‘more like this’


Bruxelles Arrivals: Out of the aircraft and into the airport hallways, pulling the wheels behind, following signs pointing to immigration /douane. Overnight flight from Delhi, weary and dull. Dukkha is basically the sense that everything feels like it’s not as good as it could be and choosing, thus, to search for and be engaged in activities that will take the mind away from the discomfort (into the ‘happy’ zone) only perpetuates suffering. Endless searching is all there is: the human condition. Click the ‘search’ button, for no good reason, and receive millions of possible answers, filling up all the available space, replacing possible answers that were already there. And when it comes down to it, there is really only one possible answer: craving and attachment is what you’re searching for; samsara … ‘more like this’.

It’s difficult to see it in any other way right now, faced with great rivers of people pouring down long corridors on moving walkways. The whole world is in transit. I can see all the people, but they’re somehow not there. There’s only the information about them: itineraries, Arrivals point A – Departures point B, Gate numbers, passport numbers, visa details, security cameras, facial recognition software, vast amounts of figures and the support services that keep it all going – data on its own

Walking along the moving walkway at high speed; a foot keeps appearing out in front, down there on the floor: one at a time, left foot then right foot… pulling the wheels behind, heading for immigration /douane. Just moving along, mindful of body movements and associated events, let everything else go and there’s only the walking – other than that, try to focus on empty space.

Then mindfulness goes off, unnoticed; I’m distracted, wide-eyed and sleepless like a small nocturnal creature placed in TV studio lighting. Something occurs, and I enter into that seen event, a short scenario about something that happened before I got here. The mind considers that; why and what could that be? But there’s no reason for it; just one part of a great network of beginnings, middles and ends one has access to at any point in time, in any direction and it’s always leading back to the same thing; ‘me,’ just being me like this; ‘me,’ just being me like that ….

Then mindfulness cuts in, where’ve I been? and I’m back again, watching feet step out below me, walking down the moving walkway, pulling the wheels behind, pleased with the sense of movement and surprised to discover that without the wandering thoughts, there is just silence. There’s just a kind of physical awareness of body movements. And reminded of Ajahn Munindo’s talk  (Selling Samsara); about when he was here in Brussels airport some years ago, between flights and walking through the shopping area; mobile phones, handbags, perfume; just walking up and down to pass the time:

‘I’d done a few laps of the area when a lady, dressed in a blood red costume, comes out of a perfume shop and over to where I am, asks me what I’m doing. I tell her I’m a Buddhist monk just walking up and down and, ‘What are you doing?’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m selling Samsara, it’s a perfume.’ I say, ‘well, that’s interesting, do you know what Samsara means?’ She says, ‘No, tell me.’ I say ‘Samsara means: the endless cycle of deluded existence.’ ‘Oh, that’s wonderful!’ she says, and rushes inside the perfume shop. After a moment, she comes out with all the other ladies dressed in blood red costumes. ‘Tell them, tell them’, she says to me.’

Immigration, luggage belt and out of the airport into a taxi. I give the address, it’s a downtown area where Jiab’s younger brother, Nong T, has a shared aparment in a student area. Taxi glides out of the airport network, on to elevated highways and along wide roads, glass buildings, large yellow trams. Into the old town, narrow streets, North African eating places, bright colours, people everywhere, parked cars and look for the house number. Get out, ring the bell at the top of a small column of doorbells covered in paint and with names written in ballpoint pen held on with ancient scotchtape.

After a long time I can hear footsteps coming down. An image appears in the frosted glass panel of the door, it opens and Nong T is there. Hi, how was the flight and come on in. We start up the staircase which is so steep it’s like a stepladder where it spirals around at the corners and all the way up to the top. Lifting the luggage in front, step by step up and into a large studio type attic room with sloped roof ceiling and stove chimney pipe winding up to the top. Roof windows; quiet here, above the traffic noise.

Collapse on the sofa. The London Olympics on TV, last day. What else is on? I find a movie I think I’ve seen before, not sure, Dutch and French subtitles. I remember seeing the end of this. So I watch that for a while and when the adverts come on I switch to another channel to see if there’s something interesting there. Then switch back to where I was before, but find I’m somewhere else instead – how did that happen? So I return to where I was a moment ago and try to get orientated from there. But that seems different too, everything has moved on on time? Maybe I clicked the wrong thing. Go back, then forget completely how this started.

Then I’m wandering through animal programs, other movies, curious discussions in strange languages, news headlines with the same footage of Olympic events unfolding and, after that, the same thing backwards. Open the laptop, internet connection, go to google, key in ‘homelessness’, find an interesting post on the the homeless nature of thought [Link to: Thought is Homeless]. ‘… we, and our thoughts, are homeless because we are searching for a home that doesn’t exist…. when we let go of the mind that is constantly seeking to form attachments, when thought is comfortable in its homelessness, we can abide in the home of no-home.’ It expresses something very well that I’d not been able to focus on properly before. There’s all this constant restlessness that’s just going on. Let it go. No need to try to get it to stop, it’s just there, flowing like the river. There’s something comforting about this. Soon after that I take a shower and fall into deep sleep.

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