I miss the Florida December. Admittedly, the trip was hard on me. Any break of routine or giving up control for a long period of time is difficult for me, and thatís exactly what happens when you visit someone elseís home. I mostly held it together until the culmination of the trip, and it was worthwhile. I learned a lot.
After arriving home, I was still jittery and not quite sure what to do with myself. Growing pains. Thereís nothing worse than living without growth, but growth is always difficult. We could call it change or impermanence, too.
Gosh, itís been rough.
I saw my dad in Florida for a short amount of time. My dad refuses to own anything. He hates the idea of being ďtied-down.Ē He wants to roam free. This is why he doesnít even have a permanent residence. For him, self-reliance is a philosophy of life. I owe a lot of my personal growth to learning self-reliance from him.
My growth allowed me to learn that self-reliance is a tool, not a philosophy of life. The real milk and honey of life is learned in relationships, community and interdependence because thatís where you learn love, compassion and understanding.
For me, itís no struggle to be self-reliant. Iíve been self-reliant as long as I can remember. For awhile, I wished that it wasnít a necessary part of my life, until I realized that it doesnít have to be a necessary part of my life because I am the master of my own fate. Then I realized that I am shaped a certain way, and ďnecessaryĒ is subjective. If I donít want it to be necessary for me to be self-reliant then I have to learn the art of interdependence.
Oh, it is an art and itís not easy to learn. It was easy to practice during my brief stay with the zendo when there is a definite structure, but to learn?
Yesterday, I went back to the zen center after a long hiatus. I spoke to my teacher and he asked me if Iíve been meditating daily. I told him that I have not. I had no intention of telling him about my issues with meditation, but he has the kind of presence that makes you say things. I told him how I stopped meditating around mid-October because every time I meditated, I would be really angry afterwards. I didnít want to be angry, so I avoided meditating.
He reiterated to me that we must become intimate with our negative emotions in order to see the truth. As an aside, he mentioned that if anger or fear arise during meditation, that is creating good karma.
I meditated for about an hour and a half yesterday morning, which had been my usual Sunday morning routine prior to my giving it up for a couple of months. Then I spent the rest of the day steaming and wondering how it is that it could be creating good karma to be frightening all the people in my life by being in an inexplicable state of total fury.
Last evening, I remembered his words and went a little deeper with it. My anger was intensified by having slept really badly the previous night. Being tired always darkens my mood. I sat with it for about ten minutes and then fell asleep. I woke up shortly afterwards to finish the laundry I had started earlier in the evening.
I was not better the rest of the evening.
Today, I am catching little glimpses of the truth of it, but what to do with that, I donít know. I canít quit my job to spend all my time sitting on this. Before, my anger had led to me to dislike my teacher and distrust his teachings, but today, Iím starting to feel different about it. Maybe another wall is starting to disintegrate a little bit.
Even if I do sit with it, and maybe someday, Iíll know all the answers, but then what? What will that do?
I know that Iíll have to start meditating daily, even if that means being angry afterwards, and Iíll have to keep doing it until I understand why. Once I know why, then once again, I can be the master of my own fate.
A few months ago, when I became ordained as a Buddhist practitioner, for the second time, I spent an entire week sitting in meditation. We meditated between 6 and 8 hours a day and the rest of the time was spent working, sewing, in some kind of ritual, or studying. I ate very little and slept less.
After the final ritual, I was thoroughly impressed by what human beings are capable of doing. After I came home, I had to visit my chiropractor three times just to make myself functional again (I still need to go back). I sat immobile, in seiza position, for so long that I had injured myself. Crazy? Maybe. But, moreover, thatís discipline.
Thatís the appeal of Buddhism. At least, thatís how I see it appealing to so many people. That is how an ordinary person accomplishes something extraordinary. A person can look at a 10-day silent retreat and say, ďIf I can do that, I can do anything.Ē
Thatís why Iíve been recalling that time, recently. Iíve been feeling inadequate. I didnít even put on my robes yesterday because I didnít want to feel like an imposter. I donít just mean that I feel like an inadequate Buddhist. I feel like an inadequate person.
Iíve been feeling like I canít accomplish anything because I can barely accomplish the small goals in my daily life. That makes me angry. That makes me frustrated.
That makes me stuff my anger down because itís getting in the way of my daily goals. I donít even want to interrupt myself long enough to just be angry when something trips me up. Even if I refuse to acknowledge why I might be angry, itís still there. Even if I canít find the root, if the anger is still there, the root is there, too.
Self-worth is all about perspective, is it not?
|Monday, Jan. 05, 2009 at 11:01 PM|