Sunday, October 01, 2006


I noticed today, checking my email, that the backlog of emails in my Inbox didn't count toward what I really wanted - *new* email. Email I hadn't read before. Email that, even if it, too, sat unanswered for a couple of days after it's novelty (in a justifiably email-oriented way) ran out quickly.

This is not the first time I have noticed my weakness for new stuff. When I was leaving Rainbow, I noticed quickly that even getting free books had counted as "new" - I don't have to actually purchase anything (and I have nothing to back this up but it does make me wonder if perhaps consumer impulses are not just a search for new-ness with cash attached because we are a cash to commodity based society). Just having something new was worth it. But, and here's the "sad" bit - no matter how much I had wanted it (and frequently I would get books from reps I had really, really wanted for as long as a two years' wait!), I didn't want it as much after it was no longer new, which doesn't last for long. Talking about switching Miksang to digital, we talked about this a lot this last week - how it's easy to get perfectly functional projectors and laptops for affordable prices so long as you buy the necessary parts now, as high turnover means stuff really drops in value immediately. Of course, obselence is more a burden than a boon, but for now, it's helpful-seeming.

But a desire for new-ness is not a "problem". First of all, if I lose interest in something it reflects to me that perhaps I wasn't so interested in the first place. I wish I could say I have exercised this well in relationships in the past, but hey, that kind of stuff takes a bit more learning. I have certainly learned it, forcibly by being on a more limited budget lately and also through contemplative practice and meditation, on a material level, or at least, how to be aware of it (eg if something loses value quickly...). And on the inverse, I have discovered what happens when I really really commit to something - an action, a philosophy, an object. This kind of commitment, faith, is not something I would say was modeled well for me in my childhood, but I know I have thirsted for it. And today the acknowledgement of that dedication was noted and matched beyond my expectations.

John authorized Maxine and I both to teach not only Level 2 of Miksang but Level 3. This was not the original plan, because although Maxine has been studying with him for years and knows Level 3 well, I just learned it this week for the first time. Even with Maxine, John noted that Level 3 isn't totally developed yet, not like the previous levels, and no one else has ever been authorized to teach Level 3 (limited folk can even do Level 2). I was blown out of the water, and not looking at Maxine at the time, but I think she was too. And yet, it makes sense. It's right to put eggs where they are safe, and she and I are dedicated to these teachings, wholly. This makes us "full teachers" - there is actually nothing more in the literal Miksang path he could give us now, though there are things we'll be fleshing out. After that is Absolute Eye, which is much more zygote, and as we discovered over many lunchtime conversations this week, we're less and less sure it is Miksang, in a literal sense.

This is very new. All of it is new. For awhile, I was afraid that if I did teaching long enough I would tire of it. And of course that is a possibility. But this isn't a new book, and in fact, these teachings aren't even new, though their packaging is. There is a sense of rootedness, connection that I have in these teachings to a whole lineage, and not just Shambhala. A contemplative lineage: haiku, ikebana, calligraphy. It is because we are both there that Maxine and I got authorized today to teach so far. In the car on the way back to my friends' houses, I told John I was completely taken aback at first, then realized immediately that I would be fine. "I learn best by teaching." I said to him, and all he said was "That's right", meant in so many ways.

This is a new stage for Miksang. This fall marks 20 years since it officially began. John only realized that recently. Now is the time, for what we are not yet sure, but for something starting with this. For new things.

And most of those books *do* get read, for what it is worth. When I was a kid, I used to re-wrap my presents after a few weeks, after the new-ness had faded, then pull them back out again a few months later. They were new all over again. This is how I feel teaching every time I do it, only I never have to put it away. It is always fresh, always there, always new. And so am I.


  1. Thank you for this post, Miriam. As always, your words resonate jin ways I can't exactly explain, but that are good words for me to read right now ...

    Thank you.

  2. i read this when you first posted it but was somehow stuck on how to respond because it seemed... well, i don't quite agree that desire for new-ness is not a problem (except in the way that shenpa and kleshas and even samsara are "no big deal").

    desire for new-ness seems like another way of seeking ground under my feet, another way to get away from the edginess of the present, another way to look for alternatives and act out aggression toward what is already here, including my already-here self.

    and, i almost felt like in this post the tone of your writing was the ground you were filling in under your feet.... like... when i feel "right" i write like this....

    but that might be just because i didn't resonate with what you were seeing (inasumuch as you were seeing that desire for new-ness is not a problem) so the tone of wisdom and perception rang false to me... i might be totally off-base or just misunderstanding what you're saying... or.... something else bad that i can regret, so i can enter my own familiar territories of self-reproach. ;-)

  3. what's interesting, birdfarm, is the difference between freshness and newness. i have been thinking about this since this post, and your comments sort of clarified it for me, as i wasn't clear in the post. what i talk about at the end of the post is about fresh-ness, the every moment is new. what i sort of meant to say, but don't feel was clear, is something i feel i barely understand but have touched just enough to have faith in - that every moment *is* new, so there is no need to seek out newness, because it is always here. in that way, seeking newness can be troublesome, if something must always be falsely novel (new book, etc), rather than seeing things just as they are...

    ah a world to explore, natch? thank you for comments!

  4. and more on new-ness

    looking through class notes from another night, i noticed a student said this "new things open us so that we notice, just notice. the idea is to be like that without needing a new thing to give us the impetus to be open."

    great further exploration!....

  5. thanks for the responses, that clarifies what you wrote a *lot*. yes, that's why i like to travel (i read your most recent post as well, where you talk about travel and severing connection to self, but it's still percolating), it opens you so you notice everything, you're really totally alive. but yesterday i was thinking about taking photos in exotic locations and i was driving through Cross Plains, thinking that i should make an experiment of treating Cross Plains (or Mazo or whatever) like an exotic location and find all the amazing little details there, things that people from another country might think are interesting and intriguing, or just things that will look beautiful in photos. There's an old wall with lovely s-shaped brackets helping to hold it up...

    but yes, fresh-ness. "whatever arises is fresh, the essence of realization."