Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The "Householder's Curse"

Firstly, I'd like to thank Mr Miller for the shout out the other day. Thanks dude!

ahem.

Now, on to the subject of the day, what I have heard called, "The Householder's Curse". When I first heard the term, it was from a Buddhist friend of mine who had heard the term from his sangha, and it specifically referred to children. I however use it as a playful name for everything I enjoy in my day to day life, like friends, family, romantic relationships, work, home repair, etc.

Now all these enjoyments have a price, and that price is my time. Since no one I know is a monastic (though I think having monk or nun friends would be pretty eff'n cool!) or independently wealthy, we all have a certain time crunch, and very specific and precious free hours to spend on our studies and practice, while at the same time going out to live and enjoy life.

If you are going to be a practicing mystic or mage, and a functioning adult in the world, you are going to need to learn how to "Jenga a day" as my lovely girlfriend puts it.

Please be advised: THIS IS A MAGICAL SKILL! If you have no time to practice, and no energy to practice with, you are not going to be able to do any magick at all. Except maybe under a bridge, where you'll be living, because you don't know how to organize your day.

First you have to know your limits, which will set a time frame when you can do your daily practice. (this is of course assuming that you don't need to be up at sunrise or twilight or another specific time for them.)

Like for me, meditation before bed is groovey, unless I had a very active day at work, at my very physical job, in which case it is bad because I will fall asleep. In that case ritual work is a bit better, because it doesn't break the momentum of me moving around. It's all about finding out when you work best at what.

Second, make a list. There is something very satisfying about checking off the things you accomplish on a list. I don't know WHY this is, but there is some strange Pavlovian, motivating effect, that makes a person feel good when they see their score on the big board. A list also keeps you from forgetting all you want to do that day.

Eventually you will have a list, special days off marked on your calender, you will know when you are good at what, and you will have a steady structure.

Now, I want you to take that steady structure and toss it into a fire.

Because life doesn't work that way. You can schedule only so much, arrange only so much, and control only so much. The REAL practice within this practice is getting in touch with the rhythm of your life, and that rhythm will change. There will be airline delays, and sick children, and surprise parties, and babies, and joy and tears, and all of that.

My father raised birds when he was alive, and I took a good lesson from them. Even for a bird, it is a lot easier to stay in the air, than it is, to fly up from the ground. Once you are up there, it's a matter of gliding with the wind. Working with your schedule, testing your limits, arranging your calender, and taking control of your life, bit by bit, is the frantic flapping stage. Once you are up and gliding, you'll have developed that knack for rolling with whatever fortune throws at you.

Monastics have more time and resources to keep a good schedule, and part of their jobs as the R&D department of a tradition is observing holy hours and days.

However, as householders, we are the preeminent field testers. And we have one thing that they don't. Resistance. That is what this whole post is about. Overcoming resistance. Even better than overcoming it, use it to your advantage.

What better way to practice compassion than to take care of a sick parent? What better way to learn to let go of your ego, than when your child plays a trick? What better way to develop patience than to have to deal lovingly and wisely with a child who is acting their age? Our lives are so full of change and turn around that if we keep conscious, we can learn just as much as any monastic or hermit. Don't try to be something you aren't. If you are living in the world, then LIVE THERE! Really Live! If your life is a gray shadow then you are doing it wrong. Enjoy life, and your wonderful heap of "curses"! Use them for your every blessing!

There is an opportunity to cultivate wisdom in every conversation we have. Mindfulness meditation can be practiced to great effect during the morning commute. Sneak your practice in, make it a part of your life, and not just something you do for a few minutes or hours a day. Once you integrate it into your life, reading from the Librum Naturae comes much easier and much more effortlessly. Flap till you're airborne, and then glide when clear, roost in storm, and glide on when it's over.

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