corridors


IMG_0533POSTCARD#53: Delhi – Chiang Mai journey: A day of travelling, 9½ hours door to door – say two miles of walking through corridors in three airports and a total distance of about 2000 miles. It’s like a long tunnel of facing mirrors, continuously extending out in front of me as I’m moving through; the illusion that I’m entering something but never really getting there because another environment contained inside it opens up, and within that environment there’s another. No end to it and dizzy with the glitz of endless duty-free, life-size enhanced photos of celebrities wearing impossibly expensive watches, diamonds, gold; perfect dental work and a great wealth of cosmetics and perfumery. Pause for a moment to consider the mental state of marketeers who create this outrageous fiction. All the suffering, sadness and disappointment in life is caused by attempting to gratify the desire to make things different from what they are.

It doesn’t have to be like that – there is the Noble Eightfold Path. Keep walking, the corridor extends on through areas of wall-to-wall alcohol and tobacco products – follow the signs, stay on the route. Look at my watch frequently, look at boarding pass, look at time of boarding… calculate the amount of time remaining as I’m walking along. Bag on shoulder, laptop inside and a book: ‘Unborn’ by 17th century Zen Master Bankei. “The farther you enter the truth, the deeper it is.” Speed up the pace slightly, legs appear below; left foot, right foot… and a slight arm-swing – eyes looking out, reality is a projection of sensory functioning and the experience of containment in a body with four limbs, a head. The skull is worn like a crash helmet; brain occupies all the space inside… feeling like it’s cramped in there? Strange how this metaphor is everywhere, things inside other things, corridors inside other corridors.

Down the last corridor and into the aircraft. Stewardess with palms held together as if in prayer, bows head and says, “sawadi ka.” It’s the Thai flight and today I’m sitting in seat number 48G. Have I been in this seat before? Did I sit here last time, here in exactly the same seat, in exactly the same aircraft? I feel like I should carve my initials somewhere, or do something to say I was here, like the handprint found in the prehistoric Lascaux caves in France. Waves of human beings pass through these corridors, no individuality, only data, anonymous builders of the pyramids, information about itineraries, arrivals point A – departures point B. Clearance from control tower, taxiing to runway, a huge acceleration, velocity and takeoff…

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“The mind that’s not conditioned is originally unborn; what is conditioned doesn’t exist—that is why there’s no delusion. Though the years may creep ahead, mind itself can never age… always just the same. Wonderful! Marvelous! When you’ve searched and found at last the one who will never grow old—‘I alone!’ The Pure Land where one communes at peace is here and now, it’s not remote, millions and millions of leagues away.” [Zen Master Bankei, 1622-1693.]

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22 thoughts on “corridors

  1. The corridors are replicated in our minds too. The way memory seems to arrange itself geographically in our heads and we walk down the halls of experience as we recall our past.

    Except there’s no such thing as memories of course. Just the act of remembering. Are there really corridors of our journeys? Or just the point at which we stand right now?

    • It’s like ‘the still point of the turning world’. The walls of the corridor move past me, and the floor slips away beneath my feet. If there’s something like an actual journey plan, it’s a speeded up version of what happens anyway; the corridors are replicated in our minds… nice words, thanks for the comment.

  2. It doesn’t have to be like that…

    This made me realize we have been given so many blessings. They flower in our minds and have been given the grace to find us no matter where we may roam… in the advertisement-plastered and ever so functional cathedrals of the conceptual self… the memory of a path- a way through- opens up within us… as naturally as a body breathes when no one is paying any attention to it…

    Michael

    • …and all that’s needed is a gentle reminder. In Buddhist terms, ‘it doesn’t have to be like that’ is the III Noble Truth (Nirodha), pivotal in finding the Path – easy to see once you’ve discovered what to look for. Catalyst embedded in the cathedrals of the conceptual self…

  3. Wonderful writing, with wise parallels. My favorite take away on this first reading is your chosen quote from Unborn: “The farther you enter the truth, the deeper it is.” Beautifully thought provoking. Thank you.

    • Yes, that is a great line and definitely accords with my experience. But its corollary is “The more lies you eliminate from yourself the more you find”.

      Despite working hard on my honesty for many decades I don’t feel any closer to embodying truth now than I did when I started. I guess the most fundamental lie someone can tell him- or herself is “I am an honest person”.

      • There you go. I just wrote “many decades” when the truth is much closer to “three decades”. They slip out even when you think you have your eyes peeled for them.

      • Ah yes, I have this same situation (after six decades… scary, really), the deeper you go into truth, the more you see your lies? I like to think that just knowing it’s like this, is a step closer to getting the ‘lies’ sorted out. And ‘truth’ itself can mean reality, what’s really going on. The corollary would be ‘delusion’ not seeing it, or worse still, thinking it’s something it isn’t. So the deeper you go into it, the more you see reality and the further away you are from delusion?

      • Or the further you go in while recognising delusion is still with you the bigger you realise your delusion truly is.

        I would like to believe I was getting the lies sorted out, but infinity minus a lot is still infinity.

      • Or maybe recognising what it is, means it’s not delusion any more, cancels it out? I’m feeling optimistic. The lies I live with don’t amount to hardly anything compared to infinity…

    • It could be that travelling all the time does this kind of thing, and you’ll know this from your time in India. There’s an intensity of note-taking and the summarizing of it, maybe. Nice to hear from you again and thanks for dropping by…

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