East Anglia: There used to be a TV in the house but I got rid of it. A large old fashioned dinosaur TV, too large for this little old house. No room for it; limited floor space in here, low ceiling height, clutter and junk (jutter and clunk). I manhandled the TV upstairs but it was no good there; then downstairs and hurt my back in the process. It was always in the way; just too big. I had it under the table for a while and that was quite a good place. Yes, but it looked silly there. So I started to see that it had to go.
By this time, though, I’d become dependent on TV watching. Every other activity in the house took second place to that. It was partly because I was living by myself at the time. So, attempting to disengage from TV was a struggle. What to do? I’d try switching it off suddenly, as I was going through the channels, right in the middle of something – a chat show, whatever, just to see what the room felt like without all the noise, the bright lights and the rewarding, congratulatory applause. But every time I did that the absolute silence of a world without TV was devastating! The lack of colour and severity of greyness in the house was too cold and empty – I had to switch it on again immediately. TV was like a friend, I couldn’t say goodbye to it. I kept on doing that, though, switching it off in the middle of programmes to surprise the habitual mind. Eventually I started to get interested in the idea of the silence that is typical of this location; a house surrounded by quiet fields and nature.
But TV cold turkey was no fun – really NO FUN and I was in denial for a very long time. Then one day I was watching the BBC news and I’d noticed the way the newsreader pronounced his words seemed quite weird to me. It was a sort of a ‘smirk’ and a sneer combined and then the whole ‘self’ aspect of it was revealed. I was glad this happened because it became obvious then that I didn’t feel comfortable with TV in the house. I carried it out the back door and left it in the garden; went back inside and rearranged the furniture in the space where the TV used to be. Spent some time, also, looking at the directions in the room created by a focus on TV; chairs arranged so that it could be seen at optimum viewing angle. That’s how it used to be. Changed it all, and it was really quite liberating.
I’d return to the kitchen window and pause; look at the TV out there – holding my attention, still… that object should be ‘inside’, not ‘outside’. Completely out of context in the garden, but I just left it there; no longer connected to it. Later that day, the neighbour dropped by and we chatted about this and that and he said maybe I should take the TV back inside again because it was starting to rain – not a good thing to leave a TV out in the pouring rain. It’s true but I didn’t want it anymore. Would he like to have it; maybe his son would like it? Thank you very much. Okay, you’re welcome. So I gave him the channel changer and that was it, TV was gone forever.
That was then; and this is now. I’m sitting on the cushion in an absolutely compelling silence. It’s before dawn, still dark, and I have the window wide open. Not cold but it’s raining, I’m upstairs and can hear a few rain drops hit the window sill, most of the rain drops are still on the way down. I want to experience this rain so I go downstairs open the back door, get my meditation cushion positioned so that I’m not bothered by drops or wetness coming into the house.
Good to be on the ground floor, sitting on the surface of the planet listening to the rain striking the hard concrete outside and the grass beyond that. The open door to the garden, no wind here, dry and the sound of raindrops merged together in one whole mass of tiny collisions. The generosity of rain. An endless wave of pitter-patter-pitter-patter, like thousands of tiny finger snapping sounds. I got the finger-snapping/ rain-drops idea from a video somebody sent me. It’s that TV influence again.
[Link to: Rain]
‘That’s what your true nature is; that’s peaceful, that’s stillness. I experience that as stillness – as a stillness that one begins to recognise. A very natural stillness – it’s not a precious stillness that is destroyed as soon as there’s a loud noise. It’s a natural stillness that we don’t notice because we’re so caught in the samsara of birth and death, love and hate.’ [The Sound of Silence: The Selected Teachings of Ajahn Sumedho]