I was halfway kidding when I entered a comment on Thailandgal yesterday. Chani had mentioned (in her response to my own thoughts about Bush and his cavalier use of language) that she generally avoids involvement with American politics, and my comment included a reference to my "recovery from my earlier blog addiction: The Bush Diaries." As I told her, "I got tired of waking up with [Bush] in bed with me every morning. The Buddha is MUCH better company."
As usual, of course, the casual humor provoked a deeper truth with which I woke this morning: even a positive addiction can enslave us.
Let me explain. I have been noticing some inner turmoil recently that has caused a kind of chronic low-grade sense of dissatisfaction in my life--dare I say, to give it a Buddhist cast--"unhappiness"? You might have picked it up in a number of my entries. This morning I woke with the realization that I have formed a whole new cluster of habits that have started to create that sense of compulsion that is a kind of enslavement of the mind. I have even prided myself on them a bit, dignifying them with the name of "practice." They include the morning meditation, the blog entry, the time for exercise... and so on. All good things, you will agree. But my thought is that I have become attached to them in such a way that their benefits are in danger of congealing into just one more addiction--or should I say another network of addictions? To the extent that the breach of them induces an inner feeling of anxiety, dissatisfaction and--there we go--unhappiness.
Not that I want to lose the benefits of any of these good things. My meditation practice continues to bring me insights and some measure of serenity. Am I demonstrably the better for it? I don't know. I still get mad on the freeways, but I tend to mutter the imprecations rather than yell them out. I still get mad at Bush, and all the terrible things he's doing to our increasingly vulnerable world. I still get mad at other people, for their imagined offenses to my autonomy or dignity! But I am aware of a greater sense of peace pervasive in my life, a greater sense of acceptance... And I do love those moments when the meditation goes so well that I feel in harmony with the universe.
As for the blog, well, you have to know how much I love it. Aside from anything else, it has provided me with the forum for a more satisfying writing practice than I've ever known before. To have the challenge to write every day with the knowledge that what I write will be published, read, in some cases appreciated, and often responded to--this is a writer's dream come true.
And still, and still... there is that insight: even positive addictions such as these can enslave us, and I have--truth, now--been feeling that compulsion, that sense of obligation, that enslavement. And the whole point of Buddhist practice, as I see it, is to gradually free myself from those things that constrain me and control my life, to achieve, yes, happiness. This is the central teaching of the Dalai Lama; this is what he tries so hard to get across to stubborn, materialistic, competitive, goal-oriented Western minds.
So what to do with this realization? I guess, make changes. I plan to find other times to meditate, and other times to blog. I plan to feel less compelled to make that daily entry, to dis-organize my life a bit, and trust that a little bit of chaos, a little bit of not-knowing what's coming next will knock me out of orbit just enough to make the course correction that I need.
That said, well, I did my meditation this morning--but no so early. And (gasp!) in bed. And here I am, writing my entry in The Buddha Diaries. Am I beyond help?
Here's to greater wisdom and blessings in the world!