One of the thoughts that's visited me time-to-time over the last week is that it's been nearly four years since the beginning of my online presence and nearly three years since the start of this blog.
Both of those decisions were motivated by a search for Sangha. (By Sangha I'm referring to friends that would be supportive of my efforts to practice and increase my understanding of what the Buddha taught). The start of this blog also marked my decision to get a divorce.
To quote from that first post: "At this particular moment, I am enjoying the not knowing, a sense of hope..."
What was I hoping for? More rewarding connection with other human beings, with a preference for people interested in what the Buddha taught because that was the direction I found most personally rewarding. The opportunity to feel fulfilled at least occasionally.
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As I sit back and review the last four years, I see both positive and negative outcomes:
On the positive side: my on-line Sangha, my brief experiences at Antaiji and Sanshin, a living arrangement that allows more time for studies of the Shobogenzo and provides a quiet place to sit, study and sleep, at least two meals per day, and a local Sangha which although small, without a teacher and not very interactive, does provide me with company during zazen.
On the negative side, my actual interactive contact with people in real life is more minimal than ever in my life before. In fact, it's almost non-existent. One of the negative things I find myself saying to myself sometimes is: Most people in prisons and even the homeless have more conversations in a day than I do.
In short, I seem to have gone backwards in terms of what I was hoping for at the time I wrote my first post. I'm trapped in my circumstances for an unknown amount of time. I'm still trapped in the mortgage I share with my ex and, as a result, my current position. More recently, the double whammy of my mother's recent passing and dealing with what she left behind feels like more than I can stand.
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For the past few months, Bodhidharma's encounter with Emperor Wu has run through my mind repeatedly: