Phenomenology: You Get to Choose
I loved learning of the science phenomenology in college especially because I attended a school of East-West philosophy, CA Institute of Integral Studies. The school and my doctoral studies in psychological transpersonal phenomenology fit very well with my years in Buddhism.
In a nutshell, phenomenology arose after the Enlightenment, when Westerners had literally dissected most of nature, including human anatomy, and learned “laws” that seemed to control behaviors. BUT if one, such as me and a very famous lineage, wanted to study living human experience, what could be done? One could not kill the test “subject” as in the natural sciences. Many famous practitioners arose, each improving on the earlier revelations of what it meant to be human. Like what does love or hate feel like? Probably my favorite was Merleau-Ponty who basically answered for me questions Buddhism never did. He said we can never escape the perceiver, we are always interpreting via our perceptions.
The Buddhist Connection
As a student of Buddhism, I had learned that we were to lose ourselves; I did not understand as I do now, it means we are to lose our preferred attachment to a particular perception, that we could and can transcend any state of being, with training. As Zen master, Suzuki roshi taught, in order to lose ourselves, we must first know ourselves. (His Beginner’s Mind is how I started my meditation practice and recommend it to you. Read a chapter, then try to sit, following your breath for five or ten minutes; I fell in love with it.) I had learned about co-arising; that is one experience arises its opposite or near cousin also can be perceived. Still it was not till I read Merleau-Ponty that it snapped, no, unless we dissociate from our bodies, which I and others do not encourage, there is always a perceiver.
Getting to Choose How You Feel All the Time
Whether you acknowledge it or not, and many especially men who have been taught to stifle feelings, our most powerful way of knowing how we want to live is through our feelings. Imagination also has a big place in how we co-create our lives. Here is one of my all-time favorite poems by now deceased Buddhist poet, Lew Welch:
[First You Must Love Your Body, In Games,]
First you must love your body, in games,
Then you must enter the world of men and
Then you must return to your mother and
Then return to the world that is
that you may finally walk in the
So phenomenology and Buddhism and other traditions teach two things important to our personal choices and this post: One, everything is connected (I will let you research that if networking especially as found in nature does not make sense to you) and two, you have an absolute free will to choose your mood and actions. It takes practice: at least 15 minutes daily of silent meditation in which I hope you eventually become more comfortable and receptive, perhaps to the transpersonal realms where we are non-physically connected in a field of knowing. As you get comfortable with meditation, you can choose to focus on receiving joy and a great deal more. A quote from the great Sufi poet Rumi: (although it sounds a bit modern to me)
Your depression is connected to your insolence and refusal to praise. Rumi
One last shot that life is so much more than you allow. http://awarenessact.com/scientists-now-believe-the-universe-itself-may-be-conscious/
You have tremendous power to create the reality you want. Meditate and contact me if you want help with meditation and more.
2 thoughts on “Phenomenology: You Get to Choose”
Hi really enjoyed this. In an interpersonal conumdrum. Been studying these natural Buddhist ways for a few years now. And really want to take it another level with my work. I am a Licensed Practical Nurse. I want more schooling just not in same line of teaching.
Heather Rose, nice you liked it. I actually call some of this paradoxical and I love paradox; if you work both ends you usually as in meditation find a place of peace when the mind stops struggling. I am intending here that when you feel bad you look/feel for the more positive as it is also here.
My ex brother in law left being a neurophysiology prof to become a nurse using Buddhism in psychiatry: became director. He lives in Nova Scotia, near Pema Chodron, and is retired now. Naropa Buddhist college in Boulder used to have a Buddhist chaplaincy program I almost did. I think you are on to something good. They say Buddhists are good because they know how to deal with suffering.
Let me know if you want to know more. Thanks for reading and commenting.