As I have settled back into life here, my writing has slowed. Perhaps it is because I am thinking less. Or maybe more.
I am still feeling super grateful to be here, and grateful that I made this trip. I’ve been able to really get a sense of whether or not I want to live here again and I have had so many mixed feelings about Phuket in particular. Still, I have been enjoying the process. And the answer gets clearer every day.
Sometimes, depending on the day, and the person I’m speaking with, I feel this place is perfect. Other times, I remember why I left. I remember the undercurrent of laziness—which we can easily mistake for a great many things in the “spiritual” world. I’ve heard the range: we’re just being, it’s because we’re happy, it’s good to not search, we’re present, and on and on. When I first moved here, that’s what I found so attractive. I thought wow, so it is possible to JUST BE. To just live. To enjoy life and nothing more. It’s such a stark contrast from where I come, where it’s all about work and money and worries about bills and tomorrow. So of course it would attract me. I was thoroughly interested.
But it didn’t take long for it to begin to dull. For it to feel unstable, inauthentic, and even selfish. Not because I think we shouldn’t be present or satisfied, but because while you are "being" you are also taking. The fruits of someone else's labour contribute to your existence, through the mere fact of you eating food you didn't grow yourself. And because I wholeheartedly believe in living for something other than self, it's hard for me to resonate with a life of taking and giving nothing in return, even if it is temporary. Contribution is part of nature. And since we have the capacity, the intellect, and imagination, I also believe in making our existence count for something.
As “ego”-driven as that may be: If I can help someone else, make someone else’s life better or easier in any way, why wouldn’t I? That includes my children if I were to have them. And I can't un-know what I know, just to take the easy path. They deserve the very best of me.
This is something I’ve been going back to regularly ever since I left last year.
I don’t believe in the other extreme either, as I’m sure you know. Just take a quick peruse of my old posts and you can probably find many blogs that are anti-rat-race. But alas, the Buddha talks about the middle path. It always comes back to balance. Buddha himself was a seeker, he did not stay content with existence as it was. And once he found enlightenment, he shared. He didn’t just sit in his cave and judge the people of the world for their lack of light. He gave them some of his. Even after reaching the peak, the zenith, there was more to be done.
"In the context of our Dharma practice, we try to understand, and we try to meditate; and after that, there is something we can do. This is engaging bodhicitta. We are not only building up the wish inside our minds, but we are actually doing something physically to serve others." - Yangsi Rinpoche
That’s the word I keep coming back to. That’s what I listened for when I read the Gita, hoping for some wisdom to help me learn how to be a householder. I’ve no intention of withdrawing from society, much as I may have thought about it. So while I am here participating, I intend to do exactly that. Participate. In any way I can be of service, I will. And when I am called to serve myself, I will do that too. Though I don’t suffer with my emotions as I used to, growth never stops. And all I have to do is remain open to the fact that I do not know everything (or anything)—and that everything passes.
So I will do that.
If you want to learn more about Bodhicitta (and why Buddhism speaks to me so much), here and here are 2 great posts that I found. Enjoy.