Impermanence, Doubt and Freedom

If there’s one thing that traveling offers to you, its the opportunity to reflect and observe yourself at the deepest level.  Without the normal distractions of TV, internet, etc, this “I am with me” environment can be incredibly fruitful.  I had a real clear experience of my self, my neurosis, the other day as I traveled from Bali to a little island called Gili T.

Gili T, or Gili Trawangan, is one of three small little islands off the coast of Bali.  I avoided Gili T last time I was here because it is deemed as the party island.  But after experiencing Gili Air and really loving it, but not loving the surrounding beaches, I decided, two years ago, that the next time I come, I will go to Gili T.

On the two hour boat ride there, I got encompassed in doubt!  “Why am I going to Gili T?  Its a party island, a lot drunk idiots I won’t be able to connect to.   I’m going to feel uncomfortable.  I should just go to Gili Air!”  My mind went on and on.  But it also had another voice coming through:  “No, Jory, just stick to the plan.  You’ve had this plan in the works for two years!!  And what’s the big the deal anyway, its only two days!  Anyone can endure for two days!  And if you really hate it, Gili Air is only a 25 minute boat ride away!”

For the better part of two hours I went back and forth.  I was partly enveloped in doubt, but at the same time there was a constant observation going on.  I started contemplating impermanence and my very limited understanding of it.  If all things are impermanent and constantly changing (which certainly going to an island for two days is) why am I in such a state of distress?

I began to rest.  I started to realize my fear of not feeling comfortable and how a part of me thinks it is going to last forever when it arises.  And how that lack of understanding of impermanence makes the actual feeling of discomfort (when it arises) so much worse!  As I kept piercing through these veils, something in me started to shift.  I began to fear less.  More ease arose.  I realized the ever changing nature of my experience and that in my life I am constantly striving for perfection.  That striving for perfection brings about a feeling of always trying to do the right thing, thus also creating the potential to do the wrong thing!  This is an erroneous and wrong view and has caused me a lot of suffering!

Once I surrendered to the whole experience and brought forth the wisdom of impermanence, I immediately realized the opposite of striving………observation.  Observation brings awareness of the situation, both external and internal.  In observation, there is ease, presence, and an ability to access and adjust…..if need be.

Entering into this new mind space, by the time the boat docked, I was at ease.  And within two minutes of being on shore, I was in love.  The vibe felt relaxed and alive, there were things to do and a lot of beautiful people.  I got a room about 5 minutes away from the main scene and it was quiet.  All my worrying was for naught.  It was totally unnecessary.  And even when I woke up at two am in the morning due to jet lag, I got up, walked to the beach and joined the party.  There was a DJ, 100 people dancing, some fucked up, some not, but it didn’t matter.  I danced, I practiced yoga, I felt a real state of joy.  It was truly a surreal and extraordinary moment.

The Buddha called impermanence (Anicca) one of the three marks of existence.  Understanding of Anicca, along with Anatta (non-self) and Dukha (unsatisfactoriness), can bring complete awakening to the practitioner.  And clearly the intensive focus on one can bring forth the wisdom of the others.

In this ever changing reality of life, how present and unattached can we be with the ephemeral phenomena?

This is the view from the island I was panicking about going to!

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