Sunday, June 26, 2011

DIARY 140 - Solitary Notes No 1 - Giving up on Enlightenment in this life

My fortnights solitary, was a time for reflecting on times past, present and future. This sort of spacious solitude I just don't find in my everyday life. My life is composed of a variety of relationships and interactions, ones that rarely leave sufficient psychic space for touching base with the one primary relationship - with me. That isn't a complaint, more an observation, that I am still pondering the implications and consequences of. One seems to be getting out of touch with where I'm actually at, and exhibiting the early signs of burning out. Certainly, over the last seven months it has been one huge creative project after the other. I'm aware that during this creative and organisational ferment I've been keeping inadequate tabs on how I was doing, Only in passing noting the desire to meditate drying up and the disillusioned ennui that seemingly surrounded it. Well, a fortnight away started a process of reappraisal, and what consequences this will have for how I practice the spiritual life.

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.

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