POSTCARD#100: Chiang Mai/Bangkok flight: Look out the window and there’s the wing of the aircraft I was looking at when we were on the ground and taxiing for takeoff – reassuring to see this part of our plane structure out there, seemingly holding us stable in this strange void, moving at 600 mph, in a great whoosh above the surface of the planet. The wing seems to extend into the clouds, like the perspective of a highway leading off into the sky. A curious illusion, although no more curious than the illusion that’s all around; world as a projection of the senses, everything tailored to fit and unbelievably believable… I can see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, and taste it. It looks real but it’s not there; it’s only ‘my’ perception of it, a mirror reflection of the world – I need to remind myself it’s like this, the illusion is so compelling. I am the ‘self’ that inhabits this body, appearing in the being-ness appearing in ‘me’ and part of the whole thing, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end….
The seat next to me is empty – sad to think my Thai niece, M, aged 10, who has accompanied me on so many other journeys is not able to come along this time. M’s school holidays are over… parting of the ways, she goes back to school, I go back to Delhi, stopover in Bangkok – another long journey in the air. Stewardess comes by, looks at me (who you are at any moment is determined by whom you’re talking with). I ask her about the empty seat, she says nobody will sit there now, so I can spread out my notes and papers over two seats. It’s strange not having M beside me anymore. This empty space where she used to be, this solitude, aloneness or loneliness. No chattering conversations and statements presented with the alertness of a small bird; intelligence like a receptor opens, data enters and triggers the creativity of constantly making one thing into another thing. The energy of her artwork; scissors-clipped paper-craft objects held together with Scotch Tape and ‘Fluorescent Color Glitter Glue’. And the performance; playing with words, gestures and the dreamlike ‘self’ function; playing a part in a story in her head so well she believes she’s the character being acted out – being a somebody, then being a somebody-else.
Flitting from one self to the next, her presence is a self-reflexive act. No difference between the self-construct and acting the part, it’s just there; an all-inclusive, ‘all of the above’ experience of awareness receiving itself. A total act, ‘theatre’, illusion, samsara… just immersed in the story of it all. The ‘world’ is a constructed/collapsible experience – unfolding, enfolding, no holding – automatic pilot, nobody driving the plane.
‘… the question was raised: “Why can’t we know this secret of the universe?” And the answer given was very significant: “Because we talk in vain, and because we are satisfied with the things of the senses, and because we are running after desires; therefore, we, as it were, cover the Reality with a mist.”’ [Swami Vivekanada, Maya and Illusion]