Sunday 10 November 2013


I looked up embarrassment on the (in)famous Wikipedia. Here's what I found:

Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others. Usually some amount of loss of honor or dignity is involved, but how much and the type depends on the embarrassing situation. It is similar to shame, except that shame may be experienced for an act known only to oneself. Also, embarrassment usually carries the connotation of being caused by an act that is merely socially unacceptable, rather than morally wrong.

The unquestioned part in this might be said to to be the notion of self and the beliefs leading to notions of 'right and wrong'. To put this another way, embarrassment is the feeling which arises to fill the gap between what I want my sense (or storey) of self to be and what the moment is demonstrating it to be. Or to be more accurate what it might be. Might, because when all is said and done I don't have the full picture in any moment. And that seeing only part of the picture is at the root of embarrassment. There is judging in all this. If I can see the illusory nature of a small separate self and / or illusory nature of the solidity of those beliefs giving rise to notions of 'right and wrong' then where is the embarrassment? But that can require a lot of spaciousness and simply being with what is arising. So embarrassment can be a gift because it's pointing to notions that might have been previously unseen; notions of separateness and unworthiness. And there is more here too. This 'what I want my sense (or storey) of self to be' needs some consideration. I believe it points up. Surrendering into any emotion has this gift and ultimately the koan unfolding. The koan or paradox of separation and unity; my own experience of a sense of separate self doing its best to survive and the bigger picture of interconnection in which this sense of separation is formed. At the level of that picture there is only acceptance and the part that is feeling embarrassed (or anything else) is held in compassion. If I am judging myself or others then where is the compassion? If my embarrassment is rooted in the belief that others will judge me then I am judging them and accusing them of judging me. And if they do, again where is the compassion? If I am not held in compassion why feel any less (than those judging)? Expanding and softening into any situation, drawing back but without creating a further separation the stillness holding the drama is revealed. The small (embarrassed) self has afforded this revelation and there is gratitude. This is personal growth as a small self grows and looks up and the sense of self diminishes.
If embarrassment arises when I feel I am not what I want or should be, from where then do these wants or shoulds come? And who is it that is feeling them? These questions are answered in the spaciousness if I can be with the feelings and let them soften. But this all takes time and as ever insight alone is not enough; I still need to give each emotion time to unfold. And in there will be found someone trying their best, looking up. A one reaching out to see. It's not a separate one seeing but One seeing. And when we smile at our foolishness in good humour we can come together, we cease judging our self and each other, see our humanity and in that seeing experience our divinity. We come out of Oneness to see, seeing takes us back.

The merit of this post is offered to Sue who is sitting with her dying mother.

Monday 4 November 2013


DC and I attended an impressive fireworks display on Saturday then had dinner with friends. The display is paid for each year from the previous year's donations. I recalled contributing last year as I dropped my money in to the collection bucket. This for me generates a great sense of community; here we are, this crowd of people collectively contributing and collectively enjoying the fruits. Great stuff.  As the winter starts to set in bonfire night is as a much a festival of light in the short dark days as it is a reminder of gunpowder, treason and plot and DC noted that Diwali would start on Sunday. I enjoyed the fireworks yet noticed too some sadness; a similar feeling to the one generated by new year's eve. It's the empty celebration. This is not the pregnant emptiness of our true nature but the hollow emptiness of jaded form. Yes it's fun to see the display and be in a crowd of cheerful people yet somehow the very scale of the display and impersonal nature of the crowd left me feeling remote. The streamers, starbursts and showers of lights formed by the fireworks seemed to distance me from the excitement they are supposed to create. It's a trait in me to slip easily in to this sort of melancholy and I observed the slip and shifted my attention but not before I recalled that feeling in childhood. I turned to DC so as to feel our closeness and not focus on the fact of aloneness; the eternal paradox of interconnection and separation. More rockets flew upwards some with whistles. Great explosions of stars formed a carapace of smoke which gave greater dramatic effect to subsequent multi coloured explosions by reflecting their light; a slowly shifting and fading backdrop glowing with the shifting play of light and dark. The huge bonfire a conflagration of leaping flames lay off to the side sending sparks off into the night sky. 'Heretics be warned' said DC. 'Mm' I said. The noise of the blasts grew and could be felt as a shock wave in the torso. I looked at the smoke and thought of those who have suffered in war. Beyond the smoke and any cloud the firmament remained.

The display over the crowd dispersed filling the streets. A queue had formed at the chip shop and others made their way through the supermarket. DC and I hurried back to our friend's house to get dinner going and meet up with others who would have been in the crowd watching the display. There was a sense of people moving towards their food.

It's taken me a couple of days to get round to writing this post and the ideas I had on Saturday for it have faded. Today I visited someone in hospital. His company has done some work for me and we have got on well in the short time we've spent together. I knew what this visit could be about before I arrived at his bed side to hear him tell me that he had been given twelve months to live. He only received the news a few days ago and it is still 'sinking in'. Our lives are a strange mixture and very fragile. Yet as the fireworks end and the embers of the fire cool beyond the clouds of our delusion the firmament remains; not as a solid carapace above us but as the unborn.

The merit of this post is for Bill and those who love him.