“Man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” Simon and Garfunkel
Regard; look, see, view, behold, witness, perceive, discern, detect, find, notice:
consider, reflect upon, contemplate, pay attention to, examine, think about:
value, admire, defer to, respect, appreciate, care for.
Disregard; overlook, gloss over, take no notice of, indifferent to, dismiss, avoid, minimise, underestimate, neglect, deny, ignore, keep at arms length, make light of, disdain, cold-shoulder, deprecate.
What are you “disregarding?”
In spiritual seeking we are seeking something within ourselves. Since we don’t know what it is that we seek, we cannot identify it clearly, we don’t know where it is hidden. We only know that we experience dissatisfaction and we are seeking the end of dissatisfaction. Spiritual teachings tell us that this ending of dissatisfaction is a possibility for all of us. I, Tess, knows this. I am now beyond all dissatisfactions and knowing that this is possible for everyone and that it is the “thing” that all humans want, I share the kinds of things I did along the way in order to allow this to happen to me.
One aspect of my path was to become aware of what I was “disregarding”. Disregard is such an innocent sounding word. It takes no effort to disregard. It’s simple and not even worth talking about, we might think. It’s kind of a non thing.
I started the article with a list of synonyms and antonyms for regard, in order to highlight the varying degrees of “regard” from; “looking” to “appreciating” on the positive side and “overlooking” to “deprecating” on the negative side.
But what one person disregards is different from what another disregards. And most people have had the experience of coming to value or appreciate something that at one time they had overlooked or even deprecated.
The question is, what is the regard/disregard based on? We choose how we want our lives to be and in that choosing we dismiss/reject/resist other things. We are usually not aware of this choosing because it happens automatically in childhood. We select from the smorgasbord of life what we want and what we don’t want, (reject) and then try to make our lives fit into this template.
Recently I showed a film to a group of people, which had a very emotive theme, around the lives of women in the 1950’s in Europe. It was about the ugly side of life. Some people couldn’t “go there”.
They resisted, rejected, tuned out, fell asleep, were very bored, during it. They were probably annoyed and baffled by me showing this, but were too polite to say so. All these states are ego’s ploys to maintain what it has chosen to disregard. Disregard is the mild version of reject, hate or won’t go there.
We do this with the world, and we do it inwardly. We are not aware that we are doing it. It is how our habitual self has learned to cope with the world, and with our inner life.
But, what if the thing you seek is hidden in what you reject? And, by not being willing to look at “your rejections” you are not able to accept “what is”? What are you protecting by this rejection? Unless you “go there” you won’t find what you are protecting. These rejections are what Carl Jung referred to as The Shadow. I’ve seen the expression “confronting our shadow” in psychological literature. To me this means being willing to look at what we are disregarding in our everyday activities and interaction.
That which we disregard or turn away from tends to fall into categories such as: what we fear, security issues, what we dislike/hate, that which does not bring us love and belonging and acceptance and that which we don’t understand, radical questions about meaning of life and death, and issues that trouble our conscience, morality.
We operate out of this “regarding” and “disregarding” all the time, quite unaware of its power over us. In Buddhist terms this is about our cravings and aversions. It’s the living out of what I want, what I have selected from the smorgasbord of life and what I have rejected. We are constantly walking this tight rope between the two edges. It’s hard! We are always vulnerable to getting a slap in the face from what we have rejected.
Self-inquiry, looking within yourself, being willing to know yourself, right down to the roots of yourself is the only way to permanently get out of this tightrope bind.
This means having the courage to look at what you reject, to face your shadow, and not necessarily having to look at all the ugliness in the world but seeing the ways in which you everyday automatically disregard things. Do you dismiss some people as unworthy of your time, and what is the basis, (your thinking) of why that person is unworthy of your time? This is not about changing your behaviour to others, but about knowing why you are doing it.
In your mind what is not-nice, not-comfortable, not-worthy for you?
Most people have what Catholics call a conscience, a moral or ethical standard against which we live our lives. We have ideas about what is good and bad, what is right and wrong, and so on. Looking at what we consider good or bad, in specific incidents is a valuable way to become aware of our underlying values and to become able to identify where we picked them up.
We are always looking for the underlying values to our actions. Seeing the underlying values, and competing values that we become aware of reveals our hidden agendas to us. These hidden agendas are the roots of ego, or what Bob Fergeson calls The SMAARP -self maintaining automatic associative reaction pattern.
This is all about getting to know ourselves, right down to the roots of our being, which reveals our true nature to us, which then solves our predicament.
The spiritual path, seeking is about coming home to ourselves, returning to our natural state and that is accomplished by the process of coming to know ourselves. The first layer is through this mental construct which dictates our every action, but that we are unaware of. Having the courage and determination to look at our “disregardings” is one doorway into ourselves.
This is the goal of self-inquiry.