Today is the day before Rohatsu Sesshin. I’m assuming these next 7 days will be filled with pain and maybe a few strange psychological experiences to distract me if I’m lucky. At the same time I’m hoping that I won’t suffer as much as I did during last year’s Rohatsu, but I’ll just have to wait and see. At least this time I’m not as scared as I was then. I guess I am getting a little used to this Zazen thing, as well as life at Antaiji as a whole. 

It’s been a bit over a year since I first arrived here, and to me Zazen is still the most difficult and confusing aspect. I still can’t sit straight or even put my legs in half lotus. I’m still constantly moving around in pain, having strange day dreams, half falling asleep, thinking about food, or wondering when the time will be up. Like this, I have lately been realizing how foolish and worthless I really am. I’m constantly trying to figure things out in my mind, eventually realizing that there’s nothing to be figured out, just to start trying again, and again. Constantly making an effort towards unavoidable failure. It’s so stupid that it’s funny sometimes. I say that I’m basically trash, but I mean it in a good way. I see it as a way to balance out how egotistical I am and have always been. Comparing myself with others, thinking that I’m the best and that everyone else is dumb. It’s a humbling experience to realize that you’re just as useless as everyone and everything else. I’m thankful for this. Existence doesn’t need a reason. It just that we want one. I guess you could just consider it as a mild case of negative self-talk, but it seems quite healthy to me, as long as I’m not constantly consumed by it. Figuring out the meaning of life? Impossible. But we still keep trying. At least I do. 

This past year I have come to realize how driven I am by the three basic desires of food, sex, and sleep. Even when I am doing something totally unrelated to obtaining these desires, it is somewhere in the back of my mind. It’s like a reward waiting for me at the end of a challenge, and it keeps me going. Sometimes it feels like these desires are preventing me from truly being in the moment, but other times I can accept that it’s just a normal human being thing. But whenever I obtain what I desire, it doesn’t satisfy forever, and another desire just takes its place. It’s an endless cycle. Is that what life’s all about? Should I aim to be free of desire? Or should I just enjoy the ups and down of this crazy life? In any case, I feel as confused as I was before, but perhaps a bit more okay with it. 

One of the most trying times for me this year was a few months ago, around the one year mark of my time at Antaiji. I had cultivated a strong desire to leave Antaiji in order to live with the love of my life. To be honest, I still don’t quite understand why I left her in the first place, because even now I feel that we’re perfect for each other. I had  proposed to her a few months before coming to Antaiji, but I obviously didn’t follow through with that promise, and even then I felt like a complete idiot, leaving her to spend time at an isolated temple in the mountains. This time though, I was almost sure I was done with meaningless sitting, and had basically decided to leave after the Sesshin in September. During the Sesshin, however, I had what could be called a religious moment, where I felt that what I was about to do was not what I was meant to do. The details are hard to explain, but it felt like some higher power was trying to tell me something. It was a similar experience that had led me to come here in the first place, but it nonetheless took me by surprise, and to be very honest, it was devastating. 

Even after breaking up with my then fiancé to come to Antaiji, I had been seeing her during my winter and summer vacations, and was contacting her from time to time on the phone and video chat. But after this strange experience, I was convinced that I had to stop holding on to her and to truly let her go. After explaining things to the Sangha, I was given permission to go see her in person for a few days to explain the unexplainable, and that I did. 

Although I have not contacted her since then, I still cannot say I have truly let her go. I think about her often, and wonder why I’m here. In Zen, letting go seems to be one of the major teachings, but letting go of letting go seems to also be a thing? Whatever it is, I’m just as lost as I was before, if not more, but still act like I know. 

Recently I find myself complain a lot about nothing, and maybe that’s the main tone of this yearbook post as well. Sorry about that, but I can’t really help it. I also find myself constantly eating more than I need, but we all have to be addicted to some type of pleasure right? Or maybe that’s just me.

After reading what I’ve just written, I’ve discussed almost nothing about the reality of what we actually do everyday at Antaiji. All we really do is sit, eat, work and sleep. So then why do I complicate things so much? Fuck if I know. 

I don’t have much else to say, so thanks for reading. Hope you have a nice day.