A million miles from enlightenment

I’m back from my meditation weekend at the Kadampa Retreat in Brighton. You might recall I wrote a typically cynical post before I left. I wasn’t sure it would do much to ‘detox’ my mind. As I suspected, my psyche still feels pretty toxic, but I did feel some benefit.

It may have just been getting away from everything for a few days, but I felt stronger when I left this afternoon. The centre is a lovely, homely building with peaceful gardens, a short walk from the beach. There’s something powerful and soothing in seeing the sea, that vast distance with nothing obscuring the horizon.

Learning about Buddhism was interesting. I enjoyed the guided meditations, I managed to tune into myself more than I have in the past and find some gentleness toward myself that I haven’t felt in a long while. I did fall asleep a few times, but I didn’t snore so I think I got away with it. And who doesn’t love the chance to nap in the daytime?

A part of me went there hoping to find something deeper though. I’ve never been able to get on with the concept of god, but I wanted to discover a religion I could buy into. I like the notion of community, of relying on an icon and a dogma and having faith that everything that happens in this life has a purpose. Like a lot of traumatised people, I want an explanation, a way to make sense of things that seem inexplicable.

Karma just didn’t do that for me. In fact it upset me to be around people who would see what has happened to me as a ‘punishment’ for transgressions in my past lives. They were very warm, kind people, but I got irritated with their belief in Karmic law. I want to control my own destiny, not atone for the sins I’ve committed without even knowing about it.

So the weekend was illuminating. I learned about a religion I didn’t know much about before. And the meditations helped me unearth a glimmer compassion for myself. I met some fascinating, thoughtful people and enjoyed having meaningful conversations with them.

I am however still a million miles from ‘enlightenment’. I struggled to let go of the thoughts that entered my head as I meditated. I was resistant to the idea of disallowing negativity from my mind. And in no way am I ready to even think about letting go of anger and resentment.

But I’m happy to be home and to be writing here again. I missed it.

Image from Creative Commons, used here by kind permission from Wonderlane.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. headlessbarbie says:

    Hello! Very glad that you can find something helpful in Buddhism. But I just want to share my opinion on karma 🙂 I feel that the theory that bad things happen to a person are results from past actions in past lives, is just an explanation to the question: why are we suffering now? But it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as in, we are not to be blamed for the actions in our last lives cos we are different people now, but the reaction still has to occur. So instead of being upset or feeling not in control, I think karma just makes me feel more in control because whatever I do now will result in something and I am the one responsible for my own future. That is karma. Of course it is unpleasant to think that my sufferings now are due to something I don’t even know I did, but there is nothing we can do, the only thing we can do is to look to the future and do the things that will result in good things. I wouldn’t call the bad things a punishment tho, I would rather see it as a reaction. I don’t know if I’m making myself clear cos my thoughts are kinda jumbled up, sorry for the long comment! If you don’t agree with karma or my opinion, that’s fine cos Buddhism is all about finding the way to reach enlightenment that suits you best so believe in whatever that makes sense to you! All the best with the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I do get why people believe in karma; it’s like any religion really, you do good things and get rewarded in whatever existence comes next. I can see the positive power that has for a lot of people. And my cynicism won’t stop me from trying to do something good with my life. I think the concept of karma is applicable day to day anyway. If you treat people kindly then on the whole you get the same in return. If we all did that, the world would absolutely be a better place!

    Like

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