23 November, 2009

The Choice of Suffering

“need new blades”

I post in advance when I go to see the monks once a month for lunar observance, in hopes of finding someone interested enough to come. I have asked many friends, and acquaintances at yoga as well. They say the third time is a charm, and I was contacted by man living a spiritual life(similar to a monk) out of his own choosing. I won’t go into details as to why he chose this path, but it involves some difficult suffering. We talked about the fact that the idea of the suffering is much more difficult than the actual occurrence. It made for an interesting ride there and back, and to watch someone else’s change upon leaving. We both came to the understanding it is not necessary to become a monk for our individual spiritual goals. I added that if I did it would be because my wisdom would naturally dictate I should do it to serve others better. When we arrived early, I wanted to rest, as it is a lot for a brain-injured person to drive 3 hours and talk in a car. But I tried to rest until I heard the gong sound of time to talk to the monks before the evening meditation. I asked in my stilted tongue of the head monk, “Is suffering was the quick path to wisdom?” in a joking manner. The idea came out in our discussions on the way up there. In his answer he pointed out that suffering is not the path, it leads us away from it. Talking about the arrow sutta, where if you were shot with an arrow(physical pain or getting sick, for instance), then the second arrow would be the mental suffering. You can choose to feel only one arrow, the physical pain. If we enjoy the self-created mental turmoil then, we chose to suffer the second arrow. This was one quick way to remind myself how I think about any kind of suffering. After that causal talk then we started the chanting and the evening meditation. Two hours later we were lucky enough to hear the Buddhist nun's individual stories before continuing on until 3:30 am. They are opening a new monastery in San Francisco, which will soon be up and running by the New Year. Curious, I got a chance to talk to one particular nun about her ideas of a sangha for their new monastery. I was, of course tired at 4am, but felt really mentally awake and calm. And whether my company talked to me or slept... I was content.

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