It is difficult to see things clearly. It is difficult to know what to do for the best. We travel hopefully in a certain direction, not always confidently, but, hey you have to decide to do something! I am writing yet another piece on a Dogen discourse. this one is called 'The Difficulty of such a thing'. In essence it's about a perennial Chan/Zen problem with Buddha Nature. If we already are what we seek, then why practice or how should practice be in the light of this knowledge? This was the dilemma which was at the core of Dogen's own Great Doubt. It drove him to leave Japan and search for four years in China for a teacher who could answer this question. My essay is focusing on 'the difficulty' in finding the right framework for spiritual practice. Dogen ends the discourse with a question' How is this suchness?' I feel to be at the edge of my current understanding in writing this piece, I'm definitely being stretched. I'm a Dogen enthusiast, but not a scholar. My approach explores more from an imaginative/poetic analysis. So far it's goes well ,but rather slowly and ponderously, with frequent stops for reflection. Occasionally my confidence gives way, but I think it will work out OK with persistent effort.
Writing these pieces recently has been just one factor in my gradual re-engagement with studying the Dharma. I find I am reflecting on and refining what motivates and keeps me here within the Buddhist tradition. I was looking through 'Peace is a Fire' and 'Stream of Stars' to find a quote of Sangharakshita's I'd half remembered. In the past I've found some of his writing rather indigestible in book form. These little bits, bobs, and gobbets of wisdom really struck a chord. This time they seemed pertinent, perceptive and provocative in a way I don't remember experiencing before. Having not read Sangharakshita for a while I think I might be searching out a book or two to re-evaluate my connection with him.
Having decided to work Full Time at the Crematorium I find I am gradually relaxing, feeling happier and more content. The last eight months have felt like a pretty rough ride at times. Adjusting to working outside of Right Livelihood, learning to micro manage my finances and trying to find alternative work, meant I was living in a constant state of anxiety. In stopping for the time being looking for anything else,I'm finding all areas of my life are loosening up as a consequence.
For quite a while I've been going over the question of what I want to do with the rest of my life. I'm beginning to realise that ,actually there isn't anything major I really must do career wise. At my age beginning a new career is not impossible, but would require determination and a clear idea of how this might happen. Neither of these do I feel I remotely have enough of, I don't think I care all that much. I've never been that ambitious, and find maintaining interest over the longer term a bit of a hard slog. I'm a bit of a gadfly in my interests and aspirations. If I have any ambition it is to be content. Yet I've had this bee in my bonnet for decades about there being something I must do with my life. It has a feeling behind it of panic, a desperate burning need to fulfill something in order to matter. As a gay man I'm unlikely to leave any offspring behind at my demise. Will I leave anything else behind to be remembered by? Is dieing in contented obscurity such a bad thing anyway? Can I be content with obscurity?
I am frequently at my most unhappiest when what I want from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness becomes entangled in irreconcilable and contradictory impulses. When I sit down and just start to simplify things my level of happiness and contentment rises. The simpler it is the better. So long as there is creativity ( writing & painting ), time with Friends, time with David,and time for the spiritual life what more could I want? I think I should stop asking 'what more should i do?' questions and just focus on enjoying what I am doing.