Why is it so ingrained in us? Is is the fear of death, of non-existence? Is our relationship to time inborn, or culturally nurtured? I tend to think it is a little of both actually. My experience in a variety of other cultures has shown me that we need not be as time (and therefore youth and death) obsessed as we are taught to be in the West. I have learned that the present and eternity can be one and the same, and I have learned to find peace in the now. And yet, this tick-tock is still largely my frame, no matter how much I try to break free of it. I know in my head that time obsession is a frame of mind, yet deep inside me its imagined importance keeps creeping, and rearing it’s ugly head on occasion. As June 10th (the day I fly to LA) approaches, I feel the weight of some unknown decision that some part of me is telling myself I must make. Will I return to Mexico in a month or two (to continue learning Spanish and work for a time)? Will I take a job in the US? Will it be in SF, LA, NYC? Will I take the rest of my savings and travel South America? Will I return to a job in technology (the easiest path) or will I try to work as a writer or something else?
Part of the reasons these are weighing on me a bit is that a date (June 10th) is approaching. And part of the reason is that I feel at a crossroads and don’t know what I want. But really I am not bound (at least not yet) by anything other than some self imposed perception. I don’t really have to do anything until my savings run out, and that won’t be for at least another 6 months. My wiser, inner self is telling me to chill out.
This morning, I was getting a little angry at still having this cold (or having a new one). I was telling myself to stop trying to be somewhere else, to accept what is and relax a little. So resolved to explore my new surroundings and be as much in the moment as possible, I head to a cafe down the street from where I am staying for a little coffee and breakfast. As I settle in and start to pay attention to my surroundings, I notice two fairly animated conversations going on to either side of me.
ON THE RIGHT:
We have to think about the potential marketshare…and mindshare…sales team…strategy…mini presentation…liability issues. Robert and I will ensure quality resources are available….we need the RIGHT people. ….targeting January as launch….now, in terms of the metrics for success…can we leverage any resources in India?
ON THE LEFT:
…that will never work. What is the concept for their magazine? …listen to me, listen to me, answer my question. What did I ask you? That is not the question I asked you…what did I ask you?…those damn electricians, you can’t trust them, you can’t trust anyone…this time, I made sure I stood over them…had them tag each line, so that the next time, there wont be any screw ups….it’s gonna be a busy weekend….the market is going down..and I’m not the only one that thinks so, everybody agrees with me.
I’m not saying there is anything terribly unique about these conversations, but they do set a certain mood. Perhaps this is the mood that I am having a little difficulty with. I feel a kind of tension in these that is contrary to what I am looking for. A tension that defines something as always elsewhere, never here and now.
Then again, I am all congested and not thinking clearly. Maybe tomorrow I will be clear-headed. :)
I still keep all the lessons of the past year in my head. Especially those about living in the present, not the future or the past. But with my impending departure from India and return to the US, I am finding it extremely difficult.
On the one hand, I am revisiting the events of the past year and spending time where possible with the people I have met. I am frantically trying to tie up any loose ends here in India. But there aren’t any loose ends, really. Just the ones in my head. The memories and the good feelings. The passing through the fears and emerging more comfortable. The heat, the garbage, the noise, the dung. The constant movement. The breathtaking beauty. The unbelievable hospitality. The amazing people. This swirls around in my head and commits a part of my consciousness to the past.
And on the other hand, I am almost giddy with excitement about returning to the US. I can’t wait to see my friends and family. I look forward to being cold and putting on a sweater. I want fresh salad. I wonder what the quiet will be like. I relish the idea of not packing up my bags every 2 days to move on to somewhere else. I have great anticipation about experiencing what I know in a fresh way, stepping always (as we are) into a new river.
And my present? Not much is left except sleeping, eating, meeting friends, talking about the past and future, and writing the post you are now reading.
I’m not kidding. I took the 25 minute walk uphill towards the Tushita center for their drop-in meditation at 8:30 this morning. The walk there was lovely, a meditation in itself. We were fortunate to have Hedwig leading the group in meditation again.
For the first time in a while I was really able to get deep into the meditation and see blue light in my head. That is usually how I know (along with the feeling of course) that I have gotten to the zone or head space that is deeply meditative for me.
Afterwards, I posed a few questions to Hedwig about Tibetan Buddhism. Did the Dali Lama and or his followers believe him to be enlightened, a Buddha? If Tibetan Buddhists believe in not killing anything (even mosquitoes) where did that reverence for life end? Everyday we kill bacteria by brushing our teeth, so to what point do they take this reverence for life? And finally, I asked her if most Tibetan Buddhists believe in their deities as real beings or as representations of qualities (like compassion)?
Her answer to my first question was satisfying to me. Of course no enlightened being would ever refer to himself as enlightened (and the Dalai Lama does not say that he is) as this would represent a lack of enlightenment and manifestation of human vanity or pride. Ultimately, whether his followers believe he is or is not is irrelevant if it helps them in their journey. Essentially, does the tree really fall in the forest if no one is there to witness it?
The second and third answers were a little vague, but life can be a little vague that way, with no clear cut answers to some things. One good point that did come out however was about our intention. If we are careful to never wantonly kill, even though we accidentally kill just by being alive and walking (think of the bacteria and bugs), we are not suffering unnecessary bad karma. But we must constantly weigh the good and the bad when making choices that will affect other lives, even the smallest ones.
As for the deities bit, how important are they to the Tibetan tradition? Very, according to Hedwig. But how one sees them (as real or representations) is again a matter of use and meaning to the individual.