© Asoka Richie 2023 (all rights reserved)
Death’s hard to bear.
It feels cruel.
Grief is lonely.
Dad was a good man.
Loved by many.
Lots of different people
attended his funeral.
His life affected them all.
It was beautiful.
The world feels a lesser place
Now he has gone.
Just isn’t the same.
He made things better.
Why did he have to die?
I’ve read that the wise do not grieve.
But still the tears fall.
Perhaps that means
I am not wise at all.
There was a time I yearned for romance. But that has passed now. I am not looking for that anymore. Falling in love is suffering, and I will never fall in love again. I did fall in love, but she didn’t want me. And when that happend, happiness left me like breath evaporating from a mirror.
Relationships are suffering. I don't need anyone’s emotional support; I don’t need a partner. I don't need anybody. I am okay by myself. And it is okay to be alone.
Besides, I am no one special, I am not particularly attractive, I am nearly 50, and financially unstable, I can barely make ends meet. It wouldn’t be fair on anyone else, but by myself it doesn’t matter if I am poor. I often contemplate becoming homeless because I struggle to live the household life, it is stressful trying to survive and live in these dark times. There’s a longing in me to escape it all, to leave the dusty household life behind and live simply, with few cares and burdens.
I have nothing to give anyway, nothing to offer in a relationship. I am not what women want in a man. And that's fine, I don’t care anymore. That’s why love can be cruel, because not everyone gets that happy-ever-after that Hollywood sells. And those that do often pay a great cost for it in the end.
Perhaps it is a blessing to be alone. Without anyone to think about. I have the freedom to decide how I best want to use what little time I have left on this Earth.
It is one reason I write so much. Maybe these pieces of writing will help someone else out there. I feel if it helps just one person, it was worth it.
I have not enjoyed my life; it has been mostly shit if I'm honest. Those brief drops of happiness are just not worth it in the end. The pain far outweighs the pleasure. The thought of coming back here and having to go through all this again, the thought of living another life is unbearable. It is that thought that keeps me making effort.
I am done with wanting things. I relinquish it all. All desire, all longing, all attachment. I release it all.
This world is a slaughterhouse, a cruel and brutal place for most of us. There’s much suffering here, so many beings suffering, and there’s a heartbreaking mass extinction event happening. That one just feels completely powerless to do anything about.
Mass extinction of life on this planet for what? A plastic deluded modern existence. The empty consumer dream of Ken and Barbie. Killing the forests, killing the oceans, and killing ourselves for what? Why? How did it come to this? What good has come from the insatiable greed of our modern times?
It is all so inane, tragic and vacuous.
I plan to make this my last lifetime; I don’t want to return here. To incarnate here means another being will have to suffer so I can exist, that is the sorrow and horror of interdependence. It isn't beautiful, it is deeply disturbing. For one lifeform to exist it must feed on another. And no lifeform wants to be eaten. All beings value their lives. The cycle of life is not unicorns and rainbows. It is a horror show.
Even if you are one of the lucky few who succeed in this challenging modern world. If you do get to live that over-hyped American dream. It all one day gets taken away from you, torn away. All that effort, all that hard work to build the perfect material life is for nought in the end. It is a con. A scam.
What really matters in the end? What doesn't get taken away from you when you die?
When I sat next to my dad, holding his hand, while he fought for his life in that hospital room. I clearly saw anicca, anatta, and dukkha. The three characteristics of conditioned phenomenon. Translated as: impermanence, not-self, suffering.
I finally understood dependent origination. Life is fragile, the body is fragile. When those conditions that support it cease, so does life.
What is there to cling to?
What is real?
What is non-delusion?
This world doesn't last
Youth and beauty
Fade so fast
that go off in the night.
Beautiful for a moment
But soon out of sight.
Even our memories change
In the long descend.
Is it all worth it, in the end?
The Buddha taught there are five aggregates that make up a being.
These five aggregates are interwoven and affect one another, and they are what we identify with as the self. But when we slow down and compose our minds through meditative practises, enough to be able to look at the five aggregates closely, we can see that they are always changing and arise and cease due to causes and conditions.
We cling to them because we identify with them, and this attachment to the impersonal changing phenomena in ourselves and in others causes us suffering. It also leads to rebirth, and further becoming.
Why is rebirth a problem? Because of ageing, sickness, death and loss. Even the glorious devas age and die. Even if one gets a good rebirth and lives a long life in the heavenly realms, that life will one day come to an end, when the karma that brought it into being ceases. Then a being can fall from the heavens and return to the Earth, or worse can fall into the Hell realms where the suffering is intense and long lasting. And all of us if we do not uproot greed, hate, and delusion from the mind can go through this cyclic process over and over, this is Samsara. And because of change and impermanence, for the majority of the time the experience is not pleasant, our time in Samsara is mostly an experience of pain, loss, grief, sorrow and suffering. The happiness is brief compared to the unhappiness.
The thought of reincarnation and rebirth can be challenging for us modern humans with our scientific minds; but it is part of right view in the noble eightfold path. Right view isn't just looking at the life one is living now, it is also looking at the possibility of future lives, of rebirth and how that depends on the karma we generate now, i.e. the tendencies of the mind we grasp and cultivate in this life, which grow in momentum and eventually transform into another being.
Things change, we change, even space which we think of as empty is full of quantom particles in a state of flux, the void is not empty, and even then we are never in the same patch of space twice, because the Earth is spinning, and going round and round the sun, which is itself going round and round the centre of the galaxy, we never experience the same patch of space twice, each moment the space we are in is different, even space itself is change.
The mind always wants to cling to something. Perhaps because of the transient nature of things and the uncertainty this brings. But the clinging causes us suffering, it is not pleasant, because the things we cling and become attached to change, and we can't stop them changing, nothing remains the same, nothing lasts, everything is in a state of entropy and impermanent.
There may be momentary sensory gratification in this life from sense pleasures, but they don't last, and sooner or later one experiences the opposite, because one cannot experience pleasure and gain, without also experiencing pain and loss. The eight worldly winds (pain and pleasure, gain and loss, success and failure, praise and blame) blow in both directions and can change suddenly. One cannot experience one without also experiencing the other. That which arises also ceases. Which can be a comforting truth when one is in pain, but an uncomfortable truth when one is experiencing pleasure. We want the pleasant experiences to last, but alas they don't. They change, and it can be cruel, because even if you manage to get what you want, and can maintain that sensory pleasure, the mind gets bored after a time, the senses become jaded and one starts to crave for something different, everything changes.
The concept of not-self is a tricky one to grasp. Of course there is a self you may say, I mean who is sitting here and typing these words, who is it that practises the noble eightfold path, if not the self? In fact when the Buddha was asked one time if there was a self or not, he point blank refused to answer the question. I think what he was trying to teach us, is the self is not what we think it is. It is not the things that we identify with and call the self. There is no permanent fixed soul that travels through existence like a marble on a marble run. There is no marble. There is just flow with nothing substantial behind it. Just changing streams of energy, of processes that arise and cease due to causes and conditions.
But it is also not true to say that nothing exists. Because there is energy, energy is real, in physics, we are taught that energy is neither created nor destroyed, only converted from one form of energy to another. So where did that energy come from originally and what happens to it at death?
The Buddha said no matter how far back in time he looked, he could not find a beginning to this mysterious flow of energy we call life. And when someone asked him what happens to a fully enlightened being (an arahant) after death, he didn't give an answer, he said such questions are unknowables, at least to those of us who are not arahants. He taught that pondering such things can be a waste of time, and can't be put in words satisfactorily. These unknowables can get in the way of practising what is important. Which is what is in front of us in the here and now. Our lives are brief, and the only really important question is am I suffering or not? The goal of the Buddhist path is to realise complete lasting freedom from suffering. The third noble truth. This is the greatest supernormal power, the greatest knowledge of all.
Still, in an attempt to satisfy my curiosity. I tend to think of it like this. Imagine the energy we call self is like a glass of water. And nibanna, the deathless, the unconditioned element, is like a peaceful ocean that is not affected by weather, currents, change or any other phenomena. What happens to the water in the glass when it is poured into that ocean? Where does it go and what does it become?
Peace and light
I am enjoying meditating on the breath energy at the moment and moving it throughout the body. It helps me maintain interest and curiosity in the breath as a meditation object, and it feels enjoyable and invigorating.
I place my attention on the cool air going into the nasal cavity and the warm air going out, like the waves of the sea going into a cave, breathing in, breathing out. I become aware of the whole body at once, feel the breath energy travel deep into the body, into the lower belly and down into my feet and toes, making them tingle with happiness. I feel it in my hands also as I breathe in and out. The energy permeating the whole body, like the ocean filling inner coves. It feels cool, soothing, and refreshing. The spine tingles, and the scalp and back of the neck lights up with pleasure. The feeling of air and the touch of clothing on skin feels pleasant, and the body is comfortable and at ease. The cool air all around me enters the pores of my skin with each inhalation, nourishing every fibre of my being. It feels wonderful.
After a while of doing this, the energy becomes more settled and serene, and then it feels good to stop moving the energy round the body, and just let it be, resting quietly in the awareness of the inner body. The energy bubbles and flows gently on its own, and the mind settles into a peaceful state, composed, content and lucid. Not wanting to be anywhere else. The body and mind feels satisfied and becomes very still, no longer harrassing itself, tranquilised and at peace (-:
It doesn't matter if this is supported by science, meditation is not about objective reality. Meditation is about the subjective reality. It is about the inner world, the inner body, inner being. In meditation, the chakras, the breath energy, magic can all be real, and it can heal.
I read an article recently about the power of the placebo effect, and I wonder if that is an indication of the magic potential of the mind when it comes to the subjective experience (-:
I wonder if that was the meaning behind the movie: 'Life of Pi'. If that film was about the importance and value of the subjective experience, because that is where we live.
I am starting to realise that many of our problems are not really problems, they are just mental constructs and imaginary fears that don't need to be resolved at all. They just need to be dissolved by tranquility. Then whatever's left is easier to work with and understand.
Didn't want to get up today. Felt very fatigued. I lay there, persevering with the desire to make effort to move. Then remembered I had to be up in time for a video call with a friend, which helped me reach for that extra bit of energy tipping the balance in favour of wading through the waves of treacle-like resistance in the mind, to once again awaken to another day of life as a human being.
Made and drank some coffee.
Then sat and meditated for an hour, had a peaceful meditation, first time in a while where I was actually very content to just sit there and watch the breath without wanting to be any place else. Felt awareness naturally want to be centred there, and the composure and stillness grew into a peaceful happy sense of the inner body. The physical outer body like the walls of a cave, weathering the worldly winds and myriad sense impressions like rain on a rock shelter; but the inner body felt safe, warm, comfortable and at ease, like being in a bath of warm contented energy.
Knock on the door.
I reluctantly leave my inner cave.
And serenely collect the post.
Then make effort to generate the desire to eat. Some days it feels like a chore to eat food. I try to eat one meal a day, not for special religous reasons, but because I have noticed that eating just one meal a day (between 11am - 3pm) seems to be better for my health. I don't always succeed at this though.
Still not done anything on this assignment. I just can't find the will or inclination to work right now. Decided to go for an epic walk in the chill December evening. The pavements frosted with the fractal patterns of ice flakes. The half moon was bright, shone right into my heart. The sea was still and quiet. One house I walked past had so many Christmas lights up in their garden and they had made like a huge hammock-like string of lightbulbs between one palm tree and another.
These old Victorian houses look magical at this time of year. I feel the spirits of the ancestors coming from them, greeting me with a lovely energy that is hard to put into words, but you can feel it, sense it in the body, in the heart mostly I think, although also everywhere else, even my toes (if that last sentence even makes sense).
It was very quiet, not another person in sight, just lit windows, and I imagined all the different people living their lives and wished them well. Some energy feels really old, serene and wise, and others young like the Spring. Yet there is something that connects us all, whoever we are, an energy I cannot for the life of me find adequate words for. But I imagine you have also felt it too dear reader, and may well be nodding in agreement, because we have all felt it I believe. Something larger than ourselves, something sublime that when you try to pin it down makes it disappear, although it is still there. Perhaps it is the way the mind likes to separate and dissect things, but actually the truth is we are all one, all beings, all matter, we are all a part of it.
This freaky mind-blowing experience of being.
I think I am tired of this world. The violence, sickness, suffering, dirty crooked politicians, programmed TV-eye opinions, egoic delusions, ridiculous flags and wars on this, wars on that, and the guilt... oh God the guilt, we are constantly being made to feel guilty about one thing or another, from just being different in some way, to the shame of not being able to reach the lofty heights of the rat-race. The next thing we are lacking advertised by invisible data miners... and in religion, more guilt... more delusion.. more shame and heavy concrete blocks to carry up the mountain, more fear, confusion and programming.
Can anyone really break free of this?
Is mind itself the prison?
Why did life start? What are we? Why does the body have an expiry date? Why all this striving for something which doesn't last?
Been listening to a lot of 'In our time' podcasts about religion. They have been educational about the origins and beliefs of many of the religions in the world today. I am not a religous person myself, I do not know if there is such a thing as God or creator. I tend to be more atheistic in my belief, but not completely. I am open to changes in perception, I try not to keep my brain stuck in a filter bubble of creed/opinion. There is a mystical element to my psyche that no matter how logical I become, still exists, a part some label the 'God-shaped hole'. I find myself drawn to the mysterious, like a hungry leaf turning towards the sun. I wonder if sometimes it is a yearning for hope in a dark and troubled human world and a feeling of powerlessness to change anything.
I am aware everything I see and experience is relative to me. Nothing is set in stone, each of us experiences this world in our own way and thus form our opinions of it based on those experiences. That is all any one can do; and so noone can ever know everything or what it is truly like to be another. We are organic islands interacting through brief expressions of matter, rotating at 465 metres a second on a planet orbiting a star in a universe of countless, possibly infinite stars and big bangs.
Makes all the life on this planet all the more precious I think, and we should be doing everything we can to preserve it and if that involves changing ourselves to become a more altruistic species then so be it.
Got my headphones on just listening to some sweet tunes. A bit of insomnia but I don't mind. Music is an amazing thing. Sometimes I like writing to the beats, feeling the rhythm and unlocking some hidden or normally inhibited part of my soul through the combination of words and sound. Stories are weaved in the dead of night, some forgotten past where everyone feels at home. The night surrounds the glare of my dimmed screen. There's a curious moth, it sits on the screen for a moment and then flutters away. An artificial focal point that different insects and my brain are drawn to and I sense their life and wish them well. Feel a sense of deep connection to the earth, probably the music, but that seems to just be the key to uncover deep hidden memories of a time long ago when the earth was first born. Maybe those memories are deep in our DNA, and sometimes things unlock them and we remember stuff. Do we carry the memories of all our ancestors? Each of us holding the knowledge of millions of years of evolution, perhaps it may even be possible to go far back to the first single celled life-forms, could the memory of that time be buried deep inside that double helix strand somewhere? We are all related, all creatures great and small, all the different species of life on earth are our kin; if we go back far enough we can all trace our ancestors back to that very first organism.
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