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Epiphany: Part One: Crisis of Confusion

Be patient with me, dear readers..I’ve decided to keep writing the blog, as I seemed to have worked my way thru some things that were blocking my way. I’m calling this series ” Epiphany”, and it’s got three parts: Confusion, Courage, and Compassion. These are straight from my journal entries…

So, life here has been pretty confusing. I’m sure most of my readers gathered this just from reading a few lines of any of the most recent blog entries.

Today was the most confusing day I have had, and one point I was walking around muttering to myself, “Which way is up? Which way is down? What is true? What is untrue?”. At any point, it would not have surprised me if I had fallen into a rabbithole, like Alice in Alice In Wonderland.

Truth be told, this state of confusion had been increasing daily since my arrival here a few weeks ago.

It wasn’t really a confusion about what I believe, it was more a confusion about what the Buddhists here believe. The farther I delved into it, and the more questions I asked, the less I seemed to know! This evening I find this funny somehow, sort of some Buddhist themed joke on me, but up until now, it didn’t seem funny at all.

In fact it seemed kind of scary here. After all, I’m living with 30 people who tell me they believe something, which is kind of unclear to me, and the only things I’ve had to go on are books( good, if I can understand them on my own); people’s behavior(as usual, as with all people, running the gamut from wonderfully good to really selfish and horrid); stuff I’ve found on the internet about this particular group(not especially encouraging); and my own common sense.

I was so confused by what people said-and what they ended up doing..that I fell into a state of utter confusion and depression. The only thing that was holding me together these last few days were emails from home and Jane Austen. That, and what with all those prayers going thru my head over and over, an inclination and desire to hum Beatles tunes and do my rosary more often.

Anyway, something I’ve noticed about life is that people never listen to their common sense, me included. I’m always hoping it will go away, and I sort of side step it and ignore it, in spite of the fact that it is usually right on the money. People don’t like their common sense telling them stuff they don’t want to hear.

Well, my common sense was telling me, from the moment I arrived here, that things were going to be alot different than anything I had expected. But I kept pressing on, moving forward resolutely, waving my banner of my expectations-and when my expectations didn’t get met, I had a meltdown.

But, the meltdown turned out to be a pretty good thing, becasue it’s in moments like these that I often have the most clarity.

I think I was in a state of confusion for a few reasons:

1. I’m living with people who believe something totally different than I do. “Yeah, so what?”, you may ask. “Weren’t you expecting that?”, you may ask as well.

Well, the answer is of course, yes, I was expecting that. But not the way it happened. It ends up its kind of a weird, isolating feeling-which is hard for a social butterfly like me who is always seeking agreement on some level. A new quandry: What if there is no agreement whatsoever?

2. I’m living with people who call themselves Buddhists, but do things quite a bit differently than all the other Buddhists in the world. ” Big deal. So what.”, you may say.

But hey, look at from my point of view. I’ve come all the way here to take a good look at Buddhism, to hopefully find some things out about it, and figure out a way to include their perspective in my world, when I find out..this groups perspective doesn’t match much I’ve read on Buddhism!

3. It’s not an open, ask questions anytime atmosphere here. It’s a little…repressed somehow. It’s just not done. Well, there are times you can do it, but it’s not general conversation. Enough said.

4. Reading the Gurus books has gotten me into trouble.

Having many questions about everything, I naturally was referred to the Gurus books, which I began reading with a searching mind. however, everything I discovered that he was saying, his instructions for life-it was alot different than what I was seeing and experiencing. Which leads back to this not being a place where you can ask whatever comes into your head. Because then you get these strange answers which seem to me to more justify negative behaviors than celebrate positive ones.

5. hey, there’s some pretty weird stuff out there online about this group. How do I deal with that? What does it all mean?

6. How do I deal with the strange stuff, while at the same time, be spending time with some of nicest people I’ve met in quite awhile? How can those two be compatible?

So, this crisis of confusion has literally been that: a crisis. I have kept at it, trying to work my way thru it, but it has worn me down, to the point that I was quite tired and overwhelmed. It’s really tough to be in the middle of something you don’t see good in much of the time and still be trying to see the good in it.

So, I stopped trying to see the good in it, and decided to leave this place. Why not? Thats’ what most people would do. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Yet, it doesn’t make sense on another level.

I realized today that maybe sometimes it’s good to not know what way is up, what way is down. It’s good to not not know what’s next, to not even have a clue.

Why? Because it makes you uncomfortable. And we hate being uncomfortable, we hate that kind of challenge. But out of being uncomfortable, alot of personal and spiritual growth can happen. And that’s whats been happening to me, in spite of the fact that I didn’t even know it was happening.

One of the goals of my trip was to find commonality with others-other people who had drastically different points of view.

So here I am, surrounded by people who seem to genuinely believe what they believe(and it’s a drastically different point of view, not just with me but with many people), and all I’ve wanted to do is…. leave. (Well, for the last week anyway.)

I’ve been utterly miserable.

It’s been more difficult here than it was living with the Ngobe and watching them mistreat dogs in the street.

Tonight I finally realized what a tremendous opportunity this is: it’s a real chance for me to do what I set out to do: find some commonality with others.

Most people never spend time with people who don’t generally agree with them about pretty much everything. We spend all of our time with people like us, who think like us, believe in the God we do, believe in the politics we do, and in general, make us feel right about everything. This makes us feel good. But, when we are around people who challenge all of that, they make us feel bad.

So, unbeknownst to me, clarity arrived, just in the nick of time-before I fell down that rabbit hole!

I’ve come to see that the time I’ve spent here, being utterly confused about what in the world is going on, what in the world is of importance, what are the priorities for this particular group of believers,… has turned out to be a real blessing.

It kind of streamlines in my mind what I am seeking for myself, for this trip, even for this experience where I am at this moment.

I could not have achieved that without lacking it first.

Funny how that works, isn’t it.


Next entry will be on courage-on having enough to stay here, in spite of differences, on overcoming fears, on gaining confidence, and speaking the truth with others.


One response to “Epiphany: Part One: Crisis of Confusion”

  1. Good sikte you’ve got here.. It’s difficlt tto find quality wrioting like yours theae days.
    I onestly appreciatfe perople lkke you! Take care!!

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