And what did I find? A lovely physical setting at the beautiful Stowel Lake Farm and a warm and welcoming Sangha and teacher. The Gatehouse was shrouded in fog. A small Thai looking Buddha statue sat beside the teaching chair in the large timber frame room.
I loved the Dharma talk that made all us humans sound just a little crazy in how we conduct our lives. It went like this: We don't like discomfort or pain or what we deem negative situations. We love things that are pleasant and make us happy. Even though we know everything is constantly moving and changing we spend a lot of our energy trying to make everything pleasant for ourselves. No bad stuff please, just straight up, heading for happy, bountiful, feel good, positive all the time.
This is not news to most practitioners but how hard do we really look at it when we're in the midst of it? Sometimes what we know and what we do are 2 different things. And she pointed out that we use a lot of energy doing this. We create a lot of internal stress running this little program of bring in the good, throw out the bad. Truly being with what is, even if it is not pleasant uses a lot less energy. This is not to say we never take action, but it's the constant vying for control of our world, trying to make everything comfortable and perfect that is the problem, the energy sink hole.
She read a few passages from Andrew Olendzki's new book, "Unlimiting Mind". I liked his description of equating grasping with the ego. When we are simply with what's happening, enjoying a sunset, being out in nature, there is no ego, just presence. The moment we want something to be a certain way, to have a certain thing, ego arises. It is the "I" that wants.
It was a lovely little 40 minute sit with a focus on attending to the sensations of the body and environment rounded out with an inspiring Dharma talk. With the limited sitting groups on the island, this might just be a good place to hang my hat for a while. Am I cheating on my true spiritual inclinations (grounds for divorce??) Am I going with the easy choice? Time will tell if I get tangled in my own spiritual web. But I have to say I love keeping company with Dharma friends and there is a great energy from sitting with a group. And in the grand scheme of things, it's all Dharma.