Dissatisfaction, Fear of Being Judged, and Noticing Other People

March 6, 2024

Shambhavi and the Jaya Kula community gather for satsang and get real about all the questions we humans want answered. Intimate, courageous, heartfelt spiritual talk about pretty much everything. So happy you are here! A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

It's a good thing if you feel dissatisfied and then your tool that you pick up is doing more practice. Because a lot of people feel dissatisfied, and their tool that they pick up is to leave and not do any practice. [laughs]
It's an interesting question of what are those two different dissatisfactions?
Everything works like something going like this, like a machine going like this. [alternates hands moving forward]
This side [waves left hand] is all of our karmic habit patterns that have bound up in them a certain quantity of desire, and thus momentum, energetic momentum. So they're chugging along. This is before we do any practice. [laughs]
Then we have some desire to do practice. This is the other desire. [waves right hand] This is the desire to be free of karmic fixation. This is the desire to have more freedom of expression, to be more relaxed, to be more spontaneous.
Ultimately, it's the desire to know more about the nature of the Self and the nature of reality. Maybe at first it's just the desire to get the heck out of our feeling of discomfort and dissatisfaction.
One solution, if this desire [waves left hand] is stronger than this desire [waves right hand], then when we feel dissatisfaction or discomfort, we're going to watch more reruns of Game of Thrones.
We're going to spend more time playing games on the internet. We're going to eat more ice cream, and we're going to drink more beer or whatever it is that we do that relieves our feeling of dissatisfaction and discomfort.
Basically through numb out, through narrowing our field of perception. All those things narrow our field of perception: smoking pot, et cetera, et cetera.
But if for no reason at all [laughs], the desire to know more about the Self, be more free, be more awake, feel more alive, is even the slightest bit stronger than this, or maybe just in that moment or on that day, then we're going to go, Oh, I should do more practice. Because that's now my desire to feel more, not to feel less.
Now I have the wisdom and the clarity to understand through my own direct experience that my dissatisfaction is only going to be resolved with more clarity and more perception of how things are, not with numbing out.
So if this [waves left hand] desire‑ and this is not a right-handed, left-handed thing, I just only have two hands, so I'm not trying to say anything about right and left hands. [laughs]
If this [waves left hand] desire is stronger, this karmic momentum is stronger, then we aren't really going to be paying much attention to or giving much credence to what would really solve our dissatisfaction.
And we really just want to stop it. We want to block it. We want to block our discomfort, block our anxiety, block our dissatisfaction. And so we'll just do numbing, perceptual-narrowing things.
But when this [waves right hand] desire is stronger, and that might, in the beginning might deviate from day to day, like one day this might be stronger, another day that might be stronger. But in any case, then we choose the tools of our practice.
And dissatisfaction is the great- or one of the great spurs. It's not the only spur to do practice, but it's one of the great spurs to do practice, as long as we recognize what it is that is actually going to relieve us of dissatisfaction. That is clarity, and that's less limited wisdom than the impulse to just block dissatisfaction.
So this is good! It's good that you feel dissatisfied with yourself when you don't do the thing that you know is going to help you. [laughs] That's a good sign.
I've felt tremendous dissatisfaction, I would say, most of my life, including still now. Not all the time now, but still a lot of times. And it's a lot of what's caused me to keep practicing and keep going.
But what I feel dissatisfaction about is being in a world that I can't fully participate in. That, to me, is just really dissatisfying. And that's the voice of God speaking in us. That desire/dissatisfaction to participate fully.
I have just unshakable confidence in the magicalness of this reality. And I want the magic. And I feel dissatisfied that I only have a little bit of it available to me because I'm not all that awake. So that spurs me.
It also spurs me... It's hard to put into words, but this morning when we were chanting Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, I was just praying and praying and praying, please let there be a world so I can be your servant. Because that's what I want to do. Just let me keep playing this role of servant. Let there be a world in which I can do that. Let me keep doing this.
All those things that a lot of other kinds of traditions, more transcendental or more moralistic kinds of traditions, all the kinds of things they tell us, like desire is bad and longing is bad, and you should want nothing, and blah, blah, blah.
These are actually completely counter to what drives people to do spiritual practice. [laughs]
Longing is God, and dissatisfaction is God.
If you don't feel any longing and you don't feel any dissatisfaction, what's going to happen? Nothing.
You're basically stalled in whatever condition you're in. You're either a saint or a fool. Maybe there's not that much difference between them. [laughs].
If you're completely fine with everything, you don't want anything else, and you're not dissatisfied with anything, either your senses are completely shut down or you're already totally realized. I don't know which. [laughs]
But the rest of us schmucks in between want a lot and are dissatisfied a lot. And the thing is, how can we make the choices that help us to move into greater participation in this reality?
I have a question. First, I just wanted to say, thanks for inviting me to introduce myself last week. I'm trying really hard to break out of this pattern of avoidance out of fear, and I was just wondering if you could talk about avoidance a little bit in that context.
Mhm. You mean avoidance of intimacy, avoidance of being seen, avoidance of showing up?
Participation, being seen, pretty much anything in that realm.
So even the people that are showing up in a big way and participating in a big way are often in the same condition you're in.
There's two ways of dealing with fear of what other people think of you. One is to disappear, and one is to appear very boldly and aggressively.
Both of those are trying to resolve the same problem. So don't assume that the people who are appearing very boldly and sound very confidently are actually that.
I can relate to you a personal experience. I was in academia before, and I was a teacher. And one time I was at some kind of a roundtable. I don't remember what it was, but it was on some topic that I was supposed to be interested in. [laughs]
And there was a bunch of other professors there. And I formed what I was going to say in my head. I said all the words I was going to say internally first, and then I said the words I had already decided on saying.
And after that, this other professor came up to me, obviously very cowed, and said to me something like, You're so smart it just made me feel how inadequate I am. I can't believe how articulate you are.
It just broke my heart because I knew it was all fake.
I knew that what had intimidated him was just something made up and contrived. It really broke my heart.
So the idea is that we're here and you showed up as a human, and you're here to participate, and there really isn't anything at stake here. 
There really isn't anything at stake, except how open-hearted can you be? That is the ONLY thing that matters 
It doesn't matter how smart you are. It doesn't matter how articulate you are. It doesn't matter how accomplished you are. It doesn't matter whether somebody likes the way you look or doesn't, or whether you have a good personal brand, or whatever all that is. It simply doesn't matter 
And I won't go into the absolute reasons why that doesn't matter, but just imagine yourself on your deathbed, looking back at your life. 
What is going to matter to you? It's not going to be that everyone liked you or that people thought you were this or thought you were that 
I guarantee you that when you're on your deathbed, what you're going to care about is, did I do anything good? Was I generous? Was I kind? Did I help anybody? Those are going to be the only things that matter to you when you're dying. And that should be your measure 
And understand, please, people, especially of your age, having this orientation, one of the great obstacles is you don't realize that nearly everyone in our culture is in the same condition as you are, to some degree or another.
So you are far from being a weirdo. I wish you were a weirdo! I WISH you were the only person feeling this! Oh my God, my job would be so much easier!  
But I can't think of a single person born in the United States who does not have some aspect of this problem of worrying about what people think of you and wanting to be admired. 
I really don't know a single person who has actual modesty or actual humility and who doesn't care too much about what other people think of them and have their- in some cases, their whole life decimated in worry about what other people think of them. 
This is something you really want to get a handle on, get yourself set straight about, because you really can waste so much of your life worrying about this when none of it matters. Not one speck of it matters! 
The other aspect of this is, you are not a person. There is nothing here to admire or not admire other than the beauty and diversity of this upsurge of manifestations. And that's all you are. 
That's why I say there's nothing at stake, because the person you think you are is not who you are. You are actually that Self, showing up as you. 
That's just words, but try to get more grounded about it. And first of all, tear down the wall that's saying you're weird because you feel this. Because if you're weird, there's 320 million other weird people in this country feeling some version of what you're feeling. And all of it is 110% useless. 
And the other thing you can think about, and this is for everybody, is this is what Donald Trump is!  
Anyone who is feeling this way- which is everyone- you are on a continuum, and somewhere on that continuum is you, and at the far end of that continuum, connected to you through this fear of being judged, is Donald Trump.
And that is why we have this person in office, because we are a country of people who are afraid to be judged. And we will do all these heinous, horrible things in order to prove that we are worthy. And that is what HE is. He is like the essence of what our main obstacle is in life, culturally, nationally. 
So think about that! Think about how you like being on that continuum. [laughs] Maybe you might want to get off it! 

I'm curious about self-referentiality, and I'm wondering if there's any use value to it as a concept.  
And the reason why I ask that is a couple of weeks ago, you said cause and effect is not the picture, but it can be helpful sometimes. [SHAMBHAVI: Mhm.]  
And so if you could just talk about what are some useful ways to articulate life experience without being necessarily stuck in the egoism.
Well, you really need to flip the lens because self-referentiality isn't... It's not like, how can I make that a better tool. It's how can I notice other people more?
When we're doing sadhana or just in some process of growth, of course we're going to think about ourselves, and we're going to talk about our experiences.  
There's nothing wrong with that, and a certain amount of that is necessary. 
But what we want to understand is that the most full form of compassion is an utter lack of self-referentiality. It flows out of recognizing the nature of the Self and with all one's energy going out toward others.
So we just want to understand that. That's where we're headed at some time or another. 
What do we do in between is we try to open our hearts and widen our View and include more people in our perceptual mandala, in the mandala of our heart, when we are just living our day, you know? Just living our day.
One way you can do that is start to pay attention to people you don't normally pay attention to. Start to observe people you don't normally observe.  
When you notice yourself stuck in a 'me, myself, and I' loop, pick your head up and look around the room or look around the space and see who else is there. 
When someone's talking to you and you're listening to them, see if you can just listen to them without internal dialog going on, or without thinking about how it's affecting you, or what they think of you, or whatever.
These are all little experiments you can do. 
Initiate conversations with people that you don't normally initiate conversations with. People in a checkout line. Whomever.
See if you can call up a genuine feeling of curiosity and interest in people that you don't normally bother doing that with. And see how plain and pure you can make your focus on someone else be in some moment. Just as little experiments you can do during your day. 
So it's not so much about how can I think about myself in a better way that isn't self-involved. It's just, don't BE so self-involved. [laughs]  
But all those things you can do. Can you really listen and respond to other people without it being about you, in more purely other-focused way? Just as an experiment. 
I told you all about that thing my family and I used to do. I didn't have a great family life, but there was a few things that were fun.  
One thing we used to do, if we went to a museum or a library or something, sometimes we would sit on the steps outside and watch people go by and then play this game where we would try to guess what kind of person were they, what life were they leading, by observing them. 
Of course that could get self-referential, too, because it could be all about how smart and cute your ideas about other people are. Anything could be brought into the self-referential fold. [laughs] But be playful. We were talking about playfulness. See what experiments you can do. 
Everyone you encounter is God. Everyone is a whole universe. And we're here to just enjoy what's here. That's our ultimate purpose.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.