Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dukkha strikes again.

Every time I see that word I want to make a Sith joke, but somehow I think most people who read this wouldn't get it. Did you know that the idea of the Jedi was losely based on Buddhism and Eastern principles? Random tidbits of info are one of the many services I offer on this blog.
Oh noes! Dukkha! Something in my life has me dissatisfied and/or suffering and uneasy! Just like EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET. Even the mountain worries that it might be worn down by the rain, though it rises up proudly to the clouds. But me? I've decided to feel dissatisfied about something that is really ridiculous.
I am feeling homesick for Japan.
Not only is this ridiculous, as it is not my native culture and I was only there for perhaps two weeks, but it is also petty. I am not uneasy about losing where we live or not being able to eat the next day. I'm upset because I can't travel somewhere on the other side of the world that previously took 3 years of planning and saving to go to.
If I had to guess, it's because this time last year we were in the midst of making final preparations. We spent so long focusing on it that the absence of it makes my mind search out for something regarding it. In this case, reminding me of the beauty of Okinawa, the friendliness of the folks in Kyoto, the smiles from the girls at Rera Cise. I have been thinking more and more about how much I would like to experience it again, and add new experiences to it. Bob has also said he would love to go back, though perhaps it is something to be planned for on a 5th anniversary or something.
I have gone about trying to handle it in all the wrong ways. I made meals of Japanese food hoping that might assuage it, but to no avail. It made me think of the places we stopped in Shinjuku. I tried to read articles and look up pictures, but all it did was remind me of all the things that we haven't gotten to do yet. By catering to the craving and dissatisfaction I was aiding the dukkha in its job to make me feel unhappy with my life as it is.
I remember reading a story a man told about camping. He often became horribly homesick for the northern woods, and when he heard certain bird calls it made him think of it. One evening when he was camped in the middle of the northern woods, though, he heard the lonely, low call of a loon out on the lake. The sound made him homesick once more, even though he was literally in the middle of that place for which he was homesick. This is the strength that dukkha can have over you, that in the middle of having what you want you will still want more. I know that even if we were standing in Tokyo right now, I would at some point, perhaps in the middle of the night, wake up and wish I were in Japan. Only to remember I am literally sleeping upon its earth.
It is something interesting to note, and to acknowledge, but were I to beat myself up for every time I craved something or longed for something not only would I be bruised and bloodied, I would be punishing myself for being human. But isn't it funny how such strange things can arise from the mind and take on an almost tangible quality in our lives? The mind has amazing power over the physical and emotional states of the body; One must be aware of it, but also be willing to be gentle when it occurs. It took the Buddha at least 5 years of solid meditation to achieve enlightenment, and this without the concerns of families or paying bills or going to work. For the rest of us, it is quite alright that it might take a bit longer.

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