31 December, 2007

The Silent Treatment pt.1

I am back early from my Vipassana meditation because I got sick and the fever that made the meditation very difficult. Although, I made it until the eighth day, but sadly missing the intense body vibrations that come those last two days. They said I could stay in bed there, take medication they would get for me, or go home. But the sleep deprivation from being in a noisy room was wearing me out. I was very reluctant to leave after already seeing some benefits. First of all, it was nothing like I expected. I arrived with some 4 boxes of tea as a gift, and told to wait outside for an hour. This man who greeted me, I immediately made note of his equanimous behavior towards me and the others. I met two guys outside while waiting, and all of us were awkwardly talked anticipating the unknown.
The men and women were separated in the hall, dining, grounds and at all times. The first dinner after checking in, I spent time talking to a Chinese/ Tibetan healer and his disciple client. He twisted each of my fingers and found the one that was more freer, he announced, “You have a liver problem.” I did not take this too seriously, because I just had a full blood panel done last month and it looks fine. He did inspire me not to eat the dinner saying that this is like the last supper and will make tomorrow more difficult. But all this helped me to feel like I am one of the gang that first evening. The first night, I had 12 men in my room ranging from 18 – 60, I became acutely aware listening to all in their sleep, either talking, moaning or tossing… that we all suffer. As I laid there that first night unable to sleep I tried wishing them well, falling asleep 3 hours later. Sure we all look fine in daylight, but at night it all comes out. When was the last time you spent a night in room with 12 people... not since camp, right? I was thinking it would dredge up all kinds of past hurts and disappointments, but the fact it was not so specific. In the process of concentrating the mind by watching the breath, and drifting thoughts all I could think about is those that helped me. I felt that several friends of mine are a Buddha, because of their role and compassion they have showed me. It only seemed long to meditate that first few days. Then the pain started and work. I enjoyed the 4 am wakeup gong, and each gong sounding. There were several rung simultaneously all around the camp in almost dead quiet setting before and after every meditation. The beautiful chime of the gong, kept repeating in my head at all different times. It was hauntingly nice. Walking down in the path in the moonlight, bundled up in early morn was beautiful, and I am not a morning person. I was embarking on a new insight into my mind. Arriving at the hall at 4:30, in low light darkness, and meditating until 6:30 was perhaps the best time all day for me. It became spiritual, meditating with 300 people in darkness knowing the world is awakening. This will inspire me to do this in my old age. I abandoned my flashlight that first day, feeling it was too artificial and spoiled the moment.
Upon completing this first meditation of the day we walk outside to watch the sun rise. It was as if we commanded to rise for us. Then enjoy our first meal of the day, hot oatmeal, and fruits and tea. We meditate again starting an ending each time hearing Pali chants of good will and Buddha teachings, all of which are translated by the teacher in dharma talks at night at the end of day. I did not find having no food after 12 noon a problem, and even asked my teacher if I should decline the 5pm fruits offered with the tea. I drank the honey ginger tea adding lemon juice and cayenne to clean my system. I knew this work would be hard on my body. Constantly moving my leg positions, because of my knee injury that became worse and so swollen. I had to meditate in a chair the remaining time there, a first, that helped to remind me that everything changes in life.
On the third day, I wished love on all those around me trying to help me work on this heavy meditation while focusing the mind on a smaller area below the nose. We did break almost every hour, to walk and stretch. One break in the morning I saw some signs of he mind sharpening noticing the beauty of a slight breeze on small weed stalks. It left me mesmerized like on an acid trip. I did not find it hard to not talk, by my hyper-vigilance caused by my loss of sensation on left side made me look around more than they would have liked violating the noble silence. They never talked to me about this but I did mention to my teacher when approached in the evening my brain injury caused me to develop other heightened senses. I thought I should wear blinders, and realized there why monks used to wear hoods.

On the third day of watching my breath, I did have one quick moment of dissolving into white space and back into my body. Meanwhile, I found tears flowing from my eyes during meditation. No sobs or other signs of being upset, just a natural way of cleansing your deep soul. And it was never related to any one specific image of past events. We were working on our root mind from which we base every craving or aversion we encounter. If we approach everything in life that happens to us equally we will be less likely to suffer and be much happier. That is the calm mind, I am working towards. We were to take this concept into our body while meditating applying to pains and bland boring areas on the fourth day. That night 3 guys left the room by the time I had returned that evening. My guess two of the younger ones were not patient enough and the other was getting sick.
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19 December, 2007

Chose The Big Picture

I’ve often said that we chose the things that bother us and those that don’t. It is so funny that we will waste time getting angry about being 5 minutes late and blame innocent drivers in front of us. To the point of getting red-faced and cursing their mother. Just look in your view mirror, and you will probably see the driver behind doing it to you. Just like the “C” I got in High School English that nobody cared about, no one is going to remember you being 5 minutes late for anything. Or care. And when I was near death in the hospital years ago, no one talked to me about being late or my grades, as they chose to worry about the big picture. How was I going to survive this and would I ever have a brain left? If I only had a brain! Just their choice to focus on me getting better gave me the life force to accomplish the impossible. I picked up the pieces and ran with it. So, go ahead and chose something with some meaning like helping others instead of focusing on the things we can’t really change. When I started examining myself, I was amazed how easy it is to be bothered by small unchangeable stuff. It is not all gone, but I am working on it in almost every instance. I am happy with who I am and the wisdom I have. And the wisdom I can work to obtain. Happy Holidays!

18 December, 2007

Blowing Off Steam

I have been noticing that I am feeling uneasy. That is uneasy not depressed. It is not affecting my sleep, eating or exercise. I've been seeking small pleasures to avoid seeing the real hopelessness I sometimes feel about my life. This can be brought about by not enough work, or unable to see my partner more. When I see myself craving a little piece of dark chocolate or a cup of good coffee, it is a sign. I am almost unable to do anything, perhaps paralyzed by the fear of not knowing. Sure, I can exercise, see friends and maintain obligations and order. So really, what I am experiencing can’t be witnessed by those around me. Which is fine, my experiences are just that… mine. I will say I am fairly confident that are not unique to me. Meanwhile, I am nursing a knee injury that keeps from running, but not swimming or yoga. I should turn this whole experience I am feeling to use as an exercise in dying. Like the dying of knee or my vision with age, is a small taste. There is more where that came from. We all die, and the sooner we realize this we can focus on the present. So we enjoy relaxing with death. I still can laugh, see the beauty of life, people, and kindness. I heard of a great story of a lay minister helping immigrants in Tulsa unslaved, which prompted me to write a thank you to him. So with the uneasiness, I can still see things as they really are. All of which will be explored when I do the 10 day meditation.

14 December, 2007

Night Moves Me

This is about as much as I can say when I meditate. But, today while meditating, I have come to realize that any anger or displeasure I have managed to lose through awareness and teachings is filled with compassion. This was a new revelation...a light bulb moment. So, changing of my anger even in most innocent forms only increases my compassion. But I can't rest here, I am a work in progress.

Direct Hit from Poem Man

Here is a a guy pecking out a poem for me one day. With one thought or a word he whips out a poem fast and with no difficulty. I wish I could write so easy. Thinking, perhaps he has worked up to this, but I suspect he had all from the beginning. Some of us are like this, some inherent gift brought out by an event or encouragement. So I mentioned that I was unhappy with Bush’s word change ability to escape the appearance of lying. What was stated as, “No permanent bases in Iraq” has been conveniently changed to long term bases to avoid the permanent base statement. Long term can be a couple hundred years or whenever the high tech embassy and pool needs a redo. Meanwhile we have lassoed a new territory, on fake claims.
Anyway here is the guy’s poem he made for me:

An occupation by any other means
would still be as endless as this tired life
like a temper or an airy long term engagement
and saying what you mean doesn’t make you nice
why do they call the average the mean, average age?
less and stay the same more Mr. President
if your words were meant to be permanent then,
why would language be made of the air

10 December, 2007

Night Vision

One thing we often forget is the beauty that is right in front of us. We often want to get away from it all, thinking that by going somewhere else we will find things different. But when we arrive we are still the same person. One way get over this idea one has to find the beauty that lies inside. This upcoming silent meditation, will make me stop the noise of life that I often use to fill my life. When I go into retreat I can see the quiet wisdom lurking in my mind.
I have also found someone who shares my interests in photography while inspiring me to reach higher. They have proposed to me that if I can survive my brain injury, then I can put the same energy to a better use. A calling has not quite taken any form yet. But, at least this photography ignites the flame inside. Sometimes I like to think I am there and we can relax. But do I really? Life is ongoing, new problems will always arrive and to learn and get the most out of our precious human life we have to work hard. Looking at myself, I know I can be better in most everything, including how I see life and react to these same problems. So by going out at night, I hear the ambient sound, and see the slumbering city in quiet seduction. No phones, no net, no TV ...a kind of mini-preview to meditation. My new goal is to try to convey this with what I have always had in me with my vision in photography.

04 December, 2007

Small Treats

On the bus home after going to my Buddhist Temple, a young man was playing a guitar, and he got off on my stop and played on the walk home. What a treat, reminding you of how little you need to change your mental state and make your day even better. This is after a great teaching about patience at temple and a day of rest earlier. On a rainy day, I don’t usually want to spend a day in bed, but it almost ended up this way. My body said, “hello, it’s winter and you need to slow down!” Yesterday, I did stay up late with a dinner with a friend and seeing a long film, Lust/Caution. It was a beautiful story, but it shows the real tragedies of love. When one has expectations of what they want out of love, and it most certainly is not patience. I finally spent time talking to a fellow member of my temple, about our experience of patience and anger, and how much we have learned. But learning about patience and applying, makes it clear that we need it to keep learning and use to practice more. I did get accepted into the 10-day silent meditation and of course I know it will be mental work. Maybe when I done it will take a firm hold and grow like a weed.
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