I was digging through the archive of the Buddhist Geeks magazine, and came upon this post by vipassana practitioner Joel Groover. Great title! "Relax, You're Already Home." Yeah, that's an easy thing to forget, isn't it?
I can understand why masters like Linji felt a need to whack their students over the head—literally—with such messages. If I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I repeatedly forget to relax and just be during the mundane activities of daily life. In part, this is because I have reserved paying full attention for some future moment when I am back on the cushion. Likewise, I repeatedly fall into the trap of becoming fixated on transcendent states or attainments that I have heard or read about. This imagined future takes me away from the actual present, as does the frenetic pace of our materialistic and technology-obsessed culture, which puts a premium on speed and seems to actively encourage distraction.
Right now, I feel dull, a little cloudy-headed, and congested. Almost no motivation to do anything. In fact, writing this is mostly about giving some effort when I'd rather not. I don't usually feel like this about blogging, but this is where I am in life right now - slowly groping along in the dark, swallowing the end of certain parts of my past, and not knowing what's coming next.
During a similar period in her life, Reb Anderson told our teacher at the zen center to "just die completely" or something along those lies. Let go of identities. Old habit patterns that don't serve you. Repeated emotional states. Let it all drop off.
I've been noticing how, during meditation practice, I tend to try and control the breath - at least for awhile. Eventually, that drops away and there is just breathing, but it sometimes takes good, long while. It seems to relate to how I have handled the last few months of my life.
Having no trouble letting go of some of the past, especially related to my old job, and feeling grateful for the ease of that. But also trying to hold on to what I think I want to keep, or not lose, from the same past. Worrying that letting go of it all means I lose everything somehow.
I wonder what "loss" really means to me. Not the textbook absolute "there is no loss" definition, nor the textbook relative world definition of loosing either. What does loss mean to me and how is that functioning in my life?
I'm starting to think that a lot of thinking about the future is really an attempt to protect one's self from some kind of loss experience. Not basic planning or creative envisioning mind you. But much of the rest of it. Instead of accepting how mysterious the future really is, you try to coddle yourself with full throttle hopes, wild minded fears, or simply long winded idle fantasies.
Perhaps this is the source of a lot of conflicts. Bumping up against each others' disparate futurizings, we feel like our whole lives are threatened, and so we go to work dong anything we can to protect the vision that we have, even if it's a nightmare vision.
Being in this bardo period if you will, I can feel how much part of me wants to react, to create some sort of narrative to live in. My body feels worn down; my mind kind of tired and jumpy. But it's workable. I can hang with this too. Just like the breath in zazen, whatever is holding on will let go eventually if I just stick with it long enough.