Sunday, January 20, 2013

Inspired by Zencast #399 on Getting What We Want

The Zencast is a great podcast that is a collection of lectures given at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California.  The following is a fictional piece inspired by something I heard in episode #399 about the pitfall of tricking ourselves to feeling that we'll be happy forever when we experience that moment of happiness linked to temporarily arranging the world to our liking.

I got the job!  I got the job!  Holy shit, I got the job!

Those were the thoughts running through my head the moment I heard my boss's words over the telephone.

I'm set forever!  I'm set forever!  Goddamn, I'm set forever!  

That was the translation of the emotional language slithering through my veins like a seductive serpent, brainwashing me into thinking I had suddenly pulled off a magic trick and pulled some impossible imagining out of the ether and taught next to me here in the present.  I felt like my will and nothing else had made it happen, forgetting about the tiring hours I put in studying, tracing all the way back to primary school and all the way up to graduate school.

How could I forget the loans payments that disappear from my bank account each month?  That unforgiving hand collects them without mercy every month, without regard of which friend I have to buy a wedding gift for or which sick relative I must fly to go see or which part of my old car is leaking, sputtering, smoking, squeaking, sagging, oozing, or corroding at the moment.

How could I forget the sacrifices my parents made for me growing up: picking up, dropping off, camps, family vacations, reading time each night, the necessary discipline, the loose reins to balance things out, the pats on the back, the hugs, the kisses, the high fives, the lectures, the speeches, the talkings-to, the groundings, the rewards hidden as nights at the movies, the side-of-the-road ice cream shack, the pizza parlors and baseball card shops?

How could I forget the lucky breaks?  The girlfriends who got me through math, the country I was born in, the city, my race, my gender, the time in history, the teachers and schools I wound up in, the times I didn't crash my car drunk or get pulled over stinking of dope, the fights and bullies that just missed me, the diseases of the body and the maladies of the mind that hit some perfectly healthy seeming kids and not others.

But I did forget.  I forgot to tote my past experiences with me up into this present moment.  My present instead was bursting with vanity and pride.

Me, me, me!

My awareness was flawed, warped like an old record that was left in a hot car.  For a few days I would go on believing that my pure will and nothing else was the reason I got that job.  I would forget about all of the spiritual work I had been doing.  So-long Ram Dass.  Sayonara Suzuki.  I didn't need you anymore.  Wisdom and truth were only for the people without the skill to tap into their will and perform magic on the world.

Lo and behold the days grew long and boring.  The boss who was so friendly on the phone grew annoying and overbearing.  Life became dull and unfulfilled.  I bought a few gadgets with my cash but couldn't think of anything else to buy next.  Expensive booze at expensive bars came next but nobody had anything in common with me at those places.  And the days just grew gloomier, grey clouds blackening my thoughts and heart.

Do you forgive me Alan Watts?  Will you take me back Terence McKenna?

I was back to square one.  I hadn't learned much, I realized, from those masters I had studied before.  They weren't teaching alchemical reality shifting arts, after all, for that would require too much clinging to, and willing of, the future.  They wanted me to be in the moment only and move with the changes as they came.  To ride the waves and dodge the bullets was the goal, never letting anything -- not even the worst crime or the greatest fortune -- knock me down.

And so I will get back up and try again.  This time I will try not to fall.  I will try to remember old Terence's wise words and stay mindful of "the felt presence of direct experience."  Even if that experience was with my new boss.

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