‘Through our eyes, the Universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the Universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the Universe becomes conscious of itself.’ [Alan Watts]
POSTCARD #83: London – Delhi flight: Clouds cover the landscape, with openings here and there where I can see the ground below. England is a patchwork quilt of very small fenced enclosures, little houses built with brick and stone that last for hundreds of years. Concrete bulwarks along the coastline, the idea of the sea engulfing the land is psychological. A united Kingdom huddled together on land space so small it’s almost not there at all. Travel across from East to West and in a few hours you come to the sea again. Geographical aloneness, an island mentality, the idea of ‘self’, marooned, I am contained, separate from everything, surrounded by water, the world is out ‘there’. Not much room, just enough space for everything, a smallness, memories are close by and everything is near at hand. The buildings and the land were all here before I was born and will be here after I’m gone. Children learn about the everlasting ‘soul’ living in an objective world; belief in a ‘self’ yet… seeing only the lack of it, a lifetime spent looking for an answer to this puzzle – it must be… over the horizon somewhere.
Somewhere far away from not ‘being’ but being busy doing things. Somewhere distant from the default settings the world of money and power depends on. The system hijacked the Jesus Teachings and now there’s no place in society for a contemplative spiritual life. Nothing to encourage children to look beyond sensory gratification and see through perception because it works better to have an unknowing population addicted to television and consumer goods. Living with an intensity fueled by greed, hatred and delusion, instead of generosity, loving-kindness and insight. The worship of self rather than selflessness.
In a discussion with one of the monks at Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery in UK the question came up, what does the word ‘contemplation’ actually mean? Contemplating contemplation… the state of mind where everything is seen as an awareness of present experience, circumstances which can’t be explained in any terms other than what they are. Thinking stops and the mind opens up to experience as it is – not as it’s verbalised. Sometimes language just gets in the way. Like waking up after a good night’s sleep and there’s the solution to the puzzle I was thinking about before I went to sleep. No words, no memory, no markers in the mind for thought to attach to and somehow everything falls into place.
We call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine, without a name,
whether general, particular,
incorrect, or apt.
The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn’t view itself.
It exists in this world
soundless, odorless, and painless.
The lake’s floor exists floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorelessly.
The water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular nor plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.
And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being
that it blows. [Wislawa Szymborska]
The header image source: Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery.
Poem source: superaalifragilistic, View With A Grain Of Sand.
The Alan Watts quote source: Zen Flash, Through our eyes the Universe is perceiving itself
– G R A T I T U D E –