Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hungers Fading


The desire for pleasure has as its handmaiden the fear of pain, the hunger for being seen is shadowed by the fear of invisibility, and the hunger for escape brings with it the fear of engagement and intimacy. At the root of all these fears is a terror of emptiness, the concern that this self - personal or social - will die in a cold nothingness. This terror is usuaslly kept beneath the surface of consciousness, recognized only by its surface manifestations: an avoidance of being alone, the fear of being criticized,a pulling back from close relationships.

GK p.57

Do you find yourself avoiding being alone? Fearing criticism? Pulling back from close relationships?

Can you recognize one of these as a personal pattern? Can you choose which hunger is predominant in your experience and investigate it more closely?

This segment of the text will support such an investigation as it addresses the fading of each of the three hungers in turn.

GK p. 57 continued

...the hunger and the fear are two facets of the same thing...when the meditative mind sees the root fear and meets it with acceptance, [the fear] begins to diminish - and all the hungers dissolve with it. With such fading, relationships cease to be powered by longing and desperation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Wbat is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering?

Cessation refers to the lessening of toxic qualities in our lives: specifically lessening of the hungers for pleasure, being, and nonbeing and diminishment of the unwholesome roots of greed, hatred, and delusion nurtured by the hungers. Ignorance about the nature of identification and impermanence also diminishes in this cessation. As these intoxicants fade, the quality of life improves. Part of the path of their fading involves the cultivation of certain qualities, such as clear awareness, compassion, wise attention, and insight. But fundamentally, the focus is on the fading. What remains is ease, goodness, wisdom, and joy.

The happiness born of peace, when the hungers subside like the last receding wave on a glassy summer sea, is exquisite and stable.

GK, pp.55-56

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The End of Suffering

Gradual Cessation pp 54-56

What would it be like to live with less hunger? What would it be like to see the world, to meet other people, free from the anthill obsessions that occupy our thoughts and congest our emotions? It may be simpler than it first appears. We do not have to try to be happy, cultivate compassion, embrace some religions concept, or withdraw from other people. We can speak simply of the ease at the storm's end.

GK p. 54

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fundamental Change

The Energy that Drives Greed, Hatred, and Delusion (pulling, pushing, and foggy disregard) pp 50-53

Just as hurricanes and tornadoes are fed by the larger forces of sea and air, ...movements of the mind are fed by the weather systems of the basic hungers. Our lives are beset by agitation and dissatisfaction. If we seek relief, short-term benefit can come from addressing the obvious manifestations of greed or lust, hatred, and hazy delusion. We can change our behavior, watch the mind, or alter our environment. Truly fundamental change, however, will come only from addressing the underlying hunger--the energy source driving all these roots, thoughts, and actions.
Greg Kramer p.52

This kind of fundamental change is what is possible with our meditation practice. We are in the very interesting and exciting process of transforming our consciousness, of changing our brains.

I have found this exploration we are doing with Gregory Kramer into the causes of suffering manifesting through interpersonal practice helpful and highly revealing. I am now looking forward to moving into the Third Noble Truth, the end of suffering as it relates in this investigation to interpersonal relationship.

If you are following along with us, consider reading these pages, reviewing earlier parts of the book, and working with the exercises on page 53.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Feel inadequate?

Greg Kramer's description of how feelings of inadequacy are constructed:

First there is sensory contact with the world: we seek hear, touch, or remember another person. The subject-object split happens instantaneously; we experience me and them. Then the deeply conditioned view of separateness and difference arises. We feel fearful, unsafe. Entering this view, we compare ourselves to others; inevitably we either come up on top--and are tense because we seek to be recognized for our superiority, fearful to lose that recognition--or we come out on the bottom and are tense because we fear the social death of rejection. These feelings are being constructed anew in every moment. They are not permanent, but continually reconstructed. This is key. Once the thoughts "I am inferior," "I am inadequate," "I am unworthy," are constructed as mental images and as a felt bodily sense, we cling to them and believe in them as if they were stable and permanent. We don't notice that we re-create them all the time.

GK p47

If you are reading the newsletter or Insight and Meditation blog, you may recognize the experience being described as the flow of aggregates arising out of current experience and the resulting dispositions built up over a lifetime. By recognizing the arising formations, the arising process, we have an opportunity to modify our behavior, influencing dispositions toward future experiences.

Notice any ways you make comparisons - and build on them. Be aware also of any negative effects such comparisons have on your sense of well-being, or your quality of mind. (see Gregory's exercises on page 48)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Third Hunger (cont'd)

When we speak ill of ourselves internally, we are both perpetrator and victim. Each self-criticism is a dart that contracts the heart in pain.

Greg Kramer p.46

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Third Hunger

The Hunger to Avoid Being, and the Fear of Being Seen (pp.45-48)

The hunger for what the Buddha called nonbeing is the urge to escape....It is a fundamental recoiling from the hurt of life...

And just as the interpersonal hunger for being is the urge to be seen, the interpersonal hunger for non-being is the urge not to be seen, to be invisible, to escape, to shrink from interpersonal contact and its possible hurt.

The hunger for escape also takes the form of fear of losing current safety.

Gregory Kramer, p.45

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Second Hunger (cont'd)

To properly understand the power of the hunger to be seen, and its accompanying fear of invisibility, it is essential to understand its relationship with our elemental fear of death and of existential emptiness... If we understand this...we may soften our judgments of social longings--our own and others'--that we might judge as trivial.

Gregory Kramer, p.41

Friday, March 7, 2008

Second Hunger

The Hunger to Be and the Fear of Nonbeing (pp.41-45)

This passage warrants careful attention. Gregory makes some very interesting and challenging connections. The second noble truth opens deep insights by inviting us to look into interpersonal suffering.

Read the entire passage, then consider reading again and stopping after every paragraph. Ask yourself what the passage means in your personal experience. Make a few notes, creating a paragraph that is significant for you.

Do the three exercises at the end of this passage. Which one was most powerful for you? What have you learned from being with this passage?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Forming the Relational Self

This significant segment describes briefly the way the self is formed as well as its concomitant sense of separation (pp. 35-38).
...Each moment of interpersonal contact generates feelings of private autonomy. This is universal and by no means bad. When we fail to recognize this identification, however, we lay the foundation for loneliness and other forms of anguish. p. 36

The passage also includes three valuable excercises. Each practice is an opporunity to explore, in your immediate experience, your own experience of separation. Spend several days with each one: looking at superiority and inferiority, looking at your family relationships, and noticing the sense of separation when observing people on the street.

Monday, January 14, 2008

three basic hungers

hunger for sensual pleasure
hunger for being
hunger for non-being

What, friends, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? It is hunger, which brings renewal of being, is accompanied by delight and lust, and delights in this and that; that hunger for sensual pleasures, hunger for being, and hunger for non-being. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering. SN 56.II

Gregory's comments on this passage from the Buddha's teaching are alone worth the price of the book...especially his comments on the hunger for non-being.

...the urge for non-being seemed downright cryptic... The hunger for non-being, I came to understand, was not only the urge to escape this crazy and painful life but also the urge to escape existing in relationship. Inherent in this urge, I saw, is the fear of being seen, the fear of intimacy. p. 34

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Grasping is the link between hunger and suffering... p32

We have had a wonderful holiday. Neither my husband or I really wanted to take down the Christmas Tree - a sign of the holiday's ending and the beginning of a year we cannot foretell - a year that, like all other years, will have its joys and it sorrows. So we hold on to the tree and the colorful lights - but in doing so add the suffering of clinging to the pleasant.

This passage (pp. 31-33) and the suggested exercise give you an opportunity to explore the links between suffering and grasping in your life and relationships. Notice especially how we cling to both pleasant and unpleasant connections.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Causes of Suffering

Interpersonal Hunger is Gregory Kramer's coining of the Second Noble Truth in this book. He includes the elements listed below in his discussion of the causes of suffering. He is sharing traditional teachings applied to contemporary living in a very practical and understandable way.

Study the headings before working with the chapter. What do you already know about these? Think of your own personal experiences in relationship to the headings. Do you have any experiences like those you think he might discuss here? Consider changing each item into a question and writing your own answer.

Clinging to Hunger Causes Suffering

Three Basic Hungers

Forming the Relational Self

The Hunger for Pleasure and the Urge to Avoid Pain

The Hunger to Be and the Fear of Nonbeing

The Hunger to Avoid Being, and the Fear of Being Seen

The Hungers Intermingled

The Energy That Drives Greed, Hatred, and Delusion