day 14

May 14 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – day 14

khmer smile

Khmer (Cambodian) style buddha head. black painted plaster replica of stone original

date & origin unknown. Antique/junque store. May 14 2016 photo ©

robe 2

detail of flower design on robe of Dainichi Nyorai Buddha statue, hand-painted porcelain, Japan c. 1900. photo May 2016 ©

“If you maintain a sustained effort, without losing your hope or your courage, you will make progress along your spiritual path. And that is certain.

“As I always say, everyone has a responsibility so we must seize that responsibility and try to contribute our own individual share. Let us try to have a better world, a happier world, with happier human beings. What I usually call ‘my nirvana’ — permanent cessation of negative emotional thoughts — that is my private business, my private nirvana. What we really need is nirvana for society — a happier human community , a society filled with loving-kindness. That’s what we want, and we can build it. And for this, everyone has a responsibility. My own nirvana, I can pursue by myself. That’s my business. Thank you, thank you very much.”

— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, closing words at a teaching session, California, 1989.


Never understood that it ain’t no good – Part 2

I’ve said here earlier, that I’ve never expected anyone to be much like myself, never chosen friends, or girlfriends, on the basis of close or extensive similarity to myself. And though, before meeting my wife, I had often despaired of ever knowing even one person who shared much of importance in common with myself, nevertheless it didn’t stop me from enjoying meeting and knowing lots of very different kinds of people.

However, the other side to that is, I often feel I’ve never quite understood people, especially friends of mine, who have felt little or no interest in engaging in most, or any, of the kinds of things that have always been of such core importance in my own life.

The difference has been a big part of what has always made me feel like the life on Earth that I (mostly) enjoy so much, and by which I am so amazed, is just not real to most other people. We seem to live on the same planet Earth together during the same time in human history together, but we do so on different planes, within different spheres of subjective reality and value. We engage one another, if at all, each from within a separate “universe of discourse.” As I’ve always been the odd man out, I’ve had to accept that I’m somehow the alien on this planet, but it is has always felt mostly like it should be the other way around. Can you relate to any of this?

I still never fully understand friends/friendly acquaintances of mine, young or old, who have never felt any urge to

-travel the world, or even to travel any appreciable distance from where they grew up. I realize, of course, that many people have simply been unable to do so. For various reasons. But my amazement comes from those who have been able to travel, but have just never been interested enough to bother doing so. In most cases it’s not even because they love where they are so much that they’d never wanted to leave, even for just a little while. It’s just that they’ve never wanted to get up and go out and explore. How weirdly boring is that?

What in tarnation is wrong with such people that makes them so consigned to their boring lives? Why don’t they at least once try traveling a little bit?

What the hell have they been spending all their lives doing every _ _ _ _ ing day??!!

I still never fully understand friends/friendly acquaintances of mine, young or old, who have never felt any urge to

engage in activism in worthy causes to secure/improve human &/or planet peace and justice.

What in tarnation is wrong with such people that makes them so uninterested in trying to make the world a better place for themselves and for others? What’s so great, as is, about their deathly boring lives in which so much of the world is needlessly suffering in ways we could help transform?

What the hell have they been spending all their lives doing every _ _ _ _ ing day, anyway??!!

I still never fully understand friends/friendly acquaintances of mine, young or old, who have never felt any urge to

-engage in spiritual self-development/consciousness-unfolding practices.

What’s so great, as is, about their deathly boring lives, utilizing at best only ten percent or less of their natural full human potential and thus needlessly experiencing so much suffering that could be alleviated and transformed into great bliss by unfolding more of their native creative intelligence, inner peace and happiness, through cultivation of deep, fulfilling spiritual experience? Haven’t they ever aspired to experience natural higher states of consciousness? A more complete, more meaningful inner and outer existence?

What the hell have they been spending all their lives doing every _ _ _ _ ing day, anyway??!!

I can almost sorta understand, mostly, folks who

-have been so busy engaging in activism, selflessly furthering necessary causes in helping other people, that they haven’t realized/actualized inner development as the most vital basis for improving the outer world as well as their own inner mind-state.

And contrariwise, I can also sorta understand, mostly, folks who

-have been so busy engaging in the development of inner peace and spiritual fulfillment as the most vital basis for peace in the world that they have not, somehow, felt the urge, yet, to put their inner peace and overflowing joy into action through also working specifically in any additional, outward, way to further peace and justice for others. But I still find it astonishing.

I still never fully understand friends/friendly acquaintances of mine, young or old, who have never felt any urge to

engage in one or more of the creative arts – painting, poetry, music, dance, whatever. What the hell have they been spending all their lives doing every _ _ _ _ ing day, anyway??!!

I realize, of course, that not everyone feels

-they have artistic talent. But making art, music, dancing, etc., is much more about expressing yourself than about having talent. And of course there are all sorts of other, non-artistic but also creative activities (science, for one; teaching, anything, for another) that can be so absorbing and uplifting to engage in, and can help other people so much as well. But still, it is just astonishing to me to know some people who just never feel the creative urge, or feel it but never engage in expressing themselves artistically/creatively. Especially astonishing to me is a person who not only doesn’t engage in any creative artmaking, but also doesn’t engage in enlightenment practice, and/or also doesn’t engage in activism. And/or has never traveled. How is this even possible?

I still never fully understand friends/friendly acquaintances of mine, young or old, who have never

-experienced any significant romantic relationship in their lives. I realize that this is not something you can just will into existence—it takes two! It takes a lucky miracle! It ALSO takes active interest and dedicated cooperation! I feel so dreadfully sorry for those who have wished for true love but have never found it. My heart literally breaks for them.

But, just out of curiosity, I sometimes wonder: without being able to enjoy the miraculous wonderful gift of a romantic love life, just how exactly have they managed to fill their days and years? What the hell have they been spending all their lives doing every _ _ _ _ ing day, anyway??!!

This, of course, once again, is particularly perplexing to me in the case of those who

-have not seemed particularly passionate about being open toward receiving/giving, cultivating and relishing a romance in their lives, yet in many cases also have not been involved in making art (whatever genre-music, dance, etc), nor in improving the world’s situation & the plight of their fellow humans through active engagement in some sort of activism, nor involved in cultivating the unfoldment of their full human potential through spiritual self-development, nor have ever scratched the itch to see the other side of their mountain or their street. What the hell have their lives been all about?

I understand those who have not bothered

-with romantic relationships because they have dedicated themselves to full-time spiritual practice in a monastic/celibate context. Some folks are naturally oriented that way, and it makes perfect sense. Although I often find that many of those full-time professional monkish/nun-ish friends and acquaintances of mine are also simply too troubled about romantic relationships to feel to give it a try (or usually to give it another try, after having been badly burned by bad romance, &/or perhaps by sexual abuse, earlier in life).

However, there is no need (in the case of almost any person) to pursue the lifestyle of a monk or nun

-in order to fully and naturally unfold one’s spiritual potential. In fact, attempting to be celibate for more than a set period when one is not simply naturally utterly happy and comfortable without sex or companionship or loving intimacy is probably always quite dangerous to ones overall personal and spiritual development. Yet there definitely are those who are genuine natural monks or nuns and they should be loved and respected and supported in their lifestyle choice to pursue a life of celibate non-partnership. But they are relatively few. And on the other hand, most people are mostly celibate most of the time, whether they want to be or not. They could easily stand to profitably use some of that time being temporary monks or nuns! They wouldn’t even have to tell anyone, just self-consecrate.

I also have always had a very strong aspect of my make-up that is that of a most happy monk, or more precisely, that of a most happy hermit. Not due to failed romance or abuse, but just out of a natural great love of being alone much of the time. But at most such hermitudenousness is probably only about 40% of my overall personality. Which would make for a ridiculously unsuccessful, often unhappy monk in the long run. I’m actually a “married householder-hermit” at heart.

Whereas, with a wonderfully ideal partner, I could easily live as a very happy hermit-couple, spending our time together far away from all other people for at least half or two thirds of every year. But even so, I would definitely want that wonderful romantic companionship all year round. …Well, maybe with an annual week or two of complete solitary retreat all on my own. Yet even then, I’d miss my sweetie quite a bit after the first week or so. Anything beyond a week of separation and I’d prefer that she be there with me on silent retreat together. We wouldn’t need to talk, and would be sitting with our eyes closed in meditation most of the day & in sleep or meditation most of the night, but it would be nicer to have her there on retreat with me, than to be enjoying the silent solitude all on my own. I do love that experience of total solitude, of total solitary silence. But after a week or so, I’d prefer partnered solitude.

That is more or less how my late wife & I did our three-years retreat together as part of our training as Buddhist lamas and householder yogis. Part of the time we took turns caring and being cared for by one another, one of us doing half-retreat for three to six months, while the other did full retreat, then we’d switch. With that arrangement, as recommended and approved by our teachers, we were able to be together the entire time, engaging the practices together and completing training together. It actually enabled us to complete the practices ahead of schedule rather than taking longer.

I generally feel at all times that, as long as whatever outward things I might reasonably need are mostly available, I can easily & quite happily go for a full year or two or three without any human company, other than that of my romantic life-partner (when I’ve had one!). In fact, when I was single before my marriage, I often used to vastly prefer, and now being temporarily single again as a widow still would vastly prefer, relative solitude for at least a year at a time. Relative solitude, that is, other than the company of my loving life-partner. If and when I am in such a loving romantic partnership, well then, naturally I certainly vastly prefer having that beloved partner along with me in my/our hermitudinous reclusion, for as long as that shared-solitude may be desired, as well as along with me in my/our more conventionally active social life—to the degree that I/we may have an active social life of any more or less conventional sort for as long as we desire to enjoy it before plunging once again into a period of shared solitude.

I guess I have trouble fully relating to persons who

-would prefer to socialize most of the time, rather than spend most of their time alone with their sweetie. And/or who would prefer, when not socializing, to be completely alone rather than alone with their sweetie. Of course it makes me sad that such persons do not have the kind of much more fully compatible, congenial partnership that my wife and I were blessed to enjoy throughout our years together. But of course not everyone is the same as me, and as I say, I never really expect them to be.  Still I’m often at least mildly amazed by how some people prefer to live their lives.

I do love socializing,

a little bit, now and thenif, that is, there are sufficiently interesting, congenially-nourishing folks around with whom to enjoy the socializing! I’ve always known how to throw a great party! And even how to have a good time at most anyone else’s party I’d care to visit and stay around for. I just don’t often feel a need for such things. Never have.

I also love people-watching,

sometimes silently and sometimes chatting with initial strangers, making new acquaintances, getting to better know new and old acquaintances and friends, etc. Certainly during periods when I’ve been alone romantically-speaking, and wishing to meet a suitable partner, I’ve often preferred to spend a regular portion of my time socializing, or at least being available for certain kinds of preferably fairly quiet, low-key socializing. And of course I do love teaching, both in an academic context, and also leading retreats and teaching meditation and spirituality courses, and that involves a particular kind of company keeping. But even so, I also often need a considerable amount of time simply to be alone.

The period of the many years of my marriage was the only time I ever felt fully satisfied on a consistent, long-term basis with regard both to my need for regular and sometimes lengthy solitude and my conditional enjoyment of, and occasional active interested engagement in socializing. Both were made complete by life in my wife’s company. We were so well suited to each other that we could spent our entire time alone together and virtually never wish for anyone else’s company. And, what was more strange for both of us, only ever so rarely would we wish for even half a day to be truly alone and away from each other’s company. For two individuals who had always vastly preferred to be completely alone much of the time, our intense desire to always be together was delightfully surprising to both of us.

After many years of deeply loving such extensively fulfilling mutually sufficient partnered solitude and partnered socializing, it’s been a very big ongoing process for me to re-adjust to life not only without her daily earthly-embodied presence, but also to life without our partnership-in-shared-solitude and our partnership-in-shared-socializing.

I can’t say it’s particularly odd simply to re-adjust to being alone, exactly, because I have certainly always been perfectly at home being completely and happily alone for long stretches at a time throughout my entire life. And this is still true, thankfully. Nor can I say it’s particularly odd simply to re-adjust to being also “alone” while in the midst of society, exactly, because I’ve also always felt more or less completely alone even when socializing, often especially when in the midst of social company. I never really minded that kind of aloneness all that much either, nor do I now. Again, thankfully. The much more happy exception was simply being actually alone together with her, and/or alone together with her while also in the midst of company.

So the re-adjustment really has been simply getting used to life once again without her, both when alone and when alone with others. Only in a very secondary way is it odd or uncomfortable, in its own right, to simply spend time once again completely by myself these days and also to spent time these days completely by myself even while in the midst of socializing. Yes, partly, I’m sure, it’s just the oddness of being once again without someone’s close companionship/partnership, but it is almost entirely a matter of being once again without specifically her companionship/ partnership. So it’s not the being alone per se that has been and is sometimes less than thrilling (—except for some practical aspects, because I’m the world’s least naturally practical person, so that’s just frustrating); it’s the being without her.

But after almost three and a half years now, I think I’m about as adjusted to that as I’m ever gonna be. I think it’s enough adjustment. Even from the very day she departed I have been able to spend days alone in a productive and meaningful way, and I was also able right away to pleasantly mingle with others without any difficulty.

She had made me promise not to waste time holding back, but to be fully open from the outset to meeting new people, and fully open to growing together with a new love and life-partner as soon as that should happen.

I don’t mind being with myself, I’ve always liked my own company. And I am fairly well-adjusted to the fact that I must live the rest of my life without her Earthly physical embodied company. That is personally tragic, of course, but tragedy is a part of everyone’s life. I don’t think there is any pre-determined “setting” dictating that even the luckiest of us get to have only one great love in our life. I have known and seen too many widowed persons of all ages who have enjoyed fantastic second and third life-companionships of overwhelming romantic fulfillment to think any such limited thing.

I remain as convinced as ever that I will enjoy a very wonderful fulfilling partnership at some point in the future. It’s just a very strong feeling I’ve had all along. But, yes, I’m somewhat amazed, at moments, that it has been almost three and a half years already without that next major phase of my life having yet begun. But then, all of life is pretty damn amazing all along the way. Amazingly magnificent when it’s magnificent, amazing awful when it’s awful, amazingly boring in between when it’s amazingly boringly in between. And quite often amazingly just fine as it quietly flows along inwardly independent within its own depths as those other more outward things rise and fall along the way. Curious, isn’t it? Don’t you also find it all rather amazing?

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