Beclouded

I lick my finger and hold it up
Ahhh, there you are wind!
Today you blow north
Tomorrow you blow south
If on the third day you blow west are you still the wind?

This is who I am
This is who I’m not
Which is me and which is not?

Boarders, barriers encompass the mind
this is real and this is not

Thought and not though
are both not equally invested?

I used to know
Now no longer not

1 Week at Zen Monastery

“While knowing is important it is often not enough; I must deeply understand and grasp deeper than having information. I must practice it”

Main and other insights gained

-(Main insight and what this writing is about) Be ok with what is happening right now. If it’s not “good” realize that its ok, its ok to feel uneasy, its ok to have weird thoughts, its ok… Notice them but don’t push them away and chase a “better” state or don’t mask it with activity.

The importance of a community of like minded people working together towards a common goal. In Buddhism the community is called a sangha.

-Be mindful of who and what we allow to reside in our minds. We don’t let everyone into our home but we allow such bad people, bad thoughts/situations to occupy and dwell in our minds which is far more precious. 

– We are what we consume from what we watch, to what we eat, to what we listen to. Basically what we allow in through any of our senses. These things leave imprints in us.

–  The importance of silence and space to allow things to grow. I don’t know what life was like 200 years ago but I bet they had far more space and silence in a day. We don’t know what a such world looks or feels like because we never lived it.

The Start

Just returned home Friday November 1st from Deer Park Monastery. It was founded by Thich Nhat Hanh. The website says this “Deer Park is a place to quite the mind, look deeply and enjoy the wonders of life within and around us though the practices of sitting meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating, and deep relaxation meditation and sharing Togetherness.” All I can say is that I fully agree with that.

Biggest insight gained: To fully embrace every state of being; Embrace every thought and every feeling and every mood and stop trying to make it feel good. There is a saying in Zen “This Is It” and I feel this best describes what I found. Before I entered the Monastery I could have spoke about this. It’s actually the basic purpose of mediation. To accept what is happening and to watch with equanimity as various thoughts and feelings arise but to practice not getting caught up in them. If you do, simply notice you’re caught and come back to the breath. I wasn’t taught this knowledge on the retreat. It’s information I learned from prior studies.

On the second night I awoke around 12:50 am with a very deep realization of what I mentioned above. I didn’t get any new information it was like I internalized it or understood it at a deeper level. I saw that despite knowing this information I realized I had still been grasping for the “good” states of being. At that moment and currently at this moment I am totally ok with feeling like crap or for having bad thoughts. I’m ok with things not working out, I’m ok with what comes even if its not “good”. Because it is actually all good because it’s life. I don’t need to reject what’s happening at this moment and look for a better state. I don’t need to listen to music to make myself feel good because I want to chase some uneasy feeling away. I didn’t realize that I was, though subtlety, always trying to cover up these uneasy feelings with something else.  What I saw was that it was and is ok and I no longer need to run. I don’t need to cover these up. I saw that covering them up prolongs the states I was trying to avoid in the first place; additionally, they would seem to manifest in other behaviors. If I learn how to properly deal with them by accepting WHAT IS I can actually loosen their grip on me, which for me is this ever uneasy feeling, this restlessness, this needing to prove to myself, this needing to prove to others who and what I am. The biggest thing I want to stress is that I could have said all this before and I have but I somehow grasped it much deeper in my being. While knowing is important it is often not enough; I must deeply understand and grasp deeper than having information. I must practice it. It was a blessing that I would have never bet on; an insight I never thought would have helped me. You see what I wanted was for the “bad” to go away but, unfortunately, it never does.

A brief description 
I have never been to a Zen Monastery so I was sure what to expect as far as how a day would unfold. Here is a sample schedule that reflects an average day while staying.

What I wanted to “get out” of staying there was a mind of gratitude and leave with good feelings, which I did but it didn’t happen the way I envisioned it would and the insights I did get were things I wouldn’t have put money on getting.

Arrival time is set for Friday between 2 and 4; I was there shortly after 2. The gentleman checking us in said there wasn’t anything on the schedule for us expect dinner so we had the afternoon free. I dropped of my items in my room and went on a little walk up this pathway to a hill that overlooks the park and you can see a portion of Escondido, Deer Park is tucked away on a hill side of some mountains.

When I reached the topped I found a place to sit. The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t feeling happy, and honestly I should have know this but I guess wishful thinking. I actually felt exactly the same except for it being very quiet and I could hear all the sounds of nature. However, all my thoughts from before entering were there. I also was getting urges to check my phone but I vowed to myself to limit my access to the phone while I was there, plus I wasn’t sure of the rules.

After awhile I went down and before I knew it the dinner bell was ringing. The first 20 minutes of dinner is eaten in silence which I knew meant to eat mindfully. I think it was the first time, since I can remember, eating in such a manner. What I noticed was all the different tastes of the food as well as the textures and that it took me a long time to eat. A good 30 minutes. Each bit was fully chew and then swallowed.

Shortly after dinner I retired to bed and woke up the next morning for morning meditation. The second day was filled with thoughts and feelings similar to the first day. But we had an orientation that went over what to expect and expectations of us while there. The Brother (monk) discussed the basic meditation process. I believe what he said had something to do with my new understanding though he didn’t tell me anything “new”. But life is vastly interdependent and usually when we look for a single cause we can’t find it. If there is a single cause we can look at that deeply and see so many other causes inside that moment.

After the orientation I asked myself a question “what is this feeling?” “Why do these thoughts keep coming back?” I felt the question go deep and I’m sure the all the space the monastery offered allowed the question to really work it’s way in. But who knows exactly how these things happen, they just seem to.

One Thought, Right Thought

Someone might have these thoughts: Who am I and why do I matter? I’m only one person what difference do I make? What difference does anything I do make?

He then bends down and picks up a stick.

There are 7 billion people on this planet and each and everyday it moves and it all happens.

If one action doesn’t doesn’t matter how does it all happen? One thought ate a time, in a moment; one step at a time, in a moment.

Maybe there was once a single atom that asked such a question but here we are and here the universe is.

——

I think we do not know and understand the importance of one thought in one moment. Thus we conflate lack of understanding with it doesn’t matter.

These moments string together with the collision of time. Bang, bang, bang the moments go. Each nothing but each is absolutely everything.

If we actually think thoughts like that in the first lines we should reflect to see how life works. This shows how powerful right thoughts are.

First Ultra (50 miles) And How It Improved My Meditation Practice

Part 1 of 2 (Part 2 Click Here) Race results here #620

Nothing like pain brings one into the present moment

I don’t see myself different than anyone so what applies to me applies to all humanity.

My first ultra was mostly mental work for me and I used my meditation practice to help. I practiced seeing it, practiced being absorbed in it, and practiced feeling it deeply. For example, “What would it feel like to win? What would it feel like at mile 40? I then, in a way, sowed these feelings into me.

I’m not a monk like meditator but I’ve been working at it for a couple years. I used a lot of the principles I’ve learn and applied them to running, especially while I was pounding the pavement. A big insight was during my training runs I was able to go further and see how deep our story of “pain” is and that most of the pain we feel is just a made up story. Because of this I can more easily and thoroughly apply it to my ‘everyday’ life.

Perhaps to better illustrate what I mean; while out running the Bear Canyon Loop I saw myself say something like “I’m so tired”, and I was tired at that point. But this statement of “I’m so tired” lead my mind to all different ideas/justifications. So I started practicing seeing this story even while I wasn’t running. I noticed that my mind is always giving a story in all aspects of life. However, it’s with running it becomes so much more clear because of the actually physical pain. Not extreme pain but enough to know that it’s there (I’m not a sadist). I see great value in story but also I see that I don’t need to be so caught up “in it”. This insight wasn’t new but I was able to internalize it at a deeper level than before. There is something about using some pain in a productive way, rather than running from it.

As we are in our everyday thinking, moment and living it’s hard to see that it’s a story, so I don’t blame those reading this telling me that I’m off my freaken rocker! My story (part 2 Click Here): Finished 5th overall with a time of 9hr:48min:(and some seconds).

Judge Them First

I imagine having everything I ever said and thought recorded. I imagine it’s there for all the world to see and to scrutinize.

How deeply am I a bungling  hypocrite? How logically consistent am I really? How honest am I really? Am I really the good person I like to think that I am? Am I really the hero?

Unfortunately I am the hypocrite and the  liar and not the good hero. I blush at thinking about how much work I need.

Why Shouldn’t I Be Judged?

This popped into my mind, “I don’t want to be a positive roll model for my sister.” Whether I want to or not I’m some kind of roll model, not in a self  congratulatory way.

My actions are always judged and perceived by someone. Usually the closer the relationship with someone the more my actions are seen. I judge in such a manner automatically.  Though with practice I’m far more aware of these charter infractions; meaning, I can  circumvent this genetic impulse but it must be done via something like mindfulness, observation, attention and/or awareness.

So why shouldn’t I be judged? Well I think I should be.

 

Them you or me

Take away intent, meaning or point
You take away a mans (woman or zers)
Meaning to be.
It’s the over complication
Of life
To be more than it has or needs to be
For if we look deeply
We see the person that is in front of me
Them, you or me needs to be
The person we set out to be
What’s next?
Nothing but me
What does this even mean?
Can we even comprehend
If we cannot see ourselves honestly?
Unfortunately this is where the disconnect
Between them, you and me is what I see
We miss the unity
Because once I know and understand the person in the mirror
Nothing but a brother stands in the world I see
And there is only unity
Symbolic gestures are part of who we are
But more deeply it is what lies in a persons heart.

I am not a poet, as you can see, nor am I even good at writing poems. I usually right whats on my mind as a way of helping me articulate and deepen my thinking and thought process. The above is sort of in response to some things I have noticed and the best way I know how to point as what I think is a root problem in our country is.

I would describe myself as a classical liberal (look up what this means because it is totally different than the modern term liberal) and I emphasize duty and personal responsibility. I have come to this point of view through meditative practices (understanding my minds conditions) and the studying of various schools of philosophical thought as well as a belief in the scientific method.

Just learning (my thoughts)

I struggled when I search for meaning outside of whats happening. It is all life and I’ll never arrive. When I forget a host of, usually, negative emotions (self created due to the paradigm I constructed) become present.

My particular path is learning to enjoy all of it as I do not see another way to get satisfaction out of life. When I believe that once I get a particular object and ‘then I’ll be happy’ or ‘then I can rest’ is only a deceit that I use to fool myself. In the past I was unaware of such trickery. I know all things will not create the same feelings and emotions but this is a great source of joy as I can experience them fulling without wishing I was someplace else or holding on; I can strive, journey and accomplish all in a non striving manner, a striving manner that flows, a striving manner that is fluid.

When I see the obversion arriving I must reorientate myself to truth, which is, ‘there is no where to go and there is nothing to do.’