It’s all … movement

lim·i·nal/ˈlimənl/

Adjective:
  1. Of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

~~~

First, an explanation perhaps. Why months have gone by without a word. A post in October but penned in August. A flurry of opinions I’d sat on for months before that, released into the world with trepidation and with consequences. Life hasn’t really been the same.

How’s your practice? Some might ask. Quite rich, in fact. But different. (more…)

Nomad by nature, perhaps

I wonder if the right partner, or the right community, or the right something came into my life would that make me want to stay put or am I just by my very nature meant to roam. The longest I have stayed anywhere since leaving my parent’s home in 1990 (boarding school!) was the four years I spent in university. It actually astounds me that I was so totally content at Carleton. But in some ways it’s reassuring, that perhaps I’m not just always looking for something outside myself to provide happiness. Since those Northfield, MN days, I’ve maxed out at about two and a half years in New Haven, CT; the first location post-college.

The past few weeks were spent packing up what I decided it was worth storing for an indefinite period, selling and giving away the things that weren’t, and arranging things such as providing my parents easy access to my assets in the event of an emergency. I still have quite a few things to get in order but things are pretty well organized for this totally life-changing move.

This morning my father said he was pretty sure that I was going to spend the rest of my life traveling, and that he wouldn’t be all that surprised if I don’t return from Asia. I wonder if this statement comes from fear or if it’s something else all together…This was after I told him about how wonderfully coincidental it was that a young Mongolian woman came to buy my camping stove the other day, and how seeing and speaking with her conjured up all this nostalgia and fondness for the country and the experiences I had there. I left just over 11 weeks ago and it seems nearly an eternity. I think I will definitely have to find a way to go back before I leave the continent. First stop Burma/Myanmar, next on the list will probably also be tropical (Cambodia, Laos, India, Sri Lanka?), then either as a stand-alone trip or en route back to the US perhaps I will go to Korea to see my friend and also to Mongolia if I can. Any time I am traveling I will welcome visitors to do a leg with me. Maybe I’ll even see my wildly dispersed friends more often now. The ones I know I will be missing are my nieces and nephews. But if my father is right and I’m in this for the long haul, hopefully when they’re big enough they can come visit me too…

Although I seem to have made a career of moving both in terms of job and place, I don’t think that I’ve ever been running away or trying to find something in particular. I don’t think it’s ennui either, but more a sense of reveling in change and the shift in perspective that different people, places and professions can provide. There is no denying that I am a renaissance person. For money so far I’ve built websites, balanced budgets, pulled weeds, nude modeled, written reports, procured environmental products, washed dishes, and taught Spanish, among other things. I’ve learned something from both myself and those I’ve worked with in each and every one of these situations. For me, the accumulation of knowledge – particularly intellectual – is not so important as is practical experience and living itself.

The theme throughout this blog is meeting life exactly where you are, and this seems perhaps an inherent contradiction with my constant wanderings. I think the motivation for changing one’s environment is what matters here, and so I am going to venture to say that as of now there is no real contradiction. Perhaps I’m not the settling type, but it’s not because I believe that I will be happier if only. The travel, the variety, the challenge of it all is a means in and of itself. Honestly, I hope even if the day comes that I buy a house, grow a garden, and hunker down, that I will continue to have an inquisitive mind and that each moment can be approached as if brand new. Perhaps that is the real meaning of rebirth (just look at the root of the word Renaissance) and reincarnation.

A revolutionary view on relationship

When one has a dedicated meditation practice, one of the things that is unmistakable in watching our thoughts, bodily sensations, reactions, emotions, mental wanderings, and the like is that everything is impermanent. Anicca. How does the idea of a committed partnership or love relationship reconcile with this very basic fact of life, the arising and passing of everything? In many ways it doesn’t. And yet, there is such a good reason to work at it, and commit to relationship as practice, as long as we keep in mind the following reflections / remembrances.

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Remembering this, I believe there is a totally different way of approaching relationship. Below are some excerpts that speak to this revolution. And if you haven’t read any J. Krishnamurti, his writings / talks on relationship are essential teachings. He had a strong influence on both Toni Packer and Vimala Thakar. More on K in another post.

JokoWhy are relationships such excellent practice? Why do they help us go into what we might call the slow death of the ego? Because, aside from our formal sitting, there is no way that is superior to relationships in helping us see where we’re stuck and what we’re holding on to. As long as our buttons are pushed, we have a great chance to learn and grow. So a relationship is a great gift, not because it makes us happy–it often doesn’t–but because any intimate relationship, if we view it as practice, is the clearest mirror we can find.

- Charlotte Joko Beck, from Everyday Zen: Love & Work

More from Joko Beck’s dharma heir, Barry Magid (teacher at Ordinary Mind Zendo, NYC)

tonipacker…We think, we dream, and we talk about happiness and security. We also talk and dream about love–imagine it, long for it, pray for it, promise it to each other, and pursue it strenuously. But genuine happiness, security, and love aren’t products of anything. They cannot be made intentionally. They cannot be possessed. And if they are dreams and ideas they are not genuine. They come uninvited when the mind is still and open, not engaged in the conflicting movements of self-centeredness. They arise unexpectedly when the mind is not in want or fear and therefore not in pursuit of anything…

…Discovering, understanding, and caring do not arise in a mind that is enclosed in fixed ideas about itself and others. In living together, can there be openness and genuine interest in whatever my be coming up in both you and me at this moment–be it desire and longing, prejudice and fear, tenderness or tension, anger or pleasure, misunderstanding, loneliness, rejection, blockage, a feeling of isolation or whatever?…

…What does it mean to see each other exactly as we are? Past memories about ourselves and each other are not what we are right now. Memory is an incomplete and inaccurate recording of the past. Now is something entirely different. Quietly looking and listening now is not memory. It is an entirely different mode of mind. It is a cleansing of perception…

…Can we human beings share life on earth together without trying to own each other or trying to get rid of each other? The idea of possessing each other gives an illusory sense of security. Along with it inevitably goes the fear of losing what we have become accustomed and attached to.

With the loss of another–real or imagined–comes the pain of grieving, of feeling forsaken, abandoned, lost, and sorry for oneself. With the idea of losing someone to somebody else comes the agony of jealousy, anger, hate and violence. One can verify all this thoroughly by oneself.

We may cling to each other for fear of losing each other, but possessing someone has nothing to do with love. Possessions cause pride as well as fear, dependency, and sorrow. Love knows no fear and no dependency. It has no possessions and no attachments. Love is without sorrow…

- Toni Packer, from “LIving Together”, The Work of this Moment

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