Since I began this life of a modern nomad, one of the things in time you start to get used to, is the ability to detach oneself from things and material stuff. It becomes more evident when you stay one year or less in one place. At that time the feeling of home just doesn’t ring a bell anymore. The sense of having something secure is not there. We have to say goodbye to people and friends more often than not. We sell or give away our things so many times that after a while we feel like it’s a waste of time to buy anything. And the houses or apartments we live in always have this temporary feeling carved on it.
When I arrived to Congo, not having dishes, I just bought one of each and have to say I was really tempted to buy plastic or paper dishes, and just didn’t do it because of my environmental consciousness.
Don’t get me wrong this type of life has the ability to open us up, to give all sort of meaningful experiences, but what to do when no place feels like home and we know that all this is passing? Do we close ourselves trying to find that permanent feeling somewhere else? Or do we open even more and try to go with the flow, allowing everything to collapse without any safety net? Do we try to grab onto an ideal of something somewhere permanent, or do we accept that life as we know it, is this constant flow of changing conditions resulting from an interdependent flux of other changing conditions? What would you choose? I know by now that it is futile to try to find some safety in something that always. Change happens all the time; every second of our days, we are bound to change.
Our thoughts and emotions change in microseconds, what is to say about everything else? So do we bravely connect with everything and everyone around us knowing that all will change anyway? Do we flow like the river? Sometimes diving in its rapids? Other times following its gentle course? Or do we close ourselves in a dam with all the possible neuroses that may come from it? What to do when no place feels like home? I chose to open myself freely to whatever happens outside while being in an inward retreat, which means I try to protect my mind while knowing the absolute ridiculousness of dwelling, getting attached to thoughts, emotions and the dream-like world.
This is more easy to say than to do because most of the time no place feels like home and, as I try to follow the direction of my teachers, I have to be aware of the thoughts and feelings that kind of emotion brings and not go astray in hopeless depression.
One of the great Buddhist masters of the last century, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, said: “When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the feeling of opening ourselves to the entire universe. We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of self-protection.” The great Tilopa also said: “Have a mind that is open to everything but attached to nothing”
Though this seems that we stop caring about others, it is far from being true. It means to have a openness and a malleable mind that cares for others while not being over run by the whatever condition we face. The renowned teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche says: “Happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.”
When I struggle with this familiar feeling of no place feels like home, I find some comfort in what Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said: “When sunlight falls on a crystal, lights of all colors appear, yet they have no substance that you can grasp. Likewise, all thoughts in their infinite variety are utterly without substance.”