Tuesday, September 21, 2010

clean mirror and a compass

I'm going to see if I can do some catching up on thoughts tonight, but I am also very exhausted, so let's see if I can make any of this post be coherent and on just a single pass. In other words, I'm not going to reread it or proof it, so what you see is what you get!
(a brain fart?)

Last time I wrote anything of real substance here, was on Thursday when I asked a question. ALL of the comments realllllly got me thinking (ALL of them, so thank you all SO very much) but only two of the comments had been made in time before I flew out the door on the way to the retreat at the zen center that next morning. It were those first two comments therefore that stuck with me during the first day of the retreat.

Margaret in Ontario wrote:

Thoughts about this system... What if the giving you're doing now is actually you paying back for kindnesses etc that you have already received? That is, it sounds like you are assuming that your deeds or giving or whatever are the first ones in this give-out-and-then-get-back equation, but what if it's the other way around? As sure as your giving is part of someone else's get-back, your get-back is part of someone else's giving. I'll hazard a guess that there have been people who have given to you at some time in your life; maybe this giving of yours now is actually you catching up, not initiating something new. Or rather, you are initiating something new AS WELL AS giving back for past kindnesses, because, as you say, it's not about keeping score and giving back to the same person who gave to you, tidily, in equal measure. It's a cycle, a great big messy complicated one, with everyone giving and getting simultaneously.


Well, holy crap, if that didn't just hit me across the side of the head! I mean...DUH.
Margaret, thank you so very much for your words. I have been the recipient of MUCH giving over the years (how quickly we forget), especially during the year or two after the car accident (like I said---DUH). During those years, I would venture to say that nothing BUT receiving was going on from my end. I didn't have much to give, even when I wanted to.

As I was driving the retreat, I was suddenly catapulted into the awareness that everything I do out there in the universe really needs to be presented as a, "Thank You," and I didn't even get it that I was doing things for people and sort of saying, "Please," every time. Not quite a, "do for me now too please" sort of please, but more like a "Please, Universe, I'll put my good out....and Universe, you please be good to me in return." It really smacks of not trusting, if you think about it.

Truly truly humbling to be reminded that my actions could be generated from a place of thanks for things already received (rather than a please for future needs to be met), and I cannot thank you enough for putting that out there, Margaret.

Now.
That being said.
Operating even from THAT perspective is STILL a belief system.

Or it could become one.

Let me explain (or try to, from this state of exhaustion). What I think I am getting to know better as the result of my meditation practice is my tendency to grasp at something. Anything. Everything. My tendency to fixate on something, my tendency to come to conclusions. My need to make things stable, to create patterns. My need to figure things out, and feel done, and be ready to move on to the next thing. It's a problem actually, because honestly....the world does not seem to work that way. The world is NOT fixed, the world changes. It is constantly shifting and moving, and so deciding how I am going to respond to this or having ideas about how things should be is pretty damn ridiculous really, if I think about it....because each moment is it's own new thing, and not all moments are asking of me for the same behavior.

Is this making sense? I can't tell from here. Feels rambly.

Anyhow. What I DON'T want to do (as great as acting from a place of thanks may be) is to take my old belief system of "what goes around, comes around," and replace it with the next new thing that I will also just get stuck and fixated on.

I DO, however, believe that acting from a place of gratitude is a MUCH better way of doing things (sure feels better at least, so far)...and what I think it should become for me is A PRACTICE, a WAY of DOING things, not a belief system.

Follow?

Okay.
So the next thing that happened over the weekend of the retreat was that I had an opportunity to ask the visiting teacher that was leading the retreat about all of this during a one on one interview with him. What he had to say about it was pretty much what Fuzzarelly said (so I guess this makes you a zen master, dude LOL)...

...and what Fuzzarelly said was:
Your belief system doesn't operate on a schedule. I think positive actions spawn positive reactions. In their own time.


What the visiting teacher had to say was that my belief system was not wrong. He said things DO come, just as things DO go.
My problem was how I viewed time.


Now, it's interesting...but TheMostImportantGuy was also at the retreat this weekend, and we shared with each other about our interviews, and the teacher talked with him about how you can tell whether or not what you doing is the right thing or not. The instruction was (in my own words here) to look at your internal compass and see where it is pointing. Is it pointing towards helping others? If it is? Correct action.


There was one more thing that happened during the retreat in relation to this topic. At some point the words of my school's founding teacher came back to me.

If someone is thirsty, give them a drink.
When you are tired, go to sleep.

The general gist of this (from a beginning student here) is that we do meditation practice for a reason: to clear our mind, make it like a mirror, so that it reflects what is right in front of us. A mirror doesn't have history, stories, rules, and all the other shit we throw all over the place. A mirror is a clear reflection of what is there. And if our minds are clear, we can see the given moment for just that moment, and we will have the clarity to function correctly in that moment. If someone is thirsty, give them a drink. And then on to the next moment. No story. No history. No belief system. Just doing the right thing in that moment, then *poof!*. Moment gone. Next moment. New reflection in the mirror. No reflection ever the same, therefore having a belief system in place pre-determining what to do is not so clear.
My job in all this?
Keep mirror clean. Check compass. Perform correct function.

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Okay, there were some other "comments" left about that post, by the way. They just weren't necessarily left in the comments SECTION of my blog. I've had people email, leave voicemail messages, chat online with me about it, or catch me by way of US Postal Service.

My mom's response to all of this was to leave me a wonderful voicemail and then when she stopped by on Friday afternoon (to pick up MyFavoriteKid after school while I was at the retreat), she cleaned my kitchen. (thank you, mom!!!)

At least three of you let me know you were worried that you were on my list of non-givers in my life, and weren't (believe me, if you were on that list, you heard about it. I did not go quietly.)

And one of you did this:


The mondo-over-the-top care package extraordinaire from Rebecca, whom I met while I was on the Knot Hysteria Retreat back in July.

I know this is going to sound quite shitty of me, but when I got the package, there were a couple of minutes where I could not figure out who it was from!! The return address only showed Rebecca's first initial and her last name (and I didn't call her by her last name on the retreat!). There was a card included, but I couldn't make out her signature! From what was written in the card, I knew the package was being sent as a result of my blogpost about giving/receiving....and I honestly had no idea Rebecca had been following my blog since the retreat. I also had no idea she had my address (I had completely forgotten we had all exchanged info on a sign-up sheet at the end of the address).

Anyhow, it only took a minute or two to figure out, but I feel a little silly about it because for a moment there it was a whole Secret PenPal sort of thing going on. I mean, holy crap, will you look what is in that box??? There's lace yarn, sock yarn, some yummy pink silk yarn, some fiber for spinning....and three kinds of chocolate!!!

Rebecca my dear, you REALLY out-did yourself. It was so unexpected I have not gotten over it. Thank you soooo much! :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok. Long post. Hope it made a little bit of sense. If not, well...come back another time when I am sure there will be something shorter and sweeter. It's like that around here. When it rains, it pours ;-)

I'm off to bed to see if I can fix this tired thing. XO

4 comments:

Gretchen said...

You continue to be a light in my forest. Keep sharing when you feel like. I learn a lot.

Note to self: give more.

Kathy said...

I learn a lot too from your posts regarding your assumptions and how you deal with them in your practice. Thanks. It has made me realize some things about my assumptions, and how I always feel if someone does something nice for me, I need to repay the favor soon, so we'll be "even". Hmmm.

light-of-summer said...

I really like this post. Clean mirror, check compass makes sense to me. I think I've been needing a compass upgrade, and that sounds like a good one to try. Thanks!
Karensu

Karen said...

I am sitting online tonight catching up on my blog reading and, honestly, it is as if the universe is speaking directly to me. My New Year's Resolution this year was that 2010 was going to be "The Year of Generosity of Spirit". It's not that I thought I was ungenerous before, just that I had never looked at generosity with a sense of intent and fearlessness before (sometimes people think I'm a whack job--I swear I'm not).

Anyway, I can totally understand your need for patterns, meaning, etc. while trying to be in the moment and letting the mirror reflect immediacy back onto you. I've discovered that, although they change with the moment, that patterns, meaning, etc. actually exist for solidly in each moment. And yes, they may change, but I try to appreciate their beauty while they're there.

Okay--I think I'm rambling. You just really touched a cord tonight.

P.S This is my very first time reading your blog. I'll be back.