It feels “Like This” ~ Ajahn Sumedho

Somehow, despite not being good at concentration practices, mindfulness practice comes naturally. It’s not like I didn’t know it for ages, but it’s taken me this long to be okay with it enough to write about it. Where I’m hiding is in my relations with other people.

I say “hiding” in the sense that something inside feels threatened and anxious and I really don’t want to look at it. Hiding as in I tend to go “unconscious” in my meditative practice. I don’t believe I’m special in that regard, but I *have* let it control my life for a very long time and made it worse by feeding it in nearly everything I do. Most of you know I’m pretty damn well traveled. And its painful to admit it, but in the name of clearing out yet another closet, I’ve done so almost exclusively because I’ve been ill at ease in some way around people. And, fortunately, I’ve come to realize that there’s very few places on the planet where I won’t be around people and I won’t be irritated in some fashion. Which means…Wait for it…The problem is ME, not EVERYONE else! It was rather explosive to really understand that. “Everywhere you go, there you are, so where are you going to feel better?” Right now I’m typing in front of my laptop in Taipei city. There’s the sounds of scooters, the ac and the internet captivating my attention. 4 months ago I was at Vimutti monastery. Often there was the sound of the wind and birds and nothing else. I’m more peaceful right now than I often was there. What I project onto a given situation is MINE; and so my anxieties and fears are finally being acknowledged instead of trying to meditate them away. Because I’ve tried, believe me. And I’ve had some very interesting experiences; it wasn’t worthless by a long shot. I was simply shown things other than what I wanted.

At some point, meditation practice partially became hiding and refusing to look at aspects of your mental being. I wanted more peace, so I decided to create the causes and conditions for myself. That’s not a bad thing. My time spent has created a very strong mindfulness practice, even though that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to not have to work so damn hard. I asked for a pillow and was given a shovel. Go find your Peace, said Life. X marks the spot.

Fuck. I’m really not going to be able to meditate away the things I don’t want to acknowledge about myself, am I? My anxiety. My awkwardness. My selfishness. My desires and aversions. My XYZ character trait that everybody else has, but my ideal self doesn’t have if I could just…Try…Hardeerrrrr!!!. No magical explosion is going to make me perfect. The magical explosion, the one that was supposed to sweep in and transform me, is already here; it’s called birth. “The kingdom of Heaven is on Earth and men do not see it.” Which means everything else is grace. A gift, so sitting around contemplating my navel is worthless if I’m just avoiding contemplating my heart. I’ve spent a lot…A LOT of time sitting in the past few years, last year especially. It hit me like Newton’s apple one day at Vimutti:

I was raised in a moral home with few wants. I was treated well and I have plenty of empathy. What, exactly, am I trying to improve? I’m 32 now and I’m trying to become…What, exactly? Who is this terrible entity that needs to be improved? I’ve been trying to improve, to be better, literally my entire life. When was I bad?

Well, shit.

So that’s where I’m at right now. What’s the difference between feeling depressed and feeling the floor under my bare feet? Huh…..

The biggest change in me, and the one that really suggests I am on the right track is…My wanderlust isn’t holding my steering wheel QUITE so tight as it used to. Oh, I’m still planning and scheming new ideas constantly and if something amazing pops up, I will take it. In fact I have two on the back burner now and they’re oh, so neat, but…Ah..Don’t wanna talk about it. Yet. I still intend on traveling; it’s what I do; I’ve dreamed about it since I was a child and my father brought me coins from some far-off place called the Middle East. But. But. I don’t feel the need to escape as much.

The world is made of rings. The hooks are yours.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Back to photography, which is rekindling in my life. A couple friends here in Taipei and I are thinking about heading to Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain – 象山) Thursday night after some night shoots in Ximending. They want advice on how to use their camera; I get to be the expert! I even bought a new tripod today for the classic Taipei shot. I’m hoping it turns out somewhat like this…But it might not; I’m not sure what the area is like. My tripod is shortish but we shall see. I’m updating the stuff I’ve collected over the past year as well, posting it to Flickr. You might see a second album pop up at some point during the year; some of you might remember I had a Smugmug account. An online photography store, basically, where you could order photos, mugs, wallprints, stickers, etc…I’m really still keen on getting back into that and I’d really like to hear back from people as far as what they might want. Feel free to shoot me a line in regards to that. In regards to well, anything. Help me open up more.

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