After a week and a half of being at home writing, I do feel that some progress has been made. The piece that I’m continuing to work on ‘Binding one’s Self without a rope’ has expanded from 3,500 to 10,500 words. I’ve not yet reached the end yet. It is by far the longest piece I’ve written, Dharmic or otherwise. I’ve taken a look at ‘binding’ and have explored some aspects of ‘the Self’ its pros and cons. Having just asked myself two questions – why should ‘the Self’ be considered a problem , particularly in Buddhism? & why binding or going beyond ‘the Self’ should be such a good thing? – I am now a little stumped how to progress in an approach to answering them. I suspect the former needs some form of answer before the latter can be tackled. Christian religions conceive ‘the Self’ as being in need of transcending in a rather oblique way – encouraging selfless altruistic actions or self-denial - surrounded as they are by concepts of sin and redemption. Eastern religions, and Buddhism specifically, appears to have a more highly developed critique and practices for transcending it; studying the causal root by examining the effect of its branches. My guess is that the way Buddhism considers ‘desire’ is the nub of the issue. Well I shall see where that leads me.
I’m enjoying re-engaging with Brian Eno’s music at the moment. As I write this I’m listening to ‘Nerve Net’, which is by turns jazzy, arty and funky. Sophisticated laid back music tracks often interrupted by blistering guitar, scatological explosions of sound, from long-time Eno collaborator Robert Fripp. It would appear to be Eno’s attempt to pick up on and explore in his own idiosyncratic manner, a few early nineties musical trends. Not necessarily an innovative album, but interesting none the less.
I’ve just begun reading Alan Bennett’s – Untold Stories, which I must say I am, so far, very impressed with. Part Autobiography and part Diary extracts, it is often profoundly moving and funny within the space of a sentence. Frank, without being gratuitous or blunt, he writes about himself and his parents honestly, with a touching sense of authenticity to the often difficult, turbulently mixed up responses we have towards both. He writes about his own irritation with his Mother’s behaviour, during her prolonged periods of depression. Doing so with all the emotions present, love, fondness, exasperation, guilt and that uncomfortable feeling of wanting to run away and hide, to put distance between you and your loved ones suffering. I understand he wrote some of it when still suffering from Cancer, not expecting it would be published till after his own demise. This does to some extent account for why it feels such a very real and curiously life enhancing book.
I met up with Nandaketu this week, who I was ordained with in 2000. We haven’t seen each other for a couple of years, during which time both of us have taken a wide orbit regarding our relationship with the Buddhist Order we joined. Though there has been a gap, it didn’t feel like there had been as regards our friendship. Picking up where we left off, and catching up on the details.
Returned to work on Thursday, drove my car for the first time in over a week. I don’t really enjoy or feel comfortable driving. I approach it as a necessity, that I’d much rather not have to accept. Work itself was fine but tiring. After only two days I was eager for the weekend to arrive. Today my back and shoulders are aching badly. I don’t have my first Acupuncture appointment until the 4th of April, so I’ll have to grin and bear it till then.