It’s been a while since I wrote anything, so I’ve sort of lost the flow and the habit of writing but not really. Anyway it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t really change much, perhaps just the tone or the style or the character of the writing. And that is a natural thing which just reflects the fact that I am an entity in flux, constantly changing and adapting and growing and learning. So, now I want to talk a little bit about my experience of life today. I woke up feeling horrible. I was dissatisfied with everything from my flatmates to my flat to this city and this weather and just life in general. I didn’t really know what to do. I tried to cultivate some patience and equanimity and that helped a little bit, but what really toned the chaos down was the morning meditation I sat. It lasted 25 minutes and was a very unsuccessful meditation compared to previous ones. However, it was successful in reducing the stress and anxiety and chaos in my mind down to a manageable level. I then decided that it was time for me to do something good, so I cleaned the kitchen on my own for the third time in a row. I guess my flatmates are just more than happy to let the house degenerate into an unlivable jungle until someone else comes along and takes care of it. But whatever, it was therapeutic and it was a nice thing to do and so for that I guess I should be thankful. I should exchange this attitude of “why is it always me who cleans?” with a more grateful one of “thank you for letting me have the pleasure of cleaning it myself”. Perhaps I should learn to always deal with my lows by doing some good, being kinder, giving more and showing love. This is quite counter-intuitive at the time of experiencing the low, however, and it is a hard thing to convince myself to do this while feeling like shit. But, life itself has taught me that I feel the best and happiest when I do good things. So, even though it may be hard to give and to love when one is depressed, it is pure causality that dictates the course of actions most desirable at that time. This is in line with the larger framework of spiritual training that I have avowed for myself which begins with the training in sila, or morality and virtue. This is always the departing point for any worthwhile journey into the beastly unknown, the threshold beyond which we must cross, and the initiation before which there is no spiritual quest. It is acting virtuously that heals our souls and calms our fears. It is by being generous and loving and giving that our spirits are raised and our bodies pried loose from the shackles which bind them. I wish now to express an even stronger affirmation of this vow I have uttered: that I shall persevere in the training of my mind to act virtuously, by observing the three Noble factors of the eightfold path relevant here, namely, right speech, right action, and right livelihood. Right speech has been the hardest one for me to practice because it seems the habits my mind has developed with regards to its vile utterances are very deeply ingrained and very solidly secured into my mind’s foundations. Right speech entails: abstaining from lies, abstaining from hurtful speech, abstaining from slanderous speech, and abstaining from idle chatter. The hardest two for me to apply are the final two, slanderous speech and idle chatter. It is all too accepted and widely practiced in our society to speak slanderously that I feel compelled to play along with this sadistic game every time I find myself interacting with ordinary human beings. And the same applies to idle chatter. These are very common practices in this world of ours and this makes it exceptionally difficult to break free from their grip. However, this is the struggle and the quest of hardships. The life of renunciation is not for the faint-hearted or the easily-overpowered. This is a path for the truly willful and dedicated individuals that manage to dam themselves safe from the rushing currents of the world. And with this dam held in place for the moment we proceed in the opposite direction, stupefying our colleagues and families alike. How may we explain to them that they are insane? That this river they follow can only lead to their misery. How may we show them love and give of ourselves to help them, while they mock and sneer and laugh along with this horrendously bloated mass of ignorance? But this dam I have erected here, although for my protection at this crucial stage, shall be brought down eventually. It will become superfluous after I have matured enough that I am no longer drowning in the chaos of the river, after I have risen above this rushing rapid on my wings of light to float above it all and be truly unencumbered by it. But at this sensitive stage of my development, when my stems have not yet hardened to wood, when my roots have not yet firmly penetrated the earth, and when my flowers are still but soft and fragile buds bending and trembling in the surge, it is more important than ever that I build a solid and protective enclosure within which to isolate and cocoon myself until the passing of time renders me strong and ready to face the struggles of this tumult which we call life. Anyhow, so back to the training in morality: the second important factor in the eightfold path is right action and this entails observing the five precepts. These are: to abstain from taking life, to abstain from telling lies, to abstain from taking what is not given, to abstain from sexual misconduct, and to abstain from drinking alcohol or taking intoxicating substances. Out of these the last one is the only one with which I have any real difficulty. This is another case where the way of the world steers me off course. Every day friends are calling me and asking me to go out with them to the pub to drink. This issue, the consumption of alcohol, is so rampant in society that it is quite a task indeed to free oneself from it. I am exposed to intoxicating beverages and substances on a daily basis and even if my resolve to renounce these is strong enough to keep them at bay on most days, it will undoubtedly slip on shittier days and these substances will be right there at my arm’s reach whenever such an occasion occurs. So this is the major struggle in terms of right action in my experience. I understand quite well the reasons why intoxication is on the same list as taking life, stealing, and lying. But, I can’t quite put a tick mark on this issue and rid myself of this temptation because of the sheer enormity of its predominance in the world I inhabit. This cocoon that I am constructing to shield me from these temptations must be strong enough to repel even these seemingly harmless and innocent glasses of wine, cans of beer, or these joints that seem ever ready to drop comfortably into my hands and from there up and into my mouth. Right livelihood is, for me, not really an issue because I do not yet work for my livelihood. I am alive in complete dependence upon the generosity of my father who is supporting me until I finish my university studies after which I suspect he’ll cut the strings and push me out of the nest once and for all in the final test of whether or not I’ll soar back up to the same level and then surpass it on my long and humble solitary journey ever upwards. So, for now, with these reflections freshly squeezed out, and with my mind a little roomier and stiller, I’m going to sit my evening meditation before going to bed and ending this turbulent and downcast day.