things left undone


IMG_4170New Delhi: 05.00 hours. Jiab’s got a cold, she’s been coughing all night, I’m sitting in the front room, hunched over an electric fire, feeling the heat and staring at the glowing bars, I have to blink, even the surface of the eyeball feels hot. It triggers a childhood memory about sitting at the fireside during the long winters in Scotland. Not as cold here, I have to take Jiab to the doctor at 10.30. And considering now, Ajahn Chah’s expression: mai neh (Thai), ‘not sure’, uncertainty: and how, at this time of year in Scotland, ‘uncertainty’ means that if the heating should fail, we’ll all be in sub-zero conditions. Things are just that bit more vital in these circumstances, closer to the edge. Mindfulness is a requirement.

And it feels like I’m just filling in time here, pondering over some future event. It arrives in present time, finds I’m not here, still thinking about it in its future context, far away in a hypothetical state beyond the ‘now’ where all the other schemes, plans and things are left undone. I have a mind to put an end to this, abandon all of it. Half-formed entities without reality that I’ve cherished for years, give them their liberty, let them escape; knowingly release the attachment to all them. Let them go.

Light is coming up. There’s a curious bird perched on the branch outside the window, lively and alert. I’d like to go nearer to see it, but it’s too cold over there so I watch it from my place by the heater. At the point where the eye and the object meet, phassa, a conscious sensory event takes place; a moment of contact between the subjective state and the outer world. It mirrors a similar moment of cognition in the inner being. This basic truth holds my attention for a while and when I look again the bird has flown away.

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PHOTO: CANDLE FLOATING ON THE RIVER GANGES

9 thoughts on “things left undone

  1. this reminded me of TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton:
    “Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    If all time is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable.
    What might have been is an abstraction
    Remaining a perpetual possibility
    Only in a world of speculation.”

  2. I greatly enjoyed reading your post, very insightful. I wish for Jiab to be better. I do believe in all-time, it really is the only thing that can explain to me the fabric of our interpretation of reality that we seem to get so caught up inside of! My mom was religious, my dad scientific, I got stuck somewhere in the middle I think, believing the spiritual but asking questions also. Thank you, Penny

    • Jiab is better today, thanks. She got medicine from the doctor and also something ayurvedic from a specialist here in Delhi.
      Sounds to me like your mom and dad (indirectly) set you on the ‘Middle Way’. The Buddhist Teaching is about a real existential situation; here-and-now – no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. There’s dukkha, there’s a problem, so let’s find a solution, bit by bit. It’s how things work, a very practical approach.

  3. I am pleased Jiab is doing better. Yes re: mom and dad. I would wish for teachers, I find I am not only on an interesting learning curve (that I mentioned earlier) re: self and life but part of the time I feel like I’m ahead of it looking over my shoulder for the rest of me (the physical/conscious part – I think) to catch up. Did that make sense my new friend?

      • That is a completely delightful way of expressing this feeling I have. Thank you. It is nice to share a thought with someone and have them respond in a pleasant manner back where I feel there is comprehension to my words. It is helpful. Sometimes finding the right words to convey a meaning is a problem for me. Again my thanks.

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