For a long time I wanted a monastery.
Then I wanted one with whom to want a monastery with me.
Then I wanted one with whom to expand this want to include the various ecstasies associated with the insights one imagined would be gained in the monastery, yet are in this living mainly enacted sensually in the body and its play.
All of this was a distraction constantly elaborating itself. It was enchanting; I was enchanted. And like all of those who are enchanted, I could sometimes enchant, and bring others into and along with my dreaming.
Yet all of this was not an expansion of my living, nor a recognition of our shared foundation in love, much less a bringing forth of love. It was more in the nature of forcing enclosure on the free expression of life, which inevitably choked and strangled it, causing stagnation and frustration.
Our mental anguish and psychological struggles are not separate from our body’s ability to conserve itself and take joy in its conservation (by wanting this form of living over another – the monastery, say). The one specifies – or mirrors, perhaps – the other.
Moreover, our suffering is never personal, but involves the collective (again, through specification or, if you like, mirroring). The culture, as such, moves in us as much as we move in it. By definition, we neither thrive nor suffer alone.
Therefore, it is imperative that we address our unhappiness, as and where it is experienced, and see if it cannot be remade into happiness, as and where it is experienced, and if it can be so remade, how it can be, and what contribution we might make to the project.
As it happens, what arises naturally is happiness and love, and yet as human beings who are capable of reflection in and through language, what also arises is division and fracture (this is the observer/observed divide, which is basically a misinterpretation of what self-reference is) so that happiness and love, while not obliterated, are blocked and obstructed, which sickens us, in our both our aloneness and our togetherness.
Attention given to the blocks, which are simply attempts to enforce and/or restrict patterns of thinking (see the previous reference to enclosures), is healing because it undoes the blocks. Through attention one sees that they cannot actually force life (through projection) into any given pattern and so gradually simply attend to the patterns that are given.
The result is ease and gratitude and inner peace, which naturally extends itself by teaching itself how to recognize and remember itself.
You could picture a flowing river: its steady flow towards the sea, the many eddies and currents rising and falling and appearing, both on its surface and deeper down where one cannot physically see (but can feel when they stand in the river).
Could you step into the river and with your hands or your mind or any other aspect of your living turn the river around? Stop it in its channel? Turn it to ice? Or to sand?
You might interrupt it in some insignificant ways. You might end this or that eddy. But you cannot stop the river on your own.
I realized that I did not need a monastery, because no monastery was given, and thus wanting a monastery was the source of considerable anguish and grief (for which, I imagined, the monastery, or the one with whom to want a monastery, or the one with whom to play at the healing one imagined was implicit in the monastery was a cure).
Once the longing for the monastery dissolved, more or less, what remained was the peace one had long projected unto the monastery and unto the one with whom the monastery might be simulated (romantically, intellectually, sexually, familially, et cetera).
What was left was the living that lives itself, outside of time, and without conditions or qualifications that would separate it from any other living. I realized that this living was itself all that was given, and that it was sufficient – it was more than sufficient.
And so the work becomes attending the bringing forth of love in this living, not by enclosing it or by forcing it into this or that form, or by looking away from it towards some imagined other living, but by simply noticing it as it is.
What one notices – and I resist this mightily, still – is that the discrete self is also merely another object, like a coffee cup or a dog or an idea of justice. It too appears, no more important or less important than any other appearance. And the light in which all these appearances arise – call it Christ, call it consciousness, call it your Heart Light, call it whatever – does not distinguish between appearance. It is a light that does indeed fall on the just and the unjust alike, the preferred and the not-preferred alike.