I was sure remorse about my decision would set in, since I change my mind about everything all the time, but after I sent my note, I did indeed feel relieved. I like a simple, quiet, orderly life with no dirty dishes in the sink and plenty of sleep. Samantha, in the way of the clinical pastoral education supervisor, periodically asked what my theology, or dharmology, had to say about this decision or whatever else we were discussing. I don’t feel obligated to obey the words of the Buddha, in part because Howie regularly reminds us not to be Buddhists, or even “meditators,” but just to be awake.
On the other hand, I have never through experience concluded that anything the Buddha said was wrong, and I have been thinking lately about his view that we ourselves are as deserving of kindness as anyone else is, and also what he said about living a life unburdened with tasks.
Here’s the beginning of the Metta Sutta (“sutta” means “teaching” in Pali):
This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
I kept thinking I could find a way to be at ease while doing CPE and to have a sense of well-being, but the truth is that I felt worse with every passing day. It’s possible that during a year of CPE, I would have figured it out, but more likely that I would have felt increasingly stressed and miserable and that I might even have become physically ill. It’s hard to relate to others from a place of well-being if one doesn’t have any. Friday evening I celebrated having made my decision and communicated it with a pesto pizza with pepperoni and sausage from Marcello’s. It was delicious and I slept quite well afterward.