POSTCARD #241: Chiang Mai: Went down to Bangkok with Jiab and our niece M, aged 12, for the New Year get-together with family, which was happening in the house where we used to live. Strange familiarity of furniture and objects seeming to jump out and call to me… M’s old toys abandoned here and there – a childhood almost gone. The next day, she went back to Chiang Mai with her mum, Jiab set off for Wat Poo Jom Gom, a remote Buddhist monastery near the border with Laos, and the others who were there all left for their homes in the South.
I stayed on in the Bangkok house for another day, a quiet time reflecting on how it used to be, living there, but mostly revisiting the things we talked about the night before – as we do, thinking about what was said, received, held, seen, nurtured… and noticing then, how the memory is displaced by the next moment of remembering – a kind of a death – and all of it, soon enough, fading away into forgetfulness.
Too much to be retained in conscious thought, and a gentle amnesia takes the place of that which groups all conversations in the mind so they form into one. A fleetingness takes away a thought, complete in itself, a picture seen in an instant just as it’s passing away. I seem to understand what was said better than I did when saying it at the time, busy as we are, putting the thought-forms into words… with a return at the end of each response and remark for the others to link with the place where I’d entered the dialogue.
Without trying to make it into anything, just playing my part in the discussion, waiting to see how it was going and where, while all sorts of things came tumbling out in unrehearsed, articulated speech… slotting into the right places. And something is said which fits in place of the piece that’s missing but we only see how it belongs there, after it’s placed. And the whole thing works so well after that, there’s no memory of it ever having been other than what it was/is, perfectly balanced.
Jiab returned from the Wat and the next day we went to the airport together. She was going South and me, back up North. Her flight to Hat Yai was leaving just before mine to Chiang Mai. Bye-bye at the turning of the ways in the long corridor at Don Mueang Departures. Waiting for boarding, she sent me a text saying to look out the window because her aircraft at gate 46 was opposite mine at 55. Her plane took off and mine must have followed on the single runway. Up and away… taking our separate directions above the clouds. How strange and funny to be up ‘there’ together in the air, she in her plane and me in mine, as if we’d been in two ships sailing in an ocean that reaches all other oceans and seas everywhere in the world.
“Because the mind has no beginning or end, you can’t use the mind to put an end to the mind. Because there’s no inside, outside, or in between, if you look for the mind, there’s no place to find it. If there’s no place to find it, then you can’t find it. Therefore, you should realize there is no mind at all. And because there is no mind at all, demon realms can’t affect you. And because you can’t be affected, you subdue all demons.”
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Thanks for having it over there…
” and noticing then, how the memory is displaced by the next moment of remembering – a kind of a death – and all of it, soon enough, fading away into forgetfulness” Lots fading away into forgetfulness these days, frustration of the mind, the never-ending death of the present moment. One day nothing will come to replace the present moment. Our whole life is a death. Thanks for allowing me to see this.
That understanding, ‘our whole life is a death’ is very much a present reality for the Thai people who have lost their King. Here in Bangkok so many people are wearing black and sometimes black and white, you could say the entire population are dressed like this. A world without colour. The mourning will continue for one year, and it must be often uppermost in their mind that the whole of one’s life is a death – it could only happen in a Buddhist country. For those of us who are able to turn to face this reality, it’s maybe not all that difficult to accept easily. The Thais can offer a year of their lives in respect for an exceptional King’s passing, after that they return to being the joyful people they are, and this is how it is. The fact that life has an end, is not a reason to feel unduly mournful, the focus is on present time. So thanks Ellen for offering the opportunity to develop these thoughts.
Thank you Tiramit. Loved your insightful sharing and perfect quote. Happy New Year. Mx
Happy New Year Melinda, I hope it’s encouraging for you to know you can wisely subdue all your demons…
Your Hui-chung quote reminds me of the Sixth Patriarch’s insight that no dust can settle on the mirror that does not exist. Happy New Year, Tiramit… I look forward to another year of your writing and photos.
Yep, no dust can settle on a mirror that doesn’t exist. It’s a good one! The fact that Mind doesn’t exist is overwhelming. No reason at all to be unhappy about this 😉 and Best Wishes to you too JW for 2017
Loved your description of the flow of natural dialogue–of unrehearsed moments of speech tumbling into place. It sounds like the very best of conversations. When there is a back and forth, a listening and a telling, as well as a discovery. I don’t know if that is how the conversation went, but that is what it sounded like…
I’ve been away too long and see you have published a book. I’ve downloaded it and am looking forward to some familiar moments, as well as some I may have missed here… It is a joy to see!
Michael, good to hear from you.
The conversations that have these unrehearsed moments of speech tumbling into place I’ve started to notice more and more lately. It occurs usually with a group around a table where the focus is on being able to relax into whatever comes along. Something everyone must have experienced at some time, there’s an unseen wave of interest and attention as each new thought is voiced.
And wow, thanks for buying my book, I was intending to write to you and send a free copy. I’ll send you the next volume just before it’s published. The journal entries (posts) can be read a few at a time, then the book can be put down. That’s how it was written, as you know.
Every creative work is a discovery for the writer, artist, etc., when it reaches a completion point. That’s how it is for me right now, rereading the journal which comprises the blog posts of 2014. Maybe I should have made it more clear that the journal begins early January 2014 and ends in December 2014. The next volume will be 2015 and follows on from the end of 2014.
So good to have you visit here after so long. I remember reading you have some writing projects underway. Look forward to hearing more about this sometime soon.