I guess one makes all the classic mistakes of the young monk, which mainly consist of allowing yourself to be deluded, largely by other people, by attachments and anticipated sensory events in the mind. You're a Buddha, didn't you know, replete with the six radiant lights of the five senses and the capacity of thought, perfect just as you are, and you only have to realize it. You simply need to awaken the teacher within, and that's all you need to do.
But this is hard to do in a consumer-based culture. This is hard to do when you are exposed to constant interruption. We're taught to be dissatisfied with our natural condition, that we need to be doing something. People tell you, oh it's fun if you go and do this, get with the program. You go and do it and it seems like fun, for awhile, but in the end it's a disappointment and you should have simply been doing your own simple studies and reflections, meditating. Or perhaps they tell you, this is the way to be a scholar, a literary chap. That's the way to have a good job, right? This is how to be useful, they say. But they are doing little more than move things from one pile to another, I mean once they have taught you to open up your mind and be a Buddha, the height of thinking and being human, and which goes far beyond the realm of the poet, putting poetry into action. Artist's help, they provide us imagery, but in the end you have to do it yourself, make certain realizations, act with self-confidence, end the confused habits being half in half out.
Everybody's trying to sell you something, it almost seems, not just all the emails and advertisements, but a culture that presses some way of belonging, some way of self-comfort, an identity, I am this, I am that, you should be like this or that, an outside definition intended to make a person dissatisfied with his or her own self. Don't be weird. Go and do this and it will be an adventure. But it all comes down to the simple honest interaction, which is maybe what people find so difficult, which is to communicate deeply about how they really feel. No matter what the situation, people simply trying to talk, something we are all vulnerable toward and need to do even if we act like we don't need to. We all can get so crusted with complexes, demons in the eyes of Jesus' psychological understanding of people.... fake things we should rid ourselves of, the things people seem to do with great confidence when really deep down maybe they aren't so sure.
Yes, it's hard to sell a simple life, not knowing the great benefit, the calm it brings, the aid it brings to the beings of the world. Shift the focus to you. You are sufficient for all you really truly want to do, to be the true person you are. The thing maybe is to not be irritated with yourself, intolerant of your self, when you get up and go about your day. Don't assume such things, the insufficiencies of everything. Turn all that around. Accept yourself as you really are; be kind to yourself. Don't try to be someone you're not, so then you won't have to compensate with silly behavior.
But it's human nature, I know. You think you've found a new answer, a place to go after work for a drink to hang out with other people in the service industry, a temptation after the morally difficult work of serving people, or maybe morally rich is more what I mean, as it takes a higher being to serve others humbly, at least in some ways. Yes, being around the temptation presents a moral problem, don't I know it. Prohibition is not the answer. The answer is finding your self, finding the beautiful presence of the Buddha within, in your own you know somewhat pitiful self, the glory within the too easily-judged shell.
In the process of writing, I had deceived myself many times over, embarrassingly, attached to particular notions that had little to do with reality. This speaks of the impossibility of putting life into terms, into dualistic thought. I had let myself subscribe to many deceptions, whereas in truth the being is complete just as he or she is. And in some strange way I sensed moving onward into, at last, the position of more the teacher, less the student, as would happen naturally over time anyway.
We all are free-standing good people just as we are. We don't need anything. We don't need to long over anything or anyone. To long for something is to be out of touch with reality; sometimes you have to accept, move on, doing so in the name of understanding your own beauty, your own wisdom, your own self-sufficiency.
It is hard for the Westerner to enter into the monastery situation. To do so would seem like joining a cult, by and large. Western society does not take kindly to free-loaders, and will always be skeptical of those who would live off some sort of dole and seem at least to be doing little more than farming and sitting around. And so the monastic life, the Zen community, parts of its life, must move on, follow individual lives in different settings.
To reimagine that life of spirituality, without direct opportunity in a sangha community, yes, I think it's natural to explore bonds with other people, other people who read and write, who think, who venture bravely out of the usual report, who craft words for themselves in order to seek a bond of communion with others, with people they know, with intimately known people.