Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I'm scared.  I feel like I've lost the narrative arc of my life.  This part was supposed to go like this: John quits his job and goes to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism; while there, John discovers the meaningful next step for his life.  Well, the MA degree is almost finished, but I have no idea what to do next.  I'm still not sure what my life is about.

The only thing I think I'm certain of right now is that, beyond finishing the degree, I need to do some more extensive meditation retreats, which I haven't been able to pursue to the extent I had intended because the scheduling at SIBA was so unpredictable, and I didn't feel like I could just abandon classes as some of my classmates chose to do.

But I have so much anxiety over my life right now I'm worried I've ruined my chances for 'the meditation I was looking for'.  When I came here, I was relatively relaxed and open to whatever would come next, and it felt like a really good mental space for some extended meditation.  But that didn't happen, and now my mind is continuously racing with anxious thoughts and my body is pumped full of anxious adrenaline every day, worried about what it all means and what I should do next.

Oh well, I guess that's what I get to meditate with then! I'm scheduled for a retreat next week, and I intend to do a Goenka course while I'm here, and depending on how long it takes me to write the thesis, I should have time to do some more meditation before my current visa expires in November.  And then?  Back to the 'safe' old job because I know what it entails and it pays well?  Continue with academic Buddhism (which would mean more years abroad)?  Just meditate somewhere for a while?

I can't yet let go of these questions like: What am I building up to?  What is the point of this (whatever I'm doing)?  What will, in fact, bring me happiness or allow me to stop searching and clinging?  What can I do that will provide me with a sense of meaning and purpose?  Can I learn to stop continuously looking elsewhere?

Those 'stories' about ourselves that Buddhism so often tells us to let go of sure do provide some nice reassurance when they work to provide answers to questions like these!  Even if the stories tend to eventually get disrupted, they do seem to be able to function well for long periods.  And then if we don't cling too hard when they are disrupted, we can find another one.

So, I'm working on turning that fear and anxiety into something more like fun and exploration: What will the next chapter be about?

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