multiplicity

IMG_2228POSTCARD 138: London/Delhi flight: Travelling by plane at night is a directionless experience, an invisible route that leads to the destination without any sense of the journey, just the sound of the engines and hiss of the air. I fall deeply asleep and wake up to daylight coming in through the cabin windows. We’re here, missed breakfast, no time for anything, quickly gather up my things, ready to leave the plane. Next thing is I’m in the huge emptiness of Indira Gandhi airport, miles of ochre carpeting, and zooming along moving walkways towards the queue at immigration. Get in line with everyone else, get comfortable with this, it could take some time.

Hello Delhi, nice to be back here, mid-morning in a different time zone, and just the ongoing continuity of it, as if I’d never been away… familiarity of bearded men, turbans, a mysterious woman with exotic nose rings, gold bangles jangle and flick of movement that adjusts folds of sari, consoling tired children with nanny; the whole clan goes everywhere together. In this place I’m glanced at, averted gaze slips away, a foreigner travelling alone, a partially visible stranger from a place of no sunlight, colorless eyes, pale pigmentation, like those creatures who live deep below the surface at the bottom of the sea.

The uncompromisingly here-and-now of it, no disappearing from or disappearing into – a dream and yet not a dream. Letting go of the experience in the North, only the memory of that extraordinary feeling there during the retreat in Scotland. The feeling I’d connected with something specific but now I forget what it was exactly. A scrap of paper in my pocket with somebody’s email on it, remembering… there was the old house, the people who were already there and the sadness when they left before I did. Then the others who came after me – I remember them all – and how they were the ones who said goodbye when it was my turn to leave.

Each one carrying this ghostly sense of familiarity, archetypal resemblance, the uniformity of distinct types. Faces I think I’ve seen before… there was a man who looked so much like Larry King (from Larry King Live), at first I believed it was him. Others reminded me of family members – I recognized Great Aunt B. from East Anglia, passed away long ago… wonderful to ‘see’ her again. And someone exactly like my old Uncle D. Everywhere I looked I saw the elders, all dead and gone now. So good to return to the memory that they were here once like me, I was inclined to think of them as being real. “Who am I? Am I you? Him? He, she, it? We, you, they?” So much of a multiplicity, sometimes it’s just seen… we are all of a oneness.

Thump! Passport stamped, out through the crowds and sudden heat, intense light switched on like a television studio. Shym is waiting with the car, bags in and we’re off into the noise and blare of Delhi traffic, reversed mirror image of the world I just left. Changing the sim card in my phone, changing channels, watching a different movie.

As silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing.
As some strings, untouched, sound when no one is speaking.
So it was when love slipped inside us.
As this life is not a gate, but the horse plunging through it.
The heart’s actions
are neither the sentence nor its reprieve.
Salt hay and thistles, above the cold granite.
One bird singing back to another because it can’t not

[Jane Hirshfield, Come, Thief]

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Note: This post was created partly as a result of keying in the term ‘multiplicity of faces’ in Google and finding the pdf in: perceptionweb.com. Check out the exercise of flickering faces in the picture of the girl’s face at the end.
Note2: Many thanks to Mindful Balance for the poem.
Photo: light switches in a corridor at the back of a government building in New Delhi

directionality

IMG_2214bPOSTCARD 137: The Edinburgh Road: For a moment I’m conscious of the present moment contained inside this moving vehicle following the white line marked in the centre of the tarmac, captivated by the directionality of the journey hurtling through a kind of wormhole in space/time, and plunging towards a vanishing point that never arrives. Pieces of a picture landscape, like a giant jigsaw, fly up and pass through the windscreen of the car, through the transparency of self and a new picture is forming. Left-hand bend approaching, steer around that, attention caught by a constant continuity of looped overhead cables on the right that continually sweep upwards and fall away like waves ebb and flow. Into a right-hand curve… tilt and rising with the camber of the road on the left side then level out and down into the next one. More curves and bends, dizzy and bewildering, winding down these slopes and (ear-popping) altitude drops on the way that leads to the coast.

This must be an old drovers’ road to the markets in the town, it’s foundations laid by the hooves of herds of animals following a path through ancient forests that once were here, and finding a route around swamps and boulders; obstacles long since filled in and cleared away. Now there are just fields of sheep and grass and crops, featureless hillsides – only the road remains, it’s twists and turns carry no meaning. Land owners’ properties claimed on either side have trapped it in its original form, a skeleton from the past, a craggy old branch of a tree, its shape created by historical circumstance.

The outer world becomes neutral, non-intrusive random thought mechanisms that function at the edge of a dream pull me into the gentle whirr and flicker of thinking-about-things, just as we’re coming into Edinburgh. Drop some people here at the train station, then on to drop the rest of us at the airport. Strange to suddenly be in the centre of a town, held by the traffic lights and see people crossing over – reverse culture shock; I’m not used to seeing Europeans, dark-haired, golden, Asian faces with almond shaped eyes fill my world. Memory of a former life, strange familiarity, déjà vu… this pavement, these streetlights, have I been here before? But it’s just somewhere on the way. No, wait… was it here that an event took place, long since forgotten? But no explanation seems to fit – it’s just what’s happening – the world, doing its thing. All that is here is a reflection of me passing through. It appears in present time, and then it’s gone.

Ed.people1

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” [Heraclitus]

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lowlands

lowlands 1POSTCARD 136, Peebles, Scotland: We don’t usually wake up to the sound of birdsong at dawn, it’s too early – 4.30 am here in the room with curtains closed to keep out light that glimmers all through the night. Summer in the north means it’s nearly always day. Difficult to sleep, getting out of bed is not easy but I have to be up and ready to leave because this is the end of the retreat and the start of the long journey home.

A labyrinth of corridors and narrow staircase that leads down from the upper floors in this old mansion house converted to a Health Center. Nurses chattering together in their white coats come upstairs, pass me on the staircase going down (ghostly image of maids and housekeeping staff from a former life). I go down and down to the small chapel created in the old wine cellar at the lowest point beneath this great house. Find a place and sit in the silence. I feel humble, a Buddhist in a Christian sanctuary, examining the nature of human experience rather than its external creator – ‘a part of’, rather than ‘apart from’. The ‘hallowed’ Presence may have no name… identification creates an object in a world of subjectivity; a world of whispering Hymn books’ paper pages turning in these curious acoustics: ‘forgive us our trespasses and those who trespass against us.’ So many ‘s’ sounds the rhythm of the Prayer goes out of sync for a moment then its momentum builds up and falls into unity again. Trespasses and trespassing; acting out scenarios in the mind – letting-go and forgiveness.

Say goodbye to nurses, therapists, doctors and friends I’ve known for four weeks and will probably never see again – we shared a small lifetime. Goodbye dark stained wood panels, chandeliers suspended in high ceilings; goodbye antique furniture and carpets over oak block herring-bone flooring. Bags in car and down the long drive into the rolling hills. Sun breaks through and the sky is blue as we descend through the landscape. These are the Lowlands.

“The mind is a kind of theatre where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.” [David Hume]

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Note: Dear fellow bloggers, I’ve been on retreat for more than a month, deep in the Scottish lowlands. One of the requirements was to stay away from social media, so I’ve been offline for all that time. Nice to be back, more posts to come…

clan

photo-9POSTCARD #135: Glasgow, Scotland: Battles lost and won and always the bagpipes have a part to play. There’s an extraordinary power about the instrument. I hear it as I’m walking down Buchanan Street, drawn towards the sound, and see the huge crowd surrounding the group outside an expensive shopping mall. Street musicians, I don’t know anything about the tartan kilt outfits they wear – the piper seems kinda clean-cut to me, respectable. Maybe he’s also a part-time piper in other bands, or one of the sons of these war-like characters beating out a furious rhythm on the drums. Somebody else going around collecting coins in an open box – there must be more than a hundred pounds in there ($150). I pour the contents of my pocket into the collection.

Jiab was here a long time ago while I was in Japan, she stopped to listen to a street musician playing the pipes and the piper happened to be standing next to an old red phone box with glass panels smashed out (those were the days before cell phones). So Jiab had a think about time zones between here and Japan, gathered all the change she had and called me up. I was in the office in Yokohama and somebody said there was a call for me. Picked up the phone and there was this skirl and blare of the pipes coming from the other side of the world. Then Thai laughter and the sound of coins being shoved into the phone slot – we couldn’t talk or anything, the sound was so loud. So after a while we ended the call. Jiab has a sense of humor.

Sound of the pipes fading into the background as I walk now through these streets back to my hotel… extraordinary that I have no home in Glasgow. I’m a tourist, even though I lived here for 5 years, and all that’s left is a strange familiarity – recognizing the streets, the buildings. Feels like I’m a member of a clan, vanquished, as if in a battle that took place in the time I was away – the Celtic sense of calamity. And today, after more than thirty years living in other people’s countries I discover I’m homeless. It feels like I don’t exist. I’m nobody, in a place where I used to be ‘somebody’. Mutuality in the illusion; clan, this is all we seem to have in the lifetime we share. In truth, it all merges into one; cycles of darkness and light, and seasons, a spinning planet around the sun, cycles of organic forms that reproduce, die and other’s take their place, continuously.

“… the moon, reflected in the water, shines brightly and within the spotless water seems to be, but the water-moon is empty, substanceless; there is no thing to grasp… ‘tis thus that all things are.” [Samadhiraja-sutra 2nd century CE]

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Note: Dear friends tomorrow I’m going offline for a couple of weeks in order to enter a retreat and receive advice on my health situation. I’ll be back again in July and catch up with your posts and comments then. Thanks for reading….

there and then, here and now

IMG_2188POSTCARD #134: Elgin, Scotland: It’s a fleeting transitory thing, sometimes so clearly seen – as now on this bus following the coastal route and scribbling down words in my notebook (almost illegible writing due to the motion of the bus). I’m visiting Uncle P who is over 80 and lives in a care-home. The photo above was taken from the bus going through these small villages, and it was shortly after that I got off at Buckie.

Then it all comes back to me, the call of seabirds and smell of the sea. Huddled in my coat in the cold wind looking down at the same street surfaces; pavement cracks I recognize from the last time I was here, years and years ago? What is it? Just a feeling, awareness precedes thought, no words for this kind of thing. Incidental people pass by on the street. I think I know them from long ago, but it’s possible I never spoke to them at all, we were always like this, seeing each other in the town and only that gentle familiarity, glance, eyes meet, strange recognition… do I know you? It’s like I never left this timeless non-objective moment – there and then is here and now.

And they would say it makes no difference if I’ve been away in foreign lands, North India and Thailand, Chiang Mai, Bangkok and living my butterfly life. Coming back here is like stepping into the same instant of existence. It’s like it was yesterday, except people are older, aging, settling into a comfortable gravity. And a feeling of how everyone is near the end – I don’t know the young folks, of course. People I used to be friends with are inexplicably gone. It’s like the estuary leads out to the sea – water from the mountains flowing through so many different circumstances, on the way to joining the oceans of the world.

I get to see Uncle P and he looks well but almost all that he says is subtly incorrect, wrong dates, gives people all the wrong names and I agree with everything he says. When it’s time to go, he takes me to the exit, but we get lost, pause at the dining room and he’s puzzled why everything has been tidied away – I ask a staff lady in the kitchen who assures me that Uncle P had his lunch already. He forgets things; she tells me out of earshot – shows me the exit. Last I see of him, he’s going back down the corridor with the kitchen lady and telling her he’s looking for his wife. But she passed away a year ago.

On the bus to Elgin I have a little weep about Uncle P, and when the bus gets there, find an Internet café to write this.

‘Wandering through realms of consciousness like a refugee, thought looks for a home. Thought thinks that perhaps by clinging to this or to that, it can find a home. In this way, thought forms attachments with names and forms, with concepts such as “is” and “is not,” “self” and “other,” “me” and “mine,” and with emotions like envy, pride, and desire. It is the mission of thought to form these attachments in hopes of finding a home. Thought wants to own its own home.’ [Thought Is Homeless/The Endless Further/ 2012 July 16]

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pain/resistance

fishing netsPOSTCARD #133: Scotland: Overnight flight from Delhi to Heathrow, train from Euston station and I’m in Glasgow. Can’t recognize anything, it’s been years. I feel like a foreigner… then later having breakfast at the hotel, 7am and sitting by the front window, watching everybody on the street going to work. Hats and coats and it’s cold out there; the happiness of the people in Thailand, sunny and bright… just not here. Reminds me of the following post, written when I had a part time job teaching English in Geneva, Switzerland – migrant workers employed in the factories and light industry going to work by bus in the early morning:

(originally dated August 22, 2012) I’m on the bus, going to an early morning class in the industrial zone. As we get near, the bus is stopping at every stop to pick up people employed in the factories. Migrant workers from East Europe; men and women speaking a language unknown to me. Thin, sad, serious faces; reminds me of Van Gogh’s drawings of the miners in 19th Century.

Van Gogh 'Miners' 1880 (detail)Bus is getting crowded, I have a book to read: ‘The Noble Eightfold Path’ by Bhikkhu Bodhi: ‘The search for a spiritual path is born of suffering. It does not start with lights and ecstasy but with the hard tacks of pain, disappointment and confusion… for suffering to give birth to a genuine spiritual search, it must amount to more than something passively received…’ 

More stops, more migrant workers get on the bus. It feels like I’ve got to have my head down reading my book because there’s nowhere else in this bus to look without encountering another pair of eyes looking straight back at me; my shirt and tie, polished shoes. What they don’t realise is that I’m a foreign worker too: UK citizen resident in Switzerland. I know how it feels to live in someone else’s country. Okay, guys! I’m a teacher of English, and I’m on my way to teach your bosses, yes – but, as far as I’m concerned, we’re all the same here. And that’s how it is now, squashed up against the window glass; thin shoulders and arms pressing against me. Continue reading:

‘It has to trigger an inner realization, a perception which pierces through the facile complacency of our usual encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity perpetually gaping underfoot. When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily, it can precipitate a profound personal crisis. It overturns accustomed goals and values, mocks our routine preoccupations, leaves old enjoyments stubbornly unsatisfying.’

Urgent circumstances; this is about a level of suffering hard to endure and there’s just no getting away from it. A long time ago, I had an operation for colonic cancer and there were a number of confrontations with pain… unbearable, I had to give in to it. As soon as that happened, something unseen tipped the balance… for a moment there was the easing –  I discover it’s the resistance to it that causes most of the discomfort.

What would it take for Bhikkhu Bodhi’s insight described here to be meaningful for these migrant workers? For them, it’s about holding on, not letting go; as long as they can withstand hardship, it will go on like this. They’re putting their small amounts of money together to send back home to support the family. They structure their lives around employment and the innate ability to be happy becomes a fleeting, temporary happiness found in consumerism, built-in to the system. People can’t escape from it unless they step out of the earning momentum they’re stuck in, and risk losing everything.

The bus gets to the terminus, stops, air suspension lets out in one long last gasp, and the bus lowers itself on to its structure. I get out with everyone else in this strangely remote place with factory smells and set off walking along the path to the industrial buildings in the distance. Behind me the bus starts up, a worrying moment, no wish to be stranded in this particular reality. I look back at it as it rumbles off on its little round wheels.

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Image: Vincent van Gogh 
Drawing, “Miners”, Pencil on Paper,
 Cuesmes: September, 1880, Kröller-Müller Museum.
Note excerpts here from an earlier post: ‘Choosing Liberation

awareness of awareness

wesak_lanterns‘Our awareness is like the air around us: we rarely notice it. It functions in all our waking moments and may even continue in sleep. Usually we are caught up in the content of our awareness, preoccupied with what we think, feel, and experience. Becoming aware of awareness itself is Receptive Awareness, very close to the idea of a witnessing consciousness. Resting in receptive awareness is an antidote to our efforts of building and defending a self: the assumption that there is “someone who is aware” falls away. Self-consciousness falls away; the distinctions between self and other, inside and outside, perceiver and perceived disappear. There is no one who is aware; there is only awareness and experience happening within awareness. We learn to hold our lives, our ideas, and ourselves lightly and rest in a spacious and compassionate sphere of awareness that knows, but is not attached.’ [Link to: Receptive Awareness]

POSTCARD #132: Delhi: Today, June 1st, 2015 is Visakha Puja – a special day in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Singapore. This day commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Buddha in the Theravada tradition. So you get all three on the same day. The events that take place on this day go all the way back to the time of the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago, monks chanting verses, there is a talk by a senior monk, listeners seated on the floor, and it fills me with awe to consider that it’s the same now as it was all those years ago; this moment here and now is actually that moment there and then. Everything about who I am, the clothes I wear, my appearance, identity, gender; all of that disappears for an instant in the huge span of time that appears to lie in between. There’s only awareness, I experience it physically, somewhere in the centre of the chest, spreading out to the shoulders. In Pali it’s called the citta, the heart.

Thought and mental activity are all located in the brain area; flashing like electricity voltage sparks, but awareness is in the centre of my being. Experientially I’m conscious that awareness is prior to thought and mental activity, awareness comes before everything. It’s there all the time, even when I’m asleep. I may assume that awareness is ‘me’, ‘self’. This ‘self’ says it’s ‘my’ awareness, ‘I’ am aware. But when this ‘self’ that I believe to be me starts to look for the ‘me’ that possesses awareness, it finds that it’s the other way round: awareness has to first start looking for the ‘me’ (and the ‘me’ can’t be found).

The question then arises, ‘who am I?’ I might say, well, I have an identity given to me by my parents, and a birth certificate, driving license, passport, ID card, and all this documentation is saying this is ‘me’. I have a personality; I’m like this, I’m like that. But it’s awareness that sees all this, the feelings, emotions, moods and I find the question: ‘who am I?’ is itself focusing attention, opening the mind, thoughts flicker and disappear, sparks fly, awareness sees all this. The identity, the personality is witnessed by awareness. Awareness was there before it all; before feelings, moods – emotions are objects of perception that awareness perceives. Awareness is what I am, it’s what all sentient beings are, it’s not personal, it’s everything. No beginning, no end, awareness has always been there. Awareness is spirit. Spirit is awareness

Most of the time I live with my small self, worn like a costume in a fancy-dress party, and function with other small selves doing the same thing. Same with everybody here today, at Vesakh time seated in meditation and focused on the Buddha’s teaching. But the Buddha wouldn’t have wanted us to say anything like, “I am a ‘Buddhist’”… beliefs appear in awareness, awareness is there before beliefs, before thought, before all that. There’s an awareness of a constructed ‘self’ – necessary for getting around. There’s this awareness and an awareness of the awareness itself.

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Photo source: http://asiaplacestosee.com/wesak-day-celebration/
Note: some parts of this post inspired by an Adyashanti talk in a post on the website: To Know Beauty/ Meditative Self Inquiry

beyond belief

IMG_4118POSTCARD #131: Delhi: I received this photo of a plane journey on my phone from M, my 11-year-old Thai niece. She was on a night flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. All our devices are connected so I get her photos, downloaded images, screenshots, kiddie’s apps and have to subscribe to an increased GB storage plan due to these thousands of ‘cute’ digital items, increasing daily. I read in Google somewhere that the number of mobile phones exceeds the population of the world, due to users that own multiple devices. Let’s say there are trillions of images all around the planet… whatever, there’s just this sense of vastness. Like the stars seen through M’s downloaded pic of the plane window. More than that; a quick look at Google tells me there are 200 billion galaxies out there, a Universe filled with a septillion: 1024 planets –on ‘the short scale’ (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) and 1042 on ‘the long scale’.

Changing from the Macro to the Micro, each star that can be seen from the plane window out there looks like a micro particle – wiki tells me that ‘point-particles’ are zero-dimensional. So it doesn’t take long to start thinking about transparency, lightness, non-being:

You are boundless space.
You are nothing that you appear to be.
You are the fathomless ocean, forever flowing.
The waves do not affect you.
Nothing affects you, for there’s no you.
[Robert Adams]

(reblogged from: Known is a drop, Unknown is an ocean

It’s just that everything I’ve been taught as a child is the received perception that’s passed down through generations of those with the same mind/body organism as I have. Most of us hold on to creationist belief systems, “God” – the ‘Big Bang’. But what caused the big bang? What came before that? A lot of people I know spend most of their time in contemplation, one way or another  – meditation or focused thought, and seeking a way of living that allows for this because it’s possibly the most important thing you can do with your life.

Advaita Vedanta talks about Brahman being the cause, and the world is the effect. Without the cause, the effect is no longer there. What that means is the ‘World” is real when seen with Brahman but it’s false when seen without Brahman. So basically Brahman is the original cause and those of us who see without Brahman are seeing the World as an illusion. Sounds like the sky is blue, the grass is green because the human sensory system creates it like that, and there’s no way to prove this is ‘real.’ That’s how it seems to be, in a manner of speaking – the sense there’s something missing… Brahman/Pure Consciousness/Reality? Not seeking, just considering the question. I like what cabrogal says: ‘Pure consciousness has no object’ – this has become like a kind of koan for me.

The Buddha didn’t agree with the external, eternal creationist idea:

“As far as the suns and moons extend their courses and the regions of the sky shine in splendor, there is a thousandfold world system. In each single one of these there are a thousand suns, moons, Meru Mountains, four times a thousand continents and oceans, a thousand heavens of all stages of the realm of sense pleasure, a thousand Brahma worlds. As far as a thousandfold world system reaches in other words, [the universe], the Great God is the highest being. But even the Great God is subject to coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be.” (Anguttara-Nikaya X 29)

It’s like saying these are all concepts and true reality is not a concept – words cannot reach that far. I received another picture from M, her painting of a beehive, done after she got off the flight and back in school again. It’s a natural hive in the forest. When Jiab asked what the bee outside the hive was doing there, she gave it some thought and said it was counting the stars – a created answer, sort of an on-the-spur-of-the-moment thing…

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Note: I Googled the title of this post after I’d set up the thing for publication and discovered in Amazon it’s the title of a book: ‘Beyond Belief’ by Elaine Pagels about the “secret” Gospel of Thomas. The idea that the Jesus Teachings were changed by Churchianity. Jesus was saying he was the son of God but we are all the sons and daughters of God, no difference. We can all be enlightened. I was wondering if anybody had read this book and should I order it from Amazon?

endeavour

h22_17283563POSTCARD #129: Delhi: I’ve had this photo in my files for a long time. All kinds of stuff come to mind, studying it, but if you look closely, there’s an orderlieness about it. These people are not fighting with each other to get on the roof of the train. This is Dhaka, Bangladesh, the massive exit from the city for Eid celebrations (end of fasting during the month of Ramadan). At the lower left you can see a hand extended to help someone climb on a window ledge. Others on the lower right are calmly waiting to see what’s going to happen because it looks like they can’t all get on this train. Maybe they’re waiting for the next one to arrive. Another thing that’s obvious for those on the roof is the fearlessness, the strength, the belief in each other, a kinship; the closeness of the group that you find everywhere in Asia, also I’ve noticed it in Thailand. These folk are from the ‘old world’. In the ‘new world’ (the West) the closeness is not so obvious. Could be we have been more war-like, the hunter-gatherers in ancient times, but within each clan there would still have been this unity, this bonding in the face of adversity. I feel it’s possible to recognize something of this affinity with each other.

I’m thinking of what it must be like to be one of these individuals with a place on the roof of the train, doing this trip annually; quite used to the sheer vastness of it all. Perhaps taking some comfort from the fact that there could be hundreds of human beings there at that very moment – also aware that the totality of this annual migration in Bangladesh is in the millions, certainly. Holding on to each other up there on the roof on the rough and bumpy ride. A journey maybe a day and part of a night, for some of them, and jumping off the train in groups, then probably another long journey to get home.

It reminds me of another event long ago, South India maybe 30 years ago. I was stuck in this provincial Bus Stand (bus terminal) because of a mix-up in routing on the way from Pondicherry to Bangalore. So just sitting on the pavement like all the rest do and waiting for my bus to turn up. Terrific noise and people everywhere, food vendors, everything. Other buses careering past and clouds of dust, black exhaust fumes and dangerous speeds – overloaded with people on the roof so much, the vehicle was leaning precariously to one side. It was quite a thing to see.

Then I noticed this boy running to catch his bus, 12 or 13yrs maybe, he looked at me, maybe the first foreigner he’d ever seen. There I was just sitting with everybody else. He hesitated then carried on running with a quick look back at me. Then running flat out to get his bus, speeding away very quickly. There was a moment when it looked like he wasn’t going to make it, then a hand reached out from somebody on the bus and he got pulled near enough to grab the ladder at the back that leads up to the roof. A wild leap and with both feet safely on the bottom rung, and held by others’ arms so both hands were tightly holding on, his head swiveled back, black eyes staring at me. The bus racing further and further away. I held the gaze like that, thinking there’s no way I’d have the strength and endeavor to do that. It seemed like this, held by watching his golden face turned towards me until the bus went out of sight.

“Right now you are Consciousness, appearing as a character in your play.  Maybe you think you need confirmation.  Forget it.  Relax.  You already are That.” [Nathan Gill]

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Photo Source: Chez Chiara

something, anything, nothing

No-Maske_Ko-Kasshiki_Museum_RietbergOLD NOTEBOOKS: Geneva, Switzerland: (originally dated September 29, 2012) I get on the Airport bus crowded with people and all their baggage, but I’m not going to catch a plane, I have to teach a new English class in the airport building, and feeling a bit nervous about that. Staff entrance, visitors’ ID, then I’m led along corridors to an elevator and down two or three floors into a network of underground rooms. Door opens and I’m in this claustrophobic space. No windows of course, a large white board, the smell of whiteboard markers, harsh penetrating fluorescent tube lighting. Find the air vents, adjust the air flow by remote and I can breathe better.

Three large athletic men enter; customs officers and senior security people, I see from my notes; shake hands with everyone. There’s a relaxed informal locker-room awareness of each other; deference among them, recognition of something about one individual I guess must be the most senior. Anyway I’m the foreigner in the group, and I have to give an account of myself.

Introductions over and we get started with the class. Pretty soon, something comes up, one of them stands, as if to attention, asks me a question about the use of ‘anything’ rather than ‘something’. After he’s asked the question there’s a hesitation, as if he’s going to say something else, then I notice he’s just observing my body behavior, the professional investigator…

So we’re looking at each other like this, and after I realize he’s finished talking in fact, I’m giving an answer to his question while gradually realizing I’m having a kind of out-of-body experience. I can hear my voice saying the words; the echo in the concrete room, feel the moisture and movement of the mouth but everything else is somehow unfamiliar.

It seems to work ok, I manage to articulate properly and tell him that ‘anything’ is usually used either in a negative context: “I don’t have anything”, and it’s also used in the interrogative form; you might ask a person: “Do you have anything to declare?” Me saying this with a smile, thinking of the Customs Declaration, and hoping to get the intensity to lighten up a bit.

No reaction (maybe he didn’t understand). So I continue with the example: “If you thought that person did have something to declare you could say: “Do you have something to declare?” Still no reaction from this hypnotic look and I’m feeling really weird. He sits down and discusses with the other two in French and they seem to agree about this. I’m still kinda not ‘here’… maybe it’s the underground room, the intensity of the officer’s stare

Somebody else in the group asks a follow-up question and an interesting discussion follows on from this. I sit down with them and can feel myself get back to ‘normal’ – learn not to pay attention to ‘the look’. Class time, comes to an end, shake hands (everybody shakes hands in the French culture), and I’m up in the elevator out along the corridors to the exit and the fresh air.

Wait at the Airport bus stop, it comes, and we’re off into town. The bus is full of wide-eyed people just arrived from distant parts of the world, large suitcases blocking the passageway. How can I say that there is no self, because, if there is no self, who/what is it that realizes this? There’s this feeling that I’m not here – clearly in the public eye but vanished away, invisible. Bus speeds off to town with passengers all speaking loudly in different languages.

Are you an object being watched by another Presence? Or are you the Presence in whose view an idea of yourself is watched? [Mooji]

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Notes also from David Loy: Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: 
Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same?) Image source