POSTCARD♯08: Bangkok/Delhi flight: Large men standing in the aisles of the passenger area look along the length of the plane in one direction, turn the head around and look in the other direction. Hold that for a moment, then look to the left, to the right, and back to the central position: ok, so here we are on this plane… Sensory receptors positioned around the face and the cranium spins around, up/down on its axis, moving in response to received vision, sound, smell. The mind coordinates, thinks about things… ‘60,000 thoughts per day by each and every human being on the planet.’ [Deepak Chopra]. No wonder it’s such a novelty to discover a space where there’s no thought, no stories unfolding in the mind.
Maybe it’s something cultural; the male authority figure standing there like a tall pillar and everyone else is seated. I’m reminded of Meerkats, these cute creatures who stand up on their hind legs and look at everything in a kind of philosophical way. See and be seen. I catch the look, and glance away… a brief encounter, not held; no dialogue: hi how are you today? No, no need for that; no language required to interpret events and engage the mind. Just the look of eyes, and our shared space up here in thin air; a passenger jet travelling at 600 miles per hour, 10 kilometres above the curvature of the Earth.
Bundles of conditioned reflexes squeezed into the volume of a body, the experience of being a human ‘being’ – only this. Seeing the events without the story, like screenshots in a sequence; a few gestures, the meaning is not quite there. It creates a pause, taking a moment to receive that data before mind gains control and ‘self’ gets a hold; before ‘I’ perceive what it is, or what it could be; pleasant, unpleasant, neutral – how should I feel about that? Maybe no feeling at all… It’s as if there’s a small seed of wisdom buried deep in the layers of unknowing; lying there, dormant, waiting for things to evolve and the right conditions to be there, in order to wake up. But it hasn’t happened yet… contemplating the noble truth of waking up in some future lifetime.
I can’t read text, cross-eyed vision after an operation on the left eye. It’ll be okay after the operation on the right eye. Mildly deafened by the white noise of air pressure systems and the velocity of the plane displacing the air. And there’s a stewardess announcement: the plane is now making its descent, this concludes our inflight service, thank you…. [Link to: the look of eyes (1)]
“And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world. [Loka Sutta: The World” (SN 12.44), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 17 June 2010]