November 24th 2019

Uttaraloka is almost on the Greenwich Meridian but our clocks are set to Spanish summer time, this means that according to the natural time of the sun we rise at 4am and go to bed about 9pm; I find this somehow satisfying – probably because it is what one imagines a traditional monastic community to follow. Recently we have modified our program to provide more meditation and more silence, so we now work for an hour or so after breakfast – literally chopping wood and carrying rubble – and then have a two hour meditation before lunch. There is an optional afternoon meditation, and we sit together before dinner. Three evenings a week we study or otherwise talk and on the other evenings we have a puja and meditation. We’re mostly in silence although not strictly. This has proved useful in that it makes any talking much more intentional which makes all the difference. We’re all agreed that this program suits us very well and we intend to continue it indefinitely.

I continue to feel the contentment and happiness that settled on me a few weeks ago. I seem to be on a sort of plateau, focused and comfortable, sometimes clear minded, but often with a bubbling background of thoughts and thought processes. This may be because I’ve had to leave Uttaraloka several times in the last couple of weeks to arrange Spanish registration of my car, health insurance and various things associated with my application for permanent residence, as well as a couple of legal and financial dealings for Guhyaloka. Next Wednesday I have my interview for ‘Residencia’ -wish me luck – Spanish bureaucracy is a real struggle. I’ve had to drive over the mountain road to Benimantell, our village, a few times. It is a delightful drive and a delightful village. (Incidentally there was some sort of feminist celebration going on in the village and a number of painted and appliqué banners were hung on the walls of the houses – guess what the image was!) I felt very happy to be in Spain and inspired about living at Uttaraloka.

However I still ponder the ‘value’ of living a simple, almost solitary, life. Deep down I know that it is worthwhile not only for myself – of which I have no doubt – but also perhaps for the world. I’ve been listening to an audio recording of Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’ and find inspiration in his valuation of a life of simplicity, silence and deep love of nature, not to mention the lifetime of inspiration that I’ve received from the Buddha and Milarepa.

I practice a Milarepa sadhana, and he clearly inspires and supports my love of Freedom and wild silent places but I have been reflecting on the more archetypal Buddha and Bodhisattva forms. As I currently understand them the Bodhisattvas are, as it were, so to speak, you could say, spiritual forces in the world that emanate from the Transcendental. Is this true of Milarepa? He is a Guru for sure – a human being whose essence is deeply informed by Insight – an inspiration, a guide, a person worthy of reverence but he is a particular expression of the Transcendental. (Much more so than the Buddha who is less well defined and a more general Teacher) The ‘archetypal’ forms seem more essential and exist as actual forces in the universe whereas Milarepa doesn’t – at least to the same degree. It seems to me that Milarepa’s yidam – Vajrayogini – is (again with all the usual caveats) the essential force that works through him. Should I give her more attention? I wonder.

Now that the almond season is over the pigs don’t come by, but the herd of wild goats – three or four dozen of them – are often eating grass on the terraces next to the house; we missed the olive harvest because of the heavy winds but the little song birds have stayed around. It’s sunny most days