Bangkok: In a taxi on the expressway and it looks like the whole route is blocked with traffic but we are moving along slowly. A small voice is saying, we’d’ve been better off taking the ordinary route through streets with traffic lights and the congestion of that would’ve been quicker than this… yes, possibly, but hypothetical. And I’m not getting pulled into that scenario, thanks, no. Strangely, I feel no frustration sitting here. The taxi driver’s radio is playing; it’s a call-in chat dialogue with music.The mind isn’t absorbed into it, the sound is just there. It’s not loud, it’s not demanding; sometimes I notice it consciously then the mind moves on somewhere else. And, there’s that small voice again saying, wow! this could get really boring. But it’s not like that, it’s a neutrality maybe, there’s just this experience right now; the reality of being here. Nothing else to do, so obviously it’s okay to stay with what’s ‘here’ and see where that gets me.
One thing that helps is that there was this really nice post I read the other day [‘The Path of Waiting’] and I’m thinking of that now in this place where traffic is at a standstill, nearly. It’s the idea that we’re always waiting on something, somewhere, most of the time and it helps if you can be ‘willing to stand hand in hand with your waiting for a few moments.’ It was that, I think, that started me off in this mind direction of, let’s see what this waiting thing feels like. So now I’m hand in hand with my waiting and it feels nice.
The mind is clear, free and empty. There’s a careful observation and contemplation of everything that’s happening, it’s like being focussed on balance and openness – poised between things, in a sort of high altitude mind-place of emptiness. That’s all, and everything just seems to be slowly moving along here, the moment transforms itself and there’s this attitude of gentle curiosity, like what’s this now? I hear the small voice again; a shadowy question hovering on the periphery: how come I’m not frustrated by this endless traffic situation? Nope, it’s not necessary to go there; no desire to get pulled into that. It’s the wisdom of just mindfully placing one foot after the other on to stepping-stones that lead over the river to get to the other side. There’s something about the easy lightness of this that makes it obviously the right thing to do, and what else is there to do anyway? Not a lot, I look out the window and see the gridlock of slow-moving metal parts in this tremendous heat.
Amazing really because I’m not feeling the frustration of it. There have been times in the past when it would’ve resulted in a semi-suppressed raging inferno and getting engaged with it, or trying to get rid of it, would seem like the way to go. Getting rid of stuff always seems like the right thing to do; a kind of righteous feeling; got to clear up this mess, okay, let’s get on with it! But that hasn’t worked for me, experience has shown…. Long ago and far away, I remember the Ajahns telling me about this – well, I didn’t know what I was doing at that time – and the teaching was about how I was unintentionally holding on to some unpleasant mind state, even though I was sure that trying to get rid of it was the thing to do. The desire to get rid of, vibhava-tanha, is a desire, same as the desire to have something is a desire; they are the same. So the teaching is that trying to get-rid-of-it is like trying to get rid of the desire to get rid of it, and it doesn’t work like that – all I’d be doing is creating more suffering.
It’s fortunate for me that I’m seeing it like this today, I need to remember how it works. The problem is really with the resistance to frustration – so, relax the resistance, allow the frustration to come in. Know what it’s like when it’s present, know what it feels like (the holding on to it) when it’s there. Knowledge replaces ignorance, we are not deluded by it any more. So, I’m just moving along now; looks like the traffic flow is easing up a bit – getting there…
‘… in the context of the four noble truths, the origin of suffering (dukkha) is commonly explained as craving (tanha) conditioned by ignorance (avijja). This craving runs on three channels:
(1) Craving for sense-pleasures (kama-tanha): this is craving for sense objects which provide pleasant feeling, or craving for sensory pleasures.
(2) Craving to be (bhava-tanha): this is craving to be something, to unite with an experience. This includes craving to be solid and ongoing, to be a being that has a past and a future, and craving to prevail and dominate over others.
(3) Craving not to be (vibhava-tanha): this is craving to not experience the world, and to be nothing; a wish to be separated from painful feelings.’ [dukkha samudaya (wiki)]