Total Pageviews

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Leaving Theravada


In the almost four weeks that I've been in Asia I've been doing a fair bit of thinking...and dreaming.
I self identified as Theravada Buddhist for over 20 years....yep, the same amount of time, in fact a little more, that I was married to my ex-wife.


I have come to the conclusion that like myself and my ex, Theravada and I aren't something that naturally happens. I liked Theravada because it was stable and predictable...like her. I've ended up leaving for almost exactly the same reasons...I need colour and noise and to be utterly uninhibited in exploring. For me this is a time of profound personal growth. There is no crisis.


There is the acceptance that Theravada, like my ex, isn't me any more. I'm not the Theravada type, just like I ended up not being her type. I out grew them both. Whilst I like solitude and need it often, I'm naturally a loud person. My curiousity has reached the end of its tether in Theravada...it doesn't explore aspects of life that I want to. The Visuddhi Magga when it comes to generosity defines it almost exclusively in dollar terms. Metta is also shallow and no mention is ever given of using Metta in weight loss or fitness. The entire idea that parenting is a valid expression of Dhamma is utterly rejected....by people who have never done it. And yes, celibacy isn't me. I'm too sexual a person and have always been so.


Like my ex, Theravada wants to muzzle/gag me. My ex is a depressive and every thing was painted in shades of grey. Like my ex, Theravada insists that if I just tweak one more thing....every thing will be happy. My simple response these days is "Oh fuck this!" I want colour, depth, joy, passion, beauty. I don't want to be told where I can and can't explore. I have grown out of the need to just sit in the same orbit doing things that manifestly don't work for me.


So I am exploring, taking joy in a great bum or breasts. Getting my into beautiful shape physically, emotionally and as a person. Making myself into what I hope will be a shatteringly competent lover. Growth is happening and it is good.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Tantra2


I have been giving a good amount of thought to my decision to use this trip to close a chapter of this life time and to open another. I am completely at ease with it and as time goes on am increasingly sure that it was the right decision to make. Things needed to change and the tension of having friendships where I got the impression that the other person thought I was a bit of a dill wasn't helping me at all. I will no longer have any friendships like that.

Whilst there are a lot of sexual images associated with Tantra, sex is always going to be just one component of the practise and the practise of  Tantra is going to happen with Selina. She is my partner in this and will be the Shakti to my Shiva. So anyone expecting me to become orgiastic and solely concerned with sex is in for a disappointment. Deep pleasure and making sure that your sexual partner is completely satisfied is simply natural.

I am also removing a lot of barriers and will explore a lot of things on my return to Australia. Perhaps this is simply the Aspergers manifesting itself. I have to take everything to their logical ends in exploring them. This means that I will be making love with another man next year. No questions left unasked, no roads left unexplored.

I am in this as a way of deepening my practise of Brahma Vihara and Tantra is a much, much more holistic approach. We will be practising without a guru and that means that it will be Neotantra that we will practise. We will practise yoga in addition to Metta and the Brahma Vihara  and pursue an active exercise regime of walking and weights. Books on aromatherapy, reflexology and massage are going to be added to our library as well as openly erotic art. We bought a linga in Pnom Penh.


The nice thing about the trip I'm on is the revamp of the wardrobe that is happening, also the leaning out is very welcome...my muscle tone is coming along nicely. But I'm eating a lot of fruit and small meals. Carrying Ariel is also good for my fitness.
Tantra is good for me.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Apichato


30/11/11
Dear Ajahn
Enclosed are the survey forms for a survey of the Forest Tradition that I was under taking when we last met.
The return of these documents marks the ending of my involvement in Theravada Buddhism. I knew upon my return home in July that I had had my last visit to Bodhinyana.
There are many reasons for my leaving Theravada. I feel that I have gone about as far as I can go in my practice using Theravadin methods. Unless you can point me towards a technique of practising Metta that is more suited to my personality than the ones I have already found in Theravada, the only way for me to deepen the practice is to leave Theravada.
There is also the simple and undeniable facts that I am a loud, emotional and sexual personality. The idea that I might have at some point actually ordained in the Forest Tradition now seems laughable. Only my ex-wife and my intense weariness and unhappiness with and within that marriage made that idea seem remotely reasonable.My new path is more suited to my personality. I can now be loudly joyous and sexual.
I am of the opinion that the vast majority of Theravada monastics in the West have ordained for entirely the wrong reasons. Most of them are to do with a clear failure to have successful sexual relationships. Not being able to succeed, there is a petulant rejection and denunciation of what they have failed at. This denial is demonstrated in the very low retention rate. Having ordained because of failure, there is nothing deep enough to sever the tie to Lay life. They fail in their attempt at escape and thus end up having to return to the very thing they tried so desperately to escape.
I also find the outright rejection of Lay life and a practice based on raising a family by those who have never tried it more than merely irritating. How can you people know? You’ve never tried it. You’ve never had the joy of seeing your child grow. Never had to practice the equanimity of being a parent. Never practised the Compassion of when your child is in pain from teething. Yet so many of you are expert enough apparently in this life to dismiss it as being unequal to the celibate. I personally think that collectively you guys just need to get laid and stop being so fucking precious.
Witnessing just how wrapped up Ajahn Brahm is with the collective arse kissing was just saddening. He loves the attention. He has to be right on all things. He wants and needs the adoring eyes and adulation. Unless you are willing to accept the Ajahn Brahm way...there isn’t any room you. This is a personality cult.
Theravada is a complete vacuum when it comes to new ideas. The absolute absence of original thinking is a genuine cause for concern. How can you people be so content with this? Theravada is also anything but tolerant. Oh, the noises are there, but the practice isn’t. After I had the audacity to end a marriage that was so unhappy I had attempted suicide over, and found happiness with someone else, I was effectively ostracised from Theravada here. The blatant hypocrisy still takes my breath away.
I could write a lot more, but I won’t. I just want to close this chapter of this lifetime and to pursue the new
path I have already embarked on. And yes, I’ve become a Tantrika
Regarding our friendship with a gentleness, I wish you every success in your practice.
Russell.
I try to reply to comments and can't.
I am in complete agreement about the Brahmavamso Bhikkhu sideshow and the serious need for an outbreak of humility.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A Conversation with James

James
Hello.
I am in the process of letting people know that I have left Theravada. It's the Aspergers expressing itself and it is compelling me to be very thorough in my decision.
 No more chance of bumping into me & mine at Vesak.
If you are remotely interested in the gory details, then the blogs below will sate that interest.
I liked you as a person and always thought that you treated me with a kindness that very few at the BSV ever did.
Live well James.
Russell


Hi Russell,
                Trust you and all your loved ones are well and happy. Didn’t know you had Aspergers not that it changes anything. Have made a start reading your blogs. I agree that Theravadin Buddhists a uber conservative and judgemental and not very compassionate. I have read an interesting book on Tantric practices “The Jewel in the Lotus” by Sunyata Sarawati and Bodhi Avinasha. They describe celibate monastics as dried up husks devoid of life which seems to be fairly accurate to me. I am interested to know if you have joined a Tantric Group or are pursuing your practice on your own. I haven’t had the opportunity to read all of your blog as yet but what I have read is most compelling and dare I say very well written.
Wish you all the best
Regards
James

"If you are fully in control, then you aren't going fast enough"

Mario Andretti
 James
Thank-you for your interesting and compassionate response. We are at the moment practising/studying Tantra by ourselves. We've bought a very good introduction "The Everything Tantric Sex Book". Basically I am still practising Metta and Theravada just is too shallow in its teachings. The moment you want to "tweak" things you are shown the door. I want to explore Metta and physical fitness, Metta and a sexual relationship etc., Also I am simply a loud person. I struggled with the repression and denial in Theravada. The Vipassana movement of boring drones watching every thought and emotion...and never rejoicing in any of them simply isn't me. Also the hypocrisy and politics of Theravada just kills any interest or acceptance that those who profess it have any idea of what they preach. The way that Selina and I were treated was bordering on the appalling. My decision to end a failing/failed marriage was treated almost as a crime by people who had no stake, emotional or otherwise in that marriage. I waited for the outbreak of Mudita towards me finally being happy....I'm still waiting. Our Engagement notice in the BSV newsletter quite literally didn't result in one person congratulating us. We were at the BSV for Vesak this year...and the hostility was almost palpable. They didn't want us there.

The Tantric teaching that we are all manifestations of the Divine and should be treated as such is very much in tune with Metta. And there isn't a mentally healthy person alive who will not welcome being treated with gentleness and a reverence for the inherent good in them. The great sex is simply one aspect of the Path...mind you neither Selina or I are complaining about the results of what we are learning. Being reduced to a whimpering, panting, mindless blob of pure pleasure is not something we will find fault in, nor the deep sense of fulfilment and the glow that doesn't seem to fade. Equally important is the dressing well...thank God for the Op Shops of Chapel Street....grooming, and making your physical environment beautiful...Nasturtiums, God bless them, flower year round. The house and the meditation area in particular is now a place of light and happiness. There is also a deep reverence for nourishing all aspects of ourselves as people. So you will find that I have lost 10 kg since July, that Khalil Gibran and Rumi are being read. There is a wholistic approach to Tantra that I like. If I can use bliss resulting from union to power my Metta then I will. In the mean time there is the cultivation of gentleness and beauty. We found that book on Amazon and it looks very interesting.

The celibate monastics that I know and have known, I think are "dried up husks" and a good many of them are equipped with bad attitudes. Gratitude is a vanishingly rare species in that crowd. There is a demand that they are supported...and that man in Kallista (see above photo)  has the worst of attitudes. He bitches and moans about having to do the bare minimum and expects Lay people who he talks about with open contempt to support him. When you express an interest in ordaining, these people drop their guards and I heard a lot of stuff that didn't edify me at all. Mind you, Ajahn Brahm has fallen in love with the arse polishing that comes with what I consider to be a growing personality cult. Mention parenthood as a valid expression of the Path to that one and you can expect to have your opinions dismissed out of hand. Unless you prostrate yourself and praise the Great Guru Ajahn Brahm, then there isn't a lot of interest in you. And if Jeffrey Tan doesn't die from the amount of arse kissing that happens at Bodhivana every time there is an event, then he most likely will die from a gross enlargement of the ego. Lets hope that boy doesn't go out in the rain much....the weight of all those tickets he's placed on himself getting wet would be dangerous.

The Aspergers was diagnosed in March...a week or two after I began Uni. We had our suspicions and I met someone in the Mature Age and Part Time Students Lounge who used to be a Psychiatrist and worked with Aspergers. Little things like having trouble with reading clocks with hands, the bluntness that I was apparently notorious for, the love of routine and the memory are all Aspergers. When we researched Aspergers basically all the dots connected. I had my answers. I came across a quote by an Aspie (as we are called) "If you concentrate on fixing your weaknesses you will only become less disabled. If you strengthen where you are already strong, you will become remarkable." I consider Aspergers a positive...now that I know why I'm different. No need to be cured.

We leave for Singapore on Saturday for 10 weeks in S.E Asia. Monash Uni expects you to visit the country of the language you are studying and for me that is Indonesia. You can imagine my irritation when having told someone at Bodhivana that I was studying Indonesian at Monash Uni, that they immediately discounted it as me doing a language course...it's a Bachelor of Arts that I'm studying with 2 majors...Indonesian and Asian Studies....bit of a difference

This has turned into quite the magnum opus. Selina and Ariel are well. Ariel is a very loud, healthy, happy little boy. Selina is hopefully studying for a Masters in Education next year.

With Metta:
Russell

Monday, 28 November 2011

Leaving Theravada

No photo for this post.

This is simply me putting down the reasons why after almost 24 years I've finally called it a day on self identifying as a Theravadin Buddhist.

I helped a lot at the Buddhist Society of Victoria in the almost 20 years I attended that temple. Never made it onto the Committee despite my helping in some very crucial ways. My contacts within the Theravadin Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha are still being used by the BSV. But help I did.

The crunch came, I guess, when I ended my marriage to my first wife. I was growing frustrated at not being allowed onto the Committee...people I had never seen before were being selected .I now realise that the Committee like almost everything else at that dysfunctional temple is a clique. Members are never  elected to that committee, they are selected according to the politics of the time. The BSV is almost mind numbingly conservative and unless you very much fit the mold of never taking a risk and never actually displaying a personality...let alone a troubled, unhappy one like I had, then you are never chosen by the unelected elite at that temple who are Sinhalese and in my experience don't actually practice Dhamma. For them, the BSV is a way of gaining social points and status.

In mid 2008 I show up at the BSV after a 6 month absence holding hands with Selina. You can imagine the reaction to the news that I had ended my marriage of 20 years to Seesee and my new love interest was a woman of 19. Snide remarks were made...."Is this your daughter?"

We were simply never accepted. An Engagement notice in the newsletter was met with silence...not one person came and congratulated us. News that Selina was pregnant was also met with silence.

By this time...a year after I had introduced Selina to the BSV, I was getting very tired of the behaviour. I was sent an e-mail by one person stating categorically that I would end up regretting leaving  marriage to Seesee and that I would be hurt by Selina sooner rather than later. It also contained the observation that Selina was simply an indication that I was in the midst of a midlife crisis and I should be grateful I was too poor to buy a Ferrari.

We left the BSV at the end of June 09. Selina miscarried on August 1. No words of condolences from the BSV...despite my trying to maintain friendships with people on the Committee.


We stayed away from all Theravadin temples for the next year. Ariel was born on May 17 2010. He had been conceived at the end of August. We went to Kathina at Bodhivana Monastery outside Warburton. Politely ignored is perhaps the best way to describe things.

During this time the conflict between Ajahn Brahm and the Wat Pa Pong Sangha breaks lose over Ajahn Brahm ordaining Bhikkhuni. I engage in the debate and then lose interest.

I continued with my Metta practice. One of the nicer aspects of Aspergers is the need for routine.
Nothing was happening in my practice. Pleasant but static. Vesak at the BSV is attended. No out pourings of friendship. It is however made obvious that the good people at the BSV are still trying desperately to fit me into the pigeon hole they had assigned me. This is despite the clear changes in me as a person and my new roles as both a father and a university student. We offer dana to Ajahn Achalo during his visit to the BSV in June. Mixed experience. No great connection. He is however appallingly rude to me and treats me like I'm mentally challenged. Apparently  someone having Aspergers means that you can talk to them like they have an IQ in the mid 80's.

I went to Ajahn Brahms monastery in June - July of this year for 2 weeks. Meditated a lot, had some insights, some pleasant meditations, but nothing magical. Completely unimpressed with the monks in Bodhinyana. Came home and decided to lose weight. I've lost 10 kg in 6 months. Metta is still not going anywhere.

Feeling progressively disconnected from Theravada.

The moment of truth came when Selina and I decided to explore Tantra. We read a little and to be completely honest some Tantric intimacy did happen. My meditation and indeed myself the next morning are different. I read more and learn that Tantric principles are very much what I am interested in. I can see where a stalled Metta practice can benefit from Tantra. With no reasons to continue trying to revive a stalled Metta practice using Theravadin methods, I embrace Tantra.

Tantra to me is completely natural. It is logical. It occupies an ethical position that I can understand. It allows you to be loudly joyous. It also encourages you to take great care with your environment both inner and outer. As part of Tantra I am encouraged to take great care with my body and to treat it as sacred. I am encouraged to pursue the gentle in this life. As a male I am encouraged to cultivate the feminine in me. I am also encouraged to worship the people around me and to see the inherent goodness in them.

I can fill my life with the beautiful. I can become beautiful. So now my meditation room has been remodelled and is now a place of colour and light and music. Yes Tantra will be practised there. Tantra will be practised by me in all places. Tantric sex is simply a part of the practice. It occupies the same place as flowers and incense on the altar. Now through massage and touch and yes, sex, I can become deeply connected with people and the universe we inhabit.

Tantra is the logical extension and goal of Metta. To love all beings, to have no sense of separation, to embrace the joyous.

With Theravada being  simply not suited for someone such as I, the only place for me to go was out. I tried for 24 years to make Theravada work for me. It can't, I'm not the personality that is suited to Theravada. There is no anger in me towards Theravada. It was a part of this lifetime and it has ended. I'm in the midst of a major life change and no longer see thing to be angry with when things come to an end. The chapter of my life that was the marriage to Seesee Chan has come to an end. A new chapter has begun.

Welcome my friends. How may we cultivate the very best in each other?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Tantrayana

I/ We have embraced Tantra. It's a simple announcement. I/We am/are now someone who studies Tantra. I/We have left behind Theravada.

To myself as a long term practitioner of Metta, Tantra is the logical extension of that practice.  Tantra is the logical extension of Metta because in Tantra we treat all beings as sacred and worthy of respect, kind words and actions and as manifestations of The Sacred. In rejoicing in this, I abide in a state of being that is Metta. Tantra is a vehicle and expression of deep acts of kindness.

At the present time my understanding of Tantra is that it is a worship and experience of the Divine. the Sacred in ourselves and others. Thus I worship my wife, I see and take joy in the goodness in her. I take the time to give her  gentle, tender, loving thoughts, words and deeds. I have the position of worshipping her. I take the time to bring out her best and to take joy in that. Thus I actively want, as part of my practice to fill her world with beauty and happiness. Rather than reading the latest awful thing from the newspaper, I, as part of worshipping her, read her Khalil Gibran or Rumi or Ryokan. I understand her taste in Classical music and fill the house with Albinoni's Adagio. I randomly embrace her, kiss her and tell her that she is loved.

When it comes to the sexual aspect, I take and rejoice in the time to massage her, to touch her gently, to awaken the energy in her, to bring her into a deep contact with her own body, I worship each and every part of her body and give them worship in the form of kisses, loving words and gentle touch, giving her intense pleasure along the way. This pleasure is an expression of the Divinity, The Sacred within all of us.


I give her my complete attention. My mind is firmly in the present. My wifes body is the incarnation of The Divine. Thus whilst I touch her in gentle, loving ways, I also speak in those same ways. I call her "Goddess" and tell her that I am worshipping her. I tell her that she is beautiful. This has caused an intense joy, a deep contentment, the deepest of this lifetime to arise in me.

When union happens, I call on and recognise the presence of The Goddess. Invoking The Goddess during these moments deepens the pleasure. By the time union happens we have both spent time worshipping The God and The Goddess. Our bodies are awake and sensitised to the moment. We have spent an hour or more touching and speaking in loving, gentle ways. We invoke The Goddess and The God. The result has been deep.

However there is much, much more to this than just another way to get our rocks off...even if we do want to clothe it in something resembling the sacred.



If I am the embodiment of The Sacred, a form of The God, then I have to treat this body better. To fill the body with pollutants is to offer them to The Sacred. I have to offer the best nutrition, exercise, rest and sacred spaces. This means to eat properly, to maintain a healthy weight and to exercise regularly. To cut down on the consumption of meat, alcohol and caffeine.

Understanding that those with whom we join are also manifestations of The Goddess and The God...as everyone is...is to understand that we are obliged to offer them beauty. Our bodies must be beautiful. A beautiful body is one that is healthy and fit. Embellishments such as tattoo's and piercings are not necessary.

Offering those we join with beauty is also to offer them beauty in the forms of our speech, touch and attitudes. If we approach them from the position of worshipping them and part of that worship is to give them pleasure, then we are already in the proper frame of mind for Tantra. Everything is Tantra and everyone is a manifestation of The Sacred, the inherently good.

With this as our approach it is easy to see where I view Tantra as an extension of my Metta practice. I have no regrets about the 23 years I spent as a Theravadin. They were valuable and useful years. I have left Theravada because the approach is too narrow and the divide between what is taught and what is practised too wide.

 If, celibacy is an option for you, then do not criticise and belittle the sexually active. If leading a celibate monastic life is your choice, then do not devalue the life of the normal person...we feed you and pay your bills.

Theravada in the Lay arena is a joy free zone. It is stiflingly conservative and utterly devoid of imagination. There is no allowance for difference. I am an Aspergers, I will never fit the template that makes a Theravadin. I am loud, happy and larger than life. I am different and now well beyond all need to apologise for that difference,

My practice is Metta, my vehicle and expression is Tantra.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Third Training


Without offering insights into my own personal life, I will use this entry to explore the Third Training or Precept of Theravada Buddhism. The Third Training is the one dealing with Sexual Matters. Generally it is translated as “I undertake the training  to refrain from sexual misconduct”. This is frequently understood as being an oath of monogamy. However when you look at it properly, it isn’t, in fact monogamy is one of the last things that this Training deals with.

It’s o.k. I’ll give you all a moment to pick yourselves up off the floor and to close your mouths. The Third Training talks about sexual responsibility and sexual responsibility and monogamy are not the same thing . There is a lot of talk about not having sexual relations with people who are either too young or impaired to consent to them in an adult manner. When it comes to not having sex with people under the care of their parents, I understand this to mean that it isn’t o.k. to have intercourse with, for example, someone with Downs Syndrome or a psychiatric illness or a minor, which in the Buddha's time meant a girl or woman who had not yet begun to have menses. There is the acceptance that these people lack the capacity to properly think things through and are thus incapable of making sexual decisions. 

For the rest of us the Third Training can give us a great deal of freedom in sexual matters. Homosexuality in any form is not mentioned in the Theravada Sutta's. So you can look for, and not find, prohibitions against homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexuality. The Buddha had the good sense to stay out of peoples bedrooms.

The main issue of contention is one of knowledge and consent. Sexual misconduct to me is lying, having affairs or denying sexual activity in a marriage. I remember my ex-wife coming home from work one day and she was quite outraged. A work colleague had remarked that monogamous and good weren't necessarily the same thing in marriage. For my ex, they were synonymous. For me they never have been. I can see where a monogamous husband or wife could treat their spouse absolutely horridly and never once look at another person sexually. I can also see where a husband or wife could be extremely promiscuous and make their spouse glow with happiness every day.

When my first marriage was dying, sexual activity began to falter. I complained bitterly that my ex-wife was engaging in sexual misconduct by not meeting my sexual needs. She began to deny me sex. Marriage is by legal definition a sexual thing. When you file for divorce one of the very first things they ask you is how long has it been since you had sex with the person you want to divorce. It is a legal fact that in order to get a divorce that you have had to have ceased sexual activity with your spouse for a minimum of a year. So in giving me either no or eye wateringly unsatisfying sex, my ex was engaging in sexual misconduct. Even Ajahn Brahm agreed with this.

The other side of the coin is knowing and consenting to a sexually free marriage. Selina is bisexual. No news in that. I have no problem with her expressing this aspect of herself. So in engaging in sexual activity with women there is no sexual misconduct happening for Selina. I want my wife to be happy and to force her to deny this aspect of herself, would be for me to engage in sexual misconduct in that I knew she was attracted sexually to women when we married and knew that she wanted to explore that attraction. I married her knowing that sooner rather than later she would want to get her clothes off with another woman. I would rather she explored her sexuality from the safety of the marriage than feel that she had to explore it in secret and thus lie to cover the times and places where she was engaging in that exploration.

Once a consent and boundaries for that consent are established, there is no sexual misconduct whilst those boundaries are respected. People do establish consents where they allow the spouse outside sexual activity during, for example, pregnancy. Selina offered this whilst she was pregnant with our son. She knew my libido and understood that there was a very real possibility that towards the end of the pregnancy that she would be unable to satisfy my needs. 

Some, such as Swingers are only too happy to consent to their spouses engaging in multiple sexual partners whilst at a Swinging Party. The boundary of that consent is that condoms are used and the consent ends with the party. Some Swingers never set foot near a party and are happy to swap partners in more intimate environments. The consent is "so long as I share in the sexual activity, I am happy to engage in this". Thus couples place in their profiles "We only play together". I know of spouses who are happy to simply watch their spouses engage in sexual activity with multiple partners. Men who are impotent or wives at menopause who have lost all interest in sex, but want their spouses to be sexually fulfilled are known to do this. There is the story of a Lay man at Wat Pa Nanachat whose wife had profound schizophrenia and thus could not fulfil the sexual aspect of marriage, who went every week to the local brothel. Everyone knew about it...including the monks and everyone was happy with the arrangement.

Polyamory is where there are multiple sexual and emotional partners who may or may not share the same address. I have come across a dizzying array of Polyamorous arrangements and they fail with about the same frequency as monogamous relationships...and for much the same reasons.

Thus we can see that the Third Training has a deeper quality to it than is commonly practised. The Third Training does not mean that we are obliged to only have sex in the missionary position, preferably with the lights out, the doona over our heads and a sense of shame because we are enjoying ourselves. Sex is deeply part of who I am. It's most likely why I never ordained. Sex is part of a healthy life and living without sex isn't leading a terribly healthy life.

I loudly and frequently enjoy sex and once the impossibly narrow interpretation of the Third Training is abandoned, there is much to enjoy. I mentioned in the previous blog entry that I am engaging in a great deal of experimentation at the moment...you can rest assured that I am exploring my sexuality as part of this. Does Selina know? Yes, she does and we discuss sex frequently and in our fantasy life explore scenarios and then discuss them and reflect upon how that fantasy made us feel. Because whilst this openness, honesty and discussion is happening, sexual misconduct is not.

Death & Metta

Death is certain. There is no possible way to escape death. Life has a definite inflexible limit. Each moment brings me closer to the finality of this lifetime. Death can come at any time.
The duration of this lifetime is uncertain. Many causes and circumstances can lead to death. The necessities of life such as food, clothes and transport can cause death. Even such a small thing as a thorn or splinter in my foot can cause death if the wound becomes infected.
Only the practice of Dhamma, by reducing the chances of rebirth in the lower realms of existence can help me at the time of death. Worldy posessions like wealth, social status and power are of no benefit to me at death. I am born with nothing and I will die with nothing. Relatives and friends cannot prevent my death. I am born alone and I will die alone. This body which I have cared for throughout this lifetime will be of no help at the time of death.

 "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Steve Jobs

This is the main meditation I am using at the moment. I find meditating on death to bring a deep peace. As Steve Jobs says in the quotes above, death is a wonderful way of defining where the bullshit is in your life. Steve makes a deep sense, he states very clearly what is staring us all in the face..."We are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart". We are all one breath away from death. We build these mental fabrications in an attempt to ignore this chilling reality. We, in effect, build our own prisons.

I remember when I first encountered this meditation. It was in an Introduction to Meditation booklet my ex-wife had been given by her older sister. Within about 6 months I found that my list of priorities in life had inverted itself. Suddenly it was the relationships that mattered the most to me and not material things. In the last 22 years not a lot has changed.

These days I find that Death is useful in letting go of my recent past. I have found it very hard to let go of places like the Buddhist Society of Victoria and the "friends" I had there. Death enables me to embrace change and to see the change now happening in this lifetime as not only necessary, but deeply beautiful. I never was the person they thought me to be, and now am moving on and beyond that. Steve Jobs makes the most sense of anyone that I have known recently in Buddhism. Steve used the presence of death as a way of taking risks and to be utterly fearless. I'm taking this to heart and feel that the gentle age of 46 is the perfect time and place to engage in some fearlessness and wholesale change.

Whilst I'm not about to divulge all the gory details about my personal life, you can kind of guess from my tolerance of others sexuality and lifestyles that there is a fair bit of experimentation happening in my life at the moment. For the record: in regards to swinging, 3sums, group sex, homosexuality etc., my approach is that so long as everyone is informed and consenting and adults...where's the harm?  I've had Gay sex and will admit to finding some men sexually attractive. Drugs I tried a long time ago and simply found boring. Also the vast majority of drug users are simply wankers. 

The fearlessness is happening in the acceptance that I'm 46 for fucks sake! I shouldn't be asking for anyones acceptance or permission to be me.  Now I can wear a bracelet if I want or visit a Gay Sauna or eat lots of chilli for breakfast if I want to, and if people have a problem with me expressing myself...then fucking off is their best option.

I was in the habit of seeking approval from people...and to make it worse they were the sorts of people that now I wouldn't pee on if they caught on fire. I entered friendships with my tail between my legs and with a sad look in my eyes. Little wonder that people treated me the way they did. I was treated with appalling arrogance and dismissal. Never quite accepted as a real adult and was told quite bluntly that people knew more about my first marriage and its internal dynamics than I did, and that Selina was going to hurt me sooner rather than later and divorcing my ex would be the biggest mistake of the lifetime.

These days I'm in the habit of approaching people on a "take it or leave it" basis. You can accept I'm an Aspergers and thus will be different or you can fuck off! I don't much care what is thought of the 23 year and 7 month age difference between my wife and myself. Keep your opinions either civil or to yourself. Why should I accept your inadequacies when you aren't accepting of mine?

I am naked and I am following my dreams. Death enables me to cast aside pretences and to walk under the sky as the man I am. This is fearlessness. I will pursue the goals that make sense to me, for when the day comes that I am dying, it is my life that I have to be content with. Your opinion of it won't matter jack shit. Having lived with the opinions of others mattering deeply and having ended up utterly miserable, I now live by my own estimation of what I am doing.

Death enables all this.  

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Aspergers & Buddhism

I was diagnosed/accepted as being an Aspergers in February. So in the midst of studying for a BA (Languages) and being a parent, I've managed to practice Metta.
What I am finding now that I can express myself as a apparently quite obvious Aspergers is that there is an inherent dichotomy in the way that Nypi's (Neuro typicals) practice Buddhism and the way that Aspies practice it.
For a start Aspies are free of the difference between what is preached and what is practiced. We naturally treat people with respect. Let me rephrase that. Aspies treat all people with respect, unless you happen to be what we consider foolish. We are remarkably tolerant of other peoples views and ways of being. Something we have noticed that Nypi's are not. Fools on the other hand are often bluntly told that we consider them wankers.
Aspies find it very hard to engage in the, how shall I phrase this, we aren't into the politics, clothes comparing, hypocrisy and bullshit that Buddhist groups engage in. When we decide to practice Buddhism and in my case Metta. We practice it without restraint. We take the instructions literally.  We wish all people the best. The grief strikes when this isn't reciprocated. Aspies find this very, very difficult. The instructions that go with Buddhism are incredibly straight forward.
Aspie's see what is taught in Buddhism and we mentally say "Oh, Fuck Yeah!"
Then you  Nypi's start fucking things up. You guys make the simple incredibily complicated.
Why is it you can't keep to what is taught?
It isn't that hard!
Why is it that you Nypi's will start playing politics where there shouldn't be any?
You turn B-u-d-d-h-i-s-m into w-a-n-k-e-r-i-s-m.
If I wanted politics I'd join the local branch of the Party! Party! Party! because since 1989 they've clearly been needing help.
What I have found is that with the way you Nypi's consistently fuck things up, is that I have quite loudly and literally said "Oh FUCK IT!!!" and begun practising by myself. This way I can meditate in the nude, blend Mahayana, Vajrayana, Sufi and more than a little moon watching in with my practice and because I happen to be wearing what may be considered a politically incorrect t-shirt at the time, I'm unlikely to start looking side ways at myself.  I have solid suspicions that an awful lot of Aspies have done the same and simply walked away on organised wankerism.
I'm an Aspie and this is my rant.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Walking the Path

Some time we just have to keep walking the Dhamma Path even when our meditation is boring or it seems that nothing is happening. Because I'm back at Uni now life is busy, so busy that I'm getting up at 4 a.m. in order to meditate and then study. It seems that nothing is happening in my meditation, but I know that this is wrong. I've had both a dose of gastroenteritus (courtesy of my son) and a molar removed in the last two weeks. I noticed a deeper patience than I've seen before. Also I'm just happier. The desire expressed in the recitation of "May I be free from anger. May I be happy, calm, gentle, patient, forgiving and full of this wonderful blissful Metta", ultimately leaks into your life away from the cushion.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Patience!!!


Take a lot of time to cultivate Metta towards yourself. Time spent cultivating Metta towards yourself pays dividends when it comes to cultivating Metta towards other people.
The more time you spend with "May I be free from anger. May I be happy, kind, gentle, patient, caring, forgiving and full of this beautiful, blissfull Metta." The easier it will be to move onto wishing other people to have those qualities.
The logic is simple....you are actively wanting those qualities in yourself and by consistently cultivating the intent to be free from anger, to be happy, kind, patient, caring, forgiving and full of Metta you are causing these qualities to grow within you. The more these qualities become how you live, the more you abide in Metta, the deeper the connection you feel with all beings, the deeper the Metta you will have for others.
It is very pleasant when you bring Metta completely into your life. For me this has manifested itself in the form of the weight loss programme I'm blogging at length in my other blog www.Oddthoughtsfromanoddmind.blogspot.com
it also manifests itself in the patience I have with my son and the fact that I know that there is a lot less anger in me these days.
Spend a lot of time, months and years cultivating the seeds of Metta within you and the results will be life changing.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bodhinyana Stay



28/6/2011
Tuesday
My first day back in Bodhinyana in  three and a half years. Although I am very tired from both the early rise in order to catch my flight here and the flight itself, I feel very happy to be back. There are some very familiar faces…mostly in the senior monks and it is good to see them again. Ajahn Brahmali and Ajahn Apicchato both looked at me and didn’t recognize me. Wonderful to be back with friends.
I am staying in the newly refurbished Lay Men’s Quarters which have had the glass doors removed and solid wooden doors put in their place. There are also fire proof rolling shutters in place of the large glass windows and the floors are now cork tiles, the roof has been replaced. It is very comfortable although I don’t much like the smell of the place, there is a strong smell of the glue used for the cork tiles,  this is being fixed by the use of incense. I make up a litre of sweet black tea.
I make enquiries about copying Ajahn Brahms Rains Retreat Dhamma talks and am ultimately referred to Anagarika Daniel. The monastery computer is password protected.
I spoke to Selina a fair bit on my phone and sent photo’s of the place. I miss her. Had a very long chat with Venerable  Mahesi, great to catch up with that one. I was in bed by about 8 p.m. sleep didn’t come easily…it is very quite here and I am used to the noises of the city and my family as they sleep around me, but sleep I did and soundly  until 4 a.m.

29/6
Wednesday
I manage over an hour’s meditation before deciding on a shower. The shower is COLD, very  COLD. The hot water doesn’t come through until my shower is over.  I return an sit for another hour before breakfast. I’m using Metta. Meditation is pleasant.
My job for the day is sweeping. I sweep from the front gate to the edge of the meals area and around the car park. I then helped Venerable Mudita with concreting in a shower at the edge of the female accommodation.
Lunch is mostly vegetarian. One of the beauties of this monastery is the ability to be vegetarian if I want to be. The afternoon is spent meditating until my knees complain and then doing some filming of my room, the meals area and the Dhamma Sala. I begin Thich Nhat Hanhs book on True Love. Then before evening drinks I chat to Selina and Ariel. I know that when I talk about my wife and son that I glow.
The meditation is focusing on little niggling angers…people who are no longer in my life and who, for some reason, I’m refusing to let go of. Still despite this, the mind is very calm and I am quite bright.
Ajahn Brahm returned from Thailand this afternoon and gave a Dhamma talk on the dangers of traditions, the blind holding onto traditions and how they can and do get in the way of Dhamma. I am now in possession of 84 Giga bytes of Dhamma talks by Ajahn Brahm. Plus whatever else they have by Ajahn Sujato. Ven’ Santuthi asks me to do some driving.
In bed…back at room by 9 p.m. a wonderful productive day.

30/6
Thursday
I slept in. I thought I had set an alarm for 4 .m. eventually it was my bladder that drove me out of bed and what was seeming to be a very long night. So I rose at 5.45 a.m. which meant that my morning meditation was nonexistent.
I have been given driving duties. This morning I drove Ajahn Brahmali to a couple of different spots in the monastery and did odd jobs for him.  I explained Aspergers to him, and generally chat about how wonderful it is to be married to Selina. There is also chat about how miserable I was when I was married to Seesee. Then after an early lunch I drove Trent, a visiting Lay man to the airport so that he could return to Sydney. I drove back to the monastery by myself. I only got lost twice…remembering freeway turn offs is always a great idea. So I was back in the monastery by 1 p.m. by this time it was seriously wet.
The afternoons meditations were very nice. I’m working on some niggling angers dating from the ending of some friendships. Just alternately sitting and walking and seeing the suffering in holding onto these now dead friendships was very calming. The solitude is just glorious. I am the only one staying in the Lay Men’s Quarters and having hours of complete solitude in the afternoons is exactly why I’m here. The space is delicious. I want a lot more of it. I have read about half of  Thich Nhat Hanhs book, and whilst I’m a long way from being enamoured with Mindful Breathing, it is good to see another point of view when it comes to Metta.
I do some washing. I’m also constipated and am in the midst of dealing with this when Selina wants to chat. As usual when the plumbing is blocked, I end up bleeding and having to deal with haemorrhoids, which is never pleasant.  Chatting with Selina is a mixed bag for me…I love this woman like nothing else and in my own way and missing her dearly, but I know that I need to be here and given half a chance she will talk all day with me. I have some orange soft drink and a couple of pieces of chocolate for evening drinks and then abscond to my room. Another early night and hopefully early rising.

1/7
Friday
This morning I was up at 4. The meditation was pleasant. I’m not getting bliss, but the mind is very still and pleasant. My job for the morning was helping Ven Santuthi fix the door to my room and then fix a door in the Anagarika Quarters.
I caught up with friends at lunch and showed the photo’s of Selina and Ariel.
I managed to sleep for 2 hours after lunch. To ward of an attack of the nods, I walked the path around the monastery and did filming whilst I did it.
I then sat and walked for about 2 hours. The mind was very calm and pleasant. I did practice breathing meditation. “Breathing in, I am happy, breathing out I am bliss.” I chatted to Selina and made my  tea. From lunch on Friday until breakfast on Tuesday I am free to effectively be on Retreat. Breakfast is optional and there is no work. So I can throw myself into my practice.
I chat to Selina before I sleep. I do miss my family, but there is no way I would trade this solitude at the moment. Things are happening deep in me and those niggling little knots…and nots…are working themselves out.  When I walk around the monastery I do my best to radiate Metta : May all beings in the monastery be free from danger, may they be safe and happy.” Very pleasant way of being.   

2/7
Saturday
Up at 5…I’m experiencing problems with setting my alarm. Nevertheless it is a very pleasant morning. I am practicing Metta pretty intensively during my stay here. I have a shower and a shave at 6. I skip breakfast in favour of meditation.  Santuthi comes by to check out the other rooms and does some mopping as well as some chatting.  I run a load of washing and begin reading Thich Nhat Hanhs “Teachings On Love” which deals with the Brahma Vihara. Selina and I have the first of about five conversations. I ultimately set out for the meals area at around 10. I do the offering of food to the Sangha and actually eat my lunch in the monastery’s office…close to the Dana Sala, but still alone. I do the absolute minimum I can in the way of cleaning up…I asked Santuthi about this and he told me that so long as I helped out it would be fine. There are children at Dana and seeing a Eurasian one year old boy makes me realize just how much I am missing my boy.
 I then make my way to the monastery wall. The walls of the monastery act as a mausoleum…in the pillars there are the ashes of people interred. I have someone I know, Max Wilcox, who is now a permanent resident here. I burn some incense for him. I passed the grave of a one year old and this really got to me…had a bit of a cry.
 I repair to my room for a nap..and realize just how much I ate at lunch. An hour and a half nap ensues. I meditate a little, but the mind is quite dull. So I decide not to push things. I read some more and then make my way to the library via the Dana Sala where I make up a Nalgene of tea. A chat with a novice and the discovery of a study of Western Monastic’s of the Ajahn Chah Lineage in Thailand….interesting reading. I also borrow with the intent to copy a CD of 108 Dhamma Talks by Ajahn Sumedho.
Selina calls again. We discuss her making contact with her mother via a birthday card and e-mail. I think this would be a good idea so long as clear boundaries are set.
Being in Bodhinyana makes me realize just how much has changed in me in the last three and a half years. I think that being happily married and having a stable family life is making all the difference to me. I know that I more content and happy than I’ve ever been. I am enjoying the 20 hours a day alone. I can almost feel things happening in me.
I have been working on and pursuing the line of thinking that the angers I have been working on are self inflicted injuries. That they are suffering there is no doubt, the suffering is self inflicted. Walking and sitting in meditation and examining these self inflicted injuries is resulting in a great deal of peace. I am not expecting to have bliss states during this visit, but a mind that is peaceful and delighting in the solitude is a very nice thing to have.

3/7
Sunday
Am awake at 4. I meditate for almost 3 hours before Selina wants to chat. This morning there is a serious attack of lustful thoughts…I am fantasizing about a lot of sexual behaviour. Almost at the end of my tether when I decide to give Silanussati a try. The fantasies vanish.
So I return to Metta. The practice is simple and is reinforcing the knowledge that anger is a self inflicted injury. At some point I see a set of sandals walk past my room and ignore them. The mind is peaceful and I manage almost five hours of meditation in the morning with time out for a shower and chatting with Selina. I am understandably chuffed with this. Lunch is something I help out with a little...breakfast was sweet black tea and a grumbling stomach...and I’m back in my room by 12. A two hour nap follows as I sleep off the post lunch sugar low. I then spend two hours walking meditation...same theme. I use my father and two people with whom friendships ended badly as the objects of my meditation. When another Lay guest drops by to see the other room...he’s moving in on Wednesday, I call it quits on the meditation for the day and chat with Selina again.
I am uploading as many talks and Dhamma related topics as I can whilst I’m here...about 40 Giga bytes so far.
Mind is happy, heart is light. Selina and I discuss her initiating contact with her mother. We’ll see.


4/7
Monday
I manage a 4 a.m. rising again. Meditation continues to follow the theme of self inflicted injuries. There is an exploration of the beauty of Metta versus the darkness of anger. I continually return to this in the course of my meditation. There is a clear cycle being set up in regards to this. I reflect on how anger is a self inflicted injury, practice Metta towards myself or someone else or even All Beings and then I return to the dangers of anger. The teaching by the Buddha that the very first person to be harmed when we become angry is ourselves is very often present in my mind. So it is a pleasant two and a half hours.
I make my way up for breakfast. I have a concern about being constipated again and decide to take both breakfast and psyllium husks as well as a strong sweet coffee in order to open a certain hatch. This is when I discover that I am on driving duties. The main duty for the day is driving Ajahn Apicchato, Ven Jhanarato & Ven Bodhidajja to a dana in Rockingham. Dana is substantial and meditation doesn’t happen in the afternoon. Which is perhaps for the best because it will give my knees a break.
I chat with Selina and make my wife to Max’s grave to burn some incense.
Another chat with Selina and in bed by 7.

5/7
Tuesday
Up at 4. The mind wanders, it’s kinda content with Metta but still wanders occasionally into fantasies. Still two and a half hours of meditation happen this morning before breakfast. I am still mad keen to have my bowels functioning properly, so more hatch opening material with breakfast.
My duties today are of the driving variety. I give Ajahn Brahm and some monks a lift to Jhana Grove. I send Selina a txt saying “No chat tonight...busy driving”. We chat in my room. She remarks that I have always been very logical in my approach to and descriptions of Metta. I tell her that I plan to spend the morning contemplating the beauty of Metta.
A load of washing is done...by hand, someone is using the machine. So after hanging out my washing, I return to Metta.
The penny drops this morning. On the way back from the laundry I begin contemplating how everyone including my least favourite ethnicity the Sinhalese are prone to the same wants and needs. So the washing is hung on my line to dry.
I return to my cushion and my Metta practice. At some point the logic arises that has me seeing that all beings are functionally the same. We all want to be loved, to be free from fear, we want to be free from suffering, we all make the same stupid self harming mistakes in engaging in anger. There is no real difference between myself and the trillions and hundreds of trillions of beings. I spend an hour with this, not surprisingly there is a knot in my throat. I am everyone and everyone is me. The stupid self harming acts of anger, the same dislike of having someone angry with me, the same need to be loved and treated nicely  is present in myself and the truly countless being that inhabit the universe.
The beauty of this deep and indeed molecular level connection is present within me. Where are the differences? Everything I want, is exactly the same that every other being wants. I understand now where the delusion of separateness causes so many awful things to occur.   
A wonderful morning. A truly beautiful morning.
The afternoon is spent driving...picking up people from the airport, going to hardware stores....
I drive Ajahn Brahm to the Armadale Group...and sleep through the talk.

6/7
Wednesday
I drag my tired arse out of bed at 5. The morning is spent dropping people off and picking people up from the train station. The afternoon is when my neighbours move in. They will be here for some, if not all, of the Rains Retreat. So my blissful solitude is at an end. I manage all up about 3 hours of meditation
My Metta practice continues along the same line. No bliss, but a deepening appreciation of Metta. The Mahayana interpretation of Metta is a lot, lot more warm & fuzzy than the Theravada. I like it...a lot. I spend about 2 hours reading Thich Nhat Hanhs book on True Love.
 Selina talks on the phone of a deepening interest in the Persian Sufi poet Rumi. If you want to impress a woman...don’t buy her chocolate Easter eggs...buy her poetry.
There is a novice ordination this evening. There is much Mudita for Reuben...he’s 70, so there is every chance that he will die in robes. Still hope for me yet.
Quietly sitting before the ordination I became aware of two things: 1. Just how much anger remains in me and 2. Just how much there isn’t when compared to what used to be there.
The interest in Metta deepens. I would like to die as someone who abides deeply in Metta.

7/7
Thursday
Having had trouble getting to sleep last night I wake at 4 and have two hours of meditation. Nothing spectacular to report.
I drive Ajahn Apicchato to a funeral and then to East Perth for some books and then to the International Airport to pick up a monk. Some Korean monks are staying for the Rains Retreat and I finish the day with taking them to Jhana Grove.

8/7
Friday
Up at 4. Meditation is Metta. It is very pleasant. First job of the day is to bring the Korean monks to the monastery for breakfast. After breakfast I take Ajahn Brahm to Jhana Grove. Back to the monastery. Shower and nice...fresh clothes. Over to Jhana Grove to pick up Ajahn. Then after a couple of hiccups we are off to somewhere in Perth for a blessing. The Muay Thai Gym is cold...very cold.
Then it is on to Dhammaloka...the BSWA’s city centre. Here I am to wait for someone who has a package for Ajahn Brahmali. I nap in the monastery van. She shows up at 6.30. I ’m out the door and programming the GPS for a trip back to the monastery in a heartbeat. The GPS takes me via the Kwinana Freeway. I white knuckle it...I don’t much like driving on the freeways back home, let alone unfamiliar ones and at night and in a van. Monastery is reached without incident. Bed.


9/7
Saturday
Up at 5. The meditation  remains Metta.  Up to the kitchen for a light breakfast at 6:15. There is a work meeting today, tomorrow is the Entry to The Rains Retreat. The morning is busy. I help uncase and move an alter over to Jhana Grove, then take the crate to the monastery burning ground. Then I helped load the van with robes to take up to the main Dhamma Hall, unload and then take the van back to its garage.
Lunch. I see and cuddle an 11 week old girl...damn I want another kid badly. I chat with Selina. A two hour nap and then laundry. Meditation doesn’t really take off. It’s pleasant, but not blissful. I work on some residual anger towards Ajahn Khemanando and ultimately decide that the best way of dealing with it all is to accept that his presence in my life was very much a part of my life that had my ex-wife in it. Why be angry with someone who was part of a now closed chapter of this lifetime?
I am basically working on cultivating Metta towards myself. I see clearly the connection between myself and everyone else. Why continue in the self harming behaviour of anger? I will read a lot more of Thich Nhat Hanh when I return home, the Mahayana or perhaps his approach to the precepts is deeper than that of the Theravada and follows a clear line of logic.
More chatting with Selina and then evening drinks.
I begin reading Sujato’s “Sects and Sectarianism” which is a history of the split and evolution of Mahayana and Theravada. It’s a lot easier to read than his earlier books, and the subject is quite interesting.
 
10/7
Sunday
I rise at 4. I meditate until 6. When I go to breakfast my first impression is that Adrian the Anagarika on breakfast duties has nodded off in the Dhamma Hall. However the monastery is blacked out due to it being quite cold and a lot of people using their heaters. Breakfast is by candle light.
The work involves the stacking of tables and chairs in preparation for the Entry into The Rains Ceremony...we are expecting a lot of people. We aren’t disappointed. There is a very cold wind from the east all day...my nose runs like it’s on a marathon and I am cold almost the entire morning.
Lunch is very filling and I do have a good helping of prawns. Then it’s helping out in the kitchen. A load of laundry is put on whilst I have a nap. My subject results for Uni arrive via e-mail:  71% (D) for Understanding Asia 1 and 66% (C) for Indonesian 3. I’m not wildly happy, I know I could and should have done better.
Another work meeting at 4:30. Basically the Lay people did the vast majority of the cleaning up of the monastery. So it’s just a matter of putting some things away.
Evening drinks and a long chat with Selina. By now it’s raining.
Back to my room and more reading of Sujato’s book.


   11/7
Monday
My last full day in the monastery. Up at 4. I meditate on Metta. This close to leaving I am simply not expecting much of anything to happen in my meditation.
 Lust comes for a nice long chat.
 I am only having one meal today, so breakfast is skipped.
I let my mind wander where it wants and practice Metta and or Forgiveness to whoever it settles on.
It settles for a while on my ex-wife and I practice both Forgiveness and Metta towards her.
It also begins planning for things when I return home in the next two days.
I thought I had lost weight during my stay in the monastery. The bathroom sc ales in the ablution block tell me that I am still on 110 kg. When I return home I think that my diet will be overwhelmingly vegetarian. I like oats with nuts and dried fruit for breakfast. Lunch is likely to be hummus based with Quinoa  to  give me a complete protein profile, Ryvita biscuits and a leafy green salad and fruit. Dinner, if anything at all, is likely to be more Ryvita. I will eat meat sparingly. Eggs will be part of my diet and I will have to watch my iron levels to avoid a repeat of the anaemia I had earlier in the year.
I will be walking everywhere I can, as well as doing weight training, skipping. When you accept that Uni is a 5 km walk each way and I will often be carrying at least 5 kg of books etc., and pushing Ariel in his pram, you can see where it won’t be hard to achieve about 30 km of walking a week. This should do the trick.
In the monastery, I have often as not, only had one meal a day. I can live on two meals a day and be quite active. I will have to watch my sugar intake...here I’ve been drinking sweet black tea...often with ginger added in the morning. Back home it will have to be white & no sugar.  I’m not about to become a food Nazi, and in the monastery the people who are the most concerned about their food I think are being quite rude. The food is offered and the monastery makes no charge for it, and to become so incredibly picky about it, is just rude. It’s also quite unhealthy. None of the food Nazi’s are particularly healthy and make quite the advertisement for not being interested in a macrobiotic diet.
I will continue to deepen my Metta practice. I have a two hour nap after lunch.
Due to my knees making it very plain that the idea of more meditation simply isn’t going to happen, I spend the afternoon reading the paper. My laundry is almost dry.
More of a chat with Selina, reading more of Sujato’s book and then bed. Lustful thoughts have occupied me all day. Life, or rather a certain part of it is getting very hard. I guess this shows that I am a fit, healthy Middle Aged Male.
Sex does occupy my thoughts and it is one reason for my deciding to pursue this new health regimen. Being very fit will help with conceiving more children. The longevity benefits are well established. There is also the fact that Selina is bisexual and a wonderfully fit, trim couple will help attract not only playmates, but also the girl we want to join us in our relationship.
This is something that I have had the time to think through during my stay here. Considering I married a woman who had been a virgin until we met, there is a deep logic in letting her get as much sexual experience as she wants whilst staying within the confines of the marriage. So I have no problems with Swinging...I get my fun with the girl in the couple.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Death and the Brahma Vihara


At first glance Death and the Brahma Vihara may seem odd companions, however over the years they have come to make perfect sense as companion meditations.
For meditating on Death will cause you to re-evaluate your life. I found that after about six months of meditating on Death and having had the living daylights frightened out of me by realising just how fragile we are and how near Death is, that I went through my mental list of what was important to me. Perhaps it is no great surprise that the list essentially inverted itself. The material things, the house, the career went to the bottom and loving people went to the top. I realised that telling the people you love that you love them only really makes sense when they are alive. Meditating on Death helped motivate me in not only my war with depression but also my Metta practice.
It perhaps seems odd that meditating on Death would help in fighting Depression. I found that meditating on Death removed the illusion that I had forever to win my fight. I was motivated to spend more time on my cushion and to honestly find the sources of pain and to practice Forgiveness.
I think how Death helped and continues to help with Metta would be obvious. It's the same story as the one with Depression. We don't have forever to get things right and Death compels us to see and accept  this, at times extremely unpleasant fact of life.
Once we see our mortality and see the fragility of other people there is the chance for Karuna to arise. And this song by Sting illustrates this .http://youtu.be/lB6a-iD6ZOY
In my reading lately..."The Places That Scare You" by Pema Chodron there is an absolute emphasis on how interconnected we all are. When we can sit with our pain and suffering and then see that everyone of the six billion people on the planet suffers exactly as we do, the separation between us and them begins to lessen. It may lessen at the same rate in which continents drift, but it is set in motion.
Once that sense of commonality is in existence and even if it is about as substantial as incense smoke, it is there and we can see that we share not only the suffering, but also the joys of everyone else. Mudita is in existence. One of the nicer aspects of being a parent is the new things my son does on a regular basis. Yesterday he climbed into a rocking chair and rocked, mind you we had to convince him that standing in the chair was not a good idea, but he did something that he has never done before. We both had such happiness for him. And once the mind becomes accustomed to taking joy in someone elses successes in life you will find that jealousy for example isn't such an aspect of you. If someone succeeds after working hard, it is wonderful to share in their happiness. We aren't so threatened by someone elses abilities when we become accustomed to taking joy in them.
And ultimately there is Upekkha. The willingness to accept that the planet and our own bodies are essentially beyond our control. I love my son beyond all words and in ways that frighten me, but there is that quiet whisper at the back of my mind that Selina and I invited him to take rebirth and that he has always had and always will have his own kamma and will leave this lifetime when he is meant to and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Meditating on Death helps with this. Loving my son is one thing, giving him the space in which to live and ultimately die in is another. Death gives space.
We need to be reminded periodically that we are not immortal and that a lot of the things we take so seriously are often not worth the time we devote to them, especially our angers. The Buddha himself reccomended that we be continuously in touch with the fact that Death is waiting for all of us. We tend to ignore the sheer number of tales of people dropping dead on the golf course, during sex, walking the dog or even as Ajahn Brahm tells of someone was talking to him, paused and died. Once we see Death as a constant fact in our lives, the vast majority of the nonsense disappears and what we are left with is: Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha.