The search for enlightenment takes me to a room in London chock-a-block with Buddhists, we are going to meditate. I’ve listened earnestly to the instructions from the teacher Rinke-Dinke-Rinopoche ( what are the chances of a white anglo saxon man from Surrey being named thus – what a world of eternal surprises I inhabit ). I know that should thoughts arise during my meditation I am simply to let them waft by, rather like the passing countryside viewed through a train window, noticed but allowed to pass.
Me and meditation are not exactly strangers as I’ve sat in front of a Buddah somewhere or other more times than I care to count over these last few years and there I have attempted to meditate, I use the word attempted as I can’t say that it has worked. ( I have no real idea what it is that I expect to work, but that’s not the point ). The point is that I have this idea that there’s something in “it” and being obstinate I’m very attached to the idea of finding out what “it” is.
Todays meditation is Loving Kindness, Rinke-Dinke-Rinpoche relates that the practice is divided into five sections, each section heralded by a wooden batton banged against the side of a Tibetan Singing Bowl. The first gong is my clarion to express love for myself, internally.
I prepare, sitting cross legged on the floor, in my best Yogi/Buddhist kind of pose ( I’m a bit of a hybrid who likes that Yoga shit as well as Buddhist stuff). I make sure that the Tibetan bracelet I bought in the Himalayas with Om Mani Padme Hum engraved around it is visible on my wrist, figuring if Buddha is watching I may get fast tracked to enlightenement, a little like Priority Boarding on Ryan-Air but without a surcharge.
Instructions to self:- Breathe, don’t forget to breathe, gentle, deep, stomach rising and falling.
Back straight, hands nesting inside each other on my lap, head slightly inclined down, no more than ten degrees, lips slightly apart, jaws relaxed, eyes closed – all check, here we go ready for lift off.
The singing bowl is struck and resonance fills the room with pulses of aural warmth, the ripples of sound mathematically count down in volume until they become almost inaudible, until
So here I am, meditating, ready to love myself, kind of.
Almost immediately a thought pops up through my meditation plane window, how long I will be able to sit here, without moving? A mild panic attack quickly follows. Try to ignore the thought of future pain in my knees, I know it will come, but I am supposed to be loving myself in the here & now. I send the thought of future pain wafting along.
A moment later I am thinking of my belly, in a non-loving way. I am conscious of my large roundness & I don’t want it, I would rather have a six pack. I know I live in a world of possibilities, so a six pack is perfectly possible, but it would take effort and lets face it I am useless when it comes to making an effort.
I realise I am challenged on the practice of self love. .So I tell myself I’m a decent person, and I know I am, no really, but then all these little scenes pop into my mind where I’ve been far from decent. Bugger this isn’t going to work.
I should get back to this loving kindness malarkey, as I begin to do so up pops an almost irresistible urge to peek at the woman to my left, I clocked her before the class, low cut top and a cracking stack. Battle valiantly with the inner turmoil of wanting to open my eyes and sneak a peek at her cleavage, but I resist on the basis it may not be very Buddhist, just let it be………….
Decide to clear my head of noise and instead think of nothing. Just think of emptiness & the darkness of looking through closed eyes………………..
Shortly afterwards I begin to spy little purple clouds bubbling in the blackness of my closed vision.
Wonder if this might be an early sign of enlightenment ahead?
Decide it probably isn’t but should remain positive just in case……………..
Soon realise I am bored with purple clouds
No sign of enlightenment………………
Conclude that this self loving thing is a lost cause, it would be so much less hassle if someone else could do it for me. Nobody comes to mind.
The bowl rings out for the second stage, here I am to meditate on a friend or somebody I’m fond of.
Moment of fear arises when I consider the possibility that maybe I don’t have any real friends, only virtual ones. Then settle on loving kindness towards a woman I’m going to call Ms.X. I like her a lot, adorable woman that she is. Practice compartmentalisation by deciding it has no relevance to the meditation that she’s not talking to me. Question self on possibility that I may have made huge mistake by dumping Ms.X and that I am a heel.
Try to suppress thoughts about wanting to sleep with Ms.X again.
Fail to do so and have brief fantasy of awesome repeat sex-fest on tropical beach.
Rudely awakened by unwholesome aroma in the room, think a Buddhist has farted.
Decide that the perpetrator is taking principle of letting go far too literally.
Choose to practice non-attachment by ignoring the assault on my nasal cavities.
The bowl rings for stage three, here I am to meditate on someone I know but have ambivalent feelings towards, neither good nor bad. Abject confusion in selection process as realise this may run into thousands of potential candidates. Settle on the bloke at the corner shop. Sri Lankan fellow with a really bad complexion, think of wishing him happiness with his skin & success in business. Though struggle with personal disquiet over potential lack of gravitas in depth of my thinking.
Become bored with kindness to people I have no feelings towards and instead begin to think about lunch. Cant decide if Sushi or Veg option is best.
Think about size of stomach again and wistful dreams about possessing six-pack.
Hunger wins and decide I will go for Kebab after meditation.
Console self with concept of meat, salad and rice being healthy option covering broad range of food groups. Relapse into thinking about kinky sex with Ms.X.
The bowl rings for stage four. Here I am to meditate on someone I dislike.
For some reason Donald Trump comes to the fore. Now whilst I can’t say I know him on a personal level I am 100% certain I really dislike the unpleasant F*&k wit that he is.
Decide that wishing Trump well is far beyond my present level of enlightenment, decide to look elsewhere and set my sights lower.
Struggle with search for alternative candidate, only one rises to the fore who I really dislike, and I just don’t want to wish him any kindness whatsoever. Think briefly of Number 7 Bus on Oxford Street running him over. Imagine myself at his funeral surpressing outward signs that my interior is in a deep state of contentment and bliss with his bloody death.
Thoughts turn to my bladder.
Feel deep sense of regret for having drunk so much coffee this morning, need to pee.
Wonder if weak bladder may be indicator of old age.
Decide to skip this section of meditation and instead just breath deeply and count from 1-10 silently with each exhalation (teacher has recommended as a good way to calm the mind). Fail abysmally, keep losing track of which number I’m on and having to start over and over again at 1.
At last it’s stage 5. Here with the sounding of the gong I am to send loving kindness to the room and beyond, across London and the World. To all creatures wherever they may be.
Find am unable to send kindness, as pre-occupied with having lost all sensation below knees due to sitting crossed legged for thirty minutes. Berate self for not sitting on chair.
Console the Id with the concept that all human life is suffering.
Decide internal Battle with attachment is lost, realist in me understands this is an un-winnable war and I am doomed.
The meditation session ends, I hobble to a chair and wait for sensation to return to lower limbs.
The well stacked lady walks right past my field of vision and stops in front of me, she begins a conversation with the teacher. I consider for a moment that perhaps there is a God after all and I should forget Buddhism, then ruminate on the nature of happiness, decide life is a yin and yang thing, light and dark. Pleasure & suffering.
As I bask in the ample cleavage view she turns and moves away all too quickly, I am reminded that nothing lasts, all is impermanence, even great tits.
Gradually I feel the blood returning to my legs, with it a mild state of euphoria begins to wash over me and I contemplate contentment.
The realisation begins to arise from deep within, maybe I am really getting the hang of this meditation business, this was my best class yet.
Enlightenment come and get me, I’m ready for you now.