Years ago I wrote a soul-searching fantasy of my life as I wished it could be. Much of it has come true, though I am not in Bali, but in Ohio. One thing I wanted was to be nested in a community of like-minded friends. I am now, and that community fans out to include the internet sangha. The world-wide web, which has given me this morning a talk about bare perception in meditation.
I love this connectedness. Still, I am sitting alone in my sudy with my morning coffee, not able to wander out to an outdoor cafe where people I know might stop by to say hello. I would take a sketch pad a sketchbook and charcoal if I were going out there today, not my little notebook, maybe draw some quick portraits, maybe a banana leaf. People would come by.
Hello. I am fine. How are you?
These would be intimate friends, so we might talk about our response to what's happened in Haiti, the sudden massive earthquake, all the death and suffering, and not just murmur cliches, but talk about its intimacy and immediacy. We are Buddhists, our practice leads us to respond to suffering in a certain way.
This way is with something like equanimity. I would share with my friend that I cry every night, watching the news. But I don't get carried away into despair. I come back to my normal, like one of those inflatable clowns with sand in its bottom.
This way is with something like detachment. That doesn't mean being without compassion. It means understanding the constant presence of death all over the planet, the rolling and turning over of organic life in the universe, the widespread suffering, even in our privileged little community, our inability to create perfect societies. It means accepting my place as a tiny little bodhissatva who can dispense a teaspoon of water here and there. I say I think it's Bernie Glassman who puts it that way. My friend nods Yes.
We would acknowledge that this has touched our own sense of vulnerability and disturbed our dreams. We are not friends in order to hide from the truth with small talk and partying. In this quiet morning coffee of my dreams, we are just real with one another. No need to talk a lot. It's nice to connect.
Anyway, how are you?