patterns in a cloudscape

IMG_4196POSTCARD #221: Bangkok: Looking through these amazing photos from Jiab, now in Bhutan; mountain peaks disappear among the clouds. In the process of editing, I discover a curious arrow shape in the clouds, just to the right of the place where the sun is breaking through. Also to the left of the arrow point there’s the same form of another arrow shape breaking up into formlessness. It reminds me of the great wheeling patterns, above and over your head, seen in the cloudscapes of the North of Scotland where they have so much rain. It’s a small example of this kind of clockwork of interconnecting wheels created by vast and compex air currents that is seen here.

Something revealed when you crop the original, and attention is focused on the smaller elements contained in the image. Like discovering a window within a window and things are revealed that weren’t obvious at first glance. A small perceptual jump, the process of (eye + the object seen) is not a fixed thing, it’s flexible. I can say, yes I’ve seen it and yes I know what that’s about but that’s just the memory deciding what it’s going remember, what it’s going to recreate in the mind – there is no memory, just the act of remembering [Nyanaponika Thera]. What’s needed is the investigation, the motivated enquiry that just falls into shape when things are examined in more detail.

IMG_4145Also seen in Jiab’s next picture here; a group of people sitting on the steps of a public building. Photo taken because of the colourful costumes and painted building features. Zoom into a curiously emphatic conversation between two men; the man on the right seems to be interrupting the man on the left and somehow dismissing what he is is saying. There was something about this that seemed meaningful… then I suddenly saw it: they are deaf. What we are seeing is the language of the deaf, a visual system of facial expressions accompanying ‘signing’. How do I know this? I was a teacher of the deaf in a former life; seven years in London schools and adult evening classes. I used to know all this and how to fix hearing aids – a closer look at the photo reveals a man in profile in the background wearing a hearing aid. So this must be a group of signing deaf people waiting for the building to open and chatting among themselves.

These days I seem to pause in between things and fall into a contemplation of images like these with their connected meanings (yoniso manasikara). Pictures appear in the mind that have no words, just fall into a sequence. A story unfolds…

Right attitude allows you to accept, acknowledge, and observe whatever is happening – whether pleasant or unpleasant – in a relaxed and alert way. […] You are not trying to make things turn out the way you want them to happen. You are trying to know what is happening as it is. [Sayadaw U Tejaniya]

19 thoughts on “patterns in a cloudscape

  1. Just beautiful. I’ve recently started writing flash fiction, which takes a larger story and focuses in on one small moment in time. It feels intimate and exquisite. Paradise is there for the taking.

    • I see how that could work, finding the details in a phone picture by expanding a section between thumb and fore finger. The discovery is that closeness with aspects that were distant a few moments before. A world within a world, the immensity takes my breath away…

  2. Your writing reminded me of nested levels of meaning, like fractals or something– how every level expresses the nature of the whole thing. We have this choice of how close to look, and we apprehend “phenomena” at a particular level of our choosing, but this is hardly the only viable level. When we shift to looking with a different focus, we see something else altogether, and soon we realize it’s not just one thing at all! It’s so many things all at once, everything maybe, and our casual mode of looking sees so little. Lovely writing, Tiramit, and brilliant observation!


    • Worlds within worlds, your description fits it well. Quite often I start writing with the basics already on the page but the form doesn’t take place until the process begins. Then the particular focus drives the discovery of related aspects, things I wouldn’t have chosen had it not been for the particular form that starts out and takes place almost by itself. It’s this that I became aware of in your recent post: Grappling With the New. If it works there’s the nested levels of meaning. If it’s nearly there, it can be nudged in that direction. Thanks Michael for a very helpful comment

  3. Having read quite a few posts, I always seem to wonder which came first, the quotation at the end or the illustration of it above. If the latter, then we have to some degree been on parallel paths, illuminating (and grounding) our education with real life. But if the former, I marvel at your capacity to find the relevant teaching.

    • In this post it became clear in the writing, towards the end, the subject was yoniso manasikara, wise reflection. I searched my own notes for a quote then keyed the words into google which led me to the Burmese monk Sayadaw U Tejaniya. I remembered him because of an interesting cartoon publication: “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements…” (a free download available here by following the link and then another link at the bottom of that text). Usually its like this, the writing suggests a quote somewhere along the line. Other times I see something really striking that triggers the writing…

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