Memory & Anticipation

So much of the Buddhist philosophy makes sense to me. Except the aspect of non-sensuality – at least as I am understanding it.

To give up the pleasure of the senses, seems to me a premature death. Surely one can consciously experience and enjoy being in the world – this very physical world that we can only perceive with our senses – without craving more of it.

Does savoring inevitably lead to a desire for more? Isn’t savoring the opposite of craving? Being open to what comes through the senses, without clinging?

I’m going to forgive myself the cherry-picking. And forgive myself for not understanding other people’s mental organizing. My blue is not your blue and I am not going to get into a pissing competition to impose my words on you.

Fall in line. Pick a paved lane. Submit your perspective.

I’m going to try to find a way around that uncomfortable word “mindfulness”. If I’m not selling sh*t, is it appropriation? A personal iconology – a personal understanding that would otherwise leave me with misogynistic systems through which to navigate the world. Navigate the self. My self.

No, thank you. These, too – these hierarchies and transmissions of wisdom – are illusions.

My son and I talked about giving in to the experience of cold. A non-judgmental acceptance of the experience, the relinquishing of resistance means less suffering. But pain, yes, that is there. Childbirth – the acceptance that the pain comes in waves, then the letting go of each of these moments. I will not speak for all women who’ve given birth, but in my case it was a sensual experience of pain without suffering.

And it took just as much effort to let go of the fear as the pain itself. I know these are supposed to be the same thing: fear of death is suffering as a consequence of clinging to life. But the belief in reincarnation is a balm for that, until one is ready to step off the merry-go-round. We should all be so lucky to get to the point of wanting off. Satiated. My grandparents both were there – “good Christians” that they were – though she edged towards agnosticism as so many of her prejudices un-clenched toward the end.

She lost her fear before she brain began sticking, long before the rest of her body shut down. She was in the physical world, experiencing it through her senses, without clinging. Pain – even judgment – but suffering? Those who cared for her, surely. But her?

Memory is suffering. Anticipation is suffering – clinging to the story we’ve written for ourselves, no matter how awful that story, we grab an illusion of control through it. We can predict the future. (What a difficult illusion to give up: preparing for the worst.)

I have to blow out the candle now. Watch the smoke curl. I’ll turn off the space heater and lace up my running shoes. The story is, it’s cold out there – and dark at 5.30. The dog is curled up in the chair and he’ll reluctantly step down, but then stretch his back legs one after the other, and reach his head through the harness. And his tail will start waging in anticipation. I’ll open the door and it will stop. He hates the rain.

Are we so different really?

There’s nothing new here. But that’s okay. Nothing has been transmitted to me. And reading about a clementine – listening to someone describe one, give it a circumscribed meaning for me to swallow – is not the same thing as tasting one.

2 Replies to “Memory & Anticipation”

  1. If mindfulness is a neutral word that includes all your perceptions, it will then include your pleasurable noticing of the things which give you pleasure as well as the pain of anticipation you or your dog perceives when the door opens to a rainy morning.

    I try to stay in neutral as much as I can. This of course means I miss the greater moments of pleasure, but I also miss the moments of greater pain.

    Sometimes this Buddhism seems more about avoidance than embracing the world. I want (a non-Buddhist desire) the equilibrium in my life, which comes from that state of near neutrality. There is a certain contentment in that.

    1. Thank you for sharing this. I do have problems with the Buddhist tendency to avoid – the whole thing about retreats is odd to me. I really can’t see how living in a cave for years does anything for the world. One has to be pretty woo woo. Seems like such a waste of good intentions.

      I’ve been using a dialectic behavioral workbook and do find that there is a huge relief and peace in pulling away from the emotional response (the story) and focusing on the facts. I don’t feel less joyful really – because the kind of knee-jerk joy I have felt has always been tinged with fear of the rug being pulled out from under my feet.


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