over the horizon

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‘Through our eyes, the Universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the Universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the Universe becomes conscious of itself.’ [Alan Watts]

POSTCARD #83: London – Delhi flight: Clouds cover the landscape, with openings here and there where I can see the ground below. England is a patchwork quilt of very small fenced enclosures, little houses built with brick and stone that last for hundreds of years. Concrete bulwarks along the coastline, the idea of the sea engulfing the land is psychological. A united Kingdom huddled together on land space so small it’s almost not there at all. Travel across from East to West and in a few hours you come to the sea again. Geographical aloneness, an island mentality, the idea of ‘self’, marooned, I am contained, separate from everything, surrounded by water, the world is out ‘there’. Not much room, just enough space for everything, a smallness, memories are close by and everything is near at hand. The buildings and the land were all here before I was born and will be here after I’m gone. Children learn about the everlasting ‘soul’ living in an objective world; belief in a ‘self’ yet… seeing only the lack of it, a lifetime spent looking for an answer to this puzzle – it must be… over the horizon somewhere.

Somewhere far away from not ‘being’ but being busy doing things. Somewhere distant from the default settings the world of money and power depends on. The system hijacked the Jesus Teachings and now there’s no place in society for a contemplative spiritual life. Nothing to encourage children to look beyond sensory gratification and see through perception because it works better to have an unknowing population addicted to television and consumer goods. Living with an intensity fueled by greed, hatred and delusion, instead of generosity, loving-kindness and insight. The worship of self rather than selflessness.

In a discussion with one of the monks at Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery in UK the question came up, what does the word ‘contemplation’ actually mean? Contemplating contemplation… the state of mind where everything is seen as an awareness of present experience, circumstances which can’t be explained in any terms other than what they are. Thinking stops and the mind opens up to experience as it is – not as it’s verbalised. Sometimes language just gets in the way. Like waking up after a good night’s sleep and there’s the solution to the puzzle I was thinking about before I went to sleep. No words, no memory, no markers in the mind for thought to attach to and somehow everything falls into place.

We call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine, without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing,
incorrect, or apt.

The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn’t view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.

The lake’s floor exists floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorelessly.
The water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular nor plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.

And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being
that it blows. [Wislawa Szymborska]

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The header image source: Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery.
Poem source: superaalifragilisticView With A Grain Of Sand
The Alan Watts quote source: Zen Flash, Through our eyes the Universe is perceiving itself 
- G  R  A  T  I  T  U  D  E -

 

arrivals – departures

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POSTCARD #82: South East England: Somebody I know died. There was a ceremony, the monks came, chanted blessings and now she’s gone. All that remains is her absence, her empty rooms, her pictures on the walls, objects chosen, placed on shelves and now there’s no one here who made the choices. Sadness… her clock-radio still starts at 8.00 in the morning and the bedroom is suddenly full of classical music. Empty bed, bedclothes made up neat, tidy and not slept in. Nobody in the house can bear to change it. My task is to pull away the bed from the wall, find where the cable leads to the socket, and disconnect it. Orchestral music spinning around the walls and ceiling as I search for the socket. It’s next to the skirting board I can just reach it… click, the music is gone. Push the bed back in place and contemplate the silence. A nice, quiet room with morning light coming in through the windows. She was a musician who became a Buddhist, then was a Buddhist Chaplain visiting hospices and caring for dying people, until she finally reached that stage herself.

Memory is all there is… faded like an old sepia tint photo. The enigma, the empty space where that person used to be. There’s ‘nothing’ left here, it’s not ‘something’, it’s not ‘anything’. Try to see past the words, concepts in the mind and there’s nothing remaining, only the holding-on to whatever it is that was defined in words but was never really there in the first place. Language is a tool for explaining how it appears to be, what it resembles, what it’s like… a wonderful shared software that names things, identifies feelings, etc. Poets and artists are compelled to use words and there are others, spiritual advisors, who refer only to cessation. Truth is inexpressible, no words for it; a ‘nothing’ that carries the feeling of no-thingness and brings with it a great sense of release, of peace, of rest, of ease and gentleness. I no longer have the burden of my thoughts. I let it all in, let it all out and everything fades away, ‘melted into thin air … the baseless fabric of this vision… we are such stuff as dreams are made on…’ [The Tempest]

A lifetime is a story told. Details accumulate and it appears to have form and direction as it goes on, but only when the end comes near does it have a context. The route by which I arrived at this point becomes somehow, explained – it was the right way, the best way to come here and everything I did in my life seems to fit together now I’m at the end. A curious reversal… I’m on the way to get here and yet seem to be able to look back on the journey and know how it came to be as it is. Buddhist cause/effect is an illusion, sequenced in linear time. In the totality, everything is ‘now’, an ‘everywhere-shared instantaneity’ and each moment is simply a shift in focus.

Why does it have to be like this? There’s something about the question/answer relationship that’s always gently considered, without directing it too much. Trying to understand what this sort of thing might possibly be is enough to begin to know it – no need to go any further. More to do with indirect action. Death must be the true meaning of the ‘past tense’. Standing here in her room, the tidy bed, empty wardrobe, eyes move towards the window, look out at her overgrown garden. Birdsong, and the light of this particular time in the morning. Colour and images form, conscious awareness is the same for me now as it was for her then, standing as she was, in this same place….

“For life in the present there is no death. Death is not an event in life. It is not a fact in the world. Our life is endless, in just the same way that our field of vision has no boundaries.” [Wittgenstein”]

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Excerpts from an earlier post: sense of release. Also Michael’s post: Special Effects, thank you for the word: instantaneity. Upper photo: Edinburgh airport, waiting for the flight to Gatwick
–  G  R  A  T  I  T  U  D  E  –

the thingness of things

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POSTCARD #81: NewcastleFive days in a Buddhist monastery in Northumberland, sitting meditation in the early morning and last thing at night. The photo above was taken at 5.15am. I wanted a picture of the sunrise and didn’t see the sheep in their places next to the wall – slightly startled by a human being leaning over into their enclosure and the click sound of the phone camera. They wait to see if he comes back, forget about it and only the fragrant grass remains… early on a summer’s morning.

After that I’m in the Dhamma Hall, sunlight shining through the roof windows on the Buddha statue, benign and welcoming. Monks with shaven heads sitting on the floor, faded tangerine-brown robes, flowers, incense and candles. Focused on the silence, watching the inbreath/outbreath, seeing the thinking process coming and going. Fragments of a thought pieced together from associated thoughts, memories of a past time brought into present time, together with things thought about in future time. Pause for a moment and everything stops… just the circumstance itself. It takes some effort to get it started again. Maybe there is only one moment – only one, all the time.

Everybody sitting completely still, listening to this shared silence. Suddenly there’s the faint sound of somebody outside doing something. He whistles part of a tune it’s not noisy, quite pleasant. Nobody moves, of course, nobody turns around to look. We all continue to sit, the quietness interrupted by a small clunk noise… then he whistles his small tune again. It’s the farmer next-door, busy with things. A wooden door goes bonk… something is dropped on the ground, and there’s an interval of quietness. Then a rustling noise, and the whistled tune re-enters, invading the space. It’s an amazing sound, a kind of warbling around a melody. It trills like a bird – how could anyone whistle so well! It’s a chorus from an old song I can’t quite remember. Then it’s silent again… waiting for the whistle to come back, but it doesn’t come back and I realise he’s gone.

Consciousness seems to move from one moment to the next and there’s only just enough time to decide what this is before it changes into something else. In the interval that the mind is engaged in ‘thinking it’, everything moves on and I can never seem to catch up – can never find the right words to express it… wordless and indefinable. Language is an overlay placed on reality, gives everything an identity, tells the story, creates a fiction I get lost in. Nothing is what I think it is. The present moment feels like it’s an immediate event occurring ‘now’, but there’s also a feeling that maybe it’s not. Time is a measurement I apply – applied time. Maybe this is something that’s not happened yet… it happens later, gets reflected upon and what I think is ‘now’ is actually a fraction of a moment of hindsight situated in future time. How can I be sure things are what I think they are when I’m only always just feeling my way through something not experienced yet? Looking at what it’s not and everything on the other side of that, must be what it is. The absence of ignorance…

Moon unchanged,

Unchanged flowers.

I, however, am now

The thingness of things.

[Bunan]

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belief structures

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POSTCARD#80: North-East Scotland: There are just so many stone circles here, it’s as if there was something mystical about this strange shoulder of land projecting into the North Sea (link). Massive volumes of stone weighing tons, how did they move them? It happened 4000 years ago, no technology, all kinds of theories. A simple answer may be that these huge chunks of granite were already scattered around in the landscape, the result of a major geological event that occurred millennia before. And the stone circles were built there, in locations where there were stones and the right kind of alignment with the moon and stars. Creating the structures would have been a major community effort, ropes and rollers and manpower. A huge task, like building the tallest building in the world, but motivated by belief and accomplished through this compelling Truth, whatever it was that’s lost to us now. In the primitive mind, the mystery was developed into some kind of myth, volcanic beginnings and culminating in these strange structures – gateway to the universe. Even so, 4000 years later there’s something I can feel here, an energy, the mystery of it… how did these stones come to be here  in one place, just lying around half buried in the earth.

Generations of these ancient folk looking at the moon and the heavens; experiential knowledge, wisdom not separated from the presence of the phenomenon. Everything carries meaning, words cannot describe it well enough, and it becomes a magical thing. I can picture them all standing up  here, the ancient people, watching the sun and the moon and the stars. The location carries the feeling of being in the Northern Hemisphere, the top of the world – just knowing intuitively this is the North. Or maybe it’s to do with altitude… something like being at the top of a mountain looking at the view, and what you see out there has the sense of vastness. Basic common sense tells me there’s a huge drop beyond the horizon – that way is ‘down’. Then the ‘above’ – the heavens up there, over my head and all around.

The flat stone (the recumbent) was the measuring device, or the altar, the portal, and the flanking stones on either side form a kind of frame through which they were able to view the positions of the moon. Mystical stargazing, an experiential wisdom; they were able to contemplate their location in space standing just here. Every 18.6 years the lunar standstill, where the moon appears to be motionless, caused by the coincidence of planetary orbits. You can still see marks carved on the stones where the major standstill moon rises or sets. The mystery is still here. Nobody knows. The ancients’ understanding of why it should be like this is as relevant as any scientific explanation today.

“… knowledge which is completely one with the thing it knows, complete understanding, complete absorption into that knowledge.” [Unsourced quote - I copied this from a fellow blogger's post without making a note of the source. Please let me know if you are reading this...]

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Photo: PeterH

 

the journey to get there (2)

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POSTCARD#79: Aberdeen Scotland: Wandering through these streets and lanes looking for my childhood; searching for something that’ll tell me what it was like more than 50 years ago as I walked along the route to school in all kinds of weather. The present time as it was in the past, brought forward into the ‘now’. All the shops have gone, been demolished, rebuilt and everything has become something else. Only civic amenities and urban architecture remain, paving stones, cast iron lampposts, doorways and gates. An iron gate hinge embedded in stone but no gate – is it something I passed on my way to school? Do things like this survive at below-zero temperatures for 50 freezing winters? Not impossible, everything is made of granite here, indestructible. Following my footsteps as a child, along these same streets that were old even then. There’s an unusual shaped crack in a paving stone that looks like a tree, strange familiarity, a passing recognition – the kind of thing a child would notice, head down and leaning against the wind.

Is it the same wind now, after all these years, flowing like a river from its source to the sea estuary and every single part of it moving always in present time everywhere along its length? The scale of it is so immense, a whole lifetime can seem like a day, an hour, a moment – and did I glance down at this tree-like crack in the paving stone when I was a child and react in the same way I’m doing now, thinking… how strange, it looks like a tree! What is it that makes one thing seem to be something else? Is this the recollection of a physical feature, or a memory of the perception of it? Remembrance of things past, former lives… it feels like yesterday, the nearness of it. It feels like now – or somewhere on the journey to get there.

There’s also a feeling of far-awayness, the day before yesterday I was on a flight from Delhi, transit in London to Inverness. Jet lag and bewilderment, scanned by X-ray machines, identified, processed, held in aircraft cabin pressure for 10½ hours and transported 4000 miles to the Northern hemisphere. Then placed on the ground and having to quickly reassemble the parts of who I am in this new context. A visit to the tribal elders, then into Aberdeen to revisit these childhood days. Coastal winds, cloudy skies – and when the sun comes through, the heat is intense. Raincoat on, raincoat off again, I don’t really feel I’m connected with the pattern of things here after so long in the East, sun shines all the time and years go by but it’s just like one very long day. Thought processes are without substance, fade away, and if I don’t reach out for the next thought, there’s nothing there. There’s a memory of how it was when I was a child here in the North of Scotland, I’m holding that in mind but when I let go… it’s gone. The wind blows and a feeling comes back again that triggers a memory, then it’s carried away with the sound of seagulls and the smell of the sea…

 ‘… a sense of existing right now, a sense of life looking out your eyes, and life feeling through your senses into this experience, this space of the room, this place. It’s like we are a sense apparatus for raw life, raw consciousness, which feels through us as instruments with five or more senses. What is sensed registers in awareness — this knowingness of existence, this knowingness that is existence itself…’ [Mukti, adyashanti.org]

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the journey to get there (1)

dreamstime_xs_31350075 POSTCARD#78: Delhi: I open the door and step out into the sunshine, shading my eyes from the brightness of the sun, look down for a moment, and a shadow flits across the paved stone area at my feet. What is it? Look back up quickly – it’s a squirrel running along the electric cables. I see it as it leaps into an overhanging tree branch… yaay! The branch sweeps downward with its weight and sails back up again as the squirrel leaps to the next branch and disappears in the foliage. The action suggests joyfulness, a celebration, and this is how I’m feeling right now because today, 6th July, is my birthday – 24,455 revolutions of the planet Earth since the day I was born. I’m a silver-haired old guy acting like half his age. It’s also the day I go back to UK, a happy coincidence; returning to the place I was born on the day of my birth.

Two flights to get there: Delhi/London/ London/Inverness, and 10½ hours flying time. The prodigal son archetype, you could say, but I’ve been away too long. More than 30 years living in other people’s countries. Now I’m a stranger in my own home; everything is different, just the déjà vu of it all; a familiarity I can recognise but cannot identify with. I stay in hotels and everyone thinks I’m a foreign tourist who speaks English really well. I’m astonished at being able to understand what people are saying and feel like I shouldn’t be listening. The intrusion of other people’s conversations is sometimes shocking! This must be what it feels like to be a spy – and dressed like this in these old UK clothes I’ve kept all these years in the wardrobe.

Looking through everything last night, I find an old jacket, try it on for size, it seems small, must have shrunk. Try on another one and it’s shrunk too! I ask Jiab how a jacket can shrink just hanging in the wardrobe for a few years, and she says, ah well… And these shoes! Try them on, hard enclosures seem to clutch at the feet, toes unfamiliar with the hollows in the leather they used to occupy… unwillingly they find their old places. This is who I used to be. Walk across the room, clip-clop, clip-clop, feet imprisoned in shoes, look at myself in the mirror. Who’s that? It’s me, acting the part, ‘self’ is the performance. The actor who long ago became somebody else, and forgot who he was. Inside one pocket, there’s an old plastic bag tied in a knot, difficult to undo. Inside are some British pound coins, thick, heavy and important looking. A single Pound coin looks like gold, like it came from a treasure chest and could be worth a fortune, but it’s not enough to buy a cup of coffee. We have to have handfuls of these ‘gold’ pieces just to buy ordinary things. The weight of them causes jacket pockets to go out of shape, holes in the lining.

It’s really so different from here in the East, the humble unassuming Rupee and small Thai Baht coins that jingle lightly and can buy so much. There is the Buddha’s teaching on greed, hatred and delusion, but right now I don’t want to think about anything other than standing in my Delhi doorway here, watching to see if maybe another squirrel will come running along the electric cable and jump into the trees. And somebody says the car is here to take me to the airport. This is it then, walk across to the gate, clip-clop, clip-clop, hard shoes on paving stones. My bag shoved in the back, into car and we’re off. All strength to the adventure…

“Consider the trees which allow the birds to perch and fly away without either
 inviting them to stay or desiring them never to depart. If your heart can be 
like this, you will be near to the way.”

 [Zen Buddhist teaching]

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… to be continued (image: dreamstime.com)

‘the world is the mind’

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POSTCARD#77: Delhi: There’s nobody here. Step right out of myself and look in, peep through the windows, knock on the door, ring the bell… anybody home? Try the door handle, it’s not locked, go in… hello? Walk through the empty rooms; the teapot is warm, teaspoon in the sink. Evidence, somebody lives here – look, there’s the laptop on the desk, a brightly illuminated screen. It’s a Google map of India. Click on the little yellow man and place him in a location to get ‘street view’. There he is standing on the surface of the planet. We are in Delhi, presently facing South and on our right, 4000 miles away in a westerly direction is London, 4½ hours behind Delhi time. Keep going on from there over the Atlantic and we come to New York, 3500 miles further on, and 9½ hours behind Delhi time. Further west, over the mountains and many horizons, arriving in San Francisco, another 2500 miles, and 12½ hours behind Delhi time. On we go in a westerly direction until time comes to an end in a zigzag line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the International Date Line. After that it’s officially a different day. Continue from there, and we come to Japan, and Seoul, Korea, and South East Asia, then Bangladesh and I’m in Delhi again, back to the time zone I’m in now, except that it’s yesterday… it’s not, of course, it’s the same day, it’s always the same day.

Absent from present time, there’s this long journey that lies ahead… I’m already on the plane. And now I’m arriving at the destination, going around in that place and here and there, everything is squeezed into just three weeks. Then the long return journey, exactly the same as it was going out only the other way round, and glad to be back again. Wow! How was the trip? …no I haven’t left yet, I’m just flying around in the world in my head. Got a ticket with my name on it, date of departure, passport valid – confirmed, registered, subject to limitations, and causes, and conditions, and the operating system that’ll take me there. I am ‘taken’. It’s about the process, no Controller, it goes on automatic pilot. There’s no ‘self’ in the equation – the deed is done and there is no doer – using the Passive Voice language function to express the Buddhist Truth of not-self (anatta).

Sounds are heard, food is tasted, and the chill wind of the southwest monsoon is felt upon the skin. And there’s nobody there that feels it unless I put together an identity composite in Active Voice: ‘I feel the chill’ – ‘I think, therefore I am’. It has to be a strongly assertive statement because the sense of ‘I’ has arisen simply through thinking it’s there and when I stop thinking about it, it’s not there. There are only the Five Khandas. Necessary to have conviction, believe it’s there. *‘I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows, I believe that somewhere in the darkest night a candle glows’. Not impossible. Language tells a story, creates a fiction that I can get lost in; only partly aware that it’s a constructed thing and most of the time I’m clinging to a concept of selfhood, maintaining an assumed identity that’s dependent on updates and new software. Selfing is grasped-at, held, identified-with. Consumerism insists ‘self’ is a religion, but the world is seen to have moved on just a little bit, always, and all this is included in its diversity in the process of becoming something else.

‘Consciousness doesn’t ‘see’ or ‘experience’ a world through a mind, but rather the world is the mind (in the broadest sense of the word) that is ‘seen’ or ‘experienced’ by Consciousness.’ [Rupert Spira, The Ever-Present Seamlessness of Experience]

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Excerpts from an earlier post passive voice based on an idea that arose from a post found in: Just A Little Dust
*Note: ‘I believe that every drop of rain that falls….’ is a quote from the song “I Believe” (1952) composed at the start of the Korean War.

 

 

the smell of rain

DELHI-SKY_11_6_2013POSTCARD#76: Delhi: Standing outside in the rain that’s just beginning and getting wet, bare feet in rubber slippers. Can’t see clearly in this indistinct light, eyes still dazzled by the intense blue sky and sunshine of the hot season now coming to an end. I look up at the pearly grey rain clouds, water vapour becomes form in the vaulted dome of sky. A sprinkle of moisture on my glasses, hair damp, arms feel cool. Wet hands, finger moves to lips, the taste of it… and the smell of rain, a wonderful fragrance of earthy greenness. A mist of invisible particles in the air around the tall trees here, near to the park, where we are.

The smell of rain reminds me of something, triggers a memory and the mind scans through the files containing everything that’s known – is there a reference, a precedent for this experience. Nothing found… a proximity search, closest value, nearest match? Traces of a familiarity created by this fragrance but connected with what? No associated recall, I have sensory input but no source memory… only the physiological function of the sense of smell itself, inherited from ancestors with a developed awareness of the approach of rain. Who’s to say? A prehistoric being may have been standing here, in this exact place where I am now, sniffing the air as I’m doing now, and conscious experience of the scent of rain would be no different for that human being then as it is for me now – except that this kind of thing is not in my vocabulary… only the nostalgia of smell.

Take shelter inside the house, doors open as wide as they’ll go. Listening to the rain falling on the tiles outside, it has the quality of a whisper. An immeasurable mass of individual raindrops merged together in waves of tiny collisions, thousand and thousands of small finger snapping sounds, high frequency applause. The generosity of rain – all these other rain drops still on the way down, elongated streaks of stretched-out water pulled by gravity, crashing into the earth – the miracle of it takes my breath away.

A crow flies in from the northside, craw… craw…. Flying in the rain. The sound gets louder and louder as the crow flies over the house, craw… craw…. At the patio doors I hear it pass above me and on through the rain in a southerly direction, over the park, craw… craw…. The calls are further away, echo off the walls of tall buildings on the far side of the park. Fainter and fainter until there’s no sound at all – only the act of listening. Awareness poised in a huge silence that feels like it’s about to become something else… a hesitation before the next thought arises. Tiny sounds of birdsong far away, and incidental thinking episodes float through. Awareness moves through thoughts like a bird flutters through the branches of a tree – the interval between thoughts, the space that happens before the next thought arises, and the space between moments.

Awareness of thought and the empty space surrounding it. Awareness of one object that includes awareness of another – and the awareness that knows this. Contemplate the state of the body and contemplate the mind contemplating that and everything that led to this….

‘Alert to the needs of the journey,
 those on the path of awareness, like swans, glide on, leaving behind their former resting places.’ [Dhammapada verse 91]

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Source for image here

the jitensha metaphor

penny_farthing_bike_grand_bi-999pxPOSTCARD#75: Delhi: We bought an exercise bike from a Japanese lady who was leaving Delhi. It was a surprisingly large heavy thing with horns (NOVA fitness 700u). The delivery guys carried it into the spare room and that’s where it lives now. Jiab called it the jitensha – Japanese for bicycle:じてんしゃ remembering the bicycle she used to have when we lived in Japan. It got stolen – a sad story. So this big jitensha became the reincarnation of the one that was lost long ago. We started a routine of using the exercise bike and ‘jitensha’ became a verb, ‘to jitensha’, as in: are you going to jitensha? Jiab is Thai, and English is an improvisation, she speaks the language like playing a musical instrument. Everything is fun and it is such a lovely onomatopoeic word: ji-ten-sha… jitensha-jitensha-jitensha-jitensha, like the action of pedal crank, spinning chain wheel and everything about our jitensha is metaphorical; cycling through time in the present moment, situated firmly in the here-and-now, and the real sensation of going someplace but there are no wheels.

I get on the jitensha first thing in the morning. It’s the hot season, ceiling fan spinning, sleepy in the darkness and I wake up whizzing through streets and pathways of the mind, wind in my face and my eyes closed. Always downhill, no need to balance or steer or pay attention to where I’m going, there’s only this pleasing familiarity with the bicycle state of mind. Usually a four or five mile jaunt, not too hard, upper body swinging side to side with the pedaling movement, bare feet in pedal straps. Nothing else to do or worry about, thoughts arrive and depart, leaving fragments of things that form into something new, a memory of an event that happened long ago. Ah yes, I remember that… hold it for a moment then let it go. Now this, now that, things of no consequence. Focus on each one as it appears and disappears somewhere in these great landscapes seen rushing by.

Maybe it’s the blood circulation, a pleasing rush, and slight pressure behind the eyes seems to drive the thinking process. The intensity of making things into other things and the world out there is seen from the point of view of ‘me’ in here… the metaphorical self. I am on the receiving end of all this, I am the face in the mirror – look, that’s me. I think, therefore I am… a passing view of self and the hollowness of it all. Let it go and it’s gone, “the closer you look, the more it’s not there”. And then I’m inside a curious extended, freeze-framed thought moment, the all-inclusive presence of it and a sense of immensely distant things. No reference points and nothing left to think about. I’m not aware the thoughts have gone, just know they’re not there anymore. All that remains is the activity of Mind, not familiar with the ‘unthinking’ state and trying to fill the empty space with something, anything. Then that’s seen too, it falls away, and the jitensha spins off towards the horizon…

‘Wherever you go, you carry with you the sense of here and now. This is what distinguishes any present experience from memory. It reveals that space and time are in you and not the other way around. Most people are not acquainted with the sense of their being but only with the knowledge of their doing.’ [Wu Hsin]

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The Wu Hsin quote comes from the superaalifragilistic blog/ Behind The Mind: The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin –   G   R   A   T   I   T   U   D   E   -

 

world without end

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POSTCARD#74: Delhi: Ping! An email hits the inbox. It’s from the travel agent, about my flight to UK: Delhi/London, and connecting flight to Inverness Scotland. I see for the first time that the whole journey door-to-door takes place on the same day (allowing for +4½ hours time difference). Didn’t notice that… and another thing is that the date of travel is the 6th July which happens to be my birthday. It’s a time-and-space thing, I’ll have the longest birthday I’ve ever had in my life. Delhi departure time: 10.25 am, London arrival time: 2.50 pm (local time) then Inverness arrival time: 6.00 pm, and the folks there are saying we should go out and celebrate, have dinner somewhere. It’ll be a very long stretched-out, spaghetti-like, spatiotemporal birth-day.

But that’s not all; I remember now, in the Northern region (57.4717° N, 4.2254° W), it never really gets dark in the summertime, being near to the land of the midnight sun. So my birthday will continue in a glimmer of daylight through the night of the 6th July, into the dawn and the brightness of the next day, then all through the night again, into the next day and on and on like that for the rest of the summer. There’s a sense of birthing, and a feeling of forever about it, ‘world without end’. I’m swept away in a great ocean of memories. Everything that ever happened in my childhood flashing before the eyes. The mind racing through everything contained in the system, and clicking all known picture files. Hundreds of windows all opening at the same time; layer upon layer of memories. The thought that there is a place called Home… ‘home is where the heart is’, what does it mean, how does this make sense to me now?

Question: where is home? Sit quietly and clear the mind for a bit, consciously aware of the sensation of the breath gently touching the inner surfaces of nasal passages. This feeling is the same for everyone. Look out through the eyes and see the sky, the same blue sky everyone else is seeing – and not just the sky, the physiological process of seeing the sky is the same for everyone. The consciousness that recognizes this sense of subjectivity is the same for me as it is for you and everyone, everywhere, as it has been all the way through history. I can know how they felt and understood the world in ancient times; the sky they looked at and sounds they heard, fragrances they smelt, food tasted, surfaces touched and their mind responses. All of that is the same for me here and now as it was for the ancient people in their time. The ‘me’ and ‘mine’ I experience is not different from the ‘me’ and ‘mine’ anyone else experienced in the past, or at this moment, or any time in the future. The body/mind organism that receives the experience of this ever-present sensory data through the Five Khandas, is the same for me as it is for everyone on the planet. Outer and inner are both parts of the One, the Same, Inseparable – This is ‘Home’.

‘…the Buddha practised deep embodiment – really inhabiting his body, not sticking on the surface at sense-contact, but going inwards through breathing to where the subtle energy-channels of the body open, find their still centre and suffuse the practitioner with happiness and ease. In contact with that, the mind drops its wayward thinking, its sluggishness, agitation and passion and gathers at one point. ‘Jhāna’ he called it, ‘touching the Deathless with one’s body,’ the meditative entry to nibbāna. Note: not ‘witnessing’ or ‘watching’, but touching.’ [Ajahn Sucitto, Surface, Depth and Beyond]

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Image: the midnight sun in Altafjord in Norway. Source: Wikipedia 
Note: excerpts from an earlier post: now as it was then, are included here