During the first week I reviewed what my current spiritual ideals were. The solitary chalets windows began to resemble a rug made up of post it note strips, with ideals, connections, desires, interests and enthusiasms written on them. I still held one ideal that I've had for over forty years; to only bring things of beauty into the world. How I envisage doing that has changed, but the underlying ideal remains intact. Today its also about my relationship with beauty itself, whether its in the form of art, friendships, virtue or nature, as much as my creating beautiful objects or rituals.
I came up with a number of headings that eventually morphed into a flow diagram. This began with my basic working ground and principle practices, and flowed upwards to how my Pure Land might manifest itself. After twenty years of practice I needed to acknowledge that 'Enlightenment in this life,' rather than motivating me, had become an actively demotivating factor. I no longer envisage myself achieving this, I clearly don't desire it enough. The desire I'm left with, is a rather perverted greedy and envious one, a headmasterly disciplinarian, that compares and reprimands me for my apparent shortcomings as a Buddhist practitioner. This can leave me bereft of faith in the effectiveness and achievements of what I'm actually doing. If I do a formal structured meditation practice such as Mindfulness of Breathing I flounder in the inadequacy of it, and the energy I'm willing to put into it rapidly dissipates. I took a book on Mindfulness by Ajhan Brahm with me, which I had to abandon reading. I was fine cultivating a silent present moment awareness, even focusing on the breath, but as soon as he started talking about, nimittas, beautiful breaths and dhyanas, I mentally switched off. My diminshed ability to sustain interest is quite pronounced.
I see this actually as good, its honest, its liberating to reconsider, in the light of letting go of Enlightenment in this life, where that leaves my practice. Basically in a more healthy balanced relationship between my ideals and how I'm choosing to live them out. This doesn't necessarily mean I need to throw everything else away. I'm not rejecting the Buddhist path, just adjusting and realigning myself with it. I'm moving the goalposts into the field where I'm playing ball. The actual, rather than the virtual playground.