POSTCARD♯11: Delhi: There’s a wasps’ nest in the bathroom at the end of the corridor. I’ve been away for two months, didn’t know it was there and didn’t notice it at first, in the half darkness of 5.30am, walking along to this bathroom we don’t normally use. And wearing glasses because I’ve always worn glasses but since the eye operation it’s all a blur. I forget, put them on and in the darkness, can’t see any difference. Switch on the light in the bathroom, look in the mirror; is this really ‘me’? An awareness of a low humming sound; a multi-frequency buzzzzzz, just on the edge of hearing. Something crawling on the window, what’s that? I have to take my glasses off to see, a strange reverse action I’m not used to, then wait for a moment until vision gets in focus… wow, a wasps’ nest in the bathroom, not good. Back out of there fast, close the door and get as far away as possible from it – closing all doors between me and it. Seeing imagined wasps in faulty vision.
It’s full daylight in an hour and I go back for another look… some kind of large-bodied heavy duty, Indian-wasp-like species; googled it later: ropalidia marginata. The nest is not actually in the bathroom, it’s built on the underside of the top part of the bathroom window, outside… thankful for that, but still kinda scary, even though there’s mosquito mesh on all doors and windows and they can’t get inside the house. I go outside to take a photo but nervous about all the activity so the pic is not clear. The wasps are transparent orange, the nest is grey, a truly colourless grey; remarkable because of its absence of colour. Kind of supernatural, like dust, or ash.
A species so distant from where we are, there’s a reluctance to look at this, yet a fascination with it; more like science fiction than real. The Queen wasp and attendants, baby wasps, larvae, that will emerge from all these small hexagonal openings. Yeh, well… somehow it’s difficult to think of them being cute. Wiki says the females contend with each other for the position of queen. They’ve evolved through aggression and hostility. How to understand this? I don’t know, but keeping a safe distance from it, and mindful of that action – not pushing away. The contemplation of aggressive aversion and the tendency to create a category for things I hate; enemies, difficult people, personality issues at the office – all kinds of other situations worse than that. Social conditioning has made me critical; looking for the fault in people, where to lay blame. Living in circumstances I don’t always feel comfortable with. Seeing what’s wrong, not able to see what’s right. Metta, loving kindness, isn’t a case of: “I love this person, but I don’t love that one.” Metta is non-discriminatory love, all beings have conscious awareness, a shared subjectivity….
Metta is unconditioned love; you don’t have more metta for the nice things and not as much for the bad things, it is evenly distributed: our beloved friends and our detested enemies. The action of metta is unconditioned, it is patience and non-aversion. We accept the pain, disappointment, failure, blame, persecution, abuse and all the experiences we can have in a lifetime. We begin with: ‘May I abide in well-being,’ starting with yourself. It’s an attitude of acceptance and patience with the way it is; accepting the anger, resentment, aversion, or the little petty things.’ [Ajahn Sumedho]