The absolute clarity of mind that I experience after completing my evening bows is actually quite stunning. Unlike meditating, which usually leaves my mind in a somewhat purgatory-like state; bowing flushes out the day's stress and essentially resets my brain. I really enjoy it.
Today was my first weekend day as a Buddhist and I’ve gotta admit that it was much harder than I expected. During the weekdays, I’m so swamped with work that I don’t have much time to think about all the things I can’t do, but the weekends thrust all of those limitations into the forefront. Today was certainly difficult.
I woke up later than usual just like any normal Saturday. However, with my dietary restrictions and time limitations, this presented a problem. I pretty much had to eat as much as possible before the noon cut-off.
While my intake of food has drastically reduced, that’s not what’s really challenging me. The size of my stomach is already shrinking and unless I feel weak, I’ll be able to continue observing the sixth ethic of the precepts. What’s hard is that I have always been able to eat what I want, when I want it. As you know, I’m not eating meat, fish, anything with caffeine and sugary food. The meat and fish isn’t that hard and neither is the caffeine, but the sugar is a problem. I want to eat ice cream or maybe a donut, but I can’t. I had bad breath earlier and was about to pop-in some gum, but there was sugar in it, so I had to continue spraying my cheese-breath around the city.
There are so many things that I must abstain from, including a common pastime for many men around the world, so I guess it's time to about the elephant in the room: sex.
Most of the precepts listed on the sidebar are pretty self-explanatory, but one of them is unclear. What exactly is sexual misconduct? Well, it actually means that I am supposed to abstain from sex in general. A mind free from sexual desire is freer to explore the depths of ones being more than one which seeks to have or view sex. This is a problem for me on several levels. First of all, I’m married and there’s no way I’m not going to have sex with my wife for a month. That’s unhealthy for our relationship. So, I tweaked it. I am abstaining from viewing pornography or autoerotic behavior instead.
I don’t know how much other men jerk-off or how often they view smut online and I doubt I do it more (or less) than the average man, but I have a feeling that a lot of the religions I will experience on this journey will have similar rules and that’s going to be tough. As a secular man, I’ve never seen a problem with such behavior, so I indulged from time to time. Well, not anymore. I think I'll be able to handle it though. I honestly don't have too much time for it anyways, but it certainly makes me aware of the role it played in my life.
Man oh man, the sacrifices I make for Buddha!