The walking room that I had discovered was really very beautiful. At one end was a 4-foot-high statue of the Buddha, perched on a dark wooden shelf, so that his eyes were at the level of mine. The first time I was in the room, three yogis were walking across its width. Walking meditation is most typically done in a back-and-forth pattern. I don’t like that. (Here comes aversion) I like the loop trip.
I yearned for walking the room lengthwise. If I did that on a central path, I would come face-to-face with the Buddha. The next time I entered I was alone, and so I got what I wanted. At the opposite end from the Buddha statue, there was a little alcove between two closets. I tucked myself in there and faced my friend from afar. Then I slowly walked towards him, watching as he got closer. When our faces were about two feet apart, I would sometimes bow, and sometimes not. (Bowing is a whole other topic that I’ll save for a future e-mail.) Then I would turn around and put foot after foot until I was in the alcove – the back wall a foot from my nose and little side walls to my left and right.
At that point, I created a meditation. Walking towards the Buddha, I was living the teachings more and more. (Pausing when I stood close to him) Turning around was turning away from the teachings, and walking back was getting ever farther from them, until I was cramped physically and spiritually inside the alcove. (Pausing) And then to feel my turning away from the restricted life, facing the Buddha once again. Sometimes I would say “Remembering” to myself as I walked forward, and “Forgetting” as I returned. Again and again I trod the path. And more and more, the small smile emerged as I turned my back on the Buddha and moved away. I was gently holding the leaving of what I sensed was true. There was happiness within the sadness, allowing the rhythms of life to be there.
After a few days of these sessions, I saw something: I was now addicted to a new walking meditation route. I needed to have eye contact with the Buddha, and needed my coming-and going relationship with him. (Sigh)
So what to do? My experience of the moments in the room was often blissful. I wanted to hold onto that bliss, and even push to make it more blissy. So I got to look at that. Needing pleasant experience after pleasant experience. Except that this isn’t what life is like, is it? Life keeps showing me liberal portions of both pleasure and pain. The trick seems to be how to hold the pain.
Seeing my rampant attachment, I fantasized about having an Insight Meditation Society staff member open the door and put up a sign: “All yogis will please walk width-wise in this room, so that more retreatants may use the space.” That would fix me and my craving. No more approaching and leaving the Buddha.
What do you think? Would my life be enhanced if my deepest attachments were continually uprooted? I don’t know. Think I’ll sit in the question.