Woke up this morning after a night of bad dreams to be comforted by my love. My subconscious mind busy expressing fears about my new life and regrets about the past life, or Mara (the Buddhist Devil) sending demons to beset me. Actually I don't think there's much difference, Mara's devils and demons are the things that keep our lives deadened like my fear of stepping outside the known into the unknown.
Last Saturday I packed up my belongings, and said goodbye to the last four years of my life, in which I'd been living as a Buddhist monk in The Buddhist House community in Leicestershire. The advantage of that kind of life is that I had less than one small car's worth of belongings, which made moving easy. The disadvantage of that kind of life is that I had less than one small car's worth of belongings, which means there's lots of stuff to get for my new life.
Sunday my Fiancée and I met friends for lunch and then went clothes shopping for me. With job interviews, hopefully, on the horizon, and just engaging in lay life (outside of my role as an ordained priest) I needed some clothes that don't suggest I'm something I'm not - a Buddhist monk.
Browsing the different clothes stores, trying on different styles of outfit, reminded me of dressing a character in the theatre. What we wear sends out so many signals about the kind of person we are, or perhaps how we would like the world to see us. It was interesting noticing what clothes I was drawn too and what I shied away from. I was afraid of anything too conventional - the voice of the ego crying "I'm not like the rest of the world!"
There's something really important in that for me though, beyond a simple desire to be different for its own sake. I've spent the last four years living in a spiritual community, living by ideals which challenge those held in many aspects of the world at large. I'm returning to the world at large, but I'm not signing up to some of the dominant ideals of that world - I want the important aspects of unconventionally to continue in my new life.
The objects we surround ourselves with, the way we dress our houses and our selves, not only reflect who we are, but also influence our sense of self. I've unpacked my Buddha pictures, and put them on the mantle piece (next to my Fiancées existing Buddha) and I've chosen clothes which aren't too conservative.
"Intellectual/Art Studenty" was Fiona's verdict. Not too bad.