Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DIARY 108 - Fortuitous Times

108 is considered in Buddhism, via a sort of reverse logic, a rather fortuitous number. It's said to be the number of defilement's that have to be overcome before one can become Enlightened. One must assume then that its fortuitous because there are considered to be so few. Irrespective of this fact, this is my 108th Diary entry. Regardless of how few, or many, of the defilement's I've managed to further entangle myself with whilst writing this blog - I've been devoted to it for some time. The blog sphere itself might be considered a contemporary defilement - built as it is on ego,pride and self aggrandisement. Whether anyone else is really that interested in the neurotic twitterings of a fifty something gay Buddhist, I obviously still flatter myself by believing that somebody might be, apart from me that is. So I continue to web-ramble.

Anyway, this is by the by. Fortuitous news arrived last week in the form of David's Public Ordination, and his new Buddhist name - Jnanashalin (pronounced KneeYah-Na-Shah-Lin) This means 'he who is distinguished for knowledge', which like all such names recognises a distinguishing characteristic, whilst also giving one a challenge to live up to, if not exceed it - mostly by becoming Enlightened I expect. Jnanashalin apparently, after a little unease, does like his new name. I know it was quite an area for nervousness for him, would he like his name? Well I do, and obviously I'm well pleased, and proud of him for having taken this great step in his life. There is quite a bit of adjusting for me too, and this is not just limited to the spell checker on my computer wanting to change Jnanashalin to 'cannonballing'. I'm still having to make a very conscious effort to use his name, with often a microseconds time delay whilst I stop myself saying David and replace it with Jnanashalin. The turn around is getting quicker,though occasionally I refer to him during conversations, and I'm suddenly gripped by uncertainty - did I say David or not just then? It's not just the name, but also a marked change in one aspect of how I relate to him - as we are both now members of the same Western Buddhist Order, with all its eccentricities, virtues and flaws. Well, his return is a little over a month away, so I'll find out soon enough how it feels for him. It's all quite exciting.

Since my last posting I've at last moved on from managing Windhorse Customer Services. It feels such a great relief. My new temporary post in the Property Team, is suiting me much much better, and I'm quite looking forward to going into work once more. I don't have quite the breadth of experience and practical skills of some of the team, but I can helpfully contribute in specific areas of detail and decorating. This is only a brief two month secondment, whilst two guys from that team are away getting ordained. Once they return in August, I too will move on to the delights and rhythms of Warehouse work. This last weekend, I was up in Sheffield as part of a team re-painting one of our shops there. I think it went relatively smoothly. It was the first real test of how my back would hold up over three twelve hour working days consecutively. The answer is quite well. My usual lower left back ache I hardly felt. My back felt tired or sore, ached in an understandable way, but not painfully so. So that proves the effectiveness of three months of my back exercise regime.

The only down point of the Sheffield weekend, was the B & B, which was above a gastro Pub, which on the first evening had late night opening i.e beyond midnight. I got precious little or no sleep. There were numerous loud half cut conversations of smokers, or people waiting for a taxi, on the outside pavement, or fellow B&B residents singing the same chanting refrain over and over at half past three in the morning. The room itself was quite well decorated, but with no en-suite. The toilet and showers, however, were outside my room, and combined with the laminate flooring in the corridor there was almost a perpetual echo of platter, clatter and natter along to it. Every time I was on the edge of dropping off, there would be the loud creak of a door opening, and a bare footed waddle and slapping noise along the floor, a discernible peeing noise, and the noises in reverse, concluding with a turning of a latch. Lying there kept constantly awake by all this noise from the thoroughfare, I began to hear sounds and wondered exactly what it was I was hearing. At one point there was this muffled distant noise that reminded me of a pigeon cooing. After a while I noticed it broke off and resumed rather too irregularly for that to be so. Then it suddenly dawned, and I was quite startled if not surprised by the realisation, though quite why I couldn't say, that it might be the noises of human love making, or worse still, pigeon lovemaking!

At the end of this week, on my birthday in fact, I'm off to Padmaloka once more, on The Mythic Realm retreat ( formerly known as The Mythic Context). I'm more than under prepared for it. All the work transition stuff, getting used to the work itself, visiting parents, and the full on nature of the last weekend, have left me a tad behind schedule. There is not usually study on this retreat,which is fortuitous, it being more devotional in orientation, which is why I wanted to do it. I'd like to work more consciously on opening up the more expressive and directly passionate side of my Buddhist practice. One of the insights from my previous retreat was the rather self-contained nature of my sraddha in this respect. Whilst I am quite a strongly emotional person, I have over the years hidden this behind a reserve, that I can find quite imprisoning at times. I believe this could have developed decades ago as a result of previous occasions where perhaps I've been too emotionally open and have been hurt as a consequence. It might simply have been, being hurt or let down by things that I've been in love with, in all the forms that this can be experienced. So I'm rather emotionally guarded in this area. After so long its difficult to know how I could effectively break out of this habit. Anyway, I'm hoping to do work on this whilst at Padmaloka.

A fortnight ago I finally finished a small seed syllable painting ( shown left) I've done as an ordination gift for Jnanashalin. I'd already finished one for Maitrighosha , formerly Paco, (shown above right) over six weeks ago. I'm quite pleased with the way these have come out, and can see this might be a subject matter which might be fruitful to take my painting in. But its a measure of how busy I've been lately that its taken me three months to complete just two small 6 x 8 pictures. Perhaps now I can get down to focusing on developing my other work that I put on one side whilst I did these. If only I didn't keep finding these seemingly small side projects I get interested in too, like photographing of the dappling effects of sunlight in our room, or making proper hanging fixtures and hanging cloths for the community shrine room, or finding an old meditation stool my Father made for me years ago that I'm refreshing by painting it a deep blood red. I've decided to stick a small Buddha medallion on its base, and to make it mythical, in my eyes at least, into a 'Diamond Throne'.

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