For those who don't know, I also have a weightloss blog called "Fat Man in the Bathtub". This is a cross-post from that blog because it involves some zen things that I think may be pertinent here. If I've learned anything about my life and my desire to become healthier, it's that my "practice" (read: "my Buddhist path") and my weight-loss path are inextricably linked. The word "inextricable" often has a negative connotation to it (as in "a morass of confusing connections one can never hope to figure out") but for me, this isn't the case, at least not in this sense. For me, "inextricably" means "apparently very complicated and nuanced". I am starting to understand that while it may appear that way to me at times, it is more likely that it is less complicated that it really is. There is a dramatic difference between "complicated" and "complex". Anyway...


The changes I've been making are once again working. It's always the two things: diet and exercise. Always. I have been riding the exercycle almost every day. 20min sessions. Typically at least two sessions, but my stamina is back up, so often it's three, so that's 60min on the bike. It's beginning to make a few funny sounds and some grinding, so I think maintenance is in order. The last thing I need is for that thing to "grind to a halt". The rains are here now, and soon it will be really hard for me to get out of this flat, so that bike will be an indoor life-line to exercise when I can't get out and walk.

I'm back to having more energy, which is nice. It's amazing what that 15lbs feels like on me now and what it does to me. I'm really looking forward to getting back into the 250's again. My "goal" is the same: 250 by the new year. That's actually pretty reasonable (again). If it's so damn reasonable, then why haven't I ever made it? Hmmm?

The 266 may or may not be real, but at least is appearing to be for the past few days. I've had a few "cheese parties" the past three days or so, but at the same time, I've been very conscious of what I've had, and make sure to do 60min bike totals the days after. Fortunately, the cheese is now gone... ;)

Interestingly, my sensei hit me with something this past Sunday while doing my sanzen interview. I'd told him that I was doing okay, and wanted to ask him if I could start practicing with a koan. He said "I understand why you want to, but right now, I think the best thing for you to do is start being mindful of food." This really struck me, because I had actually begun that very practice about a week before-hand. "If you want to couch it in a koan form, ask yourself this: 'Who is it that craves? Who is it that hungers?' Explore that..."

And that is a very powerful practice, and one that I have wrestled with my whole life. It will be interesting to see where it leads me. I have an intellectual answer that jumps to the front of my mind, but as is typically the case, it's almost always the "not right" answer.

I am signed up for a week-long seshin the 3rd week of November. It's a "generosity seshin", and everything eaten is donated. I plan on making 48 seitan sausages (both links and patties) to contribute, along with dry goods.

I am looking forward to the ōryōki meals again. It's so nice to eat this way. Eating as a team. Eating as one hunger, with all needs met by your dharma brothers or sisters handing you everything you need, and you passing it on. All you have to do is focus on the sensations and flavors, and rest in the support that the sangha provides. Talk about gratitude.

This kind of generosity is more humbling than I can possibly describe....but know I deserve. That's because we all deserve this.

How sad that we have allowed ourselves to forget what is truly our birthright: Health, happiness, peace, joy and the support of family/sangha. I won't lie and say that I'm not looking for the weightloss aid that a week at the monastery will help out with, but honestly, as nervous as I may be about my first week-long seshin, what I look forward to the most is simply being held in that great vessel--that safe place--where, no matter what, I will be with those who love and care for me, and support me simply for who I am, and my willingness to be there as part of something greater than any of us alone. Everything you need is there, and in just the right amount. Truly. "Just enough..."

Four birds on a wire
Three facing due west, one east
In showering skies

It's really interesting to me now that I look at it. I was told this was all about karma. MY karma. I didn't really see it then, but I sure do now.

I've lived my life in various states of denial and acceptance. There was a time in the late 80's where I was so in denial that I actually tried to run from everyone and everything. I took a number of huge risks with my life, and was nearly killed as a result, not once but twice. I was out on my own, doing "what I wanted to do", but it was mostly just to try and distract myself because of a deep loss I'd suffered a few years before, losing two people I deeply loved. Now I see that those choices' ripples are catching up with me in very interesting ways. It's starting to teach me how karma works. It's not nearly as simplistic and obvious as as everyone thinks. It's far more subtle than that. And vastly less predictable.

Fayan was going on pilgrimage.

Dizang said, "Where are you going?"

Fayan said, "Around on pilgrimage."

Dizang said, "What is the purpose of pilgrimage?"

Fayan said: "I don't know."

Dizang said, "Not knowing is most intimate."

In the end it doesn't really matter about who believes you. The only thing that matters is telling the truth. Belief is something you can't control...

Well, back again with this.  I could blather on about it--either in abstraction or in detail--but there's no real point.  I know that sounds nihilistic; honestly I don't mean it that way.  What I mean is that there's no point in me enumerating the whys and wherefores.  The main point is, I got my hopes up.  I really and truly felt that my life was being blessed.  That something wonderful fell in it, and that more wonderful things were going to happen as a result, but it didn't work out that way.  I suppose I could chalk this pain up to "not being in the moment", but frankly, that's for roshis, and I'm about as far away from roshidom as I am from the moon.  Make that Mars.  The moon's only a quarter-million miles from here.

The thing that hurts me the most about the whole thing is that I was really trying.

Actually, no.  What really hurts is the fact that the way I felt was real.  I'm more sure of it than I've ever been.  But that doesn't really matter when you can't see the other side of the equation.  My side may be a "1", but if I don't know the definition of "x", it stays a variable, and it's damn hard to have a working relationship with a variable.  Ask any equal sign.  They'll testify.

The other hard thing is that there was a time when part of it I was scared of.  It took a lot of hard thinking and meditation, but I saw that fear for what it was.  Just fear.  Merely fear.  Once I got past that, I was really surprised to find not only acceptance on the other side, but anticipation, hell even excitement over the thing I'd been fearing.  Then to have it all taken away in an instant just sort-of knocked the wind out of me.  But that's what happens when the rug gets pulled out from under your feet I suppose.  I don't believe it was done maliciously.  I really don't.  But its suddenness and unilateral-ness (no, I'm not sure that's a word, but I didn't think "unilaterality" was either) really has knocked me back.  And it hurts.  And it saddens me.  It is VERY challenging practice to be with this feeling.  Practice makes... well, frankly, it just makes for more practice.  That's not bad.  It's just what it is.  Frankly, practice is all I have.  It's all any of us have.  Sometimes I (allow myself to) forget that.

Sorry for not making much sense right now folks, at least to most of you.  I'll be okay.  I know I will.  But right now the hurt is louder than the music.  But you dance anyway.  As Shiva teaches, you either dance or you die...

Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ...

There's no greater pain

Than feeling loved and wanted

Then feeling that void



From what?

Here's a new comment to keep people from thinking a) I'm dead, b) I've been abducted, c) still scared of change. Well, one of those things is still true.

I make decisions -via- a long and complicated process that involves the entrails of wombats and a complicated system of wheels and pulleys. But when I say "I've made up my mind" it actually means I've come to a decision. That doesn't mean to etch the answer in stone--no decision is ever final and unchanging for all time--but you can at least count on the fact that I've thought long and hard, weighed the scales, checked the ledger, done the math, and come to some kind of actual answer that I'm comfortable with.

And yes, I do take fear into account when making up my mind about things. Quite honestly, you can't not take your fears into account when making large life decisions, and people who say they don't are full of it. Quite often, fear is a healthy thing. Ask any snack-shaped animal what they think about fear, and they'll say "Love it! (See ya!)" and live to answer more questions another day from a far and safe distance.

But fear can't be the only factor when making up one's mind, or even the majority of it for us monkeys with the ability to look off into the future, and sometimes, you simply have to have faith that you grabbed the parachute and not the nap-sack when you jump. And jump you often must, lest life become "as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean".

I made a decision a few weeks ago. I let myself look into the future and visualize something that really warmed my heart and made me excited. I allowed myself to feel something I had sworn off for years. In the end, I know that all I got out of it was the truth of who I am, no matter what does actually happen in the future, and that is never a bad thing. Is it what I actually was visualizing? No. Then again, nothing ever is, and the misconception that you will ever have life happen exactly as envisioned is the greatest thorn dukka has on its spiny branch.

The here-and-now has less spikey bits on it that the future or the past, or so it seems. I still marvel at how hard it is to be at peace with the ground of our existence, but I do know that it's a helluva lot easier than anguishing over the past or trying to shape or predict the future.

Thanks to all my friends for checking in with me. Sorry for the spacey and philosophical tone of this post. We now return you to your regularly scheduled weirdness, already in progress...