If A Tree Falls …

A village near Hat Yai: Exotic red Hibiscus flowers and butterflies as big as birds. A zizzle of insects in the night and numerous coconut palm trees just standing around contemplating the situation: if a tree falls in the forest …. Does the world continue to exist when I close my eyes? Was this world here before I was born? Hard to believe it was, everything just going on as it is now, probably, farmyard animals, birds in the trees and all the other random events taking place as they are now, experienced from here on the top floor of the house where the treetops are level with the roof terrace and higher.

There was a time when I wasn’t here – not born yet. I can understand that, so it means I can understand what the world is without that person called ‘me’ going around, being myself, and there’s an anonymity about this observation that’s quite liberating. I am in it, that’s all – no more, no less – and undeniably, the present moment is all around the place, spread over the surfaces of the things I see, as soon as I look at them. It was there when the dogs got tangled up in the leash a short while ago – it can be inexplicable! Not always, but I keep bumping into it, the present moment is all there is. And it is as it is whether I am aware of it in its as-it-is-ness or not.

Sometimes it gets stuck, like a failed internet connection. The internet room at Hat Yai Airport was closed when I was there, all the computers covered with dustsheets and a sign written in felt tip pen explaining the reason why. And in the center of this Thai message were the words, in English: “could not make a connection” copied from the message on the browser – okay, everybody can go home now. Is this what Death is like? The unexpected occurs  – it does that sometimes, fatal error – quit all programs and try restart. It doesn’t work; just another aspect of the ‘as-it-is-ness’, probably yes, whatever.

Systematically eliminating the idle chatter of the mind as it arises leads to a state of mind free of all the tugs and pulls. Everything that comes to conscious mind can be thought of as recognition of the object; bare attention, continued awareness applied to everything in the environment and the various happenings of the day.

It’s really nice to be in this pleasant rural remoteness and So What if I’ve been trying to get a connection all day? I’m an optimist, hoping for the best, without clinging to the idea there’s a problem about that. Meanwhile, the world and everything is just going on, the original state, always there. Death arrives one day and it’s that letting-go thing again.

“… how much more harmoniously the days are passing compared with those when we gave in to the slightest stimulus for interfering in the world by deed, word, emotion or thought. As if protected by an invisible armour against the banalities and importunities of the outer world, one will walk through (the) days serenely and content, with an exhilarating feeling of ease and freedom. It is as if, from the unpleasant closeness of a hustling and noisy crowd, one has escaped to the silence and seclusion of a hill top, and with a sigh of relief, is looking down on the noise and bustle below. It is the peace and happiness of detachment which will be thus experienced.” [“The Heart of Buddhist Meditation” Nyanaponika Thera]

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