Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dear Blog

This fortune cookie has been hanging in Me Voy's salon for the duration of the restoration process. Its meaning used to be simple:
                                       Dream = sail away to a tropical paradise
                                       Fear = obstacle to be overcome in order to realize dream

That was four years ago. During that time, the boat(s) and other teachers, have been kind enough to appear in our path and shed some light  into the dark corners of our minds. Thanks to them, dear blog, our definition of both "dream" and  "fear" has changed significantly.

Let's start with dream. I love palm trees. To me they are a symbol of peace. I used to imagine myself sitting under a palm, sipping delicious milk from a freshly cut coconut, watching waves roll across the vast expanse of ocean.What could be better then this? I thought and pushed myself to sand even faster, believing that if I work hard to get there, then I will be rewarded with peace and happiness. After all how could I expect to be happy while sanding? Sanding sucks, everyone knows that. So if I can suck it up now, work hard, then my peace will be waiting for me, under that palm tree, in that paradise, in the wonderful future.

Yes, dear blog, I wrote to you many times in the previous years, posted pictures of our accomplishments, and even took a little pride in how hard we were working. It was all done with relatively good humor, because I knew that soon we would be posting pictures from that paradise, where all this work has paid off. Now don't get your white digital page all in a tizzy! I know what you're thinking, but rest assured, I am not giving up on the boats, or on the tropical paradise. I have not changed what I am thinking about, just how I am thinking about it.

You see, I know now, that happiness and peace cannot come from the fulfillment of any dream. Dreams, desires, even wishes, are all bound to the material world, and the material world cannot give lasting peace because it is always subject to change.
A dramatic example of this is the recent Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Immeasurable human and material achievement was destroyed in seconds. Seemingly indestructable structures crumpled in minutes, leaving a landscape strewn with worthless garbage that minutes before was valued as someone's wealth. Seeing these images it is easy to see the  unreliability of  the material world for providing lasting happiness.

But, if we look around this impermanence surrounds us all the time. My young skin is slowly getting lined with tiny wrinkles, which I know will soon fractal into even more and deeper lines. The varnish on our boats fades with the passing months and if left neglected will soon peel away to reveal bare wood, which if left unprotected will soon turn to mush. Things always change. If we rely on things to supply us with peace and happiness, we will always suffer.

So what is the solution?

Across time, space, and culture, there have been people who all say the same thing. Peace and happiness can only be found within. They are not objects to have but states of Being to experience.
The monk to your left, is a dramatic example of this knowledge. As his physical self burns, his Inner Self remains untouched. This is the Self that does not get wet when it rains. This is the immortal and immovable Self. This is the God, the Allah, the Jehovah, the bliss consciousness, Transcendental Awareness, Enlightenment, Nirvana, the kingdom within, the Higher Self, and the Quantum State. Whatever word you label it with, it is this wordless experience, that is within all of us, that is the only reliable source of  peace in this changing world.

So can you guess my dream these days?

At this time we can search hundreds of techniques and teachings that were otherwise unavailable to most seekers at any other time in history. Some think this is not good, that it dilutes the teachings, and leaves most people paralyzed, by the overwhelming amount of choices. I'm of the opposite mind. I love the variety. The more I learn from various traditions, including the very exciting field of quantum physics, the more convinced I become that we are all fighting about the same thing.

So dear Blog, looks like change is coming. You began as a blog about one sad boat, became a blog about two demanding boats, and now? Well I don't know where we go from here, but thanks for listening.


Allan S said...

One cannot live in this world and not change in some fundamental way. With the natural disasters, the ecological fallout (no pun intended) from these same events. Political and economic turmoil throughout the world affects us all, there is no doubt about that at all.

All one can do is ride the waves, and do the right thing. The right thing doesn't have to be a big thing either. Look at doing the right thing like go out for a walk, you pick up a piece of trash or two and put it in a litter basket....there, you have made a difference. sure, you won't win the Nobel Peace Prize for it but you would be a positive influence, albeit a small one, on the world and thats all one can do.

It's the people who jump on the celebrity cause of the day and focus on one thing and ignore the thousand other crisis who, in my opinion, do damage in the long run.

Don't give up the dream for these overwhelming events. Do what you guys do best with your boats and cgip away at the worlds problems one little piece at a time. It's something all of us are capable of doing......Allan

Travis and Maggie said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Alan.

Truly I am not interested in solving the worlds problems, at least not in the sense that I think you mean. The world is made up of people, and how people are the world will be.The latest quantum physics is telling us that there is no solid, objective reality that is "out there". In other words it is not possible to separate the viewer from the object that is viewed.Each influences the other.
So, a peaceful world can only be made up of peaceful people. Therefore if you want world peace become peace in your daily average life. You are right that is all something we can do, and in doing so, that is going within to find peace, we solve both our own and the world's problems, because, in the end, they are one and the same.

I can see how it might appear that we have given up striving, or even how it may seem that I am overwhelmed and depressed, like someone else commented to me after reading this blog. After all, if there is nothing in the world that can make one happy then what's the point?

So I would like to clear this up, briefly.

We have not given up on the boats or the dream, and the world is full of wonderful things to experience and enjoy. In our search for meaning, which began before the boats or any recent disasters, and recently ripened enough to share publicly, we have understood the wisdom that material things cannot bring lasting happiness. They can still be enjoyed, in fact they can be enjoyed even more if one remains unattached to them, because the grasping and the fear of loss is absent. This makes room from freedom, surrender and ultimately joy.

So nothing has changed, but everything has changed. And yes, this is still a work in progress...

Allan S said...

Hello again Guys, great reply. My advice can be applied, in small doses, to people too. Always be polite and courteous, yea yea your thinking, too easy for a Not true anymore, people here have been conditioned by the media and are quite rude. I have developed (most likely counter productive) passive aggressive techniques for daily dealings with the rude folk. For example for the brusque or rude asshat I say "I sure hope your day gets better and for the record, it wasn't me who pissed in your corn flakes" After the shocked "How dare he say such rude things to me" look a grudging smile sometimes appears. I think people just need a reminder that courtesy is a two way street.

I admit, while looking at the videos of Japan on YouTube then reading the comments underneath depressed me......Allan

Travis and Maggie said...

Hi Alan, thanks for the great dialogue!
What you are talking about here, the Buddhists would call skillful action. Yes sometimes people need to be reminded that they cannot behave any old way without consequences. The important point to remember, and this is when this approach is not counter productive and therefore destructive to yourself, is to respond from a place of peace within yourself. In that way your outward harsh action comes from an inward loving place and does not disturb your peace.
This takes constant practice and vigilance over your mind, which ultimately is the source of all things, even depression. Sounds easy eh?

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