Mental problems appear to arise out of basic human tendencies or difficulties that for some reason become highly magnified and over-indulged, till they eventually dominate a persons entire world view. I've been reflecting on how challenging false views and opinions barely supported by the facts, even in relatively well balanced individuals, often forces people to just dig their heals in and become even more righteously indignant and angry. Feelings tending to trump facts. I'm also thinking Brexit here too. We are all deluded about reality says the Buddha, but this isn't due to mental illness but to a pronounced human inability to keep the way we feel and our interpretation of situations separate from the factual true reality. What led me to think about this was a situation with The Norfolk Lady.
A few weeks back she was excitedly gossiping to me about someone being pregnant. The first warning sign that this may not actually be so, was when by the next week having one baby had turned into having three babies, and she had told this to everyone who'd listen. But then it went weirder. The Norfolk Lady's constipation still continues, and in her agitated state, not understanding why she's unable to poo and being told to stop telling this story, the two situations got entwined. So the inability to poo was because of what someone had done by way of revenge ' I know they've stuffed a baat-ery up there'. This idea has then proliferated into ' they're blockin my wee, and blockin my bum, they aut to be sacked' No amount of patient persuasion that this simply cannot be the case, can undermine the firm conviction that this has actually happened. What to us might appear a self-evidently barmy idea has quickly morphed into a self-righteous opinion, that appears to be getting more and more unhinged from reality by the week.
This week the main residents tea counter was out of bounds whilst its roof and patio doors were being replaced. You'd think they'd be pleased facilities were at last being improved, but no. All Irish Moira could think about was ' they've taken the kettle away for no good reason, every one else has had dozens of cups of tea today, I've only had the one, just the one' looking me straight in the eye and wagging her finger at me, as a warning that, if I hadn't already, I should take note. The other day she asked me in an innocent tone of enquiry ' Do you know the reason why I'm in here?' I said no I didn't, 'Its because I'm a loony'' speaking this in a matter of fact tone as though it was entirely a neutral statement.
I've been back doing a lot of decorating in the house, first in our craft room, then the lounge, and now the bathroom. After this is finished, that should be the end of my 'housey' tasks for a while and I can then focus time and effort on re-engaging with Cottonwood work. Nevertheless, I always find decorating a pleasing transformational process, seeing the style of a room evolve. Now the lounge decorating is completed we can decide with what sort of flooring we want to replace the worn, grubby carpet, with its embossed nylon swirls of pale brown leaves. We've discovered that this carpet design is, horror of horrors, still being made, and our particular colourway is called 'California Dreaming' which is a trifle ambitious for beige.
EF Benson, Mapp & Lucia story, for a bit of lightly tossed relief. I've recently begun reading My Name Is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, after watching a fascinating documentary about him and his writing. This is not remotely undemanding reading, Initially I found myself waiting for it to grip me. It is self evidently rich with evocative writing, but the way its structured is unusual, and it has taken its time in capturing my imagination. I'm two thirds of the way through its six hundred and fifty pages, as I write, and it has finally developed a bit of story momentum, It reminds me a bit of The Leopard by De Lampedusa another monumental book that really tests your patience, but is worth it for the killer conclusion, that makes everything you've read previously be seen in a different light. We await to see if My Name Is Red proves worthy of my hours of commitment.
The effect of resigning from the Triratna Order upon me has, as yet, not been that noticeable. But then the lead up to this decision was so protracted it left plenty of time to both contact and process emotional reactions and attachments. It feels as though nothing has changed, even though it has. I am happy to live in a detached limbo, to not prematurely seize the initiative. Quite what I'll do is still an open question. I keep reminding myself not to run for the safety of joining another group or institution, that has proved to be such a double edged situation for me. There is the reassurance and support that comes from belonging to something purposeful, but this comes with commitments and duties that eventually I find too restrictive. Eventually the chafing and desire for liberty wins out. Jnanasalin does go occasionally to the Norwich Buddhist Centre, and in fact gave a talk their on Dharma Day. It still feels a bit odd to not be accompanying him, to be there and show support. But I've not been out of the movement long enough for me to just casually turn up, without it feeling like its a much bigger deal than that.
Dogen's Instructions for the Tenzo. A practise I started doing when we lived in Cambridge and have been really missing. I need to just settle on which of the many local cafes would be the appropriate venue. Maybe I need to test them out for the requisite qualities before I decide:~
Will You Feel Comfortable Studying There?
How Noisy Is It?
Will You Be Left Alone?
How Pram Or Child Repellent Is it?