POSTCARD#55: Bangkok: Coming in from the airport in a taxi with my Thai niece. I call her M, nine years old (soon be 10) and playing Minecraft on my iPhone all day. Glass window opens into another reality, digital trees, cubed terrain, oceans and snowscapes in a gravity reduced space. ‘Look, Look, Toong-Ting’, she says. Since she was an infant, M has called me Toong-Ting; holding on to her baby talk of the past and now it’s somehow cool to call me that. I lean over to see what’s going on in her window: building an ice palace with Lapis and Gold entranceway while playing the ‘Let it Go’ soundtrack from the movie, ‘Frozen’. I listen, ask questions, sing along and we exchange views – limited because English is a second language. When there’s nothing left to talk about, she returns to the Minecraft world and I hover in space waiting for the next question to arrive.
I am the support system, resource person, back-up plan. We came by plane from Chiang Mai this morning and the day has passed us by like this; M absorbed in her Minecraft software and the outside world seen from a sequence of moving vehicles we’re in, time and space transforms around the moment. Clouds in high altitude sky of 30,000 feet, mountains of buildings in the urban landscape and M emerges from the dream from time to time to pull me into the depths of the inner world she’s in – let’s see what she’s doing there… we dialogue about it, laugh, and she disappears further into subterranean caves, while I swim up to the surface again. There’s only a short time for me to look at the page I’m reading… sometimes only a few seconds before the next request arrives: “Look Toong-Ting, look, look…” I take a deep breath and dive into the water again. In the intervals between these visits to M’s world, I’m having to be mindful and speed-read my text like pieces clipped from a larger flow of words; one piece jumps out more than anything else:
A man is searching for God but gets frustrated in his effort, throws a stone into the water and a fish sticks its head out, says: ‘You think you’ve got problems? I’ve been swimming in this river my whole life looking for water, dying of thirst and cannot find any water to drink.’ The man says, ‘But the river is filled with water, there’s not a spot in the river where there is no water. Just open your eyes and you’ll see.’ And the fish says, ‘same with you; you’re surrounded by God. God is all around you and within you. Yet you say you can’t find God…’ [Sant Rajinder Singh: “The Love of God Is All Around Us”] (Click here for the original source: Holy Notion/ God and the Self)
Our taxi arrives at the house, get inside and M runs around discovering the familiarity of the last time we were here. Later in the day we’re in a corner of the room where she has her playthings scattered around. Everything lying in disarray after a particularly large creative frenzy of cutting out and the sticking of things with glue, scotch tape, adhesive coloured paper and bits of old Christmas decorations, recycled. And when every additional use these items might be put to is thoroughly exhausted, M moves to Minecraft videos on my laptop: “Look Toong-Ting, look…” she says.
I position myself so I can see the screen, participate when I’m needed, and otherwise pleasantly distracted by the surroundings; the world suddenly thrust into a clear, enhanced three-dimensional presence. Objects become somehow… known? All our bags and things just lying where they got dropped, extensions and extrapolations of the environment of rooms, the furniture, the plants and trees outside. A momentary happiness, bien-être, no words for it…
‘… the Truth and the way leading to it are often indicated by what they are not rather than what they are… in the Upanishads, ‘neti… neti’, meaning ‘not this… not this’, the reality of appearances is rejected. In Christian theological language, referring to what things are not is called the ‘apophatic method’, also known as the via negativa.’[Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro: The Island – An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teaching on Nibbana]