‘the world is the mind’


POSTCARD#77: Delhi: There’s nobody here. Step right out of myself and look in, peep through the windows, knock on the door, ring the bell… anybody home? Try the door handle, it’s not locked, go in… hello? Walk through the empty rooms; the teapot is warm, teaspoon in the sink. Evidence, somebody lives here – look, there’s the laptop on the desk, a brightly illuminated screen. It’s a Google map of India. Click on the little yellow man and place him in a location to get ‘street view’. There he is standing on the surface of the planet. We are in Delhi, presently facing South and on our right, 4000 miles away in a westerly direction is London, 4½ hours behind Delhi time. Keep going on from there over the Atlantic and we come to New York, 3500 miles further on, and 9½ hours behind Delhi time. Further west, over the mountains and many horizons, arriving in San Francisco, another 2500 miles, and 12½ hours behind Delhi time. On we go in a westerly direction until time comes to an end in a zigzag line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the International Date Line. After that it’s officially a different day. Continue from there, and we come to Japan, and Seoul, Korea, and South East Asia, then Bangladesh and I’m in Delhi again, back to the time zone I’m in now, except that it’s yesterday… it’s not, of course, it’s the same day, it’s always the same day.

Absent from present time, there’s this long journey that lies ahead… I’m already on the plane. And now I’m arriving at the destination, going around in that place and here and there, everything is squeezed into just three weeks. Then the long return journey, exactly the same as it was going out only the other way round, and glad to be back again. Wow! How was the trip? …no I haven’t left yet, I’m just flying around in the world in my head. Got a ticket with my name on it, date of departure, passport valid – confirmed, registered, subject to limitations, and causes, and conditions, and the operating system that’ll take me there. I am ‘taken’. It’s about the process, no Controller, it goes on automatic pilot. There’s no ‘self’ in the equation – the deed is done and there is no doer – using the Passive Voice language function to express the Buddhist Truth of not-self (anatta).

Sounds are heard, food is tasted, and the chill wind of the southwest monsoon is felt upon the skin. And there’s nobody there that feels it unless I put together an identity composite in Active Voice: ‘I feel the chill’ – ‘I think, therefore I am’. It has to be a strongly assertive statement because the sense of ‘I’ has arisen simply through thinking it’s there and when I stop thinking about it, it’s not there. There are only the Five Khandas. Necessary to have conviction, believe it’s there. *‘I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows, I believe that somewhere in the darkest night a candle glows’. Not impossible. Language tells a story, creates a fiction that I can get lost in; only partly aware that it’s a constructed thing and most of the time I’m clinging to a concept of selfhood, maintaining an assumed identity that’s dependent on updates and new software. Selfing is grasped-at, held, identified-with. Consumerism insists ‘self’ is a religion, but the world is seen to have moved on just a little bit, always, and all this is included in its diversity in the process of becoming something else.

‘Consciousness doesn’t ‘see’ or ‘experience’ a world through a mind, but rather the world is the mind (in the broadest sense of the word) that is ‘seen’ or ‘experienced’ by Consciousness.’ [Rupert Spira, The Ever-Present Seamlessness of Experience]


Excerpts from an earlier post passive voice based on an idea that arose from a post found in: Just A Little Dust
*Note: ‘I believe that every drop of rain that falls….’ is a quote from the song “I Believe” (1952) composed at the start of the Korean War.



25 thoughts on “‘the world is the mind’

  1. Yes, language tells a story we can all get lost in. The words are not reality even though they can seem close. The map is not the territory – the GPS tells us the road across the river is straight ahead, even when we see no bridge.
    “Who” is it that enjoys the tea?

    • Thanks for this. Yes, words just label things – the descriptions of the things and what they describe. And “who” is it that enjoys the taste?… tea is drunk but there is no drinker.

  2. It is truly amazing how the mind frets about planned experiences, isn’t it? I glean you have recorded here observations of a plot-line eddying by in a stream of thoughts that took it upon itself to forecast your pending journey. I do this often, particularly if I have been on vacation for a week, and am heading back to work the next day, or on the eve of some “important” event or journey. What is that identity composite supposed to do with absolute freedom? Emptiness overload.


    • Thank you Michael, yes just filling in the time before my flight in the morning of 6th July, the happy birthday day. I was thinking “clutching at invisible straws” sums up the feeling right now – it’s a line from a Bernhoft song I was listening to earlier in the day, twiddling my thumbs and thinking that this must be what ‘in limbo’ means. Now I have “emptiness overload” to think about too… absolute freedom is the only option.

      • It is interesting- I almost used the phrase “in limbo” in my response, for that is how it felt in your writing. Maybe some jatinga (did I remember that right?) to calm the body, and then a bit of absolute freedom with tea. A fine choice!


      • Thanks yes, feeling a bit more calm now although the ‘in limbo’ thing is still there, in the form of this word jatinga which, if you copy and paste into Google, then Wikipedia tells us it’s a place in Assam inhabited by tribals, where birds mysteriously commit suicide. It defeats the spellchecker too…

      • My mistake. I should have looked up your previous post, as I was trying to say jitensha! Ha! Oh well, I like jatinga much better. That is the type of place to extract you from one limbo and leave you in a slack-jawed whole other type of limbo, conducting field research on avian psychology. The spellchecker, like a mind faced with emptiness, is still spinning its wheels… 🙂

      • Yep, jatinga says it all… the urge to leave the ordinary rules of communication behind and sail away into another context. Spellchecker on the way to being disabled due to highlighting innovative spellings and clicking on the ‘add’ function to get rid of the red lines…

  3. Love ‘I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows, I believe that somewhere in the darkest night a candle glows’– not sure if that is yours or someone else’s. Also love the consumerism making self a religion quote. Pre-journey anxiety is a specialty I excel at. You seem quite calm– enviable. And you will go from the seeming quiet of where you are now to a land of long, long, long daylight which my husband says brings on a special form of mania. Wishing you a good, safe trip and a happy celebration of your birthday and the vacation, if that’s what it is, and the reunions, if they will occur, and a safe return to the welcome chill of the monsoon. But maybe we will be lucky enough to hear from you at some point.

    • Yes, that’s what it is; ‘pre-journey anxiety’… I have a name now for this feeling that everything is coming to an end. Only 3 days to go. I’ll try to publish a couple of posts from the UK when there’s an internet connection. I’ll be at a wedding and visiting three Buddhist monasteries, so there’ll be something I can write about that. And also just the skies in the ‘land of long, long, long daylight.’ Thinking of ‘Insomnia’ the 2002 movie set in Alaska. The ‘I Believe’ quote is from a song I heard in the 60s, I’ll write a footnote about it in the post. Thanks for your words, I’ll send a postcard…

  4. Interesting thoughts to ponder on.. Language is something intruiging, and yet its only words, a small thing in an endless ocean. What comes before it all?
    Thanks for sharing these contemplations!!

    • Thanks, yes, good question, what was the world like before we had language? The whole structure of thought depends on it, without words there’s no memory… prehistoric man walking through a landscape, depending on alert sensory awareness.

  5. Thank you for this powerful reminder of the relationship between language and experience. If we want to stop creating “I,” stop saying “I.” In the Korean zen tradition in which I practice, the teaching is: Don’t make “world” and “mind.” Then there is no “I.”

    • This is it, so obvious but hard to see; we create the world through language, words name things. In the same way the ‘self’ is a construct, an assumed identity. Thanks for dropping in…

      • So we are wanting to go back to some sort of adult version of the what Arthur Deikman calls the “receptive mode”– which is operative in the infantile stage when we have no language and no boundaries. We need some boundaries to function for sure but not the rigid ones which prevent us from being “one” or having no “I”. We have to unlearn the boundaries or learn more permeable ones.

      • Maybe it’s not that we have to unlearn the boundaries, or learn more permeable ones… just knowing the boundaries are there is enough?

  6. Happy birthday and ease in your travels. May you remain free of jatinga – unless of course you can be there for a bird in time of need 🙂 Marvelous the sharing moments with you!

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