"The evil out-flowings that arise from the illusions of the mind and the infatuations of egoism, concern the mental life more directly and are such things as fear, anger, hatred and pride; these are purified by study and meditation and that, too, must be attained gradually and not instantaneously."-- The Buddha
Anne woke up with the gong at four in the morning. She had little sleep and when she did finally sleep it was restless and full of thoughts of Joseph. I never should have come here, she thought. I should never have even returned to America.
The last few years had been peaceful. She had traveled to Japan and studied Zen in temples throughout the country. She had reached some degree of realization. She was sober and at peace. So much so that she was eager to return to the States and start life again. She had friends at the center and was excited about the retreat before going back to work.
But he's here, she thought. And there went everything that I've been working on. She caught herself. Not everything, she thought. I'm still sober. I still have that. Not even Joseph could take that away from me. And he wouldn't want to.
Her mind drifted. She knew she was supposed to be concentrating on her breath. This was the rough part of the retreat, the first few days when the mind wandered all over the place and getting it grounded seemed impossible. She caught herself opening her eyes and glancing in his direction. Their eyes met. He seems different, she thought. I wonder if he even knows that I'm sober. Her mind settled and she felt suddenly delighted which surprised her. I'm going to talk to him at the end of this, she thought. Just for a minute. Just to tell him I have two years now. There's nothing wrong with that. He'll be happy to hear it. Then we'll go our separate ways and that will be the end of it. We don't need to make it more than it is.
She returned to her concentration. To the breath as she inhaled. Inhale. Exhale. It seemed so simple. Just to be present with the body as it was in that moment. She wanted to turn and run away.
By the time they returned from breakfast, Anne was ready to leave. I cant' leave, she thought. I am driving my friend back home. And then I'll have to explain to them why I'm running away. It would be a fucked up thing to do.
She returned her thoughts back to the breath. Remember what he taught you, she thought. Perhaps the only smart thing he said to you. Don't take it all so fucking seriously. Relax. The mind is going to wander. That is the nature of the mind. That's its job. Just return to the breath. It's your anchor when the mind tosses you about. Let the mind do what it wants to do. Then back to the breath. Back to the center.
She opened her eyes again. Fuck, he looks cute. Really fucking cute. Healthy. Even younger than when we met. I feel bad about that bitch he was working with. I know that must have fucked him up when she died. I almost sent him an email. Why didn't you send him an email? Because you knew what was going to happen. Because you knew you would end up talking to him and then you would end up sleeping with him because that's just what we do and then it would end just as badly as last time and...
Back to the breath. Inhale, feel it come in and fill your lungs. Exhale...
Fuck, he looks cute. I wonder if my roommate would notice if I masturbated really quietly at night .
Back to the breath. Fuck.