Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

26 Jun 2022


I just noticed that there are many blog posts, mostly from last year, that I haven't moved over into this blog. When I find some time I will do that.

Today I decided to try KDE Plasma Desktop - which I had held off on a long while because I thought it was too "heavy". Well, I have to say that I'm loving it. Over the years since I last tried, it, it has grown into a very polished desktop environment. It has what I liked about Budgie, but so much more. If there are no problems with it, I will surely keep it.

My demands are not very high actually. I could have stayed with MX's native XFCE, but it was giving me some difficulties by not waking up after suspending the computer. In addition, I was irritated by its inability to pin applications to the panel like any modern desktop. So I drifted to Budgie, and now Plasma.

A guest

A, a friend came to visit us, since she was taking part in a workshop on Friday. She's a talker and often I find myself having limited patience for listening to conversation these days - even family. Sometimes I would find myself listening with only one ear to what she was saying, though she's a very interesting person, with her own take on reality. Highly critical, she is from a family of intellectuals. Only in later years has she begun to express interest in spiritual practice.

She says of herself that all of her friends are "special" in some way - she doesn't have mainstream friends. So there is a temptation to feel honored that she counts us among her friends.

She grew up among both Jews and Palestinians - most of them communists. One grandmother married a Palestinian - a well-known politician. He seems also to have been a child abuser. The men in the family seem to have been what she calls "narcissists" and idealists. One uncle was expelled to the US by the British in the 1930s due to his communism. From childhood, she remembers the visits of prominent Palestinians, who later shunned all connection with her, as an inconsequential Jew.

Both her parents committed suicide. Her father poisoned himself - his body was discovered by her sister. A's mother burned herself alive and she discovered the body. Her mother was 44; A. was 21. She lost a brother in the 1967 war.

At school, her Jewish classmates avoided her - for them she was an Arab. But her opinions antagonized both Jews and Palestinians in the family. She doesn't have kind words for any of the political activists and politicians she has known. She recalls that when she told Leah T. of her brother's death in the war, she said something like "one less Zionist". She says that most of these people are only into themselves. "M. W." is the only human being among them, she says.

After her mother's death, it took her years to pull herself back together. She has never been able to enter into a normal relationship - afraid to repeat the experience of her own parents. Now she is in her 60s and at peace with her past - "it is what it is", she says. Today she has quite an easy life in retirement, with not so much money, but freedom, and plenty of time.

I told her she should write about her experience - either in the form of a memoir or in a fictionalized way. D suggested to write stories. But A is afraid to harm her sister, who has always maintained the pretense of "normality" in her upbringing. She is afraid to "destroy her sister's life" by speaking openly about their lives. But I think there are ways of telling this tale. I think of writers like Isabel Allende.

Thoughts about growing old

On our afternoon walk I was telling D that what I principally experienced with DF in Tiru was the degree of his entrapment in material concerns. Here was a fellow that had tried to give his life to spirituality and to being a perfect devotee of Ramana, and in fact he was caught up in concerns about his bank account, and distrust of almost all the people around him. Tragic really, because his sincerity and seriousness regarding spiritual life is profound. This was not the experience I had imagined I would have in Tiru. Eventually I felt like getting away from DF. But perhaps not only from him, but the dryness I was experiencing there, in every other way. DT was the only person I was talking to. I compelled myself to sit four hours in the ashram each day, but could not really fill those hours with meditative practice, and I avoided other pursuits. I definitely learned something from the experience, but not all of what I learned was positive.

At around the same time, I was paying annual visits to my father, who was also plagued by financial troubles. He was not financially secure like DT, but struggling to pay a mortgage and maintain a household, but the message was equally strong. At the end, my father, after living carefully and without excess, and after years of working, followed by the reward of a reasonable pension, discovered that he was still living beyond his means. His difficulties were not his own but those of the economic system that gave birth to them. He did not deserve this fate, but if he had been financially more astute, he would not have suffered it.

I told D that my feeling is that ownership always engenders financial worries, of one kind of another. I fear in my own life facing the same issues as my father and of DT. My feeling is that despite the presence of a reasonable pension and owning a fully paid for house, there is still a continual trail of pitfalls, that come in the form of housing repairs, taxes that the village suddenly discovers that went unpaid and that are suddenly demanded by the state, and other unanticipated costs. She tells me that I don't need to worry about all that, and, indeed my tendency is to avoid thinking about them: but that's not what she means. Her thinking is that, while financial concerns are always present, one can deal with these with equanimity; with upeksha I suppose.

I'm only half convinced. I'm not a Janaka - my tendency is to avoid the problems by ditching ownership and living on a bare minimum. I'm not quite a saddhu; but I would much rather live below my means than at parity with them. Give me a small, well equipped room surrounded by a large forest, with occasional community support, and maybe I would be happy. That sounds like a description of life in Auroville, actually.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.