Monday, May 3, 2010

Trying to "Handle" One Another

A sangha friend just made the following comment on a recent post I made on Life as a Human:

The phrase, "Some people don’t really know how to handle The Birdman", caught my attention. By your artful telling, the Birdman cant' be handled at all. Perhaps suffering stems from trying to 'handle' one another?

It's funny. I was feeling like I wanted to write something today, but really couldn't come up with anything. And then this comment came. It feels right on.

What's interesting is that when I think of this "handling" that we all seem to do sometimes, there are a few components to it.

First, there is the obvious desire for control. You want someone or a group of someones to act a certain way because it will make your life easier, make you feel more comfortable, etc.

Second, there is the anxiety of being out of control.

And finally, though, is something kind of surprising because it flips over the view that this behavior is all about trouble. Behind wanting to "handle" someone is a desire to know them, to know what they are going to do, what they think, how they feel, to know how they tick. When you start to examine your misguided behavior, I do think there is an element of wanting to see and experience how we are interconnected behind it, even when we are terribly out of whack.

But when we seek to "know" someone, we're trying to fix a certain image of them, just as we go about our day trying to fix certain images of situations we experience.

Part of the reason I felt compelled to write about The Birdman is that his uniqueness easily stands out, and one of the teachings he gives just by being himself is that we can't pin each other down, can't really ever completely get "a handle" on who each other is.

An old girlfriend of mine used to say "I know you, I know you," but she really didn't, nor could I know her like that. Both of us believed those lines too much, and it probably was a main reason why the relationship didn't last.

Life is full of opportunities to drop this desire to know, and thus be comfortably "in the know." Maybe this quality is what Dogen was pointing to when he said "he dropped off body and mind."


zendotstudio said...

There is an element of each one of us, that the other can never really know, I think you are pointing this out. And in truth there are elements of ourselves that we are always uncovering. We can be surprising and mysterious beings!

The comment by your former girl friend of "I know you" reminds of something I read once "sometimes we know things too soon." In my rush to understand sometimes i don't look deep enough or long enough.

Nathan said...

" In my rush to understand sometimes i don't look deep enough or long enough." Good point. I certainly do this too.

Chong Go Sunim said...

There seems to be something very central to practice in this idea of trying to "handle" or "know" things. I think it must arise from the delusion that "I" am in charge. I find myself having to come back again and again to trying to relax and let things/people/situations unfold naturally, instead of trying to make them fit my fixed ideas about things.