“Fuck, I’m the Charles Bukowski of Zen—minus the sexism.”
The back porch was warm after a half hour sit. The cats we’re fostering looked at me like I was an extraterrestrial lifeform.
It was a decent sit. Returning to the simple, the bare bones, has been good. Tossing aside my academic Buddhist reading and writing for awhile has been good too—but a little unpleasant at times It’s an addiction, an escape hatch like everything else. Saying no can make the mind a little pissy, ya know?
But I’m weak. With family on the way and my mood still in the dumpster, my eyes flew to the bottle of pink moscato relaxing above the sink. It casts rainbows in the southerly autumn/winter sun.
A bottle of wine
For my hungry ghosts
May they be satisfied
Deep bows to anyone with an alcohol addiction who was able to refrain this Thanksgiving. I admire your strength and perseverance. I’m addicted to surrealism myself, to making “just this” into Just This.
My thoughts eased with my mood, and waking this morning, my heart seems marginally less restless. Why do so many of us suffer around the holidays? For me, it has to be the expectations. There’s a mass media image of what the holidays are supposed to look like, and when reality doesn’t conform to those Kodak moments in that Hallmark world, the pain stands out.
My dad was happy, so that’s great. He survived a heart attack this year, so this Thanksgiving was very meaningful. Yet he isn’t usually happy either, the near death experience is still struggling to take root in his mind. Old habits.
The food was good, and I peeled potatoes—what a Zen activity. A Zentivity. But I didn’t feel anything. I made a few jokes, snapped a few pics, and then went to bed since I’d been up since 10pm the night before.
In bed again, my mind turned to the romance that’s missing in my life. That other half of me that’s absent, that balance that I can only seem to find in my opposite. That view of myself that I can only see through another’s heart.
I can’t tell you how much I love it when, after going on a deep monologue, a woman I care about responds, “Whatever, John,” in a playful voice. Keeps me from getting serious. I’m a kite, I need a string.
Of course the message in Zen is that we’re already whole, already complete. We don’t need someone or something else to perfect us. That’s all well and good, but those moments are fleeting, so I can’t put much faith in that teaching. I’ve experimented with enough psychedelics to know that Wholeness can’t be trusted and that the mind is the greatest magician on earth. What is ordinary life but a persistent acid trip that we’ve all silently agreed to go with?
No matter how far I go, that’s the doubt that bursts my bubble and demolishes my stupas. “This.. This isn’t real. It’s a trip.” I can’t do as some of the ancients did, using illusion to shatter illusion. I have no passion for such work, and yet no inclination toward sudden enlightenment either.
But I trust the method, and my intuition and empathy. I trust that it’s possible to be free from the illusions of freedom and captivity because others have done it. And I trust that anyone can do it. I don’t think I’m a hopeless case, just that I can’t walk with them.
Because even as I see them drink from the fountain, my mouth only fills with sand.
Dark roast this morning, all’s quiet in the house. Moon and clouds dance together outside my window as my cat sleeps easy by the heater. This is a lonely stretch of the Path I’m on, but that never clouds my mind enough to not see the simple joys of living.