terrestrial ocean

POSTCARD #255: Bangkok: Elevated passageways and corridors in the mind creaking like we’re on an old sailing ship, swaying with wind and air currents, the swell of the sea and the flip of waves at their peak. These lightweight structures hold the sails, huge areas of stretched canvas sailcloth – I can only see a part of the whole. The creak and strain of long hemp ropes, tarry old wood decking and a wide-open sky. Then the pain comes, ringing the urgency bell… see how it triggers all systems in a wild inarticulate way… make way! Allow the alarm to ring and let there be absolutely no resistance, no tightening up, just letting it be there… the worst of it subsides and the emergency mode is switched off. In the Buddhist sense I’m drawing attention to an awareness of Suffering and the cause of suffering, but not just labeling it; ‘the cause’ of Suffering is the 2nd Noble Truth, no, I’m asking, what is this ‘cause’? No labeling from here on.

What is the cause of Suffering and what is the cause of the cause? The desire for it to not be there, the confrontation, the avoidance, resistance… obstructing it, subverting it by any means. Running away from it, wanting things to be different than the way they are in a totally impossible way.

Childlike, I can see my (child) self as a baby, attending to whatever object appears, comes into range, immediately focused, the totality of each thing, as it arises – conscious experience without language.

Flickers of memory like this… food is a wonderful experience, it’s not Food, it’s Wonderful, it’s not ‘wonderful’ – no words for it, it’s a feeling(?). Then, just as easily, the bad, the awful – then the aftermath of the disaster, early childhood systems of understanding the world – but for my (child) self there’s no ‘understanding’, because there are no words in infancy to describe anything. Catastrophic! I am the cause of this hurtful chain of events. How it was then, and how it is now are no different. I am the same ‘me’ as I was then, language acquisition is here now, I’m expanded, filled out, developed and extended into the world but still the same ‘me’ (time can disappear in this kind of investigation), so how can I help protect the ‘me’ that was then, with the ‘myself’ that is now, equipped with adult skills?

Meditation. I’m sitting on the meditation cushion like a chick in the nest, cheep-cheep… waiting for the return of the Parent Bird (mother, father, both or neither) and, beak totally wide open, like a suitcase lying open on a bed waiting to be packed with things, my (child) self perceiving the Parent Bird visiting the nest (or not visiting), and for me now seated on the cushion too, there’s the acceptance, the wide-open giving-way-to it.

Maybe also in adversity, how much I’d prefer to not do this any more, because the recognition of the familiar forms of interaction between my (child) self and authority figures in the family group are too scary – for a moment I ‘see’ the blocking… but there aren’t any words, it’s something felt.

Simply how it came to be the way it is, but no words. A wetness at the eye, a glimpse of my (child) self receiving conscious experience, and the perception of it has shaped, formed the person I am today – it is the person I am today.

Then the pain comes back, deep stabs of it like bolts of lightning passing through, but the intention to allow space for the pain is still there. As the immensity of it become less and less, acceptance opens more and resistance begins to fall away. I see now the intention to be open and accept the pain, hidden from ordinary wakefulness, buried deeper than the pain can reach.

It’s this that tells me, when all other options are gone, there’s no running away from it now, I have to turn around and go back into the pain… for a split second the pain eases, an extraordinary and out-of-this-world feeling.

Absolutely no escape from the pain… then finding this window I know that’s always here, and everything is swept away like a flood of water finding its way through a landscape, rapidly filling up all the spaces and getting into all the corners… I am a sailing ship on a terrestrial ocean.


32 thoughts on “terrestrial ocean

  1. Another fine piece of writing. Description – imagination – relationship – reality – realisation. Managing to both embrace the immediate concrete and point to the absolute. No words but with words.

    • ‘No words but with words.’ Very nicely put, it always surprises me how the pieces all suddenly fit. Then for me it’s a case of chipping bits off and juggling bits around, shaking things loose and there’s no planning really, the form arises by itself. Is it something like this for you?

      • On a good day certainly. “I” perceive “myself” as both temporarily an individual and yet also no more than a projection from a non-temporal awareness and I think that is how the creative process occurs.

      • ‘a projection from a non-temporal awareness…’ that’s it exactly. Yep that one hits the spot. I’m going to have to sleep now, 4.30 am start tomorrow for the morning flight to Delhi. Thanks for that Ben, I’ll sleep on it…

      • Relatedly here’s an interesting (to me anyway 🙂 ) depiction of the Universe which, although it differs from the classic Vedi/Buddhist model has some echoes of it (or perhaps vice versa), seems to present another model which attempts to explain our lived experience and one which is in some aspects quite plausible. I’m certainly not about to become a “disciple” but I am happy to entertain these ideas as a basis for contemplation. As you can see, the link leads to a post that is simply one chapter drawn from a book. Other chapters are available on the site but I haven’t explored them all and probably won’t devote the time for a thorough read, given the range of things that clamour for my restricted time.


      • Thanks Ben, it makes interesting reading, at least here in the lounge at BKK Departures 05.45. And I think I feel okay about it. I’ll return to this when I have more time…

      • You can say that again, I definitely feel I’m a tourist here, somehow got on the wrong tour bus, finding my way through all these hovering, sinister, peripheral, leechers. Maybe it’s the thing about arriving in Delhi and it’s an hour and a half back in time. The day has only barely begun. I think I’ll put this one on the shelf for a while, thanks anyway

      • A footnote here, Ben, having woken up after the three-legged hop from Chiang Mai via BKK, apologies I see I missed your careful intro to this saying it was a depiction of the Universe that has some echoes of the Eastern model or maybe the other way round, and this is just another way of seeing it, our lived experience in the world. I will take that on board and get back to you, Gratitude

      • No problem. I think I can understand why but as a would be poet I have an inbuilt ability to turn almost anything into a useful metaphor. 😀

      • I recognise that ability in myself, things just jump out of their context, asking to be be understood in a different way. They make sense before I get there…

  2. Hello Tiramit.
    I’m wondering if you have heard of The Presence Process by Michael Brown. This has come to my mind a number of times when reading your posts of late. It is a simple process for integrating imprints from our childhood that later in life can manifest in all sorts of ways, in particular, physical ailments. Michael himself has been able to integrate and heal a non-curable painful ailment. If you are interested there is a website – thepresenceprocessportal.com and/or his book The Presence Process -revised edition – which takes you through it. It’s very easy and I have found it very powerful.
    I hope you don’t mind me telling you about this. Apologies in advance for overstepping the mark or causing any offence.
    Much love

    • Hi Melinda, yes I know the book, and the last few posts are about the Presence Process indirectly. The book was suggested to me by another blogging friend, and it’s good to know you have gone through it too. My plan is to read the book through to the end but somehow there’s an obstruction – which seems to be related to the Process itself. So I have some hesitation in continuing with this. But there’s some free time coming up so it looks like it’ll happen. Thanks for immediately responding…

  3. Beautiful writing here, Tiramit! The pain has not interfered with executive functions. You are fortunate in this respect. Giving in to the pain, yes, to struggle against it makes it worse but giving into it, waking up to it over and over again is difficult. No quick fixes. So sorry it is back. I thought the new medication was working a lot better. What is the name of the medicatiin? Sorry for such a mundane comment but things are very basic these days. Multiple physical problems. Your view from an infant’s eyes is interesting. Not quite sure how it changes things or if it does. The infant gives in to tears at pain. Sometimes the adult does, too. Another way of resisting suffering.

    • The name of the medication is Lyrica Pregabalin 1500. Prescribed by my Fairy Godmother, anesthesiologist in the underground corridors of that huge government hospital – and you asked me, or someone did, why she was working in a government hosp rather than more expensive private clinic. It’s because she’s recognised as a leading person in her field, gives lectures overseas, has written on the subject etc., but to me she’s my Fairy Godmother, has magic potions and so on. I went to see her about the RFAs (radiofrequency ablation) and this is a last-chance med, if it doesn’t work, I have to go for the RFAs. Maybe it’s that, the gravity of what she was saying (or not saying), very educationalist and professorial in the nicest way, and it caused me to get quite emotional because I’d been stumbling around in the dark until I met her.
      So the bouts of pain caused by the switchover in the meds and now it’s stabilized, an exercise in giving way mainly because of Fairy Godmother’s words of encouragement. I’m on a high at the moment, waiting for the collapse, this is how it is, as you will know so well. Sorry to hear you are having a hard time with the repeat pattern of pain and physical problems. Some inspiration may be found in the book The Presence Process, Michael Brown. And this was the reference to returning to how the world appears through the eyes of one’s self as a child; the initial non-verbal responses to the world create an imprint which is reachable by the adult and the rough corners smoothed off or in some cases a total change takes place. It happens by way of a focus on specific breathing patterns. I read part of the way through it, hoping to complete that in the next few days.

      • I have heard of Lyrica. But not the second part of the name. It is prescribed here for diabetic nerve pain, I believe. Glad you are still doing well. I was confused in the post because you were speaking of pain but hopefully that was past pain. Thank you for the reference. I will look it up now.it sounds very intriguing– the reference to breathing patterns. May you remain in this good place.

      • It’s a generic name for the medicine that treat all kinds of neuropathic pain, and I see I made a mistake in the last reply to you, it’s 150 milligram and not 1500, I’m still not sure what the difference is between pregablin and gabapentin. I’m still getting these unexpected stabs of pain in the head and there’s not anything I can do to treat a few sudden deep pains that last 5 – 10 seconds. Just lie down and wait for it all to pass. In the meantime, reading TPP (The Presence Process)

  4. Couldn’t help but be reminded of this…
    ‘…In the furious lashings of the tides,
    Emptier than children’s minds, I through that winter
    Ran! And great peninsulas unmoored
    Never knew more triumphant uproar than I knew…’
    – Le Bateau Ivre

    • Well, yes it does have a little of the quality of ‘noir’, and I must have read that poem or extracts of it, not consciously thought. Rimbaud for me was a voyeuristic adventure, the lifestyle, well those were the days. And these meds sometimes take me off in that direction slightly. Nice thought, thanks Stuart

    • Thank you Steve, helpful for me to see it as ‘vivid’, in the process of writing one doesn’t see the simplest of things. Feeling okay right now, memory of pain is erased by Mind…

  5. I love the imagery you use Tiramit, it draws the reader on and on through the piece, like the wind and the waves, and the movement you describe. Wonderful!

    • Movement is a thing for me, in fact I choose to be still for nearly all the time. These sudden long journeys jerk me out of the stillness and really seem like forms I have to find words to describe them with; it’s the urgency of it too…

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