the daily journaling practice that began in April/May still continues. This is the longest I’ve ever been able to stick with it. Sometimes the entry is just a word or two. Even just writing the day’s date would count as an entry. I take my notebook out walking. No backpack, just carrying the notebook with a pen in it. And I have the thought that I’m carrying the thing that I would least like stolen by a mugger, and yet there’s no chance anyone would take it, barring some unusual mental illness.
I ordered some more books recently. One arrived yesterday, Smile at Fear. Another Chogyam. I’m halfway through it.
I had decided that Buddhism is a science, not a religion. I wrote prose about it. Prose is so dangerous. It’s like taking what we believe and setting it on fire, and once it’s on fire we’re stuck believing it. And it almost always starts not being true anymore as soon as we start writing it. It’s the most embarrassing thing, trying to fix something in place with words. So I decided Buddhism was a science and I wrote out ten reasons why people think it’s a religion. Then later in the day I decided that even though it’s a science, it’s a religion because of the urgency around it.
I keep thinking “make less progress.” Make the tiniest amount of progress anyone ever made. I have some sense of why I’ve made “make less progress” a slogan, but I haven’t thought too much about it.
I’m not sure I have the option of not being a Buddhist. There is some sense in which I’m stuck being one, and was one well before I began studying Buddhism. I’ve been thinking that the vows make one an actual Buddhist. If there needs to be a divider between a Buddhist and say, one who is studying Buddhism and practicing meditation.
I try to think of depression as getting experience with being a depressed Buddhist. I would like to feel less of a sense of defeat around anger, less “here it goes again, I guess I’ll always be angry even though I read books about meditation.” And instead something like … I don’t know yet.
sometimes in reading I give things a kind of half credit. I think it’s true in spirit but maybe too cute in the manner of explanation. Maybe the writer saw the truth of what they were saying to such a degree that they relaxed and got a bit fast & loose in the telling of it. Sometimes writers almost seem to try to do this. There is a sense of faith that an imprecise formulation might better demonstrate the truth it hovers around than if we drove at that truth more directly. A kind of poetic imprecision seems almost necessary, to avoid ruining the truth by explaining it too closely. I’m thinking of this because there is a passage at the beginning of the Cosmic Joke section of The Myth of Freedom that had seemed to take this approach, but I don’t think it does. The part about one proving zero, and two proving one, etc. It’s precise, actually. It’s not poetic.
It seems clear I want something to be true. I want something to be lasting, if not permanent. And so I have to be a little suspicious of myself.
It looks like I was having some mud on June 8, partly due to more books. The additional books no longer cause mud.
I have had some ordinary times. Post beginner’s enthusiasm. There is the useful sense in Buddhism that you can use everything. You can use the most boring shadow of a disappointment.
I have been able to consistently journal, maybe for the first time ever. I make an entry every day. It’s easy. So far today’s entry says “June 21”.
I had my first boring, ordinary depression, my first depression really, since I started meditation. The depression started Sunday and ended earlier today, I think. It was indistinguishable from fatigue. I knew Saturday that it was going to start Sunday. I was moderately productive and high-functioning during the depression.
My Buddhism has been somewhat muddy and frayed at times in recent days, though quite operative. Reasons for any mud:
I got four more Buddhism books. The four arrived in the same day. So I went from having one book to having five books, from a total of three different authors. And thus, more personalities, varied affect, rhythm, etc, among the different authors, more to assimilate or not assimilate, and thus inevitably some run-off and sense of complication.
I stopped being a patient after a period of a couple months where I was more like a patient, seeing my therapist every week instead of the usual once every two weeks, and seeing psychiatrist more often. But now I’m back to once every two weeks in therapy and not seeing my psychiatrist until August. So I’ve lost my patient status. I’m again just a person.
I have talked to more people about Buddhism, so there’s a sense of complication from that.
I’ve learned more about the biographies of some of these teachers, including the the controversies, failings, addictions, etc.
I used a timer for meditation for the first time, and used a timer a few times since then. This has the perhaps undesirable effect of making one think in terms of getting through the meditation. I had more thoughts of what I would do after meditation.
Yesterday in meditation I was short of breath and too warm. The air seemed a little too humid to breathe, though it wasn’t actually very humid. I wasn’t otherwise uncomfortable. Today I had the same shortness of breath and also the excessive warmth, but neither as pronounced as yesterday. After meditating today I had anxiety in my forearms, though nowhere else.
I’m about 21 days into study of Buddhism / meditation. It was around the middle of May when I started.
Within the first 48 hrs, much less anger. Essentially no longer afflicted with anger. Internet/information/media addiction gone. Gambling addiction gone.
Within the first few days, much less anxiety. Fear of free time mostly gone.
Days/weeks later, fear diminishing more generally. Fear is different than anxiety.
Days/weeks later, no more waking up in a panic (heart racing). Better mornings.
My home is clean.
I stay with my notebooks — I have a consistent practice of journaling. Whereas in the past, this would fall away.
In general, more freedom from habit. More seeing the habit/neuroses.
More prone to surprising myself.
When anger appears, it is distinct from the surrounding experience — not a blur within a blur.
I look forward to relapse — I hope for relapse. Because it’s a chance for testing the durability of the practices.
There is value in simply having a new interest, apart from anything else.
Better ability to listen at readings.
I’m appropriately suspicious of any progress that’s rapid. I see in my notebook there is recent instability, at least. As recently as 5-7 days ago, there were thoughts about moving far away, leaving the country. Not panicked thoughts, though. More like checking to see what it’s like to think about leaving the country now that I don’t need to leave.