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Reflections on life in marriage, microbiology, and meditation

Thursday, November 27, 2003

A voice: "do me a favour and stop this pretentious nonsense? Please?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A friend wrote: "I think our bodies learn to substitute one craving for another less easily satisfied, but I don't really understand why. I read a book theorizing that some pain, like back pain or fibromyalgia, is really your brain's way of deflecting your attention from emotional pain that it doesn't feel you are able to deal with."

In my case, that would mean that my chronic fatigue would be a substitute for something else, but couldn't it be the other way around? That the something else is conjured up as a cover-up for the fatigue that was there in the beginning, could not be allowed into consciousness (big "super" boys don't get tired) and goes on undetected until relatively late?
Again, the question is what is going on. It is best not to jump to conclusions.

I'm not too sure about this blogging biz: is it interesting for anyone but myself? Does writing in English limit my expression, for instance by making it too rational? For all the personal material that is there, I still distance myself a little more than I would in a diary. Let's see what happens.

Monday, November 24, 2003

This total awareness -- is it even possible? Of course we select our inputs; if not, we would go mad in seconds. Partly, I ignore what I have been implicitly taught to ignore. What if that is something vital, say, fatigue? It will make itself felt later and stronger, that's what.
I'm tired right now, so I will stop bloggering, have a cup of tea and go to bed.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

And that, of course, is exactly what is needed: "to be aware of what is going on, within us and around us".
This is an exact quote from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, whom I will call Thay: Vietnamese for teacher. Many of his students call him by that title.
Thay says something extra: to be aware of what is going on, within us and around us, is enlightenment.
So there we have it: it would be a good idea to become (somewhat more) enlightened.

There is a thing I have noticed myself doing, that stands in the way of this awareness. It is a subtle way of not facing things. Not being quite there.

How does one go about facing things and staying relaxed?
My violin teacher used to tell me that I should practice playing like a happy cat, who is very relaxed and poised, and when he notices a prey, or a plaything, can strike out immediately. Perhaps that is why I like playing the fiddle so much. It can be a microcosmos of life itself, and one can practice life skills there.
And perhaps it is why I play best when I am at Plum Village, the monastery that Thay founded and now leads in France.
I have been blessed with my teachers.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A song for my pager as the weekend begins:

Let it beep, let it beep,
Let it beep, let it beep;
Speaking words of wisdom:
Let it beep!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

"What is going on?" is a better question than "What do I need?".

Monday, November 17, 2003

Perhaps I will come back to the subject, perhaps not.
This need thing has its societal aspects. Nowadays in Western countries, like never before in history and nowhere else in the world, it is possible to have our desires satisfied. That makes it a working strategy to redefine one's desires as needs and start yelling, and in the process make oneself unhappy.
Even though I feel that is not a good strategy, when I'm not aware of it, I might unconsciously be influenced by it.

Friday, November 14, 2003

I like this format, because of its absurdity. What Do I Need? Which things are necessities, which are preferences?
Take sex, for instance. Often I feel a 'need' for sex, but surely I don't need it as often as I feel that 'need'! ('Igor had fun, but he was like this when he came out of it"). Are there any necessities there, and what are my real preferences? I'm attracted to women, but that's not what I mean here.
Sexual desire demands immediate gratification; as a rule, that is not available. Why is it that this fact of life sometimes has the power of making me suffer, and often not? What is the crucial difference?
What comes to mind: when I have an opinion about how things should be, as opposed to how they are, that's when suffering starts! More about this later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I don't need that!

discovery at half past five pm: there's yet another staff meeting to attend, in a hospital 40 km out of town.
Perhaps I need to plan better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

What do I really need?

It seems wrong, that question. Still, it's important. Today's economy is built on needs suggested and perceived, genuine or not, and it's worth cleaning things up. Let's start with the fact that I myself am not necessary. "What I need" then becomes "conditions for continuation", "conditions for happiness", "conditions for enlightenment". So we have, in the first category:
- air to breathe
- food to eat (not too much of it)
- drink
- sleep
- a roof
- clothes
- peace
How about having those things figure in the other categories as well? Practice seems to be about the joy of, and the insight into, breathing, eating, drinking, sleeping, housekeeping and putting on clothes. And peace belongs here, as well.
But what do I know, firsthand, about conditions for happiness or enlightenment?
I'll stop theorizing and have a cup of tea.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Neediness
Whenever I'm not feeling well, the feeling of neediness lurks around the corner. 'If only ...., I would be alright'.
What do I really need?
Friday, 7 November
Caught the blogging virus. One gets it from looking at other people's blogs. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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