Tag Archives: zen

Zen as Aikido of the soul

This entry may be a bit different from most.

I’m currently working on a triptych of posts – dealing with the various forms and methods of control that I employ as a Dominant, and I hope that it will be worth waiting for, as it is taking me some time to write to my standards, but in the meantime I have something else to say.

This is the core of my own personal belief system and a telling window into my own soul, if such things exist.

I don’t experience emotions in the same way that people who are born with them do.  I don’t mean to imply that I was born without the ability to emote at all – of course not – I would have been institutionalized long before now if that were the case, but I was born neurologically different.  I had Asperger’s syndrome, or something very much like it.  Throughout my childhood, I was always the odd one out.  While my ‘friends’ would play around me, I was often content to sit by myself, still playing, but the only interactions that interested me were the ones in my own head, or the things in front of me which I could control.  I put together a lot of models and puzzles as a child…

I say I had Aspergers, because I no longer believe that I meet the diagnostic criteria for that particular syndrome, and the only reason I can imagine for that is that I rebuilt myself and made it less of a part of me.

Much later in life, when I felt that the Roman Catholic Church that I was raised to revere had failed me, I sought answers in other places.  I found some, and I missed others, but I learned in the process.

When it became apparent to me that my life would remain one as a social outcast if I did not conform, I made a choice.  I would not only conform, but I would exceed the norm.  This has often been the choice I would make when I had the time, energy, and resources to do so.  As a young man, I had those things in spades.

I watched people interact.  I emulated their behaviors.  I taught myself to be human.  And somewhere along the way, I broke myself, several times.  I was not prepared to deal with the weight of the emotions that crushed me when I took them upon myself.  I was not prepared to deal with the staggering uncertainty that comes in the wake of allowing that information to percolate up from within me.  I was not even aware that I possessed such things – I could see them in other people, and I could behave as they do, but it wasn’t until I rebuilt myself around that model that I became a real boy and could hurt so deeply – and I do hurt deeply – all the fucking time.  Not in the sense that I am in constant pain – for while that may be true, it is of a physical nature and I hold my soul separate from that infection.. I am happy and hurting at the same time.

I came to learn that emotions are beautiful things.  Each one has its place and time.  Each is important information that one ignores at great personal risk.  Happiness and love are certainly my favorites and I am blessed to have much of both lately, but pain and sorrow are also useful things.

I found the practice of Zen along the way, and I have employed it to deflect, avoid, and trap emotions from time to time.  Zen became my method of self-defense against the mental assailants that I could not overpower and so it became my Aikido of the soul…  But the greatest gift that Zen gave me was the realization that I don’t matter.

My readers will dispute that fact, and while I concede the point that my continued existence provides financial, emotional, and spiritual support to a lot of people – more than I ever realized – it is also true that none of you matter.

Please do not be offended by this.  The universe is a very large place and we are but motes floating in the stream of time.  None of us matter.

This is an empowering concept.  It allows me to carry the understanding that the universe is so much greater than I am, and that there is so much in life that is unfathomable to a mere man like me.  I do not need to understand it all and I am unable to do so.

It is my atheist way of understanding the Will of God.

Future generations of humans will be impacted by the things I do, but the net affect will be small.  I can control things to an extent.. I can try to be good, and I can try to make sure that the microscopic things that are a part of my world take the best turns that they can, but my missteps will not derail the universe.  Nothing is so horrible that it can never be forgotten.

A billion years from now, our descendants will appear nothing like us – they may not even be organic creatures, but they will carry forward in their own microscopic and easily forgotten way… until the universe itself cools and falls apart.

This is not fatalism – it is hope.

My past mistakes have already been forgotten by most.  The horrible things that haunt my dreams will be completely forgotten when I am gone, to trouble my descendants no more.  The horrible things that were done to me are already being erased by the love and compassion that surrounds me.  I have forgiven, and I will forget – or I will die and whatever dreams may come from that will not be plagued by the evils of my past, but will be enlightened by the hope of my present and future selves.

I am still physically broken, and I cannot focus the power of my mind to solving hard problems yet, but I am mending and my soul is mending as well.

This was pretty self serving today, but I will follow up soon with things both erotic and instructional.  Thank you for your patience as I heal.

 

  • Rant

Enemies

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”  — Abraham Lincoln, sort of…

Abraham Lincoln actually did say that – but it’s a bit out of context.  He was responding to a woman who posited that he was not being hard enough on the newly conquered South.  She made the assertion that he should not be attempting to rebuild the South or to refer to southerners as he had – as men who were blinded by circumstance.  He was a learned man – though an autodidact – and he paraphrased the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.  What Lincoln said in response to her query was, “Why madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

And so he did.

I’m an extremely fortunate man.  I’ve said this before, and I say it often enough that I would not blame you for thinking that I am trying to convince myself of the truth of the statement through repetition, but it is true.

I’ve been stressed out, tired, grumpy, and unhappy lately.  When this happens to me, my desire is to turtle.  I want to shut out the rest of the world and just sort of lick my wounds until I feel ready to face reality again.  Of course, this manifests itself in even further enhanced grumpiness as every little incursion into my world even from those that I love is an invasion into my need for isolation.  I snap at my kids; I snap at my girlfriend; I snap at my colleagues.

I’ve been doing this all week, since I got back from my trip to the Middle East.

At first I could blame jet lag.  It was almost certainly a factor.  I wasn’t eating, my sleep was off, and I was just generally miserable.  But I think it goes deeper than that…

Everything in my life right now is in flux.  I just settled my accident case – though not satisfactorily – this is one instance where being a Caucasian male definitely works against me.  My project at work is being transferred away, and I’ve been wanting to find a new job for quite some time.

My back was aggravated by the air travel – I can’t sit for long periods of time without it causing my back problems – but it brought one thing into sharp focus.. job stress is FAR more harmful to my health and my back issues than even sitting on a plane in coach for 20 hours.

Job stress is killing me – possibly literally.

I like to think of myself as being reasonably grounded, as being Zen in places where others cannot be.  I like to try to react unemotionally but with empathy, or at least compassion.  I try to be rational in all things, and yet, in this instance, I am most un-rational.

I seem to have an expiration date when jobs are involved.   For the first six months or so in any new job, I am in love all over again.  Even if I’m doing something very similar, I have many new things to learn, new people to meet, new technologies to play with, and new experiences of nearly every type.  Eventually the newness wears off and I develop confident competence – I become an expert and I begin to take on leadership roles, and that works for another year or two.  I invariably come across and begin to resent those that are either not competent or who lack the ethic that I bring to task.  At first I silently compensate for these low performers, but eventually I begin to resent them, and that’s when the downward spiral begins.

In my current job, I’ve been spiraling for a bit more than a year now.  For awhile I was able to achieve some sort of emotional distance, but eventually even this failed me and I find myself where I am now, angry and feeling exploited.  I began to stop compensating for the lack of ability in my peers and rather than reacting as I expect, those further up the corporate totem pole bring their ire to me directly – the things that I was doing to compensate for the lack of ability or focus in others are no longer getting done, and despite the fact that these things were never my responsibility, the fact that I am now no longer doing them becomes my fault and my shortcoming.

The injustice of this only serves to further increase my anger and unhappiness.

And now, recent market changes have made it economically irresponsible for me to leave my job and seek employment elsewhere, so, as you might imagine, I’ve been feeling a bit trapped.

And what do I do when I feel trapped?

I pull in and react to the rest of the world with anger and resentment.

I could rail at the gods.  I could pull back and say to myself and the rest of the universe, “this is unfair! Why me?!”   I could blame others – the colleagues that I have been carrying, the management who is laying the blame at my feet, the Universe itself for being a cold, uncaring place.  I could lament my misfortune and no one would blame me for it.  My friends would support me, “you’re right, that’s unfair!  You deserve better.”  And I would be grateful for their support.

But that’s not the way out of this.

It’s in my nature to take charge of things.  It’s in my nature to automatically pitch in and take over when things are faltering.  It’s part of who I am to sacrifice my own time or my own desires in order to bring the team across the line.  And I do it, over and over again.  And I’m unlikely to stop – and even if I did, that wouldn’t make me happy.

The problem is that I can’t do it forever.  Not without developing resentment.  This is normal.  This is not a violation of Zen principles – to deny my own feelings would be turning a blind eye to the most important thing in my universe – Me.  And while martyrs get nice things written about them more often than not, martyrs also tend to die miserable deaths, and I’m not quite ready to lay down and die yet, so I need to take care of me.

So, how do I get out of this, you ask?

I turn my enemies into friends.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I abhor my boss.  She’s incompetent, lazy, bigoted, and just plain mean at times.  She is not a leader, and in my opinion, does not deserve her position.  She is barely capable of holding on to it, and if I were willing to sacrifice my own position, I could certainly bring her down.  But I won’t do that.

I’m going to make her into my best friend.

I am going to do everything in my power to force her to succeed where she is floundering now.

I am going to change my world.

Now, while this is something of a personal epiphany that I’ve had, and while I’m arrogant enough to think that it might be worthy of reading, it’s really not got anything to do with the focus of this blog, which is BDSM specific – for the most part.

So, to bring things back into focus, I’ll extrapolate from D/s philosophy and put this into terms that almost make sense in that context.

I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall by trying to Dominate my boss and my colleagues.  I’ve been trying to expose – bluntly at times – how fucked they really are if they don’t do as I’ve been suggesting.  I held my head high, knowing that I didn’t create the situation in which they find themselves so thoroughly fucked – I just did nothing to prevent it.

And even though I know better – I tried to pretend that those two things are not the same thing.

Just as a lie of omission is still a lie – to allow something to occur through inaction when I could have prevented it is the same as causing it myself.

And so.. I was Dominating nothing.  I was allowing things to happen when I could have controlled them.  The proper thing to do for me – the proper thing to do to respect my own very nature – is not to get out of the way and let bad things happen, but to control them to create the best possible outcome that I can, and I was not doing that.  So – things were falling apart, and I have been extremely unhappy to watch it unfold.

You’d think that I’d have some sort of schadenfreude inspired glee at watching things fall apart, but really it’s just made me a mess.

No more.

I don’t care who gets credit for things happening as they should – I never really have.  So – I’m going to fix it, and in so doing, fix myself.

 

The Zen Dom

Over the weekend I ran across this – Letting Go of Attachment – and I recognized in it a philosophy that I have been trying, not always with the greatest of success, to implement for my own life.

I have to wonder how Lori Deschene and Leo Babauta would feel about being linked to a site run by a BDSM Dom who named himself Rant and started this blog as a place to complain about what he saw as problems in a community that he had turned his back on, returned to, and found lacking… but the truth is that I find them to be inspiring, and in the very short time that I’ve been writing I’ve changed my outlook on so many things, just from putting the words out there and listening to the thoughts of others.

You may have some questions about how it’s possible that I, admittedly a Dom, possibly a control freak, could possibly hope to live without attachment.  It seems antithetical to the very mantle which I’ve just taken up, does it not?  I mean, the essence of Domination is control, and my own personal road to happiness was rocky and uncertain until I embraced that mindset for myself again and accepted my Dominant nature.  How could those two things possibly coexist in the same person?

Perhaps they are not as incompatible as they might at first seem…

Ever since I first read Leaves of Grass in high school, this has been a favorite passage of mine, from Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman.

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then, I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Even as a teenager, I understood and related to those words as part of the complex structure that makes up me and I have used them as a balm over the years to quiet my worried mind.

My personal journey to get to where I am in life now has been interesting, but I am finally and quite possibly for the first time in my life, happy.

I’ve studied many religions, practiced several, sought wisdom in self-help books and the writings of others.  I have been through individual therapy, group therapy, couples’ therapy, and psychiatric assistance.  I have used drugs, both natural and synthetic, prescribed for me or found through illicit channels.  I have done yoga, exercise, meditation, hypnosis, and attempted to express myself in art.  I have retreated into virtual worlds and even made my own.  I have worked as a video game programmer, for a private investigator, and even as a sex worker.  I have cleaved to my family and ostracized myself from them.  I have told the fortunes of others and cast rods to divine my own future.  I have been married, twice.  I have had several intimate relationships and lots and lots of sex.  I have driven fast cars and ridden running horses.  I have tried almost everything that anyone has ever suggested to me as a way to become enlightened, to lift my dark spirit and to try to find happiness.  It does not surprise me at all, today, that none of those things worked for me.

I am a Dominant.  I am an atheist.  I am a pacifist.  I am a father and a guide and a feminist.  I am worthy of being loved and I love myself.  I am calm.

Throughout all of those experiences that I detail above I fought my inner self.  I denied my feelings and persecuted myself, borrowing the Catholic guilt that I was raised with to hold my own desires at bay… I told myself that the me who desired to Dominate was wrong.  That each person is his own individual and it was wrong for me to want to have that authority over another.  I found myself submitting to others, not in the BDSM sense, but in a very real-world sense, all of the time.  I did not have the confidence to stand up for my feelings because they were wrong.  I hated myself for these horrible thoughts that I had about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.

How did I resolve that with letting go?

I stepped away from myself and looked at the dynamic.

I let go of my self hatred.  I let go of the assumed societal restrictions on permitted thoughts and desires and I accepted myself and my ‘dark’ side.  I have no desire to hurt anyone, quite the opposite, actually.  I have no desire to injure anyone, I have no desire to inflict unwanted pain, but there is also the pain that reminds you that you are alive and the pain the brings with it the intense emotional release that I got when I submitted to Sonia.  There is such a thing as an embrace of pain that frees you from other pains.

I was molested as a young man.  It was no one in my family, and indeed, they still don’t know that it occurred and if this ever gets linked back to me and placed in front of them a great many uncomfortable discussions will likely result, but it happened and it turned me into a brooding, angry, anti-social young man for a long time.  Sonia’s compassionate brutality helped me to face my demons and reclaim for me the things that were taken from me.  Some of them, anyway.

I Dominate those that give themselves to me willingly.  I will not accept submission from someone who is incapable of understanding what they are doing and I will not attempt to hold anyone who does not wish to be with me any longer or even those who can no longer benefit from doing so, whether they choose to see it or not.

This is a very scary thing.

Strong is the impulse to hold on, to claim a lover as mine and mine alone, but I know that I cannot be all things to all people, and no one person can be all things to me.  To truly open my heart, I must accept that now, in this time, at this place, this person is trusting me with herself and the joy that brings me is incomprehensible.  The joy that I feel when given that trust and that submission cannot be measured, and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling that way, just as there is nothing wrong with her for wanting to give herself to me in such a way.  These are maladaptive behaviors, perhaps.  They may be remnants of a primitive psychology, or they may simply be facets of a larger gem, I don’t know, but I want to know, and I will never give up exploring, and yet for now, right now, accepting is good enough.

Yes, I get off on having a pretty girl sit at my feet and lean on my leg and look up at me through long eyelashes with doe eyes and say, “yes, Sir.”  If I believed in any gods, I would invoke them now to prove the conviction behind my thought.  Once I thought that this made me a monster.  Once I thought that this meant that there is something wrong with me, but there is not.

I am a kind Master, and a brutal lover, and a king of my own domain, and the confidence that I have to be those things, and to love myself for them comes from letting go of everything, even those lovers and that domain itself, because wherever I am, it is with me, and whoever they be, I am loved.  And I am happy.

I am Rant.