Monday, June 07, 2010

This "Now" thing is becoming a way too convenient default for me. Things are just bananas here (last week of school chaos with a whole bunch of new little issues sprinkled over the top).
I feel like I've been saying that for awhile now and I'm kinda getting sick of hearing myself.

Now: Flowers on my table are colorful, but getting droopy. My To-Do lists are also on the table, and are divided over multiple pieces of paper, which means something is sure to fall through the cracks. I did not knit today, but the day is not over. Okay, well maybe it is.

I did go to physical therapy today, though. We didn't work on the walking bit, but she did teach me some stretches and strengthening exercises which should help me have greater endurance (provided I continue to do them, of course). Some of these muscle groups have not worked this way in ages.

I also went to the zen center this morning. I have been there less and less these past couple of weeks since the retreat. Scheduling conflicts, not lack of desire.

Today I asked the resident monk (who is now the abbot) a question.

In my practice (both while in meditation and while in "post-meditation", if you while doing everything else I do in my life besides "formal" practice), I have been striving to cut-off the thinking that comes up that is judgmental.

For example: This is good! That is bad! I like this! I don't like that! I want this! I don't want that!

What I'm striving for instead is to just see something as it is. Period. For example, I have an apple in front of me right now. Can't it just be an apple?? Do I really need to have an entire discourse in my head about it? "Mmmm, I like apples. I wonder if this one is ripe. Oh, it has a bruise. I should eat that apple, it would be good for me. No, it's too late to be eating. Hey, I like red ones better than green. Is this organic?" My head goes on and on and on sometimes. It's a riot. I mean, can't I just look at the apple, and just see it? And when I pick it up, just feel it? And if I eat it just taste it?

Not sure if I am making any sense here. It's only, ohhhh...quarter past eleven at this point. Anyhow. I have a little wish for myself to just see things as they are and not decide how they are, because 99.9% of the time, I've assessed things wrong anyhow and then also missed out on all the fun of just letting things BE.

That being said, I've been wondering lately about this "wanting" business. I get that a whoooole lot of suffering comes from "I want this," and "I don't want that." However (and this feels like a big However), there is no way in hell I would have ever gone to or made it through culinary school, for example, had I not wanted it so badly. And there is really no way in hell I am ever going to learn to walk again if I don't want that just as badly. So do I really want to stop "wanting" things?? Seems to me that wanting things sometimes is kinda important to making them come about. I mean, I already have a huge track record of successes where great things only happened because I wanted them to happen so badly that I threw my best effort out there.

And I have also "not seen things exactly as they are" on purpose, and with much success. Like, creative visualization, if you will pardon the granola. I have used the tool of imagining things to happen as part of the process of making them happen...meaning, not seeing things as they are, but instead how I would intend them to be....kinda like the way football players will imagine themselves scoring a goal before they even go out onto the field, or the way I often rehearse a performance in my head before I hit the stage. Its' not real, it's not happening. But imagining something being done for me has proven to be quite useful in pulling it off at all.

But it feels like a conflict sometimes. I'm striving not to have these judgments, to see things how they are, and also to not be attached to the outcomes of things. Yet I know that in some cases, having a judgment (in this case, a want of something) and doing a faked-out mental process around it...well, it seems necessary. Even if I am not attached to the outcome.

Am I making any sense here? (maybe I shoulda done this tomorrow LOL)

Anyhow, I laid this question out to the monk, and he said:
There is nothing good or bad about wanting, just like there is nothing good or bad about thinking. The question is: what is your motivation for wanting this thing (whatever it is). Is it for you? Or is to help all beings?

Good question.
Sleeping on it.


Margaret said...

Wow. Excellent. Much to think about and be with here. Thanks for *not* "waiting til tomorrow" to write this (something I tend to do ad infinitum). Things so often slip away that way. As muddled as you may feel this was, I think you nailed it pretty well. I read something once about doing a thing as if your life depended on it, but being completely unattached to the outcome. Incredible passion and commitment, but then this lovely peaceful goofiness of detachment. I think it's related somehow to this "wanting" thing, but am still working on it.


What a good answer he gave you!

I was thinking that culinary school and walking are not "things" per se, but actions. Wanting things, like a new car or new clothes or a new bauble, just for the sake of having something new is not so attractive.

I am wabi sabi. And I should so not boast about it.

~Donna~ said...

Girl, you lost me half way...not cos of what you were saying but because I started thinking my own thoughts and my mind wandered off.

Very good post and I'll have to re-read when I can keep my own mind silenced. :)

TheMIG said...

This made me think about the distinctions between what we WANT to do vs. what we TEND to do.

Perhaps we can view some "wants" as "tendencies that generally produce positive (or negative) results, to which we attach/cling (or do not)"

JennaKate said...

I am going to have to keep reading this to fully digest it, but I can tell you right now that I have had that exact same inner dialogue about apples. I am working on patterns in my life that I'm becoming ready to leave behind, and being judgmental is certainly one of them. Thanks for the thoughtful post tonight.

jodi said...

Wanting things (outcomes, situations, THINGS, whatever) that we have no means or hope of achieving isn't entirely healthy, but I think that the kind of wanting that you're talking about with the culinary school, and the walking, are a different, healthier kind of wanting. Maybe the key is that in order not to allow ourselves to be buckled under by the wanting we need to want the process that leads to the outcome as much as we want the outcome. I want a healthy, strong body. I want to grow old with the ability to look after myself and my home and not have to worry about osteoporosis and heart disease. So I'm trying to teach myself to want the work involved in getting there. (slow progress on step one, which is to NOT COMPLAIN at every thing the personal trainer makes me do, even when it hurts).

I guess what I'm saying is maybe you have to want the struggle, the falling down, the pain and the slow regaining of two-legged balance as much as you want that future life of easy walking. Either that or I'm just totally projecting my own workout struggles onto your (bigger) struggle. ;)