A SOMEWHAT EMBARRASSING, BUT VERY WELCOME DEVELOPMENT!
I had my first hip replacement operation four years ago in 2013 in June. My right hip had been hurting for four or five years until the pain was unbearable, and I reluctantly had surgery. The surgery itself was terrible, recovery was very slow and minimal physical therapy was covered by my insurance. And while the right hip gradually recovered functioning with no pain, the left hip was becoming more painful.
I had originally asked the surgeon whether both hips could be done at the same time, but he said the left hip had another three or four years before it had to be replaced.
But from about 2009 to the 2013 surgery, my aerobic functioning suffered as I certainly could not run and I was having more and more difficult time walking, and even use those electric carts when in supermarkets, and my weight ballooned to 235 pounds.
By 2014 when I moved to the Phoenix area, I could walk a mile a day even with my left hip hurting, but by 2017 I could barely walk 100 yards, although my weight had dropped to 210.. On October 10, of this year, 2017 I had my left hip replaced in almost miraculous surgery that had no post surgical pain at all except from physical therapy. I received physical therapy at home for eight visits and made some gains, and then my treating doctor signed me up for what turned out to be six more weeks of progressive physical therapy on an outpatient basis. As of my recent seventh session, I was doing four times the exercises as on my first session.
My God, what a change this is caused in just 3 ½ weeks of outpatient therapy.
Imagine, my lower body had not been fully mobilized for eight years, and I lost a lot of functionality in every way imaginable in my lower body, including ability to walk, get down and up from the floor, crawling under things, even I lost the ability to walk on uneven ground. My lower body effectively died including sexual functioning as well as experiencing some urinary incontinence.
However, after the second surgery, and seven weeks into recovery with physical therapy 2 to 3 times a week, and a very intense exercise program my lower body has come alive. I can feel every muscle fiber in my quadriceps in the various gluteus muscles, which has increased not only my ability to walk, bend, crouch, etc. in terms of movement, but made my bowel movements more regular and eliminated any urinary incontinence that I used to feel because that area sort of dead.
In addition, my sexuality has come alive, after not being able to have an erection for six or seven years. I would hardly recommend bilateral total hip replacement as a male aphrodisiac or ED treatment, but I did laughingly suggest the surgeon that he advertise as such.
What this has caused me is to realize identity with my body once again. The surgery, physical therapy, has reenergized my whole body and it is so difficult not to identify with it as opposed to identifying with my sense of presence, the energetic body within and without or with the totality of consciousness, but I still find it relatively easy to shift my identity any way I want.
Still, this surgery and therapy is helping me reclaim my human hood, and my identity as an ordinary human being that has explored so many rooms the spiritual mention that is my life, from the basement value of the Great Void, to my sense of presence, to experiencing the Life force, or the divine within me, to my mind and thoughts, to my various emotions, my personality and identity as Ed, to my heart center in love, to the place of bliss that spreads between all the molecules in my body, and lastly, my homeroom, my identity as Ed Muzika sitting in a chair dictating this report on my state of being.
I just watched a movie, called Wild River, about a hunter whose daughter had been murdered years before, when he was helping an Indian whose daughter was just murdered, to find the perpetrators on an Indian reservation. It is a very well-acted movie and I will see it again. But at one point, the hunter addresses the Indian whose daughter had just been murdered, telling him, that he was not going to say that the pain eases with time. He tells him, your daughter is dead, and it is a great calamity, your life will never be the same again, but do not avoid the pain of her loss and cover it by thoughts of vengeance and anger.
He tells him, “Feel the pain; feel the pain all the way; cry as long as you need to. But unless you feel the pain as fully as possible, you will never be able to remember the love you gave your daughter and the love she gave you back. Without going through that pain, you will never remember the happiness she gave you, and you gave her.”
This would be my teaching now. Human, remember your humanity, remember your mortality, remember that you will die, and live your life accordingly in a middle way, with passion but also with compassion, with humility and not arrogance, with love not anger.
All the other things that you have gained in spirituality will still be there with you: the sense of the great Void which contains all, and can rob suffering of its bite, but would also take the meaning out of joy; the light of consciousness and the feeling of the divine within you, and that God lives through you as God; a sense of grace and a quiet happiness; as well as the knowledge that everything is consciousness being sensated, being examined and witnessed also by you on a different level. All of these things remain true, all of these places in the great spiritual mansion can be explored again and again, but always you can return to that one room that is special to you and your life, the room of your personhood, the room of your life lived in compassionate passion for all of life as well as your own.
This is what Sueng Sahn Soen Sa meant by his 360° circle. He said he started at 0° and quickly advanced to 180°, which is the experience of nothingness, emptiness, the Void, and from there through to 360° you pass through a whole legion of spiritual practices and enlightenments, Satoris, and Awakenings, but eventually returning to exactly where you started 0°, in this body, in this room, in this life, but totally changed and transformed, the same yet different, having coffee, and playing with my cats.
Now I feel so empty, so humble, so un-spiritual, so unenlightened, just being me, with my partner Kerima, our seven cats, in a home on a golf course with very green grass, lots of rabbits and birds and coyotes, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I have no teachings to give now, my teachings are my lifestyle. I can talk about self-inquiry, I can talk about awakening of the internal energies which turns into a recognition of the Life force within and builds a sense of presence, I can talk about loving another as a way to awaken to the self, I can talk about overcoming any addiction or vassanas by certain meditation techniques, but deep down inside I realize that 50 years of self-exploration has been an exercise in entertainment.