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Journal 2008-08-28

Since writing the above, I haven't enjoyed any other inspiration. Simply bided my time. Read a little from my two books, the one by Thich Nhat Hanh and the other by Tariq Ali (The Stone Woman), studied some Hindi, talked a little with the people in the Surya Guest House, gone for walks, visited the Ashram. Yesterday I heard that Swami Chidananda had become unconscious due to a blood clot in the neck. It seems that his days will not be long. It's an end of an era for Sivanandashram. Odd to be here at this time - I wonder what it means that I am here at this time? Anything or nothing for me? I already feel more distant from the ashram and the Divine Life Society than I did previously. But there is a respect still there. I know that Swami Chidananda is one of the holiest persons I have ever had the fortune to meet. There is the matter of the internal politics of the organization that I have never understood, but knowing organizations, it is clear how these could develop.

Looking at my life lately, I see a kind of emptiness. A lack of direction. I am functioning, but don't seem to be making much progress in any direction. I would have liked to express more creativity, but don't really know how to go about that. Yet I always feel on the verge of something. Maybe what I am missing is a bit of courage.

I have always been better at promoting causes other than my own. That's true of the Sivananda organization and is also true of Neve Shalom. The reason is probably because I tend to believe in people and am a good apologist. Whereas I have less belief in myself and an ego that refuses to develop or conflate.

But lately I have been doing more towards developing my individual point of view, through the internet. Perhaps I should work more on that aspect, find my niche. With my tendency towards being abstruce, I don't suppose I will ever gain acknowledgment in any way.

India

impressions: 454 million people described as poor, by the United Nations. Half of the women feel their husbands are justified in beating them. Diseases, corruption, violence, organized crime, bad movies, cow shit, poor hygiene, inability to face reality, complacency, rudeness, blaring horns, unscrupulous merchants, overpopulation, abortion of females, dowries, expensive weddings, obsession with the more gross aspects of western materialism, superficiality of middle classes, lingering caste and class consciousness, religious divisions, religious charletans. beggars, handicapped people, nationalism. It is much easier to think of India in negative terms than in positive ones. The delights of Indian music, cooking, literature, are all there, as is its lofty spirituality, and the warmness of its people and their ingenuity. It's just that these things tend to fade into the background when one is confronted with the everyday realities of present day India.

Back to me. I don't think I have any kind of future in fiction writing, and it is time to admit that to myself. I might fancy myself as a writer, but definitely not in that. I don't have sufficient interest or understanding in people in order to invent them, and I don't have enough human experience in order to contrive situations. I think I can be a good enough writer of non-fiction, but I have to make up for the holes in my education. Perhaps I should pursue further my education in the field of peace education or some similar field. I don't think my interest in conventional academic topics - such as in the behavioural sciences or education - is sufficiently strong to pursue that, but softer subjects, such as the humanities, holds more interest for me. There's no doubt that I have a penchant for learning and furthering my education and knowledge, but I need to channel it better. Maybe even journalistic or media studies could hold my interest, and I need to develop somewhat my confidence in interviewing people. Perhaps I need to develop video skills.

If I am thinking of developing any further skills or furthering my career in the village, I should think in terms of what can help me personally. Up till now, in the last few years, my thinking has been that I should master all of the skills that are required for presentation of information, such as web design, writing, photography, etc. and I have succeeded partly with this goal. I have been less successful at some areas, such as working with print shops, and the more technical aspects of web development, like java script and flash. I have not even tried video. I'm also not great at getting people to pose for cameras.

I might further develop my communications skills, but perhaps what I need is to develop my analytic and organizational skills I mean my ability to interpret what I am reporting or writing about, and my ability to organize the product. I think I was not far wrong, whenI thought about this a few months ago. Perhaps I did not yet identify a proper direction for development. But I should press on with this in some way.

So there is Galtung - I am not sure whether or not this is the most promising approach. Perhaps there is some Buddhist methodology that would appeal to me? I'm a little afraid of approaches that attempt to read the hard realities of the Middle East according to some glossy western approach. Maybe what I need is a way to improve perception that does not impose any cognitive approach, but which allows one to develop one's natural ability to see things as they are, or even better, helps to reveal the inner, hidden relationships between things.

For action:

take Galtung's peace journalism course

look for new age style vision and writing courses that emphasize holistic vision and the way things connect to one another.

Look for books on the subject of how the world works. Capra, others. Permaculture, ecology, interrelationship. I ching, interbeing. Apply all this to understanding how the Israeli - Palestinian conflict has become so intractible, and why Palestinians and Israelis hurt each others' and their own interests. Study what interests lie behind the conflict. Study if and how it may be possible to change the situation towards peace.

Read the chapter in Thich Nhat Hanh on mindfulness and this is very impressive and touching. It made me think about my mysterious relationship with Dorit - so poorly defined or understood. There was also a passage in the other book I am reading, The Stone Woman, by Tariq Ali, which made me think of that too today. Perhaps the real question is how much I am present to anyone around me, and how it is that I am somehow so distant, while feeling that I am present, patient and all the rest. I always feel that about myself at least, that I am open and friendly and patient as a listener. But perhaps there is something missing in the quality of my listening, such as a lack or responsiveness, or empathy, or insufficient reciprocation, or lack of emotional intelligence. The latter is in any case beyond my control. I can only try to be truly present for the other person, and to be willing to reciprocate confidence.

Let me summarize the miracles of mindfulness here:

1. to be present, to touch deeply the other.

2. to make the other present also

3. To nourish the object of our attention

4. To relieve the other's suffering.

5. To look deeply.

6. Understanding.

7. Transformation.

I have a tendency to exclude myself in my relationships with other people, and, in my relationship with Dorit, to act as if it is outside the bounds of a usual married relationship, as if I were never truly married. Sexually, it was never a very strong match. Maybe it could not be otherwise between us, and fortunately, I did not insist with that. What I probably missed in life was a better sexual relationship with someone, although I think that healthy, long-lasting sexual relationships are probably harder to find than successful marriages. Marriages have more to keep them together, whereas longterm healthy sexual relationships depend upon the ardency of desire in both partners, which is not an easy feat.

Anyway I need to keep these mindfulness trainings in mind. And they relate to what I was earlier saying about learning how to see and understand the world in an integrative way.

In seeing the world I need to develop a tool kit. I have been thinking, while reading about Buddhism, also of Frawley, and his view that in an earlier age, the way that people saw the world was imbued with spirituality, that in the age of the vedas and the early upanishads, the view of the world, by these ancient people was so deeply spiritual that it resisted formulation. The philosophy of Sankara and Buddha was more of an attempt to recuperate something that had been lost, which only half worked. But, be that as it may, they were writing for the world that in which we now lived, and they no doubt understood what had been lost better than we do today. I had better study Frawley more deeply before commenting more. However, my view is one of integration, or reintegration. I think that in our present stage of evolution we need to reintegrate the knowledge and the wisdom of the past, and the wisdom and knowledge of all present day cultures, since we are at a kind of junction and juncture. All things now. We cannot afford to exclude anything. We are a kind of seedbank. What we fail to incorporate now may be lost, what we do incorporate can enrich us.

These sannyasins who walk half naked along the banks of the Ganges carry with them an old knowledge, even if it is imperfectly understood, even if their behaviour is a kind of show. I should spend some time and sit with them, quietly.

The thing about Rishikesh, unlike many another place, is that it is okay here, legit, to do what I am doing here; thinking. reading, meditating, writing. That's what people do here. It is the natural thing.