Sunday, 24 July 2011
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.