a handle to hold on to


201020121489Chiang Mai: Going to the airport in a tuktuk through a network of small streets. It’s probably a shortcut, but all these speed bumps? I’m feeling a bit queezy, seasickness must be like this. Or is it just that I’m surprised to be rolling up and over joyful little mountains. First the front wheel then the back wheels (three-wheeled vehicle), again and again; overkill on speed bumps. Sure enough it makes you feel giddy, all the ups and downs and I don’t ‘like’ it much but my wanting it to not be like this is making it into an issue. It’s a control thing, it’s about the so-called ‘me’. ‘I’ am the problem because, in fact, there’s nothing here; a body-mind mechanism that can process and transform data, the Five Khandas, that’s all. Nobody at home, no ‘self’ anatta, no-thingness. Only namarupa responses, natural processes and the feeling of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ arises due to the curious nature of sensory experience – this game of hide-and-seek, and the flip-side of concealment is revelation?

Maybe so but first things first, at this point in time I’m having an acute bout of speed-bump nausea and the small discomfort of it is in the centre of consciousness. Some basic sense informs me it’s a mistake to try to reject it or think it shouldn’t be there, I’d be better to get around to accepting it; the 1st Noble Truth, a deep acceptance that causes the ‘holding’ to ease off and there’s definitely something about this teaching; if you can understand it, the suffering disappears. The first time I came to see it, all kinds of habitual ‘holding’ that had bothered me for years just fell away. Gratitude to the Ajahns in Thailand for their guidance. It seems to me now though, there’s still something I’m not getting here? I’d been thinking that all the Theravadin masters are teaching, in their tremendous intensity and detail, is mindfulness about what you’re doing and the skill of letting-go. Beyond that there’s nothing said except the reference to it as the ‘deathless’.

‘When meditators practise correctly and have the discernment to see that quality (of deathlessness) as it really is, the result is that they can withdraw their attachments from all things — including their attachment to the discernment which enters in to see the quality as it really is. The practice of all things good and noble is to reach this very point.’ (Ajahn Thet)

Non-duality teachers talk about pure consciousness in the sense of something tangible; they’re saying there’s something ‘there’. The ‘I’ that is arising is the ‘I’ of everything. Theravadin Buddhists, on the other hand, are saying it can’t be like that; it’s emptiness – if you think there’s something there, it’s a handle to hold on to and the whole thing is about letting go, not holding on. So, today I’m thinking it’s helpful to have the stability of that ‘thing’ and I’m holding on; I want there to be something in that space, a sense of familiarity, it’s a known place and the sick feeling can be happening in an awareness that’s much larger than the confines of the cramped ‘self’. No little ‘me’ having to cope with it, the speed-bump nausea is not ‘mine’, no ownership, it’s not personal.’ It’s about learning how to be a totally open presence, aware of the way the ‘self’ perpetuates itself – on all levels and not buying into that.

A short while after that, thankfully, we get out of the narrow streets, small intersections, and onto the open space of a smooth, flat, easy highway in one long straight route across to the airport….

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2 thoughts on “a handle to hold on to

    • Thanks for your comment. You’ve got me thinking, yes, letting go of the tendency to ‘cling’ to a (supposedly) stable ‘self’ is an immediate solution – but then you’ve got nothing to hold on to; you’re in vertigo? And the alternative: a perceived ‘nothing-ness’ doesn’t help either, for the same reason. Maybe ‘necessity’ finds the middle way: Non-D, some kind of ‘being’ in the larger sense?

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