Posts by Arthakusalin

In a little park in Ghent

Yesterday i was sitting in a little park in Ghent together with a friend talking about….friendship. The sun was shining gently and cosy on us as if she was warming our love for beauty and truth. And i remembered Narziss and Goldmund, the novel of Herman Hesse, about the remarkable story of two friends.

A few weeks ago i left my job to work for the Buddhist Centre in Ghent and so i had to say goodbye to my colleagues some of whom i have known for years. I definitely wanted to leave my job yes but i didn’t want some of my colleagues to dissapear. I wanted to hold them, to grasp them, i wanted them near me, to stay near me, i wanted our experiences with one another to last. I realised that a good part of my life is over. So i looked for all kinds of reasons to justify that things could go on just like they used to do, as if i would still be working there. What a difference with Narziss and Goldmund!

These two people are friends and they don’t even see each other that much. Most of the time they are living separately but they are in each others’ minds nearly all the time, as a guide, as a mentor. And if they do see each other they don’t waste time. They ask questions to one another, penetrating questions to help the other live his qualities. To help the other unfold the fullest possible potential as a human being. And all that space…they don’t limit each other, they give one another space to breath, to grow, to explore…And there was i manipulating reality, colleagues and myself because i find saying goodbye and things changing uncomfortable, even painful.

Narziss and Goldmund rejoice in each other as well. Rejoicing too is connected with the flowing nature of reality. And their rejoicing in each other is fluent, spontaneous. Sometimes i rejoice in friends as well and sometimes i almost immediately think, in a secretly way, i can do that too and probably even better. But other times when i really succeed in rejoicing wholeheartedly and sincerely, wow, what an energy is flowing then, what a fountain of joy and happinness, what a flow of reality itself.

Narziss and Goldmund showed me that friendship is about letting things flow, about relaxing in reality, about pointing out to each other the qualities one has in order to unfold these and realise a more creative life in accordance with reality.

And i had tried for days on end to deny all this, to capture others in my nets, to limit myself and them to an illusion of holding, not letting go…but now Narziss and Goldmund are my friends.

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Wild geese

On a september night in the countryside of Wales i stood outside and watched the sunset. It was quiet and evening clouds coloured the sky…only some sign of human life in the form of some buildings a few miles further…then a sound came to my ears, first from far away and the sound increasingly became louder and louder…i didn’t know instantly that a flock of geese were approaching but from the moment of realising this my eyes looked for the geese but i didn’t spot them…i only heard them coming closer and closer…

It was a fantastic and exciting moment not seeing the birds, just hearing them and curiously seeking them concentrating myself on their sounds…all of a sudden i saw them, a dozen or so wild geese right in front of me in a few last minutes of daylight…i was totally absorbed by these geese, approaching, looking for them in the dark, just hearing them, being very excited about this, then the birds flying over me, communicating to one another and me standing there and not understanding a word or a noise of it and then disappearing again in the night….

It was a wonderful moment that reminded me of my own life, me coming into being, into the sight of others and making noises and then, after a short while, disintegrating again, and this just happens,  it just happens and it’s up to me what noises i want to make and how i want to fly….

It is beautiful if you can fly like the monks in Of Gods and Men, a French movie about christian monks in Algeria who were murdered. What appealed very much to me was the way the monks lived, quietly, simple, in stillness, studying, piling the wood, very slowly, working in the fields to grow their own vegetables….now and then taking time to look around, then taking another piece of wood and carrying on…not hurrying….not that i want to grow my own vegetables or so, not at all, i am very happy to buy them in a supermarket, but it confronted me with one of my patterns….to hurry and rush myself even in very little actions as feeding the cockatiels, getting clothes out of the washing machine, eating breakfast….

If i am not careful, so if i am not paying attention, i hurry myself and i react to anxiety, not gross but refined anxiety….so i watch these patterns and i take care of myself….in slowing down if possible, in seeing what i am doing if it is not so easy to slow down, in not giving myself a hard time, in enjoying the nice and easy rhythm if i can transform the little anxieties….

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Cockatiels and self-care

At home we have two cockatiels and already several times i have seen that they really are receptive to communication. In the morning for instance, when i come into the room, they put their heads as closely as possible to mine and in a very unreserved way, without any shame or reticence whatsoever, they just want full attention. Nothing less. And they go for it with all of their body and by producing cute sounds.

I have thought more than once, if only i was able to ask attention for myself in the same way….it always has been difficult to ask attention if needed some. Usually I made myself invisible. But the last few months my daughter was severely ill, even close to death, and it made me realise the importance of really looking carefully after myself in a skilled way, looking after my body, my emotions, my thoughts, aware of the importance of every living being, including me. Not everyone else except me as my usual pattern is.

I remember visiting Sangharakshita once and after a conversation of some length I asked him if it had not been too much for him. And his reply was: “Oh no, don’t worry, i’m very sensitive in taking care of myself”. I came to think that taking care of oneself in a mindful and compassionate way is really a courageous thing to do.

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Travelling into the breath

Day 1

Preparing myself with consideration of my back problem, balancing the pelvis, and seeing that my neck is as least as possible strained. I feel a slight tension in my belly and this possibly has to do with an expectation of resistance to listening once again to the instructions of setting up a posture, a resistance to resistance, i breath into it and i experience that the resistance doesn’t come.

For a moment i am aware that i am sitting a bit sloped, sometimes i have the impression that my right shoulder is hanging more towards the earth than my left one after the injury at work.

So adjusting this posture…

…sitting with a feeling of stability, groundedness and interest in the breathing, i breathe in thousands a times a day, breath out thousands a time a day and for most of the time i am not aware of this breath, ‘my’ breath…

dropping the counting very quickly and rather spontaneously, it feels natural not to count and i focus my attention on the outbreath in the first stage and on the inbreath in the second stage…

i wonder if this dropping of the counting has to do with a subtle fear of failure when i would notice that after one or two counts my mind already has drifted

…my mind is drifting as well when not counting

…i try to follow the natural flow of the breath and i see that my breath is faster as i had thought it would be

… i wonder what is then this natural flow? I have the feeling that however i breath my breath is for most of the time determined by my state of mind

…what then is the natural flow? I am a bit puzzled also because i realise that i am nearly always altering my breath somehow, wanting to change the breath, wanting the breath to become calmer and more still

…i return to the coming and going of the breath, focusing on the inbreath (second stage), being aware of the stability in my lower body

…the neck is hurting, there is more strain so turning the head now and then to loosen up the pain and strain, sometimes drawing circles with the neck to bring some relief

…after this i go back to the breath, the following of the breath, in and out, without focusing on the in or outbreath, just following the breath and reflecting again on the natural flow of the breath

…it comes to my mind that when i am cycling and climbing for instance i am following the natural flow of my breath, due to the severe efforts i just follow my breath, it doesn’t feel as if i have a choice then

…but sitting in meditation it is not as clear as that… i suspect in this meditation, the Mindfulness of Breathing, i am confronted more than elsewhere, with a difficulty of giving myself over to what really happens in the moment

…in the fourth stage the comparison with the butterfly like mind matches my experience, the quality of the butterfly settling down on a flower with lightness and sensitivity as well as the tendency to move quickly towards another flower.

Day 2

It’s in the afternoon, normally the least good time for me to meditate as i tend to fall asleep most of the time when i do meditate in these period. But I will give it a go as i am in the process of writing a diary and i am always glad when it is finished, not in a demonstrative way or so but more on a subtle level

…i guess it has to do with stressing myself

…in theory i have time this evening but i want to get it done with as soon as possible…the general feeling in this meditation was a sense of relaxation, of ease

…of being ok with all what was going on, i was decisive not to fall asleep and i was interested in the natural flow of the breath

…i definitely had a tendency to doze off but i counteracted this by opening my eyes for some time and i just went on, breathing in and out, feeling quite at ease with how it all went, not bothering about if the breath was too slow, too shallow, too fast, etc

…i felt the breathing as ok and i thought that if i do not interfere with the body and the breath at all, simply by breathing and following this breath through sensitive listening to the body and feeling — really feeling — where the inbreath stops and pauses and the outbreath begins then it is all right

…no interferences of my mind and opinions and all kinds of judgments

…i realised that my breath went faster than i normally should prefer but i felt all right with it and at ease so what’s the problem? I felt content albeit a careful contentment

…thinking it over now, i just carried on with it and i was not so much in the grip of my own judgments

…so being tired has partly a good influence on diminishing all kinds of resistance (like for instance not wanting to give oneself over to what is going on)

Day 3

Sitting like a rock with a firm contact with the earth below. I am intending to lower my expectations and enjoy the breath. I have done some reflection on the meditations of the last two days and it seems that i sometimes don’t trust my own experience or that i want the breath to be something special instead of leaving the breath being breath

…so really feeling grounded, my eyelids so to speak don’t have the slightest intention to open up, they enjoy staying closed and focused, my hands are in my lap as if they are sculptured in that way and they feel light and right, correct, precise

…i feel like i am sailing on the flow of the breath and now and then there are little boats who draw my attention but rather quickly they are blown away by the wind

…several thoughts are crossing my mind, about football, retreats, the convention of next year, ice cream etc but they are little stories who seems to loose their reliability, boats blown away

…i enjoy sitting like a rock, being stable, feeling my feet and legs firmly on the floor, seeing the thoughts so now and then growing stiller, becoming more silenced

…i realise that it is a tricky one for me in this situation to grasp the silence, wanting that no more thoughts at all will come but i can gently and with a smile meet new thoughts and let them pass

…i don’t have to be perfectly still. Feeling a kind of refreshing awareness, curious about the breath going in and out around the tip of my nose, curious about the different sensations

…closing the meditation enjoying once more the groundedness  and stability of my sitting in this session…

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