img_0391-1POSTCARD #246: New Delhi: Touch-screen tap, and there’s another photo in our Thai network of the floods in the South near the Malaysian border. A rail track, after the floodwaters have receded, showing how the foundations of the track are swept away. I’m shocked to see something I have always known to be totally flat, become structurally altered – nature as terrorist amidst nature as vulnerability? The way we see the world has to include the fact that it may all be utterly different in a moment. The very small window of experience we have of unity is become widened to include unexpected political change; everything is irredeemably lost… then rebuilt, and the memory of how it used to be after a year, is gone – after a generation there’s no memory of it at all, other than how history has it recorded.

img_0483Even though I’ve been studying Buddhism for 20 years, I’m overcome sometimes with fear, unwilling to let go of things I’m travelling with, fearful that some low-hanging part of the assemblage might drop off, be gone forever. It happens anyway, the hours and days disappear, become lost and appearances arise then fall away. Who I am at any given time, may change according to the context I am in. There is only a semblance of self, choosing to remain as the embedded and reclusive ‘me’, gazing through the windows of eyes and out at the world going past. By default, hidden away in inner landscapes, peopled with characters I choose, and planted with trees, and flowers, and built with homes, and mansions with hundreds of rooms.

“Maybe death’s hour too will send us out new-born
towards undreamed-lands, maybe life’s call to us will never find an end. Courage my heart, take leave and fare thee well.”

[Herman Hesse, Steps (Stufen)]


27 thoughts on “vulnerability

  1. I’ve heard it said that vulnerability is only a hairs breadth away from Buddha Nature. I’m not sure I’ve ever really understood why, but I guess minds aren’t always the best tool for the job of understanding.

  2. Disturbing scenes, caused by nature, but nature is not the terrorist, it’s man and his devastation of the planet and climate change, I suspect. I like your Hermann Hesse quote.

    • You’re right, it’s man who is the terrorist rather than nature. At the time of writing I was thinking of the way we say, example, ‘the fury of nature’ and these days with the frequency of terrorism, the metaphor could be applied with concomitant vulnerability. This said in the context of the Buddhist sense of change which we may be unprepared for…

    • It requires the ability to allow the change to take place in the heart, calm joyful in breaths, and in a Buddhist country like Thailand they are inclined to get around to letting go more easily than Westerners like me…

  3. What a fascinating photograph… the rails themselves appear to have buckled at the hands of a force as fluid as water. What we assume to be irrefutably solid is ultimately only a matter of perception. “Even though I’ve been studying Buddhism for 20 years, I’m overcome sometimes with fear, unwilling to let go of things I’m travelling with…” Ditto for me. Jeff

    • Pretty scary and hard to believe, yes. I spoke with a raiway engineer who said the rails are attached to the foundations, and when the earth is completely washed away underneath, it’s the weight of the foundations that causes the rails to bend like this. Inadequate foundations probably… Nature is a force to be reckoned with and we see it rarely, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes.

  4. That photograph is amazing. Wavy tracks. What happened to the metal? Well, climate change is causing so much death and destruction. It is appalling and all our own fault. Of course, this demonic clown we have for president denies it. See, I need to study Buddhism for 20 + years so I can have loving kindness for a president I now can not stand the sight of. What lesson do I pick up for that?

    • The weight of foundations causes the rails to bend as if they were thin steel wire. Maybe climate change, yes. Nature can have tremendous impact in situations where man is unprepared. Even so, we are subject to change in evey sense of the word, and can only be prepared for it by knowing this is a reality. The demonic clown we have for president is an example of how it can suddenly seem to spin off balance. Necessary to have equanimity and think of the 8 worldly dhammas and have strength in the knowledge that the same change that caused him to be here may be the way he disappears after 4 years…

      • Thank you, Tiramit, for that reference. It was very helpful and I listened to part of a lecture, too. The only thing that will get me through this horrid time in U.S.

        My sympathies to the flood victims. So sorry this news was buried under Trump’s proclamations. The news is Topsy turvy, the foundations like the railroad tracks in the flood.

      • The news is topsy turvy… Trump’s proclamations, it was exactly this that came to mind when I was writing the post. The wave of change is like a flood that washes away the foundations. The only thing to do is seek a solution inwards, The Eight Worldly Dhammas is one…

    • I heard that 28 people died and more than 1 million affected by the flooding in some way. Jiab’s family are all from the South where the floods are, and that’s why there are these photos in our network. It doesn’t make news in CNN because, typically, all attention is focused on the changes Trump is making at the start of his Presidency.

  5. T– My initial response to this post is to say that these natural events merely accelerate the process of change that is already occurring in the world and in ourselves, destroying the illusion of permanence, which doesn’t exist anyway.

    But I will also note my objection to the use of the term “terrorist” in a manner that further dissolves its original meaning, specifically referring to the violent targeting of non-combatants for political gain. The natural world cannot be a terrorist, nor can humans destroying it.

    It has since become a facile reference to practically anything we don’t like that upsets our perfect fishbowl existence. Very damaging.

    • Hi Gary, I agree with what you’re saying, and I wrote the lines referred to here, “nature as terrorist amidst nature as vulnerability?” (you’ll notice the question mark at the end), inviting comments, but thinking of it as: bully (terrorist) being inseparable from: victim (vulnerability). And the vast changes which take place cause us to suddenly have the sense of vulnerability, therefore there must be the associated ‘bully’ that is the reason for this. It’s asking the question related to the psychological effect of Trump’s first week as President, playing this game, and the world population readied for a calamity…

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