My volunteer commitment is almost up at Dharma Publishing! I'll be wrapping up my projects in one month and then striking out east. Above is a photo I took of sunset at Stump Beach, in case you were wondering how goddamn beautiful it is up here.
In Skillful Means teachings your accomplishments act as a fuel for your future action, and provide nourishment for continuing projects. In the interests of continuing to grow as a person, I'm going to try and acknowledge some of the things I've accomplished here and sketch out some goals for the next phase of life. If that sounds narcissistic and boring, it definitely is and I also definitely don't care. #myblog
Meditation, mindfulness, contemplation - this continues to be a fruitful field of exploration and I intend to continue seeing where it takes me next. In my time here I've done two levels of Kum Nye Teacher Training; I lead a Kum Nye class three days a week for volunteers and occasionally teach retreat guests at Ratna Ling as well. Continuing to learn and plumb the depths of mind is bolstered by teaching - leading any class requires a more intricate understanding of the subject. To really be a good instructor one needs to be intimate with the body of knowledge you're teaching. This is the same principle in teaching anything- Muay Thai, design principles, or cooking techniques. I would like to attend a multi-day silent retreat, and also am open to learning new techniques and practices over the coming years. To not be curious about the experience of being human is no longer an option for me, and I'm happy to chew anyone's ear off about why that's important and necessary work to do.
Political activism - I'm afraid we seem to be experiencing a "democratic recession" at the moment globally, and domestically we have a dangerous ego-driven wannabe autocrat at the helm. And Jesus Christ, this Russia thing. It's a precarious situation, and as someone who has been enjoying the fruits of liberal democracy for a long time I owe more time and energy spent protecting it. How that manifests requires more thought, but I can dedicate my physical presence more if I'm not way out in the middle of the redwood forest. I've been taking liberalism for granted, and recent events have made it clear that we may be a hair's breadth away from sliding backward into a bleak, autocratic political situation. More vigilance and action is required here on my part.
Learn how to teach basic self defense and begin leading free classes for my community. Learning martial arts has been a very important part of my life, and I hope it will continue to be so. I want to continue to train in martial arts to improve my body and mind, but also would like to give back by volunteering efforts to lead self defense classes locally. This may not seem to jibe with the whole meditation and Buddhism activity — but unfortunately we do not live in a safe world yet. Pretending violence doesn't exist is not a rational option, and I'm worried by statistics pointing to increased violence against various groups being targeted by those in power at the moment politically. I'm fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to learn principles of self defense and enjoy teaching, so this makes sense as an extension.
Work is our creative outlet in this world. It is a very important part of my life and, when I am being kind to myself, I am proud and sometimes surprised at how I continue to improve in this area. Applying Skillful Means (think of it like a mindful management training program) to my work at Dharma Publishing has been very fruitful.
In less than a year I've been able to learn Premiere Pro and After Effects - not an expert by any means but competent enough to design intro sequences, cobble together clips with basic editing and export/distribute via online channels and physical DVD production.
I also created the new Dharma Publishing Academy, an online portal for learning Dharma teachings like Kum Nye and Skillful Means. It serves two purposes: preserves and presents the mixed media (audio lectures, video seminars, books) and content Dharma Publishing has produced over the years by turning them into Self Study Programs. And, it's an automatic source of revenue. With no human effort required (other than originally creating the online course) money is able to go straight to purchasing paper for the books printed by Yeshe De and distributed every year to the Tibetan refugees in India. Writing and designing the courses has been a rewarding challenge, and working on a digitally oriented project with huge video files from a place in the woods with satellite internet has been a good test in patience.
There's also all those Stupas, and the work I do in the community here, and the days I've been faced with a choice to say yes or no, and learning to choose "Yes" more often. How my work and activity will continue to unfold is a question I'm still working with. But I am excited to try it out "in the real world." I have an entrepreneurial spirit, enjoy leadership and am excited to continue adding tools to my arsenal of creative expression. I intend to live from a mindset of abundance, at least unless that's proven wrong and I end up destitute (spoiler alert: I won't).
Relationships, do them better - I would like to continue improving here, my connections with other humans is a great space to do self-work from. Family, friendships, romantic partners, coworkers, community members - there's always room for improvement and making things better. Not to get all woo-woo but the bedrock underneath most of our life seems to be love — when you penetrate the layers of mind deep enough that's been my experience, at least. If that's the case then one would be wise to start acting like that more often. Appreciate and have more gratitude for those around me, through daily practice. Develop my patience and equanimity when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
Broaden horizons through travel and new experiences. Learn Spanish. I would love to commit to writing something more substantial, mostly to tell others condescendingly that I'm an author. I want to explore virtual reality and immerse myself in technology again. The creative possibilities with VR sound exciting — at Layerframe we got the first Oculus dev kit and it was cool but basically just made you nauseous. I think the blending of sensory experiences and ability to manipulate perceived reality like they are able to know is ripe for exploration. And it's still nascent enough that there are real opportunities to innovate with the technology and drive change, which is exciting. Continue to read, at least one book per month. I feel like that's a major "lifehack" that people seem to be forgetting, which is worrisome. It might just be because I currently work at a publishing company so I feel it more acutely here.
I'll continue to jot down thoughts as my experience here winds down. If you have questions let me know in the comments. And if you want to work with me or collaborate come springtime holla at ya boy: ryan@ryanegan[dot]net