The Defilement of Arrogance

Webster’s defines arrogance as “a feeling of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims.” When we see someone acting in an arrogant way, we could be tempted to grab the nearest sharp object – a hatpin works well – and pop their inflated ego balloon. Don’t we all enjoy seeing arrogant folks get their comeuppance? After all, a lot of great comedy has been written and performed around this dynamic.

But what is it like when we are the arrogant ones? Like the defilement of humiliation, arrogance is all about me. My viewpoint, my opinion, my ego, my world-view. Do we go about our lives with an assumption that we’re “right” until we are somehow proven “wrong”? Perhaps we don’t notice our arrogance until it gets popped (a la the hatpin). When it is brought to our attention, do we care? Or do we dig our heels in and become even more rigid? It is so hard to just “be with” the pain that arises when we realize we have been arrogant.

When we discussed humiliation last week, Tuere offered up embarrassment as a feeling that is not as attached to the sense of self as humiliation, therefore the experience of embarrassment is much less painful. What is a less self-involved feeling when we’re concerned with arrogance? I have thought of confidence as perhaps the best example, because it expresses a poise and self-reliance that isn’t necessarily obnoxious! But let’s discuss it on Thursday, okay?

With metta,

Deb Slivinsky

Why Are We So Averse Of Unpleasantness?

Tonight we are going to start exploring the nature of specific defilements.  I have picked “humiliation” from our list of 108 defilements.  I think humiliation is the worst feeling ever.  I am noticing that I also hate even typing the word or thinking about it. Goodness!!

There is a sense that I must I fix whatever wrong occurred.  I think it is remarkable that simply bringing the word to mind brings up a flood of thoughts about past experiences of humiliation, very unpleasant body sensations and a lot of confusion.  In contrast, embarrassment does not carry so much weight to me.  Thinking about embarrassment feels lighter, almost funny.  I have some thoughts showing up and body sensations but not with the level of intensity of humiliation.  I can accept embarrassment without the need to change it.

Humiliation carries with it a sense of self.  Humiliation is about me.  It comes with a suitcase full of requirements and expectations.  I must defend and/or avenge myself.  It lessens me or my status.  Embarrassment, however, does not carry this same baggage.  It is an experience, an action, a moment in time.  It does not carry the same sense of unpleasantness for me as does humiliation.  This is an important distinction.  When unpleasantness is attached to the sense of self we lose a lot of capacity to simply “be with”.  So where is the escape – the freedom – the liberation from the suffering associated with humiliation?  We will explore this tonight.

Tuere

 

Annual Meeting Date Change

Annual Meeting moves to Oct 15

Every fall members of the Sangha gather for an informal business meeting around our anniversary. Everyone is invited. Please mark you calendar now for the morning of Saturday, October 15. We’ll have a potluck brunch starting at 10 AM and plan to be together a couple of hours. The “business” we discuss is how we structure our weekly time together including handling tasks, timing, what’s included and the sequence of those things, sharing leadership, etc. We’ll meet in the Common House of Spencer & Sheila’s cohousing community near 12th Avenue Arts. Please RSVP to let us know if you’d like to attend by making a comment below. Your comment will not be posted. We’ll send email information closer to event with exact directions.

108 Defilements

We’ve spent the last 3 weeks listening to segments of U Tejania’s talk on “What is Meditation”. Next week Tuere will not be with us. She suggests we explore the list of 108 Defilements and choose one to work with for the week.

Conclusion of Ashin Tejania’s Talk

This week we will listen to the final segment of U Tejania’s talk on What is Meditation.  I explained why we were spending so much time of this talk last Thursday, but I will repeat it here for those of you who could not attend. As soon as we delve into a more specific discussion of the defilements our minds will step into high gear.  We all know anger, jealousy, unkindness, vanity, dissatisfaction, pessimism, contempt, etc.  It fact, Venerable Pannavati gave us a list with 108 defilements and we can describe everyone of them with particularity!  The problem with this is that it leaves no room for awareness, wisdom and investigation.  We would simply be in a conversation about our opinions about each defilement rather than an exploration of experience.  So we are taking the time to consider how to practice in a way that allows us to open to our experiences and share the wisdom of that.

In the second part of U Tejania’s talk he speaks about awareness.  I took away four points in Vipassana practice:

  1. Skillfulness improves as we have more ease in awareness of the 6 sense doors.
  2. The object of Vipassana is wisdom and that comes from awareness of information coming in from all the sense doors during an experience.
  3. In Vipassana we want the mind to be agile and responsive so we know what the mind is aware of.
  4. Practicing awareness of the sense doors will over time – increase our sensitivity to the sense doors, increases our ease and capacity to be aware of the sense doors and increases out continuity of mindfulness.

Tomorrow we will listen and share our experiences around the last part of the tape.  I hope to see you there…

Tuere

Date Change – Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting Date Changed

Every fall members of the Sangha gather for an informal business meeting around our anniversary. Everyone is invited. Please mark you calendar now for the morning of Saturday, October 22 15. We’ll have a potluck brunch starting at 10 AM and plan to be together a couple of hours. The “business” we discuss is how we structure our weekly time together including handling tasks, timing, what’s included and the sequence of those things, sharing leadership, etc. We’ll meet in the Common House of Spencer & Sheila’s cohousing community on 12th Avenue. Please RSVP to let us know if you’d like to attend by making a comment below. Your comment will not be posted. We’ll send email information closer to event.

Resources for Sayadaw U Tejaniya

A daily practice reminder from Sayadaw U Tejaniya.
 For a full set of morning instructions from a 14-day Tejaniya retreat, click here
For a text-based archive of all TDTs click here

 

Continuing with Ashin Tejania’s Talk

This week we will listen to some more of U Tejania’s talk and explore how it shows up in our practice.  I like this style for dealing with the defilements because of its simplicity.  In the first half of the talk, I counted 4 things to hold in the back of your mind when faced with a defilement:

  1. Do not focus to hard:  When we focus too hard we are basically generating a lot more entanglement with the defilement.  If we can relax the body and mind we will be able to find our way out.
  2. Have the right attitude/view:  These defilements are just natural processes of the mind.  They are not me, my or myself.  In order to be liberated from the defilements we must be able to see and understand them as they truly are.  We cannot do this if we are entangled within the process.
  3. Just observe whatever is happening:  We may not start out observing but the sooner we are able to shift our focus from reacting to observing we are on the way to understanding the nature of the defilement including the release.  Observing means releasing our attachment and resistance to the presence of the defilement.
  4. Remain aware of the presence and absence of the defilement:  We want our attention to rest with what is happening not on our beliefs or opinion about it.  The more we are simply aware, the stronger our awareness gets and the more the mind learns.  Eventually the mind will understand the complete nature of the defilement, including how to prevent its arising.

We don’t actually DO anything – the mind is capable of releasing a defilement and preventing its arising naturally.  We have to first learn how to give the mind the space and time to learn what to do.  We do that by simply observing – or to put it more bluntly – we stay out of the way!  I will see you tomorrow night….

Tuere