the way out is the way in


POSTCARD #262: New Delhi: A papaya tree just seeded itself in our small flower bed. It grew and grew and became a giant among the flowers, created shade in the noon day sun. Glory be to the bird that flew by here one day and the fortuitous dropping of a whole papaya seed which landed in exactly the right place. When the small plant appeared above ground we cleared the weeds away and it grew to a height of 2 meters in a few months. This is the karma of the tree thus far, like one of those random, stumbled-upon truths which appear in awareness when the introspective state of mind is present.

Whatever form it takes, there’s always the return to the human condition and finding a way out of attachment, the Buddha’s Third Noble Truth nirodha, (There Is A Way Out). I was reminded recently the way out is not an escape from the world, it’s a reappraisal of the situation without the attachment factor, the clinging adherence to objects of mind or body. This is what it comes down to, the way out is the way ‘in’, obstructed by the various forms of hunger and thirst in the human organism. The task is to get rid of desire, getting it unpeeled, unstuck and we could spend a lifetime searching for these and knocking them out, one by one – or maybe the whole thing just falls away by itself in an afternoon, and suddenly it’s done.

All that remains then, is equanimity like a vast still ocean mirroring the sky above. Some small event may arise, a puzzle, and one may choose to examine the circumstances of it, resolve the issue and allow it to disappear. For me it was a world of unsolvable tricks, riddles and switcheroos, created by an uncle only five years older than me. A nerd, long before his time. He’d show me a puzzle and conceal the answer so I’d never find it… sometimes dangled a clue like a carrot baits the donkey.

This was in a lonely farmhouse on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma*, it was before the days of mobile phones, before even the days of black and white TV. This was so long ago nobody could remember what existed in that place before it. We would have to go there for the school holidays, and I’d then be confronted by this strange cloned uncle, who looked like me, was near enough to be a brother but wasn’t – no, no… definitely not.

Sometimes I would escape from his forever hold on the secret I needed to find, and go for help from my other uncles and aunties there, but they were all his older brothers and sisters, had a fondness for his snarky wit. Yep, enough said.

The years went by and I’d come back from long journeys in the world to visit him sometimes, but he never changed from his middle-of-nowhere mind state. I’d see him age and think that’s what I‘ll look like when I’m his age… expecting to see him change in some way, but he didn’t, right up until the day he passed away… holding the secret to himself.

There was this release when it happened… there is no answer to the puzzle – no answer, no puzzle. It’s got to do with letting go, and everything is seen. It can’t be hidden, nothing can, concealment is not possible in the middle of nowhere because in the middle of nowhere there’s no concealment. No subject, no object… nothing there at all.

“Feel nothing, know nothing, do nothing, have nothing, give up all to God, and say utterly, ‘Thy will be done.’ We only dream this bondage. Wake up and let it go.” [Swami Vivekananda]


Gratitude to Val for her comment: ‘the way out is the way in’
“A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Winston Churchill

14 thoughts on “the way out is the way in

  1. My husband’s great aunt called them “volunteers”, these seeded plants that magically appear without our digging up nature and trying to tame it. And so your papaya tree…

    “The way out is the way ‘in'”… love that! A perfect thought!

  2. Wonderful sharing Tiramit. Thank you.

    I too have a paw paw (Papaya) tree in my garden. I found it growing out the side of the compost bin and decided to transplant it into the veggie patch right next to my verandah. I waited and watched it grow dreaming of the day I would be able to just lean over the verandah and pick the fruit off the tree! Ha ha. After four years it has certainly grown, flowered, and is now the perfect height for picking fruit. Alas, God is having the last laugh as I have now found out it is a ‘male’ tree and will never bear fruit unless it has a female tree nearby to allow the bees to cross pollinate. Damn!!! I can’t bring myself to pull it out … so have surrendered to its presence and ‘null and void’ fruitless beauty it offers me. A sweet daily reminder not to get caught up in the dream!
    Lots of love Mx

    • Thanks Melinda, oh a sad story. Well I think you must have contributed something to nature by nurturing the male paw paw tree. Perhaps you should ask someone else to remove the tree when you’re not at home. Then it’ll be gone. The thought that there’s gender in the world of plants is quite science-fiction-like.

  3. The Third Noble Truth is not an escape from the world, but rather an invitation to engage more fully in it, without the filter of fear and delusion. I’m reminded of a photo I snapped years ago in the Delhi airport. What would have been an “EXIT” sign in the U.S. read “WAY OUT” in India, with an arrow that appeared to point straight up. With nirodha in mind, I couldn’t resist the photo op. Thank you for the Vivekananda quote: “We only dream this bondage…”

    p.s. I’m jealous of your volunteer papaya tree, as this is the time of year that I begin to beg the cruel New England soil to please give me back at least a little something for my efforts…

    • I suppose for you Americans WAY OUT is the preferable option 🙂 it’s getting it the right way round and in a position so it shows the “way in”, or maybe these are all just words taking up space, and the whole thing is seen immediately. Yep there’s an overflowing of plant life here where the sun shines all the year round, plenty of rain too. Every single space is occupied with something growing…

  4. Lovely post Tiramit, which reminds me I have a papaya in the fridge. My favourite fruit, which I learned to love many moons ago in Mexico.

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