If you want to test your Buddhist meditation practice, it is said, go take a family vacation. Nervous automobile passenger mother, overbearing highly successful and organized brother and his wife and little kids, sister in law's parents... I found a point of beach where the sand was flat, two graceful curves of beach to either side, some small boats to the side, piping plovers doing their tiny footed work at the tide's seaweed strewn edge, I did my yoga routine, headstand in the breeze, and then, in lotus, I meditated. And somehow, this miserable bachelor was able to get through it, able to persevere through the deep sting of lonesome feelings being surrounded by capable families with beautiful kids and beach houses up on the Maine Coast.
Funny things will go through your mind in such a situation, and as the mind is not at all a fixed thing, ever changing, the sea of the mind and its memories through an infinite amount at itself. Largely, memories of just about the stupidest most utterly self-defeating actions a young man with his heart set on another person could do, a whole history of them, and then, following on that, the further history of a miserable life, worse and sadder and more disturbing than Humphrey Bogart's Rick from Casablanca. Far less successful. Stinging pain swept by the waves, extending out to the horizon, following you wherever you go, thoughts of the most calumnious foolishness in all creation, as if one wanted to be self-defeating, to, as they say, snatch defeat from the jaws of beautiful victory.
Which is, by the way, the basic story of Scrooge in Dickens' Tale.
So, anyway, what can you do, really, but offer yourself some meditation. None of it was ever mean-spirited, and maybe the fact that comes out of it all finally is that you really loved someone, enough to be defenseless around her. Put your faults aside, the lack of any and all proactive measures besides a very few, the obscenely horrible cruel failure to see one's place within a predictable setting of courtship between two of opposite sex... Put that aside to the extent possible, because you have to go onward and you have to live life.
And yet, perhaps the strangest or most striking realization that came out of the seaside invisible hurricane of huge scale within was that the love, yes, that's the word, the love for this person was still there. In fact it hadn't changed one bit. It had a tangible physical presence, a field of energy, as real as anything. It existed. It was close the core of reality and all its mysteries. It had been lit, during a special meeting, and it had rather flourished, privately, quite well. One felt no need to actively do anything about it, part of its quality and laws. It's presence was enough to reassure any person feeling such that the whole world and all beyond it and everything really is built upon, a manifestation, of love. Unimportant stuff slipped away. Yes, one could say, "well, but nothing ever came of it," which might be true, but on the other hand, at least I learned something, sensed something worth putting into terms even as it seemed out beyond any formable duality of common verbal logical understanding.
(And looking at the length of a person's life and all they go through and the lonesome times they will go through without a firm sense of meaning in life and all the trudging it seemed, contrary to some common sense, actually healthy. It was as if one had discovered something of the Old World, an organic creation shepherded and crafted, useful and practical, something that would in fact never go out of a style or use in the human world.)
"Well, why the hell didn't you act on it?!!" the mind vocalizes at you. To which you, in attempt to retain control, to not let the mind go back to the lobby of a college dining hall twenty seven years ago, respond, "meditate, meditate, picture Buddha, do not judge, learn from it..." as best as you can.
And that's the thing, that love doesn't go anywhere, but remains the principle reality of daily existence, even if you're completely mum about it. Even if to many people's sane mind's estimation, you had descended into... well, what would you call it... poor psychological health, stalking, delusions, etc. And for this writer, and probably any other, the truth is what you're after, rather as if you were pursuing science in a laboratory. Hemingway wrote standing up. I'm working at it sitting on the floor like I was warming up for yoga. Spine straight. Chin up. Breath in; breath out. Daily pressing chores aside for the time being. Drinking my tea. After waking up in a fairly miserable state, "oh fuck here I am back in hot old stinky DC," my Buddhist town, stiff from driving Route 81 through Pennsylvania's mountains and valleys alongside eighteen wheelers on their own paths...
My mother's words, suggesting, are in my frontal mind, "you know so much about health and this blood type diet stuff, why don't you write a book about that, to put it into accessible terms, so that all those obese people you see in the supermarket, fat young kids already ruining their lives, make better choices..."
Indeed, the main image of Christianity comes to mind: "This is my blood... my body;" the three dimensional aspect of the Cross (as if it were a cube, a three-dimensional figure, cut upon and laid flat onto a two dimensional surface); the aspect of being nailed to it, us, the personality, the suffering mind, however you should think about it. Yes, I would agree. Blood Type is one of those things that bears out our own individual manifestations. Blood Type, your basic genetic structure of atoms, determines who you are, how you act, how you respond, how you think, what you will suffer from, what you should allow into your body to enjoy good health. And I think people underestimate this animal aspect of our personal identity. We aren't all cookie cutter cut out obviously. And I might have more physically in common with the Asian or the African person I pass in the street than my own brother, if he is of a different blood type (thus a necessary aspect in the choice in blood or organ donation.)
My father, speaking intuitively, was an organized man. He had broad cheek bones and had Type B blood. (Which my brother inherited, and basically displaying the same sort of thought out accomplishment.) But it was the Blood Type of my mother, O, which I received. Being acquainted with the deepest aspect of his teaching, his profession, I was basically taught to first and foremost be a kind of Buddhist, or a Theosophist, having some basic drive, that is, to understand all things by thinking, by seeing them through deeper understandings, their individual guises falling away to speak of That Which Is. He wrote once in a letter to me how this was my luck of the draw, to have such an old man who thought of such things, such that not many people he would or could converse with about say the repeated manifestations in the time bound world of the wise person, Moses, Abraham, Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, etc.
And maybe, on one level, such lessons are better meant for a practical B, omnivorous survivor descended from the hordes off the Mongol plains who raped every woman they came across as they spread West rather, rather than the older O type person who has to more carefully watch himself in a modern dietary world, who has a propensity for language such that he has to do something verbal to keep control of it, lest his chemistry tip from Joycean clarity into schizophrenia, depression, anger, gloom, and so on. If an O took up such teachings, he would tend to take them seriously, as he would have to take aerobic exercise seriously, as he would have to avoid, seriously, acidic things like hard alcohol, maybe alcohol in general, wheat, potatoes, a lot of dairy foods... He would learn things on a gut level, testing them to for truth the only way he knew how, which is to live the great experiment.
Whatever an O might have to say at the end of it all, maybe that would be wise, who knows. (Perhaps, like Hemingway, or Joyce--Type Os, I suspect--he would leave a record of his experiments and experiences, for others, as they tend to do, to interpret.) What would he have found out after passing through all the shame and mistakes and the passing up, the failure, of a family life, of a career shaped with some common sense and familial input, with some regard for security?
Perhaps he would find that stuff which is wrote about through inklings, the stuff of Paul, the long suffering and unselfish quality of the Corinthian interpretation of that word and what we might mean by it, and how we might better feel it, better understand it, "love." Love doesn't go anywhere. It is passive. It is deep. You meditate to find a way to be in tune with it, the force behind all things, a force you cannot go against, but only with.
That seemed to be the ends of the reflection, spurred on by meditating by the sea amidst a personal cloud of some distressing realizations concerning my failure to act. I began to see that love itself, love too, is Buddhist, that it need not be denied, forsaken as a agent of further suffering, abandoned through an act of willpower. Love existed, a physical presence, as real and tangible as the sky above or the general fact of trees. And maybe the general facts humanity has figured out, that everything exists as a field of atoms and energy revealed by light too became more ethereal in the presence of its power.
Then the little misunderstandings, the awkwardness, the messing things up without ever intending to as if some bizarre will had taken control perfectly against one's own will, all of that receded, for which I was very grateful, even if the suspicion of rationalizing everything floated about. This is why there are love stories, because the depth of the matter is something we are tasked with figuring out. Some of us maybe with more thought than others, some with what seems as comparatively more action.
For me, to figure out the deep agreement between Buddhist tenant and the love that comes to us over a stranger, a special person not from your own family, was a great relief, a means to eliminate a deep rutted practice of self-laceration when the backsliding habits were in play, and they were fairly ruthless. Perhaps this is what is meant by the parable of the House Divided. You can not get away forever with being selfish.
Any such discussion would have to address the things that occupy us on a daily basis, the practical measures of a place in society, rent money, responsible behavior, job, career, child care, food on the table. It follows that in feeling down about yourself you might not be as good at positively working toward such things. There are vicious cycles, vicious circles. How to get out of them but by being positive somewhere within. One way to do that is following intuitions toward deeper understandings that go beyond pettiness.
Maybe, she too, I imagine, was, is, an O type blood person, with the verbal dexterity, the gift for physical comedy, the need for calm to which my intrusions were an upsetting thing, but also speaking of the gift of our immune systems basically liking each other, of finding ourselves basically different halves of the same creature, in need of uniting.
And every time I listened to the deeper self, did something bold like gently bringing her flowers at the end of the school year, I was doing something right, even if it initially upset her. And every time I tried to listen, to figure out, to go into the complicated maze of society-based thought, I was completely stymied and made great mistakes. I remember fondly the things I did based on the deeper stuff, even as I was shouted at as if to send me off forever into the fog. And I always had my father's deeper lessons to take refuge in, and she would take to liking me again soon enough, even after all my foolish inept just plain stupid cowardly behavior, and I would feel very good.
I would forget about it all, if I could. But that's not how things, ultimately emanating out of the love principal, the love supreme, work.
Dear reader, learn from my mistakes. (Hemingway, a fiction writer, not necessarily a perfect Buddhist, wrote about the cowardliness of others, the physical shaking of bullfighter's legs betraying their role, but one might better write about one's own.)