Monday, January 31, 2005

Is This All There Is?

I was sitting next to our bath last night, with my toddler playing with his bubbles. And I was reflecting that for many years, when I first came to practice, and first had children, I used to feel very strongly that my goal in life, the goal of spiritual life, was 'somewhere else', 'something else', and not really doing stuff with my children, or other 'mundane' activities.

Being mindful, right here, right now .... surely there was more to life than this? Was this the highest goal of Buddhist practice, of life? Surely there was transcendental experiences? Mystical insight? Living on a plane vaster and deeper and more *real* than this? However much I wanted to see *this*, right here, right now, as where it was at, and truly opening to that as being a moment well lived, the best possible way to live it in that moment .... well, it was never enough.

And I was reflecting last night .... after all these years .... do I still feel something of this ... that somehow there is something much vaster to attain, somewhere else to get to? The answer was definitely 'yes'. But did that goal, that aim in life, did that actually impoverish my current existence, my living right here where I am now? Well, the answer is 'sometimes'.

Sometimes I feel a restlessness that wants to go beyond, that wishes to transcend the whole thing ... that is straining at the leash. But sometimes I feel a profound sense of gratitude, of belongingness, of wonder and beauty and opening and sheer rightness. And then all desire for more slips away.

Playing with my child, watching his pleasure as he splashed us both until all was soaked. I opened, I connected, I let go.

Is it enough?

Yes and No .... I can love more, I can understand more, I can let go more, I can help more.

But for now, I can accept that this is how it is, and this is a good place to be ... a moment ... empty, luminous .... just what it is .... on the way to other seemingly luminous moments .... equally empty ......

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Drive Like This!

What an odd tendency I have! When I'm driving I invariably catch myself, every 10 minutes or so, looking what another driver is doing, and thinking in my mind "that's not right, don't do that, do it like I do"! Whether it's turning without indicating, driving inches behind the car in front of them, hogging the fast lane, or just plain sitting in the wrong car, at regular intervals there seems to be something which I feel should be changed.

How odd. It's *me* that knows how things 'should' be. It's *me* that has the 'answers'. Other people's way is wrong, and mind is right. When they do what I think is wrong, my mind protests, and I suffer. I look, judge, attach, react ... and suffer .... what a strange succession of mental states.

Of late, this habit has become rather transparent, and one which I can see coming up almost before it arises. No longer caught in the grip of an unconscious process, I watch the arisings with amusement and some distance. But nevertheless, they continue to arise. Maybe not as often, but now and then.

So the good news - over time, with practice, these things happen less, are less hypnotic, and cause less suffering.

The bad news? Probably most of us in the world are going around doing this to each other in our heads ("this shouldn't be like that ... do it like this!") ... or worse, making each other do things our way (pretty easy to think of examples here).

Letting go of this control freak tendancy, to want things a certain way, *our* way, and allowing the world to 'be' just a little more. Cultivating peace in our hearts with the way things are .... and thereby fully experiencing what actually is, rather than getting a hint of it, and immediately jumping to 'fantasy mode', as our mind races to play out thoughts and judgements and scenarios.

Letting go of 'should', letting go of 'my way is best', and allowing a little of what is to just be how it is.

Sometimes in that, we see more than we thought was there.

Sometimes in that, we see more of ourselves than we thought was there.

Letting go.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Hi all - I've just got back from an enforced trip to the other side of the world, and am happy to receive so many kind messages regarding my absence, and happy to be back posting :-)

Just a short reflection - I necessarily had to spend a couple of weeks in an environment where I couldn't meditate, where I couldn't read a Dharma book, and where I couldn't even see a Buddha image. What an interesting experience! That was the first time I've been in that situation since coming back to the Dharma in this life. I can't pretend that I'd choose that aspect of separation from the other signs of the Dharma, or lack of formal practice, but nevertheless, this particular Bardo provided an interesting and useful vantage point from which to view how things are. As always, a change, a disjunction in ones 'normal' way always throws up a lot ... and this sure did!

One thing that struck me in particular was how in the course of the two weeks, I gradually went from having a fairly strong sense of what I was experiencing being a series of empty arisings in mind, to having a stronger sense of there being a 'me' who was experiencing stuff that was 'outside' of me. So instead of a play of appearances with seemingly different flavours of 'insideness' and 'outsideness', there was a very strong sense of dualistic divide, of self and other, of me and the world. Very interesting! This was a very gradual process over the two weeks, a gradual settling out of solidity in these perceptions ... this 'self' becoming more solid, these 'others' becoming more solid, more real .... very interesting indeed.

So today is my first opportunity to meditate formally again, which I'm really looking forward to.

I'd gone from first to third world, from one culture to another, one religion to another, from city to not even village, from one language to another .... extreme temperate differences, timezone differences, all manner of change ... a profound shift which had a strong Bardo sense to it .... an inbetween ... a not quite my 'normal' .... how interesting .....

and now back :-)