When You Feel Your Sun is Setting

October 7, 2013


Your Setting Sun – from The Shambhala Principle

The following is an excerpt from a book I am currently read, The Shambhala Principle by Sakyong Mipham, which struck me as particularly insightful.

“Naturally, when we feel that we are faulty, we mistreat ourselves, and then we mistreat others in the same way.

“When this lasts for a while, that depressed and aggressive state becomes the norm, and anything not depressing begins to appear naïve or unsophisticated.  Even our nature appears insubstantial and small.

“Thus, the psychic repercussions of… the ceremony of unworthiness have created a depressed culture, and the product of that culture is cynicism and doubt.  Our sense perceptions are padded.  Generally speaking, we are spooked by our own thoughts.  Self-doubt arises, and we start doubting others.  We forget about bravery as our minds are consumed by doubt, becoming unstable and fickle.  Saying and doing negative things begins to make sense, and developing our warrior mind seems completely unrealistic.  We have fallen into the cowardly realms, where the mind is trapped and depressed.  It buys into aggression as a way to accomplish things.  We have great confidence in anger, we are really certain that aggression is going to work, and we forget about patience and compassion – even towards ourselves.

“The mind that arises from the combination of intelligence and a depressed state is essentially obsessed with negating everything, since the basic premise of such a mind is death and nihilism – hence my father’s term “the setting sun.”  To say our age is marked by setting-sun tendencies is not necessarily saying the world is over but that, at the day’s end, our care and curiosity are diminishing, like a clock winding down.  There is a deflated feeling: Why work for the future when we feel that we are coming to the end?”


Habits as Ceremonies

The present moment is the what is happening right now.  Ceremonies of unworthiness are particularly dangerous because they cloud our ability to perceive the truth of the present moment.  And I always find it a peculiarly poetic paradox that ceremonies of unworthiness actually lead to an INFLATED sense of self. Instead of seeing the truth of the present moment, we habitually scan an impartial world for evidence that we are different than everyone else.

The mind complicates.  The mind complicates.  The mind complicates.  When we believe everything our mind tells us, we will become lost, unable to see the difference between what is true and what is just a myth we nourish through the ceremonies in our lives.  For example, if we cultivate the habit of comparing ourselves to others, we have created a daily ceremony of unworthiness that will begin to feel true.  It is not TRUE that you are unworthy, even if it feels true.  It is a just myth that you strengthen in your mind each time you choose to compare yourself to someone else.

Ceremonies of unworthiness prevent us from being present with ourselves and others, which is the only place where truth occurs.  We must be brave to look for these ceremonies in our lives, and then bravely choose to replace these ceremonies with new ones that celebrate the truth of the present moment.  It means saying to yourself over and over and over, “I am just one starfish in the sea.  No more or less deserving than any other starfish near or far from me.”  (Hey – I just made that up!  I like it!)


Exploring your Ceremonies of Unworthiness

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about ceremonies of unworthiness that may have arisen in your life.

What ceremonies of unworthiness are present in your daily routines?  Internal:  What thoughts arise in your mind that support the illusion of unworthiness?   External: What behaviors have your developed that nourish the illusion of being unworthy?


What myth is being nourished through these ceremonies of unworthiness?


Ceremonies of unworthiness nourish fictional myths in your mind, which in turn keep you from seeing how things really are in the world.  How might your ceremonies of unworthiness block your ability to see observe what is actually happening in the present moment?



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