A Certain Kind of Doubt (written 2016)
How do I feel about this enterprise two years into it? I like that the website gives me a place to post notices, keep a schedule for meditation classes, give links to things that might interest people, and then leaves it to them to check in or not. Much better than a troublesome e-mail list that might get out of date, that lands messages in people's mailboxes, well-timed or not. A website means readers visit when they choose, read what they choose. Yet, I have mixed feelings about the blog, though that was my prime motivation when I began. That is, I would be writing anyway in my personal journals and it is motivating to share. But I don't know who reads it, if it's read at all or if it's useful. And it's awfully quiet out there. Despite my “contact me” page on this site, few do, other than those who are already Dhamma-friends. Plus, I know the net is a morass of opinions. My purpose is not just to add to that. What I want, what I wanted when I began, was to find a way to share the journey. This is what it was like for me then...a young mother, a beginner to meditation, after a few years, my first retreats, as I was learning and thinking and exploring. This is what it's like for me now. Today. In this moment. Over the last few weeks. As I wrestle with concepts, with mindfulness, with meditation, with keeping on keeping on with this practice that permeates and saves my life. Maybe sometimes it's like this for you too. But is this helpful?
Right speech, the Buddha taught, should be true, timely, beneficial. And writing is speech. Honesty and a true rendition of how things are for me, through the lens of practice, is always my guideline, whether the content of a blog is “flattering” to me or not, in agreement with prevailing opinions or not.
I trust, I guess, that what is timely will hold an individual's attention, will remain in memory, while what is not on target at a certain time for a certain reader will just bounce off or perhaps be stored in memory for when it is appropriate. I know that kind of thing in my own life. Teachings that I read but can't yet relate to so that they glance away and find no landing. A comment from a Dhamma friend that barely registers at the time. But later, something in my experience unearths the thread to what I heard or read and I reel it in and take another look. I'm ready to consider what was said. There is something that suddenly speaks to me.
And what is beneficial? Well, that's serendipity too, I suppose, in an enterprise like this. One week speaking to one reader, another week missing the mark altogether for that one, but perhaps speaking to someone else. It's an action based on trust.
Today is a day of a certain kind of doubt. Skeptical doubt, the Buddha taught, is one of the Five Hindrances, obstacles to practice. It's a tricky one. Doubt in the teachings, doubt in ourselves. Doubt in any guise has a heaviness to it. It's like stepping into wet sand. So today a certain kind of doubt is bogging me down. Doubt in the usefulness of what I do each week, sharing my thoughts, sharing my experiences. It's not a plea for everyone to rescue me and go immediately to the e-mail link to send encouragement. It's a place for me to look at, in my own practice. To ask relevant questions: What am I feeling? Why am I suffering? Not distracting myself from what is there. Looking. And in asking, why am I suffering, I get closer to the base. The grasping after results, the need for certainty and the selfing that flows through all human endeavor. “This is mine” includes some measure of pain.
So, it's pretty much exactly two years and I'm prone to assessment. And what assessment means is measuring something, a something, that in this case, is not measureable. Ah...thus the doubt. There's the underpinning of my practice for today. Sitting with uncertainty. The impact and influence of most of our actions and words cannot be measured. Doubt is balanced with trust.
The second factor of the eight fold path is Right intention. I'll come back to that and find a space to breathe and be with uncertainty.