POSTCARD#74: Delhi: Ping! An email hits the inbox. It’s from the travel agent, about my flight to UK: Delhi/London, and connecting flight to Inverness Scotland. I see for the first time that the whole journey door-to-door takes place on the same day (allowing for +4½ hours time difference). Didn’t notice that… and another thing is that the date of travel is the 6th July which happens to be my birthday. It’s a time-and-space thing, I’ll have the longest birthday I’ve ever had in my life. Delhi departure time: 10.25 am, London arrival time: 2.50 pm (local time) then Inverness arrival time: 6.00 pm, and the folks there are saying we should go out and celebrate, have dinner somewhere. It’ll be a very long stretched-out, spaghetti-like, spatiotemporal birth-day.
But that’s not all; I remember now, in the Northern region (57.4717° N, 4.2254° W), it never really gets dark in the summertime, being near to the land of the midnight sun. So my birthday will continue in a glimmer of daylight through the night of the 6th July, into the dawn and the brightness of the next day, then all through the night again, into the next day and on and on like that for the rest of the summer. There’s a sense of birthing, and a feeling of forever about it, ‘world without end’. I’m swept away in a great ocean of memories. Everything that ever happened in my childhood flashing before the eyes. The mind racing through everything contained in the system, and clicking all known picture files. Hundreds of windows all opening at the same time; layer upon layer of memories. The thought that there is a place called Home… ‘home is where the heart is’, what does it mean, how does this make sense to me now?
Question: where is home? Sit quietly and clear the mind for a bit, consciously aware of the sensation of the breath gently touching the inner surfaces of nasal passages. This feeling is the same for everyone. Look out through the eyes and see the sky, the same blue sky everyone else is seeing – and not just the sky, the physiological process of seeing the sky is the same for everyone. The consciousness that recognizes this sense of subjectivity is the same for me as it is for you and everyone, everywhere, as it has been all the way through history. I can know how they felt and understood the world in ancient times; the sky they looked at and sounds they heard, fragrances they smelt, food tasted, surfaces touched and their mind responses. All of that is the same for me here and now as it was for the ancient people in their time. The ‘me’ and ‘mine’ I experience is not different from the ‘me’ and ‘mine’ anyone else experienced in the past, or at this moment, or any time in the future. The body/mind organism that receives the experience of this ever-present sensory data through the Five Khandas, is the same for me as it is for everyone on the planet. Outer and inner are both parts of the One, the Same, Inseparable – This is ‘Home’.
‘…the Buddha practised deep embodiment – really inhabiting his body, not sticking on the surface at sense-contact, but going inwards through breathing to where the subtle energy-channels of the body open, find their still centre and suffuse the practitioner with happiness and ease. In contact with that, the mind drops its wayward thinking, its sluggishness, agitation and passion and gathers at one point. ‘Jhāna’ he called it, ‘touching the Deathless with one’s body,’ the meditative entry to nibbāna. Note: not ‘witnessing’ or ‘watching’, but touching.’ [Ajahn Sucitto, Surface, Depth and Beyond]