I have been reading about right intention. I saw the question “Does your desire to make changes in your life come from wholesome motivation or unresolved issues?”
I am interested in intention right now because it seems so central. I am unsure what kinds of changes I am capable of making right now. But is that a cop-out? I want to have harmless intentions. I do not want to create unnecessary suffering.
The flip-side is that I feel like I am responding (reacting?) to changing circumstances the best I can. And I find myself surrounded by people that seem to live in the 1970s or 1980s. My actions seem rash and selfish to people living in the past. Perhaps, if I had done some of the things back then that I am contemplating now, those actions would have been rash. They would have seemed un-called-for. However, in 2014, my alternatives have changed (expanded in some areas and contracted in others) greatly in the past ten or fifteen years. I have options today I didn’t have ten years ago and, conversely, there are options that have vanished in that same decade.
Can I make my intentions pure? Is that possible?
I have made the worst choices over the years from unresolved issues. I partly became an Orthodox Christian out of my childhood unmet needs. The problem: these issues were completely subconscious at the time and I only started to sort them out after a decade of being in that church. I had to get completely out in order to see the issues clearly. Is there a way of seeing these issues prior to making these huge, life-altering choices? This is the kind of wisdom I am seeking.
“We have to continuously return to this, recalling that we are here, in this zendo, to lose. We are here to lose everything, including the possibility of claiming status by virtue of that abandonment….
“Frequently people are drawn to the [Zen Mountain] Monastery because it feels rigorous, disciplined, and serious, but fundamentally we don’t come here for that. The tight little ship of sesshin is not powerful so much because of its rigor or form—it’s because it is a potential springboard, launching us to that place where all of this is already falling apart.” “The Unexpected Rears its Head” by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Sensei, “Mountain Record”, Summer 2014
Part of me has a hard time believing that people want to realize deep in their bones that everything is already falling apart. Such people are truly the spiritual elite among us, trying to see everything falling apart without developing a big, fat ego as to their spiritual attainments.
My life is spent trying to keep my psychological boat afloat. I am trying to deal with innumerable changes, great and tiny, while maintaining some semblance of a routine. It has worked fairly well until recently, due to Barry’s gradual decline in health. Routines only work as long as you are capable of physically and emotionally handling them. I am only trying to function as leaks keep springing in my boat while I am on the high seas. Structure feels like a luxury.
People lie to themselves out of necessity. People can only handle so much at a given time. When I was going to school, attending an abusive church, and trying to work, many things (such as housekeeping and moving issues) were on the back burner. You could have told me my house was burning and I would have responded, “And your point is…” I wasn’t trying to live in delusion; I just didn’t have any help. People want to believe things are controllable, or at least predictable.
My god sister was telling me Sunday that the priest wasn’t there that day. I told her that she’d been saying that for a few weeks in a row. I said that if he comes back after Labor Day, everything is fine. If not, something is up. It didn’t occur to her that he may have already left. I have no clue. All I know is that, if I still attended, I would be sneaky and try to peek in his office to see if his stuff was still there. She assumes everything is fine and normal. I no longer know what fine and normal even mean anymore. I am watching everything change and too many assumptions of mine have been obliterated for me to take them seriously.
You will lose everything, including your very physical life. No sesshin required to understand that.