IMG_0682POSTCARD #218: New Delhi: Jiab sent me this pic of the cow in Gujarat. There’s always something that ‘clicks’ inside me when I see the cow in the city traffic in India. The aloof separateness of the Gods. Something about the bovine ‘mother’, sacred cow that all Hindus are conscious of.

There’s also  a memory of something from my home on the farm in the North of Scotland when I was a kid. I remember long nights and short days, aunties and grannies wearing comfortable wooly cardigans, porridge in a cracked bowl, coal and wood fires, cows in the fields, a black-and-white collie dog – and it’s this that I notice about the rural/urban Indian cities, cows sitting on the pavement, goats nibbling and chickens pecking around, the sound of a cockerel in the distance. It’s the farmyard scene where I was brought up that followed me here!

There’s a familiarity about it, pictures in the gallery of the mind, and yes I’d like to have a home surrounded by arable lands and farmyard animals, but for a very long time now there’s been only a series of temporary homes – all good, I share my life with Jiab and we’ve gotten used to the way things are. Living like a pair of migratory birds. In each place I have my favourite chair, books, and all the things I need. It works okay except sometimes I might spend a long time searching the bookshelves for a book I’m sure is there then realise it’s not in these bookshelves, it’s the other bookshelves, about 2000 miles away. So I have to let that one go, although I can see it there in the mind’s eye.

These days, reading is done mostly on devices and when I get on the plane I have my laptop like other passengers and when I reach ‘home B’ or ‘home C’ I get online automatically with the wifi there and plug my speakers into the socket on the laptop in its position there. And I hardly ever feel dispersed, or stretched, an okay sort of expansive feeling. In this context, it suits me well to follow the Buddha’s Teachings on going-forth, homelessness, non-attachment, no-self.

Whether there is a ‘self’, yes/no, is best not thought about too much because saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to it is, in so many words, identifying ‘self’’. Words identify things, language has a default mechanism that allows me to select what ‘I’ want it to be (also what I don’t want it to be) and the resulting attachment to all that I love and hate. I stay with it, see it happening, stay mindful about where the nearest emergency exit is located but very rarely needed – and just open the heart/mind citta to the world as wide as possible.

The presence of the cow wandering through industrialised Indian cities triggers something. The smell of cow dung brings me down to earth, generates a sense of groundedness for the time it’s needed for, then I’m up and away again. It’s also a pretty attractive life; the ability to just wander anywhere in benign foreign lands, live in the fortunate state of being without the tugs and pulls of desire and worldliness.

“Feel nothing, know nothing, do nothing, have nothing, give up all to God, and say utterly, ‘Thy will be done.’ We only dream this bondage. Wake up and let it go.” [Swami Vivekananda]


Excerpts from an earlier post: ‘Connectedness’

40 thoughts on “groundedness

    • Thanks Steve, we could say it’s the accumulated wisdom of more than two thousand years. Something like that has an immediate effect on the outsider nowadays when the reality of it is seen just mingling with the traffic in a very ordinary sort of way…

  1. Your post triggered my own memories of cows in Scotland T. I used to spend summer holidays at a dairy farm near Dumfries. The smell of dung is very grounding in a warm and embracing way. A bit strange, but it does bring comfort none the less.
    I would imagine that settling yourself in Home B and Home C takes time and patient attending. May I ask where is Home A for you? 💛

    • I know what you mean Val, about dung, it’s almost omnipresent in the farming areas just before springtime when it’s spread over the fields and ploughed into the earth. The cow provides us with so many things, almost every part of the body, and has done for countless generations. Thus she is considered sacred in the Hindu nation, and I can understand why.
      Home A used to be my house in East Anglia and everthing else shuffled along to the next letter of the alphabet. But I sold it, sadly, and now home A is in India and now, consecutively, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We’ve taken more than thirty years to get these three points functioning…

    • Yes this is the slightly uncomfortable truth… in countries outside India, the cow falls prey to carnivores. I believe it’s considered a crime to eat beef in some Indian States. Serious business…

  2. Pingback: groundedness | MOONSIDE

  3. Beautiful, Tiramit, I reblogged it, too. I am among the cows right now and, too, live them and so happy I no longer eat them. Would be like cannibalism. Paul McCartney I thank for that, his film on slaughter houses. Will be leaving the cows for good sometime soon for a city that has no cows in the streets and I will cry. And no horses or turtles or frogs. Perhaps I will learn non-attachment in leaving the crickets and fireflies. To” live in the fortunate state of being without the tugs and pulls of desire and worldliness”… just perfect. Thank you for such a superb post, quote and thank Jiab for the photograph.

    • To eat them would be like cannibalism, yes there’s something in what you say. In the old days of course there’d be the Grace said, and at least we’d all feel this sense of gratitude and humbleness. Better than just reaching out for a Big Mac in a drive-through. There’s a kind of obligation and sense of responsibility to remain with a consciousness of all the things we eat, bits of animals, poultry and fish and other living tissue. Everything we are: mental, physiological, flesh, blood, and bones is a composite of what we have eaten, internalized. And it extends back through the generations to the beginning of time. The cellular substance of what we are is a genetic composite of all kinds of animal fats and enzymes and there’s just no getting away from it.

  4. Love this as I do all your posts! I totally identify with the two homes issues. For 13 years we had two homes and divided our week between them. The cat learned the routine and hid every Monday and Thursday. This year we sold one of them and will become what they call “snowbirds” here in the northeast US, traveling to tropical SW Florida for the winter. Love the cow ambling beside the jitney!

    • You must be very familiar with ticketing, airport security, check-in, and getting the bags off the luggage belt. There’s quite a lot of heavy lifting required and also the various procedures, the flight itself is easy, you manage to get a bit of rest before the getting procedure and all that that entails.
      Yes, I recognise the migrationary cycle. I haven’t seen a year through all of its seasons for many years. My surroundings are different of course and looking at that cow again I’m wondering if it is following the man walking in front, maybe it’s the herdsman leading it home?

  5. They say the sense of smell evokes the strongest memories. I know whenever I smell marigolds I’m instantly five-years-old, next to my mother in the garden helping her pull weeds; the smell of mimosa trees and suddenly I’m ten years old, riding bikes with my best friends…

    • Hi there! Yes I notice it particularly if you smell something that’s completely new and can’t be identified immediately. The mind goes in a spin trying to come up with a memory that fits. This happens if you travel abroad and mixing with the local population and smell the fragrance of unknown detergent in people’s clothes…

  6. It’s amazing when a touch of the earth– just a brush with it in the mind, through the senses– propels us out of that thinking mind and into the purity of being. I liked what you said about not thinking too much about not thinking too much about the categories in which we reside, about how that thinking inevitably boxes us in. Then these moments arise in awareness that somehow transcend the categories. We can’t really explain what it is. But it’s right there. And we are it. And we are not it. And it is all a sea flowing together without beginning or end.


    • This thing about being in touch with the ground, even saying it brings us back from floating free, and it’s necessary, it’s necessary. Remembering the direct simplicity of it, a presentation of complexity understood in this way is really meaningful, and we are all of it and not any of it and a great ocean of it without beginning or end…

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