POSTCARD #26 Delhi: Putting in eyedrops and I’m not used to it, eyelid reacts just as the drop is coming, blinks before the drop hits the eye, face is wet with eye-drop fluid. Try again… drip. Same thing happens. I’ve just started a two week schedule of eye-drops because of a dryness in the eyes after the recent operation. Hoping it’ll get easier and learning how to not-react, to resist the body’s automatic knee-jerk response to whatever it is that’s coming into the eye. There’s this natural tendency to reject, to refuse, to say ‘no’. The mind has it figured out but the body is still unconvinced.
It’s something like a deliberate not-seeing; the not-wanting-to-have-anything-to-do-with-it thing. Not wishing to engage; a kind of ignoring. It’s denial… “Who me? … in denial? I’m not in denial!” (denial of denial). I’m not going to pay attention to what you’re saying about me ignoring you. Pretending it’s not there and maybe it’ll go away? Ostrich-head-in-the-sand syndrome [see note1 below] The ‘self’ illusion itself, is a trancelike state. Even though it’s really obvious, people are conditioned to ignore basic truths that conflict with the habitual way of doing things. ‘We don’t look at things, we overlook things’ [Alan Watts].
Ignoring the truth about climate change, seemingly unconcerned about what kind of future we’re passing on to future generations. Ignoring deeply held misgivings about wars created by politicians, weapons of mass ‘distraction’, slipperiness, underhandedness, cunning ploys and guile. Ignoring the 1st Noble Truth of Suffering; tolerating the suffering permits a sort of attachment to it? Or maybe we are genuinely searching for another way to live our lives, but we’re sidetracked by Television, consumer goods, and fall into the world of ‘choices’ and ‘preferences’; burdened with these dependencies. So we might say: NO, this is not it at all… go to the doctor, tell him about it and he says take these pills, something to get us back on track – education cleverly teaches children there’s only one option: consumerism, and to engage with that you need to learn about career, job, debt, house, rent, marriage, car, bills… It’s doesn’t say WHY (ignore that question). Consumerism is what people believe in; consumerism is ‘God’.
Try another eye-drop… head back, look at the ceiling. The eyelid flutters, blinks involuntarily, and an eyelash deflects the intrusive drop, fluid trickles down the cheek like an actual tear drop and falls into the ear. I wipe it away with a tissue – this action triggers a memory of something emotional – why am I crying… trying to do something I can’t, and don’t know why. It’s the squeezing of the bottle between thumb and forefinger, a small intense muscular action, that’s in conflict with the feeling of vulnerability. Reluctantly I see, in close-up, the bubble of the drop emerging from the point of the bottle and glance away from it, anticipating the tiny impact on sensitive eyeball… splish! I have to learn to look elsewhere – a skilful ignoring – and focus on something like the ceiling fan, a light bulb, the flaking piece of plaster in the corner of the cornice.
Mindfulness and being calm. Earlier today, I downloaded 11 hours of Tibetan Healing Bell Chimes and as I’m writing this now I’m already on hour 5. It’s playing quietly in a different window; sweet random sounds, intentional wind chimes; the IS-ness of it. Meditation practice means I can gently ease back from the intensity the mind creates for as long as it takes to see what’s going on; this action feels right – I’m able to emerge from ignorance into the knowing. A wonderful emptiness or the wholeness of it? A great peace in the space of the mind.
‘The sensation of “I” as a lonely and isolated center of being is so powerful and commonsensical, and so fundamental to our modes of speech and thought, to our laws and social institutions, that we cannot experience selfhood except as something superficial in the scheme of the universe. I seem to be a brief light that flashes but once in all the aeons of time—a rare, complicated, and all-too-delicate organism on the fringe of biological evolution, where the wave of life bursts into individual, sparkling, and multicolored drops that gleam for a moment only to vanish forever. Under such conditioning it seems impossible and even absurd to realize that myself does not reside in the drop alone, but in the whole surge of energy which ranges from the galaxies to the nuclear fields in my body. At this level of existence “I” am immeasurably old; my forms are infinite and their comings and goings are simply the pulses or vibrations of a single and eternal flow of energy.’ [Alan Watts, ‘The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’ (link to downloadable pdf)]