I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere. It’s not like i can pop over to my local mediation center, or temple, and get some guidance. Heck i can’t even stop into my local bookstore and grab a book or two. Though Amazon.com has very fast shipping, even to the middle of nowhere.
So in my small amount of free time i use the internet to search for information, guidance, like-minded people, something. Something that tells me not only am i not crazy, but i’m not alone. There is so much information out there. Holy cow! Tons of it. I wonder how on earth can i ever sift through it? How am i going to know what is right, what is wrong, and what is the rantings of a guy sitting in his basement with tinfoil on his head. (No offence to the basement dwelling tinfoil hat enthusiasts….)
Recently there started a new Buddhist group where i am. Chaplains are great by the way. Most of them honestly want to help you grow spiritually, no matter what your faith is, even if your faith doesn’t match theirs. But i look forward to seeing what this new group has to offer, to see what everyone brings to the group. And what I can bring to them. One of the greatest things about Buddhism is the individuality of the practice. Each of us has our own path. Pulling from whatever is available, to nourish our own needs.
I haven’t had the chance to read all of the Buddhas teachings. But i have learned from nearly every tradition that i have read into, however briefly, that the Buddha encouraged scrutiny. He wanted his students to think for themselves and look at every thing critically. I don’t think this was to encourage anarchy but rather to help develop the Buddha nature in all of us. We all intrinsically know the way to go. Deep within us i think we do. What we have to develop is the ability to tap into that, to draw it out to the surface. To incorporate it in our daily lives. And more than just that nice bit of lip service. To keep it in the back of our minds constantly.
One of my struggles is the inability to quiet my mind. I always have a secondary dialogue going. Sometimes its a song that i wake up singing, a pondering of a problem i can’t solve, or even (sadly enough) preparations for an ass chewing i know is coming. It’s like a second hard drive running in the background of my brain. It has come in handy, I nearly always have an instant answer, i can play chess like nobody’s business and i can plan a weeks menus while attentively listening to a conversation.
But it has major drawbacks. Aside from making me sound like a raving loon, I have the hardest time sitting quietly. I can’t turn off that secondary thought process. And god help me if i wake up in the middle of the night. That background process is too loud to drown out.
Somewhere, i read that Tibetan Buddhists learn early on to constantly repeat mantras silently or in a low voice. Having never been to Tibet I have no idea if this is true or not but it doesn’t matter. What a great idea.
If i can re-train my secondary thought process to repeat mantra after mantra what a score that would be. Even if i wasn’t able to manage it 24/7. If i could just do it long enough to calm myself, fall asleep, meditate, whatever i needed to do that my normal secondary thought process was preventing me from doing. That would be a huge step forward for me.
So from somewhere in my studies i find another morsel of nourishment. A wonderful bit to help strengthen my practice, and myself. I may not be a Buddhist in the Tibetan tradition. That little bit may not even be a fact. It could be a rambling from that dude in the basement pretending the tinfoil is because he’s getting his roots done. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is i can find a use for it. I can benefit from mastering it. And if i can master it, i can share it with others and maybe help them.
And that is what matters most.