Attachments to rituals and thoughts on the pandemic

 

Attachments to rituals.  I’m looking at that right now.  Grabbing my cards at 2 am on a Saturday night to help with a decision.  That’s going to help me to get to sleep.  Wait.  What am I writing about?  This coronavirus scare has my energy off a bit.  Should I buy more toilet paper?  (just kidding). No that’s not the problem, although my gosh one does begin to wonder if the stores don’t restock what a mess it could make of things.  Yeah, let’s not go there.  It’s the gym, you know?  That’s what’s got me out of bed so my mind will shush up about it.  As the fear began to loom about the virus and with a strong desire to do my part for my fellows, I skipped my gym time on Friday.  Yet, today I dashed in after notices on the gym’s website that they are taking all these precautions with cleaning and providing extra wipes and sanitizers.  I felt guilty doing it but I was craving cardio and did a vigorous hour on the spin bike.  The crowd at the gym might have been a bit smaller than usual today, but not that much.  YET, now the governor of our state has closed all the schools for 2-weeks.  The gym did shut down certain gatherings and is limiting the number of members allowed in classes and our library has canceled all group type meetings and activities for 2 months!  I’m taking my temperature each day.  I felt like my luck was being pushed by getting a few more groceries the other day.  I’m rationing the stray cat’s food (there are 5 of them!) and find myself holding back from eating what’s in the freezer and cupboards.  Hey, and that’s a good thing.  I’ve gained near to 5 pounds over the winter.

Yeah and now I’m looking at giving up my gym time and cringe when envisioning . . . well, let’s say that its likely to be another damn test in letting go and non-attachment.  Contrast that with the PBS Evening News weekend edition report from Italy where some people are dying in their homes and they are being left there due to fears of collecting the bodies and spreading the virus further.  Many older adults are being triaged and not treated due to not enough respirator equipment to keep them alive.  The entire country is being told to stay at home unless an emergency and the police are enforcing by violators being jailed or fined.  Imagine being given a citation for being out of your home.  Intense and really scary!  And then there’s me boohooing about missing my workouts!  I feel ashamed.  Like many people are doing, however, there’s that part of the mind that says, nawh, that’s not going to happen here; everywhere else maybe, but not here, not us, not me.  

I’m certainly not alone with this struggle right? Now I want to delete this blog feeling ashamed to even be writing it!  But, full disclosure.  I just completed a 40-minute vow meditation — vowing to sit in complete stillness without moving at all.  In this deep metta-meditation,  the concentrated focus involved in not moving a muscle, and the tonglen (exchanging self for others) were all offered (the merit and energy) for any and all who may be in fear or in any way suffering especially in relation to this coronavirus.  Point being just had the thought that maybe tonight’s earlier meditation will balance things out with my selfish gym concerns.  Who knows.

Lifting weights 3 times a week in a group choreographed releases is addictive!  But if I spread a virus as a carrier without knowing (they say you can have it and not know it), then oh no!  I better not go. Right?  I take my temperature every day and feel fine, but still . . . right?

Anyway, do you get the feeling that the authorities know more than they are telling us about the virus?  I watch the news but still feel there’s something missing there.  Here’s a gross report.  One TV reporter said that the virus came from bats and then tonight I read about it originating from snakes.  Ugh. Let’s let those thoughts go; shouldn’t have mentioned it.

Stress is not good for anybody, right?  Therefore, I must stop stressing about this question and my attachment to the spin bike and the weight lifting classes must be handled.

Right; well then.  A quickie. Turning to my cards.  Yes or No spread.  Is it in everyone’s best interest, including my own, if I avoid the gym until they sound the all-clear?  Yikes; That could be months!  There go my mental withdrawal symptom alarms at the very thought of that!

Such an oxymoron, right?  Going to a gym and working out is supposed to be a healthy thing to do!

Right.  Anyway. The cards.  Okay. Here we go . . . No, let me add timing to this question.  I will ask for one week and then decide weekly thereafter.  Here we go . . .

The revised question is this:  Is it in everyone’s best interest, including my own if I do NOT go to the gym for one week? Yes or No? 

Alright.  It’s a YES.  Ace of Swords, Three of Cups, Ace of Cups.

(Ace in the 3rd pile of 13 cards is the strongest indicator of YES and the Ace of Swords in the 1st pile of 13 adds to it.

The middle pile of 13 cards displays the Three of Cups which adds to the meaning.

The first impression in seeing that card was about how being with the other women (oops, guys in the class too) lifting weights to music week after week is group power and fun.  And there’s the community and bonding stuff going on.  I see this card as a validation of the question that is being asked… women lifting cups, bonding.  Me lifting weights and doing the same at the gym.  Get it?  It’s like the cards are telling me that they hear the question, loud and clear.

But with this decision, the Three of Cups card also indicates that there are joyous possibilities that can come from my withdrawal. I will find a way to do cardio and increase at-home yoga to not lose my fitness level.  THAT will be a challenge but what can I say?  I may actually really enjoy that — yeah, well, keeping an open mind, I will re-asses in one week.

Done and done!  Right now I’m going to say that I’m going to bed.  My mind will shut up now.  The decision’s been made.

My heart extends to all who are suffering from the effects of this pandemic.   May you, reader, be safe and protected.

PS —  image at the top of this post was a random photo but that looks like one of our group power moves, actually chest press is my favorite and my bar is loaded with 3 plates too and we lay on the bench just as the people in the photo; probably my 3 plates are not the same weight as the people in the photo but looks the same anyway… yeah, it’s late and I’m not making sense now.  Goodnight; didn’t intend to go on and on so long.

 

 

Highway Robbery! Rude Awakening!

Have you gotten a speeding ticket when you were not speeding?  Highwaymen steal from travelers… there’s a long history of such activity.  Have you ever been falsely accused of something?  I have, and those are soul triggers.  Anyway, these themes appear in this post.

I was robbed, as I see it, yesterday, being pulled over by a highway robber in the guise of a police officer.  I want to share my thoughts about the experience here just in case it may soothe the wound of someone else out there who is reeling after an episode similar to my own.  So here goes . . .

Highway Robbery! Rude Awakening! I awoke this morning and very first thought was that even the honored British-born Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto in his travels throughout India retracing the Buddha’s footsteps on a spiritual pilgrimage was robbed by highwaymen. More than once if I recall from reading his book. My pilgrimage is only to the gym and I too am a spiritual seeker. I don’t care! I’m going with the comparison. It works for me.

Highway Robbery… that’s what happened to me yesterday. I didn’t sleep all night with flashbacks of the red and blue lights swirling behind my car. I reviewed the whole thing willing to admit to myself if I could have been mistaken. No. All night long. No, no mistake, I was not speeding.

The cop was a good actor. I assume a highway robber has to have some type of convincing skill in that way. Maybe they coach them on the approach to use. Right off he said, “Didn’t you see how many cars you went past?!” I thought he stopped me to say a tail light was out.

How many cars did I pass? there were 2 lanes and I was in mine and didn’t whip around anyone…just was minding my own business driving straight on. Again, there were two lanes. I was in my lane. I have no memory of passing 4 cars who were driving in the other lane next to mine.

And there was no traffic … its a lightly traveled road which is why I usually drive that way. I take back roads whenever I can.

His next line was about a radar clock and how fast he had to drive to catch up to me. What??? I drove that road every time I go to the gym and was not driving fast, was not in a hurry. I was not upset, had nothing in particular in mind but maybe my grocery list. Planned on stopping on the way home.  Anyway.  Nada. My conclusion. Highway Robbery!

Again, even the honored British-born Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto in his travels throughout India while retracing the Buddha’s footsteps through India was robbed.

For me, it was $200 that I had to put on a charge card of which I was robbed. For Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto it was his begging bowl and some precious survival items.

He had to let go and not argue about what happened. That’s why I’m not a monk or nun material. I argued. Well, I mostly disagreed and kept saying so. Either way. I’m letting go but it’s not been immediate.  Maybe blogging it all out will help me but others who will need to move this kind of business.

Strange how it happens, you know.  The moment you up-your-game, there comes a challenge right off to give you the test.  Suppose you vow to live healthier and the next thing you know, you get sick.  Practice for getting healthier.  Vow to be more peaceful and there comes a highway robber to give you practice for that too.  Anyway . . .

Highway Robbery! I am not my money nor am I my driving skills.  Here’s another consolation:  Buddha said in The Discourse on the Not-self . . . ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’  That’s a good mantra if you are up to speed on the Non-self teachings.

I have listened to many of Ajahn Succito’s audio teachings and have read both of his books about his pilgrimage through India. Today I will pop in one of the CD of his dharma talks while working on watercolor painting and connect back with his energy to heal further from this experience.

Just as a footnote, it’s not so much the money (but yeah, losing $200 right now does hurt) but it is more-so being accused of something that I feel certain that I wasn’t doing and then to avoid a hassle of going to court (which is what they count on most people doing!), admitting guilt (had to check that box online) confessing to something that I didn’t do in order to pay the ticket.  Highway Robbery. This being accused of things that I haven’t done is an old soul wound that life circumstances trigger. How it goes has to do with when one is working more consciously and conscientiously on the spiritual path, it brings up those old grudges and defilements–impairments to peace.

Ajahn Succito released his possessions to the thieves without anger or resentment with an attitude of maybe they needed those things more than he himself did.

I am trying to consider my own experience of highway robbery with an attitude of giving a generous gift to the city’s police department — maybe they all need a raise or have higher operating expenses.  Not that I don’t!  but still, there it is— a better attitude for me to embrace such as given by the example of Ajahn Succito.

I think that it can be seen as a self-measure of where one is on the path based on how one handles those experiences and deals with the uprising kleshas. Kleshas, in Buddhist thought, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc.  I had some anger going on mostly stemming from pride — in that, I do believe myself to be a safe and careful driver and obedient to the laws of the land.  Right, so that’s that. The robbers got their money and I got my measure of active kleshas are the strong conflicting emotions that spin-off and heighten when we get caught by aversion and attraction.  In my case yesterday, aversion!  And maybe too much pride in my perceived driving skills — active defilement.

Should I thank the highwayman for the rude awakening he gave me by helping me see in what state my spiritual progress *(or lack of) exists? Should I wonder about his karma?

Not really there yet.  Maybe that gratitude will take a few more days.  Meanwhile, I’d love a $200+ refund; but not holding my breath for that one.

Integrating Spiritual Experiences into the Personality

Integrating Spiritual Experiences into the Personality

Integrating Spiritual Awakenings into the Life of the Personality

Do you see what’s going on?  I mean really? There’s a burning desire within me to write about this maybe because until now I only partially understood what’s been going on.  Maybe that’s what you are (or have been) too and that’s why this post.  Let me give a few examples of what is intended.  Let’s say you watched all three Lord of the Ring movies.  But even if you haven’t, hang in there, okay?  Remember how Sam, Frodo, Pippin, and Merry came back from their adventures returning to the Shire and the looks they got from the hobbits from those who never left?  Remember how Frodo and the others looked at one another?  They had to find some way to come back now after their long journey and live normal lives.  Right.  See where I’m going here?  Integration back into the work-a-day world with others can be difficult.

My gosh, I’ve written about my difficulties with that for years but wasn’t fully aware that its a process now in which many others are also struggling.  Increased sensitivity to sound and noxious energy is one part of it. Yet the other part is continuing to meditate in the world of men and beasts after being in true solitude and withdrawal for an extended period.

Some people go on retreat, some for as long as a year.  For myself, it was a much longer period of time overall.  Not that I didn’t have to deal with real-world concerns in spurts but for the most part, I do recall at least 2 solid years of meditation throughout the bulk of the day.  I was, for all practical purposes, withdrawn from the world of the ego/personality and spent a good deal of time in states of . . . well, let’s just say in states in which the self that deals with earth living was out of the picture.

I pictured myself remaining in that state until the end of days.  Yet, the personality/ego needed to integrate all the spiritual meditative states and bring them right into the face of loud neighbors, barking dogs, mean humans and the whole gambit of aversions.

My meditations took on a new format at that point.  My mind was being critical, judgmental, aversive, impatient, intolerant—you name it.  Woah, my spiritual practice took a huge hit!

I began to really dislike myself and felt like all my spiritual work was destroyed.  My mind, in meditation, was running in 10 different directions and it wasn’t easy to pull myself together, so-to-speak.

At that point, thoughts of becoming a nun of some type or other or hiking the Appalachian Trail on a permanent basis were prominent.  I began to resent my family to whom I came down of the mountain (literally from the high Country of the Appalachians to the flatland) to serve.  I wanted to go back, desperately.  I didn’t want to integrate.

Many times when my energy tangled with a difficult human I’d find myself really angry at myself instead of realizing it’s okay to stand up for one’s self in a way that is direct and at the same time kind.

My point in writing this is that people who view themselves as on a spiritual path upon which they might have had profound spiritual experiences feeling great love, peace, and unification/oneness in meditation or on retreats should give themselves a break.  Like Frodo and the others and even like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, it’s a path and may take a while to come back to this temporary earth home after having really gone HOME.  No matter if that going HOME was brief or for years, it is my current understanding that our job now is to apply what we experienced to our ego/personality and integrate that within the earth world.  It’s a journey and self-acceptance is a huge part of it now as we pull the mind back into the unity consciousness it once knew.

Memories will arise triggered by life experiences and people outside of times of spiritual withdrawal and we can watch the mind and learn about our patterns and tendencies.  In that awareness, we can diffuse their energy.  But it doesn’t mean we’ve lost our prior spiritual state, nor does it mean we have done anything wrong.

It’s just a deeper level of spiritual awakening and not a failure in any way.  That’s what I’m trying to convey.

I hope these views and opinions of mine will find their way to those who might be able to understand and benefit from this little post.