Skip to main content

Wall Jumping.

I often think about Siddhartha and his decision to jump over the palace wall, leaving Yashodhara his wife, his son Rahula, and all of his responsibilities, the palace- the good with the bad. I wonder how long he stared at that wall.

Today, I'm writing while in the problem. Most of the time I avoid my blog while I'm in "the problem" and come later with the solution, so I can show how resilient I can be. I'm coming today while still in the problem, to write about it now in a vulnerable way.

I'm pretty sure my last post was about how great I was I doing. Zen every morning, yoga every night, success in the classroom, and having enough energy to get it all done. Well, Wednesday came, and I couldn't do it, again. I couldn't go to work. Thursday was worse and today is better, but I'm at home, trying to settle.

This spell may have come as early as 3am on Monday, when I awoke with thoughts racing through my head. It was noise. There were messages. Nothing to vile, nothing too negative. Big questions, really.

Tuesday, again, I was up well before my alarm with a couple hours of sleep. Went to the temple, went to work, went to yoga.

Wednesday and thoughts had transformed into pain-in the chest, in the stomach- and into fatigue. On Thursday, I called my therapist, and he saw me right away.

He said he wasn't surprised. That when you're a recovering alcoholic and from an addicted family, I can find a lot of "triggers" in a 10 hour work day.

And all the while I'm being diagnosed and talked to, I'm thinking this is bullshit, evident and clear, and I know what I should do. I should leave all this behind, leave the psychoanalysis in that office, my job, my life, and go attain suchness without delay.

That I'm not crazy, this damn world is crazy, and I know where to go.

So why don't I do it when I know the Buddha did it? Because, the Buddha wasn't the Buddha yet. He was a way-seeker named Gautama and he went through a lot of extremes before finding the middle way. And I believe he did that for us, so we don't have to jump the wall; we actually have to do something harder.

What's harder than staring at the wall? We can't stare at our teacher, we can't stare at the Buddha, because these things are outside ourselves. Our teacher's support only helps so much- at some point, and the earlier the better, we have to find contentment in just the practice- not the place, not the names, not the different colored kesa and rakusu draped on human shoulders.

The only shoulders we need worry about are our own, and we should make sure they're slightly back, while head presses the sky and knees press the earth. Eyes gaze at the wall, inward, and this was Buddha's final teaching.

I don't jump the wall because I know it's only my ego that wants to jump. It sounds better and more grand to become a monk than all of this: to work on yourself with a therapist, to miss work when I need to, to go to A.A meetings, to sit in a small unknown temple with questionable lineage than to accept current limitations that the body/mind are demanding I attend to.

Acceptance and surrender are going to be big part of my path. Even since the shit hit the fan, I've been more focused on being "better" than becoming better. And naively, I always assume my condition, my ancient twisted karma, is in the past, that I can "think" it away by simply believing there is no past. I may be right about that, but that doesn't excuse me from the karma. Karma can be like rust.

You can accept rust, you can drive with rust, and you can forget about when the rust encroached on the surface and interior of being. You can chug right along. But that doesn't mean we should ignore rust. Instead, maybe it's a unique opportunity to take care of something, something that's born and needs attention until it grows up.

Maybe I'm just growing up.


Popular posts from this blog

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…

Goodbye Green Gulch Sama! Hello Tassajara!

About two years ago I left Mid City Zen in New Orleans. I feared I was leaving something, and now I'm about to leave Green Gulch and that same fear has arisen. I imagined there was wealth, a sort of freedom, and a lot to "renounce."  I had a car (a fast one!), a playstation 3, many books, many articles of clothing, and as I look around our little cabin, that same perception has arisen- I have too much stuff! And I like it!

My book collection that I sold or gave away in New Orleans has somehow manifested out here. And I have quite the collection of farm hats and farm boots. Rubber ones, Redwings, Ropers, Bogs to the ankle, Bogs to the knee, a navy seal Solomon for the wet spring weather. Most of them are fit to throw away, glued back together and stitched with fishing line, and just so smelly, so smelly my wife won't let me keep them in the cabin, so I hide them all around Green Gulch.

So I started packing, and while that fear of renunciation has arisen, it's not …

Vows and Compass

Being in new Orleans reminds me that my way seeking mind ripened here. Maybe it was the level of maturity my father's recovery actualized. Maybe it was the Ben Wren book I found at Beaucoup Books on my lunch break. Maybe it was my step mom's copy of things fall apart by Pema Chodron sitting in the bathroom.

Later I would witness the host of suffering post-katrina offered to a young public school teacher. How could I help? I took my first set of vows not really knowing where they would lead, like the old black metal compass my dad put in my Christmas stocking when I was about ten. Beautiful to hold, difficult to understand.

Now, years later, I feel a bit subdued as form,sensation, perception, impulse, and thought tag everything, beckoning some purchase for the price of belief. I'm home, but a home leaver. People wonder when I'll move back and being a home leaver means being ready to leave home again and again, which could mean coming back.

How will I actually engage all…