Basic sanity is a concept that nurses could really use
ursing is such stressful profession one could use all the help that is available. Nurses need help not only with the work at hand but also with also to keep their spirits sane. So much of what nurses do is related to suffering, pain, agony, fear, and many other mixed emotions that it can challenge the toughest. There are so many teachings and philosophies out there for us to use; if we engage we can use them. Among one the most useful ones I found is the concept of Basic Sanity.
The concept of basic sanity was first introduced to the West by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche who also presented Vajrayana Buddhism from Tibet in a refreshing new way. He brilliantly stripped dogma and traditional views in favor of a universal language aiming at turning the esoteric and the difficult to understand teachings, into everyday tools.
Basic sanity is perhaps one of the most fundamental concepts in Vajrayana Buddhism but to name basic sanity a concept embedded in a tradition or sect would be a contradiction. Basic sanity is not possessed by any religion, ideology, or dogma. So it is not necessary to belong to any school of thought or to identify with any philosophy or religion to understand it. Basic sanity is not a privilege of any religion and is accessible and available at any moment, to anyone. There is no need to change your name, wear different clothing or move to a cave in India to find it.
Basic sanity is present within all of us all the time we just have to uncover. This article is not intended to be a Buddhist or a religious study. Mentioning the contextual history here is merely a reference but it is not the most important. My intention is to bring the concept of basic sanity forward, so everyone can benefit from it in their daily lives. This text is only valuable as it helps you to discover your own fundamental basic sanity and use it.
Developing basic sanity is the process of working with ourselves and bringing awareness to a basic and fundamental ground level. It involves becoming aware of the world we live in. It is also the raw understanding of our vulnerabilities and neurosis without altering anything. It is rather quite simple because there is nothing to do and nothing to achieve other than look at our beings as they are; we don’t assume we are spiritually qualified or disqualified and we don’t pretend to be someone we are not. We don’t pretend we can help others when we can’t even help ourselves.
In our quest for spirituality we seek happiness, although there is nothing wrong with seeking bliss we often end up bringing the opposite to ourselves. There is a basic insanity in our quest for spiritual bliss; we enforce it on others and we think we know everything and we want others to follow. We propagandize what we think is right when we ourselves deep inside know we don’t really know crap.
So basic sanity has to do with letting go of this façade and being truthful to ourselves. It has to do with realizing your whole inadequacy when it comes to understanding the mysteries of life. Finding yourself first require that you realize that you might be lost.
Basic sanity is like marrying your spirituality with the world you live in and where you are rather than some faraway place sometime in the future. Of course living it is much harder; we prefer the stories because they are safer and we can always add one thing of another to embellish it just the way we want. In essence this is what dogma and religious fervor are made of; stories of past experiences. Basic sanity is about being present in this present moment and appreciating what we have.
Too many people are living their lives thinking that someday in the future things will happen for them. We work hard in the hopes that someday we’ll be able to escape to a place where we’ll be happy. Instead of being happy now we create conditions we must fulfill in order to get our reward someday. If I just could just buy this house, if I could just have that wife instead of this one, if I could be more beautiful, then I could be happy.
We look at pictures on Facebook of people smiling in some faraway place and we think everybody else is having a perfect life and we are the only ones not happy but everyone is the same. We think we’ll be happy when we go on a vacation, or the weekend, so we go day to day chasing our happiness but never arriving because it is all a dream.
Even when we finally get what we want; we still not happy, then it gets even worst because now there is nowhere to go. This is called basic insanity. This is so pervasive that we see our entire world engaging in some kind of “collective insanity” as we seek distant habitable planets so maybe we can go there and have a better world instead of simply fixing our beautiful planet.
The saddest thing about this approach to life is perhaps that it can create pain and suffering and pit one being against the other while we chase our dreams. In order to understand basic sanity we must be aware of how we are not paying attention to the where we are right now.
When we move into basic sanity we begin focusing on what’s around us and the mind is quiet and attentive. When you achieve basic sanity things curiously get twisted around. The ordinary things of everyday life become amazing and the amazing extraordinary things become less attractive. We become more attracted to the raw and within reach world that is around us. This is much to our advantage since that’s where we spend 99% of our time. Going to work becomes more bearable and even fun. The boring moments have more meaning because we don’t expect anything from them. Fun here has a different meaning because things no longer have to be created to amuse us, we are not afraid to be bored so boring things no longer bore us because we don’t need to be entertained 100% of the time.
We are just there. Noticing we are alive become a pretty extraordinary thing. The ordinary is cheaper and available in abundance so the heap of compost becomes your new gold. The imaginary happiness in the future becomes more like a movie we watch and know is just an illusion and stay out there in a plastic container. Cultivating a quit mind is the first step to achieve basic sanity.
It is important to mention that basic sanity is a pretty unspeakable concept. It is all about being and not conceptualizing. Basic sanity can be experienced at anytime by anyone. We might feel basically sane one day and feel basically insane in the other. Basic sanity is not stable or guaranteed; something that once achieved is yours for the keeps. You might also experience parts of it and even a little bit of basic sanity can go a long way.
Everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives because we all know what that is but we keep forgetting it. Children spend almost all their time in basic sanity but as we grow old the sky becomes cloudier. It all depends on how much we practice in order to quiet our minds. Cultivating the quietude of our minds is the first step. Our busy minds are a factory of thoughts and like a torrent it roars down the valley taking over our lives with emotions.
We must be able to quiet down to river and bring it down to a small brook. Only by quieting our minds is possible to see what is out there and also inside our heads. We ought to be able to sit and hang out with all of it not leaving anything out knowing that is all good but the first step is to notice your mind, the world and your thoughts; nothing is excluded and nothing is included, you can start where you are.
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