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Still Getting (Un)Hooked, After All These Years July 19, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Buddhism, Changing Perspectives, Healing Stories, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Peace, Pema Chodron, Philosophy, Suffering, Wisdom, Writing, Yoga.
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Shenpa thrives on the underlying insecurity of living in a world that is always changing.”

– quoted from “How We Get Hooked and How We Get Unhooked” by Pema Chödrön (published by Lion’s Roar, 12/26/2017)

A random short appeared in my YouTube queue. It was only about 60 seconds, from a channel I have never watched nor followed, and I’ll admit that I got “hooked” within a few seconds. Remember, “hook” is one way the American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön translates the Tibetan word shenpa. It can also be translated as “urge, impulse, charge, or attachment.” It is the first sign that someone has pushed your buttons and activated your sympathetic nervous system, which makes you want to fight, flee, or freeze/collapse. While her teachings related to shenpa and the four R’s (which are a way to get unhooked), are often connected to negative button-pushing, we would be mindful to note that the ability to be hooked is ego-related and, therefore, is also connected to positive things.

The lure is the pretty or shiny thing that draws us in so that we can get hooked. There’s nothing wrong in feeling a sense of pride in your work, your appearance, and/or your child. Part of the practice, however, is being mindful of the fact that that pride is a button that can be pushed. And this is where I first got hooked by the short video, because the content creator was highlighting their hard work. That hard work and (let’s call it) artistry was what caught my attention. But, that’s not the point of this post – neither, in some ways, was it the point of the video.

You see, the people in the video had been accused of something. They had been publicly accused, by someone who doesn’t know them, of something that, in some ways, is not inherently a bad thing. Although I personally think that not acknowledging the thing can be detrimental, I also understand that everyone is not in position to see the thing: privilege.

Yes, they had been accused of having privilege. It’s something we all have to a certain degree; however, it is also something that people are starting to understand in a different way than perhaps they understood it in the past. Hence it becoming a point of accusation. To be clear, being accused of having (and using your) privilege is not even close to the same thing as being accused of murder or treason or conspiracy to commit either, it is a hot button. It is something that results in shenpa and, therefore, creates some of the same feelings and reactions. So, it was interesting (but not surprising) that the content creators were quick to defend themselves. It was also interesting that the way they went about defending themselves, ultimately, proved the accusers’ point (to a lot of people). Equally interesting is that, for every person pointing out that their accusers were correct, there was someone vehemently defending the content creator. That’s the thing about public accusations; they lead to public shenpa. They can also lead to public awareness and public action.

Today’s practice highlights public accusations, as well as the resulting public shenpa and public awareness and action. While we can see the parallels to events happening today, these events took place in France in 1898.

As I noted in 2020: “We are living in a time when a lot of people are getting “hooked” by a large number of things. One thing in particular that stands out is people experiencing shenpa because of loud, public, and blunt accusations. The accusations are all related to what in the yoga philosophy would be called avidyā (ignorance) and all four of the other afflicted or dysfunctional thought patterns. The loudest of the accusations comes in the form of one of several words: racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, Islamaphobic, or xenophobic. And, let’s be honest, if someone uses the right “mean” word, they don’t have to do it loudly (or publicly) for the accused to feel the bite of the hook. Furthermore, this shenpa-related reaction is so prevalent right now that we don’t have to turn on the news, read about it, or look online to see someone experiencing this particular form of suffering: all we have to do is look in the mirror.” Click here to read more about shenpa and Émile Zola, who fled France today in 1898.

Please join me today (Tuesday, July 19th) at 12:00 PM or 7:15 PM for a yoga practice on Zoom. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Tuesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “07192020 Compassion & Peace, J’Accuse!”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

“As they have dared, so shall I dare. Dare to tell the truth, as I have pledged to tell it, in full, since the normal channels of justice have failed to do so. My duty is to speak out; I do not wish to be an accomplice in this travesty. My nights would otherwise be haunted by the spectre of the innocent man, far away, suffering the most horrible of tortures for a crime he did not commit.”

– from “J’Accuse” by Emile Zola, published in L’Aurore on January 13, 1898

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