Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Warrior Blends with Life

Photo by Minha Menina .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

I own a book by this title, and I've found it to be an engaging and enlightening read.  I've read it a few times over the years, although I haven't read it recently.  But the title of this book came to mind this week, and has stayed on my mind.  If you follow my blog you may have read an earlier post where I mentioned that a person in my life is struggling with addiction.  And, actually, I fear that another person I know may also be struggling with it.

I've been uneasy this week and not sleeping well.  Perhaps it's stress from work, perhaps it's related to these people suffering with addiction, or perhaps it's something else.  I'm not totally sure.  One thing I do know, however, is that meditation has been an invaluable aid in calming me.  If I didn't practice meditation I doubt whether I'd be able to function in the world.  Most writers have active imaginations and analytical minds; and what sometimes comes along with those attributes, at least in my case, is a racing and uncontrollable mind.  Some years ago I read a book called "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying".  It's a tremendous book that I recommend to anyone who has an interest in eastern philosophy and/or Buddhism.  I believe this is the book that gave me my first practical instruction in meditation.  It's actually really easy to do--but it takes discipline and concentration.  I won't go into techniques here--just Google it and you should find a wealth of information.

A Warrior Blends with Life.  What does that mean?  I often think of life as a series of rivers and patterns.  For instance, I was driving this morning and the illusory nature of reality felt palpable.  "How often do I take this drive?"  I asked myself.  "What am I thinking about while I do it?"  Then a thought struck me: "Will I remember any of this drive in five or ten years?"  "Will I look back fondly and wish I remembered it more vividly?"  "Will I feel like I'd pay any amount of money to come back to this day and re-live this drive with my family members?"  "What would I say to them?"  But I think that life is like a river.  You can try to grab a handful of water, but what good does it do?  It's best to accept the nature of the river, become a part of it, and never take it for granted.  When my mind wanders I can find myself disturbingly disconnected from what is happening around me.  Sometimes I like to let my mind wander, but there is always a price to be paid when one "tunes out" from the Now.  You miss things.

So maybe "blending with life" means that we should try to discard unnecessary thoughts and focus our attention on our journey and on Now.  We all have to plan and analyze, but our minds can be undisciplined.  Meditation helps me to control my overactive mind and blend with life; and by blending with life I'm able to be at peace with it, and try to experience it in all of its richness.

Still, even armed with an invaluable tool like meditation, we all face moments of crisis where nothing we do seems to alleviate our suffering.  Intoxication of any kind can distract us from suffering.  I think the constructive purpose of intoxication is to allow us to temporarily step aside from reality so that we can consider it from a new perspective--to let our mind's eye float above the river--looking down on it, and thinking about where we've been and where we can go.  I believe it is meant to be a quasi shamanic experience.  And I think it can become dangerous when it is engaged in with habitual frequency.  The insidious thing about intoxication is it seems harmless until suddenly it isn't.  How many of us can recognize that tipping point?  My friends struggling with addiction couldn't.  I think the addict begins to think that the flying is as real as the floating on the river.  Though they still perceive their real selves floating below them in the water--still subject to the eddies and currents (the implications of their actions)--they continue to remain in a disconnected state.

A Warrior Blends with Life.  Please stay in the river.  Don't make a habit of flying too often; and when you do, do it for the right reasons.  Just some humble advice from someone who, by my own admission, is ignorant and stumbling in the darkness.  But I haven't fallen into any deep pits yet, and I am trying to light my candle.