astonishment


pigeons3bPOSTCARD #231: New Delhi: Trumpets blare, the sharp impact of it hits immediately, a cloud of birds fly up in a flutter of uncertainty. Trees splash outwards in branches, twigs, leaves, blossom and seed. Astonishment… how could this have happened? Eyes open wider and wider, like a camera aperture opening so far it exceeds structural integrity, implodes, buildings collapse in controlled demolition made to seem like a natural disaster, the ground beneath us opens up in sinkholes. Words explode into fragments of meaning… thus, the un-expect-ed-ness of this unnerving turn of events.

Curtains open on the First Act. Enter, stage right, the President of the Disunited States, Hollywood version of narcissistic Third World dictator, well-dressed gangster with his carefully balanced coiffure and infrastructure of war, catastrophe, greed, hatred and delusion – a victorious returning to power, with paid-for breathless wave of applause. Financial Advisors grab all the wealth stolen by the Bank (who knows, maybe it’s the same family), memories of Geo Dubbya, the fall of the twin towers, the war in Iraq and weapons of mass distraction. Fear, lies and distrust in Government. How can I find stability in all this, how to let go of this dark uncertainty?

When all else fails, the Buddha’s subjective damage-repair comes into play. Rediscover the natural ability to relinquish, give way to, put aside and desist from – difficult perhaps because we are not skilled in the act of surrender. But in these circumstances of adversity we can look for the muscle that’ll release tenacity of grip, jaw clench…. Let it go, watchful too that nothing might be indirectly fanning the flames in the process, such as: I don’t want it to be like this, because wanting it not-to-be-like-this is difficult to disengage from.

Do not hold on to it, let it go… and suddenly I’m not thinking about the “why” of things anymore, just sitting quietly here, watching the in-breath/out-breath. I might want to take immediate action but the wisdom (and effectiveness) of this is to learn how to wait and see. Go against all the urges to have your cake and eat it too. Intelligent control over the energy of thought… and when there’s an opportunity, seek for a place in the middle ground. Find equanimity in the midst of uncertainty, the balance, the midway point. Find a temporary abiding there and cultivate the inward disposition to give, to have compassion for, generosity, kindness, gladness.

I understand how everything fits together today up here on the roof terrace with flowering plants in the sunshine, birdsong and a clear blue sky. I can see the compelling, driven-greed in the world. I can see how to be free of it too. People are caught unknowingly in all kinds of habitual, seek/find instant gratification. Everything, everywhere, consumerism, schooling, television, the media encourages this hunger that doesn’t lead to satisfaction but to an even sharper edge to appetite. These are the ways of the enemy.

“As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron” [H. L. Mencken, The Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920]

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Photo by Melinda [melindaruck.com]

34 thoughts on “astonishment

      • Said what Preacher Casey said, Tom Joad,
        He said what Preacher Casey said.
        “Ever’body might be just one big soul
        Well it looks that a way to me.
        Everywhere that you look in the day or night
        That’s where I’m gonna be, Ma,
        That’s where I’m gonna be.
        Wherever little children are hungry and cry
        Wherever people ain’t free.
        Wherever men are fightin’ for their rights
        That’s where I’m gonna be, Ma.”
        That’s where I’m a gonna be.”

        – Woody Guthrie

  1. Thank you for writing this. It is beautifully written and finely crafted. I wanted to write something about Trump but couldn’t. Too enmeshed am I in the news, the protests, the tears and shock of anger and anger of shock. However did you find that perfect quote!!!

    • About the quote, a very old Malaysian friend shared by email. I hesitated to write about it because it’s rather too easy to write about something like this happening in someone else’s country. I’m thinking of Trump in the global context. I don’t know how he will manage…

  2. I do like that quote T and the clarity of your thinking! Over the past days I have been speaking to people who label, judge and vehemently want things to be overturned and to be different. These are the hurting democrats … and I told them they were mirroring the Trump supporters.
    We must get past the judgments and hope that there is a bigger message here. Half the country have voted for a deplorable man, yet over 50% of his voters don’t trust him or respect him. This is a cry for help, for acknowledgment, for something!
    Alas I do believe his de-regulations will bring out the greed and avarice in many people. I hope that the goodness of humanity will prevail and the freedoms that woman, and minorities have worked for will withstand the upcoming tsunami.

    • Thanks Val, you’re right about the mystery of how this happened and what it could mean. Trump comes to power in a sea of ignorance – those knowingly ignoring the truth and others who are beyond help, through no fault of their own. I’m thinking there is a very large piece of this story still to come. He will need to have a team of advisors because he doesn’t have a clue, other than gangsterism. The world will see who these advisors are, all will be revealed.

      • Thanks Tiramit. We shall see what unfolds. His “privy council” will be so important.
        A part of me also hopes that he will wake up to the enormity of his task and the responsibility he now holds for the well being of all Americans.

  3. Reblogged this on Shielagh and commented:
    As we continue to find our feet and balance in a world gone askew, Tiramit, Scottish ex-pat in India (and sometimes Thailand) shares his wise take on recent cataclysmic events and reminds us of the Buddha’s teachings and the prescient wisdom of HL Mencken as well. ❤️🌸☸️🕉📿

    • Thanks for the reblog Shielagh, it’s about finding that state of calm where you see what’s really going on in the world. You know what to do and make the right decisions…

    • Sorry for the delay in reply David, mind away somewhere else, pretending it never happened? Thus we find ourselves; reality and everything we used to take for granted, now needs to be reappraised…

  4. I was not surprised, but, indeed, a sad day. The media seem to have replaced Journalism by 24h-Points-of-Interest, forgetting that there are also people who do not live in the Metropoles. I was shocked at brexit, but I saw it coming this time — same self-disinformed journalism, same reactionary vote.
    As I wrote half an hour ago on Ellen’s blog, over the Northsea there’s a Dual Kingdom in the making, over the Atlantic, the U is completely lost giving way to the S.A. — also active in the times of the NSDAP, a long time ago.

    • H. L. Mencken stated it as an inevitable outcome. The only light in the darkness is that it is known; a characteristic of democracy, subject to change. Without that knowledge, widespread ignorance (ignoring the truth) leads to imaginary scenarios of fear.

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