I am enroute. Which means I am posting via the blogger app so adding cutesy pictures in is something I haven't quite figured out how to do. Neither, it would seem, have I figured out how to read a Massport schedule and showed up early for my 645 connection to Logan Airport only to discover that there is no such thing on the weekdays. The young woman behind the ticket counter called a cab for me so I could still make my 8am connection. However, the cab was late and I got on the 715 express and have written the whole thing off to adventuring.
When plans go wrong
I am surprisingly unfazed by the potential that all this will make me late to the Oasis program. It is a good example of what I have been learning in GO. While I still need to work on slowing myself down to think things through with all the details; I have become much more adept at the letting go of plans and expectations when they just don't work out. It is a triumph considering that just 6 years ago I would have been a stressed basket case full of blame and anxiety that I would have merrily carried throughout most of the week. One of the things I have learned is that you cannot avoid suffering in life, but you have far greater choice about what it is necessary to suffer with.
Transforming ideas into life
Now that lesson counts as Buddhism 101. The fact that suffering is inevitable. It is easy to learn the words, and even easier to adopt the delusion that having mastered those words and the practice of "letting go" when there is nothing Earth rattling to let go it that you are all set. It can be shocking when something happens that disproves one's perception of one's own development. Misreading a schedule isn't all that Earth rattling; but it easily can be.
Discovering safe harbor
You begin to develop the ability to bear suffering when you begin to discover the ability you have to sit with discomfort and within raw reality without trying to make it anything other than what it really is. Many people feel that meditative practices fail them, or that the Dharma is lacking or the Buddhist faith is not up to real life when they are confronted with suffering they cannot resolve. If one only meditates using breathing exercises, one has only learned how to breathe. Meditation is about discipline, not relaxation of calming. The latter can be a glorious byproduct and you never have to pursue more; but to reach the door where you can begin to peek at what living the dhamma means in life - you must develop the discipline to allow yourself to be challenged in ways that can be most uncomfortable.
But don't do this
By nature, we cannot create our own discomfort. Not even the most masochistic person can create true discomfort and challenge for themselves because the brain always demands context and reward. External teachings are always required to constantly shift and change to avoid the human brain from undermining the process of spiritual and mental development. The longer you practice one specific style of meditation, the less effective and more ego-controlled it becomes.
Which is why my shoulder hurts
In my new 28 day practice, I was all set to launch off into the same process as the one prior only to be corrected by my approach. Instead of being permitted to sit in mindful repose each day, I am challenge to a moving meditation that is requiring me to relearn all the basics about meditative breathing and centering. It is a challenge that is immediately revealing how easily I have fallen into habits that appear on the surface to be one thing - yet are very much not that.
It is a very slow and controlled moving meditation using a sword. My breathing must remain fully engaged and circular, I must mindfully shepherd my Qi within the balance of the movement and even at its slowest stage, I am never permitted to stop moving. All the while this is occurring I must control my thoughts and focus entirely on a section of the Diamond Sutra -
"All that has form is illusive and unreal,
If you see that all form is illusive and unreal
Then you will reveal your true buddha nature."
It has also revealed that I have become complacent and avoidant of certain physical therapy issues and my right shoulder threatens to become a frozen joint.
Ahhhh...the lessons we learn when we become willing.