POSTCARD #199: CHIANG MAI, THAILAND: the two hundredth postcard leaves this keyboard with a question I’m hoping will find an answer. There’s more of a familiarity with the characteristics of my perpetual headache, but the months slip by and I’m postponing the plan I had to come to terms with the dependency on the medicine I need to numb the pain. Future time slides into present time, tomorrow becomes today, and everything I was doing a moment ago has disappeared into the past again – the enhancement created by the meds masks many things. No sooner has it been seen than it’s gone. On the rebound, senses are alert, listening, feeling, searching… how can this be? But I’m caught in the conundrum of not being able to see it’s the searching for the way out that maintains the state of being lost.
After the illness came to stay (September 2015), it took a while to focus on the functioning of Mind as I’d previously known it; as the cognitive sense, the sixth sense that knows the other five senses and knows itself as the ‘self’ until attachment to that self aspect is seen through. Everything from there onwards is understood in a different way. There’s the seeing of events without the story and it all can be deconstructed carefully – indeed nowadays, there’s a fascination with this investigation, somehow believing that by taking things to pieces I’ll be able to see where the problem of dependency lies. But the investigation goes deeper and deeper, Mind changes its focus, and I discover I’m not able to find what it was I was looking for because I’ve simply forgotten the train of thought that brought me here. An uncomfortable place of attachment to something but no idea what it is. It doesn’t seem worthwhile to try to return to how things were before I started this, even if I could remember how it all fits together, which I can’t. Besides, things being as they are, putting it back together is impossible because everything has changed.
The confusion of mind like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing that can only be put together in chunks and not ever completed, means there’s always this dissatisfaction and returning to it again and again; this coming-back to look for the beginning of it… then, as if to remind me, and before I am properly aware of it, the parts come together as a felt pain. A thought now appears in a small window and the recognition of it as pain unfolds with ‘me’ suddenly playing the role of the person to whom this is happening – this is a story about ‘me’ and I’ve learned to take the dosage as soon as possible, and I leave the story and the window closes.
In the vast ease that follows I recognize an important piece of the puzzle; selected attention affects perception. What I think is the solution has been displaced by my attachment to searching for it. So, it just looks like it’s complete because time has moved on in the duration of thought arising, and everything now has the quality of being seen in hindsight.
In the peace and quiet ease of those moments when there is no driving urge to take the meds to correct this perceived pain, it’s possible to see that my attention to it is both the problem and the solution; trying to get what I want or to get rid of what I don’t want, but unknowingly caught in attachment to it. The desired state I’m seeking already belongs to ‘me’. Everything I have, everything I want, all of this is ‘mine.’ Even the pain, that which I consider to be the thing I hate the most, is also ‘mine’. What to do? How to learn the skill of detachment in these circumstances?
How wide are the horizons of the spinning earth! The moonlight leads the tides and the sun’s light will not be confined within the net of heaven. But in the end all things return to the One. The deaf and the dumb, the crippled and deformed are all restored to One’s perfection. [Hsu Yun]
Photo: detail of a Wat Poh Guardian taken by P Henderson. Note: special thanks to Ellen Stockdale Wolfe who kindly sent me the link to the video below of Mooji’s remarks about pain. Go to 25.50 to bypass a lengthy introduction
I don’t know what to say Tiramit, other than I wish this problem would leave you. Kind thoughts and hugs.
Thanks for your support Jude, they say it may change after 5 to 7 years but I read an email from someone who still has PHN and 13 years have gone by. Seems to me I have to stabilize the dosage and learn to live with that situation – not impossible.
Not impossible but not an inspiring outlook. Sometimes life is just a real sod.
Thank you for your thank you. As one who is herself lost I can offer no answers. I am new to Advaita Buddhism, having been introduced to Mooji almost two years ago,and very much, dauntingly much, still learning. I wonder if this life will offer me time enough. It does not seem likely. But I try. I am not quite sure whether it is the attachment to the meds which is bothering you or their effect on the mind. Since I am on multiple meds for 40 years now for Bipolar I sympathize on many levels. I have had to accept this situation to some degree. On the acceptance side, I see the meds as not different from food. We need food to live. Are we attached to food? Yes. What
I find it quite strange that I used to be writing a reply to you about is it ‘the attachment to the meds which is bothering you or their effect on the mind?’ It’s a kind of tables-are-turning, switcheroo. Now I’m in the position of having to accept as you have done that it is both. I’m so glad to hear you say the meds are like food and we need food to live. I’ve been struggling with a kind of guilt at times about having to take meds in the first place – one doctor I went to see said as much and I stopped seeing him. I’ve had PHN for only six months and getting used to the idea I have to form a working relationship with the meds and be done with it because there’s no other way to live with the condition.
Oh, yes, I do remember writing you about meds. Good you fired that doctor. My parents thought medication was a crutch and I tried to explain but it was very hard and caused doubts in me. Sometimes I was trying new meds and having awful side effects. So, no, I would not say meds are a sign of weakness but rather doing what you have to do to live a functional life and not be a burden to those who surround you.
Exactly, the doc was saying it was a crutch and my problem was I needed to get out a bit more and not dwell on it so much. It created bouts of guilt and self-doubt. But I’m past that now and we had a chance to meet our old doctor from Switzerland who was on holiday in India and she came round to see us. It cleared up a few doubts in Jiab’s mind I think. Good also you mention that the difficulties are side effects, and the fact is the meds are doing such a lot of good, able to live a normal life etc. This kind of thing is very helpful, thanks again…
Sorry, the comment flew off my phone before I was finished. What is the belief about food and attachment. I see no difference. On the other hand, it seems the class of drugs you are taking are in the same family as the ones I am taking, in addition to other ones I am taking and a huge YES, they do make detachment difficult. I remember before medication, being able to go into higher states, perhaps states of transported detachment, at will. I miss that so much and keep coming back to wishing I could throw away these meds that have filled me with attachment, to them and to much more. Like relationship with husband and friends, etc., material things. I am trying so hard to do what was effortless before. Is this what you are talking about? I think Mooji would say this is a mind problem and can be overcome and I have asked this question but he has never answered this particular question of mine. Perhaps none of this is relevant to your situation or is what you are battling. Anyhow perhaps grace will provide us both with an answer.
Thanks for part 2 Ellen, I’m benefitting from this comprehensive observation caused by your phone deciding to send before you were thinking of it. Also glad to hear you say YES detachment is difficult with this class of drugs. I’m now in a kind of muffled state of seeing things (mostly conceptually) that I’d only see sometimes or never before I started on the medication. So it’s difficult to tell what is real and what is not as Bob D said in one of his songs. It’s a different kind of reality or the same reality widened. I’m causing others who are close to me some distress with the sudden increase in weight and dull grey-looking eyes. But being careful about that of course. Otherwise constantly looking for new cures and a new way of seeing it. The most recent Mooji video you sent was a bit difficult for me because the man asking the question seemed to me to be suffering from a relatively light disorder and Mooji was replying to that state of mind and I’d have preferred it if Mooji could have been more direct. I have to look at it again but I can’t agree with it being ‘a mind problem and can be overcome.’ So thanks again for your comment here.
Not exactly sure what you mean by seeing more things on the meds than before or focusing on more. Quite honestly the meds slowed my thoughts down BUT they did take away what I called just “being” like a tree, the feeling of oneness. When I complained to my doctor about this, he said that I was lucky the meds worked for me because for some people they don’t. So that put me in my place but even now, or especially now, following Mooji, I miss those states of consciousness. And my therapist says Mooji’s weakness is that he is not too good with this kind of problem. Honestly I don’t think he knows about these medications. I love him but he has his limits. And, yes, the atypical or newer antipsychotics cause a big weight gain. I didn’t know Neurontin did, too. Zyprexa is the worst and that was the one I weaned off of after 20 years on. I lost 20 pounds. Don’t know about the grey eyes. As my doctor says, and my husband says, it’s all a trade-off. Maybe you’ll be lucky and the headaches will go away. I hesitate to call it a headache. I am sure it’s much more like you said a stabbing pain. Migraines are not just a headache either but a whole neurological condition including nausea. But you are a survivor I think and you will survive and maybe even come out ahead.
When I say I’m seeing more things while on the meds than when I wasn’t, I mean that the meds create an altered state. I didn’t start off with extremes as you describe; ‘being’ like a tree, the feeling of oneness – something awesome like that really is a major experience. I’m just seeing smaller perceptual differences.
I agree that Mooji is not too good with the ordinary practicalities of dealing with health issues. His is a more inspirational teaching. About the weight gain, I was told it could happen and didn’t notice it at first. Life is pretty grim with a headache condition that has no solution and the attraction of comfort food gets way out of the normal. I’m 6 foot 1 inch and now 105 kilos about 230 pounds and before this happened I was 90 kilos about 198 pounds, which is a bit overweight anyway. Not enough exercise everyone is telling me. I really must get on with that.
I like to think the headaches will come to an end one day but can’t get into wishful thining – slowly giving up on that. If there is a miracle drug, vitamin compound or food supplement that fits with everything, I’ll be overjoyed but right now I’m looking at all the cures without expecting too much. Thanks for your words of encouragement…
Thank you, Tiramit, for corroborating what I have discovered is true about Mooji. I am so tempted by the prospect of being able to just “be” again but know it would be irresponsible to go off the meds. I really hope some alternative comes through for you!! What is one to do about issues of detachment and higher consciousness when medications alter the brain chemistry?
Mooji is saying the answer to all our problems is right here and you can find it in an instant, the same kind of immediate teaching about non-duality that depends on a charismatic teacher, or one who has been ‘there’ (here) and is able to express it skilfully. I find Rupert Spira is really articulate. And yep, what to do about detachment in the context of altered brain chemistry? It’s a bit erratic at times for me but the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and returning to the simple awareness of ordinary being, as an ordinary being. And mindfulness as found in life/death tightrope-walking, not the popular cult mindfulness that’s all over the internet these days.
wishing ease for the head
& joy in the heart 🙂
Thanks, it’s this I was looking for when I framed the question…
Even if those natural supplements that i mentioned previously don’t seem to work well right away, i would suggest continuing to take them anyway. It takes time for them to work and for the levels to build up; plus they are safe. Hoping things improve soon! 🙂
Thanks Tom, I haven’t followed through with your suggestions yet, it’s been a bit of a rough road these last few months and for a while I was bombarded with possible cures, didn’t know which way to go. Going a bit crazy with frustration as there are no native English speakers in my world other than in the blog circles and Thailand has developed its own way of doing things. So, anyway I’m attending a clinic right now that’s giving me a detox and a real blast of vitamins by way of IV drip. I’m spending about 6 hours a day on it this week before going back to India. I’ve not been able to get a response from them about Alpho Lipoic Acid and L-Carnosine. Same with MSM. And also DHA in Krill oil. I’ll look into this once I’ve finished the present course of treatment. Thanks for your support.
Is the pain in fact yours, or are you only the knower of the pain? Is there a meaningful difference there?
Thanks Mel, I need to focus on this kind of thing more than I do. The simple answer is that my thinking processes are a bit blurred lately. I understand the question – seeing the attachment and ‘self’ as in the one to whom the pain is happening. Or being aware the pain is present, in the same way hot weather is present, coldness, emotional states etc. It’s a high level of practice to be able to go much further than simply see it’s happening without a self before getting sucked into the immediacy of the experience, the meds are a bit destabilizing too. The difficulty right now is accepting this is how it is, pain in the head every day for the rest of your life; I’m struggling with this as I’m sure you’ll understand, not able to have the required detachment, but I agree it’s the way to go. Thanks for your input…
Yes, not an easy state to enter and maintain.
It’s a valuable thing to be able to simply know that this is the right way to go. Maybe when things settle down I’ll be able to follow through with it…
I hope your experience of of this severe pain is one of a shorter duration (that the rest of your life). I don’t know how I’d feel in your situation as at least I have the occasional pain-free day, so I know with every bad day (or night) there’s sure to be a day of freedom (from suffering) coming along….. some time…..some day. I don’t have to take analgesics every day and every night now I’m not working. I’ve kind of gotten use to Pain (some days). It’s become my (almost) constant companion.
Initially, one of the hardest things when one is affected by Chronic Pain is the constant offers of treatment or cure. Everyone has a ‘miracle’ cure or treatment. Everyone ‘knows something’.
But nobody is You. You are the person suffering. And only You know what if feels like.
A couple of weeks ago I went for a long walk and reached a point of such excruciating pain towards the end of that walk, that I did a little panic and wondered how I’d get home. My foot pain felt like I was walking on shards of glass and each foot connecting with the ground tore through my legs and ultimately through my spine, but that day, like several in past years, I seemed to reach a state beyond pain when time disappeared and when it reappeared I was walking in my front door. This is not the first time I have lost a sense of time and reality when in pain. Nerve pain is one of the worst we can experience, but I know that sometimes one can move beyond it.
I just wish I could summon that ‘beyond time & reality’ at will and use it as a therapy/treatment. But I can’t. It happens when I least expect it and I’ve come to know that it’s possible, just not the way of conjuring it up at will.
Thanks for dropping in Vicki. I feel for your difficulty with chronic pain on that long walk. I carry meds and a bottle of drinking water every time I go out and I’m just grateful that the meds I have keep the pain away and all is well and good at the moment. But doctors have said I should reduce the dosage because the body gets used to the amounts and I’ll have to increase and increase until I’m beyond the effective range of the meds. I tried doing that, reducing and got a clearer idea of how to manage the doses, but the docs say I’m still taking too much. So I’m worried out of my mind sometimes and taking a reality check every now and then. I’m aware of side-effects even now, and it’s only been five months.
I too wish I could summon that ‘beyond time & reality’ at will as a therapy/treatment. But it’s a learning-by-doing thing. Severe pain comes in waves, a stabbing pain in the head that seems to go right into the center on the right side. Quite scary and at the time it happens I can’t rationalise the fact that this is the facial nerves telling the brain there’s a a problem and there’s nothing wrong, a kind of misfiring or something, it’s a mystery. At the beginning I had such total pain I’d drop down to the nearest chair or support and just roll around in agony. It’s not like that now because I have the meds that keeps it out of the way, during the day I feel the pain as if behind a wall; not severe. First thing in the morning it comes on as soon as I wake up and so I’m in the habit of getting up at around 05.00 to eat something so I can swallow pills and not feel sick. The main meds are Gabapentine, Lyrca and another I can’t remember the name right now. If I balance it right, I can take the night time meds and wake in the morning feeling pain-free more or less. I expect I’ll get to know how to do this in time, it’s a learning process.
All the advice I’ve had here in the blog has been helpful. Some doctors I went to see have been quite unpleasant about it, my main difficulty is finding a neurologist who speaks English well enough to conceptualise in the way I do (the way most people in USA, Europe, Australia do). The attitude to chronic pain here is weird. So thanks again for sharing your experience on Pain, it’s very helpful to have this kind of input…
I’ll just add in that after my first back surgery I was taking pain killers around the clock (as I have that horrible pain/inflammation condition of Fibromyalgia as well as nerve root compression in 2 levels of my spine). After 4 weeks I stopped taking them ‘cold turkey’ and had a terrible reaction. Definitely drug addiction. Same with anti-depressants in 1998 after a nervous breakdown at work (the breakdown was partly to do with not coping with the constant pain while trying to do a stressful job). The psychiatrist didn’t tell me to ween myself off anti-depressants slowly.
I find many drugs stop working after 3-4 weeks full-time use, so try hard not to take them 24/7. Trouble is, that having 3 separate pain conditions myself, I understand that it gets unbearable and one gets desperate.
I have been down the path of unsympathetic doctors too. Must be hard in a country where English is not the main language and the medical system is different to that in modern Western countries.
Thanks for the advice Vicki, it sounds like you have gone through all kinds of suffering – my sister has Fibromyalgia and suffers as you do I think, and mostly in a world of no understanding – if people can’t see the cause of your condition they tend to think it’s not there.
But you have such a good understanding of things associated with pain, yet you take such carefully arranged photos of flowers and the birds on your balcony! Interesting, it means your mind is clear, unaffected by the suffering.
I sometimes think I’m dwelling too much on the negative side of things and tend to see nature as a distorted thing. It’s necessary for me to review and do everything in terms of the Four Noble Truths. Wanting things to be different from what they are is the cause of suffering, but there is a way out and that is the Noble 8-fold Path. It applies to everything.
The drug I’m taking is Neurontin and it’s been about five months now taking it in excess then getting it back to the recommended dose for a while then off again. The cycle repeats like that as I’m trying to get it into some steady kind of pattern, but maybe it’s not that sort of thing. You’ve got to be realistic. And yes it’s an ongoing problem trying to figure out what the doctors are thinking here in Thailand and in Delhi there’s just such a lot of male ego sloshing around it’s hardly worth adding anything to the conversation. So I’m just finding out everything I can about PHN and really there’s not much more to learn – unless some real miracle cure is discovered, unlikely since the pharmaceutical companies have the patent on this…
It’s understandable to dwell on the negative when in such excruciating pain 24/7 (without drugs 24/7 I mean).
But for em, after all this time (35+ years), it took my giving up a stressful job and all the ‘normal’ routine of daily life to begin to change my mindset. I reached a point of such suffering – mentally and physically – I didn’t care if I lived or died. I quit a job and all means of financial support with no way to support myself or pay off the mountain of debts I had accumulated. (fortunately I was at an age where I could access my Superannuation or Retirement Fund, so used some of it to pay off my debts and support myself while I went through the process of applying for a Government Disability Pension). I still have days of depression or feeling down and periods of such severe pain I once again contemplate ending it all, but it was taking up Photography and becoming obsessive about the challenges of doing it with poor eyesight and constant back pain that finally changed some of my negative and self-destructive thought patterns. I guess it was the challenge or goal that steered my mindset into a more creative frame. I felt like I had stopped being a Chronically Ill Person and had become a Photographer (who just happens to have Chronic Illness and pain). I know it’s only a title, but it turned around my life. I concentrate on being Mindful and the small everyday things. eg. I’ve been bogged down by household chores in my new(ish) light bright white apartment, but cleaning the enormous glass windows regularly starting stretching my spine and I discovered I had less pain, so I’ve come to enjoy the task. Most people might say…why bother, the window only gets dirty again. You could be going outdoors enjoying a walk in the sun, instead of wasting your time cleaning. But what they don’t understand is that cleaning the windows makes such a profound difference to my daily life and outlook. It stretches my muscles and soft tissue, it reduces my pain, it gives me clear vision to see out and enjoy the view. It gives me a sense of achievement in a job well done. It gives me a sense of connection with the clouds and sky (and therefore Nature and the world outside my door).
So a boring tedious job has become a thing of joy and pleasure. It may well be that you are new to Chronic Pain and have had good health in the past. It’s still relatively new (this Pain thing that is your constant Companion), so you haven’t actually been able to adjust to this new way of living yet. Perhaps you are still in the throes of resenting it’s intrusion in to your life and find it hard to accept that this is your new life (for some time to come anyway). I’ve written on a couple of health forums about Acceptance and Moving on. It’s extremely difficult to change, but for those who have changed their mindset, there comes liberation from the label ‘chronic debilitating pain’. What I’m saying is that perhaps you need to become Tiramit again, not Pain (who just happens to be Tiramit).
I stopped being my illness and finally, become Me again. Having said that, my neck, shoulders and back are really hurting now so I need to get off the computer and stand up and walk around for a while. I’m lucky enough to be in control of my day and activity, I can stop in my tracks and do something different. I’ve still got another 7-8 emails to view or answer, but who cares. At the touch of a finger I can delete every single one (if I wanted to). I can go for a walk. It may reduce my pain somewhat, by changing position and use (of the muscles overwhelmed by pain). It may not (in fact, it may become worse). I have a certain level of control of this Pain thing. I can accept it or I can try to reject it. The Pain won’t change (probably), but the way I think about Pain will.
Clouds do not change the sun, clouds just mask it from your immediate vision at this particular time. The Sun is a constant.
You’re right to feel a sense of achievement! I think anybody reading this would agree that there’s the sense of it really being a success story. So next time you fall into depression, you can remember that many people are impressed by your strength and ability to get through it; getting on with it, no matter what. The bit about cleaning your windows is something you should write a post about – maybe you did already, but the spontaneity of how it’s expressed here is worthy of a post.
As for my situation, you’re right I’m new to Chronic Pain, although I am a cancer survivor (20 years ago) and experienced pain in the abdomen I couldn’t believe! The difference is/was, I expected to get better again and I did.
So now I’m at the early stage of not yet accepting it’s going to be like this from here on – me and my companion, the Pain. But there’s something really meaningful about what you said; I’m the new ‘me’, I need to become Tiramit again, not Pain (who just happens to be Tiramit). Yes, it’s a life-changer, I see also from your account of quitting your job and taking the funds out to re-order priorities. And yes, getting used to the pain as you get into position for the photo, knowing what you can do and what you can’t. That must be an added quality about the pictures.
I’ve started to explore health (PHN) forums as you have done, still looking for a cure and really it doesn’t help. Most of the nice people I read about who have this condition, have no cure and there’s depression and complications about trying to balance the meds and trying new meds, and more new meds and never getting anywhere with it. So, in this context, I find it inspiring to read your words: ‘I stopped being my illness and finally, become Me again.’
Thanks for all this Vicki, I’m grateful…
Today is a migraine day. I am drinking honeyed ginger tea for the nausea– ginger tea is also good for inflammation in the body and I think coffee is, too. Have you tried either or both? Easy enough and worth a try. But that’s not why I am writing. You said that people don’t want to hear about pain and, by implication, you shouldn’t write about it but this has been one very helpful and interesting post and something worth talking about. I really like the comment from the woman claiming victory because she washed her windows. It made me feel so good. I have become a recluse due to migraines and mental illness and other physical ills. And yes, cleaning, doing the laundry, doing a post… these things are major victories. My “normal” friends are trying to meet with me and I can’t do it much, lately not at all. They are well meaning and I know getting out of the house is good but at this point it is a bug stressor, mainly from the mental problems, so I claim small victories at home. The victories are small but that is good for humility. And emails to people and some online activism, these are my minute contribution. Your blog is great, Tiramit, and you touch lots if people and it is even more admirable that you do it in constant pain! You offer hope to those of us battling mental and physical illness. It is also important to find some one thing you can do (besides eating) that gives you happiness and joy even though the pain. I am going to send you something later that gives me great joy.
I hope the migraine has gone or lessened in intensity in the few hours since you sent this comment. Jiab drinks ginger tea with honey, slices up the ginger root and boils it for about 20 mins. Then adds honey. I find it an overwhelmingly attention-seeking drink and avoid it. I haven’t tried it as an aid to coping with migraine nausea but maybe I’ll try it. Thanks I’ll remember this.
Yes I did say that people don’t want to hear about Pain, but of course I’m talking about readers who don’t have pain. They don’t want to hear about it as all Pain sufferers know themselves very well. I’m starting to notice people I used to trust and get along with now, when I reach for the Pain meds, going, aw… yeh (looking sideways), as if to say well, here we go again.
So any kind of dialogue with Chronic Pain sufferers is good as far as I’m concerned. I understand what you mean about people being reclusive in their ways of coping with Pain. Maybe we can do a little dialoguing about this here. I was really motivated by Vicki’s struggle and what she said about washing windows. It’s a kind of bravery to get on and do things you discover are helping in some way or even if they are unfolding as part of the discovery about what’s possible.
Just talking about it with fellow sufferers is enough. I like what you say here about small victories, and humility. Keep it small, no large scale projects. All you need is a keyboard and an internet connection. I’ll always be interested in what you have to say about Pain. It’s something I have to learn about.
Thanks Ellen for saying these nice things about my blog. It’s all I do nowadays although I’d like to do some more Art, but then I have to face some difficulties there of course due to low self esteem. It could be that writing is all I’m able to do. And I’m not always in Pain at this time because I’m going overboard on painkillers. Late nights are bad for me, and pillows (cruel pillows) if I can’t sleep and don’t want to take the strong meds because it’ll mean I have to be awake and I need to rest. If I don’t suffer that too much and get enough sleep, I can cope during the day. The problem is, there’ll come a time when I have to go on stronger doses and then what happens after that is losing touch with ordinary reality. I suppose it’s happening now. Some of the things I say really make people back away from me and I am reclusive as a result. So it’s good for me to spend some time, a lot of time reading and writing about this subject, let’s see what develops from here.
It seems your pain and your experience of it as you relate it in these words becomes a focused and amplified image or metaphor of human existence. I step back and I see my life with all of its desires, seekings, attachments, disappointments and pains just an eyeblink in time, in all the times I have lived through, in all the times yet to come. but then I come back to breathing, seeing, hearing, physical feelings, reflecting …
That’s a nice way to put it; a focused and amplified image or metaphor of human existence. As I see it, this is what I’ve learned from Theravadin Buddhist practice and that’s the only way that makes sense to me; the way I’m going to get along with, and how best to live the rest of my life – things being as they are, causes and conditions. I also like the eyeblink metaphor, all the complications we get stressed about just gone like that, a huge relief. Thanks Ben Naga, there’s a lot of wisdom in what you say…
Just as there is always a lot of wisdom in your posts. I do wish your headaches will come to an end. My wife has severe headaches, although not perpetually thankfully, so I know something of terrible it is.
It’s really strange how I started this blog talking at length about suffering in the context of the Buddha’s teaching. Then karma, causes and conditions result in me having something substantive to say about suffering. But it’s not the kind of thing people want to read about. So my task is to present it in a more positive way. That’s how the karma ends up for me, and maybe that’s the wisdom too. Sorry to hear of your wife’s headaches, it’s necessary to have a positive view, or at least find your way back to a positive view really as much as you can…
I was moveed to send you this:
POEM ON HIS BIRTHDAY
This morning I reflected
That today I am the same age as you were
When I was as much younger than you
As you are now older than me
This just goes to show
The kind of thing that happens
When you start calibrating
What you should be celebrating
So what’s to celebrate
What of worth then
Gathered from the years?
That it’s not what you see
It’s the way that you view it
It’s not what you do
It’s the why that you do it
It’s not what you’ve lived
But the way you lived through it
And that’s what really counts
That you should neither judge nor aggravate
The turmoil that surrounds you
And everything is already perfect
Whether you like it or not
Why rush around in pursuit of pleasure
When you could simply enjoy
The suffering you already have?
That there’s more to the I
Than meets death
And even if you’re dead important
You’re not important dead
Of course I forget most of this stuff
For pretty much of the time
But I wanted to make my birthday
A day to remember
Thanks Ben, I often reflect on the life I’ve lived just leaving it alone; this is how it is. It’s really a worthwhile thing to focus on everyone I know who died. Those who died young, misadventure, and those who managed to make it into respectable seniority, like my mother who died while I was holding her hand, the last lesson: This is how you die son, watch me now… I gave her a sip of water, then with a short gurgle in the throat she was gone. But I’m still not as old as she was, so by the law of averages I still have about 12 years.
Today I am the same age as he (in his individuality) or she was when I was as much younger than him or her. Yep it’s getting to be more and more like this with each passing day. The people I’d admire and respect, or fear and dread. And even if you’re dead important, you’re not important dead.
This particular stanza is meaningful: you should neither judge nor aggravate the turmoil that surrounds you, everything is already perfect whether you like it or not. How many times have I thought it was all meaningless and I’d wantonly disturb the way things are. And now I’m in awe of how it just is as it is…
Sending you peace and contentment.
Wish you the strength to carry-on with finding that light that awaits you ~ you are in a good place to do so. Take care.
Thanks Dalo, just visited your site and the post titled: THE LIFE OF DACHAU ~ ON QUALITY AND GIVING UP. The photos and short pieces of text really say something about the value of life. In ordinary life I suppose as you get older your world shrinks and at the same time you have much greater insights. So that anyone who has any kind of chronic suffering doesn’t notice it in the way other people do, just constantly amazed by the scale of it somehow…
You say it so well ~ the older I’ve gotten, what I see and value has changed and in a sense has gotten simpler due to greater insight. Finding happiness I think is where I wanted to go with the thought – but it is not just happiness, and thus quality is how I measured the value. Thank you very much.
Thank you for these kind words. And yes, it is not just happiness, the problem with ‘happiness’ is that it comes with a heavy dose of attachment. Here’s a quote I found somewhere: The Buddhist way is detachment, or non-attachment, a state in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and thus attains a heightened perspective.
Beautifully said, it partially explains how as I’ve gotten older I do not pursue happiness (as it does come with attachment), but something beyond…doing what is right. With Daoist philosophy it is simply the way. Buddhist philosophy is something I’d love to learn more about.
I can give you a few pointers. The Buddha provided a map for people to use to find the way out of suffering. It begins with the idea of self inquiry, the investigation. I follow the Theravada path and Vipassana meditation. There are many publications in Theravada Buddhism that help us to analyse the mind. Some people understand it immediately others take a longer time. Here is a link that will introduce you to the important things to understand at the beginning. It’s a good thing to read about how the Buddha came to leave his home and go in search of truth. It applies to many of us in the West brought up as a child with access to all kinds of education and privileges yet we ignore all the advice from our elders and walk out on all of it, to discover what to do ourselves. If there’s anything else I can help you with, please let me know and I’ll try to do that.
This is fantastic ~ thank you very much Tiramit. The summary you give of the importance of Buddha leaving his home and the relevancy it has to those of us who have had so much access to education/privileges holds such a strong thread of truth. I look forward to learning more. Wish you a great day.
I’m glad you found it fits with your view of the world…
I know your frustration. I’ve been struggling for years. After my surgery I’ve haven’t felt good yet. I beg the doctors to reduce my medications but it seems they keep increasing them. Like you I believe I should have control of my body that my will and mind can conjure what ails me. I don’t like saying it’s age but there is no other answer. All I can say is one day at a time.
Thanks Kimberly, I’m coming to see it this way too. If it is aging then the frustration aspect of it may be seen as something we got into when we were younger, expecting things to be different from what we’d’ve preferred them to be. No time left if it is aging, and I don’t like saying it either but there is no other answer. So then frustration moves in the direction of acceptance and there’s a familiarity about this. Some easing to be found in that, and the world gets smaller, tiny increments of movement towards something better than this, re-learning skills, yep one day at a time.
May today bring light and lightness your way T. 💛
Thanks Val, reading your post here and suddenly it’s dawn, birdsong distracts me…