daecabhir: (Enlightenment)

Veterans Day means I don't go to the customer site, but I will be venturing forth to the consulting practice office in Columbia. Yea, verily, it is a strange feeling. My life was, from October 7 to November 7, defined largely by the container of Karme Choling, and much of that by the four walls of the shrine room. Since returning home late on November 7, I've been trying to re-acclimate myself to being "on the outside", without forgetting lessons learned examining the inside. I'm sure I've about bored [livejournal.com profile] ravynmaniac to tears with my stories of dathun, but it was my life for a month. I hear the podcasters talk about their "tribe", and perhaps I understand that on a more personal level now... I too miss my "tribe", my sangha, with many of whom I shared points in space and time over the period of the dathun. And yet I grok the four noble truths and the cycle of samsara well enough at an internal level now to understand that I must let this go... all things change, and to struggle against this simple fact is to create even more suffering for oneself. I shed tears this night, because I truly, deeply miss you all... and because I feel joy and appreciation for having had the opportunity to be a part of the mandala that came to be during that month, and because I know that none of us are truly ever separated from one another.

Forgive me - that was not the post I set out to write, but it appears that it was the post that I had to write. Giving thoughts and feelings a voice, acknowledging them and then letting them go, that is the way of things. I will try not to forget that, or perhaps more importantly, I will strive to remember it again and again.

daecabhir: (Coffee Failed - Use Jumper Cables)

I probably could have gotten out of bed @ 6:30 this morning... something about going to bed @ 22:00 combined with having to be up and in line to enter the shrine room by 6:55, methinks. Chose instead to roll over for some more sleep and some snuggle time with [livejournal.com profile] ravynmaniac before facing the day. Laundry, general decluttering and Balticon are the tasks for the day - and there is much work to do in all those areas. My office is a disaster area, and I need to make room so that I can set up my own shrine, which means things have either got to find a home here in the house or somewhere outside the house. Stay tuned for offerings of miscellaneous items as I go through this mess.

Yesterday was pretty much a "do nothing" day, other than running errands in the evening with [livejournal.com profile] ravynmaniac. I needed frames for shrine photos, some food from the local whole foods store, and other oddiments. There are still a few other errands to run, but they can wait a bit. I surveyed the clutter yesterday, and was dismayed, cowed even. Too much stuff, and quite frankly not enough places to put it all. But I must start small, and address one thing / area at a time, or else I will address none of it. The most important thing for me to accomplish in short order is to get my office to the point where I can sit... yesterday was the first time in a month that I did not sit or do chants at all, and it felt very, very strange. Today I will get back into the swing of things, as I now realize the importance of a regular daily practice. It took a month of sitting all day to hammer that one into my head, but it stuck. *wry grin*

Something else happened while I was sitting... I lost weight. I can't quantify how much since I didn't weight myself before leaving, but something about eating less food and being more active has caused my jeans to fit much better now. See, in addition to sitting we also did Qi-Gong in the morning, walking meditation during the day, Shamatha Yoga or floor stretches once a day, an outdoor walk somewhere about the premsises in the evening, and work periods. I noticed by week three that what I was taking in terms of amounts of food during oryoki had reduced, and I wasn't eating alot between meals - maybe a bowl of whole grain cereal, some fruit or the occasional treat during tea. So I will be working to maintain that sort of eating habit, and to keep a certain level of activity in my daily routine. Wish me luck.

Well, I think that is enough for now... I'll probably post a status update later today, and I've got a post brewing about the offerings made at the end-of-dathun banquet. However there are things to be done right now that take priority. TTFN.

daecabhir: (WTF??)

So, I was in Vermont from October 7 through November 7. I had intrawebz access, but limited its use to essential communications, weather forecasts and researching Buddhist topics. In particular I made the committment to not read non-essential e-mail or check the news.

We had a shuttle launch and successful return home while I was gone???

daecabhir: (Firefly Zen)

The car is mostly packed, with just a box, my tea kit and my laptop to go. The last leg of my whirlwind dharma tour is about to begin, as I start my journey home. While I don't want to leave what has been my home for a month in the mountains of Vermont, I very much want to come back to [livejournal.com profile] ravynmaniac, my home, my birds and the challenges that await me. The sun is bright, and the air is crisp and clear, both good omens for the trip home and my re-entry into the world outside of the Karme Choling mandala. It is possible that I may post again briefly tonight, but more likely it will be tomorrow. For now it is OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA. Peace out from Barnet, Vermont.

daecabhir: (Firefly Zen)

I'm in the dining room at Karme Choling, getting ready to head down to the Samadhi Cushion Store to pick up some books and a few small items that found their way on to my list. I had picked up some things for my home shrine on the last trip down there, but there are a couple other items that may be of use for practice. One of my things to do during the four days that I am home before returning to work will be to clear space in my office for a shrine, and to go in search of an appropriate piece of furniture to use for the shrine at first. At some point I'll be looking at building a shrine box that is more in line with the design in use by the Shambhala lineage, but if there is one thing I have learned, it is "do what you can now, rather than wait until you can do everything, because that day will never come".

Insert interlude where G goes to Samadhi store, and spends more money than planned, mostly due to purchasing a hammered gong and a few more books than originally intended.

I actually got up for morning chants and sitting today, did some qi-gong after breakfast, and then participated in refuge practice*. Yesterday I elected to sleep in until breakfast, and do some reading before taking Robyn to the bus station. I did some sitting practice of my own yesterday afternoon, and attended the evening sitting and closing chants. The idea has been to apply some discipline to my practice while I am still in an environment where there are not a significant number of distractions from practicing and studying. Of course, one needs to do things to help them re-acclimate to their normal lives, so after dinner I accepted an invitation to visit the off-site residence Ashoka Bhavan for the purposes of sharing cigars and scotch on the front porch (generally speaking, consumption of alcohol on the premises is restricted to banquets, parties and various vajrayana practices). Miles had sat the first two weeks of dathun with us, and he's a hell of an interesting character, and we hit it off very well from the start. We were joined by a couple other staffers on the porch, just chatting against the backdrop of the river gurgling across the street from the house.

Under the heading of "how interesting", one of my fellow dathunees just came by to talk. I've exchanged maybe twenty or thirty words with her during the course of dathun, and we just had a conversation for like 20 minutes. I'm not complaining, I'm just a little surprised... I haven't exactly been the most gregarious of people during the course of dathun, and some folks (including this young lady) have been pretty quiet and kept somewhat to themselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this - although dathun is a group retreat, it is very intensely personal. The fact that we've all opened up is just amazing.

Ok, enough for now... I want to go take a walk, do some sitting and do some reading. So more later.

* Sayong Mipham Rinpoche, the current head of the Shambhala lineage, put together a practice involving chanting, visualization and contemplation for people who have taken refuge in our lineage to help them stay connected with the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) in their daily lives. This morning's refuge practice was going through that practice as a group, which was very helpful as a refresher since I've had limited opportunity to do the practice since I took refuge in September.
daecabhir: (Enlightenment)

And so most of the mandala has dispersed, heading their own separate ways - some going home, some going on walkabout, some heading into the great unknown. There were many good-byes, and much wishing peple well. I drove one of my fellow practioners down to the nearest bus station so that she could start to make her way home, and I may drive another one down on Tuesday. It's been kinda like a month-long family reunion where everyone managed to get closer rather than getting on each other's nerves. Thus last night and today have had a bittersweet flavor, in celebrating all that we shared, and in finally departing the space that we have shared for the past month. Yes, I am still raw... I don't expect that to change anytime soon, nor do I particularly want it to change... even though it can be painful, there is something about keeping oneself open that is liberating. I know that I will close up some over time... a dathun is in a way a very artificial setting, because the environment, the staff and the participants are all working together to create the circumstances under which we can be more open.

I'll be posting more thoughts on my dathun and post-dathun experience, but probably mostly to my Buddhism filter. If you're not on my Buddhism filter and want to be, just holler.

daecabhir: (Firefly Zen)

Dathun is officially over. The exodus has already begun, and will continue over the next few days. Apparently my karma is such that I have been allowed to not return to work until November 12, rather than on November 7 as originally planned. This is a good thing, as it allows me to take a slower re-entry trajectory back to the world outside Karme Choling, including delaying my departure from Vermont until Wednesday morning.

For those who are not practioners it is hard to describe - the past month having been an exercise in stripping away the armor or coccoon that we built around ourselves to "protect" us from feeling the intensity of the world. It leaves one raw, open and much more vulnerable to the intense emotions that others can manifest. If my ten days in Nova Scotia is any indicator, leaving this mandala that has suported our practice and allowed us to really open up will be painful. So a gradual return to the life that has been on hold for the past month is best.

I probably won't try catching up on LJ posts, since a month is just too much. If there was something important I should know about, send me e-mail. I'll be working through THAT backlog later in the week. The next few days will be spent studying, meditating and contemplating, along with walking the land here and serving as a taxi for a couple of folks who need rides. Hopeully this will help ease the transition back to "real life".

daecabhir: (Enlightenment)

Tears can open our hearts, laughter can keep our hearts from closing.

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Daecabhir, Lord of the Leaping Shadows

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