That’s a line from the dedication prayer I conclude my meditation with each morning – the line that stands out to me just now.
So my second month down here has come and gone, and at a slightly disgruntled moment earlier today I was thinking ‘yes and not much to show for it’. Which led to an interesting reflection – as I was grumpily stomping along in a sandstorm on Marazion Beach, salt and sand in every orifice – about why I feel I need to have something to show for myself and my time here; and what exactly, and to who? Maybe I was mostly talking to myself – to the part of me sort of trying to recreate my London life of roughly three days a week paid therapeutic work, to pay the bills … but over this past week I’ve allowed myself to start thinking: well, what if that’s just not going to happen down here; and do I even really want to recreate my London life here – wasn’t the whole point of coming down here to do something completely different, to hang more loose from that kind of regular, conventional pattern of life? To take more of a risk towards really putting my spiritual practice at the centre of my life, and to see what happens when I genuinely do that? To trust that it will turn out alright, that something new and as yet unknown will arise from that?
So yes, this was a rockier and grittier month than the first, with me keeping on painfully bumping against my fears and limitations in all areas. But it all feels fruitful and necessary; something I have to go through and can’t bypass, no shortcuts…so even during my most challenging moments I feel simultaneously quite exhilarated that I’ve really done it, that I’ve had the courage to take myself to the edge of this land, to something brand-new and as yet unknown and unformed. I’m realising that my scrambling and rushing to sort out my working week, as well as being related to my neurotic worry about money, is at least partly also to do with wanting a more solid context, to feel I belong somewhere specific and am contributing something of value. With wanting to be less of a lone drifter in this overwhelmingly wild and beautiful landscape. Walking along the coastal path I feel alternately or even sometimes simultaneously joyfully free and painfully lonely – the feelings as huge as the landscape and moving with it and spilling over like the waves, ebbing and flooding with the tides, waxing and waning like the moon. I’ve planted a winter garden, wanting to put down roots, to stay put. Thinking of my grandmother, so firmly rooted, especially in her vegetable garden. The two horses in the field next door have firmly attached themselves to me and I love them. They remind me of my grandfather who still ploughed the field with two horses I also loved and was a bit scared of, as a child. I’ve ended up in a landscape of vineyards and cabbage fields here interestingly, very similar to that of southern Germany, except for that vast sea so close by and astonishing.
I bought a fire pit and want to host a full moon puja here next month, for the local buddhists. I’ve been humbled and impressed by the depth and commitment to spiritual practice I’ve encountered here so far in several buddhists from other sanghas, some of which I had never heard of before. I am also becoming aware of a hunger for clear and coherent spiritual guidance of many others. The classes I’ve visited so far were all heartfelt and moving, but didn’t offer much of a guiding map to a newcomer. So maybe that’s where we can contribute something with our specific, systematic approach to begin with, and see where it leads? We have started a morning meditation drop in class at a local alternative gallery, so let’s see what emerges there. It feels good to start to contribute something, and to host a meaningful event later this month.
So alongside my physical and spiritual wanderings and my search for work, I’ve started learning about the significance of the stones and waters, air and light round here, and their effects on local art and culture. The hard and resilient quality of granite, the veins of metals and minerals in it from the earth’s core, and the softer, beautiful serpentine and soapstone prevalent on the Lizard Peninsula. White China clay quarries inland, standing stones, holy wells…so much to learn, a big winter project, to read about as well as visit specific places, inland as well as around the coast; to connect with the elemental energies and old stories, and relate them to my practice. Mining and underground passages seem to have particularly captured my imagination right now, the extraction of precious metals from stone. Granite cracking and molten lava from the earth’s core filling the cracks – the as yet untapped potential of the minerals needed for our digital phones and gadgets now possibly being mined by the chinese who have reopened South Crofty surface mine, near the deprived town of Camborne. Stones to build a house with, the earth, grounding – maybe that’s the solid, sheltering element to start with, as we move into winter. But I also want to go sea kayaking, learn to ride a horse, make photo collages, assemble stones and found objects and combine them with words. I don’t yet quite know where to start; too many impressions and ideas and possibilities, all in a restless jumble – ‘may I dance in that freedom of change’.