Just now, I had written a few short paragraphs of what I believed to be the completion of my correspondence. My problems now seem moot compared to all that has been presented to me over the past few weeks. How can I truly represent my experience, from the comfort of my home? Although much more difficult to bear, it was exceedingly easier to channel my experiences from the physical and mental crucible of the Indian sub-continent. I'm finding myself, at a loss, perhaps too comfortable, perhaps too full of vegan cookies.
Several years ago, I spent a few short hours in Rome. The circumstances of that situation are unimportant here, however I often joked afterward that I would write a travel book titled: Rome in Three Hours. I remember spending time at the Coliseum, gazing down from the tiered ancient walls, wondering what it must have been like to look up from the floor of the arena. What would I notice? Would I be terrified? I couldn't answer those questions then, I'm not sure I can answer them now. However, when I closed my eyes and tried to picture a description of my time in India, I was standing in the center of the Roman Coliseum, with a breast plate and helmet, shield and sword. Hoards of Indian men and women staring down at me screaming, waving white scarves, much like those seen at a Spanish bullfight. Its true, most of the time I was afraid, I was angry, anxious, coarse, distrustful. These were my assailants, they welled up from within me and presented themselves like beasts from the bowls of the Coliseum. I took off my armor, laid down my sword, and one by one, I struck them down. This is Buddhism, this is meditation. Spiritual War. Perhaps, the only battle worth fighting, because it is all that can bring peace to yourself, and the world.
So it ends, just as it had began. I sit, typing away, at my desk in the corner of the living room, at a fairly unreasonable hour. There is something comforting about bringing things to a full circle though. As not to deceive, I must admit, my journey ended a handful of days ago, earlier than I had expected. The reflection of a decision that I had made in the small town battle ground of Sarnath. Although, at times I felt as if I could press on further, I was completely content with my decision to leave. I needed to prove to myself, that there was nothing to prove to myself, or to anyone else for that matter. What I mean is that, all I had set out to do, spiritually and temporally, I had completed, there was no reason to meet the arbitrary time unit of one month, that I had set up. At first leaving felt very invalidating, which was something that made me realize, that view must be let go of. How could my experience be completely invaluable because I returned five days early? These are the petty goals set up by a western mind and ego, based on numerals, measured with addition and subtraction. There is no room for feelings, moments, emotions, triumphs. As I sit here and type, I'm happy to have traded this grading system for a more fulfilling one. One that doesn't grade at all, it watches and notices, and just is. Something that nurtures a life of freedom from delusion, a fluctuation around the breath, an easeful existence always being where you are.
"Get the shit off your face." Thats what my friend, the Tibetan Lama, had to say about my beard. It seems funny now, but I understood what he meant. He knew what I was feeling; that I've been hiding behind the hair on my face, like it was some protection from something unseen. My Indian battles now over, I rest in Brooklyn, recovering from the austerities of a third world country. The victories I've won have only scratched the surface of the work that lies ahead, but already I feel a deeper awareness of the universe, and a greater ease in my life, a great shift toward a knowledge of the absolute. Lurking deep below the surface, behind the walls of the Coliseum are beasts and monsters that now, I cannot fathom, but I must face them all. This is my life journey, this is my purpose. I have shaved my beard, my armor is laid down, I am fully exposed. Daily, I sit down upon the floor, coaxing the beasts from their lairs, and one by one, I will overcome them all. Come at me, do your worst. I am not afraid.