Going forth into homelessness
So as some of you may or may not know, I recently made a decision to make a pretty large change in my life. I decided to, in the language of old Buddhism, to go forth into homelessness. This was not a rash decision I made, I gave it much thought and was less a response to financial pressures and more a response to my desire to further my practice by eliminating many distractions and attachments to my modern and material based lifestyle.
I am now staying at the Northern California Vipassana Center outside of Kelseyville California. It is not my home, but rather I am staying there in what is called ‘extended service’, a program where I alternate between taking a 10 day course and serving by preparing food for students taking the courses meals for two courses.
I did not make this decision to avoid having to work or some form of escapism. While serving we all work very hard preparing meals for approximately 70 students each day. It is a good opportunity for me who has quite a few years experience working in kitchens professionally to use my skills to help those who are taking a serious undertaking to learn the practice of Vipassana mediation. The days are long and begin at 5:30 am and finish at 9 or 9:30 pm, which would be a pretty poor way to try to avoid work. Staying at the center long term was not an attempt to escape the stresses of daily life as when taking a 10 day course in total silence with approximately 11 hours of concentrated mediation a day would as some of you may or may not know, would be just about the worse attempt to escape from reality imaginable. That intensive of a mediation program you are utterly confronted with not only the contents of your mind but slowly with considerable effort and radical honesty, start to witness with direct experience the nature or your thoughts and their effects on your body. This is a intense focus on the true nature of reality we all live and overtime you have no choice but accept total responsibility for ones state of mind and to a certain extent your physical health as well.
Though this process takes nearly all of my time and energy, there is no pay whatsoever. All work is done purely on a volunteer basis in an attempt to reduce attachments to financial success and concerns thus working towards diminishing the ego and pervading sense of ‘I, me, mine’ by dedicating most all of my energy towards helping others to discover and or continue to develop ones meditation practice.
This ‘going forth into homelessness’ is a renunciation of the material world, my role in society and my perceived identity in the social community i was once a part of. Though I have given up most all of my possessions and material belongings, I did keep my car so I could still drive form the center between courses and spend time with my children. Through the graciousness of their mother who agreed to take them 100% of the time and temporarily suspend our 50/50 custody arrangement so I could more seriously pursue my meditative practice. I would have sold my car and thus rid myself of the expense of insurance and gas but again, seeing my children whenever possible was too important to me as I wanted them to know for certain that I was not leaving them in favor of something else or abandoning my responsibilities to them as their father. Though i will not, for the near future, be contributing tho their college fund, I am still fully committed to ensuring they know I love and support them with all my heart and being.
This is where you can help me not only develop myself and deepen my awareness of the nature of reality but also help others develop themselves as well by offering some small financial support to help me keep my car legally insured and with enough gas to visit them when I do have free time which is basically every two weeks or so. My meals and lodging are provided by the center in exchange for my efforts to help maintain the center and meal preparation, but as I said there is no financial renumeration. It requires a total commitment to help my self and others and cannot be infected by financial concerns which would only work to foster the ego and the *very* deeply rooted sense of self.
I have provided a link to donate via paypal to allow others to donate any amount they see fit to help me maintain the few financial concerns I chose to continue. My car is fully paid for, so I now have no payments other than insurance and gas expenses. If you could or would be willing to support me in my efforts to better myself and thusly improve, in some small the way, the world we all live in. Any support would be deeply appreciated and accepted with a deep sense of gratitude and graciousness. I realize in our culture asking for money and renouncing ones home is mainly considered an act of mental illness or some abstract laziness, I can only assure that this is for me not the case. I am not ‘crazy', nor am I lazy, I just made some conscious decisions to work towards a different set of goals than many of my contemporaries.
Please do not donate out of a sense of sympathy as this was, for me, a choice. Donate if you can out of a desire to help someone who is taking a concerted effort to help others and ideally make this world a better place to live in. Give out a a sense of desire to help others as well, not because I am less fortunate but because you feel that this type of effort is a worthwhile endeavor. You do not need to be a meditator or a ‘Buddhist’ in any sense of the word to feel our material culture could use a little realignment or even provide options for others not as fully committed to financial concerns to still be able to be an active part in their family.
Any amount is fine and I have no expectations in this attempt to ask for support, I am just putting it out there with some hopes it may be received by some as an acceptable effort. Even asking for money, especially in our culture, is a way of diminishing the ego and this for me is attempt to help release myself a little bit further from the egos powerful grasp. Each donation will be responded with a thank note of some kind from myself but I will not be making any sort of public announcement in regards to try to make sure that the act of giving is done so out of care and not a desire for public recognition. Not that there is anything wrong with recognition of ones efforts, but that is not what this is about. Donations should be made out of a sense of selflessness and hopes to make a better world for all.
I have provided a donation link above and below as well as some links to provide more information about this process and the organization I am working with. Hopefully this can clear up any confusion if need be.
thank you so much for time and I hope you are feeling satisfied with your own personal efforts.
with loving kindness,
more links and information to come