Monday, January 21, 2013
Tolerance, Intolerance, Insulation. Where Do You Lean?
Mostly, I was assessing my progress or lack thereof. I was trying to get a read on where I was and how to move ever-forward.
I'm liberal but that doesn't make me tolerant. The two are not at all synonymous. I bristle and become intolerant of intolerance. Which is the same as intolerance.
We think that tolerance means that OTHER people should be tolerant of what WE believe...but since we're "right", we don't need to be tolerant of them. There's a flaw in that...do you see it? We also tend to demand tolerance of ourselves FIRST before we are willing to extend it to others. Does that move us ahead?
Race, religion, politics, who we love, human rights, who is in and who is out, even in terms of looks, weight, fashion...anything. We group, we segment, we put some people outside the circle and some in. And we feel perfectly justified in pushing our agenda. We're right so it's necessary to spend time convincing others of that, isn't it? How else will they know how to become "right" too?
I have so far to go that I probably shouldn't even be talking about it. But I'm processing my own intolerance. I'm trying to move forward with my spiritual development. It is honestly my goal to be able to see or hear, nearly anything (anything that doesn't require immediate action for safety or some such), and not have it even blip my radar screen. To, as Buddhists strive for, neither cling to or push away anything. To not be so sold on my own beliefs or views that any demonstration by others to the contrary flips my apple cart. If it does, my beliefs are not as strong and secure as I thought they were. If I react in defense of my views, I'm afraid. Somehow I'm not secure in my beliefs and I fear that if I'm exposed to something "other", it will challenge me, or harm me, or change me. Further, if I'm not secure in my views, I also have the tendency to want to convince others that my way is best. That's also ego-speak for "insecurity".
I know, at my deepest level, that *I* am the only thing I can truly impact and change. Larger scale change comes from the ripple effect. Each person just living their truth and trying their best.
So I wonder...what is the role of passion, zeal, action? I'm still wrestling with this. The balance of when to speak up and speak out, and what the purpose or goal is. I'm thinking, that most of the time, that is either the need of ego to sustain itself, or sometimes it's the human desire to stimulate its own brain with excitement. I wonder if it really has a place anymore. I don't know.
And where am I in this process? As I check in (which I feel for myself is important for me to do frequently), I see I am SLOWLY moving away from intolerance, but often that is just an illusion. Whenever I get triggered and feel defensive or feel polarized, I realize I have so far to go.
I think I am in a transitioning stage of insulation. I dare not confuse this with tolerance.
I'm not a very social person. I grow more and more hermit-like as I age. I just no longer feel the same intensity or pull for social stimulation or validation through others. It's still there...a little. I can feed that need through a VERY small network of friends I see on OCCASION, and through social networking on Facebook with a short list of "friends". So insulation is a natural tendency. I want to work to challenge my insulation illusion.
What do I mean by insulation or an insulation illusion? For me, what I mean is that insulation, for me, often means avoidance. The illusion is concluding that since I'm not having as many reactive feelings for or against something, that I've "arrived" or even made much progress. All it means is I'm refusing to expose myself to ideas that are contrary to my own...and in that avoidance, it is often peaceful. But I didn't learn to tolerate much of anything. I need to not get complacent and all superior.
I think insulation might be an important step for me. I can hear myself think when I'm not in conflict or constantly either affirming my own thoughts or attacking someone else's thoughts. Ultimately, that's why I left religion and dogma and church behind me. No matter which one I might choose, the tendency is to affirm my "rightness" by associating with the "community" of believers who think as I do, which leads me to think I need to, (by ego, or by the ego design built into the dogma), convert or convince others of their wrong ways and of my right ways. Anyone who believes in a different way is either a threat to be pushed against, or an ignorant being in need of my truth to show them the way out of their misguidedness. The longer I stay there, the more intrenched I become in the insulation of my chosen truth. And I believe that truth is chosen and not absolute. I choose what resonates with me the most, or I may choose what someone or some group or my family tells me is or should be my truth. Truth in and of itself may not ultimately exist, but be more of an evolution of thought and progression...towards what, is anyone's guess.
Even if I moved to embrace less traditional or "new age" ways of thinking, the polarization tendencies and the insulation tendencies are no different. As long as I need to bolster and support myself with other like-minded people, I'm not growing, I'm stagnating. I'm not secure, I've chosen the strength of the views of my pack for security.
I'm not saying I don't need or want human contact. I just don't need it very much and I WANT to arrive at a sense of self that allows me to think and feel and decide without consulting or comparing to anyone else. I have a long way to go.
Insulation also is a physical and geographic distance. It will be perhaps harder for me to challenge my points of intolerance than it might be for someone else, because I can easily stay in my insulated space of very little human contact, only letting in those who believe as I do. EXCEPT, I've married someone I dearly love having in my inner circle, who believes differently than I do about many things. I know he's here not only to love me, but to reflect back to me where my ego is in my way.
My insulation controls what I allow in. I've trimmed my Facebook page WAY back. In part because I want to interact with fewer people. But I further insulate by acknowledging that I have "hidden", electronically, those people's posts that bother me, or make me feel defensive, angry, passionate, uneasy. I just refuse to see it. Further, of late, I've taken to quite enjoying hiding single posts by people I haven't hidden totally. If it rubs me the wrong way, or tempts me to snark out, I hit the "hide this post" button, and poof...it's gone. That's not tolerance. That's insulation and control and intolerance by removal. That might not be a bad thing as long as I recognize it, and strive to eventually move beyond it. It's a step. I'm able at least to catch myself more often before I defend or bite out, or get myself worked up in my thoughts for a long period of time ruminating over it. I see it, I stop it. That seems to me a positive step, just not a definitive one for spiritual development.
Probably my next step (at least as far as Facebook posts are concerned), is to see it, feel the feeling that is stirring, let it be, allow it...remind myself it is A view. I don't even have to sort MY view from THEIR view or AGREE from DISAGREE. It is simply what it is and nothing more. It is A view. Eventually, I can expose myself to more: on the radio or the news or from the mouths of others. I may learn something if my mind is open. I may relax into a broader view of the world (how can that be bad?). It is my goal to work towards non-reactivity, non-attachment, non-revulsion....neutrality. I may have a view and others may have a view. My views HAVE and WILL change over time. I've lived long enough to see this. I let some things fall away and pick up some others. They serve me for a time and then they don't. Some things will remain constant. Same as everyone else.
To tolerate is to allow without malice or judgement or an investment in making something or someone different than they are. To be OK with that. There is always a place for me to vote my current views. There is always a place and time and way for me to think thoughts and believe beliefs.
I really want to become tolerant of "what is". For me, it is the only way I can hope to reach inner peace and love for all. In my heart of hearts, I believe that all are doing the very best they can with the tools they have and that we are all on a different place on the same path.
I don't come from tolerance. I am not surrounded by tolerance. But it all gets back to staying on the path putting one foot in front of the other, mindful of intentions and busy with the work I need to do on ME. If that work is ever done, then maybe I can branch out to work on others. And if I reach the point where I can branch out to work on others, I will need to realize I'm not done with my own work on me yet. Therein lies yet another paradox. Paradoxes are the bain of my existence. So I strive to learn to tolerate them.
The challenge then? The next phase? I guess, my plan at this stage is to let things ride a bit longer with greater levels of awareness. And over time, give myself small doses of exposure to acclimate and test myself. Over time I need to increase my exposures as I grow my ability to be tolerant and non-reactive, or not invested in protecting my position. The balancing act will be to strive to reach tolerance at the level of social engagement that fits for me. I don't need to be full-on watching every contrary thing or engaging with every contrary person or view. I just want to live my life, at the level that is right for me, in as fully tolerant and loving and compassionate a manner as is possible. It will take time. It may take all the time from this life and a few of those to come. The point isn't how long it takes. The point is my desire, my intention and my forward movement...even if ever-so-slight.