London-Bangkok flight: What a strange way to spend the afternoon… brilliant clear light enters the window as if we were in a room high up in an apartment building. Purple carpet with yellow stars, walls are grey, the fittings are of brushed steel, but I’m somewhere in the air, and thousands of miles away from where I was 8 hours ago. The little old house in East Anglia is empty now, I packed up and left it behind.
Last thing was to bless the room; a blessing and a ‘thank you’ for providing shelter, and doing this also helps me to be alert, mindful and ready for the next thing. Hands held in anjali, and walking through all the rooms in that small dwelling saying in my mind: ‘May all beings live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease. May all persons who come here after me find the same feeling of security and stability I found in this place.’ Then step outside, close the door, double lock it and into the taxi. It helps give a sense of closure, or something, at the end of an event. I recommend it. Recently I came across something very similar about blessings that I liked [Link]
After that, walking through the airport halls and passageways and all these people just moving along with their bags; as you pass them there’s a hint of something familiar – it’s that transitory ‘thing’. Airports and stations are an extraordinary example of it, in fact it’s always there – there at the corner of one’s vision. We’re all having the same kind of experience; we’re all going ‘away’; we’re all in transit; this is the time after we left and before we arrive. This is aniccan the ‘in-between’; the moment of transforming.
Change is there all the time – might seem like a contradiction. There’s a Nagarjuna quote: ‘All things are impermanent, which means there is neither permanence nor impermanence…’ could be a koan; the constant sweeping along of aniccan and waves of change. But immediately it says to me, first I need to lighten up and there’s always something new, gently nudging at the elbow and that’s what makes it possible to ease away from attachment.
If I’m free from ‘holding’, I can easily pass through the layers and corridors of the travel experience, part of the great river of human beings, all of us on the way to ‘somewhere’, surrounded by advertising images of well-off, good-looking people smiling all the time; Julia Roberts doing a Gucci advert? Celebrities I know but can’t remember their names, just posing as ‘themselves’ wearing a watch the cost of a small car. I look closely, trying to remember who it is, and fall into the dream.
They look secure, confident, happy and everything is going allright for them. They don’t seem to suffer from that great chasm of nothingness situated in the centre of everything; the ‘me’ I live with. What is it they have that I don’t? If I could have whatever it is they have, I could be happy, like them…? I’m drawn towards ‘the purchase’ by scenarios and strategies created by commercial psychologist witchdoctors who can manipulate my conscious experience.
Mindfulness means I stay free of the hunger and the urge. Here on this plane I can see a small piece of sky out there. It’s sufficient to remind me that if I get pulled into consumerist samsara too much, there’s a doorway in the mind which leads to freedom from suffering… the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving. Just knowing this is enough.
‘Within that cycle [the wheel of birth and death (samsara)], there is one doorway through which we can step out, namely, between feeling[Vedana] and craving[Upadana]. All the other steps of dependent arising are automatic causes and effects. Unless we learn to live with unpleasant and pleasant feelings without wanting to get rid of the one or keeping and renewing the other, we don’t have access to that doorway.’ [Aaya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies, Transcendental Dependent Arising p55]
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