Day Two: Ablution

I want to preface this post by explaining that I am still working out the kinks and difficulties with my audio recordings. I have been experiencing some difficulties loading the files up to Soundcloud. I just registered for an account with Libsyn. I will most likely have to create a podcast page and post audio files maybe once or twice a week instead of daily. In the meantime, I will just make daily blog posts. 

Washing at dawn:Rinse away dreams. Protect the gods within, And clarify the inner spirit. 

I was introduced to the word “ablution” somewhat recently, following a workplace controversy that was addressed at an all hands meeting late last year. Like much of the country, my town is experiencing an influx of Somalian refugees, and we now have many of them in the workplace. At certain times of the day, these immigrants will wash their feet in our restroom sinks, which are not designed for that purpose, before praying. Many of the employees were disgusted by the practice and complained about water messes in the restrooms. The company is now looking into installation of special basins to accommodate this ritual. I wondered if some of the complaints were about prejudices toward other religions here in the Bible Belt, and then I remembered that some Christian denominations also perform ablutions, usually called “foot washing”. I have no interest in participating in the controversy, but the practice intrigued me enough to learn about, and understand the reason for the practice. 

“It is believed that there are 36,000 gods and goddesses in the body. If we continually eat bad foods, intoxicate ourselves, allow filth to accumulate anywhere outside or inside of ourselves, then these gods abandon us in disgust.”
-Chapter 2, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao. 

According to Deng Ming-Dao, purification starts all practice. I suppose I should take this literally and choose to shower in the morning instead of the night before. That will likely result in two showers per day, since I come home dirty from work in the evening and shower before bed. Perhaps a quick morning rinse will suffice. 

By rinsing away dreams, he says we need to let go of illusions and anxieties in both our sleep and waking moments. Letting go of projecting  meanings on everything. As western Tibetan teacher Lama Marut says, “Things out there do not exist the way they seem to.” 

Protecting the gods within. (See quote above)

Assessment: 

  • I often eat bad foods. Particularly foods that are sugary, very processed, fast foods, candy, etc.
  • I no longer drink alcohol on a daily basis, and haven’t in a few years, but I still continue to smoke cigarettes, consume energy drinks, diet sodas, and take way too much caffeine. 
  • Much mental filth remains. Old grudges and resentments, self hate, negative self talk, etc. 
  • My house is pretty messy most of the time. Will address this issue in future after next week. 

Tomorrow: 

  1. Wake up at 5am. 
  2. Shower. 
  3. Blog. 
  4. No fast foods.
  5. Monitor negative thinking  throughout the day. 
  6. Drink water. Do not smoke during one break at work. 
  7. Spend an hour cleaning the house. 

“Knowledge—self-knowledge in particular—is freedom.” – Ryan Holiday, Daily Stoic. 

Day One: Beginning

Exactly one year ago today, I woke up with a hangover, after attending a New Years Eve punk rock show at Zanzabar nightclub in Louisville. Drunk. Depressed. Angry, even hateful. A month later, I spent three weeks at the Central State Hospital psychiatric ward. I was taken there in handcuffs. The details about the behaviors that put me there are really embarrassing.

In 2017, I will keep a daily blog here. 

The worst years of my life were 2008 and 2014. The late 80s and early 90s were pretty bad too. I wish I had learned about The Stoics and The Buddha sometime around 1985, but public schools in the Bible Belt glossed over that stuff. Maybe life would have been easier,  but no amount of learning and life experience had prepared me for the following to happen in the span of about a year between 2014 & 2015:

  • Sudden separation with the mother of my children. The result of her affair with a married coworker.
  • Her and my children being moved almost immediately into his home. 
  • Less access to my children.
  • Lawyer expenses.
  • Loss of employment.
  • Breakup of a fairly lucrative country band and the end (or maybe hiatus) of my music career in general, which my sense of self worth was based on in a very unhealthy way. 
  • Serious injury accident that prevented me from working for a while 
  • Mental breakdown

      “If you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another’s is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men.” – Epictetus

      How to Make God Laugh

      My plans: This year, I  will work through several books, primarily “365 Tao: Daily Meditations” by Deng Ming-Dao, but also several other Taoist texts, and “Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. I will also blog about my experiences during the year. 

      “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .” —EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.5.4–5

      Overall, 2016 was a great year, despite the rough beginning. I set out to heal and recover from the several simultaneous life disasters and it turned out to be one of the better years of my life. During the year, I read many Buddhist texts that were helpful, established habits of attending group meditation sessions and hiking meetups. In November, I decided to plan some New Years resolutions (which I have rarely ever done) . I will work on small challenges and build on them as the year progresses. 

      Challenges for this week:

      1. Wake up at 5AM every morning. 
      2. Blog.

        “It is said that if one chooses to pray to a rock with enough devotion, even that rock will come alive.”

        Chapter 1,  365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao