[NOTE: Originally posted September 6th, 2006]
“Time weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, try to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won’t be able to escape it. Still, you have to go there—to the edge of the world. There’s something you can’t do unless you get there.” -Haruki Marakami, Kafka on the Shore
“One has not only the ability to perceive the world but an ability to alter his perception of it; or, more simply, one can change things by the manner in which one looks at them.” -Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls get the Blues
That’s right. You get two quotes this time around, because I’ve been particularly inspired this week. Now as all you Nancy Drew types out there might have noticed, I left meditation earlier than planned. I’ll take a moment to tell you why. I should preface it by saying that I believe meditation is a powerful tool for exercising the mind, and its importance is largely underestimated by the masses, if not neglected entirely. Also, I’d like to concede that Buddhism has some very good points when it comes to the nature of the mind and inter-relatedness. I left because I decided that my remaining time here would be best spent learning something else, and because I decided that there are particular tenets of Buddhism that I no longer see as the best answers out there. The process of meditation at Wat Thaton was different from what I learned in Doi Suthep, namely because it involves keeping your eyes open, and it does not involve a sort of inner monologue which narrates/directs mindfulness. While conceptually, I think the Thaton approach makes more sense, in practice I prefer the method I learned at Doi Suthep. Once I decided this, I didn’t really think it fair to live on the monastery’s hospitality if I wasn’t going to be adhering to their specific teachings.
Also, I have a thought. I think if you follow any one philosophy or religion through to the letter and do not take into account any other cosmologies, it will make perfect sense. The problem is, there are different ways to understand and describe reality, so now-especially in the age of globalization-people become aware of other ways of explaining things (however disparate of their original views), and they realize on some very basic level that there are other possible answers, and both sides have merit. So, the quest for truth turns first fragile then violent—people choose the religion that makes the most sense to them and do what they can to perpetuate it/destroy the others, so they can feel righteous. And everyone keeps trying ot get back to the basics, go back in time to “the good ole days”, fundamentalism emerges and abounds on all sides in order to highlight the differences in approach and spur conflict. It is an unrealistic goal, this dangerous reminiscence; it defies the notion of the theory of evolution. Evolution is not merely physical, it takes its toll emotionally, philosophically, psychologically, and is above al things practical, determining both individuals and societies. Our modern (and exceedingly rapid) evolution takes the form of technology, and encompasses all the things that are a reality in the world from the effects of the industrial revolution to our advances in artificial intelligence and all the ethical questions that go with it. This cannot be ignored for the sake of trying to re-invoke an idealized world or setting our standards for then. We have to deal with things as they are—differences in ideology exist. We cannot whittle it down to one way of looking at the truth, we can’t continue to glorify regression. Reality is dictated by emergence, creation, mutation—something new must arise to replace our obsession with the idealized past. It is not another religion, another philosophy, it is an understanding. It is not looking at the various religions in existence and taking their best principles, combining these ideas-that would only lead to more confusion as religions are often at odds in the specifics. Life is dynamic, the universe is in constant flux. Everything and thought has at the very least, a dual nature. The essence of reality is contradiction. Every life is a collection of perceptions: good, bad, indifferent, all the subjective perception. The only thing applicable to the masses is that nothing is applicable to the masses except the shared benefits of society (which differ fro person to person). Therefore, to seek out or speak of “one truth” is unrealistic, because it implies that there are others in existence, but that these are inferior truths. Truth is. Everything is encompassed. Every thing and thought is a philosophy, an inspiration, connected. They do not have intrinsic existence alone, but as nothing is alone, so all things exist.
In deciding that my new line of thinking was at odds with some of the fundamentals of Buddhism, I again felt it necessary to leave if I wanted to expound upon them. The above is not me doing that, it’s just my general ranting that led me to my conclusions. If you want to discuss specifics, feel free to write or email me; I’ve taken quite enough time here for something so untravel-like.
After this thought, I left the temple back for Chiang Mai, where I decided it would be nice to become certified in Thai massage. I met a friend in Thaton, Maria, who recommended a school here for me, Loi Kroh Salon.
“Growing up isn’t getting a job, having a house, all of that. It’s saying, ‘I can’t be who you want me to be, and I can’t be who I want to be, so I’ll just be…”
Three quotes! You lucky dog, you! For those of you who don’t know, I bought a plane ticket back to the States which takes off next Monday morning, New York City bound. So, aside from my wish to acquire the paper that allows me to refer to myself as a masseuse, I also wanted some time to just sit and think about the above an reflect on the last year in general. Chances are, I’ll send out one last blog before heading back, though I doubt too much will happen between now and then.