Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nine was already my favorite number...

It's been two days of work and two nights after work since I wrote the last entry, and since I made the commitment written down in it. I guess I can say I've made progress on that path. I haven't played any computer games or watched any movies or TV shows. I still end up at the computer but now I'm replying to old emails I should have answered a while back and cleaning out my inbox and stuff. I haven't been able to actually tear myself away from the computer yet. I see progress though.

Actually today I spent about an hour cooking home fries and veggies with tofu. It was actually pretty fun and definitely rewarding. It takes a while but it's healthy. Ive avoided cooking before, partly because I figured it's no fun cooking for one. The plus side of cooking for one is that you have leftovers for later, though, so it kinda evens out.

It was kind of a special experience today with the food. I actually went out of my way to buy vegetables, and when I was there I just chose and bought like it was no big deal. I wasn't stressed out or confused. Then I just went home and got to work chopping and stir-frying. There was just something wholesome and good about the cooking experience. It just felt right, like spiritual nutrition. It's the exact kind of thing I need to do more of to have a more balanced and healthy life.

Cooking is also one of those things where afterward I was thinking, "That was cool but it woulda been so much better with someone to share it with." You know, someone to cook for and to chat with while I'm chopping and cooking, even just a friend. Well, that's a kind of revelation and a sign that I'm doing a healthy thing. I mean, I don't wish I had some company when I'm playing computer games or watching movies! Those are activities designed to cope with loneliness. They also reinforce it. Something more natural and healthy like cooking suddenly makes me feel like actually inviting someone over to my house for a meal! WOW! I mean, it hasn't even occured to me to invite someone over because I've gotten into such a turtle shell mentality. My apartment is my shell and after work I slide back into it, and I spend a lot time on the weekend holed up there too.

That's no way to live, not for me at least. A while back I learned about the Enneagram and I'm studying it some more right now. If you know anything about it then you'll probably agree when I say I'm totally a 9. That's #9 of the nine personality types. It's an amazing system actually, and 9 is dead on for me.

Anyways, one thing about Nines is that they don't really think about themselves much but kind of live through relationships or imagination. Nines don't tend to have any personal ambitions but get their satisfaction through connecting with other people and being part of a group. They love to bring happiness to others and harmony to groups, to listen and support and just be with others. Nines long for communion, oneness, and harmony. Being in that state with others is their bliss.

When Nines are alone they tend to retreat into fantasy, pleasantly daydreaming their way through life, as if they start to drift out of their bodies and out of this reality when not anchored by other people. From the Nine's perspective, other people, and the meaning and joy he draws from his relationships with them, are the only reason for his continued participation in this reality. In the absence of that living, breathing spiritual dynamic he naturally drifts away into a fantasy world where he can either feel those kind of feelings or forget his desire for them. This can lead Nines to become increasingly isolated and detached from reality, which in turn makes them less able to deal with reality as it impinges on their lives. Unfortunately, the Nine's way of dealing with this is to retreat even further and adapt his defense mechanisms to the problems as best he can. Meanwhile he does all he can to keep his problems from bringing sadness to others or disharmony to the group. Secretly he mourns the loss of his communion with others and the feelings of union with the divine and wholesome aliveness that he used to feel.

Am I telling the story of my own life or am I describing the Nine personality type? I don't know because they are one and the same! Learning about the Enneagram has definitely helped me get some perspective. It's funny...I was talking with a friend the other day. I said, "Well, I've been spending so much time alone since I've been in Korea. When I spend too much time alone I start to get really lonely and depressed and I spend all my time escaping from reality. The problem is that I just don't care about myself or my own interests and stuff. I just kind of shut down when I'm alone, but when I meet another person it's like I suddenly turn on. Suddenly I have purpose and zest for life! I want to commune with that person and hear all their stories. I want to serve them, to love and be loved by them. I feel full of life when I'm with other people!"

She said, "Well you should spend more time with others and less time alone."

"Hmm...good idea. Why didn't I think of that?"


Of course I know exactly why I didn't I didn't think of that, and why I didn't realize the problem so clearly until now: because I've been taking a steady dose of some kind of natural sedative that my brain produces and hiding from the pain and the problems and their solutions in a cloud of fantasy and oblivion.

It's still a process, though, even though I see the truth now. I mean, what I really want is the kind of union that I won't fully experience until the next world. That's really all I want. I don't want to accomplish anything for my own sake. I don't have a single personal ambition. I'm not about to get excited about trying to become a great writer or acquiring this or that thing or excelling at this or that pursuit. It's all I can do to simply find my way through everyday reality! Being grounded in this world and developing healthy patterns of behavior that carry me along a positive path through this material world is more than enough for me. Living life to me is all about creating a framework that will enable me to channel and experience spiritual reality. That definitely means taking care of lots and lots of things and it definitely involves striving for excellence in different pursuits, such as teaching ESL or learning Korean, but every one of those activities and pursuits is only a body. Without a soul a body is just a zombie, and that's exactly what I feel like when I'm doing things that aren't filled with spiritual purpose.

One thing to do about that is to cut out the things that I can't fill with spiritual purpose, such as computer games, etc., or to reduce them to a size where they can fulfil a spiritual purpose, as a means of rest or diversion or whatever. Another thing is to pour more spiritual purpose into the things that I'm already doing, such as teaching English, studying the writings of the Faith , and serving the Cause. Finally, it's necessary to start doing new things that can be filled with spiritual purpose, such as cooking, exercising, and learning Korean.

I have no problem with my essential nature, especially now that I've seen through the Enneagram that, though the essence of my personality is beautiful and valuable, I'm struggling with the weaknesses that come along with it. I know basically who I am and I know my weaknesses and I know what I really long for. Here's the most important point of all: I can't always be around people. Even if I was I wouldn't always be able to experience the union that I long for. The only way for me to find some measure of contentment in this life, to feel my thirst for communion quenched to some degree, is to embark on the path of communion with God. This relationship can and must be pursued through relationships as well as in solitude. Though I be ever far from Him, He is at all times near unto me. I must gather the courage now, at this hour of truth, to send myself with utmost resolve down that path of communion with Him. I must not hesitate or turn back my head. The time for that has past. I must have the courage to put Him first at all times, to focus on Him foremost in all my endeavors, to make Him the goal of all my pursuits. I must have the courage to make the sacrifices and the life changes that all that will entail. I must have the patience and fortitude to persevere on the path of absolute commitment and devotion to Him even though I feel pain and hunger and thirst and craving and fear. I must have the courage to walk over hot coals, to step over cliffs, to walk into shark infested waters. I can do all this and more because I know He is with me and I am with Him and so there is nothing to fear but straying from Him. There is nothing to crave save His presence. There is nothing to hope for save the opportunity to serve Him. There is nothing to love save the reflections of His spirit in all created things.

Baha'u'llah says:


Thy paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion."


Ineke said...

Hi Danniel,
I'm glad you're back! I kept the link to your blog in my favourites, waiting for you to resurface again - good to see that you've done so. Keep writing & stir frying - although both are good for us, they are also a struggle sometimes (I know from experience because my blog isn't updated regularly & cooking for 1 can be annoying).

Daniel said...

Thanks Ineke! I really appreciate your interest. I checked out your blog and you write about some pretty interesting and deep stuff. Keep it up!Allah-u-Abha!