Tag Archives: journey

On Meditating with a Buddhist Monk

On Meditating with a Buddhist Monk

While meditating with a Buddhist Monk in New Zealand, I was watching my thoughts about the recent conversations I’d had with all these foreigners I’d met at this stop in my journey. If someone could take a picture of the thoughts floating around me as I saw them in my mind, they’d see heaps of little scenes floating fluidly around my head:

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The french guy talking about how he doesn’t like girls who have square football player shoulders, then, realizing that I do, he backed down off the topic and said, “But with bodies, all that really matters is how it feels.”

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The annoying little 11 year old boy, who, after insisting to his parents that he could help me dig a trench across the driveway, didn’t help. He just wanted to tell me stupid dirty jokes that only an 11 year old would find funny.

“Why don’t you find my jokes funny? Everyone else does.” he wondered.

I replied, “Everyone else is just humoring you.” Frustrated, he stormed off.

“Good,” I though, “it worked.”

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How the people I was staying with for a few days insisted that I carry buckets of water up the hills on their property from their stream to water the newly planted trees.

“You should really invest in a water pump and a long fireman-type hose, you wouldn’t even need to lay in pipes, just plug it in, walk it up and you’re good.” I suggested to the owner of the property, as he struggled to carry two buckets of water with his back brace on.

“No, a little hard work never hurt,” he said after pouring water over the last of at least 30 newly planted trees that needed to be watered.

“But it would save you’re back,” I said as it started to sprinkle.

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The man’s wife asked me to hang up the new drapes she bought.

“Do you have an iron?” I asked, “these creases won’t hang-out anytime soon. I can iron them really fast and it will look so good.”

“Oh no!” she condescendingly said, “you can’t iron this fabric, it’s polyester, a type of plastic, it will melt. The creases will hang out in a week or so.”

“Umm, I’ve ironed plastic before, you just use a low setting.” I replied looking really confused, but then remembering that she just doesn’t know I am the master of fabric, I command and fabric obeys, “But okay, I’ll put them up like this then.”

After hanging the curtains, I smiled at how shitty it looked. And thought, this is business, the customer has to have it their way.

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That same french guy who, when asked if he’d want to take home a New Zealand girl with him after his year-long visa ended, responded, “No, I could never make a woman choose between me and her country.”

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When the meditation ended, I boldly asked the monk a question. “In yoga they teach to clear the mind of thoughts and to give the mind a break from them, but you said that in Buddhism, one is supposed to embrace the thoughts as if you are one with them and think them through. How do you cope with having too many sad thoughts in succession? How do you keep pushing through the same sad thoughts that come to mind every time?

“You just keep thinking them through…all the way to their end, every time, until the the mind is satisfied with it, then it will no longer plague the mind. And you will be free of it.” He replied.

On Caving

On Caving

In New Zealand I suddenly found myself wearing a wetsuit, standing outside the mouth of a cave surrounded by bright green rolling hills, being given a rather short tutorial on how to abseil down a waterfall in the dark. It was one of those moments where I did realize that I was present for everything leading up to this moment, yet I still wondered how I managed to get there.

Next I knew I was in a cave, with the guide’s headlamp flashing in my eyes as he roped my harness for my first decent.

“How far down is the bottom?” I asked.

“This is a short one, only about 10 meters,” he responded.

Down I went, rather slow at first, because I thought I should take my time and enjoy this. Then once I got the hang of it, “Shwoosh.” I landed with a giggle rather suddenly to the worry of the guide at the bottom.

We made our way through tight passages, following an underwater river which caused us to have to dive completely underwater to stay on it trail.

It was the first time I had seen glow worms, though the guides said that there were other caves which had heaps more of them, which I did end up seeing eventually in my journey.

For the next waterfall I volunteered to go first, headlamp off. I didn’t go so fast this time because there were no lights to see where the bottom was and the freezing water was strongly pouring down on me the entire time. In the pitch black I ended up swinging somewhat awkwardly and touched down in a sitting position, in a two foot pool. From there I had to un-rope myself, signal with the rope that I was unhooked (the water fall was so loud that even yelling couldn’t get the message through) and feel my way around the cavern that I had lowered myself into tog et myself away from where the next person would land. The idea was to keep my headlamp off so that everyone could experience the process in the dark. So from there I waited, and waited for the next person. I oddly enjoyed sitting in a dark cavern full of water alone. The wet suit kept me warm enough, though there was definitely holes in the boots, but at that point there are much bigger issues at hand, like, where is the exit?

Finally the rest of the group made it down and we could continue on our way. For an hour and a half we repeated this process of roping down waterfalls, I going first each time because I’m like that.

Then there was a point were we had to start going up and it was then that I hit a wall. Literally it was at least a 14 foot wall we had to climb. I didn’t go first this time. I tried and tried but I couldn’t get my footing, the wetsuit wouldn’t let my legs stretch up far enough for the next optimal spot to push up from, frustrated tears were building my eyes just as my belt got stuck on a ridge, rendering me helpless and forcing me to step down and start all over again from a different section. So there I was analyzing this wall, with the realization that there was no other way to go but up and I had to do it. Everyone was waiting at the top, so up I went, with a little boost from the guide below me, exhausted, I managed to get my upper body over the top, just as my belt got stuck AGAIN, AGAIN. I was shaking and stuck. With a little pull from inside the small opening I had to get through, I finally made it out of the water fall.

The guides gave us some sugary candy of some sort and of electrolyte drink to boost our energies. Reinvigorated, we proceeded to make our way out of the cave. Next I remember being born into a sunny green sheep pasture. I sat down once I was out of the way of those behind me and watched each of them slowly drag themselves out. And I couldn’t help but laugh at how it would look for a random passer by to suddenly see a bunch of people in black suits and helmets emerge out of the ground like aliens.