The shape that my life has taken, like everyone else's, is a collaborative effort between me and the world. Though we all might like to believe in our independence as self determining beings, this cannot be wholly true. What we are, what we believe about ourselves and the world, is conditioned interactively between all that is us,plus all that our present circumstances encompass - what we did in the past, do in the present, and will be doing in the future. Our working ground in this life can only be 'within' the bounds of this conditioning. This is so whether we are a Buddhist, theist, agnostic or atheist. We have influence over our future direction, but that future is built upon the foundations we have laid down in the past. So, we are never fully free even in our present choices. Dogen would have gone on to say such a linear view is incorrect -it can veer easily into fatalistic determinism, that one thing will inevitable topple after another, like dominoes. For him the past and future are both there in the content of what arises in the present. The present is thus simultaneously impotent and potent.
Why am I taking to this metaphysical turn of thought? Well, it is part of a stream of reflection, winding its way through my current mood. As ever, my body is acting as a spiritual weather vane. As a psycho physical manifestation of the current internal and external conditions, it is bringing something to my conscious attention. All is not well. Since before Christmas I've been particularly experiencing an unusual amount of physical tension, most particularly stiffness in my thigh, calf, ankle and feet muscles. My massage therapist has been working overtime in sessions to encourage these muscles to let go and relax. There has been slow and barely discernible progress. As I mentioned in a previous diary entry, this has now been joined by a persistent band of anxious tension across my chest. It appears to be a nonspecific, almost existential, form of anxiety. I go to sleep with it, awaken to it, go to, and come back from work with it, and go back to bed with it still present. Obviously the last few months have been pretty stressful, with moving and all that entailed. So that is perhaps one factor, I should bare in mind. My feeling about it, and I emphasise it is a feeling not a incontrovertible fact, is that the cause is much more fundamental to my own sense of being. My sense of well being, is unwell.
Now I find myself in such idyllic living circumstances, this has thrown other things into sharper relief. A shadow has been cast across my mood for quite some time. I am starting to become concerned about the consequences of living with this sort of bodily strain at my age. What conditions am I setting up, whose future results might not be at all good for me? I don't want to openly talk here about my conclusions, or what I'm considering just yet. I need to talk this through with David, consult with my closest Buddhist friends, and also absorb it deeper in myself, first. Only to say, that there does come a point when you have to acknowledge what you are, and are not, capable of. Painful or humbling as such a realisation might be, this needs facing, as do the circumstances that cause it to arise. Conditions and conditioning will either break and change, or will break you, particularly if you 'heroically' take something on. Heroism, can in its origins, be blind to the reality of a situation. People wouldn't ever be so brave or foolhardy if they fully understood the circumstances and consequences of what they were doing. To be effective in tackling ones conditioning, you need to acutely discern what sort of thing it is you are taking on, well before you go on to battle with it.