Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Destination unknown

I've gone on strike.  After a couple of nights without much sleep, I find myself simply unable to and uninterested in getting on the bike and alternating full-bore and rest every 30 seconds for 20 minutes. I didn't even have the energy to sit and meditate this morning, and let's face it, that doesn't take a whole lot of energy.  The body isn't willing today, and I'm going to humor it. It has, after all, been four solid weeks of HIIT 6 days per week (I consider my weight work to be HIIT too, since I only rest 30 seconds between sets and exercises, often don't rest at all, just switch to a different muscle group). Call it lazy, call it whatever you want -- I don't care. Don't know if it'll last longer than today or not -- don't care about that either, at the moment.

I made some mention a few days back about a possible different direction in my plans -- as in, not moving to Asheville this spring. As the weeks and months have passed by, I've seen a notable lack of interest in, even resistance to, that as a solution. It would be just another place to live, and that's not what I want. What I really want is some arrangement where I can have serious exposure to serious, practicing Buddhists on a steady basis. Ideally, that would be a monastic environment because I like learning from monastics even though I don't want to join their ranks. There's plenty for lay residents to do at most monasteries.

In the short term, the plans last week involved keeping this house longer, as a base of operations, but not necessarily being here very much. I can't afford to do this for long, but through summer, anyway. I'd thought I would travel to Michigan in early April for 10 days or so to sit with Sayalay and other of her students, and to check out this center as a possible place to return in the summer for awhile. I also have applied for a work-retreat (instead of paying, you work 5 hours per day) at the forest refuge of the IMS in Massachusetts, for the month of August. I haven't been either accepted or denied for that as yet, but either way it goes is fine. I think I'm eligible, but probably only through some interpretation. I haven't sat as many 7+ day retreats as they require, but I do have a long-standing practice, which they also consider.  So, we'll see about that. Last week, I was thinking that once I returned from IMS I would sell all this stuff and head to the west coast, maybe spend the winter in Ensenada, go from there.

Things change quickly. After my weekend research I've found monasteries in warm weather places and there are probably more because once I found the one in Austin, I stopped looking. I think I won't go to Michigan (I only have so many $$, so I have to allocate travel expenses carefully), but instead will go to Austin in late May for a week or so, if that still fits into their schedule as the time draws closer. Hopefully, I'll go back there in July for a retreat, if that fits in with the forest refuge schedule, if I'm accepted there. So, things are up in the air and I'm good with that. Solid plans generally change anyway, so I go with the flow, the Buddhist way.  After August -- or perhaps after July, if IMS denies my application -- I'm still planning to divest of possessions and take off. Destination unknown, but Mexico is a really pleasant alternative for the winter if I don't find a monastic home.

I guess there's still the question of how well I'd do at a monastery long-term. I've chafed in the past with scheduling and chanting and such, with not having music or an occasional TV show. And with not having much to do for the times of the day that aren't scheduled, other than meditate. From what I've seen/learned so far of the place in Austin, life there could work very well for me. Always plenty of things to do, and pleasant weather to do it in. Easy work -- sweeping the many porches or walkways. Watering plants, pulling weeds. Outdoor stuff that I'd like. No chanting scheduled until evening, but plenty of nice silent meditation scheduled and a lovely meditation hall to do it in. I like everything I've learned of the Burmese people so I don't think the culture would be an issue. They are beautiful people: 90% Buddhist, they are raised and live their lives on basic Buddhist principles of honesty and loving kindness, where they treat all living beings the same as they treat their own family. They appear to be a happy people, despite great poverty for many, great wealth for others. I've watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix over the last few months -- one on Burma titled They Call it Myanmar, another called Burma: Encounters in a Forgotten Country, and yet another on Buddhism, that takes detailed looks at Buddhism in various Asian cultures including Burma. There are lots of festivals at the monastery with music and authentic Burmese food, and the local Burmese people are very much a part of daily life at the location. Not the same as the more isolated places I've been in the past, and certainly a more pleasant environment. Of course, residing there is not a given, although I think they will certainly give me consideration. Time will tell.

For now, today, I'm about to crash on the sofa again and take another nap. The body is screaming for rest.

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