Thursday, June 14, 2018

SHERINGHAM DIARY 15 ~ Five Ways Of Dealing With Uncomfortable Blockages

Blousey Flowers in Sheringham Park

1) Not Purged Enough Yet To Be Purified
Working in a care home you need to be at ease wiping up the remains of other people's pee and poo. Encountering a toilet blocked with faeces compacted under moistened toilet paper, can be quite a regular occurrence. Fortunately I'm not responsible for breaking the papier mache seal and unblocking it. My job is just to remove the technicolour splatter.

Some residents, unsurprisingly, do develop obsessions around toilets, toilet cleanliness and the effectiveness of their pooing in general. One such is my big voiced Norfolk lady, who keeps mental notes on the timing, of not just her own, but other peoples bowel movements. Last week I asked why one of the residents seemed always to be on the loo. Another resident resorted to the polite euphemism of saying she had a problem downstairs,' She can't poo!' my Norfolk lady loudly interjected. This week, I don't remember exactly how we got back onto the conversation of poo, but I've a faint recollection it arose out of politely asking how she was. But obviously something much more pressing was on her mind.

'Not too bad,
apart from the laxatives am tekkin
I can't undr stan it
Wy hee wont let me av more than one senapod,
when it says I need to tek four.
I no I messed miself once, but that was a lorng time ago
and anyway I no I'm not tekkin enough
ones not enough, I no its not enough, cos
I'm only getting an inch when it should be two.
I dunno whats wrong, whats causin it
I think there must be some sort a blockage.'

2) Change The Context & Conditions ~ Resigning from the Triratna Buddhist Order.
There is often 'some sort of blockage'  and not just of one's bowels, Taking many forms physical, emotional, mental or spiritual or a confusing melange of all four. Something can be up in one's psycho-physical being but you haven't quite sussed out it's true nature yet. An intractable blockage has bedevilled my spiritual life and practise throughout pretty much all my time as an ordained Buddhist. Though essentially an emotional blockage, the consequence has been that bit by bit the vitality of meditation and my sense of engagement with life in the Triratna Buddhist Community has taken a long dwindling and downward path.  I believe I am still a Buddhist, but my commitment to do so within the context and practises of the Triratna Order does not seem credible to me anymore. After two years of difficult deliberation I've decided to resign as an Order Member.

In the past I'd have just walked away, this is the first time I've submitted a resignation. sent by e.mail on the 9th June. The official notification will be sent out at some point soon. But regardless I've got on with carrying out my planned ritualised process of departure. On the 9th itself I performed a traditional Triratna Sevenfol Puja where I wore my Order Kesa for the last time. Thus began a series of daily rituals involving reading, pujas, plus the creation and destruction of a painted mandala. This is the process documented in the sequence of photos on this blog. All concluded on the13th June 2018, the 18th anniversary of my joining the Order. when I symbolically brought the cycle of my life in the Order and broader involvement in its Sangha, to a close.

I have understandably been nervous, tense, churned up and sad at times during the period leading up to this. Though after all this time actually submitting the resignation didn't feel at all traumatic, I mostly felt relief.  For the time being, my order name Vidyavajra better represents who I am, so I intend to continue using it. I don't intend to make a big announcement nor plaster the details all over social media.  What you read here will be all I'll be posting online. My friends in the Order will be able to read a fuller explanation of my resignation via the Order website. I'm willing to make my resignation letter available to friends and acquaintances within the wider Triratna Buddhist Community if they are interested. Before you ask, no I don't know what I'll do next. I may just enjoy the open space for a while, then see what, if anything, arises.

3) Reignite The Fire ~ Cashing In On Your Impulses
With the garden provisionally finished,and the resignation no longer pending but delivered, there is a feeling of some positive energy becoming unblocked, of something else arising. I believe its an impulse to pick up Cottonwood Workshop and put renewed energy into that. As yet this is only a desire emerging from the shadows, but there's not been even that for some time. One is still left with the question of how one gets from being a cleaner to a Cottonwood Cafe?

I do tire of being a cleaner, but once you become a cleaner, you apparently have to stay one. Stating on your CV that you're a cleaner is a bit like admitting you were once sent to prison for money laundering or murdering your wife. Permanently staining, not just your character, but also your potential, in the eyes of others. Factor in that I'll soon be sixty one and my employment potential can feel a teeny bit ring fenced.

I have to believe that the initiative is still mine to forge a way out of this situation. It would all be too depressing otherwise. Perhaps it is time to reignite the fire of that 'business in utero' of ours~ Cottonwood Workshop. Jnanasalin has recently completed the remaining admin for Windhorse Trading, so what was once his office space can now be converted into Cottonwood Central, a fully operational craft room. Well, this is our intention. All our initial thoughts have centred on how we want to redecorate and review the room layout. As yet we're not back making anything yet, but we've committed to a colour scheme, bought the paint and I've started the decorating.

4) Write About It ~ If You Want To Understand It
I'm approaching the half way point in my year of reading Japanese literature. So far what I've noticed concerning their literary style is that its notable for subtle understatement, particularly of feelings. The Japanese appear to be as emotionally reserved or blocked as the English are often caricatured as being. One way of breaking through such blockages is to write about them. The Japanese don't really do detailed internal dialogue, descriptions of people, places or landscapes, or even particularly strong narratives in their novels. Its mostly about the spinning and sustaining of a gossamer like mood. You can reach the end of a novel and wonder quite where the drift of all that has taken you. At least that's the traditional classic style. Apart from Murakami I've not read any other modern day writers so I cant say yet what the contemporary literary zeitgeist is like

Soseki, Kawabata and Tanazaki are three of Japans greatest novelists from the early 20th Century. They come from the generation brought up in the immediate aftermath of Japan opening up to trading with the West, when the country underwent a huge social and economic change. Their novels often feature characters who journey from modern cities to more traditional rural areas, or visa versa, in search of meaning or purpose. Naive idealistic men encounter or fall in love with highly intelligent independent women, whose quirky eccentricties influence and intrigue them, though they remain entirely an unknowable enigma. Being enigmatic has its perplexing as well as its alluring aspects. One human can never truly fully know another, female or otherwise, hampering our ability to not just understand, but  also to have empathy for what is 'other.' 

I've just completed Junachiro Tanazaki's A Cat, A Man, And Two Women, which I found to be a complete and utter delight. The novel explores the triangular relationships between a man, his ex-wife and current wife, through a cat that each of the women tries to use either to hold onto or to regain the affections of the husband. Throughout the book the husband just dotes and pours attention on the dratted feline more than he does the women. He just doesn't understand why the women in his life get so demanding and angry with him. Tanazaki has a dry wit and his manner of writing is clever whilst being deceptively simple in its form. He uses this three way relationship to explore how human beings often cling to the idea of possession as a cover for something more broadly existential, often a fear of being abandoned, alone or lonely. Highly Recommended.

5) Discover How To Best Communicate With It
'Wha yu gotta beard fo?' she says every time she sees me. As I've said previously I think this is her way of saying 'hello, I know you'. But the difficulty for me has been how to respond to it, she definitely wants a response, but exactly what has flummoxed me. I've tried ignoring it and just getting on with my work. I've tried taking it seriously and entering into a conversation about why I have a beard. But, curiously, that just perplexes her, she looks shocked or frightened, as if I've spoken to her in the voice of a demon.

Though I have had a sort of a breakthrough, the other week she was stood in a doorway and she started singing Frere Jacques, so I decided spontaneously to join in. All was going quite well, then she, like me, began to find the whole thing of two people at opposite ends of a corridor singing a nursery rhyme, a tad bizarre. She quickly retreated, like a cuckoo into a cuckoo clock, behind her door. Today she stood, again in the doorway, she gazed right at me and said the usual ''Wha yu gotta beard fo?' and I just said ' Hello Mary, how are you?' to which she replied in a gummy distressed voice ' I don't no, I aint got any teeth'.

More  Blousey Flowers in Sheringham Park

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