Saturday morning it comes to me that all unknowing I have begun an endeavor that involves a considerable amount of intellectual or conceptual effort. What the Buddha laid out all those centuries ago is intricate and many layered. And I have not committed myself to studying it. In fact, I think part of me resists it. This morning I have a bad moment. What if I keep going and find myself caught up in a structure that constricts me? I flash on being stuck inside the Buddha’s system, unable to free myself from the sticky strands of that web. What if I am unable to have a thought without naming it, categorizing it? Ah, this self-conscious feeling, this is clinging in the category of self. Or, oh, the sun has gone behind the mountain, and I am cold. Is that aversion in the category of sensual pleasures? Sunday night there is socializing after the meditation and teaching. I nibble on the millet raisin cookies I made and try to talk to people. I am awkward and not very present. I am so uncomfortable, I leave early without saying goodbye to anyone. My mind races as I walk home in the rain. I am judging myself, my discomfort, my rambling speech. I realize this is the biggest learning curve I have been in since I began to teach for the first time. But I have forgotten to be kind to myself. Notice, yes. Pay attention. But gently. Lovingly. I remind myself of that surprising bit of rainbow I woke up to, curled on my side, the bands of color tucked into the curve of the mountain before me. And the next morning before dawn, the waning moon and Mars in the clerestory window when I roll over in bed. Gifts from the universe, reassurance. And the small quiet gang of wintering white-crowned sparrows that gather in the courtyard just before dark, tiny beloved aliens who call in a language I don’t know. Something eases within me. Yes. And again, yes. I choose this.
Richard just said “Whew! That was mind blowing. A moment of enlightenment. Goose Bumps!
U R surely right, Yes! Yes to self gentleness, eating cookies; yes to writing your heart out. I try to tell myself Buddha wasn’t asking me to get the system, just to lighten (it all) up. ? : )
oh, and rainbows.
I am so happy this strikes home, you guys! Thank you, Richard, Marylou and Laurie. I often don’t know when I am writing these, especially like this when I am writing one on the last day of my week when I can post it (as I many times am). ;-)
But it makes me feel wonderful to hear this!
I’ve written a bunch about this for myself lately, Laurie, and will no doubt write about it again (and again!) for my blog, too. I have told myself the same thing—that I don’t need to understand all the intricacies of his whole system/structure but only practice letting go and being present and loving and kind. But from the little taste I have had now I wonder if there aren’t pieces of his system that will illuminate my own experience. I am hoping to not push myself and to not make myself feel overwhelmed or even discouraged by the volume of “studying”—as I have already encountered!—but I think I want to keep going with that. For now, that means completing the short little class I am taking and reading two books I have, so it is not a big deal in the greater scheme of things. ;-)
sounds like you’re going for it, Riba. Good to know this, and that you’re writing more about it. 2 books would bowl me over. : )
Ha! I did not mean to imply I will read them quickly, Laurie! I have one from the library I have been reading for a couple of months and am not yet done with, but I like it very much. The other I probably won’t begin until I read this one for a second time. It is really well written and easy to read. (They are the first two books that were on the recommended list from the first short introductory class I took in the fall.)
But my novel reading still takes precedence! ;-)
I seem to be rereading (and reading for the first time) Andre Norton’s Witch World books, of which there are many many many. Such fun!
Hi Riba. I think that writers — and teachers, for that matter — often fall into the kind of self-criticism you’re writing about. Naming it is liberating, and reassuring to read. I love your honesty here. All of us who pursue the writing life recognize themselves in these reflections. Thank you.
Oh, thank you, Bart. I remember my first year of teaching English. After every class I would know four or more things I had done “wrong”—and no kind guide to make it easier. That’s how I felt the other night, like everywhere I turned I was recognizing things that didn’t serve me. So my prayer now is that I might be my own kind guide in this round! ;-)