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By Debbie Lynn
*all names have been changed to ensure privacy
Four years ago, I was perusing some posts on Facebook, and I came across one filled with crazy energy.
It had rants and raves and was speckled with sarcasm, arrogance and self-righteous condemnation. It was full of contrary comments to everything anyone said and to everyone saying them.
I was completely amused and I kept reading.
There was almost a comical evangelical air about some of the posts and I (of course) was sucked in. One woman in particular caught my attention as she attracted my impish heart. She was a woman on a mission, and she was truly an instigator (with a light-hearted conviction) in the conflict. Her comments were intelligent, brief and poignant. She spoke her truth, and was on the edge of rudeness laced with humor. She made me laugh, and so I reached out to her.
I think the message I sent went like this: “You are not playing nicely in the sandbox—lol.” And so, our friendship began.
Her name was “Catherine” but that was not her real name; it was the name she gave to her Avatar so she could be anonymous. Catherine was second in command in a group of Zen Practitioners, and we talked about Zen via messaging. Soon she asked me to check out and or join their Facebook group. I went to the website, liked what I saw, and joined. She introduced me to a few members and invited me to post my art and writings in their forum, so I did.
I was greeted with kindness and a man named Jonathan contacted me. I had heard his name over and over from Catherine (and a couple of the others), and I figured he was in charge. They often quoted him and referred to him with high regard. The reverence held for this man was surreal. It sort of made me giggle, but he was nice enough (at first). He complimented me on my art that I had posted and we talked a bit.
When I told Catherine he had messaged me, she was completely taken aback. She made it very clear that HE was something special, and anything he says I must heed, must abide by and must take carefully into consideration. My reaction was: Yeah, right. But my curiosity was piqued. He gave me encouragement and unbeknownst to me, he gave me a Koan.
I was his student, and I was in “Darshan.”
In the meantime, two of the women that were members of the “Zenies” in the group started showing the oddest behavior (for anyone), especially those who practice “Zen.” They began vicious attacks on people in other Facebook groups (of spiritual nature) and some I was personally affiliated with. Their attacks were so out there, and so ugly and I, as an administrator in two of these groups, had to do something.
I tried to defuse the unprovoked vile and use it as a teachable moment (for myself), but they kept at it hard and mean. They attacked people with foul insults—it was truly scary. The threats, the void of humanness and the seriously offensive vibrations were off the charts.
I could not figure out why, but they were on this rampage to destroy people. They had also figured out a way to by-pass the Admin, blocking us from seeing the malicious posts. It was crazy, and the group members were up in arms.
When I asked Catherine about it, her reply was like it always was, “I am sorry they disturbed you.” It took a few weeks of hell to finally get rid of them, but they came back with a vengeance, and I was the new target.
They posted nasty comments under my posts in the Facebook forum. I tried to just ignore it. I tried be bigger than their crap, but I couldn’t, I didn’t, and my pride got the best of me. I was also very surprised that other members in this “Zen” array had nothing to say about it. It seemed as if it was silently sanctioned—silence being the key word.
At the same time all of this was going on, my exchanges with Jonathan were getting weird as well. I held no reverence for him, just a mild respect, and that seemed to bother him. He had taken such a violent tone in his messages and started to belittle me when I asked questions or when I addressed his.
I wanted to have his knowledge, and wanted to learn more, but this was stupid and it was taking the “Zen Beating” to a whole new level—not my style.
After a couple of days of that, I had had enough. I was more than done with the malice and spite that they were inflicting on my friends and the group(s). I went ballistic one day, ranting in my best authentic Debbie style and it wasn’t pretty or intelligent. It was something I am not real proud of, but it happened.
Jonathan and his followers were not happy but it seemed that he and his company had no idea what his cronies were doing. I was later told that they were beyond and above Facebook. So it didn’t matter anyway to what those two war mongers were up to, because it just wasn’t a concern. My rant however, was. I was lambasted, shamed and scolded.
Talk about inner triggers? Yep, all those deep wounds surfaced furiously and painfully. I hadn’t been attacked like that since middle school. I reverted to my defenselessness and crawled back into a fetal position of childhood confusion and pain. I could not believe a group of so-called Zen practitioners could be so ugly.
Was this some kind of joke?
Catherine stayed somewhat neutral. In her very best “Catherine way” she felt my pain too. She would never come out and say it, but I am pretty good at reading between the lines.
She told me how she left the real world after one horrible story after another. She just had to leave. She left her daughter, her marriage, the corporate job, friends and family and she was going to the desert to be with the Aborigines. She told me she had befriended a witch doctor sometime earlier and he invited her to join the tribe to go on a walk-about for deeper knowledge. She was doing what she needed to do, and it was time for her to go.
She claimed to be completely unattached to everything—even her flesh and blood— but I saw it as an escape. She had the highest spiritual intellect I had ever come across, but the lowest self-esteem and hatred for life one could ever imagine. I could sense her deep conflict, saw her hypocrisy, and felt her pain when she said that she doesn’t usually talk with many people. I took that as a compliment, but it seemed obvious to me that she didn’t like to reveal herself, yet for some reason she trusted me.
She left, and I miss her.
I told Jonathan that Catherine had told me she was leaving, and he seemed so intrigued with my relationship with her. He kept trying to convince me she was going on a vision quest. Perhaps that part is truth, but I knew the real reasons that lay deep in the soul of a woman scorned and he could never, ever, know what that was like. But I did, and I held vigil for her in my heart.
He also told me she had gone head-to-head with some of the most powerful spiritual men of our time via her intellect and knowledge—that she was clever, strong and wise. I was told she was a priestess in her own way, a spiritual warrior and had sacred knowledge. This is where I really began to question them all. How could they not see her as see truly was? It saddened me a bit.
I promptly left the group of crazy Zen-ites, leaving them to their own little world. There was not another word from King Jonathan, but another man named Phillip would answer my queries when I was stuck on question or a part of the Koan Jonathan had left with me.
Looking back, I see all my lessons, all my fears and all my tests clearly.
These people, (whomever they were) were the ultimate gift of dysfunction. They were pure contradiction—alive and viable. They were dead and hungry, consumed with hunting and killing the Buddha. They had wisdom without a heart—robotic and calculated, unattached which made their hearts so very cold.
It is a fine line we walk isn’t it? To be exempt from humanness is impossible, and when we turn our back on basic instincts (kindness for example) we cross a line of distinction warped in a spiral downfall of not having to “feel” love or compassion.
But life doesn’t work like that very well. It just makes us cold. We can learn detachment without giving up on our emotion. We just have to reel in the emotional drama (there is a difference). We don’t need to give up on our highs and lows, but to be with them in a space that is out of consideration, not attention; a space that allows us to feel, but not to erode away.
In other words grow the f*ck up.
And for me, this experience was just another testament to how life works. When you join forces with ill-will you get ill-will. The karmic wheel keeps spinning, and “Karma’s gonna’ get you.” The echo can be brutal.
I did however, do some very deep and critical thinking during this process. I loved every minute of the contemplation. I read things; re-read things I studied the Masters and found over and over what I had already known to be true was confirmed. But I still had (at the tender age of 51) some issues I needed to resolve and so I am working on them. It opened up my compassion; it screamed at me then hugged me then screamed at me again.
And I observed: I don’t know why we all need constant validation. I suppose we are all victims of our circumstances and we all come from dysfunction anyway. We are all human so we tend to devalue our inner wisdom.
Pretty basic? But a truth we all tend to sidestep.
To make a long story short? Sorry, I can’t make it short. I guess I would just ask you to digest what you read, what you hear and let it sit. If it feels right, then it is; if it doesn’t walk on, and walk away quickly. There are no Gods, no Goddesses no idols to worship.
We are all full working to empty, and the sooner we heed our heart, the better off we will all be.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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- Zen Persona Shattered: Picking Up the Pieces When You Lose Your Sh*t - January 30, 2019
- Appreciating Peace in a Violent World - September 27, 2018