Just some thoughts, that’s what this post is all about.
Statistics are thoughts, and I liked to cite them here often. For example, my wife’s affair launched as an emotional, on-line affair 498 days ago. Other statistics I have liked to cite include the fact that the vast majority of affairs run their course in anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Six months is 182.5 days; 24 months is 730 days. The average of these two figures is 456.25 days, so that means that right now, my wife’s affair has exceeded the average by 9.15%.
Such statistical thoughts lead me to thoughts of other imagined statistics, here, from James Joyce’s Ulysses:
What relation existed between their ages?
16 years before in 1888 when Bloom was of Stephen’s present age Stephen was 6. 16 years after in 1920 when Stephen would be of Bloom’s present age Bloom would be 54. In 1936 when Bloom would be 70 and Stephen 54 their ages initially in the ratio of 16 to 0 would be as 17 1/2 to 13 1/2, the proportion increasing and the disparity diminishing according as arbitrary future years were added, for if the proportion existing in 1883 had continued immutable, conceiving that to be possible, till then 1904 when Stephen was 22 Bloom would be 374 and in 1920 when Stephen would be 38, as Bloom then was, Bloom would be 646 while in 1952 when Stephen would have attained the maximum postdiluvian age of 70 Bloom, being 1190 years alive having been born in the year 714, would have surpassed by 221 years the maximum antediluvian age, that of Methusalah, 969 years, while, if Stephen would continue to live until he would attain that age in the year 3072 A.D., Bloom would have been obliged to have been alive 83,300 years, having been obliged to have been born in the year 81,396 B.C.
My thoughts right now is that, in the realm of human relationships, statistics aren’t very meaningful. Such statistics are just abstractions, and cannot express the qualitative aspects of human relationships and their inevitable vicissitudes; thoughts about such statistics are just abstractions of abstractions.
I also thought about going down to the center where I do my spiritual practice, and in fact, this evening, I did. In this sense, my abstract thoughts became real in the world of actions. I went there to look for a book, and in the end I chose a book called The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind. This is Buddhist stuff, mind you. It was written by Traleg Kyabgon, a master of the Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism who died last year. Lojong, as a practice, consists of the contemplation of pithy slogans as a means of generating greater compassion in one’s daily life; there are many commentaries like this one that are available, and they can be very helpful, as the pithiness of these slogans can, at times, get confusing. The slogan I worked with this morning was as follows:
Self-liberate even the antidote.
Hmmmm. The antidote here is the analytical meditation that one uses to cut through confused cognition, but what does it mean to “self-liberate” even that? The commentary I had this morning was by Pema Chödrön, who simply said that you need to let go of everything—even the realization that there’s nothing left to hold on to. This is a slippery concept to wrap one’s mind around: Buddhists call it “emptiness,” or shunyata; while it sounds like there is nothing there, the reality is that “emptiness” is instead full of possibility, endlessly giving birth to the myriad experiences we have each day. Clinging too tightly to our perceptions and thoughts is essentially the cause of suffering. Those of us who have and are experiencing marital crises know this all too well. In fact, working with an obstinate spouse has been one gigantic lesson in ego-clinging: I know when I’m doing it, but I sure as heck know when my wife is. She’s pretty much stuck there 24/7.
So, in working with this statement this morning, I just found myself thinking it (yes, more thoughts) again and again, and prompting myself to just be at ease with whatever came up, and then to just let go even of that. But I guess I felt I really wasn’t getting the meaning of the slogan, and so therefore I went out and bought this book. The explanation was so simple: contemplation can no sooner dissect itself than can a knife cut itself, and so whatever experience or answers that might arise from contemplation simply have to be let go. This is a bizarre, but very helpful image: a knife trying to cut itself. It’s kind of like a Zen koan that deliberately throws a curve at you that provides no mental way out.
And now, at the end of the day, I’m left with just thoughts. More thoughts. Thoughts about tomorrow. Thoughts about the fact that my wife is coming to town. Thoughts about the Japanese breakfast I’m going to cook in the morning and thoughts about how I’m going to pack it up and leave it for her. Thoughts about the things I did not buy at the grocery store for her this time. Thoughts about whether my actions are enough. Thoughts about thoughts, even, like the thoughts of incredible frustration that arose as I was heading out to buy this book this evening: the frustration of feeling like I could be doing more to reconcile my marriage, when in fact I’m already doing as much as I can, and am pretty much relegated to a virtual holding pattern while the affair winds down.
Enough thoughts for today. Tonight, I’ll let my subconscious produce those thoughts for me in the form of dreams. Maybe something interesting will come up. You just never know; but, when you dream, you have to let go.