POSTCARD #135: Glasgow, Scotland: Battles lost and won and always the bagpipes have a part to play. There’s an extraordinary power about the instrument. I hear it as I’m walking down Buchanan Street, drawn towards the sound, and see the huge crowd surrounding the group outside an expensive shopping mall. Street musicians, I don’t know anything about the tartan kilt outfits they wear – the piper seems kinda clean-cut to me, respectable. Maybe he’s also a part-time piper in other bands, or one of the sons of these war-like characters beating out a furious rhythm on the drums. Somebody else going around collecting coins in an open box – there must be more than a hundred pounds in there ($150). I pour the contents of my pocket into the collection.
Jiab was here a long time ago while I was in Japan, she stopped to listen to a street musician playing the pipes and the piper happened to be standing next to an old red phone box with glass panels smashed out (those were the days before cell phones). So Jiab had a think about time zones between here and Japan, gathered all the change she had and called me up. I was in the office in Yokohama and somebody said there was a call for me. Picked up the phone and there was this skirl and blare of the pipes coming from the other side of the world. Then Thai laughter and the sound of coins being shoved into the phone slot – we couldn’t talk or anything, the sound was so loud. So after a while we ended the call. Jiab has a sense of humor.
Sound of the pipes fading into the background as I walk now through these streets back to my hotel… extraordinary that I have no home in Glasgow. I’m a tourist, even though I lived here for 5 years, and all that’s left is a strange familiarity – recognizing the streets, the buildings. Feels like I’m a member of a clan, vanquished, as if in a battle that took place in the time I was away – the Celtic sense of calamity. And today, after more than thirty years living in other people’s countries I discover I’m homeless. It feels like I don’t exist. I’m nobody, in a place where I used to be ‘somebody’. Mutuality in the illusion; clan, this is all we seem to have in the lifetime we share. In truth, it all merges into one; cycles of darkness and light, and seasons, a spinning planet around the sun, cycles of organic forms that reproduce, die and other’s take their place, continuously.
“… the moon, reflected in the water, shines brightly and within the spotless water seems to be, but the water-moon is empty, substanceless; there is no thing to grasp… ‘tis thus that all things are.” [Samadhiraja-sutra 2nd century CE]
Our home is bigger than we remember. So is our family.
I wish you well.
Thanks Sue, The all-inclusiveness embraces the aloneness. I find this encouraging…
Individuality within perfection.. solitude within all… whichever way you look, it adds up to beauty. Be well.
The ‘one’ and the ‘all’… recognition, there’s peace in that…
Thanks for sharing your profound reflections. I send you best wishes for your health.
Thank you Karin, what it comes down to, I think, is the value of life. I’m going off to contemplate this…
A sense of homelessness comes with living away from our clan roots… Being nobody may be the most profound shift there can be. May this time away nourish, heal and refresh T.
Somehow that hits home and I find it so comforting… ease, thank you
Now these guys look a rockin lol
getting into it…
Tiramit, may have a lovely and insightful retreat. I love Jiab’s sense of humor, and hearing about this interaction. Though you experience it undoubtedly different than I would, there is something universally joyous about the interaction you described. How glorious it is to be known, and to be loved…
Much Love to you–
Michael, so good to have you visit here again. It’s an inherited sense of war, struggle and loss, historical karma, and I need to find a place for it in Buddha-nature. Things appear irreconcilable until the context is large enough to embrace it all. I’m grateful for your kind words. Let’s see, I’m going off for some quiet time now, no internet, just a few books. Look forward to more dialogue…
Good luck on your retreat and dealing with your health problems. You will be missed. “See ya” in July.
Hi Suzanne, left the retreat this morning and waiting for my flight to London then to Delhi. Feeling v much better and refreshed thanks…
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve lived in this house, this town, for thirty years, and the house and town of my parents and my upbringing twenty years prior.
In my deepest moments of armchair zen it becomes quite clear just how individual and virtually isolated each being is, humans included, of course. Yet alongside is the thought that even in this sense we are united, and ultimately all a part of the same universe. A kinship to the very atoms, electrons and photons that are the makeup of everything.
Be at peace, brother.
Thanks Paz, yes it’s a curious thing, we are all in isolation. I envy you being able to stay in the one place and watch the world pass by. It’s been a special experience for me here in Scotland and being part of the people I was born with again. I notice, in this place, we are all united – spending so much time in other people’s countries, it’s difficult at times to see it. Even so, we are all united whether we’re aware of it or not. Thanks again, more later…
I will miss your posts while you are away and wish you all the best with your health concerns. Have a peaceful and healing retreat and get writing again soon! x
Thanks, just left the retreat and writing this in Edinburgh airport coffee shop. Very much better, pure Scottish air…
Glad to hear it! Hope you’re rejuvenated; you can’t beat the Scottish air….
Hope your retreat is going well and your health as well. Missing your posts and your visits. Look forward to your return. xx ellen
Hi Ellen, thanks for checking in. Still in retreat here in Peebleshire – they recommend we spend very little time on internet, the focus is on a free mind. I’ll be on my way back to Delhi mid July. Might be able to publish a post before then…
Don’t want to interrupt your retreat but good to hear from you. Don’t worry about doing a post. Get the most out of the retreat!! Looking forward to your return. Namaste, Ellen
Hi Ben, it’s taken me a month to get online and read the poem. Thanks for the poignant sadness: “The sea lives on forever…”
It seemed to echo the quote you posted, so I thought you might enjoy reading it. Poignant and sad perhaps, but with the emerging of acceptance and release. 🙂
There’s something about how fragile everything is, it’ll all disappear…
So best to minimise personal attachment perhaps and so minimise the pain.