01 January, 2008

The Silent Treatment pt. 2

On the fourth day is when the deep surgery into your body happens while meditating on equalizing the painful areas with the plain areas, just observing. We were told to start at the head and going down slowly to the feet and back up. I’d find that the painful areas when scanned hurt, and once you are past scanning those, the pain goes away. For sure this is difficult mental work maintaining in meditative state, all while being in pain. But when doing it, you learn things about your body you never knew. I found that I got feedback, although not as strong, from my left numb side. I felt nerve connections happen at the skin surface level like mini lighting bolts. I could sense the blood flowing with every heartbeat through each limb to the end. Even as small to the capillary level as they would swell. It made me want to scream like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein, “IT’S ALIVE!” All these new different sensations made the pain work easier. Plus a little humor never hurt. I did find it easier to scan my body from head to feet and back simultaneously left and right, which was introduced from a teaching on the fifth day.
It was that night when I returned to bed, I felt that my head was burnt. I thought it was from the hot shower as I took, but later realized it was when I was attacked by the virus. So the days kept on this same idea, and time seemed slow and fast. Slow when you meditating, and you are inching for it to be over, and fast when you are listening to the evening summary and dharma talks. These were very good and even funny at times, so I looked forward to them. Most breaks were a walk outside to stretch, all men together acting like they are alone, withdrawn inside. I found this interesting to be close to straight men while meditating, eating, and in breaks. It allowed me to me to see they suffer as much as us gay men…..surprise, surprise! I did see a friend from my temple, and we would occasionally crack a smile against all rules at the intensity or absurdness of this all. Neither of us knew the other would be there. When I left, I left him my cushion and a promise to talk about the experience after he returns. I would avoid any eye contact more with him, so we would not bust up in the typical funeral parlor way in the midst of such serious participants. I know that the more you withdraw inwards, and maintain noble silence the more work you get done and maintain heightened sensitivity.
All the while, I am thinking that I have already had a very unique near death experience that I can guess most others had not had. There was one man in wheelchair, and every time I saw I him, I kept reminding myself how lucky I am. I was taken by this lonely punk with a blanket who refuses all cushions and sits down on the cold floor with bare feet. I just imagined a proud person in search of love of himself, and I found him an interesting character. One day, when it was sunny, I saw him asleep in the grass curled into his blanket and was pissed I did not have my camera. The sixth night I saw him staring into the forest in the cold rainy night near his cabin. The following day he was gone like a dream. He allowed me to spin a few tales in my head of what he is all about against all rules.
Then things got harder and harder from the sixth night on, with a fever and knowing I had no hot tea in my cabin. Walking back after lunch to my cabin drinking ginger tea mixed cayenne and honey, halfway back, I was done with it and just sighed. I knew that this virus had got me and was creeping quite heavily into my body. One guy who had always carried a thermos, wrote a quick note to me and gave it to as I walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Surprised when he gave it to me because it is against all rules. It said, “I have a hot water kettle in my dorm always on and you are welcome to use it. Forgive the intrusion. I saw you carrying the empty mug, so sad.” I said, “Cool!”, my face brightened and concluded with “Namaste.” Then I thought, that I could not really ever walk into his dorm, as it would show some communication going on and we get caught. Honestly, seeing him I would show signs of gratitude like a smile and a slightly red face.

So how do I sum this all up? Working on the cell level to where thoughts and feeling originate and decisions spring out of, is brilliant. Buddha did come up with a real way to work from his own meditation. To have us work on our individually created misery at the root level. I can't believe this survived intact in Burma for 2600 years. I did miss the good final days of fine-tuning, so I have to return for another 10 days. This was, of course, way harder than my hospitalization and even the stomach tube insertion, but I would do it again. Why, you ask? Because it showed me the power of the mind when it’s concentrated. This will provide me with more power in my daily practice of eliminating anger, craving, and aversion. I drove home with a fever, heightened sensitivity to sounds, tastes, and noise. Best of all my 10 yr old shoulder injury which was causing me pain during the work, was freer and pain was gone. This made me think. That we take our personal hurt and pile it on, adding to our actual physical pain. We cause so much of our pain with our mind, the same mind that can get us out of it.
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