20 September, 2009

The Train Stops to Meditate

My old train, still chugs along… albeit slower, and always a little bit less depend-able. Computer is back, limping and still threatening suicide saying it just can't keep up with the Jones. I decided to get on my bike for a ride to the bridge and back before a reading downtown. Taking off, up a hill and down, my hat fell off in the street. Stopping fast and trying to do a sharp turn, I laid it down…not particularly fast, but… oh, so elegantly. Leaving me with a bloody ego, oops… elbow. I grabbed the hat that missed a near death, by a car swerving, just in time just like the Volvo commercial to avoid giving it that extra starch look. They got more than they asked for in payback when they saw me kiss the pavement. And, I so rarely perform, NOT! I got up, looked at my elbow, shrugged my shoulders, thinking I am lucky once again…but, then I quickly thought I had lost my ring in cold and the crash. A ring that keeps reminding me of my partner, whenever things are tough like this, knowing that we have made it almost nine years against all odds. And we do have alot more to do together.

I biked on to the bridge and back, showered and dressed my wound for public viewing. I showed to a couple of friends, but funny, I did not embellish my story, stating…yes, I, too can be dumb. A close friend said, “your nines lives are gonna expire soon. Better buy the extended warranty!” I just shrug them off, not saying that my body reminds of this everyday. I saw three poets read and one young artist play her flamenco influenced classical pieces in a small venue. Not a poetry fan in general but some of their pieces read aloud brought tears to my eyes. I can always provide links if you are interested. Often can’t follow poetry, because it doesn’t follow the way I think and process. Now, if it were told in short films the visual clues would resonate so much easier for me. A journey back in time to neurological tests in the hospital to see how bad I was…any graphic/ visual element, I always did far better on, and felt that I was cheating in comparison to other kind of tests. So that train was chugging uphill at this time hoping to round the corner at any time a see a clear light at the end of the next tunnel.

Running home, catching busses to get back as fast as I could, to take off for a nearly three hour journey to a Buddhist monastery up north to join them in Lunar event of chanting and meditating all night. A spur of the moment idea I formed that same morning. Arriving in mid chant, I declined to disturb them by opening a door, and sat outside a window, not feeling a welcoming eye or gesture. Not to be discouraged, I quickly released my tight mind, and waited until a break when the door was opened. The room was quiet and small, so to be perfectly honest I know what is like to have an ungounded person walk in a room. Entering, I found the mats and pillows fast, sitting in the back of tiny hall…composed and ready to start the meditation at 9:30 pm. The American monks knew their Pali… impressive.

Hearing from another lay person that breaks, if made, are to be done at the 1/2 hour mark. I felt prepared to go for the long haul with no food in my belly since lunch. In a small temple with an Abbott, seven monks and about 13 lay including myself. Me, an odd man out in more ways than one, no one knew what I was about nor was I going to tell them. Luckily, my breathing warns me first if I am starting to fall asleep, that Darth Vader sound and snaps me back to consciousness without that proverbial head drop.  I made it the midnight bell, when they upped the lights and served strong tea, chocolate and cheese.  Snap, if they didn't whip out some chocolate covered coffee beans. Just a little fuel to make it until 3 am, which I did without too much drama and stayed after most people left. Two monks and I continued on until 5 am, and then they retired. I stayed on thinking the daybreak, would be safer time to leave. I was surprised I could this overnight with two breaks, clearing a lot of mental lint. Feeling it was a nice, calm interesting setting, but lacking some of the happiness I found with the monastic community in temples in Thailand. I am only guessing, but I felt the severity of the decision to join a forest sangha by the American monks, a kind of grim and bear it attitude. It just did not feel to be a logical next step in the path.
Perhaps, this might only come from where the monks started this process from, a painful reminder that life outside did not really pay as promised. This could be one of my reasons of interest, but feel that my desire for more wisdom evolve from a less painful place. Now, all this is just a gut feeling, and I could have read it all wrong and it was only one night, but there it is. One thing that will stick with me, was when the abbott was answering someone's question about how dhamma has changed their life and their intrepretation of people in their life. He said among other things(more or less) is you can't expect anyone else to get on your train, and everyone figures out life in a different way. My train stop approached as the following evening drew to a close at home(i.e. dragging ass) and looked up with sleepy eyes at my ring that never left the house.

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