Three Months of Facebook

Okay, this post is kind of a cheat. I’m sharing my last three months of FB posts that relate to monastic practice and life. I think they’re actually very good compared to most of my blog. They’re more raw and uneditted. Much less self-conscious.  was going to do a full 15 months worth, but just three months was very long. So, please enjoy.

July 2016 – September 2016 Facebook

7/2/16

last night, getting towards the end of a day long retreat. Been feeling surprisingly sleepy and tense this day. It’s the last sit. Probably only ten minutes left. I start thinking, maybe I could stand up now. I did a whole day, what’s the difference?

but then…this voice in my head…..it’s confident and committed….it’s beyond right or wrong….it’s without fear or sadness or doubt…..the voice speaks…

This world, this life is good. I can trust surrendering into this discomfort and pain and tension. I am fine as I am. This life right here right now can be experienced fully. I can surrender to this world.

Either all of that is true….or, I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live how I have been. Self-conscious. Egoistic. Filled with judgments. Ill will. Doubts. Cravings.

I would rather stop breathing than stand up due to a tiny bit of mental discomfort and tiny physical leg pain.

Doing this practice, reaching the edge where I must be free or I don’t want to live like this anymore.

And this may sound bad. But, actually, it’s the most wonderful realization to remember for me.

 

7/3/16

Knowing that this experience will not last, I appreciate my experience now for what it is. Knowing one day I will miss these very aches, these very people, this very youth, and this very challenge. Knowing more of my life will be spent out of a monastery than inside one, I appreciate this training. Knowing one day I will look back with awe that I ever had so much time and such a supportive opportunity to do something like this.

Knowing that my experience of being outside experience is so unfulfilling, i put in hard effort with a do-or-die attitude. To move beyond my self centered habitual mind. And that the resulting faith and trust and confidence is a result (rather than a pre-requisite) from such hard work to face the unknown and keep going.

Is this world safe to trust? This question has to be lived and the answer found in direct experience. And then the interconnected and unshakable, unmoving mind reveals itself. Thousands of hours to practice this realization as direct experience.

 

7/4/16

So begins another retreat tonight.

The last several months have been eventful. Lots and lots of travel. Maybe two months on the road. Circling training. Mondo retreat. Weddings. Officiating a wedding. Teaching different groups.

Outward life seems to be cooling down so I can go deeper into the things I already have. to embody them, master them.

Deeper and deeper..

Returning to the source
Being with what is
Loving what is
The end of needing better

Year 2

7/13/16

That was a very powerful retreat. Only slept 16 hours total last four days and still feel full of energy. Meditation “leveled” up.

It’s also been a very long time since I had last had difficulty integrating back into the flow of larger world. Maybe it’s because I went straight from retreat to airplane to NYC. But i feel kind of crazy or the only sane one right now.

The people on this plane. Eyes glued to a tiny 6 inch screen. Their ears plugged with artifical recorded sound. Their mouths filled with sugar water. Their bodies reclined to complete laziness. All their senses dulled into not having to experience reality, this moment. To not even remember they exist. No room for a body, no room for a mind, no room for presence. Just taking in artifical experience that doesn’t really please at all but just let’s you not be present. Slightly better those reading a book or thinking thoughts.

I’m guilty of this. Thinking about experience rather than actually experiencing it. Back to the practice. Back to the moment.

This training is to Awaken. To actually live life rather than think about it, run away from it. Live someone else’s fictional life. Not following ones heart, even the most pleasurable moments are suffering. Following one’s truth, the most painful moments are deeply meaningful.

Nothing inherently wrong with any of this. But has anyone really chosen to do these activities or just following a compulsion. No consciousness, no presence. Choosing to not choose. Choosing to not take responsibility for one’s own health, one’s state of mind one’s life.

“awakened” one Indeed.

 

7/14/16

i born into a family uprooted from its home.
we were living Korean truths in a Western culture
we lacked in love, power, time, and community
it’s a story i refined over years to explain our suffering
my only ways open: destruction or wise thinking
perhaps it’s arrogant to say or being too humble
but i did it, my mind is aligned with the truth
yet i’m still lacking in love, power, and community
this very cultivated wise mind is now the Obstacle
philosophy to emotions, from business to monastic

walking and talking with a friend today
caught my urge to “tell” the truth as a philosopher
caught my urge to pry under the emotions
trusting her own wisdom and trying to let go of mine
and organically coming to direct truths
in this life, there are joys and sorrows
suffering prevents us from experiencing both

what is suffering but resistance to being with life?

living as a monk
getting to the visceral level of direct experience of suffering, self-caused and self-perpetuated inside even the most loving community
no longer able to blame others and believe i’m right every time
the sense of enough is ENOUGH
Nothing in this life is worth SUFFERING
Stop choosing suffering
words are not enough
mind thoughts are not enough
necessary step but now blocking the way forward
it must be embodied and lived

i still judge those arm chair dharma book philosophers
who say such cliches as if they are the greatest wisdom
as if knowing and saying such bullshit is the same as embodying it
tell me how many hours you sat looking at your Self
so you can say such things in the greatest moments of pain
and actually mean it
And how long have I and still am in that trap?

talking to serious practice friends
asking if they are so inspired by these posts
why not write your own?
and they say but what about future partners, future jobs?
but who wants to live a life serving lies to fit a broken world?
the world yearns for embodied truth but will destroy hypocrisy
i’m tired and exhausted of doing that for decades

be bold in your expression
then the people you truly want around will be attracted
and everyone else is too busy with themselves to care

it’s gotten so easy for me to do in dharma talks and in writing
so difficult for me to do in the moment in relationship

no wonder we drown ourselves in facebook and tv and books and theories and relational drama
cultivating the mindfulness to know i’m continuously choosing ignorance, ill will, and suffering

seeing that suffering has a cause
suffering as resistance and tension to experiencing my life
then there are only two options left
physically die
or spiritually die
and then a necessary energy and desperation comes to truly do this practice

but
ok

stop wasting time peter
sit down, do your breathe
face the very tension and resistance
cultivate the energy
don’t let NYC and being outside the monastery throw you off

just do it again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Deep breathe in. Deep breathe out. In. Out.
don’t lose this precious gift, this precious opportunity
don’t give in to the temptation to literally sleep and metaphorically sleep. wake up. remember. choose. do whatever is necessary.. be confused. be uncomfortable. let the worse tensions arise that make it impossible to breathe. welcome them in but don’t stop the practice

it took nine years to finally build up the necessary karma and admit to myself and others i belonged as a monastic right now. probably not forever but it’s the stage i was meant to be at.
and now working up to i can be actually be enlightened. literally. and soon.

 

7/27/16

The nice thing about being inside a monastery is being able to explore all the dead ends, failures, and stuck tense places within myself and with others. That’s not something polite society encourages or likes. Unofficial motto here in my head is we like to see you fail. [So we can see you go beyond.] And once those stuck places are released, there’s great insight, wisdom, energy, and joy.

And the schedule and forms are strict so we can’t be complacent in our stuck selves. If we don’t want to do the work, the group and schedule will force us to do it. And we’ll be glad for it afterwards.

Doing 2+ months of resident recruitment, this distinction is coming up.

Coming here, you face reality as it is. And you learn how to excel and rediscover that uncompromising, unconditional trust, confidence, and practice that doesn’t rely on anything around you.

But, not coming here, you can still daydream the possibilities of becoming wealthy, famous, and powerful all on your own.

The hardest challenge I suspect for many folks is that coming here there’s a guaranteed return. You will definitely get a lot out of being here. But it’s probably not matching all of your dreams. Dreams that keep you from actually living. Dreams that are actually socially conditioned judgements.

I’m not saying this is everyone. Really just a select handful of people. And our place may not fit everyone all the time. But if you’re reading this, it might be true for you.

Apologies for any suffering this causes. Hopefully it’s the medical kind that heals you deeper.

 

 

8/12/16

my practice has been really solid the last ~2 months. hope i don’t jinx it but it has been the most consistent ever. These days there’s less trying to remember that meditation actually matters and stop fixating on other topics and just actually practicing my technique.

the flip side is that i alternate between a lot of joy and peace and a lot of grief and suffering and tension. If I’m honest, it’s usually more tension than peace. But, both actually feel real rather than some thought or belief I try so hard to pack myself into. The tension often feels like the pull between wanting to live in an idea vs actually facing my reality.

last night, feeling lost. maybe been at least two months just feeling this tension most of the time. seems endless. teacher telling me to relax. but how? like a fundamental tension.

and in that place of hopeless & helpless, closing my eyes and praying to any deity or force out there, i could finally let go a little and surrender. and finally relax.

8/24/16

Common Patterns and Strategies for Meditation (…and Life)

Depending on maturity and context, some of these are useful sometimes and more often just stuck places to avoid reality of being vulnerable yet engaged. Focused and letting go. I’m guilty of all of them but working through them.

0) Day dream the entire day away about how I’ll be so amazing or how nothing ever works out.

{Actually Start Practice}

1) Avoid difficulty feeling experiences with distraction
“Wow, this is really tough, I’m going to start thinking about pleasant things and memories and dreams instead.”
or
netflix, tv, video games, reading countless articles, social media, alcohol, etc.

2) Intellectual Gymnastics: Acknowledging reality but solving with a made-up “brilliant” mental solution.
“My mind keeps wandering around. I’ll remember all the texts and talks I ever read and come up with the perfect solution so I can jump to enlightenment in one leap.”
or
Dating: “I’ll make the perfect dating profile so the perfect person will find me.”
Business: “I’ll make the perfect business card and brochure (and forestall actual sales as long as possible) so people will just be diving to hand me their money.”

3) Unskillful forced engagement: ego mental control is exhausted.
“I can’t think away this pain or hindrance in my meditation. Nor can I avoid it. Okay, I’ll face it head on full force like a warrior facing an enemy.”
[problem here is lack of equanimity and often meeting experience (and other people) with tension and anger and mindless confrontation]

4) Surrender: Now I feel even worse. I’ve exhausted everything I can think or feel with my protective shield on. Give in to just feeling.
“Oh my god, I can’t do this at all. Nothing works. I’ll just be with my experience and reality. Either I trust my experience moment to moment and it’ll work out or not. Either way I find out the true reality of whether this is doable.”

5) Flow Experience: Being with experience as it is and letting go of any outcome.

6) Attachment to Pleasant Experience: Insights and good feelings come up. I latch on to them and think how enlightened and successful I am.

7) Momentum of my practice is exhausted. I don’t understand why I’m not experiencing those insights or flow anymore. Revert back to #1 & 2 except the distraction is continually trying to move back to my prior experience and thereby avoiding my present reality. Or just go into #0 stories of how I’m so terrible and won’t ever amount to anything.

8) Full commitment and intention for deadly serious practice
Set the intention to actually stay with my technique and focus space until this bell rings. Not with force but with the understanding that anything else is just going to lead to suffering.

9) New ground, experience opens up. Every moment is new and fresh. My soul mate or a million dollar lottery ticket could come to me and I wouldn’t stop practicing. Feels like I’m learning to meditate for the first time all over again.

— and more

a bit tongue in cheek.

but basically experience of last retreat was moving from buying into my insights and forcing meditation to keeping energetic practice AND being relaxed without attachment to result. Full commitment to being with experience w/o preference. Still working on it but hit some bold new ground.

I also sobbed (very loudly) on one of the early days with the whole group present. never did that before. happened after I really tried to force my attention to stay with those stuck places in my abdomen that didn’t want to be felt at all. It kind of worked but not necessarily a sustainable thing to always do.

also seeing how the same patterns in how people and myself don’t really practice meditation well are the same ones in life whether it’s business, relationship, social responsibility or other.

And when it comes to learning any real skill, there has to be willingness to go through all the steps. Even the wrong ones are right if you get pass them. So often unwilling to do the “wrong” thing and just end up staying stuck. my 2 cents. Want to jump from 0 to 10 so much or just buy into the idea I’ll always be stuck at 0 or stay in the delusional I’m at 10 already.

9/6/16

Tonight we enter retreat. I can feel my throat getting scratchy, possibly the start of a cold.

I feel the need to justify myself. “no, it’s not because I’m weak. Everyone here except one person has gotten sick. This is first time in over a year. Yesterday was so overwhelming and stressful. Huge responsibilities doing every role yesterday at the monastery and also huge emotional probing/healing with a circling friend.”

But, yea, I might be having a cold on retreat. What a novel challenge and experience.

It’s interesting I have little or no desire to leave the monastery anymore to visit the city. To “just get away” like I often did before. I used to day dream about possible travels, about getting some pizza, about seeing old friends. But not so much the past month.

The monastery is growing. I spent the last five months looking for compatible residents. One is a friend from Boston. Another contacted through one of my fb posts (thank to those fifty people that shared my post and countless more who mentioned our program to friends). Normally, I would be too self depreciating to be proud. But I did it. We did it. It was hard and seemingly impossible. But we got almost all of them. Soon, we will double the number of residents and fill the spots. I will likely pivot to other projects. Hard to believe we succeeded and I am honored by everyone coming

Practice is really good. Habitual thoughts dying down. Able to sit consistent longer periods without any physical pain or need to shift. Still working on trusting and following my natural rhymn.

It’s fun to track the gradual shift of my mindset over months. Moving more and more towards trusting the simplest message, “I can trust living from truth. People won’t abandon me.” this mind and heart of mine is no different from the Buddha, from Jesus, from any Saint or Sinner. Words I was too terrified of the implications to truly utter even in my own mind back in May.

You look at a MLK, a Mandela, a Musk, Gates, a Jesus, a Buddha, any seemingly super human person and all of them seem special. Different from me. And right there, failure has already occurred. But puffing one’s self up with fake bravado doesn’t work either. But to surrender to the moment, to life and accept living in truth, in excellence, in love. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to leave this monastery until I can truly live like that. Discover the truth of whether that’s actually true or die trying. Until it’s the path leading me naturally with me in surrender vs me desperately trying to control and know.

So many people “know” this stuff and to the extent that they live it, that’s wonderful. But it feels like I’m reaching the desperate yet honest point where I won’t be satisfied until it stops being knowledge and just is. As it actually is already if I just get out of the way.

9/14/16

Retreat is over.

So much gratitude on my last night. Breaking through new layers. Re-discovering deeper the utter simplicity of meditation and life. On retreat – just stop thinking, keep my attention on my heart or core, and breathe. Rinse and repeat through all the tensions, pains, and challenges. Stay in connection and trust with my own experience and body. And observe for the first time, how I don’t need to suffer from any of it. And because I am no longer reacting, I can actually live and engage fully without my idea of “self” getting in the way.

This morning chanting, can feel my belly softening and unraveling like an onion into just space expanding and contracting. No knot of tension. No holding back, no need to defend or protect.

Last night, going to sleep in a cold yurt. No paycheck. Still having a slight cold. None of the material comforts and luxuries that the “average” middle-class person thinks they need to have. Free of that burden. And, feeling like I am a lucky, lucky bastard.

How did I ever find such a place that perfectly matches me? Thanks Daniel.

9/19/16

Yesterday, I got into Burlington a hour early. I brought one jar of peanut butter and some mouth wash. Got a bunch of free paper for our center’s sauna. But, then, I didn’t have anything else to do. So, I sat on a rock in the city main square and meditated for a hour while listening to Alabama Shakes. It was a great hour.

It’s nice to reach a point when I would rather meditate for a hour rather than follow some compulsion need to fill my mouth with sugar or my eyes with a screen. Although I did have music in my ears. So, there’s that.

I’ve been playing the “teacher” role this week as Soryu is away. An interesting challenge to have significantly less meditation time so I’ve been more looking to find it anywhere I can whether exercise, free time sauna, meals, conversations, or anything else.

And even more huge, my parents are suddenly facing great emotional and financial difficulties. I’m inevitably involved in supporting them. I’m surprised it hasn’t unbalanced me. Surprised when I go an entire 5, 10, 60 minutes in the morning when I realize I didn’t think about it at all since waking up. But it comes up eventually. Later and later in the day.
In the worse case scenario. Maybe I’ll have to donate over my life savings. Or maybe my conscience says I have to return home semi-permanently to help them. And, so, I take each day of practice here at this pristine monastic academy as if it may soon be my last because it may just be. Too early to tell yet but having equanimity either way.

Grateful that my mind, body, emotions, practice and spirit have matured enough to handle this with clarity and not getting stuck in self-pity, resentment, anger, etc. Grateful that conditions have been made such to challenge me and make me not take for granted the opportunity I still have now to intensely train and practice in community.

Soryu has been saying a lot lately that you don’t have infinite time. Sooner than later, you’ll have to lead. And when you’re a dharma teacher you have to be good and correct. You just can’t afford to be so wrong and bad. [in my words: if you’re going to lead and teach, you can’t be lost in your shit all the time and burdening others with it]. And I’m feeling that a lot this week.

[ssba]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *