This letter speaks of tea-n-chats the author and I occasionally had after evening meditation on Fridays during my tenure as the temporary Prior in Edmonton, Canada 2005-06. Such conversations are not limited to priory life. I continue to enjoy them – here in the Bay Area, this morning, in a back garden, with cats and lush foliage and melon and strawberries and (of course) fine conversation.
Those Friday night teas in Edmonton changed my life. You gracefully showed me the path out of my suffering when you were here and I’m continually glad for your on-line teaching. I think the light started to come on when you directed me INSIDE my head to notice my dissatisfaction (and all the feelings/actions that grew from it). I had to stop blaming, resisting, and start accepting.
I’m meeting more people now that I have a new job. — Did I tell you I have a new job? Well, I do. — I’m meeting more people and I’m seeing something that makes me smile. I’m seeing myself the way I was, mirrored in so many people around me. This makes me feel like I’ve moved on from the old me because I’m seeing how much I’ve changed. [There’s still lots of ego in that last sentence!] It also reassures me because I understand how connected we all are: we all suffer, we all experience delusion.
The new job: adult speech-language pathologist. Traveling to small, prairie towns seeing people in hospitals, long-term care facilities, or their homes. Stroke, illness, disease, or just plain getting old.
I came across a beautiful idea yesterday. Some people in the end stages of dementia (like Alzheimer’s) become as they were when infants. Long dormant reflexes return, revealed as the final layers of conscious life are peeled away. Rub a finger on an innocent cheek and the person will turn toward the finger like a infant looking for a breast.
The thought of this fills me with wonder! Birth returns at death. The phrase no birth, no death comes to mind although I’m still not quite sure what to do with it.
The square bracket comment (also in italics) in this note shows my current fascination: all the unconscious ways I reinforce this card castle I call me without even thinking. The koan (spiritual question): how to remove myself from the situation? Or can I? Or should I?
Thanks so much for taking the time to write and for your permission to publish, with edits, as a posting rather than a comment. I benefited greatly from our chats, as you know. Our mutual interest in language, words, giving expression and communication generally left us with much to talk about. Wonderful.
We each bring something unique, ourselves, to the table. Which obviously includes everything we believe ourselves to be, and not be. You could say we are the ornamentation of conversation and human concourse generally. Correctly understood, to allow ones unique colouration to show, to allow oneself to be coloured, to become coloured by others – is a gift. It is possible to truly give in this way because one knows that the self, as we imagine it to be, is actually much much bigger. And is content. That’s giving with empty hands or selfless giving.
You are right to be aware of unconscious ways I reinforce this card-castle. That is best achieved by not criticise or labelling what comes to light. In fact that’s what cements the illusion of the card-castle.
BTW – Originally I’d edited out your bracketed sentence. No, I thought, that thought is redundant. Of course I put it back in as you refer to it later. It’s still redundant though. I’d recommend editing out such thoughts from your thoughts all together. How’s that for a Friday evening at the kitchen table?