I made quite the break through on this trip to the Philippines and thought I’d do my best to share. I want to thank Master Wang for being a walking, talking example of where I wanted to get. “Bee” who has been digitally beating up the inside of my mind. And Adam for concisely and clearly answering all of my questions and giving me a systematic path toward the result I’ve been looking for.
Here’s a thought I jotted to myself on the plane ride here:
Being born takes MUCH longer than 9 months. In fact, it seems that many die before truly being born. This must be where the idea “it takes lifetimes” comes from.
The birthing process I’m talking about is getting to just the fringe levels of awareness, not “Nirvana” or anything big like that. Lets get this party started. I’m going to break this up into three books I want to write which seem to convey the stages leading up to my “experience.”
Pwning (mastering) Life is this idea I have to create a system for setting and attaining goals. It’s pretty simple. Set a clear goal. Do something each day to get there. Get there. Rinse. Repeat. Whatever people want to call it, I feel like this is where most people live their lives. The worst part about it is they’re often (I was no exception) chasing goals that don’t come from the recesses of their heart (not sure how else express that). It takes time to figure out which goals are “your” goals and which are ones put on you (from society, family, friends, etc.)
Whether mastering other people’s goals or “your own” goals, I think it’s important to get some kind of “success” at this stage.
Flow to Your Dream
I had this epiphany last year. Having recently recovered from a bipolar induced manic episode I started reflecting on life. I was slowly putting goals back together and BOOM! I get hit with this flashback. I see myself jamming (musically and with work) on a beat up computer because my laptop was broken and couldn’t afford to fix it, I was in serious pain from a tooth that needed to be pulled and I was surviving on cans of tuna and hot sauce. But there was something special about that moment. Everything was “perfect.” I instantly realized that it wasn’t the goals I was pursuing, it was that “perfect” state while moving towards them. Life truly is the journey (I thought I knew what that really meant, I had no idea).
That little epiphany got me focused on the states of mind for those “perfect” moments. That ultimately led me rebooting my quest for “enlightenment.”
I believe this is the stage of life where people start to see beyond the never-ending task of setting and achieving goals and want something “more.” This is where religion might step in, altruism, meditation, yoga and all that fun stuff. Often times this fun stuff ends up getting shifted back into a “pwning” phase, but that’s cool too.
Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do
This is the “latest and greatest.” I’ve had this feeling before (I think…) but I most recently had it a week or so ago. I got off a bus and started aimlessly wandering around Taipei and didn’t feel the slightest connection to ANYTHING. I’m not sure I would call it a “good” feeling, but as it passed all I wanted was THAT. Nowhere to go, nothing to do became somewhat of a mantra for life since then. When this gets turned into a book I want it to be two books in one, the other shall be titled “Everywhere to Go, Everything to Do!” As I wrestled with nowhere to go, nothing to do an idea came to me… “Just burn as hot and bright as possible while staying balanced and following those Buddhist precepts.” That said… nowhere to go, nothing to do.
Riding a Roller Coaster of Desire in the Philippines
These aren’t very hardcore desires, they were very subtle ones, but I noticed them. I’ve been studying the Theravada Buddhist Canon pretty much daily and consuming whatever Bee has recently sent me (was reading “Wake up and Roar” on the flight). It’s a fun mix as both Adam and Bee don’t believe in “sudden enlightenment” but their approaches are very different.
For some reason I came to the Philippines with no cash and a credit card I didn’t fully believe in. I was practically asking for the experience I’m going to share. Here’s the only photo I took (plus commentary I wrote) before laying down to sleep outside of the airport last night.
The first desire was a cheap hotel, that led me on a wild goose chase lasting many miles and going into the darkness. When I finally found one, it didn’t take credit cards. When I found one that did, they told me the card didn’t work (I found out later that my card was fine…) I totally failed at that desire, no worries, another one popped up. The second desire was quench my unbelievable thirst from all that walking! And OH MY DAYUM was I thirsty! I didn’t have any pesos so I had to find a place to ask for some water. Found a Chinese restaurant and a later on a fast food place. That must have been the best water I’ve ever consumed. Ever. Hotel was a bust, thirst was quenched now I needed to find a place to sleep. The third desire, sleep. It was interesting watching my desire shift from wanting a nice comfy place to sleep, to water, to a tree. Found a nice tree and decided to meditate before trying to sleep. After meditation, I slept but… it was kind of terrible. I didn’t mind the ants building their nest in my beard, but I was kind of on a corner and the sound and lights from cars were quite distracting. Fourth desire, better sleeping conditions.
This is when I walked back to the airport, found out I couldn’t sleep inside (but I caught some wireless and shared the photo above) and laid out on some benches. I read a bit, slept a bit and eventually was like, this is terrible and decided to just walk. As terrible as walking was, it wasn’t. Thus began a series of events that are best suited for another post. Here’s a photo from the beginning of that walk:
This walk was desire-less wandering. More and more I let go and just “rolled.” Things on my mind (before no things were on my mind) were “reject everything!” (no one owns me), don’t judge (it’s all just cause and effect) and “going nowhere, doing nothing…”
Oh Shit! I Have a Plane to Catch
Aimless wandering was cool until I realized I was about an hour and a half from the airport with about two hours to get there. I had a plan to get money for a taxi, but that failed. Real life came back with a vengeance! Nowhere to go and nothing to do eh? Had to double time it back! Had my double timing took place during the evening I think I would have been fine. I didn’t calculate the Filipino summer sun…
I was thinking about quitting my jog under that grueling sun, then I thought “quitters quit!” and then that mantra came back “doing nothing, nothing to do remember!” All this was going through mind mind when a “Hey! Hello!” came from behind this structure (I was running down that street, took this picture walking to the hotel I’m in now).
There was this friendly guy back there and his coworker just relaxing in the shade to beat the heat. He immediately offered me some water from his cooler. We chatted a bit. He thought I was a soldier from the army base up the street. I found out he gets 350 pesos a day to sweep from 6am-9am and then he just relaxes. I asked him if he liked it and he said “Look! We’re just relaxing, of course.” I told him about my flight and he said I should just chill. Made sense to me, nowhere to go, nothing to do. Found out he was half Black (the African American variety). He offered me his cardboard to lay on and a smoke. Declined the smoke and just sat. He’d have something to say everything now and then, but eventually we were both just sitting. Nowhere to go… Nothing to do… Hey! I could be sitting (meditating) right now. Decided to do that.
I don’t think I meditated for long but… I REALLY got into it. Tried the actual methods I was taught not too long ago for the first time (I usually just focus on my breathing). Then… I fell into this new place I’ve never been before. It wasn’t the zoned out place I’ve been before. My eyes were wide open and I was wide awake. Then I sank deeper into this “full” awareness. It was… woah.
Then Casey chimed in about getting to the airport to get a new ticket. I separate Casey and I (to describe this) because I just wanted to sit. I truly TRULY felt nowhere to go, nothing to do… why are you bothering me Casey?! I snapped out of it, got me and Casey back on the same page, said my goodbyes and got back to walking.
That Was All I Wanted…
That feeling was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I don’t feel as though I’ve done a very good job expressing how I got there and why, but I did my best. For that… half a minute? three minutes? I “saw” the end. I was just swimming in it. Then I got back up for my trek back to the airport.
I keep seeing these two images. A candle burning and a candle that’s burned itself out. It’s weird, it’s like… you can see the burned out candle while it’s still burning. Or maybe… it’s burned out already and it just looks like it’s burning from the “Casey body suit” perspective. Who knows. I just know it feels really good going all these places and doing all this stuff knowing there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do.
I credit every one and every thing I’ve run into and every place I’ve gone for my birth (feels more like a death kind of…) I especially thank the Philippines, the street-side temple and the master of relaxing who told me to take a break which led to the sit to begin all sits. The beginning of the end, or perhaps the end of the beginning. Suppose it’s both really. What else is there and has there ever been?