This week I've felt overwhelmed, as if dense undergrowth and knotted branch spirits of an old folk wood have sprung up around me. My hip and back have been acting up more than usual, I guess largely psycho-physical in origin. A combination of physical, mental and spiritual dukkha, has, not unsurprisingly, dragged my spirits down into the leaf mold of my psyche. It made more acute a general dullness that's been hanging around my experience since Jnanasalins's return from Ghuyaloka, and I began working in the Warehouse at the end of July. There have been moments when a clearing has opened up in the wood, or peaks have thrust themselves out like mountain cordillera to bask in the high altitude sunlight. But these were brief periods and unsustained.
Whilst Jnanasalin was away getting ordained I was doing a less physically taxing job, it was clear to me what I wanted to achieve in those four months; to focus on meditation practice; painting my ordination gifts; and getting physically fitter in preparation for working in the warehouse. I planned ahead, and used my time well. I had some sense of renewed purpose as an Order Member too, to get myself back up to speed. I didn't want to feel myself as a spiritually laggard anymore.
Since July, I've not found it easy maintaining that momentum, its been hard work. I began experiencing periods of exhaustion, and persistent low level weariness early on through working in the warehouse. This was accompanied by lethargy blocking any creative work at home. This reluctance has been frustrating, but five months down the line its still been hanging around. My practice has consisted in letting go of any expectations I have of myself, being more humble, and cliche though it is, staying more in the moment and going with the day to day flow. This has created a moderate level of contentment, though it feels flimsy and incomplete, its just the letter, not quite the living spirit of it. Something has been shifting around ever since, like a theater set being rearranged for the next act, moved invisibly by black clad stage hands.
Previously the discontent I've experienced, arose out of desires for creative fulfillment being in some way thwarted. As my future work pattern looks like being largely unchanged in 2010, so this shift in my attitude has not only to continue, but go deeper. To further relax the tight grasp of this underlying aspirational archetype - to be creatively fulfilled. But if I'm not to be this type of person then who exactly was I to be - was being a simple warehouse worker ever going to be enough?
My osteopath, of all people, once said of me, that he imagined me as being like a specialist shop filled with highly precious objects carefully arranged in it, where only one thing had to be out of place for the whole presentation to be ruined. I'm afraid this seems very true of me. If only one thing appears flawed in my life, I'm unable to feel grateful or appreciative for anything else that's going well, or is good. I am beginning to see that the problem is not what I'm holding onto, but how I'm holding onto it - the preciousness. Too much depends on that long sought for fulfillment for it to be healthy.
Keturaja reminded me on Tuesday, that I'm a person of great enthusiasms. This has been so since I was a child. What has been worthy of remark about the last few months has been the lack of these enthusiasms. It's slowly becoming clearer that I can't motivate myself purely by doing things that are solely for my own benefit. I can't paint and write just for me, I just don't see the point of that anymore. The dilemma for me this week has centred around how I engage with my enthusiasms without them becoming precious self-intoxicating obsessions, ones I must do to the exclusion of everything else, that inevitable become embroiled in unrealistic and thwarted desires to achieve an ultimate fulfillment through them. I don't want to get caught up in that self-orientated tangle anymore.
The way forward, at present, seems encapsulated in the Tibetan aphorism 'if you can't do something for yourself, then do something for others'. To shift my focus away from egregious self-fulfillment, to what will benefit others. If I paint, to do so as a gift to an individual, Windhorse or Buddhist Centre. I had no problem painting seed syllable designs for Maitrigosha and Jnanasalin, it only foundered once I was doing one for myself. Quite how I move my writing in this direction, I need to give further thought too - perhaps preparing talks to actually give? I mentioned previously, after the National Order Weekend in early November, that I wanted to focus my dharma practice more in this 'other regarding' direction, I just need to settle on how I want to do this. This would appear to be where the path through the wood is currently leading me.