Thursday, September 26, 2013

Comment from a daughter on Attachment to Emptiness


I am so glad to read your post about attachment to emptiness. My father has been stuck in emptiness for years now. What you described is exactly
what I believe he is going through. My dad is late 50s, retired and has been very successful with his work. He enjoys golfing, listening to music, and traveling and that is about all I can say he enjoys.

From talking with my mom I understand that when I was about 8 years old Dad was practicing meditation very heavily and would stay up for hours every night to practice.  As soon as he reached awakening and realized the true nature of the way things are everything about him was completely different.  He no longer showed love or affection towards my mom, me, or my brother. He has no empathy, sympathy, intrigue in life, joy, passions, and seems to have no emotions at all.
He also suffers from depression so I'm not sure if that comes into play with all of this. He suffered a lot as a child with abuse from his father so I believe being in a cave of emptiness is his way of not dealing with suffering anymore. 
He is so far into his own cave it really baffles me as to how someone can not have any affection, feelings, or a drive for life at all. He will not allow anyone or anything to break this wall he has put up in order protect himself from the world. It has taken away my dad from me and I have no recollection of him ever being a "normal" father to me and my brother or husband to my mom.
I just discovered your blog last night and it now makes complete sense to me that this is exactly what he is going through. I don't know if it's possible to get him back but his awakening experience has taken away the once fun, life-loving, excitable, passionate man he once was. There seems to be no emotions, feelings or anything at all behind his eyes. I am used to him being this way, I don't remember a time where he hasn't been like this. But I do wish he was different and it makes me sad to know if this hadn't happened maybe I would have my dad with me today, not this robot of a man. 

Dear A.                                                                                                 
You are a very perceptive young woman! I agree-from what you have stated here, the description in the blog post seems remarkably accurate for your dad, doesn't it? Amazing that you found it! Of course there could be many other reasons for your dad’s behavior, but let's assume he fits the model described in the blog post. I'm also assuming that your dad was practicing with little or no access to a teacher who had succeeded at leaving the cave. Many current teachers do not seem to grasp the enormous importance of this issue or understand how to help people exit the cave and integrate the nondual awareness into everyday life. It does not seem to be nearly as big an issue in the Zen tradition in which I was trained, which constantly stresses the need to embody and manifest the realization in ordinary life. Contemporary writers who routinely address this issue besides me include: Francis Bennett (blogs on Face Book; Ed Muzica (also a psychologist); Adyashanti; and Margot Ridler ( I can assure you it is very difficult to nudge, cajole, educate, or in any other way induce someone to leave the cave. It somehow has to happen of its own-much like the original awakening. However, accurate information and teaching, both before and after awakening, seems to help and even be necessary.

I am giving a talk at the Self Inquiry Group in Raleigh at the beginning of October. It will eventually be available on the internet. Several of my past talks are available on their Vimeo site now and might be useful to you, although these talks do not directly address the issue you raise. Would it be ok with you if I quote part of your note to me during my talk, leaving out personally identifying elements? I would also like to post your note on my blog-but only with your permission. This issue is one of my pet peeves about the current 'awakening' marketplace. I believe it deserves far more attention than it is receiving. In short, the issue is: having had a deep and abiding awakening-so what? How does that change you? Do you become more present, tuned into the experience of others, more skillful and effective in the world, more loving, empathic, more real? If not-why not? What needs to happen next? The essential problem is that those in the cave do not believe there is a 'next'. Yet there is always more-always further. I hope these thoughts are validating and helpful. Keep reading and questioning. I believe you are on the right track. Good luck and stay in touch as needed.

Dear Michael

Thanks for the extra information. I can definitely find it useful. I think what you are discussing is really important to individuals seeking the awakening experience and I agree that it needs more attention. People need to know how it could change them and that the search for truth isn't over once awakening has been reached. What needs to happen next is essential knowledge for people who go about the practice without an experienced teacher or guide, or else they might mistaken the practice as complete and be stuck in the cave forever, which could have unfortunate effects on others around them.  

If my situation can be useful for teaching others, than I have no problem with you using it during your talks and on your blog. Thanks again so much for the insight and for teaching people about these issues. They definitely need more addressing! 

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