This is an interesting modern situation: an individual meditation retreat, little contact with others and only that which is generated by myself, comfortable and convenient conditions, no deprivation. No TV (I don’t watch it anyway), no music, the occasional YouTube related to Dharma as a teaching and inspiration, deep texts for contemplation, and this computer (ostensibly to lead the morning meditations). By the end of tonight, just about 10 hours of meditation will be the rhythm within a day. I still have the intention to actualize 14 hours a day. This includes recitations, mantra gardening, and walker-walking meditations. As the cars drive by on the busy street outside I feel we are one, and thus the constant mantra of well-being and happiness for all pours out, and the wish that each person realize peace within in order to bring it into the world.
I have pondered this curious situation, meditated on its loose outer conditions and its self-imposed inner ones. My disability meant that a typical, more austere environment could not work; so I am in constant gratitude for the good fortune bestowed upon and offered to me by many, including my mom and Bob for these simple, comfortable accommodations.
I have wondered, can a modern person in a western lifestyle know the middle way regarding choices? Almost everything is readily available and, for most, depravation is simply a dramatic response to inconvenience. The cultural focus on individuality and self-importance has cultivated an adolescence on a societal level. We won’t find that emphasis in the Tao te Ching, the Gita, or the Dharma. My heart trusts that we will steer our way out of our current little recognized mass extreme.
The middle way pondering includes the disparity that too many live as well. As I sit, eating very little but enough, it all is organic and my body is happy to feel slight hunger much of the day. It feels light, healthy, middle. But we all are well aware of the polar opposite of the above pondered demeanor of muchness and entitlement. True lack, malnourishment, real depravation is not an ascetic choice for 99% of those who endure and die from it. It is a result of the ethos of the opposite.
What is middle? How can our attention be drawn to how distracted we are a society? All I know is that I have had to do something decisive to deeply engage the middle way, a way between the pulls, through the center of my preferences and avoidances, so that I might – just maybe – get a clue as to what this “noble” path might be.
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