Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2009 05 20 Wednesday

2009 05 20. Wednesday.

My good friend and housemate Gene dropped me off at the Vienna Metro this morning around 7:45am. I'll definitely miss living with Gene at his place. We had lots of great dialogs during the 2.5 years I lived there. He has helped me learn a lot about clear and compassionate communication. It was great to live with someone who shared a lot of my values and interests. I always felt very at home there and Vienna, VA is a very nice place to live.

I took the subway to Union Station in DC and met with Vera and Mark to share and have a little breakfast. Vera and I have been closely connected for a long time so a lot of emotions were coming up for us. She and I have worked on practicing good communication throughout our relationship and it felt good we were able to talk in a compassionate way about what we both were feeling. As a parting gift, she gave me some dark chocolate. I'm eating some of it now as I write this. Yum! I'll have to eat it fast now that I'm here at the ashram. Chocolate and the hot Indian summer don't mix at all. Mark had to leave for work and Vera and I had a classic Hollywood goodbye at the train departure area. Straight out of a hundred romance movies but still wonderful (and also difficult). She is a dear friend and has helped me grow a lot.

The Amtrak train to Newark airport was cold! Brrr! The ticket taker lady said the temperature was not adjustable and they had no blankets to offer. Seeing as I was on my way to south India in the summer, I tried to enjoy this last blast of arctic temperature. On the train ride I saw mile and mile after mile of old abandoned factories with broken windows and covered with graffiti. Kind of depressing. Made me think of all the people out of work around the world. Made me start to worry about finances and my future and if I was doing the right thing heading off the the ashram. Sometimes you just have to make the leap and hope for the best. A good chance to practice trust.

As best as I can articulate it, the main reason I came out here was to see if I could deepen my moment by moment mindfulness. At Gene's place I spent a LOT of time surfing the web, checking email and listening to all my podcasts while I was working around the home, preparing food, etc. Podcasts are very addictive for me so I want to see what it would be like to be in a place where there was no chance to hear them. I've been reading a number of books recently about the life Sri Ramakrishna (many thanks to Sanatan for being very generous and loaning them to me) and that just deepened the strong pull to be in a place with very few distractions where I could at least try to see if I can go more deeply into my mantra practice and other moment by moment mindfulness practices. This game (leela) of spiritual purification for me (for now at least) feels like the most interesting game with the highest payoff. I may totally wash out but at least I'll try.

I mostly listened to science and technology podcasts so it will be interesting to see what happens in those areas while I live in the bubble of the ashram. I unsubscribed to all my science and technology email lists so I'm kind of putting myself in a time capsule. I have this passion for keeping up with the latest science and tech news. OK guys, if something really interesting happens in the sci/tech world let me know!

The moment of truth came on Tuesday evening before my trip. I erased all the podcasts from my MP3 player and my computer. Here at the ashram there's no wifi so now there's no easy way to download my podcasts even if I wanted to. I also listened to some spiritual podcasts. My favorite was a weekly pod cast called "Buddhist Geeks". Really good and highly recommended if you have any interest at all in meditation and spiritual practice. I never missed an episode.

I propose a contest for someone to email me a very plausible sounding science/technology story that could be either real or bogus. I'll have to decide if its real or fake. I'll treat the winner to a mouth watering all-you-can eat dinner of watery rice and over-spiced curry (you have to pay travel expenses, however). I think only Para, Gaven or my brother Tim or my sister Teresa could pull off a fake story that could fool me.

Another thing I'll miss is being able to see the Obama speeches and press conferences on YouTube and elsewhere. I never got tired of seeing him speak. Apologies to my Republican friends. What a minute. Now that I think about it I don't believe I have any Republican friends... ( smile! ) Actually I do have one Republican friend that I know of. If I'm not mistaken this person told me they voted for Obama! Shweet! I told various friends that I feel comfortable leaving knowing the country was in good hands with Obama. Like many I was REALLY overjoyed at his election.

Its a little scary leaving the usual workaday world of earning money and all that, but it feels good that I'm going to try this experiment of spending a longer time at the ashram. Not to do this would feel like I was giving in to all my fears about finances, etc.

At the Newark airport I had a brief talk with an Indian Christian man (George) from Kerala (which I think is about 30% Christian). He was very nice and friendly and I told him about why I was going to India. He was puzzled that a nice American raised as a Catholic (me) would become so fascinated with Hinduism and Gurus (or Avatars, to be more precise) and all that stuff. At the end of our conversation we were talking about how nice it was to see the cultures mixing and learning from each other.

No comments: