*Brace for impact, this might be a long (although duly paragraphed
Tuesday I will be taking a two hour trip up to Abhayagiri Monastery with my wife and mother-in-law to spend most of the day and share a meal and tea with the monastics and hopefully speak with them. I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time. Excited because it will be the first time every visiting a monastery or meeting a monk, apprehensive because I feel I have no place being at a monastery taking up the monastics time with my problems. Having been conditioned by military service, I'm not one to readily seek advice or assistance with 'feelings' as it doesn't really go over well to ask in my position even though my specific job is very emotionally and physically challenging
. I'm encouraged to see military chaplains, but all of them are of Abrahamic faith and no monk that I know of has the necessary clearance to speak in-depth about some of the causes of my problems.
Now on top of this, I'm carrying a lot of....lets say 'karmic' guilt. Almost all of it rooted in sloth & torpor. The issue is that the problem and it's cause are blindingly obvious, and yet I feel helpless to fix it, or rather, myself. I'll be the first to admit that I'm very young, naive, and lazy, but admitting this to myself gets me no closer to solving the problem. I don't meditate, I don't chant, I have 3 Buddha statues and have yet to kneel before any of them, and I couldn't pass a test over Sutta knowledge to save my life. It's so bad, I feel that after 3 years I no longer have the right to call myself a Buddhist, though my dog-tags say otherwise. I feel guilty when I look at those pieces of tin around my neck knowing "Buddhist" is stamped on them and that, should I fall, my remains will be treated as such. When others find out I'm a Buddhist in the military, they naturally get curious and ask me questions which I answer with such hypocrisy I feel required to give them a disclaimer "...but i'm not a good practitioner".
Of course, some of you will say "well theres your problem, you doubt yourself too much!", to which I submit that it is my actions (or lack of action) which cause the doubt, and not the other way around. I find myself buying all these books and spending hours reading through website after website trying convince myself over and over "I am a Buddhist, I am, I am!", but to no avail. The really terrible part in all of this is that I know
this is the right path for me. I know
that through Dhamma all this can go away, that I can find happiness and overcome myself
. I read about Jhana and the idea of equanimity and all of these great attainments and I want nothing more than to be able to have that kind of peace in my life. Of course I'm craving, don't we all? Isn't that what supposedly sparks the drive for us to end this? Desire and craving have to come into play somewhere, I just can't seem to move on to the point of doing something about it.
I don't know what I need. I don't even know if anything can be done about it, let alone what support I can hope for from others. It isn't as though I haven't tried to meditate or practice. Quite the contrary, I've sat several hours over the last 3 years and sometimes with great success that lasts several months, but with each renewed flame comes a wall of water to extinguish it (Basic training, technical training, my job, finances, lack of confidence/faith, depression, doubt, etc.). Now I'm embarrassed to even speak about Buddhism let alone practice it, even around my wife. I feel like I'm being judged even when I'm alone, as though everybody could see right through me and is making a list of all the reasons I'm not a Buddhist. Like a scientist who discovers what he thinks to be the theory of everything, only to be laughed off the face of the planet. I suppose to my credit, I haven't yet crumpled, but that is only a minor victory in which no real ground is gained.
So, scale of 1-10, how messed up am I
*And of course, thanks for reading. If anything, it helped a bit to type this up and get it off my chest*