For those of us who choose to pursue Complete Realization/Dao, Nirvana, or whatever else existing traditions call it, the way is full of bumps, scrapes, and difficult terrain. Problems and setbacks are unavoidable. However, it is through these obstacles that we improve and grow. In pushing forward during times that we perceive as difficult, in using our failures as stepping stones, we become more adept at our practice in a secular environment that pulls us in many simultaneous directions and requires us to take on many diverse roles. We can take it all as difficulty, or we can appreciate it as opportunity to grow. We can become bitter and disillusioned, or we can show gratitude for our ability to change and adapt. The perspective is ours to develop.
A little background on why I wrote this entry is in order. In recent days I have been dealing with a sense of fatigue, trying to find time for Qigong, Taijiquan and Baguazang, and consistent gongke (功課) recitation. The lack of time and energy was overshadowed by frustration with the weekend seeming constantly too short to get any personal projects resolved. During weekends I would feel more natural and at ease. However, with the impending weekday, the easygoing and carefree sense of Friday would evaporate with the Monday morning sunrise. With these thoughts circling in my head, I finished with my evening tasks, and began my Zuowang practice. As a number of times before, in glancing at some of my passing thoughts during the sitting, I had another eye opening moment.
As a result of this understanding, I feel as if a small portion of my worldview lense has been spontaneously chipped away. We read and are lectured to about the concept of preconceived notion and the dualistic discriminating self. Unfortunately, these are mostly empty words and letters paying lip service to the dynamic realization of others. They are of no more value than road signs until the practitioner has a direct first hand experience in wrenching away from the sense of self and other.
An excerpt from an email I wrote to my teacher following this cultivation session.
This was written on November 12, late in the evening:
After tucking my son into bed, I went through my scripture recitations, compassionate Buddha form, and sat for Zuowang. During practice I kept having the thoughts of impending Monday encroach every so often. Then I had what felt like a sledge hammer realization about my train of thoughts, and the funny thing is, it has been there all along, it’s fairly obvious, I just had to step on that landmine.
I dread Mondays and I love Fridays, but the only difference is my state of mind. I love Fridays because I know I will enjoy Saturday, and I dread Mondays because the entire week is ahead, but in reality, there is nothing stopping me from having as pleasant of a week other than dual mind with it’s preferences. My weekends are just a different kind of work that I approach with a different mindset, and the weekday is simply something I have conditioned myself to perceive negatively. I can go through each day with the same easy going attitude.
Then this mindset trickled down through every other thought that I felt negatively about, i.e. workloads, finding time for Qigong practice at the office, dealing with the commute, etc. It is all my conditioned duality that keeps me from being at peace and enjoying every moment. Even the positive feeling in regard to the weekend is blindness, since it can just as easily be spent doing a lot of house work. I choose how to react to phenomenon, I can choose to blindly follow the established conditioning, or I can empty my cup and simply experience each moment as just suchness.
The realization is still trickling down my various trains of thought, but I’m not sure the giddy feeling of excitement is appropriate. I’m trying to calm it down and simply accept it as just suchness as well. The feeling will pass as it is a no-thing, but I hope this realization continues into the next day, and the next.
This tells me that I am heading in the right direction. With diligence and care I will continue my practice with no expectation, accepting each moment as is with gratitude, moving forward one step at a time.