Saturday, January 31

Movies I've Watched, In Part Or Entire, While Gini's Been Away


"Rashomon" (partial, due only to the lateness of the hour)
"Girl With A Pearl Earring"
"The Ring" (partial)
"Jesus' Son"
"Brazil"
"Alphaville" (partial)
"Flirting With Disaster"
"Monty Python's The Meaning of Life"
"...and the ship sails on" (partial)
"The Last Man On Earth" (partial)
"Shallow Grave"

There may have been a few more, I can't quite recall now.

Today's Shower Songs


Counting Crows, "Round Here"
Counting Crows, "A Long December"
Indigo Girls, "Watershed"

The last, Indigo Girls, took me by surprise when it transitioned -- quite against my will -- from "A Long December." Difficult, as I didn't remember all the words. Good song, though.

"...ending up where I started again
makes me wanna stand still."
--Emily Saliers

Mindfulness, Accompanied by Karuna


First metta, then karuna, both via directional pervasion -- first toward myself, to get a flow going, then outward to the four quarters, above, below, and all around. With the karuna especially, there were several minutes of locking in, quiet mind, delightful sensations in the body.

This morning, I began reading the PDF (downloaded long ago) of Ajahn Amaro's "Small Boat, Great Mountain: Theravada Reflections on the Natural Great Perfection," his book of talks about Dzogchen, from a retreat he co-led at Spirit Rock with Ven. Tsoknyi Rinpoche (who is also one of Leigh Brasington's teachers). In the introductory material, mention was made of the issue of the Mahayana & Vajrayana notion that our very essence is an unborn and undying awareness, Buddha-nature, but we are told over and over again in the Sutta Pitaka that awareness (consciousness, vi~n~nana) is impermanent, it arises and passes away. This disparity was referenced in the introduction but not fully addressed or resolved, so I hope it will be dealt with at some point later in the book proper.

Friday, January 30

Whittling Down the World


There are too many ideas and too many people. And too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something, is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size.
--Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean in "Adaptation."

Thursday, January 29

Accompanied by Lovingkindness


With reference to the entry below, "Karuna, Infinite," here is the sutta in question. It's a long 'un to transcribe, but I've nothing better to do.

from The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, Volume 2, translated by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. From Book V, The Great Book, Mahavagga. 46. Bohjjhangasamyutta (the grouping on the factors of enlightenment). Beginning on page 1607.

54 (4) Accompanied by Lovingkindness

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling amond the Koliyans, where there was a town of the Koliyans named Haliddavassana. Then, in the morning, a number of bhikkhus dressed and, taking their bowls and robes, entered Haliddavasana for alms. Then it occurred to them: "It is still too early to walk for alms in Haliddavasana. Let us go to the park of the wanderers of other sects."

Then those bhikkhus went to the park of the wanderers of other sects. They exchanged greetings with those wanderers and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, sat down to one side. The wanderers then said to them: "Friends, the ascetic Gotama teaches the Dhamma to his disciples thus: 'Come, bhikkhus, abandon the five hindrances, the corruptions of the mind that weaken wisdom, and dwell pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with lovingkindness, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with lovingkindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. Dwell pervading wone quarter with a mind imbued with compassion, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with compassion, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. Dwell pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with altruistic joy, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to onself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with altruistic joy, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. Dwell pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will.'

"We too, friends, teach the Dhamma to our disciples thus: 'Come, friends, abandon the five hindrances ... [all as above] ... dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with lovingkindness ... compassion ... altruistic joy ... equanimity ... without ill will.' So, friends, what here is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the ascetic Gotama and us, that is, regarding the one Dhamma teaching and the other, regarding the one manner of instruction and the other?"

Then those bhikkhus neither delighted in nor rejected the statements of those wanderers. Without delighting in it, without rejecting it, they rose from their seats and left, thinking, "We shall learn the meaning of this statement in the presence of the Blessed One."

Then, when those bhikkhus had walked for alms in Haliddavasana and had returned from the alms round, after their meal they approached the Blessed One. Having paid homage to him, they sat down to one side and reported to him the entire discussion between those wanderers and themselves. [The Blesed One said:]

"Bhikkhus, when wanderers of other sects speak thus, they should be asked: 'Friends, how is the liberation of the mind by lovingkindness developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? How is the liberation of the mind by compassion developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? How is the liberation of the mind by altruistic joy developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? How is the liberation of the mind by equanimity developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal?' Being asked thus, those wanderers would not be able to reply, and, further, they would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because that would not be within their domain. I do not see anyone, bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Mara, and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, who could satisfy the mind with an answer to these questions except the Tathagata or a disciple of the Tathagata or one who has heard it from them.

"And how, bhikkhus, is the liberation of the mind by lovingkindness developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by lovingkindness ... [and al the other enlightmentment factors, up to] ... the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by lovingkindness, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in releas. If he wishes, 'May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,' he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein. If he wishes, 'May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive,' he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein. If he wishes, 'May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and in the repulsive,' he dwells perceiving the replusive therein. If he wishes, 'May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the replusive and in the unrepulsive,' he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein. If he wishes: 'Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending,' then he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else he enters and dwells in the deliverance of the beautiful. Bhikkhus, the liberation of mind by lovingkindness has the beautiful as its culmination, I say, for a wise bhikkhu here who has not penetrated to a superior liberation.

"And how, bhikkhus, is the liberation of the mind by compassion developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the enlightment factor of mindfulness accompanied by compassion ... the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by compassion, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes, 'May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,' he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein ... If he wishes, "Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else, with the complete transcendence of perceptions of form, with the passing away of perceptions of sensory impingement, with nonattention to perceptions of diversity, aware that 'space is infinite,' he enters and dwells in the base of the infinity of space. Bhikkhus, the liberation of my by compassion has the base of the infinity of space as its culmination, I say, for a wise bhikkhu here who has not penetrated to a superior liberation.

"And how, bhikkhus, is the liberation of the mind by altruistic joy developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by altruistic joy ... the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by altruistic joy, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes: 'May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,' he dwell perceiving the repulsive therein. ... If he wishes: 'Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending,' then he dwells equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else, by completely transcending the base of the infinity of space, aware that 'consciousness is infinite,' he enters and dwells in the base of the infinity of consciousness. Bhikkhus, the liberation of mind by altruistic joy has the base of the infinity of consciousness as its culmination, I say, for a wise bhikkhu here who has not penetrated to a superior liberation.

"And how, bhikkhus, is the liberation of the mind by equanimity developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by equanimity ... the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by equanimity, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes: 'May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,' he dwell perceiving the repulsive therein. ... If he wishes: 'Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending,' then he dwells equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else, by completely transcending the base of the infinity of consciousness, aware that 'there is nothing,' he enters and dwells in the base of nothingness. Bhikkhus, the liberation of mind by equanimity has the base of nothingness as its culmination, I say, for a wise bhikkhu here who has not penetrated to a superior liberation.

Big Lonely


I'm really missing Gini. A lot.

Like a Bell to a Southerly Wind



While not even coming close to smell's power to engage the memory, a song from the past has abilities of it's own, owing to the additional involvement of identification and emotional resonance.

Take "Love and Anger" by Kate Bush, downloaded from the iTunes Music Store, and it's 1990 all over again. Not that that's a good thing, by any stretch of the definition of the word good, but it is an amazing song. Too quirky to be anthemic, but it soars.

It lay buried here. It lay deep inside me.
It's so deep I don't think that I can speak about it.
It could take me all of my life,
But it would only take a moment to

Tell you what I'm feeling,
But I don't know if I'm ready yet.

--Kate Bush, "Love and Anger"

Ah, youth


This guy has done a gorgeous job of using Flash to make versions of classic video games -- e.g. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Tetris -- that you can play right in your web browser.

Monday, January 26

SuperCard


The old itch to develop software has returned after a long, long absence, and today I've received my upgrade to the Mac OS X version of SuperCard.

Ah, hello programming, my old friend; I've come to dork around with you again.

Karuna, Infinite


It feels good to finally have gotten to the place where I feel comfortable taking DaeJa's recommendation to do "liesurely sweeping meditation while lying down." Two days in a row. There continues to be that reticence when I get to the lower abdomen, a reluctace to get near the pubic area... But the sweep continues, and it's fine.

Second meditation session of the day, the sitting session, focused on karuna, and it's continues flowing even now as I type this.

A very interesting notion arose, possibly an insight. It has do with a certain sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya, which says that metta culminates in "the beautiful" (beautiful consciousness), karuna culminates in the sphere of infinite space, mudita culminates in the sphere of infinite consciousness, and upekkha culminates in the sphere of no-thingness. [Will get out Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of The Connected Discourses later on, to look up the reference.] This is an interesting sutta in that it appears to directly contradict the oft-repeated maxim from the Visuddhimagga, that metta, karuna, and mudita can only lead as far as the third jhana, and upekkha can lead to the fourth alone.

In the suttas, the method of extending the Brahmaviharas is spatial, rather than personal. The way metta & the BVs are usually taught these days -- extending it to oneself, to a benefactor, to a dear one, a neutral one, an enemy, and to all beings -- is only to be found in the Visudhimagga. You won't find that explicitly in the suttas. The method you do find in the suttas is directional pervasion. Pervading the first quarter (or direction; this could mean in front of you, or could mean "the East") with a heart imbued with loving- kindness (or compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity), then the second quarter, (behind you, or West), third, fourth, above, below, and all around.

The connection was made when remembering the method Leigh described for entering the sphere of infinite space: pushing at the boundaries of one's sense of oneself, expanding outward, and keep going, and keep going, and... infinitely.

So...

Taking the directional pervasion of compassion, expanding it outward, infinitely... should lead to the sphere of infinite space.

Well, I didn't get there today {aw, shucks}, but the intimations of what did happen were tantalizing. There was a point when the expansion really started to take off, I could feel it heading there and... I flinched. Broke the concentration, like I used to when piti started to arise. Flinching away from the shock of the new.

But...

This looks to be an interesting area to explore. Time to experiment a little and see what comes of it. "Hmm, what happens when I push this button....?"

Sunday, January 25

Today's Shower Songs


All Joni Mitchell -- 3 from "For the Roses" 1 from "Court and Spark."

Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig's Tune)
Lesson in Survival
Let the Wind Carry Me
Down to You


Sweeping, Metta, Karuna, Frida


The day began with a very slow, very detailed sweeping meditation in the prone position.

~ 1h30m, metta turned into karuna. The phrase "May I/you be free from suffering and its causes" soon truncated into "May I/you be free from suffering." A definite jolt, shiver, charge when seeing that, just as I suffer when hatred is present in me, so does everybody else suffer when hatred is present in them. And there's a lot of hatred in the world.

Samadhi was wobbly throughout, most likely due to bad blood sugar. Hey, what do I expect; I've been up since 7am and all I've eaten was one of those Atkins bars...

Yesterday was one of the worst days I've endured in a long time. I thought I'd already made it through the worst of the storms, but then yesterday... yuck. Thank goodness for Gini; she really reeled me back in.

Last night, we finally watched our DVD of Frida. I loved it as much as I did the first time I saw it (up in the P.C. auditorium in June of last year).


Saturday, January 24

The Unbearable Sorrow of Whitebread



And here I thought jelly was the problem. Turns out, this body just can't deal with bread. At all. Very bad. Double plus ungood. No more bread. Bread bad!

Waves


Two sessions this a.m., first metta via directional pervasion, then a session of sweeping. Decent samadhi, quite pleasant & tingly.

Last night, the mind again fell into the abyss, fires of loathing raged out of control. Still there was an awareness and remembrance that all these afflictive thoughts and feelings were conditioned by excessive fatigue and pain. That mindfulness is what saves me, time and again. All these sankharas advance and recede. Waves. Even the most painful ones do recede.


Thursday, January 22

Re-training


Metta, time approximate, somewhere between 1 and 1.5 hours... Better samadhi, some piti. At one point, just using the single word "love" to re-train the focus was helpful. I think the most useful thing to do these days is to stick to one recipient -- the Benefactor -- in order to develop and consolidate.


Wednesday, January 21

Lit Binge



Just discovered Project Gutenberg.

OMG!!!

My autodidactic education left so many gaps. I would love to start filling some of those gaps. All free, all electronic. I'm thinking about starting with The Idiot.

Me likey. Oh, me like very much.

I've downloaded, in various formats:

Ulysses -- time to read it again.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man -- ditto.
The Idiot and Crime & Punishment-- Dostoyevsky is Serious with a capital S
Walden & On Civil Disobedience -- long overdue

Zoom, Whoosh


Dizzying meditation this morning, cittas and cetasikas whizzing by, zoom whoosh. Kept coming back to the main object, metta toward DaeJa, but zoom, whoosh, off we go. This is what often happens when I have to interact before doing my morning sitting. Stirred and shaken.

Yesterday's session with Chris yielded a revelation, when I least expected it. I went in not feeling like talking, so I told her that, and we talked about it. :-) But the surprise: we talked about my ongoing tendency to want to punish myself. What's that about? And I opened my mouth and the truth came out: my core belief is that if I punish myself enough, then Dad will love me. We're going to use EMDR to challenge this in next week's session.

Other stuff. I've reached a point where I feel like I'm ready to start forgiving him. Chris reminded me that forgiveness is a process; it's not something I'm going to do once and that'll be that; it'll require repeated application. But I acknowledged that I'm not ready to forgive Beth yet.

In time.

Sunday, January 18

She xing diao shou


While I lunched, the remote landed on "Snake In The Eagle's Shadow" a 1978 film starring Jackie Chan. Very, very good with the sound off and closed captioning. Purely visual delight; kinetic energy contact buzz. No wonder: it was directed by Woo-Ping Yuen. Absolutely beautiful choreography, witty and fleet.

Childhood memory: martial arts movies every Saturday afternoon, following "Soul Train." Smile.

Piti


For this morning's metta session, placing a cushion in the small of my back helped maintain a straighter posture -- this is something I haven't done in a good long while, although I used to do it regularly. Apparently, keeping the back straight really does make a huge difference. Massive blast of piti. :-) Would have stayed there longer, but time is pressing -- I need to go and fill out todays brunch takeout menu.

Saturday, January 17

The Vice of Surrealism


"(Surrealism) declares that it is able, by its own means, to uproot thought from an increasingly cruel state of thralldom, to steer it back onto the path of total comprehension, return it to its original purity."
--Andre Breton, Second Manifesto of Surrealism

Silly Little Monkey Mind


About 1:00 of metta bhavana, more or less. The metta & feeling of warmth in the heart flow relatively easy, but the mind jumps all over the place. For a little while, the mind locked in on the pleasantness of the feeling of warmth & the pleasantness began to increase... but then mind started spazzing out again. Silly little monkey.

The warmth is still there, and the smile isn't fake.

Konfabulator


This morning I found out about a fabulously cool/useless/useful/geekily-wonderful little application called Konfabulator, which lets you run all sorts of little widgets on your desktop. Spent entirely too much time looking through the Gallery of 488 widgets for things to strike my fancy. It's a hideous waste of screen real estate, it leads to excessive clutter, and OMG I love it so much! The widgets use javascript to do cool/funny/weird/useful/useless things. My current faves: CNNSplash, which puts the current main picture and a headline crawl from cnn.com (updated every 5 minutes) on the desktop; Comic Strips, puts random comic strips on the desktop, updated every five minutes; iTunes Companion, displays album cover art & info about the song currently playing in iTunes; LyricScraper, downloads lyrics from databases for song currently playing in iTunes. There's Xmas lights, to-do lists, calendars. All withough opening separate apps, all done with JavaScript. Monstrously brilliant. Makes me want to learn JavaScript so I can make my own widgets.

Friday, January 16

Alias


Last night, Gini and I started watching the first season of "Alias" on DVD. I love this show in exactly the same way I loved "Buffy."

Alias

Enneagram


Enneagram

I'm a type four: The Individualist.

There's a free online enneagram test here.

Link courtesy of Bob Mould's boblog.

Wednesday, January 14

Additional


Another hour of mostly metta. Very good flow via directional pervasion. Sometimes it helps to let it be impersonal.

Uposatha.


1:17 of metta bhavana. Would like to do more formal sitting after this. Gotta keep the flow going throughout the day. Lost track of metta yesterday, a lapse in mindfulness, and it led back to that awful, tortured place. Danger.


Tuesday, January 13

Maybe He's Just Swimming To Cambodia


Spalding Gray is missing.


Spalding Gray's Monster In A Box

Monday, January 12

Conditioning


Not quite an hour and a half of metta bhavana. Metta flowing strongly, but attention scattered. Little samadhi, but even so, the metta feels good, and is relatively free of the stronger manifestations of the hindrances, and keeps me safe from the dangers I encountered on Saturday, a very bad day indeed.

The thing now is to keep it going, to keep it flowing. Having seen the danger in hatred (especially self-loathing) there's a VERY strong motivation to maintain this mindfulness throughout the day. It's like being told, "This is your one and only chance of avoiding the tortures of the damned. So what are you going to do?"

Last night, I was reading Ven. Pannyavaro's teaching on Loving-Kindness Meditation on Buddhanet, and came across a resonant passage about "re-conditioning the mind." Chris said something very similar recently, in the context of changing what I tell myself. Let's see if I can find the apposite passage.

from "Overview of Loving-kindness Meditation"
[after discussing the five factors of the first jhana and how each of those five counteracts one of the five hindrances, the venerable writes:]
The benefit of achieving deep concentration with this positive mind set is that it will tend to imprint the new positive conditioning while overriding the old negative patterns. In this way, old negative habits are changed, thereby freeing one to form new, positive ways of relating.

Sunday, January 11

O Brave New World, With Such People In It!



It appears that the full text of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" is available online.

It begins:
"A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.

"The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.

"And this," said the Director opening the door, "is the Fertilizing Room."

Adaptation



"Very happy now."
--Meryl Streep in "Adaptation."

1:10 of metta, aimed primarily at DaeJa.

Dual realizations:

1) First precept includes me.
2) All this pain is coming from hatred, anger; I know the antidote for that poison. I just have to remember to apply it (here's where mindfulness comes in, as it relates to remembering, keeping it in mind).

Friday, January 9

Vyapada


About a 45 minute sitting this a.m., very nice, just went straight to it. Metta. Directional pervasion. Greatly pleasurable and peaceful. Delightful.

I think the thing to remember about the hindrances is that they are just that: hindrances. Obstacles. Obstructions. If they can be avoided, avoid them by all means available. Don't go a-wandering. Stick close to your meditation subject at all times throughout the day.

The huge hindrance lately, and indeed for this lifetime, continues to be vyapada (ill will, anger, hatred). The best way to keep away from it is to... just keep away from it. Don't let it get started. Because when it gains momentum, it takes me deep into old conditioning, ancient dukkha. Metta (good will) is diametrically opposed to ill will. Metta is the antidote to the poison, the safety from danger.

Wednesday, January 7

Choppy



Choppy: Rough, with short, tumultuous waves; as, a choppy sea.

Very choppy meditation this morning. When sending metta to DaeJa, brief periods of calm and peace arose, and it was quiet enough that impermanence could be seen with insight. But then it would start raging again. Thoughts and emotions seething with anger & resentment. Mindful of those sensations in the body, esp. in the arms. Unpleasant. The pleasant passes; it's unreliable. The painful passes, too, but not fast enough. :-) Even the knowing arises and passes away; sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. Waves.






Tuesday, January 6

Waiting for My Ride



Today is not the color I would choose.

Do the rest of you see beauty in telephone wires?
Those sagging arcs intersecting, crucifix poles receding
To the vanishing point? Or is it just me?

Any idiot can see the beauty in trees.

I could be inside waiting instead of shifting
My weight from foot to foot in this parking lot
But I choose this vigil. Simple cold, obvious and clear.

The wind conceals no secrets.








Like The Pleasure of Not Having a Toothache


Wow. Today is the first time in weeks, possibly months, when I've had a session with Chris and didn't feel awful afterward. I didn't feel like coming home and crawling into bed, and I didn't feel like I "deserved" to come home and bury my mind in forgetfulness and distraction via comix or movies or some other media soporific.

I've been staying really close to the breath throughout the day, not giving any mindmovement time enough to gather force in a dangerous. Meditated for a good 2+ hours this morning, first metta, then sweeping.

Sunday, January 4

The Conditioned And Transitory Cannot Satisfy


I did not do a proper meditation yesterday, and yesterday was a painful day. This is not a coincidence; this is causality. The tide was in, and there was much suffering. But I kept reminding myself: the true refuge is in awareness. And that became the promontory, the vantage point where I could observe the storm and its passing.

Today, again like New Year's Day, a metta session, first to myself, then to DaeJa, my benefactor. I love it when the thinking drops away and there's just stillness. The heart radiates warmth, and the pleasure of that warmth comes to fill up the whole body with delightful tingly goodness. Yum. I love that peace, that tingly body, that quiet mind peace, but it is transitory. It never lasts; it cannot. The conditioned cannot satisfy.

DaeJa said this was going to be a wonderful year for me, and my heart resonates with that. It feels true. Strong determination arises: not to gain, but to let go.

Thursday, January 1

Inquiry


I wish I had blogged this earlier, when it was fresher in my mind, but we had to go to the New Year's Day buffet.

The interview by phone with DaeJa -- she referred to it as "Inquiry" and as "Dharma Dialogue" -- was quite amazing. I cannot recapitulate the whole thing, but we spoke of what I've been dealing with in therapy, the abuse stuff. She encouraged me to meet it, to invite it, and to see it as the suffering of the world.

She felt that it was important for me to look at the anxiety I have around being a caregiver, that it would be important for me to let someone else in. She said she had a feeling that this was about old conditioning, and not about Gini at all. I didn't say it, but I'm sure this stuff comes from Dad, this exaggerated feeling of duty & responsibility, that I would be failing if I accepted help...

She suggested that I needed to let my attention move lower down into my body, she said somehting about an intimate connection with the dharma. She mentioned sweeping It was during one of those times when it seemed to be coming through her intuitively, like she was channeling. I didn't quite follow, and said that what came to mind when she said that was how I tend to rush past certain parts of the body during sweeping. This led to talking about the sexual energy, and how I've compartmentalized things. There's a split there, into acceptable and unacceptable. She encouraged me to lie down and do a liesurely sweep of the body, and to invite more consciousness of the body, invite more awareness, and be present for all of it. And if that energy was stirred up, I could invite awareness of that, without necessarily acting on it for relief or release. She said, "I say that without any judgment." Instead of very narrowly focusing on the heart center like I've been doing, I should allow a more open awareness, allowing.

She said the body centered awareness would be a good accompaniment to the work going on in therapy, and I think Chris would agree with that.

As we were closing, she took on that dreamy, oracular quality again, and said that this year was going to be a wonderful one for me.

An important realization is that I've been treating this abuse stuff as something I want to get through, to get it over with so that I can get back to the real practice. But this is the real practice. Right here, right now. This is it.

I saw that wanting to get back to "the real practice" meant wanting to go back to when it was pleasant. But the real refuge is in the awareness that knows the pleasant and the unpleasant and therefore transcends pleasant and un-.


DaeJa Vu


Today I'm to have a phone interview with DaeJa Napier.

This morning's meditation was as relieving as it was surprising. When I began with myself, there was just a flicker of the old glow, which has been missing since Christmastime. My heart, apparently, has been closed for the holiday. Then when I moved to sending to DaeJa in the role of benefactor... whoo boy! It really took off. The heart opened, and all that lovely warmth poured forth. The mind got very quiet and still in the midst of all that happiness, and the body was filled throughout with delightful sensations. The fake smile became very genuine.

I have heard that the effectiveness (intensity?) of metta transmission depends on the purity of both the sender and the receiver. It has gotten very intense when sending to Sakula, and now very intense when sending to DaeJa. It's pretty clear that she's quite well-realized on the Path. I remember the first night of the brahmaviharas retreat in October, I was really pumping out the metta strongly. DaeJa was looking, one by one, at the students, and when she came to me... our gazes locked, and she gave a little squint at me, and I jumped. A little zap. Later on, she came up to me and the first thing she said was that she was so glad to have met me. Unfortunately I lacked the wit to ask, "Oh really? Why's that?" But since then, I have secretly harbored the belief that she was able to perceive all the metta flowing from this heart, and that she could tell where I was on the Path.

There's about an hour and a quarter between now and when I'm scheduled to call DaeJa, so after a trip to the bathroom, I'd like to have another sitting and do more metta.

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