185: Interconnectedness (Sort Of)

What in the world is interconnectedness? We have Dave join us to talk about the idea that everything is connected. We then explore what that might mean for our actions, how that comes into our lives, and how we decide to act in situations. Using Buddhist stories, and stories from everyday life, we talk about the cost of not understanding our interconnectedness. Listen in and then share your thoughts with us.

⁠Dave’s Empty Circle Meditation website ⁠

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I am Jason and like the stereo MCS I am connected and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery I’m Dave I’m a person in long-term recovery and also a Zen Buddhist priest I’m Jenny I’m also a person in long-term recovery and we’re going to talk about interconnectedness which is why Dave is here and because I don’t want to botch that all up I’m just going to let him start go for it okay um all right there we go let’s start um I brought a I brought a short story by a zen teacher um but I think this is a really nice way to open up with interconnectedness and the whole idea of that so this is from the book opening the hand of thought by uchiyama roshi I am now sitting with sanchin Sangha which is a change for me and the founding Abbot akamora roshi this was his teacher in Japan uchiyama roshi so his teachings are very important to this Sangha and he’s got a really nice book here that that’s really you know speaks to so much of Zen in a really eloquent way so here is the short little story to help us experience some interconnectedness hopefully the following story comes from the Edo period in Japan which is 1600 to 1868. behind the temple there was a field where there were many squashes growing on a vine one day a fight broke out among them and the squashes split up into two groups making it making a big racket shouting at one another the head priest heard the Uproar and stepping outside to see what was going on found the squashes quarreling the priest scolded them in a booming voice hey you squashes what are you doing out there fighting everyone do zazen zazen is Zen meditation essentially it’s breathing uh and sitting in a meditation posture the priest taught them how to do zazen fold your legs like this sit up straighten your back and neck while the squashes were sitting zazen and the way the priest had taught them their anger subsided and they settled down the priest said quietly everyone put your hand on top of your head when the squashes felt the top of their heads they found something weird attached there it turned out to be the vine that connected them all together this is really strange here we’ve been arguing when actually we’re all tied together and living just one life what a mistake it’s just as the priest said after that the squashes all got along with each other quite well I just keep picturing the little squash baby legs well it actually has illustrations

might not be able to see it but yeah little angry squashes little meditating squashes where’s my Vine once it started talking about them meditating I was like are squash is a term for like young Zen practitioners or something like is this where uh we gotta squash this came from from this story I don’t know huh maybe it’s fast for you so you know I I really appreciate that story I mean one thing it’s fun and it’s always nice to connect with a story narrations can activate actually more areas of you know somebody’s brain than just giving information you know whether it’s by writing it or speaking it uh so well one of the things I I think is so important about that story is it’s not just that they found realize that they were connected by this Vine how do they realize that they realize that through meditation so the meditation allowed them to open up enough to even be able to finally put their hands little squash hands on top of their head and notice that there was a Vine there and so it it kind of illustrates the importance of meditation and you know in our practice Zen meditation and the ability to let go of self and that’s really the key to realizing interconnectedness it’s a let go of self um as long as I am focused on the different parts of that make up me and my thinking and my opinions um and really Buddhism teaches that we are made up of five Aggregates five skandas which are form the human body Sensations which can be feelings emotions um conceptions which are my ideas about the world usually like a reactive sense I see this I think that discrimination the judgmental mind and awareness or Consciousness which is you know what we typically associate with who we actually are but that’s not who we actually are we’re a combination of all of those and through meditation and sitting long enough we can realize that fundamentally we’re empty fundamentally we don’t have an Essence that carries on and goes forward and when we realize that we don’t have to attach to discrimination to thinking to even you know certain things about our body say I’m getting older getting older can suck right it can be great too but as far as the body goes right you start aches and pains can’t do what I could do um so there’s suffering and feeling attached to that anyway so to realize that all those five things and there’s a whole bunch of depth to each of those five things trust me buddhism’s full many many lists that break things apart um we realize that that’s empty what we actually realize is that it’s boundless and in that boundlessness if I if this is truly empty then actually what am I

I’m just going to leave that question there for now and we can answer it that’s for you to answer uh the first the thing that came to my mind just as you were kind of talking there I was thinking about that vine thing and this probably doesn’t matter to anybody but it was cute to me they reached up top on their head to see their connectedness after they had meditated right and from a therapy lens like the meditation calms your nervous system dysregulation and turns your cognition back online so you can reach to the top of your head prefrontal cortex to actually realize the Nuance in life again so I was like man that’s a great [  ] story It just fits perfectly in my mind sure glad you like it and um but at the same time you know to not be attached to things and not being attached to your body to your feelings and being able to be kind of free from that allows you to even look up to feel up I didn’t realize it because I was so focused on this right here so attached to the situation it’s argument right judgmental thoughts um Etc that’s interesting there is actually a I say A coping strategy or coping technique but like for people if you’re just driving and you’re feeling frustrated with the traffic and everything to just look up literally just look up above the Horizon because it can change the way your brain is operating because we do get this narrow Focus down on one thing so that’s that’s pretty interesting foreign I feel like I’m going to take us way away from what you came here to talk about because I’m like this is my personal life he’s talking about um having a lot of these experiences lately and like understanding this this concept of not the goal being to not be attached or not push away or pull toward or cling to you know what I mean but having this experience recently um you know reflecting on myself noticing like I have a strong pool to not really want to be away from my people like when Monday morning comes after we’ve had a lovely weekend and you know my Mondays start later on so I’m sitting there and I watch some of the older kids go to school and then I watch the wife go to work and I watch the younger kids go and I’m like I’m left with a pretty heavy kind of empty feeling right and just been like sitting with that and trying to evaluate that and yesterday realizing while we were at this Festival that like even though I’m trying to keep that in mind I am starting with a baseline of I wanna like I want my wife and me to quit our jobs and for us to spend every waking moment together for the rest of my life and it hit me yesterday walking around this Festival that still wouldn’t be enough and from that place of knowing that still wouldn’t be enough in the beginning I feel like it gives me a better starting point to start with like I can understand it’s not going to be enough and I can feel that pain right now and I don’t have to just sit trying to fix it all the time what about that would not be enough I’d want more there’s something about the soothing effect of having her around that I don’t like it when she leaves and I just think the answer is well I just need her around all the [  ] time and that’s not going to be enough that’s not actually going to solve the problem and I think that’s what hit me yesterday was I need to get comfortable with the fact that like we are going to run out of time and that’s going to hurt and I can be okay and feel that and not suffer from it I don’t have to suffer for I don’t have to push it away I don’t have to cling to it and I don’t know I don’t know how that fits in but when you were talking today that’s what it brought up for me was this thing that’s been going on in my life so there it is sounds like if that’s how you connected to it and it sounds perfect it was sad I cried sitting at my fire last night about it but I was happier feeling it than I would have been in the illusion I was a week ago I’ll say that yeah

sorry I didn’t mean it it’s okay to have a moment of silence that was I think that’s great that you shared that and you’re willing to be vulnerable enough and feel interconnected with us enough and I’m yeah I’m not just like saying that okay let’s we’re doing internet connection like really you are you know you’re able to open up um and experience some level of boundlessness rather than being the opposite all bound up right right and I think that you know this is a recovery podcast too so how does that fit into recovery too I mean wow whatever recovery program you do I mean so much of it’s about connection because people are using whatever their problem is drugs alcohol other things um what we’re doing is we’re really separating ourselves or working hard in a sense to separate ourselves from that connection whether we realize it or not and so it’s one of the first things recovery can give us at least he gave me was that connection kind of like a forced connection but the connection’s always there that’s the thing and that’s why in Zen we talk a lot about realization so the connection’s always there I’m already I’m all I’m already connected just like the squash I just need to realize it right and so recovery has really helped me realize Connection in a very deep sense um and then for me personally meditation has just uh deepened that for me to be able to really experience some level of a loss of self to some degree where you you have you’re getting out of your own way yeah that reminds me of uh it was a couple years back Johann Hari did a thing the opposite of addiction is connection um where they talked about you know we think it just means getting off drugs but really that’s not you know the opposite of addiction isn’t just stopping the drugs it’s what it does to our Spirits you know we get so totally disconnected from everyone we get a loan and isolated and in that self-centeredness and you know that’s kind of reminding me of when you talked about you know the connectedness and Recovery it’s one of the first things you know for me finding that idea of like a higher power struggling with like the Christian concept of God and we use that word god a lot in recovery was way easier to think of like the higher power as being like the good orderly Direction you know that we find in the 12-step meetings and using that you know connectedness of the group as being part of my higher power when I uh when I asked you to come on and I suggested interconnectedness because I just want to hear what you had to say about it when I learned about interconnectedness like through recovery what I really loved about it was uh how it made it so much easier to feel love to forgive to find compassion there’s like there’s so many reasons to believe in and experience interconnectedness for me like it was like an easy sale what am I missing what else is there like like I like I just feel like knowing that we’re all on the same Vine it just makes it easier to live I wouldn’t even if say somebody proved that’s not even true Jenny I’d still Wanna Live believing in interconnectedness because it’s just so much more pleasant to feel like you know we’re in it together I can’t think of any drawback to like not believing or practicing interconnectedness anybody oh I was about to make a dig or Judgment at a group of people um of who you could have brought on to get those there’s this like pull to individual individuality and uniqueness and and mine and you know this is my property and y’all got to stay off like that I think that’s the what people would say is the drawback to interconnectedness is like we don’t have space for protection almost or for safety that’s that’s what I think coming from a fear lens because yeah and that’s us yeah exactly and it doesn’t sell me I don’t think it sells you either but like you notice gets really tricky right I talk through this um and I happen to talk through it especially with females and I feel like that I don’t know if we have different takes on it or not you want to buy me I know so this is interesting so we’ll talk about this idea of like nothing is mine or there’s no belongings or this that and the other and then I feel like the place that the people I’m talking to tend to go is well what happens when I don’t have any right to keep people out of my house or off my property like what are they gonna do to me and that’s where I I don’t have an argument against them because I’m like I really don’t want people coming and sleeping on my couch as much as I love this interconnectedness idea I also like the idea of locking my door at night so I don’t know where to go with that completely in an interconnected world can I just can anybody come crash on your couch at any night or I think that’s a I think so very small way to look at yeah that’s a very small mind go extreme Dan look at that yeah um and there is like the relative self and a lot of people think that Buddhism teaches that there is no self it it doesn’t there is a self we just want to understand more of who we are and just because we’re interconnected doesn’t mean somebody gets to come sleep on my in my house like gangs of people are coming around right um and yeah I don’t even know what to do with that because it’s like such a small like perspective of what that is right so when you’re boundless well why would somebody need to come stay on my couch you know to express interconnectedness they might need to because they gotta know where to go that’s a different story but right right so if I’m literally boundless and to experience some level of boundlessness then I can let things be how they are yeah and I think in my in my version of the debate that I’m having with those people I’m like well if everybody’s doing this it works God damn it but you know it’s hard to sell that to people when we’ve lived in a society where we have to protect ourselves from safety the News tells us every day how scared we should be like it’s hard to tell people hey maybe it’s actually not that scary on the other side of it it’s such an attachment to certain skondas or parts of yourself and embodying those is everything like discrimination and you know conceptualization and thinking it’s thinking that your thinking is you thinking that your thinking is everything that you are and that’s such a small piece of what makes us up and it’s the thinking really that gets in the way of realizing and experiencing interconnectedness as soon as I start thinking I’m cutting off to some degree you know it’s okay I need to realize that there’s you know a car coming this way and a person driving it and either drifting over and I need to be able to use thoughts to decide that this is going to have not so much of a beneficial action if I don’t move right so that does exist but that’s not everything and that’s the grasping that this book opening the hand of thought right so we’re opening the hand of thought releasing you know we can have thoughts we can have discrimination and I’m not talking about discrimination against people that look different or whatever you know discrimination is anything like I like cheeseburgers more than Apples right I have discriminated between the two Foods there you go exactly you know um you know those are all important but opening the hand of thought means I’m just not grasping onto this is me my conviction is me how many especially right now in American culture like how often do we see that and it’s just total separation it’s putting people in groups you’re either with me or against me you if you don’t see things my way there’s something fundamentally wrong with you yeah that’s like the story of our society right now yeah it’s so much grasping onto just a couple aspects of what makes us up and it’s forgetting about you know the boundlessness and the and the fact that we are really empty all those things come together and are fundamentally empty there is no essence of me that continues to be able to fall back on like that so like akamura roshi the Abbott of sanchin he says one equals zero equals infinity so one could be me I am one at the same time that I’m interconnected well when I realized that fundamentally there’s this emptiness which is kind of an unfortunate English or American translation of the word sunyata some Zen teachers want to change the translation of sunyata instead of emptiness to boundlessness right so I’m Juan and when I realized that I’m actually zero then what am I I’m actually infinite I am I am only here because the causes and conditions that form me that means I am those causes and conditions that means I’m literally boundless I’m I’m everything and that’s infinite so like just to try to grasp that on like a I have not meditated on it for hours level um basically like the forces in the world Gravity the way atoms interact together the way molecules bond and don’t bond and where they do this and how they express all these forces that just operate in our world as science that we call are actually us because they’re what holds us all together change any of them and change any of your conditions and you change I mean you’re different right now than you are at home with your wife yeah or when you are when you’re by yourself walking down the street you’re a different person not according to the Integrity episode we just recorded dates oh yeah we might be the same when nobody’s looking no I’m just kidding um no I I like that idea a lot and I like the idea that we we take this to a place of like interconnectedness is not a woo-woo or or out there fan to see concept like science proves this even you know one of our greatest minds of recent memory Einstein was saying oh spooky action at a distance or or entanglement because we now know it that doesn’t that’s crazy and it does exist like you can entangle molecules on one side of the world to molecules on the other side of the world and they do alter each other’s you know positivity or negativity depending on what you do with them so I I mean we know this is a real thing so it’s not just some made up concept that we’re we’re meditating on yeah not just that I mean we see it in different ecosystems too when you start changing different things in different ecosystems the whole system can break down you know and start adding or taking away species from a certain environment you know we get all kinds of catastrophic things that happen and yet we keep doing it over and over and over again we’re like yeah bring in this uh bug because it’s going to take care of this problem and then we just wreck [ __ ] well and then sometimes the environment is doing its chain it changes very slowly and it the environment kind of squeezes out the species yeah and it needs to happen right not when we do it you know foreign [Music] so in sapiens I mean if you listen to it there you actually they kind of follow through the history of our particular species of homo sapiens uh and how we kind of went to all these islands and accidentally did exactly what you’re talking about Billy and pretty much have wiped out all the variety on Earth that’s what we’ve done by not knowing our interconnectedness by not understanding that what we do has an impact on the world around us and that’s I mean we’ve if you listen to that book we’ve annihilated you know 80 of what has lived on our planet you’re talking about like talking about other types of species I’m talking about all the flowers and and vegetation that we’ve destroyed I’m talking about all the other mammal species yeah we have 80 80 of everything that has ever lived we we kind of annihilated since we started 15 000 years ago with our farming just a just a thought about interconnectedness I think that’s when awareness is really important and how do we gain that awareness and um just thinking thinking thinking thinking thinking is not the solution some thoughts are important some thinking is important but when we think we’re just gonna think our way out of it you know we’re kind of using self to deal with self and um there’s a lot of benefit to opening up and in Zen it’s it’s you get a teacher that’s what you do you get a teacher because otherwise you’re going solo you’re you know you’re bounding yourself up you’re thinking that you know things that you don’t you need a teacher to pull the rug out of under you and Zen I mean that’s that’s been my experience too the Zen teacher’s job is part of their job I don’t know maybe their whole job I don’t know they do a lot of it is just pulling the rug out of under you oh you think you know something rugs out show you how you don’t you attach to something else rugs out and you get that feeling like oh shoot you didn’t validate me I thought I came in there with this idea that was attached to it I was grabbing onto it and and boom you know maybe it’s a stick metaphorically um in the old days would have been a stick in reality

um but that’s so important just to give you nothing to grasp onto and what you become such a bigger self that way um you’re so much bigger than just your little tiny thoughts and opinions that you think is you and all the trouble that that brings all the limitations that we apply to ourselves that way and I’m I’ve got them running through me right now and I’m gonna go out of here today and I’m gonna Express a strong opinion about some social thing to my wife and it’s like like you know sometimes it’s it’s important to share opinions and discuss it but when it’s all when it’s really who you see yourself as and you’re attached to that it’s so limiting it’s so small we’re so much bigger than that and I think in recovery too what do we do in recovery you know in a lot of recovery programs we get a teacher we get a sponsor what does that sponsor do like pulls a rug out of under you a lot you know I think you know um you can use principles to do that spiritual principles like oh you think that’s honest huh right are you being honest right now well I got it under you you know um you know are you being open-minded right now by judging those people by judging those newcomers or whoever you’re judging or judging that old-timer who has their own opinion about something are you being open-minded right now drug out under you you know you fall on your butt and you gotta deal with that all now I feel unvalidated then who feels unvalidated right who’s the one that wants that validation right right and how to let go of that because the one that wants that validation is really trying striving for separateness me me me me the self-centeredness is such a small way of thinking um that you will have and I’m not here to talk like I’m totally free from that at all I’m working really hard with that you know so it’s I guess I hear just a little slightly different in my head when you talk about it um thinking about this idea not maybe it’s not different maybe it’s just another piece of it because you said like that piece of us wants to have that separateness and like what I’m thinking is yeah that’s the that’s the I hate to use the word because everybody hates it but the the traumatized piece or the hurt piece from before right and that hurt piece says it’s not safe to be [  ] connected let me be over here separate please and it keeps trying to find adaptive ways to make separateness okay um when you were talking a I don’t know it’s probably 10 minutes ago now but you’re talking about the black and white thinking that comes along with this idea of separateness and all I could think of was the um so you know we talk a lot about the nervous system on here another concept to bring into that nervous system conversation is like this adaptive child and functional adult right so in a calm nervous system space I look like a functional adult there’s there’s space for nuance there’s space for Billy to have differing opinions than me there’s all that space right but from the Adaptive child where I’m still trying to protect and it worked when I was six and eight and twelve I’m very black and white I can’t see past this moment and and I hesitate to do this because it’s a little vulnerable whatever I I want to share this with y’all um I was in a therapy session for my own therapy with my daughter and my wife Thursday night and my daughter was expressing that we went on a hike a couple weeks ago um God damn I’m gonna get emotional sorry it’s okay not sorry I’m not sorry I’ll get emotional yeah so we’re on this hike and she says hey um I want to tell you something and I’m like okay and she tells me that like she has asked me and her mother for for some doctor’s appointments to check into her health and we’ve kind of dropped a ball on getting them done right um and my first reaction was well you haven’t really asked like you’ve only kind of half put out there like you know the teenage [  ] whatever but I was Defensive it was Defensive because it hurt to think that I was the parent that didn’t make these appointments fast enough right and here my daughter is being brave and speaking up for herself and I’m defensive right so we we got through it and we’ve handled the I thought I did really well I was like I’ve done so much growth in my life look at this man I took care of my daughter when she’s when she asked and we’re in that therapy session and she’s expressing it that hurt her and I and I lost my [  ] mind I’m like well you can’t ask me for more I’m doing everything I’m doing everything I’ve can I’ve healed so much you’re asking me for more and I don’t have it and I was crying and I was angry am I and my therapist is sitting there like we’re not asking you’re really tense Jason what’s going on you’re putting so much pressure on yourself and I could not understand it I literally thought I was losing my mind from that adaptive child space and that they were all like playing some joke to make me feel crazy how can you guys not see that I’m doing everything I can why do you not get that and then all of a sudden in an instant it broke through they didn’t want more they just wanted me to say you know what Jackie I’m sorry I was Defensive I don’t know how to be any different yet baby I love you that’s all it wasn’t more right but from that adaptive child black and white space I couldn’t see that right and I had to calm that nervous system and get to the functional adult to say oh you don’t want more you’re just saying I’m not showing up in a way that feels like I care that’s all and I can do that I can say hey you know what when my ego’s out of the way I can say you know what I’m sorry Jax I didn’t mean to be defensive it hurt me to think that I didn’t step up for you I don’t know I was like how did you get out of that uh defensive mode you know uh defensive kind of heart or person or part of your ego that you were wearing how did you get out of that to this functional adult one I’m still debating that Dave honestly uh I’m I’m debating telling my therapist maybe she should change her methods because I I it felt a little like I went through the hard way or or the not good way honestly um I felt scared and like maybe even after the session I was asking my wife like should I go keep [  ] check myself in somewhere like I don’t feel okay um and that’s what makes me wonder if it was but it was kind of like people just standing there being gentle reminded me hey we we care about you we’re not asking you for more and like it was hard to hear that and I couldn’t and I I don’t know somehow it just I think just the meditation I’ve been doing for the last couple years the practices I’ve been doing the self-refraction the the goal of I want to love my family but I think what was happening was I was getting this growth and then I was the one putting so much pressure on myself to live up in a way that showed it and like I don’t have I just gotta show up this morning that’s it I gotta show up and say you know what I don’t know all about interconnectedness Dave tell me what you know and then I’ll hear what Jenny knows and Billy will have some ideas and then I’ll leave out of here and I don’t need to know it still it’s okay

I don’t know I don’t know how that deals with interconnectedness but I think it does because it prompts a question you know of who who is going from the defensive mode to the functional adult mode who is showing up in the next day or in the next moment who is doing all that and how our attachment to those modes really is what simulates us being cut off and a lot I believe that in many cases most cases I don’t know about all um maybe all in the ultimate sense that the longer we grasp on it it’s gonna it’s gonna you’re gonna run out of energy it’s gonna get cracked wide open at some point and the harder we grasp to it the longer we hold on to it the more painful it’s going to be when it when that [  ] gets cracked wide open and that’s okay that’s growth right but I mean I like what you said about the meditation aspect of it because you know to talk about interconnectedness is really not interconnectedness as soon as we start talking about emptiness it’s no longer emptiness we’re filling it with an idea right and and then they talk about you say you can describe Enlightenment this way but I think you can describe a lot of things this way it’s like fingers pointing at the Moon right our words and our ideas are the finger you know it’s the Moon that is is it right so it’s all the finger that’s pointing at the Moon um so that’s why what you said I like that you brought in meditation because that’s when we quiet the mind and that’s that’s when you know things change that’s when we can crack that stuff wide open or not even attached to it in the first place but to think our way in and out of that um you know that’s I was hearing a lot of thinking in that situation and like that thinking is grasping it is it just is that’s it it’s a squeezing harder and harder and harder and so you got nothing left you know the experience was like that too it felt like something in my body popped almost to get through to the other side that’s what it felt it was like holy [  ] I just burst through to somewhere but you know after the initial uh uh almost mental dizziness from it or disorientation I I do feel a lot better but yeah I think you’re right I think it’s been all the practices all along it’s not like I just showed up in that therapy practice and something pushed me through that night it’s been the fact that I’ve been putting all this effort into my self-care and taking care of me and quieting my mind and trying to experience life instead of thinking about it and trying to see where I’m wrong because I do tend to not look for that in a regular day right and I think all those practices have just keep guiding me down this path of like interconnectedness Freedom love care compassion and away from these old ideals that I used to be very black and white and rigid about these are what integrity mean and I must do them every time for me to be an Integrity guy and what I was doing was putting so much pressure on myself

so is interconnectedness something we can or we should even practice or try to get better at or should we just more focus on like meditation and quieting our mind and then interconnectedness will happen that’s a that’s a really great Point yeah um because in my I’m a therapist also and a lot of what I do in therapy I’m a therapist right now for veterans and a lot of these veterans have trauma in fact all of them have trauma um and one thing that I have noticed is that with trauma people tend to fixate from more of a single perspective and maybe it’s because that perspective worked in a certain situation so now I’m applying it everywhere and I’ve been this guy and now I’ve got these guys mostly guys that I’m treating um some women too but a single anyway they’re digging in just one perspective and to get them to perspective take is one of the most important exercises that is like one of the first steps to opening up right because words are important too doesn’t mean we should just get rid of words they are important um they can otherwise you’re just gonna sit there it could take a lot longer of just sitting there staring at the floor you know without a little words to help you along the way right so you know perspective taking I think is really important am I still answering the question I think so okay good so all right um so if I have this one perspective and then I’m able to start seeing things through other people’s eyes and then seeing things a myriad of ways through somebody else’s eyes because I don’t really know um are I feel threatened by somebody okay because of their behavior or because how I interpret their behavior okay and that’s it I’m just gonna sit there and just just be that right no that’s a single point perspective and um it might not be even what’s happening right so I can work on what else might be going on okay that person may be acting that way because they’re having a bad day maybe they have a migraine maybe they were just [ __ ] on by somebody maybe they’re just tired maybe maybe they could be all these things and all of a sudden what I’m doing is I’m really opening up and I’m taking the weight off of that one single like defensive or threatened perspective that I’m just holding on to I’m opening the hand of that thought and I’m I’m allowing other possibilities and I sometimes especially with these like and I’m gonna say because I’m a veteran also I’m a Marine Corps veteran like the whole disgruntled veteran thing I mean it’s it it’s got some truth to it too right um and to watch a veteran who’s just been bound up so tight so much strength put into the single perspective you know because it takes a lot of strength to be in the military and you develop the strength and you hone this strength and maybe you’re just putting it all on this one thing and to watch them perspective take and let’s go through these exercises where I’m questioning them I’m not telling them how to take perspective I’m using questions Socratic questioning um do you think there’s any other reasons why they might have not said hi back to you when you said hi to them you know other than they they hate you and they want to get you right well maybe they are having a bad day you know we’ll go through that exercise and just to watch the body change right in front of your eyes and many times they’re like wow thank you I feel such a release so yeah I think that talking about it can be important and that’s interconnectedness right there just perspective taking to an extent yeah it’s using our cognitive brain to do that but it is because I’m connected anyway so if I am feeling threatened and I’m defensive I’m fully connected right 100 I mean it’s just one big giant fiber optic cable going into my chest literally you know like who I am in that moment is dependent on this connection with them yeah right so if I can realize and see a larger connection not only to that to everything The Sounds in the background you know my children at home the the all the various parts that are in that person

right so that’s all ifs thing internal family systems so we all have these parts that kind of you know we rely on everything so not only am I able to kind of take perspective of Hope of parts that I may believe I see in them so it’s just this big connection thing that I can open wide up and now there’s like a million wires going everywhere and I don’t have this one lightning energy going into my chest of like this you know single point perspective [Music]

thank you it’s so fascinating that you can conveniently point out how the connection between you and the person across the room that you interpret as giving you a dirty look and yet we’ll all sit in our houses and like judge the other political parties top people and have like the strong hatred for them but then be like oh yeah we’re not connected to them at all and like so [  ] tied in if you’re reading every news article about how bad the other person you hate is you might have a connection to them you guys will be in love with them I mean you’re walking down the beach with them why don’t you spending more time with them than maybe your family I mean when you’re making Facebook posts about them it’s kind of like a love letter just saying and ignoring and ignoring your kids right like I’m not connected I’m not I’m not aware of my connection to my kids right now I’m I’m aware only of my connection to this wow it’s fascinating and how many of us and I’m and this isn’t to judge the world out there even though I totally do this is to judge myself right where am I not seeing it because yeah okay great it’s there for them it’s places for me too I am not like fully you know untethered from the world or anything I’m not uh yeah I got mine too and that’s that’s what I think I need to to do is like where is mine you know yeah we’re all doing that okay that’s great maybe people here in this can take that home and do something with it but I don’t need to worry about what they take home and do with it what am I taking home and doing with them where’s my spots where I’m missing my connection because I’m too caught up in something else or I’m connected to something else yeah so are there like specific meditation practices that help with interconnectedness or um I know I I there’s some that I can’t really speak to uh because they’re not part of my tradition but I’ve done briefly and I’ll talk about it yeah go ahead yeah tell us all that so there are some in Zen I can bring up but they’re go ahead because there’s probably gonna be more specific okay so I didn’t know that Zen you’re not allowed to talk about the heart practices is that no the heart practices so like I was gonna say like I can talk about them but I just don’t know enough to publicly speak about them oh okay you don’t know nothing now I feel like I don’t know enough but I was going to say like in recovery Dharma we do the hard practices like compassion forgiveness uh loving kindness and yeah yeah you know and for people who don’t know what those are it’s you’re you know like for loving kindness you’re sending love to yourself to your close-loved ones to a neutral stranger and to the person in the news article that you’re hating on you would send love to your enemies too and I think that enforces interconnectedness or not enforces that sounds really nice yeah bills thanks so that’s what I would have said if you weren’t here I do I do like the one that I’ve done before and I’m No Authority on this somebody has taught it to me a couple of times um where I’m like I’m just so bound up about like an enemy somebody I perceive as an enemy and boy have I had some enemies so at least that’s how I see it and where you are I’m just so bound up I have to do something and yes I know zazen sitting there just the breath or working on these other practices are one thing but I just in this moment I started doing this one practice that I I don’t want to say who I think it’s by maybe it’s Tibetan anyway where you suck in all the dark clouds blow out the light is that Tomlin I think so I don’t know I’ve actually tried that too yeah it’s it’s it’s a I think it’s a good practice I dig it um I think it’s a good practice so in Zen we so as again it’s a lot of the rug being pulled out of under you so one way to practice is uh Koons which um that’s a whole other thing but Koons are these statements or kind of small stories um that don’t make a lot of sense typically with a logical mind um they don’t like you know meditating squash yeah I got one yeah go ahead bring it so the the one I heard that I I remember off top my head and this I’m gonna butcher it a little bit but the you’re hanging in a tree um by your teeth I think yeah and then somebody comes up at the bottom of the tree and the tree’s hanging over a cliff so if you fall you die right you can’t let go but then somebody comes up with basically a gun and says I’ll shoot you if you don’t let go with your teeth and you have to decide the answer that’s did I do that Justice Dave Jenny somebody yes or no I haven’t heard that one close enough um I like that you know and I mean there’s like famous one of has a dog the Buddha nature and the master says moo which can mean no thing or no in Chinese that’s like kind of the classic one to start with um but everybody knows that dog does have Buddha nature and so why is he saying no and then in another version of that he says yes so now give me an original answer um and so you wrestle with it and you chew on it and you just in your meditation you repeat it over and over again you might even just walk around your house and everything you do all day everyday cleaning dishes saying moo moo just wrestling with this and trying to figure it out and eventually you exhaust that logical mind and um as soon as you exhaust it boom often it hits you in the face that’s what happened Thursday night yeah my exhausted mine had nowhere else that was like a con I was at the end yeah how can y’all be asking for more but you’re not asking for more so that’s that logical mind was getting in the way yeah like your interconnectedness of seeing reality for closer to what it actually is for seeing more of what your true self is is getting in the way of all these things it’s getting away with a whole life right it’s getting the way of you experiencing the universe which you already are right just that logical mind you know such a small part of our minds and we want to live in that part and there’s a much bigger mind than that our minds are much bigger um just to be able to realize that so but also if you there’s a she can Taza which is just sitting where um the Sangha the school I’m in now doesn’t really do co-ons um you know they say it’s it’s just something else to grasp on to and so you can do that by just sitting too okay am I sitting no counting my breath let go of that am I paying attention to my breath that’s a good place to to get present even get to the point of letting go in that letting go of that and um if you do that long enough and with enough intention you know you should be able to open up hmm and then you can go to your teacher and say you have an answer and then definitely then they’ll pull the rug out on you it’s like walk away all sad and deal with that how do you think this idea of interconnectedness could be applied I I don’t want to just put time frames with like early in recovery but like how could we use this how could people who are listening today who are saying okay it sounds like a neat idea interconnectedness but like what am I going to get out of it uh what’s the point what am I gonna you know I don’t want to spend two years meditating every day just to feel more interconnected if it’s not going to do anything for me so what what’s your thoughts on that yeah because these people in this podcast sure are using a whole lot of words right you know describing stuff and opinions on things yeah so how do we experience and use it make it practical that’s great um really and I see this you know I have sponsies or whether it’s somebody new in the program even sponsees that I’ve had that have been around a while I do that I’ve done this maybe more lately than in the past is comparing out comparing out kills people and what I mean by comparing out for those who haven’t heard that kind of cliche type n a language or 12 step language comparing out is when you’re going to meetings to experience interconnectedness and all the benefits of that um when you say well I’m not like them I wasn’t as bad as them um I’d you know maybe I can compare out because of physical attributes that I find that well I didn’t take it that far you know they might have some obvious physical ailments that may have come from a hard life and I’m not that you know all day and you hear some people letting letting it out they’re venting and it sounds nuts and everything like that well I’m not that I mean gosh that’s a discriminating mind right there and just being in that is going to create the illusion of separation and I I mean I I can literally name people which I won’t that comparing out I believe was the first step in their death in overdosing and using and dying so comparing n finding those similarities and this goes for Old Timers too I mean it’s real easy I mean especially with kind of in my opinion from my perspective especially with the new wave of of drugs out there and how hard they hit people um some things kind of look a little different than they used to but I’m talking to other people too and they’re like wow you know this is I mean it’s some of it looks like a more extreme version of what we’ve seen in the past or something it’s just really the harm in you know how it’s affecting people and it can be easy with you know 13 years clean you know to to be like you know I’m not that I’m gonna go somewhere else or I’m just gonna go do other things really when um recovery is like the roots for me if I don’t sometimes my recovery is hidden you know the actual going to meetings and things like that but if I don’t water that stuff then everything else starts to die um because everything else there’s so many wonderful other things now too but really the comparing in and then the ability to open up to others too so as soon as I compare in and practice that next thing you know I can share the crazy stuff and get it off my chest and then feel silly about it afterwards and think about it for the next six months you know I should have said that but then I talked to other people and you know maybe somebody comes up after and they’re like you know what like I was there too I totally thought that way you know um and and then you’re like wait a minute I it’s safe to share a little craziness and let those thoughts out um and then what and what a wonderful way that it manifests too I mean holy [  ] I’ve never been to a place where I’ve got a physician a judge a construction worker a home someone who’s experiencing homelessness of somebody in a band somebody struggling to find work a social worker I mean we can go on and on and on and on about all these people all in one place hanging out with each other and choosing our each other’s company maybe more often than other people that you know on the surface we can relate to than choosing their company I mean oh my gosh right now I could call you know any number of people from very different walks of life and have a truly intimate conversation that might save my butt in that moment or maybe I’m saving their butt or maybe we’re just enjoying each other we’re just being interconnected exactly I mean I can go on and on about the interconnectedness of that I think those are some of the the most exciting ways that it Expresses in recovery I got another one to add too I think interconnectedness helps with the amends process when you can um drop your ego enough to say sorry or to to own what you did as a different person like I think even in the example you shared from Thursday night like that sounded me like an ego dropping and then you brought in the Zen uh there’s any like uh who who was that coming from which you know Zenni yes I get in trouble when I’m Zenni but I mean like you know if you can like let that shell go and uh make your amends to people which in 12 steps really helps you you know I I think that’s beneficial to recovery too so do you guys yeah no no bill you asked like how do we practice how do we kind of practice interconnectedness in Zen and what you’re saying is a perfect example by by negating something so we we negate a lot that’s not it that’s not it that’s not it you know who are you um I’m Dave no that’s just your name right I’m a psychotherapist that’s just something that you do I’m a dad that’s still something that you do I mean and you in I encourage everybody just to do this the rest of their life because maybe you’ll find out who you really are um and it starts with finding out who you’re not and humbling yourself especially by making amends is such a powerful way to humble yourself by dropping that you know dropping that ego part that defensive part that Fear Part um that part that wants to control I mean when you humbly make amends for some [  ] up [  ] I mean what a vulnerable pure kind of place to be I’ve been [  ] around with this idea lately in my head about so we I want to say arbitrarily I get it we make the distinction of self or or separate entities between Dave and Jenny because we see them as two people right but like inside Dave there’s a bunch of different organs that are acting together and inside those organs there’s a bunch of different cells acting together and inside of cells there’s a bunch of different atoms acting together and like why do we make the distinction of Separation at the person level like maybe we shouldn’t right so I was kind of rolling that around in my head and I was like What if I started Living and I’m not saying this is necessarily the truth or anything but what if I started Living as if we are all one human being that’s the level of Separation we separate us from nature maybe and we’re all one we’re just one organism and like now I’m a liver and Dave’s a heart and Jenny’s lungs and you know billies of food whatever like we’re all pieces of that like why is that any different and why am I just automatically assuming the distinction that we make that we’re different because we’re people is true so I was like okay so now we’re all one human being and maybe then I was like well actually it probably doesn’t make sense because we’re still [  ] on our world we should probably just be one organism as the Earth really and I don’t know I just from that place if I truly quote unquote believe that that we are one human and not seven trillion of us act a lot differently and I was like huh is there any fault in this way of thinking is there any is there any science that says we definitely need to divide between Billy and I that’s where the distinction of separation or uniqueness comes in there’s not it’s an arbitrary place we decided to do it I mean I get it it looks like it’s the place to do it but I don’t know just an interesting idea oh yeah I agree with you I like I I choose to live believing in interconnectedness I mean not perfectly we’ve talked about that in the other episode but you don’t have to yeah but it’s just it’s more comfortable it’s just it’s just a nicer for me it’s just a nicer way to believe experience live but that isn’t that and this is I say going back to the other episode but isn’t that getting rid of all our authenticity yeah good question a part of everything well here’s here’s the problem right authentically I think all four of us would say I don’t want to destroy this plan I think we authentically believe that we don’t want to ruin this planet it’s our home it’s where we live we want our kids to be able to live here we don’t want you know anything to go wrong with it so collectively we all believe that authentically and yet when I am not living interconnected what I say is and and these aren’t true statements people who are listening I’m just using the names of the people in the room but like I say Jenny litters she doesn’t care about the environment I throw my trash in the trash can I do care about the environment and the truth is we’re both polluting the [ __ ] world and because I see us as separate I can judge her and say my standpoint is good but we’re all polluting the world I’m littering I’m just putting it in my trash to go to a place to go somewhere else to go on the ground so we don’t have to look at it right so like authentically I get to move away from my authenticity when I believe I’m disconnected from the the world I’m living in whereas if I believe I’m connected to this world and all these people then I understand that Jenny’s doing nothing different to me she throws her trash on the ground right out front but we’re all throwing our trash on the ground

does that make sense did it not answer your question it makes sense I don’t know I agree with it and I don’t know if it’s worth getting into a debate about trash but but yes I get your point okay I follow you I’m kind of curious though well like if I go out into a state park or a nationally protected area I don’t want to be throwing trash all around and destroying the earth I think that’s very different than me putting my trash into my trash can and having it I’m taking the idea that whoever’s taking that trash is doing what they’re supposed to be doing with the trash baby that’s naive but what are we supposed to do with it because it all goes back to being buried in the earth and it’s all evidence that every time we buy a stuff from the world we had to destroy the world to get that stuff and produce it correct but my kid plays little league and when we go to the Little League field and there’s syringes and [  ] down in The Dugout that’s very different than hypodermic needles being disposed of in a proper safe disposal area like there’s there’s no differences I don’t want to laugh and that’s that’s very sad no and that’s fair and look I don’t I don’t want the kids to be harmed by the the IV you know left behind I’m not saying that but at a at a base level in my mind the interconnectedness says it’s easier when it’s out of sight and I can let my ego do well and say our society is fine because I don’t have to see it in front of me right but the truth is I’m still doing it it’s just out of sight so I don’t have to own it yeah well I agree there’s a lot of that that happens and I think with especially with like homelessness and addiction and things like that where we think if we push that to certain areas or can shove that into certain neighborhoods we don’t have to deal with it as a society yeah definitely we do a lot of that but if you’re putting it in the appropriate receptacle and other people see that and are more likely to put in the appropriate receptacle and now we’re all hopefully you know focused on you know bettering the environment bettering the place you know then we can run with that so I don’t think that this should negate personal responsibility interconnectedness I think that there is an eye that needs to be responsible for my actions at the same time so the Buddha taught a middle way and you can get super in think thinking in a super interconnected kind of delusional way you know that turns into like nilism or something right nothing that really matters um but that’s not a way either there there is a relative self and I’m responsible for that and what it does um and it’s the same self that that could be like I go help somebody but what am I really doing and like I’m going to help you what can I do to help you I have pity for you right um you know that’s that’s self-centeredness as well when um beneficial action can be you know just what you do right there is compassion there’s interconnectedness because as soon as I am taking pity on someone and I’m acting out of this place of pity I’m putting myself above them and they are lower than me and I’m already creating delusion and separation in my mind right when when really I am them and they are me on this interconnected level and therefore um I think akamura roshi said this it’s like washing your hands like I don’t like look at my hands and say oh you poor hand I’m going to wash you right oh is that better hand right so I just wash my hands right it’s beneficial action I just do it um so I think it’s real important not to get to too extreme in kind of black and white thinking um and there’s a teacher Ascension her name is hoco and she has this great quote that I I really appreciate and I’m wrestling with it I’m not saying I have I fully embody it or I have it all figured out but it really kind of gets me thinking and it even opens it up even farther because if I am just so far on one side of thinking then really I’m also closing myself off I’m not being open um so hoco says scene one reality from two sides and expressing two sides with one action so there is this one self this one connected with everything but there’s also on the other side of that there’s me who is doing the thing who’s responsible for what I’m doing whether I’m littering or not and it’s it’s the same and so it’s one reality and so how do I see that one reality from two sides and expressing those two sides with one action can I take that into my scenario because I think at least okay so that’s one of the things I’m thinking about because this litter thing has kind of been on my mind lately is we’re losing interconnectedness I think by the way we’re doing it quote unquote right right because when I throw all my trash in the right places the right places the trash can to go be taken to the right places right what I what I think is I’m doing my part to save the world I’m not littering I’m doing good stuff but what I think I understand now is that all that trash is still going somewhere to go into the world it’s still going to poison it right and what I’m actually doing is giving myself the ability to ignore the harm I’m doing to the world because it’s not in my sight like it is for the person who just throws it right on the ground I actually almost feel like they’re doing us more of a service by throwing it on the ground because we’re saying oh [  ] that’s what we’re doing to the world but being able to see both of those sides and understanding like we got to live in this world the best thing I know how to do right now is throw trash away that’s all I got for my best methods but even though I think this other thing might be true and trying to hold those two spots what I’ve decided is my place of action needs to just be to buy less that’s the way I can save the world in that in that problem I’m having right I can just not use as much that works okay now I feel like I’m doing my part I don’t have to wrestle with what’s right or wrong I can just do what I think makes this situation better the way I see it does that fit what you were just saying I think so okay and just really I mean what are you gonna do get rid of your house walk around naked and um does it bring more happiness Maybe you know or does it bring more suffering yeah I don’t know right and we’ve got a lot of great things about this world that we have created as humans that reduce suffering as well and so just to toss all those things think about disease and you know how you know parents would die in their 20s because they could eaten by a lion or they’d get sick or they’d break their foot that was a death sentence at a certain point in our history right he broken bones a death sentence um so the middle way and you know doing beneficial action and realizing that no matter what I do I’m gonna cause harm too I mean whether it’s eating meat or eating vegetables driving a car yeah we can go down all those those routes you know some people will refuse meat because they think it’s harmful well you know if you look at the hard that you know we don’t have to go down this route if you look at the harm that you know just veganism and and real agriculture yeah it does crop agriculture not saying ones worse or better but it’s there right so no matter what we’re going to do is harm the idea is to reduce it and live in this middle way otherwise we’re trying to control something that we can’t yeah any final thoughts about interconnectedness theories questions anything that came up that we want to make sure we talk about before we I think it is easy to take it to an extreme I know at points in my life I’ve actually uh and still I think I romanticize the idea of like well we should just all go live in like a commune in Oregon and like live together and live off the land and and do this stuff and you know it’s like I don’t know it still sounds beautiful I don’t know how practical it is in today’s reality um because it seems like you hear horror stories about all those things too but but yeah it is easy to take that idea that uh if we all just lived with each other in this mass harmony then everything would be perfect and I just don’t think that’s reality either I don’t know because I got some plans I might come no let’s talk let’s talk Billy don’t forget names of friends that might be offense it is something going around yeah it is tempting and you know when you but also in a in a more immediate sense you know when we come together with people that are there to help each other you know what like in recovery pretty much most everybody is there to to help themselves and each other in some way right I mean sir people can get off track and you cannot look like that but who was who would go to a damn recovery meeting like whatever other reasons right it might happen you can always find an example but really like I’m actually thinking I’ve seen this well and most of the time if you went to one of those meetings and looked and and sort of could like see what I’m going to call it like the rap sheet of each of those people like in front of them you know their laundry list of [  ] they’ve done you would probably think I don’t want to be around these [  ] people but you know when you go and you can let those pre-judgments down you allow beautiful relationships and beautiful things to happen with some pretty fascinating people and everybody there’s usually some version of their best self you might not agree with what I think of myself is at the moment but you know it is right and that’s one of the things about having a group having small communities like this and Zen for me I mean when I go to Zen I’ve got a meditation group I’m gonna plug it real fast this is all right um just just you know we don’t advertise too much but I want people to know about it so it’s called empty circle meditation that’s empty circle meditation it’s in Perryville Maryland every Sunday at 3 P.M at Impact Martial Arts big red karate sign 3 P.M beginners are welcome we’ve got a website empty circle meditation.com or org the website is kind of a little half broken right now I’m trying to figure it out we also have a Facebook page but when I go there you know when I’m going to a you know another Zen Center or something and everybody’s really just on at their best too and it just shows like what we can do I think it’s so important to experience that otherwise for me personally I’d be out in a world where people it’s hard to sometimes see that they’re at their best and whether they are not it can be very difficult to see so we go to these places where people are going to to for beneficial action for themselves and you know other people around them it’s an important thing to experience some people miss out on that yeah gosh and some people I’m like oh I don’t want you to use drugs or drink too much but if you could just get recovery somehow you’d be so much happier right well I think interconnectedness is amazing it’s something I I think that has been I want to say accidentally but just kind of coming into my life more and more the more I meditate the more I I listen the more I hear the more I try to be more open the more I’m trying to do personal development and growth and healing and you know this idea just keeps coming to me more and more and and I like the idea that you know it’s already out there and people are talking about it and I didn’t Discover it and I can learn figure it out even better can I end with a reading please and I I appreciate what you just said too I do um all right so this is the the Zen teachers kind of follow-up about the Zone the squash story okay all right um to be sure it is a fact that ordinarily we live in a small individual body that we call I we think that this small individual body is our self imagining that we are this or that but self as the reality of life is not simply this individual body it has to be something more than that for example the force that makes my heartbeat sends blood flowing through my whole body and allows me to breathe so many times per minute it is not something that I control or activate the power that performs these functions works completely beyond my thoughts can we say this power is not me because it comes from Beyond my thinking mind it is neither a higher power nor some other power nor is it my personal self power it is the energy of life as long as this power is working Within Me it is surely the reality of my life this holds equally true for the thoughts and ideas that arise in my head they are my thoughts but they are very but the very power that allows them to arise transcends them by far however even while saying that this power is transcendent beyond my thoughts as long as it is actually functioning within me it is surely the reality of the self-functioning in as me while the reality of the life of the self exists beyond the thoughts of this individual it is at the same time the very power actually functioning as this small individual just as it is with me so it is with you the self as an individual entity along with the contents of the various thoughts of this entity takes for granted that each such entity is a self and in terms of the thoughts of each individual they are indeed distinct but the power of life that enables us to think in various ways and that functions inside each individual goes beyond the thoughts of the small eye and in this sense it is all pervading just as the story of the squashes that realizes that they were living out the reality of One Life when they followed the vine attached to the top of their heads we have to say that in this sense all existence all living beings are living out the power of one great all-pervading life what that story reminds me of or at least what I was what came up inside of me when you were reading that story was this idea that like I will go out into the world today after this episode I gotta run an errand I gotta go home and rest a little I gotta go to the grocery store later I’ll forget this conversation I’ll forget that that like my finger moves and wiggles when I think I want it to right I’ll forget that gravity keeps me here so I don’t float the [  ] off to the Sun and burn up I’ll forget that all this [  ] in life is happening and working and the and the trees are taking my oxygen and giving it or taking my carbon dioxide and giving it back to me so I can breathe it again like all this [  ] already kind of works just like it’s supposed to and I will walk out of here and forget all that and think I know the right ways to live I figured it out I got it all done y’all are [  ] it up right when really I could just say man this energy of life seems to be doing just a fine job on its own and maybe I can just you know contribute and fit in where I can I guess I guess um that’s what it reminds me of interconnectedness by the way all of our episodes are interconnected so go listen to all of them uh while you’re out there this week Continuous Flow yeah it’s all one conversation we keep saying the same [ __ ] in different ways anyway um Dave thank you for coming on thank you Dave oh your life go well yeah go out there try to just try to be open to the idea that maybe you’re not disconnected from everything else see you next week [Music] [Applause]

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