POSTCARD#51: Delhi: Jiab left for Bangkok this morning and in the afternoon I get a text message saying she’s over there now; it’s a 4 hour flight, no jet-lag and it’s warm and nice. Later I’m up on the roof terrace and she calls me on Skype, laughing and talking… checking out, meanwhile, how she looks in the little window in the Skype frame; eyes anchored in the same position as she’s turning her head from side to side. I’m holding my phone screen like I’m inside a mirror looking at her sitting in that same room I was in just a week ago. What time is it there? 1½ hours ahead, so I’m in another time zone, one I know quite well, a kind of back-to-the-future thing. I have to think about it for a moment… the ‘now’ I experience at this moment was the future for me when I was there in the past. Pause for a moment, let’s see… there is always only ‘now’, past-time and future-time swirling around it in a vortex. I need to get some distance from it, so I think in these terms: I, as the subject, see ‘it’ as the object over there somewhere. The world is ‘seen’ and the one who sees it, curiously absent at the actual moment of seeing, is currently processing the image, and trying to locate the ‘now’, which by this time, seems to be lost somewhere in the past (or the future).
Senses interact with the outer environment, the brain conjures up the colours, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings; these inner landscapes of the mind, and I don’t usually even consider that the reality behind the dreamscapes of the senses is in any way different from what I think it is. The 7 basic colours in the spectrum created by the human brain may be sourced in a field of colours nobody has ever seen; all the subtleties between a white opalescence that’s nearly turquoise, and black that’s not a colour in itself but an iridescent purple.
I’m thinking of these exotic birds up here on the roof terrace, perched on the electric cables at eye-level and looking at me – outrageously coloured, orange, black purple, way off the scale of normality. What is it with these birds? Do they fly in and out of this unseen world we’re talking about here; into that reality where ordinary speech frequencies sound the same as the arbitrary shrill whistles, trills and pings of birdsong; an ocean of intoxicating tastes and fragrances, and a vast range of tactile sensations? You could say it’s totally out of this ‘world’.
We have to filter all this exotic disorder or we’d go insane, get it into a simple format so we’re all watching the same movie: ‘oh, I see what you mean.’ It’s an objectified reality; the world is a concept understood by the mechanism I call ‘me’. The snag is though, the constructed ‘self’ has it’s own momentum and I need to be mindful about engaging with whatever it is that’s invading sensory awareness at the time. Let it pass through like a river in a landscape, and be mindful of the tendency to fall into the dream, into the fiction I’ve created; a pleasing kind of hypnosis or an exhausted state where I find I’m subject to conditions seemingly situated in the reality I created ‘over there’. I need to be mindful that, to become me, I have to think ‘me’. The ‘me’ that I think I am depends on me ‘thinking-it’ into being. Be able to release from this tendency and mindful of the times when I forget to be mindful…
Our objective experience consists of thoughts and images, which we call the mind; sensations, which we call the body; and sense perceptions, which we call the world. In fact we do not experience a mind, a body or a world as such. We experience thinking, sensing and perceiving. In fact all that we perceive are our perceptions. We have no evidence that a world exists outside our perception of it. We do not perceive a world ‘out there.’ We perceive our perception of the world and all perception takes places in Consciousness.’ [‘The Transparency of Things’, Rupert Spira
IN THE BEGINNING
In the beginning there was guff.
And how was it made sense of? Apparently thus …
There was eye thinking eye a loan. But eye was ear too.
And eye beheld ear. And ear hearkened unto eye’s view.
And eye found it ear to eye’s taste, just as eye’s taste too mutually, and so eye to eye
agreed without ever asking should we be moved by this?
Of a certainty we could be moved; there was choice it seemed.
So there was time, but why bother travel? We come across one another all the time,
for it is but a smell world is it not, and fragrant,
.not to say flagrant at times in its excess?
Or so eye feel it. And eye feel eye am ear continually.
And behold eye mainly feel good. At least on days when eye feel good.
And it feels there is sense, though whether sense makes sense itself who can say?
Or does any sense only co-merge with eye?
Eye sense of course that eye may make sense, but how does sense make eye?
Despite this uncertaincy, and that the likelihood of choice’s actuality remaining
questionable, in quest of some comfort eye hold in mind two fundamental rubrics
[in addition to adopting the conventional illusion of (I)dentity]:
1. I shall dwell in the house of guff forever;
2. I shall try never to underestimate the power of guff.
– from “The Book Of Guff”
I like this. In Buddhism, as you may know, the sixth sense is the mind – the ‘I’ (eye) 🙂
I hoped you would. I deliberately mess around with I-eye, ear-here the different meanings of the word “sense” etc here. I love the moment in “Magical Mystery Tour” where George says, “It’s all in the mind.” 🙂
Reminds me of the Hindu Lila (playfulness) लीला, the teaching about not taking things too seriously – the whole thing is so huge it’s overwhelming…
Seriousness and playfulness in eternal balance.
“Each day, and the living of it, has to be a conscious creation in which discipline and order are relieved with some play and pure foolishness.” – May Sarton
Oh how I love to think on these insights! Your post is better than morning coffee 🙂
“We have no evidence that a world exists outside our perception of it. We do not perceive a world ‘out there.’ ”
Just as well though, we can perceive ourselves as in it; as being inside the world, but either way, we break the spell of our notion or reality that comes from not reflecting on the relationship at all.
But like mirrors inside mirrors, we can never, so it seems to me, break all spells when we are the source of them, or rather our immersion in (perception, sense and sense-perception) the world we are born out of. And yet, we sense the undivided wholeness that we are parts of.
For me , the takeaway is to live with the acceptance of the slippery nature of our experience and that ultimately all definitions of ourselves and of reality will fall short of the fullness of reality. The beauty in this understanding is to be comfortable with revisioning our ideas and knowing that every person we meet and communicate with (whether in language or some other way), offers us another perspective for our consideration.
Thank you for this. We can speculate on possibilities but it’s seems to me the way it works is that we are simply aware of our immersion in it – as you say an acceptance of it and it doesn’t really matter if we can explain it fully. Maybe we see it as an enigma, others more evolved may see the undivided wholeness of it in some kind of expanding inclusiveness. It reflects our understanding of the ‘world’ because it is what we are…
Highly interesting post! Yes, our perceptions are our world. We do have a consensual reality which means some perceptions are shared somewhat similarly with other people called “normal.”. But there are perceptions shared that differ from that “reality” called “abnormal”, psychotic, drug-induced. And within abnormal and normal there are huge variations. Which all points to Maya.
“Which all points to Maya.”
Who points right back. 🙂
And Ben, we need to have compassion for those to whom maya (illusion) is a disturbing confusion of things, of course, but the danger of that is swept away in the all-inclusiveness of the singularity…
Compassion is of course our lodestar.
Thanks Ellen, yes and I like to think of the scale of it; all our perceptions, including abnormal/normal, set on this kind of a landscape background so vast and beautiful, the maya aspect is only one small part…