There is a need to gladden the mind when it is overtaken by this despairing mood that sinks down upon me when my meditation practice starts drying up and when all the ugliness of life overwhelms and overcrowds within my heart.
I meditated for almost half an hour this morning and it didn’t really seem to help. I think I have really internalized the fact that it helps even if the results are not immediately obvious. It is simply a process of reprogramming my mind and every single time that I sit down and meditate I am doing a little bit of reprogramming. What is needed is an efficient and reliable method for gladdening the mind and for detachment from the pain and suffering in life. I think that I am getting better at this anyway as my overarching reservoirs of equanimity seem to be filling very very slowly but surely. Even though my actions are still largely untrained and unskillful, the trend of betterment is quite apparent and undeniable. And I should really take that realization to heart by understanding that I am in the process of self-betterment and by remembering that there are daily examples of the change that is going on in my life.
Lately, however, I have been so scattered and so distracted and perhaps this is due to the fact that my meditation practice has been suffering. I am now only meditating for 20 minutes a day and I sometimes even skip that for lack of time or lack of motivation. This distraction is reflected in the various activites that I perform and manifests as a weakening of the powers of my mind and a dulling of my intellect and a dispersal of my cognitive energies. Actually, there is a slight similarity in what I am feeling now with what I was feeling while I was on the Goenka retreat that I did during July of this year (forthcoming post describing it, hopefully). The closest word I could come up with at the time in order to label the feeling was “harrowing”. It was a sensation that even inspired a poem a few weeks after the retreat in order to attempt to capture and record the subjective tones and contours of the feeling. It was a feeling of being hollowed out with sharp knives and left empty, painfully so. This feeling was associated with a boiling up of scattered and diffuse thoughts flittering in and out of my awareness and carrying my dried out husk with them every which way. And strangely, what I am experiencing now brings back a certain aspect of that very same feeling. It is strange because the last time it happened I was on an intensive retreat where my spiritual practice was really strengthening, whereas now I am in a spiritual slump, a phase of silent and hidden self-renewal, of inner transformation while externally closed-off, like the worm in its cocoon, waiting for the seasons to flip for its sublime demonstration of flux in nature and transformation. At least, that’s my fancy and whether or not it’s based on any truth whatsoever is entirely a mystery to me. However, it seems likely that this is, in fact, true. Judging from the way my life has progressed thus far, I would say that it is the rule rather than the exception that life carries us across various and occillatory phases, and that each phase leads us, unwitting, to the next, and that each new phase represents a minute increase in the overall average, such that by the end, we will have reached the top. Meanwhile, we must alternate as we climb for a while and then slip back down again, re-gather our energies and begin the climb again, only to come sliding right back down. Countless times must we repeat this pattern, even our breathing is symbolic of it. And finally, after a seemingly infinite number of cycles, we will reach the top, which is really a singular point, that unites all dualities and reconciles all opposites, into ONE HARMONIOUS WHOLE. This is the dream anyway, what I reach for, the only thing I live for, my only hope for salvation.
As in the photo above, taken in the catacombs beneath Cardiff Castle, life’s path is peppered with light and dark. Equally similar to the photo is the seemingly infinite length of the path. It’s really just the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps us going. Sometimes, I just need to get these thoughts down in order to remember them. Otherwise, I would be swept along with the current of my shattered mind. At the moment, however, I am reminded about my life’s purpose, and I am gladdened for that. This activity of writing really is such a blessing, and as the mystic John Frusciante pronouned:
“A paper and a pencil, Are the best friends i’ve got”
— Look On by John Frusciante