POSTCARD#67: Phuket: Hotel room on the third floor, level with the treetops, slide open the patio window and step out on the balcony. Birdsong in the early-dawn light. I sit in one of the outdoor chairs, settle down, and focus on the in-breath/out-breath. Check that there’s a balance in the body, symmetrical position of limbs, feet flat, back straight… and a curious peace in the air; an atmosphere that’s suddenly different from the North – the kind of thing you notice when you come by air, are dropped on the ground and have to figure out a whole set of new feelings, like where am I now and the quality of the air; all kinds of new things. Five minutes of watching the breath with mindfulness, the sun rises and a great flood of things to think about swells up. I’m washed away by it for a while; thought sequences and memories become apparent when they reach the point of “being”. Before that they’re in the uncreated state – arbitrary, disassociated. Things that don’t exist at all, until I observe them. For the first time I’m thinking of the Observer Effect in quantum physics, the experiment showing that when one is observing the movement of electrons it changes their behavior. In Buddhist thought, the ‘observer’ is the self-construct that forms as a result of responses to sensory input via the Five Khandas. Received data is formed according to the mechanisms of the human sensory process – including cognition, a sense like all the others. I see the need, the responsibility of mindfulness…
Sit for a bit more, to see what’s happening and on-going indications that’ll eventually lead to my assessment of what could be the ‘reality’ for the day. There’s a clear recognition that I’ll be able to see ‘it’ in this way, so then there must be all kinds of very powerful entities present who choose to ‘be’ in this World in order to manipulate our perceived reality to fit with their own advantage – to have control. (Then after I’d written this part of the post, the news came that there’s a military coup in Thailand as from 16.30 May 22, 2014.
What now… ah well, there’ll be enforced peace and that’ll allow everyone to investigate the feeling – the unknowing energy of Thaksin followers who might think differently about the consequences of their action in other circumstances. And maybe those who have the influence will have the space they need to see what needs to be done to get it all to work – whatever. The heart of the Thai people is with the King who is at the end of his life… when it happens they will wear black and mourn for a year, un-fillable vacuum… that’s what this is about.)
Light becomes an irreversible fact, sky is unquestionably blue and there on the hill is the Big Buddha of Phuket, พระพุทธมิ่งมงคลเอกเนาคคีรี sitting up there at the highest place on the island. From where I am, it’s seen from the back, looking in the same direction I’m looking – I have to search in Google images to find a good one seen from the front (see below). Limited by what the human sensory mechanisms can do, this is the means at our disposal, you could say, and all the stumbling pitfalls that are part of it… sensory receptors are on the face, the front of the head, no rear-view mirror. All incoming data is received that way, from the front and the ears on the sides – mouth and nose on the front too. Strange how it’s like that, we miss everything that going on behind, unseen. There’s a tendency to turn around, always, to see what’s going on… anybody there? The limitations of being human, see it and switch off the ‘search’ function. Allow things to happen in the way they’re supposed to. It’s what the software does… a prayer would help.
“…not a single particle out “there” exists with real properties until it’s observed… reality is a process that involves consciousness [Robert Lanza]
I just love your posts. They come from a seemingly place of calm. The thoughts are always interesting. I am about to go do my Yogananda meditation now but read your piece. I find it so hard to calm my mind down. Of course, part of this is due to being Bipolar but still… And what a fascinating thing that observation of electrons changes their behavior. I wish I knew more physics. I am sure observation of plants and trees changes their behavior, too, in that they feel our attention and love, or worse, hate and destruction. The Russians have done experiments on plant perception of human behavior. They attached sensors to plants and plants responded to “plant murderers” but not other people. Well, here goes another attempt at tranquility. I have to keep trying because this is the only hope. This and prayer.
Thanks for this. There’s sufficient calm to ‘see’ what’s going on, that’s all, no more than that is needed – sometimes only an instant of calm does it. I have Yogananda in my Kindle library, planning to make a start on the flight to Delhi next week. It depends on whether the airport stays open. Watch the breath, wait and see. All beings must be deeply aware that the ‘world’ is maya, a creation of the sensory process. I can understand, I think, how plants feel. There must be a kind of prayer that they have…
I felt an overwhelming sense of peace while reading this post.
Thanks Kimberly. The sense of peace and well-being is enhanced if you have a 45 meter high Buddha statue on top of a mountain outside your window… amazing really.
I’m agree with the other comments: nice and deep writing, after read it we feel peace. You’re lucky for to have so amazing view… in my side I’m content with a 20 cm high Buddha in my room and some plants on my balcony, hehe.
About the effect of our observation on the environment, well, the microscopic world have their own laws, can not be extrapolated at our macroscopic world so easy. But I still think our focused attention can affect our environment because I’m a strong advocate of oneness of all, all is connected, so our thoughts can affect the whole. Is not a direct quantum effect, but a mental one.
Thank you inaendelea. There must be all of sorts of ways of seeing this on all kinds of levels, but the idea that: ‘our thoughts can affect the whole’ says something about it being a perceived world. My feeling is it’s what the Buddha was teaching 2600 years ago… enough to see we need to take care of our actions: sila, samadhi, panya.
Fascinating post, as always, and such a clear, concise consideration of what it is to observe. Also, as always, your post is beautifully written. Michael Singer’s “The Untethered Soul” is yet another consideration of being the observer and the freedom it offers us. Your post reminded me of Singer, and now, I have yet another perspective from which to view. Thank you.
Thank you Karen, just spent some time reading the Amazon sample, the opening pages of “The Untethered Soul”. It’s about the voice mechanism in the head selecting things to think about and the subject/object situation. Now I’m wondering if I should just go ahead and click the clicker, have it on my kindle immediately. This kind of investigation into the ‘world’, the smaller details of conscious experience as it unfolds; yes, there’s a fascination with that. Thanks for the reference…
Mine is also a Kindle copy but I may buy the book some day. I buy few books these days but that is another subject. Singer helped me settle into myself so I could begin to look around and actually see myself. Within the distance of the observer, there is more curiosity and less grasping.
So easy to access the book if you’re on Kindle. ‘Buy now with 1-Click’ and it’s in my library, The Untethered Soul – decided to go for it. The actual book on the bookshelf is more like a special thing these days, and there are some books I feel that way about. In the meantime I’ll make a start on my kindle version of The Untethered Soul and may get back to you later about it. Thanks again for the suggestion.