There is a nagging feeling alive in me and I don’t really know where it comes from. It could be a couple of things, I guess. I have two mindfulness courses coming up in February and I need to find participants. I’m always afraid nobody wants to take my course anymore, even though the first […]
For some reason the trip turns out way more luxurious than I expected, partly because of Mike’s illness (that demanded hygiene, cleanliness and availability of Western medical needs), partly because of the standard of living of the people we hang out with. Everything is beautiful, five star level, stunning and great but it makes me feel very much like a consumer. The feeling that comes up is that I’m not experiencing the ‘real’ Bali (or Lebowan). What I realize is that this is very much the reality of 2011t: traditional ways of living have been replaced by a cult around tourism. Locals live from the scraps and left overs from what the toursists bring in. My role here is to consume the views, foods, clubs and scenery and to spend, buy and rent from businesses that are mostly Western owned but hire (many) local staff. I cannot expect the locals to treat me as their buddy because I have a preference for feeling more equal.
“Before you die, please live a little”. It is a quote from Hojo-san, the younger brother of my Dharma grandfather Maezumi Roshi and also a zen master. It is very good advice for the new year, I think. Sometimes we forget that our existence has created for us the opportunity to celebrate life. Yes, celebrate it! We have a brand new 2011 ahead of us, fresh and unstained. This is your chance, this is your moment! You are here on this planet, you are breathing, it’s an amazing miracle to be alive. And because a YouTube video says more than a thousand words:
I heard my American friend Luke say on Twitter that when we die people don’t remember what we said or what we did but how they felt in our presence. Tonight I told Mike the story of how I finally was able to forgive my father. I might write about that some other day. But what the conversation made me remember was a very early insight that marked the beginning of my path. I think I was somewhere halfway my twenties and in my first serious relationship. Naturally I was having a tough time. I believe that I became aware of the fact that I had the same age as when my parents got divorced and that I saw that being a kid from divorced parents is not exactly the ideal foundation for becoming a future partner. Seeing my parents as young struggling people my own age who had parents that must have been challenged in some way as well made me realize that we pass on these destructive patterns from generation to generation. What became superclear was that I would not allow myself to remain a victim of passed events. I would not become a jerk to the women in my life because my grandfather was beaten heavily by his father and my grandmother was sexually abused by clergymen. No way. The buck stops here.
We find our truth in our hearts. In the beginning it’s a bit hard to find because thoughts are distracting us. But if you sit upright and concentrate on your breathing for a couple of moments and just observe the breath flowing in and out you will probably find a sense of ok-ness, of acceptance, of relaxation. What you are experiencing is not the effect of a technique, there is nothing artificial about it. What you are experiencing is the real you, you are experiencing yourself as a source of acceptance and relaxation. You are the source! The mind clutter is the fabrication, and obeying the mind clutter is what makes you artificial. How about that for a paradigm shift? Do you now see why every wisdom tradition encourages some sort of meditation? Otherwise we stay stuck in the realm of thoughts and thinking. We need to go beyond.
I’m intrigued by the words ‘”how to make impermanence your friend”. I am offered an opportunity ‘’to free myself from false notions of security’. That sounds good. It also means there is nothing to count on. I can’t count on my body, health or strenght (not even Mike, who now lies passed out beside me), I can’t count on relationships to last forever nor on my ‘’true love’ to wait for me. The only thing I can do is surrender to this very moment and appreciate what it has to offer me. Right now I’m learning what it feels like to be weak. It’s quite beautiful actually. It feels tender and vulnerable.
If you are hedonistic or even narcissistic, maybe a bit insecure or have some false feelings of superiority about this or that and you want to leave it that way, then I have some advice for you: don’t go traveling with somebody who is a professional personal trainer who takes his job very serious. Yes, even when on holidays. “But where does this advice come from?” you ask. Well, as a matter of fact I’m making this mistake as we speak. Ok, I learn a lot. But that is about the only upside there is. Let me give you few examples about the hardships I go through.
An hour ago I started this blog without a clue about what to write about. I felt that nothing worthwhile had happened and I felt the pressure of the commitment to write anyway. So I just started by writing down what came up when I checked in. Now I feel grateful. By creating a moment of self reflection I remembered the importance of self remembrance. That’s why discipline is healing. We create a moment where we come back to ourselves. I just added value to my life and my trip. Nice.
As I type these first words I find myself in an airplane flying over Afghanistan. But I’m quite sure that even if I finish this post within a couple of hours it will not be published until we reach our B&B on Bali. Unless I find time and WiFi in Singapore during our stop over that is.
There is something disorienting about flying through timezones. After lunch has been served they turn off the lights at two o’clock in the afternoon and we are supposed to go to sleep. For some reason it works, and I truly have asked myself often if they put tranquilizers in the food. Now, two hours later, I have woken up and when I look outside I stare into pitch-blackness. We are flying through the middle of the night. It is 16:33.
Maybe flying is so disorienting because it messes with our expectations.
Being attached to our concepts of happiness can lead towards becoming confined to our comfort zones. What happens next is that the restriction of ourselves makes us feel quite miserable. Don’t try to be happy but focus on liberating yourself. Happiness should not be a goal. It’s a side effect of liberation.