Saturday, November 14, 2009

DIARY 116 - The Force of Urgency.

My weekends have been busy recently, with two weekend retreats at Padmaloka one after the other,first a Men's Event,then second a National Order Weekend. Both were quietly significant. The Men's Event on the Sutra of Golden Light was a first in many respects;the first Men's Event in the ten years since I became an Order Member;my first time being on retreat with Jnanasalin. I'd forgotten how full the programme can be, like stepping onto a steeply ramped roller-coaster. The Sutra of Golden Light plugs you into the infinite power of sraddha,if you'll let it,an essential, but elusive spiritual faculty. At least I find it elusive, but weekends like these help reconnect me. We were encouraged to look at what personal demons holds us back from being more receptive to the influence of the Golden Light. Myself, well, I have a strong sense of the urgency to practice, whilst simultaneously feeling a spiritual lethargy, that can't be arsed with all that effort. Frequently caught frustratedly in the middle of these two opposing pulls, I can respond by becoming despondent. Lethargy is undoubtedly a crude form of resistance, one that equally matches the energy of my urgency, creating the sense of a sulky stand off. So there is a lesson for me here about steady equanimity and applied effort. Urgency can create an atmosphere of tense angst, two things not particularly conducive to practice.

The National Order Weekend, was also a first, my first for an unmentionable number of years. So long in fact, I can not remember exactly how many, but something like four or five. I really enjoyed reconnecting once more. It was good to chat with my good friend Nandaketu, who I haven't seen for a couple of years. The theme of the weekend was Spreading the Dharma. There were three talks, an introductory one by Ratnaghosha, and one each from Danapriya and Saddharaja, which each exemplified the topic, and inspired and moved me in quite different ways. Both demonstrated how they'd personally gained so much more than they put into spreading the Dharma. This has led to me looking at my own efforts in this area. I know I 'do Kalyana Mitrata' well, but there is so much than that I could do. I've felt this strongly in recent months, but have not quite known how to step this one up. It became clear to me over the weekend that the activity of my spiritual practice is often far too self-regarding in focus. The missing link, is this other regarding effort, of working to spread the Dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings . What I do next, in response to this,is not yet clear. There are plenty of classes I could support at the Buddhist Centre or outreach groups, run study days/weekends, train up to do Mitra Study etc. etc. Its probably not advisable to start anything new now, as the warehouse Juggernaut powers its way on towards Christmas. But 2010, who knows what small steps I might find myself making?

After the recent discussions about what I might be doing post Christmas, work wise, and my emotional reactions to that. I've entered a period of reconfiguration, a readjusting of my attitude towards myself, in relation to work and pretty much everything else I do. The heat having been taken out of my 'creative endeavours,' its become more important to relax and actually enjoy my spare time, rather than linger frustratedly over unrealistic creative aspirations of what I should be doing, if I only had the time. I could easily channel more effort and energy in the direction of the Dharma, and less on these personal neurotic 'needs'. Consequently I'm currently feeling less internally conflicted and strained. I'm beginning to realise that the much desired 'simple life' is , surpris, surprise! - one consisting of fewer needs or desires - things being pretty good as they are. I've spent more time than is good for me inhabiting an empty mental space, self-preoccupied with this sense of profound lack. For decades I've endeavoured to find something that would permanently fill that space up. Once again, the force of my urgency appears to have inhibited the very thing I most want - peace of mind, through stillness, simplicity and contentment. How paradoxical and contrary can you get!

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