Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not Certain

The Buddha said we can focus our contemplation on any of these three ideas to break into the truth of how it is and find freedom: n0n-self, suffering, and impermanence. Ajahn Chah put these into a nice set of words we can use when working with the conditions of our bodies, hearts, minds and lives - not me, not mine and not certain.

Not taking things personally has been really good work for me. "Not me" has been a wonderful mantra to follow for a long time.

Recently, "not certain" has been more effective for me to see things clearly and find peace. Even when I move to one side or another, it is still uncertain! Always uncertain! Even certainty is uncertain. The only certain thing is uncertainty. The only unchanging thing is that everything changes.

Yesterday I sat in meditation and with every thought or feeling that arose, I told myself, "Not certain!" And the relief I felt each time I said that was incredible. I've made an effort to keep this up throughout the day today and each time I think "not certain," I smile.

There are so many meditation tools to choose from. Sometimes it is difficult to know just which one to use at a particular time. Yesterday I just picked a book off the shelf, which happened to be Everything Arises, Everything Passes Away by Ajahn Chah, and it happened to show me just the right tool at just the right time. Synchronicity is how we find out which tool to use. Intuition. Asking the question, we get the answer - as long as we are listening.

The talk at the meditation center this morning was about striving vs apathy. The Buddha said that to get to the other side of the river, we should not push forward but not stay in place either. We have to stay in balance.

I have been out of balance lately in terms of my effort. Time to put forth a little more effort in my practice instead of just sitting on the cushion because that's what I do each day. There is a goal, we just need to keep it lightly in mind and not strive toward it too hard. I need to remember the goal. What is that goal then? Freedom, of course! Happiness!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Passion and Intimacy

"Free passion is radiation without a radiator, a fluid, pervasive warmth that flows effortlessly. It is not destructive because it is a balanced state of being and highly intelligent. Self-consciousness inhibits this intelligent, balanced state of being. By opening, by dropping our self-conscious grasping, we see not only the surface of an object, but we see the whole way through. We appreciate not in terms of sensational qualities alone, but we see in terms of whole qualities, which are pure gold. We are not overwhelmed by the exterior, but seeing the exterior simultaneously puts us through to the interior. So we reach the heart of the situation and, if this is a meeting of two people, the relationship is very inspiring because we do not see the other person purely in terms of physical attraction or habitual patterns, we see the inside as well as the outside.

"This whole-way-through communication might produce a problem. Suppose you see right through someone and that person does not want you to see right through and becomes horrified with you and runs away. Then what to do? You have made your communication completely and thoroughly. If that person runs away from you, that is his way of communicating with you. You would not investigate further. If you did pursue and chase him, then sooner or later you would become a demon from that person's point of view... Perhaps you looked through too sharply with your desire, perhaps you were too penetrating. Possessing beautiful keen eyes, penetrating passion and intelligence, you abused your talent, played with it."

- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunday Will Be Too Late

Men need to pursue, women need to let men chase them. This is just the natural law of the mating dance. This has not changed with the times. I want to be treated as a prize to be won, a treasure to be discovered.

So I find a guy I want to have a relationship with and I’ve been careful not to pursue too much, but I think I have anyway somehow. There is such a fine line between showing interest and being “too available.” But I don’t think I have been too available either! I have only two days a week off from my kids and I haven’t always saved those days for him. Sometimes I go to the meditation center or go out with friends or meet with my study group. I don’t sit at home pining. When I do stay at home alone, it is by choice. I need down time alone too. Twice I have gotten sitters in order to spend time with him, but these were times he showed interest in seeing me and the feeling was mutual so I made the effort.

Not feeling like making effort anymore though since he isn’t. All I can conclude is that he just isn’t feeling it for me. That is not a problem. I wish he would just be honest with himself and come to that conclusion on his own.

I don’t want to be with a passive guy who waits for me to make the next move. I want to be with a guy who takes the lead and wants to chase me, someone who calls, texts and emails me a lot just to make sure I keep him in mind. I want to be with a guy who makes the effort to secure the next get together. Someone who has his own life and not completely obsessed with me, but really makes effort to get time with me and sometimes even goes out of his way to do so. I want a guy that is able to give me space, but not too much space. Too much space is a non-relationship, especially in the beginning when a foundation is being built.

A shy guy or a nice guy is going to have to come out of his shell a little bit if he wants to be with me. I need to know he is interested. Just start the chase, I'll let you win.

I just want someone to have fun with when I have some free time. It wouldn't be fair to myself to wait around for a guy who is ambivalent.

"Seven Days" was all she wrote
A kind of ultimatum note
She gave to me, she gave to me
When I thought the field had cleared
It seems another suitor appeared
To challenge me, woe is me
Though I hate to make a choice
My options are decreasing mostly rapidly
Well we'll see
I don't think she'd bluff this time
I really have to make her mine
It's plain to see
It's him or me

Monday, I could wait till Tuesday
If I make up my mind
Wednesday would be fine,
Thursday's on my mind
Friday'd give me time, Saturday could wait
But Sunday'd be too late

The fact that he's six feet ten
Might instill fear in other men
But not in me, The Mighty Flea
Ask if I am mouse or man
The mirror squeaked, away I ran
He'll murder me in time for his tea
Does it bother me at all
My rival is Neanderthal, it makes me think
Perhaps I need a drink
IQ is no problem here
We won't be playing Scrabble
for her hand I fear
I need that beer

Monday, I could wait till Tuesday
If I make up my mind
Wednesday would be fine,
Thursday's on my mind
Friday'd give me time, Saturday could wait
But Sunday'd be too late

Seven days will quickly go
The fact remains, I love her so
Seven days, so many ways
But I can't run away


Monday, February 15, 2010

There Are No Tigers

Sometimes there is fear, a panicky feeling that makes us want to fight or run away from whatever person, place or thing that appears to be causing the heart pounding anxiety. This sort of reaction may be quite helpful if the thing that is causing this terror is a tiger standing in front of us, ready to attack us.

Still, how many people, places or things in our modern world today truly threaten our lives? Sure, there certainly are some, but in our day to day, ordinary existence in a reasonably peaceful area of the world, we rarely encounter life or death type situations.

So why are so many people running away or fighting like we were living in a war zone?? It seems to me that the majority of the people in this country could be diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Everyone is moving so fast and is so stressed out (I am no exception, of course).

We can notice something amazing when we look at fear though. When we sit with it and look at it and become interested in it, there are still strong physical sensations, but they are not connected to any story. They may seem to be, but if we look closely, we see these are just sensations happening in the body. They pass.

When there is fear, there doesn't always have to be a real reason for it. Most often I find that my fears are quite unfounded. It is good to be cautious, but it is also good to closely examine fear and do a reality check, especially someone like myself who is prone to anxiety. What am I really afraid of? How real is the threat?

Most importantly, how is this fear hindering me from doing what I really want to do? I get angry at the thought of being hindered from doing what I want to do, being who I want to be. That stubbornness is often all it takes for me to move forward even when I am afraid. What new adventure could I be missing out on by running away? I don't want to miss out! As long as I have examined my fears and not found anything that is a true threat to me, why wouldn't I go for it?

Intimacy can be scary because at the heart of intimacy is vulnerability. We don't want to be intimate with those who are about to rip our hearts out, but do a reality check - is that person someone who we really can't trust and could very well rip our hearts out? If the answer is yes, then please do run. If the answer is no, then what is holding us back from connecting with someone in a deep and meaningful way? There is discomfort and fear at the cusp of something earth shattering and beautiful. This is natural. This is not a problem.

"Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. With wholehearted practice comes inspiration, but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world. Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what's waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it." Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's Valentine's Day. Got Love?

What is my take on love? What do I think love is?

Love is a word with so many different meanings ranging from "I love cheeseburgers" to "love your enemy." Sometimes you can love without liking. Sometimes you can like without loving. Love can bring pleasure. Love can bring pain.

What is the kind of love that I strive for? I strive to love my children by taking care of their basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, affection, and hugs. I strive to love also by teaching them things that are sometimes hard lessons, like how to take responsibility for themselves and become independent, and what is right and wrong.

I strive to love myself by looking at all the good and bad in me and finding compassion.

The good things I love about myself:
Deep thinker
Peace keeper
A wild side that likes to come out once in a while

The bad things I love and care about in myself:

What is love in a romantic sense between two lovers? I'll give this a shot.

A balanced exchange of intimacy, where each person shares their reality without fear of judgment of the other. Fondness and affection for each other. Admiration and respect for each other. Acceptance of the good and the bad. Interest in one another's personal growth. Respect of personal boundaries. Freedom for each to be just who they are.

My thought is that love, in the romantic sense, isn't really love if it isn't shared by both people in a balanced way. It must be a mutual, two-way experience. That isn't to say that there won't be times when one experiences more love than the other, but overall there should be mutuality.

Wishing love to all of you on Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nothing is Lost

I can give my love away but it will never be gone from me. My love is inside me, it's mine, and there is always enough of it. I guess this is why I don't mind taking risks for love. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt sometimes, but it does mean I am ok.

I mentioned to my sister the other day that something I learned in a class at the meditation center on “Cultivating Wholesome Relationships,” is that the only thing to really look at in terms of our relationships with others is how we are relating to ourselves while relating with others. Everything we experience is inside of us. Our relationships are not "out there", they are inside of us. Everything our relationships are, as much as they involve others, are what we create inside of ourselves. The only real question to ask then is: How am I being in relationship to X? It is an "I" question. Who am I? How am I? Our whole lives are about "I"! "I" am there always no matter who I am relating with out in the world. The relationship with myself is the most important relationship. If I know myself and love myself well, I have so much more to share. My cup must be full on my own first and then the people around me can partake in the overflow.

I know, the “I” stuff contradicts the “No Self” stuff, but that’s just how it is. Both are true.

"Throw it away
Throw it away
Give your love, live your life
Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open
Let the sun shine through
'Cause you can never lose a thing
If it belongs to you"

-Abbey Lincoln

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Learning to Trust Nature

Welcome to my minimalist blog. I'm not here to impress anyone or gain endless numbers of followers. I just like to think about things and I like to write. I do this because I hunger to know and understand the truth of the way things are. Though, granted, I do tend to get lost in my stories more often than I'd like to admit. Especially in February when the snow piles are taller than me and it seems like I will never again feel the warm breezes of summer on my skin.

I've been thinking a lot lately about uncertainty and the endless striving for security. It seems like such a natural impulse we have, to get ground under our feet. I think it comes from the natural instinct of self-preservation. Without a certain amount of security and stability, we could very well just die. So I think a certain amount of striving for stability is healthy. But ultimately, nothing is secure, nothing is stable, nothing is changeless in the world.

Even things with an element of continuity are in flux. I am the same, yet not the same from moment to moment, day to day. Relationships are the same yet not the same from moment to moment. Every moment is colored by whatever is most prominent in awareness at the time - thoughts, emotions, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching. Whoever "I" am depends on all these things at any given moment. it is constant movement, like the frames of a movie.

There will never be perfect certainty. Perhaps this is why I have difficulty with the idea of marriage. In my opinion, the institution of marriage encourages a false sense of security. It encourages the illusion of perfect certainty. I'm not saying all married people actually believe in that illusion - but I think a vast majority do. I think I did. Our society encourages us to believe in a happily ever after. You meet your mate and then that's it. You're set for life. You're done, you're settled down, there is no where else to go, nothing else to do, just coast. Laziness, that's what that is. It takes a lot of energy to really go with the flow of life and grow and change the way we were intended to. It's too easy to become complacent and stuck.

Why does it take so much energy to grow and change? It seems counter-intuitive. You'd think it would take more energy to fight against the natural flow of change. I think it is all about how and where the energy is directed. Why direct energy to fight against something that is inevitable (change)? Why not instead direct that energy into living mindfully and intentionally?

It really is a lot of work to live a life of balance. It calls for tolerance of ambiguity and constant re-evaluation. There is no absolute, no solid ground to stand on. The weights of the scales are always changing. Constant adjustments must be made. What is right this moment may be wrong in the next and vice versa. I find myself worrying if I am doing it right, whatever IT is at that particular moment.

I find it so difficult to trust in the natural unfolding of things, but when I do, just as much as I am able, I breathe a sigh of relief as the world falls off my shoulders. Even just for that brief moment. I just have to keep moving forward even if in some moments I don't get the balance quite right. Getting it wrong is nature too.

Nothing New Here

“There's nothing here that's not been said before
But I put It down now so that I'll be sure
To solidify my own views
And I'll be glad if it helps anyone else out too”

-Beastie Boys

"What is Dhamma? Nothing isn't."

-Ajahn Chah