Basic hypocrisy and the frustating gap


I think I said this already (I’m always saying this) but here goes again: there’s a gap often between ideas and actions, especially “aspirations” or hopes or high concepts and ordinary solid earth action. This is a thought I had while doing a practice called the “four reminders,” or the “four thoughts that turn the mind to the dharma.”

The dharma means the Buddhist teachings, or the “situation” as it is, or more generally, teachings themselves, of any stripe.

The thing seems to be that I can contemplate an idea or phrase, this is a form of meditation, to contemplate and focus on one phrase or sentence and see what comes up, and I can come up with “good ideas” very quickly, most times.

To me it feels like the instinct that you get instilled in you through being in school. Maybe that’s just part of it. What I mean is that you get trained in a way to think of intelligent answers to questions, quickly. I feel like I developed this in school, but there’s a glibness to it, a facility. What ends up surfacing is usually interesting or clever ideas, with no “meat.” It’s too much heaven, too little earth.

Is this enough of an insight?

Is it enough to notice that you can have good ideas about how to live, and then constantly fall short? I’m not talking about unnecessary guilt, per se. I’m talking about having the experience of thinking something like

“Life is short, so we should appreciate it.”


“Life and death happen all the time in your psychological state.”


Not completely profound, but somewhat meaningful. But then not only do I forget these insights, when I remember them, it seems impossible to realize them, to really appreciate, or to really see life and death. It could be that real insights are totally ordinary in life, and that I expect their appearance in my day to have some kind of feeling of surprise, shock, fireworks, etc.

As happens a lot, language seems to drag me off course. I get intoxicated by it. That’s something interesting in itself, in terms of contemplation. Maybe the intoxication of words is something to work with in contemplation.

At the same time, it seems like the initial problem stays unresolved. What I wanted to get to, earlier was a quote, or a phrase really, from Fabrice Midal, a student of Trungpa Rinpoche, and the author of an excellent book about him and his life.

“The basic hypocrisy of ego”

is the phrase. Somehow, the way ego works, it is basically hypocritical. It’s constantly posturing, constantly on stage, constantly off the mark. There’s a gap between seeming insight and actual growth, or whatever you’d like to call it. That seems like another intoxication- the drunkenness of insight, or egoic insight. “I really get it now!” with a feeling of breakthrough, and then somehow things just go back to normal, which is very comforting.


About jakekarlins

Aspiring writer and artist, dharma practitioner, yogi.

Posted on March 24, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Jake, you’ve brought up some really interesting questions here. The way I understand insight in the Buddhist sense is that it’s very different than the insight of a classroom or even a therapist’s couch. It’s been taught to me as an embodied insight, beyond concepts or words. So if a certain person saying “hello” generally makes your body tense up, the insight isn’t “When he greets me I feel tense,” but it’s recognizing and feeling the actual feeling (on the left side of your chest, as tightness that doesn’t quite hurt, etc.) without running from it. It’s in that moment of embodied awareness. My understanding is that these insights can often be described in words, but the words aren’t it.

    This isn’t different than what you’re saying…there can still be a gap between embodied insight and action. Don’t know if that is useful…

  2. Understanding beyond concept, right? Embodiment is an interesting study. It seems that one thing embodiment borders on is the border between words and meaning, which brings up some very strong energy sometimes.

  1. Pingback: Shantigar, a performing-arts retreat and center, to hold workshops in rural western Massachusetts setting « in the theater of One World

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