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

What’s Important?

One day Joe was walking down the street and he noticed a nice little dinner. He wondered why he’d never noticed this quaint little place before. The dinner was crowed with a splendid vibe but not overly crowded. He noticed they had many of his favorite meals on the menu, including ice cream!

Joe grabbed the cold silver door handle and tugged the door open. The dinner was teaming with people and the fragrance of coffee and bacon peppered the air. The clamoring of dishes could be heard coming from the kitchen and many conversation filled the air. The kitch design made the place feel hip and all the energy made it feel alive. “This must be the place”, Joe speculated.

He stopped at the host stand and briefly flirted with the cute hostess before she promptly found him a seat. As he sat pondering over the menu he heard the cacophony of all those around him. As he sat there, trying to look over the menu, he began to realize he couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. All he heard was noise, that couldn’t be made clear. For a moment he wondered if a different language was being spoken but as he intently listened he knew that wasn’t it.

As he lifted his gaze from the menu to those in the place he quickly realized he couldn’t see well either. “What in the hell? Well, maybe my blood sugar level is low and I just need something to eat”, he thought. Somehow he flagged down his waiter and ordered. His order arrived and he ate, and the food was absolutely amazing. It was the tastiest food he had ever eaten. As a matter of fact, it would have probably been the best meal he ever had if it weren’t for his hearing and vision problems.

The following day Joe went to see the doctor and explained his problem. The doctor did the whole doctor exam thing that doctors do. However, he didn’t find anything wrong and sent him on his way with a clean bill of health.

Out of curiosity, Joe returned to the restaurant following the exam but the same thing occurred! His vision was blurred and he couldn’t hear anything! He thought: Seriously, what the heck is going on with me?”

Totally frustrated Joe sought alternative help. Years came and went and to no avail; nobody was able to fix his problem. He continued to yearn to see and hear the people of the dinner.

One evening while at the dinner Joe finally had it. He ripped the hearing aids from his ears and tore off his glasses and smashed them. Bewildered and in despair he sat there with his face in his hands. Almost like magic Joe realized he could hear the people around him. Ever so slowly he lifted his face from his hands. He could see too! He flagged his waiter down with great exuberance and ordered his meal.

As he ate all the noise and people of the restaurant quickly faded away and he enjoyed his meal.

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.

With Eyes Wide Open

I open my eyes and wonder where I am. How did I get here? Is any of this real or is all just a dream, a figment of my imagination.

I realize a great hunger but why am I so hungry? I thought I just ate! Is this hunger real? Hummm maybe I’ve been here way longer than I realized.

Let me just go and grab my things and I’ll be on my way.

I open my eyes and wonder where I am…..

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.

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.

The Easy Way

Simplicity isn’t easy because our nature tells us we need more. Collecting and living in abundance is actually the easy way. However, the best and easiest way to live a purposeful life is through simplicity.

Discipline and habit (suffering) are our friends. Don’t fear suffering, embrace it!

Thinking: Habits

It seems like:

The depth of the habit or problem we are trying to fix/change will be met with the direct inverse in suffering (pain). When did we become so delusional that it would be all sunshine and rainbows for becoming anew? I’m not sure to what extent we realize our life is pretty close to pure habit.

If it wasn’t why is it so hard to keep our promises to ourselves? Ok, I’ll never eat sugar again, or tomorrow I’ll start (x) but we don’t and then suffering for not doing the set out task and our inner voice is slightly weaker (This is a slow process so we don’t see the change). Even as we succeed suffering takes place because the old way is there beckoning for us, for its return so we fight but we get tired because the pain is to much: Its to hard.

My son is 6 years old and his teacher uses this app called class dojo and basically its a up to the minute report of positive and negative things that happen during the day. We encourage Alex to get 100%. Each day he leaves wanting 100% but then enviably he ends up falling short by not following directions, or other little infractions.

I asked him why doesn’t he just follow directions or not yell out in class? It seriously melted my heart when he said, “Pap, I try but it’s so hard.” I deeply understood what he meant. I laughed and rubbed his back and said, “Yeah, I know.”

For us adults what does this mean? What is hard? This, in my estimation, begs the questions if we truly are in control of ourselves why would it be hard? This is a delusion of the mind. We are not in control our habits are we can use our awareness to help direct our actions and behaviors. Then I ask myself what is the lessor or better form of suffering? I feel it is the suffering from achieving rather than failure so this shows me how important it is for me to show my son in action, discipline and encouragement to build these in his life so he can be a functional, productive, purpose driven, happen human being. This same thing applies to me but I must be the role model…. Enough for now as it is time for practice.