POSTCARD #112: New Delhi: Birds fly low between the buildings, suddenly see me sitting in the sunshine on the roof terrace and swoop straight up into the sky… not expecting me to be there – usually there’s nobody around on these rooftops, the human domain should be down below. I’m in their flight path and feeling a bit uneasy about that, move my chair out of the way… avoiding collision with bird flying at 30 mph.
But they seem to have communicated with each other about it somehow – is it possible? No birds pass through after that. I’m looking out from the roof terrace level with the treetops, birds flit, zoom, dart, leave no tracks in the sky. Perch on a branch for a moment, flick their head in my direction – aware of my presence, and away without warning in unexpected directions; ‘up’ is not necessarily up and neither is down – ground level is not the reference point.
And these ominous birds of prey circling high above… I’m thinking I want to take a photo if one comes near. Take out phone camera and stand in the middle of the roof, point it at the birds. They’re too far away… no, wait, there’s one coming towards me. Take a few photos as it comes closer. It seems curious, coming over for a look – nearer and nearer; our eyes meet in a strange encounter, it knows it’s being looked at and I’m on the edge of being hypnotised by it watching me here in the centre of this pool of intense vision, like a spotlight moving over the landscape.
Are these smaller birds aware of the predator – is this why they move so quickly? All this and more; an extraordinary alertness, joyful, immediate. They’re in a different kind of temporality. Their world is forever the same moment here-and-now taking place in all other locations and everywhere at the same time. I’m in slow motion, don’t see it, burdened with human mechanisms of sensory perception and lost in thought. I have to consciously look for the way to get back to ‘here’… telescopic sights of mindfulness on crosshairs of past/future that focus on the ‘now’, the point of reference – discovering I don’t have to try to create it because the present moment is already here, always present… it’s the mind that goes away.
Traces of these last thoughts vanish. If I don’t reach out for the next thing to think about, there’s just the stillness of the event itself; a transparent curtain through which there’s a transparent stage in a transparent theatre and all the actors with the illuminated background shining through from behind.
“…sound does not exist, separate from our hearing; sights do not exist, separate from our seeing; tastes do not exist, separate from our tasting; smells do not exist separate from our smelling [….] our projection of an “external world” — of objects “out there” which we then interact with via the sense-organs of a seemingly individual bodymind — is a claim that can never be experientially verified.” [Elizabeth Reninger, “If A Tree Falls In A Forest …” – Bishop Berkeley Meets Laozi]