean with: “the journey to the self as well is ugly”? I’d say “ the journey of the self…” but you probably meant another thing?

But let me add some other reflections I made today after I watched a video of K. discussing the problem of going around in circles.

There are two aspects involved in my first post. The first concerns the standstill we all find ourselves in when studying or exploring K.’s teachings, the other is about realizing the uselessness of prolonging a discussion in this forum when it’s obvious it is not leading anywhere. My initial intention was that of depicting the latter.

The policy of taking a break may be useful for both aspects, yet while in the second case often it is the only intelligent action, not so in the first case. With the abundance of books, verbatim reports, videos, etc., we have the possibility to find a different approach to the problem or to deepen a point which we had neglected or forgotten. Of course granted we are really interested in the fundamental change. Many of us actually are not really interested or don’t want to change. One has to be extremely honest with oneself to acknowledge that. We might have approached K. because we were looking for a reward, for an achievement of some kind, and then when we find there is nothing to achieve or to earn our drive dies out. Life is merciless and if we see that our actions produce suffering either in ourselves or in others, then perhaps we start to doubt about our values. In this sense life can be a better teacher.

Regarding K. teachings, going around in circles shows that we are still active when we should stand still. Our minds are always occupied and we approach the teachings with that attitude. One has to arrive at a point where one no longer gives importance to what one knows (or see the futility of it – which is the same thing), and so the mind no longer looks for further knowledge and find itself at easy with the “not-knowing” state. Alas! Most of the times and for most of us is a boring state and so we prefer to be occupied with something else. :grinning:

Your terribly funny! :laughing:

I apologize, it may sound misleading. I meant the journey to knowing the Self or self knowledge.

Or we might try to arrive to some conclusion. A good reminder is that “what is” is not static but dynamic. We may learn that conclusions can become dead when it stops the movement of “what is” and becomes certainty. Thus I think it may be beneficial to always be fresh and in a continuous observation.

I agree, very well said. The ending of thought or the known. However, the will of “we should stand still” will create a division but perhaps a serious awareness first and then stillness. That’s wonderful @voyager!

Guilty, that is myself at times and I am okay with that.

No, I didn’t mean to be funny (but I understand it can be perceived as being so) but I was just quoting a famous Zen saying which is the equivalent of K.'s statement: no authority. To kill (metaphorically) the Buddha means not to rely or depend upon his teaching but to be a light to oneself and so to rely only on one’s resources.

No, stand still is not yet freedom from the known in the sense K. used that expression. Simply is stopping messing around with things and projecting intentions, plans, etc. It’s not something “beyond thought”, but just relaxing, being at easy with what you are and where you are. I find myself in that state once in a while, when circustances are favorable, at least that’s how I explain it to myself -as actually I don’t know how it comes about. And it’s also the state you may be when someone challenge you with an impossible question, something thought cannot answer. Then, the intelligent mind, stops looking for an answer.

So, to go back to our main topic: i.e. this forum, if we are able to ask a good question we might find ourselves in this state of not-knowing and so standing still. While if the discussion keeps on unnecessarily for the sake of showing how good we are in finding smart answers, it means we are missing the point.

Never heard that statement. Okay I see. It seems flawed since the Buddha himself said be a light to yourself. It maybe that the Buddha slayed his findings already when he said that.

I came up with one: Question and consider “what is” and make no conclusions.

I consider this one but I do not agree on many points but we can move on.

I think we should always be in a state of uncertainty and not be bothered by the burden of certainty.

Just one clarification. The Buddha (as far as I know) never used that expression himself. It was created much later in Zen Buddhism. You can find an “official” explanation here:

The explanation I gave you is an interpretation of mine, and I assume all the responsibility for it.

There are many claims that he did or did not say this or that. Its a long history of messiness, the history and recordings of the Buddha’s findings, we can never be sure of exactly what actuality happened or what was said. On his last sermon he said “be an island unto yourself”. Who knows but great statement too.

Anyways, excellent statement. Be a light to yourself.

Hmmm…weeell…I dunno. I think perhaps that repetition has quite a bit to do with security. Whether it’s repeating a mantra, reading a bit of K every day or repeatedly posting on the internet, it has its roots in bringing order to disorder and the world is in such wild disorder - you don’t have to be a K afficionado to see that. But you are the world - an oft repeated mantra - so you are in wild disorder too. So perhaps it is not so much confusion as an attempt to dispel confusion.

What comes first: the need for security or confusion? We are caught in the pattern of repetition, that means we are functioning like a machine (the lower level of the nervous system), so there is confusion in the sense we think to act intelligently and efficently while actually we are acting in a dumb way. The moment you have clarity about this kind of behaviour you are out of the habit. And one does not need K. to do this, I’ve given up many habits, mechanical patterns, long before I knew K.

…and yet here we both are on Kinfonet still going around in circles. Why is that? Perhaps we don’t see things as clearly as it may seem.

Of course not. And I’m even doubting whether discussing matters here have any usefulness…
We all have understood one or two things but we really lack the clarity needed for the whole job. May we help another? May another help us? I don’t think so, The only, maybe, useful thing is that in replying to something we are testing our clarity and understanding. If we are really serious, writing can be a way to put things in order. But anyway we must stand alone and give it up.

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If I was allowed to post less than 20 characters I would have said:

" Nicely put."

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