Log: Appropriate Deference

I have a notion. It is perhaps a continuation of the two errors.

  1. In the dominant western culture, insight into the nature of reality is not praised and those who have it are neither appreciated nor deferred to. In response to this, I’m inclined to brag; to describe myself as superior to all those who do not have it, and especially to those who think they have it but do not. I find myself in a hilarious chest beating competition, in which I can beat my chest louder because I don’t have a “humble person” identity to lose. “Look how great and wise I am, and how comparatively foolish you are” I say. I insist on being rightly deferred to. I am entitled to your respect and obedience.1 2
  2. On the other hand, when I imagine the hypothetical situation of a culture that praises insight and defers to those who have attained it, and more specifically, a stage and a podium at which I as one with insight have been asked to speak, and have just been introduced with lavish praise, I imagine deflecting all praise from myself to the right mind which is not at all unique to me. There is nothing at all special about me, in fact any seeming greatness I possess really belongs to my Teacher (who any of the audience could choose just as easily if they wanted to, with equivalent results). And I myself am an unwilling, ungrateful, grumpy imbecile. I put it better in my notes:

    There’s nothing special about me personally. It’s the right mind that deserves our praise and attention. I’m only 39% willing. I am an ego.

I find the contrast of these inclinations very interesting. And I wonder whether they are that way for a reason.

let’s explore that

The first culture is making the first error and needs to be awakened to the possibility; and the second culture is making the second error and needs to be redirected to look inside themselves instead of at me.

But how do I respond to a mixed audience? Even in a mostly ordinary culture group, there will always be some who are in the second culture, and might be confused by my display.

And how do I even express it? I hesitate to call myself “enlightened” since by my own measures I’m not, and I like to be accurate, but to the ordinary person the difference between me and a fully enlightened person is likely meaningless and irrelevant. Perhaps my attachment to accuracy is an obstacle in this case.

I also do not like to demand the ‘appropriate respect that is due me’. But perhaps this too is a mis-thought to be corrected. There is a belief in me that I am not worthy of respect.

Opinion about what Freyr should do:

  • withdraw attention from groups and individuals whose respect and obedience I do not have.3
  • spend more time alone or with groups and individuals who respect and obey (but do not worship) me.

I have been trying to prove ‘myself’ to egos. At the words “Well, you seem very full of yourself” my ‘faith’ crumples into self-doubt/false-humility.

extra ramble of uncertain usefulness

As a point of clarification: appropriate deference is the middle way between the two errors; the unity of both corrective inclinations.

The deference I am entitled to from those without insight, is the same as the deference I have for my Teacher. His way is always right. When I disagree (and I do, often) I know I am wrong. But that’s the point: I can tell the difference between my wrong voice and his right Voice; I don’t confuse one for the other.
I might dig my heels in about my business, but when addressing those without insight, I’m far more willing to be His representative. Those without insight need an imperfect human avatar, being too fearful to relate to the Teacher directly.

I direct you to the Teacher in your mind. If you are not attentive to the Teacher in your own mind then be attentive to me. If you aren’t ready to be attentive to me then go away.

The appropriate deference of one who has greater ‘attainment’/willingness than I, is not for me to judge.

Humans I defer to

On Tuesday I went to visit a Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre. I only met Lama Shenpen very briefly but I’m now observing my reaction to her (just like I observe my reaction to those without appropriate deference). I notice that after a single handshake, she has my unreserved respect and obedience. I feel I would most likely4 do whatever she told me to do without asking why. I find this response just as interesting as my responses to the two errors.

But I also recognise her as human, and having nothing that is out of my reach.

That’s what appropriate deference looks like.

There are others I have this feeling about, such as those at the FACIM, though not as strongly - perhaps because I have not met them in person.

meta comment

It’s not clear when I’m talking about insisting on appropriate deference that I’m not referring to only the first inclination.
Deference = first correction
Appropriate deference = the unity of both corrections

I did at one point lump devotion in with respect and obedience, but I now realise that like entitlement to love, entitlement to devotion goes both ways. A devoted younger brother is entitled to the devotion of his older brother.5


(addendum: 2019-07-04)

A dear friend relayed to me a story in which she was trying to explain appropriate deference to her uncomprehending friends. She told them that she would not just be willing, but happy to “kneel at Freyr’s feet”.

Upon hearing these words, I immediately knelt at her feet and kissed them. She burst into laughter.

  1. T-1.II.3:7 

  2. This way you are working to undo your pride instead of me working to undo your pride 

  3. I have a different feeling about family and old friends, and correspondingly a different inclination - to complete the relationship; to forgive 

  4. I can never be really certain when predicting my own behavior 

  5. T-1.II.3:8-9 

Forgive, and you will see this differently.