Friday, January 02, 2009

DIARY 90 - Serious Samatha Required

Its been quiet, too damned quiet. Call it what you like, the Post Christmas lull, or seasonally induced angst, the result, for me, has been 'the gremlins of the dismal shadows' casting their spectre over my psychic well being. Well, lets be frank here, I slipped into one of my occasional (but too familiar all the same) boughts of a profound sense of everything being meaningless, it has all the dark magnitude of nihilistic despair. There had been no particular triggering event, other than being bored at work for a prolonged period of time. I do, however, know that this mood has been hanging around like a malevolent hoodie, awaiting its moment to grab the centre spotlight, for about a month or more. I've been holding it at bay somehow, but even this resistance takes its toll eventually, and even this becomes futile. It's not that I suddenly become this unpleasant ogre, that needs to be avoided when 'he's in one of those moods'. Most folk of casual acquaintence would hardly see or notice a thing. Its all buried away inside like an incubus. I just withdraw further into myself, and my interactions with the outside world, for me at least, become more of a strain.

After worsening sleep, waking up not wanting to get out of bed, to work, meditate, write or do anything I'm remotely fond of doing, I knew this state I was in was going nowhere. So I sought the counsel of my good friend Saddharaja, who has the knack of restoring a degree of positivity and optimism to my bleakened perspective, for which I am always truly grateful. But as he says, I really should be learning how to do this for myself. He also pointed out a Dharmic way to perceive these episodes of meaninglessness. In Buddhist terms seeing into the fundamental nature and meaninglessness of human life and endeavours, can be a forum for Insight. If, however, there is not a sufficient amount of samatha (a cultivated ability to abide calmly with ones experience) this self-same experience, instead of causing the liberating arising of unbounded wisdom and compassion, can instead propel you to spiral down into a pit of depression. The weight of such an experience, if it remains unleavened, could eventually crush a persons mental stability completely. I have never experienced the latter, and hopefully never will. But, nevertheless, this explanation does resonate and makes some sort of sense to me. It gives me a different way of interpretting why this thing happens, the way that it happens, and also a known method of working to change what happens through samatha meditations. Yes, I realise, I do have a lifetimes work cut out for me here.

All was transformed! It was as if heavy grey clouds of doom had finally lifted to let the glory of the sun shine through, after interminable amounts of dull shrouded days. I have a tendency to become over intoxicated with this sense of release, I can sing wholeheartedly and loudly the song - 'Oh what a wonderful feeling, every things going my way" It's all too easy for me to leap from extreme despondency to extreme elation in one inelegant bound. I need to reflect more on how I am at such moments - what my thoughts are like -am I being realistic or unrealistic - how much do I bear in mind the impermanence of all my states of mind and emotional moods? On this ocassion there was, however, a sense of something having shifted emotionally, like an obstructive boulder being rolled away. To be immediately followed by some physical shifting of the fabric of the universe - well office furniture actually. A little later than I'd originally planned, after being delayed by staff illness and days off, we finally got round to reviewing, and rearranging our desk layout in Customer Services. I'd been doing quite a bit of preparation for this last week. I knew what our main objectives were, understood the benefits and draw backs to some layouts. Though I had a suggested layout to propose, I wasn't over attached to it as a desired outcome. The one we decided on, was, I think, a better solution in the end. It met most of our needs, as a team, supported our daily tasks, and our personal requirements of our working environment. There may be some teething problems as things settle in, and unexpected downsides to the new layout emerge. But we'll meet those should they arise. This is the first stage of the Customer Services Review for 2009. We move onto reviewing our Tasks next week. It's to be hoped those go as smoothly. Onwards and (ever so cautiously) upwards.

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