Back in Bulgaria, I had the feeling that analyzing and trying to deeply understand the things that were going on in my mind would no longer be my way. The funny thing is, that about six years ago, I had felt something similar but different. Back then, I had been thinking a lot about things that had been bothering me. It had been like a whirlwind of analytical thoughts, dissatisfaction, and sometimes desperation.
At one point, I realized that there was no need for the strong dissatisfaction and desperation I had been feeling. I understood that I could change my perspective on the things that had been bothering me. This realization came to me as I was reading the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. In the book, he describes many interesting concepts, but the one that resonated with me the most was his explanation of how humans believe in a lot of things that we just made up, such as money, countries, and companies. These things don’t actually exist, yet most of us believe in them so strongly that they shape and dictate much of our lives. Furthermore, Harari describes how subjective, dynamic, and elusive the human perception of reality can be. I began to think that if I was already believing in so many things that were not real and these beliefs were having such a big impact on me, and if my perception of reality was not solid but could be changed, then I could create new beliefs and change my perspective in a way that would make me feel happier. This had been the starting point for a long process of change. Dissatisfaction and desperation became less and less important. I think that at this point, I had started to actively change my perspective on things by altering my thinking about them. It was a lot of thinking, but it felt good.
Around the same time, I had begun to meditate and study various literature on happiness, mindfulness, Buddhism, philosophy, and psychology. At that time, my primary motivation was to understand how the self within me worked. In retrospect, I realize that I had been approaching this desire on an intellectual level. I had believed that nearly everything could be explained in this way. However, over time, this perspective had begun to shift. My intellectual understanding became more and more supplemented by a deeper level of feelings and beliefs. Despite this, I still had changed the way I saw things by analyzing, understanding, and then altering my perspective.
At some point during my journey, which had begun about a year ago, I had started to feel that analyzing and understanding felt clunky and unnatural. I had realized that I didn’t need to understand everything. However, I was still very much in my thoughts. Then, back in Bulgaria, these active, analytical, and transformative thoughts started to become less important. I feel that the intense time I had spent with Artha, our love, mutual triggering and everything else, had the effect of a catalyst.
I felt that my perspective on my thoughts and the concepts they were following had changed. I got the impression that the relationship between feelings, beliefs, thinking and arising thoughts might be different than what I had believed. From that point on, I felt more open towards myself and started to be more honest with everything that came up inside of me. I felt a different kind of authenticity and naturalness, something I hadn’t experienced before. The feeling reminded me of sayings like “there are no wrong feelings.” I felt liberated from certain boundaries that I had applied to myself in order to be authentic, mindful and spiritual. After Istanbul, I found myself relying on analytical thinking again at times, but mostly I felt like I was starting to welcome all aspects of myself and observe the parts that irritated me. So, I guess that was more observing, welcoming, and letting go than thinking, analyzing, and actively transforming.
At one point on that beach in Turkey, I got the strong impression that I might be able to fully trust what felt like my pure being. By “pure being,” I mean “me” without the arising and commenting thoughts in my mind. In (Zen) Buddhism, there are the terms “small mind” and “big mind.” I read most about them in “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. It’s a deep topic, but I guess for now, it’s enough to say that the big mind seems to perceive everything as it is, while the small mind (as a part of the big mind) tends to add delusions in the form of stories to everything one perceives. So, with a calm small mind and fewer delusions, one might suffer less in life because one would judge life less in a dualistic way of good and bad. I felt that what I felt like my being was pretty well described as the big mind, and my thoughts as the small mind. I felt like that I might be able to trust my being completely at some point, and I felt like the journey there had already begun.
I continued to attend the Dharma talks of the Bright Way Zen community via Zoom, and I was reading the book “The Unborn – The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei” translated by Norman Waddell. It felt like it came at just the right time and I connected strongly with it. From my understanding, Bankei’s teachings mostly revolve around the belief that one can fully trust in their pure being and that is all that is necessary to not suffer in life because that being will take care of everything that needs to be taken care of. He refers to this being as “the unborn Buddha mind.” My brief descriptions of the “big mind” and “small mind” and this one about the “unborn Buddha mind” are by no means adequate descriptions of the concepts that Suzuki and Bankei are offering, but I think it’s enough for this post. Reading that book and its constant repetition of trusting my being felt relieving, confirming, and very healthy for me. It felt like my belief in my pure being kept growing.
One day, while sitting in Rosinante, I looked at the switch for my charging booster. I had always wanted to drill a hole in the interior of Rosinante to properly install the switch, but I never got around to it because I couldn’t decide on the best way to do it. But on that day, I just did it. Afterwards, I fixed an electrical connection of one of the batteries that I had been meaning to fix for months, but didn’t know how. I also improved the routing of the cable from my power converter through the cabin. These tasks that I had been putting off for so long, ended up taking only a couple of minutes to complete. And after these, I found myself tackling a number of other things that seemed to just appear. I simply did what was next and didn’t give much thought to them. It felt like a chain of flow. I experienced this feeling on several days while I was on that beach.
On another day, I hiked to a small waterfall and meditated at a peaceful creek. On that day, there were even fewer distracting thoughts in my mind, and I felt easy, bright, and light. When I returned to my camper and was reading on the beach, I felt the urge to look out at the sea. I noticed a bird swimming on the waves in the distance and thought it was astonishing that my human visual system could see the bird so clearly from such a distance. I wondered if I could see dolphins, and as if on cue, two dolphin fins appeared not far from the bird. The bodies of the two dolphins partly emerged from the water, one bigger than the other. They dove, reemerged, and disappeared. I laughed wholeheartedly.