Day Thirty: Lovemaking

waverly

Hiking the Fresh Loop at Waverly Park.

I had my last cigarette on Friday night, and as can be expected, I’ve been eating like a pig. Many resources, including the Allen Carr book I just read, say that the nicotine withdrawal is very similar to food hunger, which causes you to eat more.

Yesterday, I decided to go for a long hike through Waverly Park in Louisville. I did the Clinic Loop and the Fresh Air Loop, for a combined 5.3 miles, according to the map here. I was originally planning to hike the paved road at Iroquois Park, and made a last minute decision to try Waverly after seeing the sign to Waverly on New Cut Road. I was hoping that maybe I would see the famous, haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium. While it was nearby during part of my hike, I wasn’t able to see the place. What was surprising were the mansions and wealthy neighborhoods hidden in this area. Although not quite a ghetto, the nearby New Cut Road does have a blue collar vibe, with all the warehouse work nearby.

chairsinwoods

Two discarded auto seats on the Fresh Air Loop at Waverly Park.

I have noticed that with quitting cigarettes, my productivity has jumped tremendously. The reason for that is you never get a cigarette break. You are also really engaged with doing the work, because you aren’t half-assing the work so you can have the next cigarette break. So this weekend, I got a lot accomplished. My home is clean, I caught up with three days worth of blogs, did some cooking for the week last night. Otherwise, my sleep is disrupted from quitting. I’m waking up in the middle of the night, waking up earlier than usual, getting tired throughout the day, and going to sleep earlier. I’m expecting this to even out in the next few weeks as nicotine leaves my body.

I’ve also fallen off the wagon with my diet. The only reason is convenience foods aren’t usually healthy foods, and being busy working overtime this past week hasn’t given me much time for cooking. I did some cooking last night and I have some healthy food for today at least. Last week, I was also waking up late every morning. This was mostly due to long hours with no days off, and evening activities and blogging to do. I stayed up late every night to do housework before bed. Another issue was caffeine after 7PM. I’m not beating myself up over this. I expect this week to be challenging as well, with overtime worked to get out of debt and hit some savings goals.

Deng Ming-Dao on Lovemaking

Today’s 365 Tao entry is on the topic of sex, and he has a different opinion about sex from the many Buddhist books and lectures I’ve been devouring the last two years.

“Too many other layers of meaning have been imposed upon sex. Religions straitjacket it, ascetics deny it, romantics glorify it, intellectuals theorize about it, obsessives pervert it.”

“Sex should not be used as leverage, manipulation, selfishness, or abuse. It should not be a ground for our personal compulsions and delusions”

-Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

Following the end of my previous relationship (with the mother of my children), I found myself thinking about dating again and got into a rebound relationship a few months later. As had previously been the case in my relationships, I found sex to be misused as a tool for manipulation and power.

After that, I spent about a year being involved in the Men Going Their Own Way movement, which can best be described as the male equivalent of the “I don’t need no man” kind of feminism. I remember being inspired at the time by the Breitbart article, “The Sexodus, Part 1: The Men Giving Up on Women and Checking out of Society”. As the MGTOW.com website explains in their mission statement:

Men Going Their Own Way is a statement of self-ownership, where the modern man preserves and protects his own sovereignty above all else. It is the manifestation of one word: “No”. Ejecting silly preconceptions and cultural definitions of what a “man” is. Looking to no one else for social cues. Refusing to bow, serve and kneel for the opportunity to be treated like a disposable utility. And, living according to his own best interests in a world which would rather he didn’t.

I found inspiration from the monks at The Abbey of Gethsemani, a monastery here in Kentucky that I regularly visit for a hike on the property, sometimes attending a church service and visiting the gift shop. I noticed that I’ve been with a partner at all times for at least the last 15 years. For the most part, the relationships ended with each partner hating the other. Meanwhile, the monks haven’t had partners for most of their lives, and seem happier than I have ever been.

You sometimes hear the expression “Men Going Monk” instead of MGTOW. That’s the direction I went in. I decided to avoid romantic relationships in the present climate of perceived hostility toward men in society, but decided that I did not want to be as hateful toward women as MGTOW were. In other words, I would become a celibate who did not want to be in a relationship with a woman, but we can be friends.

I lifted my moratorium on dating women last summer and I am in a relationship with a woman now.

Prior to becoming involved with her, I did a lot of soul searching about sex and relationships. At the time it seemed that western sexual morals had failed me, and relationships did more harm than good anymore. What did the Buddhists say about sexuality? From what I was able to learn, Buddhists are not opposed to premarital sex, but are opposed to using sexuality to harm others (and yourself!) For me, that meant avoiding what they call “toxic relationships” (I can’t stand that tired expression anymore) or any relationship where there is manipulation or abuse. I also no longer become involved with people I don’t love or aren’t attracted to, and vice versa.

As Ming-Dao noted, most people probably have the wrong perspective on sex. He said, “Religions straitjacket it, ascetics deny it, romantics glorify it, intellectuals theorize about it, obsessives pervert it.”

Taoism, according to Ming-Dao anyway, seems to be a bit less casual, yet not quite puritanical, about sex in comparison to Buddhism”

“Sexuality an honest reflection of our innermost personalities, and we should ensure that its expression is healthy. Making love is something mysterious, sacred, and often the most profound interaction between people. Whether what is created is a relationship or a pregnancy, the legacy of both partners will be inherent in their creation. What we put into love determines what we get out of it.”

The Daily Stoic:

Ryan Holiday’s chapter title for January 30th is “You Don’t Have to Stay on Top of Everything”. By that he means that the media coverage runs 24/7 and we feel that we are expected to stay current on everything, and be able to articulate an informed opinion about all current events, or keep up with popular TV shows. He’s saying it’s okay to say “I don’t care.” I’ve noticed this on Facebook a lot. A certain scandal or controversy is going on this week: Gay marriage one week, the Confederate flag the next, Hillary Clinton and deleted emails, gun control, and so on. We can try to research the issues and have an informed opinion, if only we could figure out which news source is unbiased and reliable. The end result is a lot of time and thought spent composing debate comments. Everyone fights, tempers are lost, people are unfriended. Next week, it’s another issue and the old issue is forgotten. I consciously decided, as a 2017 goal, that I do not want to participate in Facebook trolling and debating anymore. I don’t need to stay on top of everything in the news. I’d be better served spending time on bettering myself and improving my life than wasting it on frivolous arguments and information overload.

Tomorrow is the last day of January, meaning that I have completed one month of daily blog posts, as I plan to do every day of the year 2017. I will record a podcast tomorrow where I will discuss the experience of blogging for one month, and how things are going with all  the goals, and what has been learned. I will also update my goals for February.

See you tomorrow.
B.G.

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.