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I think the part of the Pema school of thought that appeals to me more than any of the other options is that at least there is an acknowledgment that heartbreaking things will happen and we will suffer. I agree with you, it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to put the heartbreaking stuff in the gratitude column and I think there are a lot of people in the spiritual community suffering from toxic positivity. But just surrendering to the reality that suffering is a normal part of life feels better than white-knuckling your way through thinking there’s some super judgmental ahole in the sky keeping score, rewarding you for good behavior and smiting you for normal behavior like, y’know, touching yourself. I mean the mind boggles at the absurdity of thinking an entity powerful enough to create the universe would care whether we got divorced, were gay, or had an impure thought. It makes me laugh. As did your essay, many times. Great stuff.

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Brilliant essay. At least you've got great humor to help us all cope.

And oh lordy, this bit: "I thought it a terrible shame she wasn't at Auschwitz, where she could have explained to the dying piled up in mass graves just how fortunate they were. "Chin up, Mordechai! This is a chance to grow!"

Today someone posted that quote about bringing someone into your peace on my meditation support group. Inception moment!

Anyway, my reading suggestions are just as trite but helpful for me, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and of course The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard, as I've suggested before.

Or just some hugs 🥰

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I am so glad to receive these posts, Shalom. I am not smart enough to write a worthy comment, but let me just say, I read this -- "Neither of these approaches speaks to me, but together they provide me that strange comfort in knowing we're all terrified. That we're utterly beside ourselves with worry and pain and fear." -- and I know that this is precisely the reason I subscribe. I feel like a small part of something large and real.

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Oct 1, 2023Liked by Shalom Auslander

This is hilarious and wonderful and terrifyingly true.

(By the way, I believe the word "any" is missing here: <<The first is that you can superimpose just about words in elegant type>>)

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Funny stuff. She's always annoyed me too. It's a kind of digestible nothing that might be immediately soothing but then there's no nutrition it. All Buddhism is not this way. I'm an SGI Nichiren Buddhist (we're the noisy Buddhists, this particular actress said once) we chant out loud rather than meditate, and face issues and grapple with them rather than imagine them away or retreat to solitude. Life is rough, sometimes - in the words of Tom Petty, everybody's got to fight to be free. Bob Dylan said, "I accept chaos. I'm not sure whether it accepts me." Exactly. Offering it tea is a quaint idea. I will say, however, since in most things, there is something good to be found, she's got a point. Where I work, the front desk of a quaint New Hampshire Inn, sometimes the kitchen is in chaos. Unmanageable chefs - the stereotypes are true. If I go in trying to impose some orderliness with a strident voice, it usually exacerbates the situation. If I go in with a completely helpful attitude, with compassion for the hapless dishwasher, for instance, and do what I can to assist things, humbly, bus the tables for the overworked waiter, (offering a cup of tea to chaos) it works. Things smooth out. In the face of chaos that's more serious, you have to up the approach. My own "Baby Shark" singing is the chanting, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which in crisis, does the same kind of thing in a grown-up version. In any case, it's always a question of reestablishing your internal strength and mental balance - Kipling's "Keeping your head when everyone else is losing theirs" - or you're close to losing yours - then you can take some constructive action and aren't at the mercy of the chaotic world.

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Oct 1, 2023Liked by Shalom Auslander

Hello. I was not raised with religion so I don’t have a a yearning for god or saints in my search for salvation. Though I often enjoy Thich Naht Hahn communications I prefer my enlightenment filtered through (some) western psychologist and scientists

Recommending Jon Kabat-Zinn (Full Catastrophe Living) and Robert Wright (Why Buddhism is True) as starter kit. Try? May you become one with everything. Because guess what you you already are 💕 Put that on a stock photo! And if baby shark works, why not. There is only one true dog.

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Sep 30, 2023Liked by Shalom Auslander

Difficult it is, trying to stay a bit positive without often being completely idiotic. But I now know why my child loves Baby Shark and Alphabet Lore: therapeutic.

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Starting a club? I’ll join.

Yom Kippour is the only holiday that ever made sense to me. Making amends for stuff you did but shouldn’t have? Ok.

I’m actually grateful my early years were spent attending a Greek Orthodox Church (never with dad who only stepped into it once a year) where the only thing you were offered were threats, wine and bread. Some incredible, ominous art. But delicious food for the dead - the recipe for which was thousands of years older than the church. A Sunday school class that convinced me Al Capone had nothing on the god of the Old Testament. Whoever screwed Job over was a maniac, let’s face it.

(Also in category of oh give me a break: Mother sanctimonious Theresa. Anyone who advocates giving birth even if you through the infant into the garbage? Please. Just. Shut up.

With thanks.

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Pema has so so many relatives/friends/acolytes in Woodstock. Go to the health food store, hear people talking about their chakras, their whatevers. I feel like an alien here cause I know my chakra died. Or maybe I never had one.

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Spiritual teachings are soothing if bland by nature. They’re annoying because we don’t feel seen. My shit started when my children were 5 and 1. Thing were falling apart around me. I’m reading books like this by renunciantes while nursing my one year old and they’re telling me I should take two weeks off twice a year to connect with myself. I was terribly annoyed. It took me a decade to rebuild my life. I had to find wisdom written in different stock paper. I think what helped me most at the time was a quote from Winston Churchill. White simple font on solid black: when you find yourself walking through hell, keep walking.

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When I was young and depressed, I read a stack of self-help books. They all had advice in them that wasn’t bad. I even sort of tried to put a few into operation, like remembering people’s names, per Dale Carnegie. Nothing I read in a self-help book worked for me until I wasn’t depressed.

Ah, but how did I get undepressed?

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I can't even begin to say how happy this makes me! It's a fleece blanket lined with razor blades, cyanide and chommile tea. The coziest kind cyncism that makes me feel right at home.

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My dick is broken too, and I have a vagina: yours in solidarity.

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This was fun! And there’s something to be said in healing coming from the process. I can read as many Pema books as I want, but I don’t become a conscious human overnight. Not even close!

Her book on Tonglen is a good pocketbook if you feel like spending more cash 💰😅

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This is so funny. Thank you (once again).

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Why I am NOT a Buddhist by Evan Thompson. Excellent NF confessions of a failed Buddhist.

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