I fell off the radar for a minute here. I couldn’t help myself. I could say I fell headfirst into life, and was so busy being busy that I couldn’t spare a thought for this fine corner of the world. But that would be quite untrue. I didn’t fall into the activities of the wide world. No. I fell into books.
First, it was The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham. Then I found Wuthering Heights, the sole narrative opus of Emily Brontë. Lately, I’ve just begun A Tale of Two Cities, of the Dickensian canon. What am I doing reading books by dead British people while I am in India, you may ask. Being subconsciously colonial? Perish the thought. I certainly hope not.
It’s just. It’s just…there’s a kind of inspiration that only the well-wrought word can offer. The world of literature is a better lens for life than life itself often is. In the nature of a character and the drama of a story, we can see the riches and foibles we fail to notice in ourselves. A meditation treatise is not the same thing as a novel. These just happen to be the novels I can download for free on iTunes and read on my phone.
Class is still a source of great richness, but sometimes a person needs new inspiration, from unexpected corners. Today we were going over the remedies to distraction during meditation. One of the primary antidotes to a wandering mind is to focus on the cost of being distracted. The unaware mind engages in unaware action. When we are distracted, we can be thoughtless, short-tempered, and unkind. When we lose our grasp on what’s happening here and now, we can become neurotic or morose or hyperactive. Ouch all around. But even as I list this, it’s a tally in my head. Remember to stay focused, otherwise you will do unfortunate things that will lead to suffering and it will be a bummer. Makes sense. It’s not terribly potent though.
But then. Then you read Wuthering Heights. And you meet Heathcliff. Ah, Heathcliff! A demon of a man. Driven almost mad and definitely robbed of his humanity by what he would have us believe is love. But you could only call the source of such cruelty love if you had forgotten entirely what love is meant to be. Clearly, Heathcliff had never met the dharma.
Ah, so what is needed does come around. In the roiling, raging hearts of three generations of imaginary English people, I rediscover the reason why I meditate. And in the meantime, the mind is lush with prose and sadness. And though I am reading by myself in the park, I am reminded that I am not alone, that every human has a heart that rages. For all our aspirations of equanimity, we are karmic beings yet, imprinted with the untamed ramblings of our countless, forgotten lifetimes. What can we but do than hold court together in our given world and seek to see instead of judge what is?