I only hope you had as profitable a weekend as I did, Bush. Three days (almost) of (almost) total silence. Can you imagine anything more beautiful? This, nestled in among the snow-blanketed hills of New Mexico, just a little south od Santa Fe. It was cold at nght, I promise you. And the meditation sits sometimes seemed long: an hour in the morning, and three consecutive hours in the afternoon interspersed with two half-hour periods of meditative walking. Sometimes, too, the hour seemed unbelievably short. It depends, of course, on what the mind is doing. If it's busy fighting the whole thing, as mine sometimes does, then the hour gets interminable: I sit there wondering what I'm doing there and when it's going to end. When the mind's at rest, observant and attentive and the breath flows smoothly, the hour flies by.
It would have been great to have you there with us, Bush. Our teacher--a Thai Forest monk who normally studiously eschews politics in his teaching--relayed the joke that the voice of God had been revealed to be actually your Cheney on the intercom, and that no one had yet figured out a way to tell you. Had you been with us, though, I believe you would have been much moved by his teachings on goodwill, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity. Such great wisdom in the Buddha's teachings, much of it not at all inconsistent with the teachings of your Jesus but with the added benefit, for me, in not needing to believe in any God--or gods. The notion that happiness is possible for human beings to achieve, if only they manage to let go their cravings, is an attractive one; and the breath meditation is a wonderful way to release those cravings, if only for one moment at a time.
What I brought home with me: a renewed sense of the expansion of my potential as a human being and the goal to look for simpler ways to lead my life, less demanding and invasive of all those other living beings with whom I share this planet; and a rededication to the notion that sitting meditation need not be viewed as some kind of self-imposed disciplinary torture, but that can quite simply be a pleasure, a daily treat, or retreat. "A nice place to be."
More later, Bush. Give me time to catch up with your doings and I'll be back in touch. In the meantime, as the teaching goes, may you be happy; may you find true happiness in your life; may you be free from animosity; may you be free from stress and pain...