Friday, July 29, 2011

Buddhist Geeks

Today I go a-geeking. I signed up months ago for the first annual Buddhist Geeks conference in Rosemead, California, dreamed up, as you might imagine, by Buddhist Geeks. I woke this morning without the usual flutter of excitement about attending such events; on the contrary, the truth is that I'd rather be in my own little retreat down in Laguna Beach, enjoying a summer off. I don't feel like much of a Buddhist, still less a geek. My technological skills are limited pretty much to doing my blog and answering the endless flood of email. Geeks, I judge, are made of far more computer-literate stuff.

I do have a regular meditation practice, though. And I write The Buddha Diaries--which fact perhaps led me to imagine when I signed up that I might qualify as a Buddhist geek. I sometimes worry that it's impertinent of me to invoke the Buddha's name when my blog is certainly far from preaching the religion. What I try to do--what I hope the blog does--is to explore the vagaries of my mind, following its journeys as a way to live a life examined; and a life, insofar as possible, lived in accordance with what I understand of the teachings of the dharma. With what little I have managed to gather of wisdom along the way, I believe them to be the wisest and most fully human instructions that exist for a life well lived.

So I ask myself what might be playing out in my mind, that I so lack enthusiasm for this worthwhile and interesting event. There is, I think, a genuine fatigue factor. This past week--what with helping our daughter to get moved to her new home and the sadness caused by the death of my friend, Magu--has been filled with activity and fraught with emotion. Then, too, I look back--gratefully, be it said--on a year filled with travel and speaking activities, along with a good deal of writing. My body-mind, a creature of habit, has been looking forward to the annual retreat that normally begins in mid-July, but this year has been postponed until a few days into August.

There's also an absurdly unjustified fear factor that eats away at me somewhere below the level of consciousness. I learned the habit of hiding myself away as a handy means of self-protection as a child, and have never completely unlearned that habit. I do not find it easy to step out into a crowd of strangers--all of whom, I imagine, are much smarter and better informed than I. Better Buddhists. Better geeks. I should "know better" at my age. Ken McLeod, who will be speaking at the conference, writes of these "reactive patterns" that stand between us and the happiness and clarity we seek. I find it helpful to bring them into conscious view by writing them out, as I am doing now.

So I'm headed out this afternoon to attend the first evening's keynote speech by Shinzen Young. I did a couple of my earliest retreats with this excellent teacher, and it will be good to hear him speak again. His topic is "Towards a Science of Enlightenment." I'm sure there is a lot to learn. I wish I could take all of you with me...

1 comment:

mandt said...

"I imagine, are much smarter and better informed than" Use the old technique of imagining everyone nude. Statically, it's entirely possible that some will be much smarter and better informed and so therefore constitute a wonderful opportunity to learn!