5 weeks, one beach part 3/4: Can I trust my pure being and summoning dolphins without thinking about them? (December 2022)

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.

5 weeks, one beach part 2/4: Goodbye drone, goodbye deluge, and will I ever see Artha again? (December 2022)

When I first arrived at the magnificent beach on the Marmaris peninsula, surrounded by nature, I immediately knew it would be my home for a long time. Usually, when I fall in love with a place like this, I stay for one or two weeks, but at this beach, I ended up staying for five weeks. And during the last two weeks, as sometimes happens in life, everything came together and I had a lot to let go of.

After I left Bulgaria, Artha and I remained in close contact. This was different from being together in the same place, but I was fine with it. Even though our connection had changed, I still loved her in many profound ways. I thought about her, us, the time we had spent together, and how we had been together. Part of me craved the continuation of our romantic love, the feeling of being whole again, the deep love, warmth, and connection in all its glory. Another part of me tried to downplay the importance of this “glory of romantic love”. Over the weeks after I had left Bulgaria, I realized how much my romantic ego had influenced me when Artha and I were together in the same place. It felt like I had used her for my own happiness. I didn’t feel regret or guilt, but from a distance, I could see it clearly. And I felt that I wanted to maintain this level of awareness about that.

When Artha and I had seen each other for the last time in Bulgaria, we both had felt and said that we would love to see each other again after her training. But even though I still believe we had meant it at that time, I had the feeling that although we loved each other, we might not meet after her training. Shortly after I arrived at the nice beach in Turkey, Artha finished her yoga teacher training. She told me that she would be going to an ashram in Germany for an undefined period of time as soon as possible. She would stay for a month, or maybe longer than three months. Part of me felt like it had always known that we wouldn’t see each other after her training. I guessed this was a self-protection mechanism, something like keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment if they weren’t met. I would have loved to see and feel her again, but I didn’t feel angry, mad, or sad. I felt okay with how it was. Like back in Varna, I deeply felt what motivated her to go to the ashram, with all my heart and love. I felt reminded of myself when I had left Germany despite the deep love and connection to Cori. And I felt like something was pulling me to stay on the journey I was on and the life I was living. I did not know if I would have returned to Bulgaria if Artha had said she wanted to stay there. A part of me thought about what the next change in the romantic relationship between Artha and I would be, but for the moment, I managed to let go of meeting Artha soon.

Shortly after I arrived at that beautiful beach, my perspective on making music changed. Until a few months ago, I only sporadically produced songs that I would enjoy listening to after some time had passed since their creation. But that changed, and I increasingly loved a lot of the music I made, regardless of how much time had passed since I created it. It felt like I had found the kind of music I wanted to make. And making that music felt mostly easy and smooth. A couple of weeks ago, I had started delving deep into music production courses. I had learned a lot from free YouTube videos and articles before, but now I was working through long courses for hours a day. Furthermore, I thought it would be helpful to become clear about what my music was. I defined my main genre, style and characteristics. In short, the feeling that I had found the type of music I wanted to make, let me feel confident and good about having a structured approach to my music making. I wanted to try making it competitive and thought that this would maybe allow me to earn money from it at some point. But one day right after I finished a song that I felt was my favorite of all time, my whole perspective on making music switched. I felt like now that I had done this song, that I loved so much, I would not be able to make another song that I would love as much as this song. And at the same time, I felt like my creative freedom was gone. Like I was trapped in a cage. I no longer enjoyed making music, and when I tried, I felt that there was nothing inside me that could possibly become music, and it felt impossible to get really into it. It was no longer fun for me. I felt like I couldn’t let go of my anxiety about failing and not living up to my own expectations for my next song. This realization led me to quickly decide to take a break from making music until I could regain a positive and enjoyable feeling about it.

When I had been in Istanbul I had decided to sell my FPV drone. I had stopped using it for months and no longer felt connected to it. Neither the flying, capturing, nor the editing appealed to me anymore. I knew I wouldn’t get a good deal for it, but I didn’t want to carry around something I wasn’t using. All the stuff that I was not using added up to something that felt heavy. While I was at the beach, a nice guy contacted me about buying my drone. We had a nice conversation via text messages and I had a good feeling about the deal. Since he lived far away from my home beach, I proposed that he would pay half the money in advance and the other half after the drone would have arrived. Two Turkish guys I talked to about the deal thought I couldn’t do it that way and said I shouldn’t trust Turkish guys when it comes to money because they would always take advantage if they could. I understood what they were saying but it still felt unfair to me. They didn’t even have a single contact with the buyer. I still had a good feeling about him and even though we had difficulties with transferring the money, he paid everything as we had agreed. So, I let go of my drone.

At the same time, I was also selling my Deluge (a hardware groovebox, sequencer, and synthesizer) that I had once loved to use. However, at some point back in Bulgaria, I had noticed that I had stopped using it. Like with the drone, it didn’t feel good to keep the Deluge when I wasn’t using it anymore. Back in Bulgaria, I had given it to my friend Michele who took it with him to Germany. A nice guy bought it online and picked it up from Michele’s place. And with that, I let go of my Deluge.

To be continued…