đź‘ş Into the Demon's Mouth

Thought this was a really good down-to-earth (simple me) way of discussing working with fear:

From the article:
The spiritual journey involves stepping into unknown territory with a hunger to know what is true. One of the essential elements of such a life is the understanding that everything we encounter—fear, resentment, jealousy, embarrassment—is actually an invitation to see clearly where we are shutting down and holding back. At some point we realize we can’t manipulate life to give us only what we want: the rug gets pulled out regularly. So what do we do? Although our deep-seated tendency is to reject the unwanted in an effort to prevent suffering, it turns out that all the ways we resist actually limit our lives, bringing us pain. And yet how do we find the courage to open to, and accept, all of what we are and all of what is arising in our body and mind? How do we tap the confidence to live with that kind of openness and receive what is arising in the moment, just as it is, with clarity and kindness? How do we let life, with all of its disappointments and sorrows soften our heart? In the Tibetan tradition there is a story about the great cave-dwelling yogi Milarepa that illuminates the often bumpy road we travel in the process of releasing resistance and making peace with ourselves.

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Love it!

  1. Becoming aware of the stuff you’ve been avoiding (the demons appear in your cave)
  2. Going to war with yourself (trying to shoo the demons away)
  3. Trying to fix yourself more subtly (trying to teach them Dharma)
  4. Giving up your solutions and strategies, willingness instead of willfulness (asking them what you can learn from them)
  5. All resistance is gone; letting go (Milarepa places his head in the largest demon’s mouth)
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Was a really good read, appreciate you sharing this

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Planning on listening to this next week. Tried to get a short summary from AI which was a bit if a pain in the butt. Figured I’d share it. Is this a good preview of the article?

This article explores the five stages of spiritual transformation using the story of the Tibetan saint Milarepa. The first stage is the discovery of a spiritual path, the second stage involves facing our pain and taking responsibility for our lives, the third stage involves the cultivation of a meditative practice to gain insight into the nature of reality, and the fourth stage is characterized by the willingness to face whatever arises in our life with openness and self-compassion. The final stage is complete letting go, where we no longer resist what is happening in the present moment and find wisdom in everything around us. Ultimately, this leads to an unconditioned compassion that “goes against nothing and fulfills everything.” The article emphasizes the importance of cultivating self-compassion and inner goodness to navigate the challenges of the spiritual journey.

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In the old days we had “Reader’s Digest” which was famous for this type of editing, and articles such as “I am Joe’s Colon,” and “The Most Unforgettable Frog I Ever Met” :kissing_closed_eyes:

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What if the demon had eaten Milarepa instead of dissolving?
When we face our demons in dreams, in our minds, the result is most likely self empowering. But waking physical reality body forms from the perceived exterior world is another picture.
What if the demons are actually out there in the physical reality that we are living in? I am thinking of Andrew’s Q&A #71 where he discusses the origin of fear as being physical survival of the body. This then gets picked up by the Ego as further survival against the demise of the perception of reification that it is actually “some one”.
The demons in Milarepa’s cave were probably his own mental constructions. So he could test his own ways to deal with them and be victorious and stronger in the end and not dead.
But what do we do if the “demons” are flesh and blood forms, out there on the streets. We don’t put our head in the mouth!

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I take it to be that the fear and the demon are one-in-the same (or not different) and that if we dissolve our fear, we can face whatever we encounter, resolutely, without it. An often cited example is how one thing can be interpreted in many different ways by different people. Hence, a boulder in the road can be a frightening impediment for a motor car, while it can also be a welcome place to sit down under for a traveller or perhaps a source of rare minerals when examined by a gemologist. Our minds create the reality! So whatever it is we encounter on the streets, in our homes, interacting with loved ones and friends— it can be met with awareness and compassion, so it is likely that we can respond in a useful way, without fear.

Several years ago I picked up a book for a speech I was giving at a Toastmaster’s meeting called “Feel the Fear, But Do it Anyway” about a woman facing her greatest fear, cancer, and it made an impression because her way to combat fear was through action and watching it gradually dissolve. I’ve tried that both in dreams and in waking experiences and have had some success. Just some thoughts, eh?

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Right, the kinds of fears that you name are mostly interiorized, and can be worked on thru meditation, seeking of clarity and especially compassion to oneself and others. So, to be more clear:
I am actually referring to the other fears that have been provoked because of a real menace to biological survival. A person in combat where the fear is the possible real destruction of the Body while in the line of fire. The rising proliferation of gangs in my country and the paranoia that this collectively produces - 24 hr guards, electric wiring, watch dogs, panic buttons - in my community. If we were in Ukraine, we would feel that biological menace from the Other, the exterior invasion, and our possible physical demise.
I can practice the idea of confronting and dissolving demons when it is an interior psychological situation but when it becomes a matter of physical life and death, one no longer puts one’s head in the mouth of the demon.
Or, how do I dissolve this particular Demon? I had already been questioning this for days when I came upon the Milarepa lesson tonight.

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@Barry you have had first-hand experience of what I am talking about. Please forgive me if I interpret this incorrectly:
At the time it was happening to you, I don’t think that you put yr head in the mouth of the Demon. You were only concerned about survival of the Body and You! But now you can deal with traces of those demons for the rest of yr life, if need be. Because the biological physical confrontation of that time is over, now it is the residue, an essence that has been left with you that colors your identity. For you to grow, you now can and should put your head directly in the mouth of the demon, when the moment arrives, whenever trials and tribulations appear to you, because it is no longer a matter of life and death.

Unless it is a matter of life and death, in which case we are back to Square One again of my inquiry.

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I’ve been in many of these situations, growing up in the South Bronx, later in the military during the Vietnam War, and in some situations since then. I have known fear in all of them. I have also seen others deal with fears in ways that inspired me by not shutting down and doing what was needed to survive, and move on. They felt the fear, certainly, but did not make it the focus of their moment. I have found that these days, in some situations I have been able to operate more in the moment myself and not let fear overtake my mind. I frequently found that my mind’s propensity for Papañca could be diminished if I would not immediately create dreadful narratives from things, or real and imagined shadows. When I see this coming on I tell myself to STOP and think of how I am peeling an onion which eventually leads to having nothing left but petals. This is how I can avoid being driven down the rabbit hole by a fear “story.” I can take action based on perceived environmental concerns without fuzzy elaborations. I am not sure I am addressing your concerns so any followup is welcome.

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I’ve lived in similar spaces. If the area where I live, western Massachusetts, near the University of Massachusetts, developed into that type of environment, I believe that we would move.

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@_Barry
Thanks, yes, you addressed my concerns.
Mostly I wanted to define two kinds of Demons and that how Milarepa handled his mental demons is not applicable to the physical darkness where many of us live.
For myself, I have already abandoned one house where this violence has gotten too close. I am trying to convince my partner to sell.
Where I live now, there is much tranquility with guards, cameras, a very watchful neighborhood and the rest above mentioned. We are the lucky ones.
Our family has been touched by this violence, as you know. Last week, rather than feed into papañca, I began to study who r these perpetrators, what r their names, what prison do the bosses reside in, what gangs control the prison sections. What r the laws here. What do other countries in Latin America do? What is the source, hope, answer. Know your enemy.
Then, how to find an expression of compassion in myself. I can begin with my family, in my heart feel the pain of victims and their families. Remember that most gang members are at one point vulnerable, lost, before they initiate and later cannot get out. I seek to humanize the situation in myself, it is anguishing for many here. I cannot feel any compassion at all for the worst adult perpetrators, but there is enough to consider already.
I have been working timidly with generation diety practice, as with Chenrezi. I still don’t know much about this, but I feel driven to find ways to create new facets of my practice.

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His solution to the physical manifestations of cities—and their ills—was to seek the mountains and leave the other behind. Not everyone can do that, but he was as bad as bad could be, murdering 32 people, and yet he was able to overcome that stain in his lifetime. He was severely tested and nearly killed himself before attaining redemption. The fact that he overcame his fears and became a great person and teacher has served as a light for many others, me included. Sometimes that’s what it takes.

I’m so sorry that you’ve had to experience this. I believe those who are perpetrating these evils will receive them as well, simply because this is how these things manifest. I know you will find peace and I hope it will be sooner rather than later!

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Yes, true he was that very kind of vengeful Demon himself at the beginning of his path until he heard his own inner calling, found redemption and great teachers. I must remember that light that still abides in the worst of the worst.
I imagine that finding the demons in his cave for him was a kind of revisit to the kind of person he had formerly been, a resonance with a residue of who he had been. Putting his head in the mouth of the Demon was an act of submission and self annihilation of what he had been, to further his practice.
I am looking for some way to transform this outer darkness in my practice. I realized that I have been avoiding this for years, as it was too sad a place for me to barely want to remember. Yet in our family we all miraculously pulled thru, practically unscathed in the end.
But now, new creative forms of darkness edge in closer and closer, hemming us “good” people in. It’s not one city, it’s the entire country. No where to go.

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What is your current practice?

My practice varies, is eclectic and adjusts with my daily activities. Shamatha breathing observation, mindfulness, Metta, kasina practice with a color disk that I made. Observation of gratitude. As I have recently begun this new process of studying this violence theme here, revisited the memory of our life-changing tribulations of 7 years ago, I also am feeling simultaneously rewarded with life giving me extra good luck these days with uncanny timing in tiny things happening all day! . In gratitude this morning I leaped over the gap to compassion for those same promulgators of this darkness that has descended that is so painful. I have been feeling this compassion all day, it is a wondrous thing. Will it go away? I don’t know, but I need it to reinforce this confrontation in a healthy way.This is all happenimg simultaneously, it is an ongoing practice. Since I no longer go out at night because of lurking weird danger on the outside, I am listening and taking notes from Q&As and Nightclub interviews, happily esconced and cozy in my studies and marveling what a brilliant person is Andrew to put all of this together for us.
Thank you for asking!

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How about your wonderful art work? Are you able to tap into some of those themes as well?

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Yes, in fact I am having a one person show in 2 months and am planning and plotting how to incorporate dreaming into some new last minute work. Back on task. Always juggling multiple divergent themes to make it all work. I guess we all do, right?

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My work usually has some uncomfortable darkish and ironic theme. When it finally immerges, I feel that I am home. Hopefully dream imagery will help this small journey that will end and be revealed in June.
How are your dwg/ptgs going?

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