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April 12, 2013 / A Mindful Traveler

Perfect Disease?

This week, an ear infection has seriously impaired my hearing.  During the workday I have been able, at most, to hear out of my right ear.  This has posed significant challenges to me in the classroom, although both my students and colleagues have been generous with their time and patience.

Unlike the concussion I suffered earlier this year, the experience hasn’t had the benefit of improving my ability to meditate; the concomitant pain resulting from the fluid pressing on my eardrums is too much for that.  The sounds of the world around me haven’t been replaced by silence, but rather by ringing.  Although the experience has naturally made me appreciate hearing more than I had before, it hasn’t done so quite as much as I might have thought.  Instead, I find myself accepting that there’s a significant amount of the world I’m not experiencing.

I’m reminded that as Henry David Thoreau was dying of tuberculosis, he supposedly told his sister “that there was as much comfort in perfect disease as in perfect health, the mind always conforming to the condition of the body.”  I suppose that in noticing but not judging these newfound limits on what can enter one of the sense doors (my ears), I am indeed now more aware of what is entering another (the mind).



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  1. museconfuse / Apr 12 2013 9:48 am

    ugh I had an ear infection a few weeks ago and it was awful. I felt so unbalanced..anyways hope you get better soon!

  2. tiramit / Apr 12 2013 10:42 am

    Sorry to hear about the hearing problem – nevertheless, interesting circumstances within which one can contemplate consciousness. Have you come across Ajahn Sumedho’s teaching on the Sound of Silence? It’s that high frequency shizzzz sound in the ears. He says that this is the unconditioned…

    • A Mindful Traveler / Apr 12 2013 10:48 am

      Thank you very much for your kind wishes tiramit! I will take a look at that teaching – it’s funny how the sound of silence is itself sound rather than silence.

      • tiramit / Apr 13 2013 2:14 am

        I’ve been thinking about this: ‘the sound of silence is itself sound rather than silence,’ and it’s like a koan – just present in consciousness and there’s nothing else that can be said about it. Except, maybe, that actual ‘silence’ is the result of a selection process – a perception?

      • A Mindful Traveler / Apr 13 2013 3:59 am

        I think you are right, that “sound” is itself a perception.

  3. Sylwia Kulczak / Apr 12 2013 2:16 pm

    I have a friend who has been dealing with ringing in his ears and he tried sound therapy that I do. He likes it, so whenever he is in LA, he comes to experience it. If you would like to try it, please let me know.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Apr 12 2013 7:04 pm

      Thank you for your kind wishes Sylwia! A course of antibiotics is helping me a great deal, but if the problem continues, I’ll take you up on the offer!

  4. Won Seok Chung / Apr 13 2013 8:19 am

    Hope you get well soon and it’s so refreshing to read how you approach the sickness, which I would like to learn more about. Sometimes the pain can be so distracting that it isn’t easy for me just to “notice” and not “judge”… Hope I will try and practice when I get sick again next time.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Apr 13 2013 8:21 am

      Thank you so much for your kind wishes Won! I’m glad the post was of value to you.

  5. bert0001 / May 25 2013 7:23 am

    tis some time ago, hope you feel adjusted to the situation ‘i hope in perfect hearing! as it is right now

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