"I received an e-mail in late May taking exception to my article on Buddhism. . . . This particular e-mail was interesting because the person was obviously upset by the article, but the points she made in regard to the article were all points I had essentially made in the article. In other words, we were coming from the same Truth but evidently she could not see that because of either my manner of communication or her emotional triggers."
***"Of all of the commonly recognized Master Teachers, Buddha's teachings may have been the teachings that were the least twisted and distorted. Buddhism has certainly been of great benefit to millions of people and, even more importantly in my view, has not been used to do a great deal of damage - as has the corruption of other teachings. The distortions of teachings in religions such as Christianity and Islam have been used as weapons of abuse. Christian religion, because of it's incorporation into the power structure of Western Civilization, was (to quote my book) the biggest multi-national conglomerate ever to serve evil. Christianity was used as an excuse for torture and rape, for enslavement and genocide." ***"No matter how much intellectual knowledge we have of Truth, if we do not do the emotional healing then we are still giving power to the old wounds. Buddhism was a life saver for you. It helped you to overcome the shame of the abusive fundamentalist beliefs you grew up with. That is wonderful.
You are still reacting to those emotional wounds however. You interpreted my remarks about Buddha as being an attack and went on the defensive. When we are reacting to emotional wounds, when we are not observing that we have been emotionally triggered, then we cannot see or hear clearly. You misinterpreted my article for the very reason that I was trying to make a point about the necessity of doing the emotional healing."
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The Dance of Wounded Souls
|This page includes quotes from Codependence:
The Dance of Wounded Souls, quotes from other articles,
columns, or web pages written by Robert Burney,
and from an e-mail
from someone who was questioning his view of Buddhism.
Buddhism and Communicating Clearly
This particular e-mail was interesting because the person was obviously upset by the article, but the points she made in regard to the article were all points I had essentially made in the article. In other words, we were coming from the same Truth but evidently she could not see that because of either my manner of communication or her emotional triggers.
I, of course being human, want to think it was all about her emotional triggers. But, as I say in my book and in my articles, issues are not normally black and white but rather shades of gray. In other words, the codependent thinking wants me to go to a place of pointing the finger and saying it is all you - or go into a shame place where I think it is all my fault. The Truth lies someplace in between usually.
At the time I received this e-mail I was very busy trying to get a number of things done before leaving for close to three weeks in June. I did the preliminary work to make a web page out of my response to this e-mail because I thought it would be a good way of communicating about the difficulty of communicating clearly, and an example of how emotional triggers can keep us from seeing and hearing clearly - something I talked about in the article. (In the original article, I was also responding to an e-mail - which is the e-mail I am referring to in this quote.)
"I welcomed this inquiry about what I said about Buddhism because some people have reacted very strongly to the things which I said. They used my "wrongness" about Buddhism as an excuse to throw out everything I said. To throw out the baby with the bath water. As I state very clearly (seems clear to me) in the continuation quote below - the interpretation I use of Buddha's teaching is a tool to make a point. And as will be seen in later quotes (which the person who sent the e-mail had not gotten to at the time she wrote) I mention an interpretation of Buddha that aligns with what I am saying in the book. Ironically, the quote above and the quote immediately following are separated in the book by an example about how twisted and distorted interpretations of the Bible have been. Later in the book I talk about how many so-called "Christian" teachings today are the very opposite of the teachings of Jesus. Some Christians have dismissed my book (thrown out the baby) for the very same reasons some Buddhists have.
Now to get back to Buddha. We are told - by writers who wrote all of it down long after he was dead, of course - that Buddha taught that there were four Great Truths. (This is one interpretation of Buddha's teachings which is being used here as a tool. It is not meant to diminish or negatively reflect on the Spiritual value of other versions.)"
Quote from web page Buddha, Buddhism, and Japanese cultural dysfunction
In August of 1998, when I first started getting quite a bit of correspondence because of my original web site, I realized that I needed to set priorities for my time. I decided that if I was going to answer e-mail queries (or challenges) in any depth, I needed to answer them for a larger audience than just the person who sent the e-mail. I realized that I was not having good boundaries with myself if I put a lot of time and energy into individual answers to questions that would be of interest to a larger audience. Thus was born the Question and Answer pages of my original web site.
I did nine of those question and answer pages over a period of about 6 months and then kind of evolved out of doing them when I started this new domain site and my Joy2MeU Journal. The material in the article on Buddhism came out of one of those Q & A pages - as did my article on Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Last week I received another e-mail from the person who had sent the one sitting in my inbox. This e-mail was a compliment about my recent article on spiritual integration. It was kind of a backhanded compliment as the person said she could see that I had grown quite a bit since I had written my book.
My initial reaction was defensive - "Of course I have grown in the last 6 years, and besides your reaction to my article was all about your emotional wounds and not about me anyway." That was in my mind - not something I wrote back to the person. I have been in recovery long enough to avoid taking action based on reactions most of the time. I observed my reaction and just kind of let it have some space in my consciousness until more was revealed to me about it.
More is being revealed to me here today as I write this. I am realizing that this page is perfectly aligned with the writing I have been doing lately about the process of processing and finding some clarity and balance in communication - and in our relationship with self and life. This article is an opportunity for me to grow and get some clarity in my process - and perhaps shine some light on the process for some of you.
As I have stated previously, I teach best what I need most to learn. And as I write in my book and articles, it is difficult to communicate in language that is polarized and three-dimensional about a process that is multi-leveled and multi-faceted. Getting clear and honest with myself on all the levels and facets of me involved in any single interaction is a difficult task - trying to communicate clearly to another wounded human being without them reacting defensively as if they were being personally attacked, feels nearly impossible at times. Attempting to communicate these concepts and processes to a large audience is impossible - that is, it Truly is impossible that everyone will hear and understand what I am saying. That one I need to let go of, because I am powerless to do anything beyond be as clear and honest as I am capable of today.
Hopefully, this article will open some lines of communication with the person who sent the e-mails. Perhaps some of the rest of you might find some insight in it also. The quotes from the original e-mail are in dark green. The quotes from the Buddhism article are in dark blue and are indented along with any quotes from my book that were included in the article - as opposed to quotes from my book and other articles which I am inserting now, which will not be indented. (These are at least, the colors I am using - what color they will look like in Explorer I am not sure as it translates them quite differently sometimes.)
Subject: Buddha, Buddhism, and Japanese cultural dysfunction
I just read your recent article regarding Buddhism and how it is the "forefather" of codependence.
Well, in the first place I did not say that. In reading the quote from my book below, I guess I can see how you came to that assumption. In looking at this quote today, I can see that it might be a bit confusing.
"Buddha - who was obviously an important messenger in setting up this defense system - taught that the fourth great truth is that one must control conduct, thinking, and belief by following the eight-fold path of right views, right speech, right conduct, right effort, right etc., etc.
Buddha could have been the patron saint of Codependence with that teaching. Always trying to be in control and do the "right" things is Codependence (as is going to the opposite extreme). It is a defense system for survival in a hostile environment. It is based on beliefs that are backwards, reversed."
In the first paragraph, the reference to being an important messenger in setting up this defense system was not, to me, a negative reference at all. It was more in line with this later quote from the book:
"Buddha carried Truth and served as a messenger for teaching people how to protect themselves until it was time to awaken. [In the context of today's healing, it can be seen that Buddha's fourth great truth (one must control conduct, thinking, and belief) can be interpreted as referring to developing internal and external boundaries, practicing discernment, choosing an enlightened perspective, and having an honest, balanced emotional relationship with self. The need to choose right views, right conduct, right effort, etc., in this context can be seen to refer to integration and balance - not right versus wrong.]"
It also ties in with what I said above about the problem of using polarized language.
"Unfortunately, in sharing this information I am forced to use language that is polarized - that is black and white.
When I say that you cannot Truly Love others unless you Love yourself - that does not mean that you have to completely Love yourself first before you can start to Love others. The way the process works is that every time we learn to Love and accept ourselves a little tiny bit more, we also gain the capacity to Love and accept others a little tiny bit more.
When I say that you cannot start to access intuitive Truth until you clear out your inner channel - I am not saying that you have to complete your healing process before you can start getting messages. You can start getting messages as soon as you are willing to start listening. The more you heal the clearer the messages become."
I try to communicate in language that is not black and white - I make a great effort to, as much as it is humanly possible, to not give right and wrong messages. That polarized perspective is a part of the disease.
One of the reasons that my articles tend to be long, is my attempt to try to communicate on multiple levels at the same time and not to give out shame bearing right and wrong messages. (Something I talk about in the second part of my latest e-mail update.) Inevitably, it is nearly impossible to do that given the limitations of language, and the diverse levels of perception through which readers are interpreting my words..
Codependence is not in my belief, wrong or bad - it is a dysfunctional defense system that has some really harmful consequences. It is a defense system that helped us to survive. It is very important that we had emotional and behavioral defense systems to insure the survival of the human race in a hostile environment. Codependence did not result from anyone's teachings. The teachings of the Master Teachers were responses to the planetary conditions that caused the hostile conditions. (The planetary conditions that have now partially changed due to the dawning of the new Age of Healing and Joy.)
Of all of the commonly recognized Master Teachers, Buddha's teachings may have been the teachings that were the least twisted and distorted. Buddhism has certainly been of great benefit to millions of people and, even more importantly in my view, has not been used to do a great deal of damage - as has the corruption of other teachings. The distortions of teachings in religions such as Christianity and Islam have been used as weapons of abuse. Christian religion, because of it's incorporation into the power structure of Western Civilization, was (to quote my book) the biggest multi-national conglomerate ever to serve evil. Christianity was used as an excuse for torture and rape, for enslavement and genocide.
So, I was not saying that Buddha was the "forefather" of codependence. I was also not making a negative judgment about any messenger who taught people to protect themselves and try to live life in a manner that would work better. It is good to teach functional belief systems. I believe that Buddha was an important messenger who taught some wonderful things - and my saying that in the first paragraph of the quote above, was not a negative judgment.
Now, the first line in the second paragraph, is a little bit different story. The line that says "Buddha could have been the patron saint of codependence . ." was actually a throw away line. It was a laugh line. My book evolved out of a talk I had done for several years. That line was one that got laughs and lightened up the atmosphere. It was good and important in the flow of the talk. Written on paper it is, of course, hard to see that it is being said facetiously. (I also acknowledge that your use of "forefather" may have been a bit facetious itself.)
Although it clearly says "could have" rather than "was" - I can see where you could make an inaccurate inference from that line - especially coming on the heals of the paragraph prior.
I am sorry if the wording caused you to think that I was blaming codependence on Buddha.
First, to the larger point of your article, I would agree with you (this after living in Japan for 4 years) and witnessing first hand the mirror image of American dysfunction.....eg. the agrandizement of the individual (western civilization) and the agrandizement of "other" (Asia civilization). For me it was very enlightening to see this dicotomy. And it made me look hard at myself and my notions that I had identified as "me" but were actually the product of my culture. In the end, my conclusion is the same as yours.....the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two notions. . . .individual / other. And there are strong merits and nuggets of truth within both.
"The goal of this dance of Recovery is integration and balance. That means celebrating being a tree while also glorying in being a part of the forest. Recovery is a process of becoming conscious of our individual wholeness and our ONENESS with all."
Anyway, the points you made regarding Buddhism....I could make similar points concerning Christianity. (Having been raised fundamentalist, bible banging southern Christian) My main point would be--in either case--Its really not about the teaching....but what a culture and people and time have done with that teaching.
We agree, again.
"The teachings of all the Master Teachers, of all the world's religions, contain some Truth along with a lot of distortions and lies. Discerning Truth is often like recovering treasure from shipwrecks that have been sitting on the ocean floor for hundreds of years - the grains of Truth, the nuggets of gold, have become encrusted with garbage over the years."
Perhaps you are aware that there are various schools
or Buddhism...and that as it migrated from India eastward, each culture
added its own twist on the teaching....and of course this twist was colored
by the culture it touched. A similar pattern occured with Christianity....moving
from the early church to catholism, luthernism, calvinism,
The particular spin that you have presented on Buddhism sounds a lot like the Zen (in China Cha 'an) or Tibetan versions. There is another school....that I personally adhere to-Therevada Buddhism--that has the same concepts, however the spin on them -- its a lot easier to "hear" the true intent of the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (the first Buddha).
So my comments that follow come from this school
of Buddhism....rather than the Zen/Tibetan version.
Observing--involves embracing these things that arise with love and compassion and acceptance. It is a tool.....observing is a means by which you work thru the layers embodied in these emotions/thoughts. These thoughts and feelings inherently speak volumes about one's underlying false beliefs, black and white thinking, etc. However, if we "react' to these things with aversion, judgement,-- thoughts that contain the word "should"--we will never see from whence these things arise. You never get to the heart of the matter.
Meditation--observing--is about healing. When you sit and still the mind....things naturally present themselves to be healed. Be it your body, your heart, your mind. It is about exploring what you are about.....the wiring...and discovering your true nature. Buddha nature--which is the basically the equivalent to your precept that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
One of the things that I emphasize to clients over and over again, is that part of taking our power back is not taking life and other people's behavior personally. I speak over and over again, in my book and these pages, about how the key to healing is taking the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level. How important it is to stop giving power to the "shoulds."
As I say in the article:
"I have had many clients who have practiced sitting in meditation for many years, who were taught to use meditation as a way of repressing the feelings - "observing" the feelings is not the same as owning and feeling and experiencing. Just as some "new age" or Metaphysical people use Spiritual Truths as another tool to deny the feelings . . . so too have practices of observing the feelings been used by some to avoid feeling the feelings.In the inner child healing paradigm that I teach, the first and most vital step is detachment.
"Because Codependence is a reactive phenomena it is vital to start being able to detach from our own process in order to have some choice in changing our reactions. We need to start observing our selves from the witness perspective instead of from the perspective of the judge.
. . . We need to own that we have the power to choose where to focus our mind. We can consciously start viewing ourselves from the "witness" perspective. . . This is what enlightenment and consciousness raising are all about. Owning our power to be a co-creator of our lives by changing our relationship with ourselves. We can change the way we think. We can change the way we respond to our own emotions. We need to detach from our wounded self in order to allow our Spiritual Self to guide us."
Learning to Love our self - Inner Child Healing
2) Ceasing to exist. This is not nilhism. This is about a concept that most find very unappealing and really don't understand. First one of the basic teachings in Buddhism: That there is no self.
That the things we identify as "I" are transient and constantly changing.
This teaching arises from a belief that we are interconnected. Made of the same thing--and we are not separate--from each other, from the "divine" from the universe.
Best way I can convey this idea is a cartoon I once saw. In an ocean a wave suddenly laments: "Oh how I suffer so. The other waves are so big, and I am so tiny. Some waves are well off and I am lousy". Another wave answers "Its because you haven't seen clearly your "original face" that you suffer. . .A wave is just your temporary form. You're really water. When you realize that your fundamental essence is water, you won't be confused about being a wave and your suffering will go away." This concept of no self.....the dissolution of self....it ties into your next point and mine.
The wave thing is good - I like that. But who said anything about nihilism? Of course there is no self. The illusion of individual identity is part of the Illusion of separation from the ONENESS. Or as I put it in the latest thing I wrote - as an addendum to my last Update newsletter:
"On the Highest level, the Absolute Truth - the only True Reality of the God-Force, Goddess Energy, Great Spirit, what I call in my Trilogy, The Holy Mother Source Energy - is the ONENESS of the energy of ALL THAT IS vibrating at the frequency of Absolute Harmony, which is LOVE. At that level, there is only LOVE. We are all part of that ONENESS, of that LOVE.
The reality in which we are experiencing being separate, individual entities called human beings in a linear three-dimensional time/space reality is an illusion, a dream, a figment of the Great Spirit's imagination. It is a holographic illusion caused by the illusion that energy can exist separate from The Universal Source. Within this Illusion, there exist many other illusions - death, suffering, fear, anger, polarity, scarcity and lack, etc. There are many levels to that Illusion."
"One of the things that I was very happy to see was that the person raising the question about Buddhism was able to express her reaction to what I said and then read on until she came to an understanding of my perspective. One of the sad things for me to watch in the reactions that people have had to my book is that some of them let the disease dictate their reactions in exactly some of the same ways that I describe as the disease dynamics."It is not bad or wrong or shameful or anything like that, that you were reacting to my article. Your reaction was a perfect example of the point I was trying to make about the importance of doing the emotional healing.
"I believe that Buddha was one of the great Master Teachers in world history. As I say in the quote from my book above, I believe that Buddha was teaching about integration and balance. The thing that I see missing in the ways that Buddha's teachings have been passed on, is feeling the feelings. Actually owning, experiencing, and releasing the emotional energy, is to me a vital part of the healing process. The more that we detach from the feelings - that is, adapt a Spiritual perspective that: helps us to not take them so seriously and personally; helps us to take any toxic shame out of the process; - the less power they have. But it is still vital to feel and release the energy and not just approach our emotions from an intellectual perspective."No matter how much intellectual knowledge we have of Truth, if we do not do the emotional healing then we are still giving power to the old wounds. Buddhism was a life saver for you. It helped you to overcome the shame of the abusive fundamentalist beliefs you grew up with. That is wonderful.
You are still reacting to those emotional wounds however. You interpreted my remarks about Buddha as being an attack and went on the defensive. When we are reacting to emotional wounds, when we are not observing that we have been emotionally triggered, then we cannot see or hear clearly. You misinterpreted my article for the very reason that I was trying to make a point about the necessity of doing the emotional healing.
That is the reason that I am writing this page, as an example of how much power the emotional wounds have until we own, experience, and release the feelings in a healthy grieving process. I thank you for this opportunity.
Had you been observing yourself within an inner child healing paradigm, you would have realized that you were in reaction - and that your interpretation of what you were reading would not be clear and accurate.
3) Existence is suffering. This teaching is not about enduring suffering, that needs are suffering, etc. It is about being born and by this very act we inherently accept the illusion of self. The creation of "self" is inherently tied into a notion of separateness. This "Self" is created/refined by discrimating thinking. Something you talk about in your book and web page. We gain identity through comparison to "other". We define ourself by these comparisons to "other". From this identity....comes feelings of inadequacy, lacking, a sense of emptiness, unworthiness, etc......SUFFERING! To realize this illusion....to come to the realization that there is NO OTHER.....that we are all one and the same at our essence is the beginning of the end of suffering. The ultimate end to suffering is to "go home" as you (and I) put it. We cease to exist in this "identity" and join and become one with the greater "oneness" of the universe. The sense of Separateness is completely lost when this happens.
Again, we agree. This page is getting too long so I will not, on the remaining points, use quotes to point out how I said these things in my book, and in the very article to which you were reacting.
4) Right speech. Right action. Right vocation, etc. This is teaching is NOT based on "correctness" or "write and wrong" or "black and white" thinking. The BASIC precept of buddhism is that "discriminating thinking is the source of all suffer"! The original intention of this teaching is obviously lost by using this type of language.
This teaching is about awareness. Acting with awareness.....of the underlying intentions and drives, motives. Its about the universal law of cause and effect. In other words, every action we make......has an obvious consequence. Being aware of our every actions---and the underlying motives and drives and intentions we have with these things.....prevents us from being unmindful. It's about acting from the heart with love and compassion and not acting from unskillful behavior. (E.g. acting in response to the voices of the many wounded children in all of us). Re: unskillful behavior---we are only accountable for the level of understanding we currently have. For example, the universal law of Thou shalt not kill--at first may be understood to apply to people and grow to be animals..to not swatting a fly. It is the level of our spiritual understanding that we are accountable for.
Once more, I could quote from my book and my article. My point is that you did not have enough awareness when you read this article to see how you were reacting. It does not matter how much intellectual spiritual understanding we have if we are still reacting to emotional triggers, to our buttons being pushed. Until awareness of the power of our emotional wounds allows us to start gaining a higher level of emotional honesty, we cannot clearly see all the levels involved in our intentions, drives, and motives.
The level of one's emotional healing directly affects the capacity to integrate spiritual understanding into our relationships - with life, with other people, with ourselves.
5) The Craving.....is NOT referring to a thirst for life. Its about looking outside oneself for things that can only be satisfied internally. Love, wholeness, acceptance. Outer dependence for identity and soothing the internal emptiness and anguish.
Not unlike what your book proports codependency to be. It is the insatiable "hungry ghosts" living within all of us. We try to fill this emptiness--sooth the anguish inside us with food, sex, materialism, ambition, etc.
Again, buddhism is not about these things being BAD or GOOD.
Buddhism is about consciously pursuing the extinction of this type of thinking. Rather, its the underlying intention that is the key and what we are to be mindful of. Do we seek these things to satiate the hungry ghosts or are these pursuits arising from another (skillful) intention e.g. based on love and compassion and equamity????
Again, much of what you say is almost in the same words I use - yet you see us as being in disagreement. The disagreement I have with how many people interpret Buddhism is the exclusive focus on "the extinction of this type of thinking" - without dealing with the emotional wounds.
My final point on this matter: Your experience with "buddhists" is probably not unlike my childhood experience with Christians or New Agers or some 12 steppers. They take a teaching.....and use it for an ends to avoid feeling their pain, loneliness, emptiness, to give them a sense of "superiority" to others, to foster their own black and white thinking. It just becomes twisted--shaped in their mind to reaffirm their original stinking thinking. Its not the teaching.....its the practitioners.
My experience with Buddhists is that too often they have not done the emotional healing and do not even know what emotional healing entails. I have never been overtly shamed by a Buddhist like I have by certain Christians, New Agers, or Twelve Steppers. I have often had problems communicating with Buddhists because they are reacting out of emotional trigger buttons that they have learned to observe but not to heal. Your e-mail is a perfect example of someone "not having the eyes to see or the ears to hear" because of unhealed emotional wounds - because you are trapped in a perspective of emotions that limits and distorts your interpretations.
I hope that you can understand what I am trying to say here. I hope that you can see that the important points you were making in your e-mail were not in disagreement with what I believe and write. The reason you thought we were in disagreement was because of your emotional defensiveness. That was the point of my contention with Buddhism as it has been interpreted by practitioners.
The emotional healing is vital. We can only start to have some True freedom from the past by grieving for our wounds - by releasing the emotional energy that causes us to have emotional triggers. By grieving for how we were set up to have a dysfunctional relationship with life.
"We, each and every one of us, has an inner channel to Truth, an inner channel to the Great Spirit. But that inner channel is blocked up with repressed emotional energy, and with twisted, distorted attitudes and false beliefs.
We can intellectually throw out false beliefs. We can intellectually remember and embrace the Truth of ONENESS and Light and Love. But we cannot integrate Spiritual Truths into our day-to-day human existence, in a way which allows us to substantially change the dysfunctional behavior patterns that we had to adopt to survive, until we deal with our emotional wounds. Until we deal with the subconscious emotional programming from our childhoods.
We cannot learn to Love without honoring our Rage!
We cannot allow ourselves to be Truly Intimate with ourselves or anyone else without owning our Grief.
We cannot clearly reconnect with the Light unless we are willing to own and honor our experience of the Darkness.
We cannot fully feel the Joy unless we are willing to feel the Sadness.
We need to do our emotional healing, to heal our wounded souls, in order to reconnect with our Souls on the highest vibrational levels. In order to reconnect with the God-Force that is Love and Light, Joy and Truth."
One thing that I often tell people, is that it is only necessary to do inner child healing if you want to have functional relationships with other people. It is possible to go up on a mountain and meditate one's way to a level of connection with ONENESS, with Love and Joy, with peace and serenity and maintain it for long periods of time - as long as you do not try to have intimate relationships with other people. If however, one is going to live in the world among people without giving other people the power to push our emotional buttons, then it is important to heal our emotional wounds. We can only heal up to a certain point without doing the emotional work.
"It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child's experiences, honor that child's feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around."
I hope that you can see how your emotional reactions were clouding your vision and do not just go into defensive reaction again. It is so important to be working on seeing as clearly as possible. I hope that I have communicated here clearly enough to utilize the wonderful example that you presented me in a way that will help some people who read this to understand the importance of emotional healing to making progress in achieving clarity in vision and communication.
Unfortunately this person obviously did not get the point - and did go into defensive reaction again. Sometime after reading this page, she posted a negative review of my book on Amazon.com. It is sad when people are so blinded by their wounds that they will even create negative Karma because they are reacting defensively. It is sad that this person did not have enough awareness to observe her reactions and see that she was doing exactly what I was describing - and that I was not attacking her or Buddhism. Hopefully one day she will be able to see herself more clearly. - RB 11-17-00