December 13, 2004

The Allegory of Sitting

You sit down, adjust your posture, and it starts:
Okay, this time's going to be a good one—in, out, in, out—I'll remember what she said last week about not pushing too hard for enlightenment—that's not my problem, though I'm sure it's the problem of some of these other people here—in, out—should I say Om at the outbreaths or should I just observe the breaths?—it always takes me a little while to get settled, I need to get used to that—a lot of thoughts at first—should I think, "Thinking about…" or should I just welcome them and let them pass?—this ankle is going to cramp up in five minutes, I can tell—should I move it?—let it go, let it go—chin sinking, pick it up—don't forget to go to the cleaners' right after this—why? why is there dry cleaning?—this stupid robotic society—in, out, in, out—okay, starting to clear—starting to feel good—here comes that feeling—…—that was nice, it was light though, I've had better ones—ugh, I started thinking about it as soon as it happened, so it broke, I didn't go any deeper—I must just sit, I must just sit—no thoughts, clear sky, let the clouds pass idly—I smile and wave, "Hello, clouds!"—in, out—I'm being nonjudgmental, that's good—a bird's singing outside, and I noticed!—but I put it in words, I should try just to notice without having to comment to myself, "Oh a bird's singing outside…"—breathe, breathe, in, out—usually at this point I can start to sit straighter and concentrate more on just the breath—yeah, it's starting to happen—in, out, in, out—deeper, deeper—…—…—that was good, that was deep—oh, damn it, I did it again, labeling it to myself and it dissolves—well, is there anyone really who never has to do that—can she do that, is she completely enlightened?—I don't think so—sometimes in her talks she admits she isn't, but I think that's supposed to make us think she's just being modest and she really is—but I'll bet she really isn't—I mean, not like Milarepa or anyone—I can never possibly do this in this lifetime—all I can do is sit here and maybe even if I don't feel a single thing it'll help give me some credit for my next lifetime—yeah, in my next lifetime I'll be really enlightened—in, out, in, out, in, out—truck groaning outside—shut up, truck!—maybe I should open my eyes, would that work better?—the guy across the room always has his eyes open—but he seems so arrogant—how can he pretend to be so enlightened when he's so obviously arrogant?—forget him, forget him—starting to feel good again—oh yes—of course it's not about a blissful feeling—but how the hell else am I supposed to be able to tell what's happening?—and anyway bliss is better than pain isn't it?—if you're not going to be enlightened you might as well enjoy it—forget these thoughts, forget everything—clear away small mind, focus on big mind—I can do that, I've been doing this enough years—sitting nice and tall—"Look at her, she has good posture"—no, don't start scripting a drama!—just this, just this—better—okay, now—…—…—…—saliva in my mouth—well that's a sign of samadhi, isn't it?—but then I always wonder what to do about the saliva and that ruins it—why can't I just forget the saliva—so they'll think, "Ooh, she's drooling," so what?—maybe it's even a sign of great progress, drool spots on one's shirt—go back to basics, posture and breathing, you're never too advanced for that—wonder how long it's been—feels like at least ten minutes—if there's another ten minutes, I can do it, I can get back to samadhi—what if I suddenly achieved total realization today?—wouldn't that be something?—no one would ever expect it—but of course that's exactly when it should happen—"Who, her? She achieved total realization?"—Yes, and you can just lump it, buddy—then I'll be teaching them—one morning she'll be sick and I'll be the one who rings the bell and gives the talk—from then on I'll be known for my dharma insights, I'll be sought after—I wonder what the Dalai Lama is like as a person—maybe I'll meet him—would I want my students to call me by a title or just by my first name?—oh, shit, what am I thinking of, I should be ashamed of myself—just breathe, just breathe, just this, just this, in, out, in, out—that bell's going to ring soon, I can feel it—I wonder if I have ESP—I want to try that new coffee shop across from the bank, which reminds me, get some cash—
And there goes your sitting, and there goes your life.