that which is seen

POSTCARD#325: Bangkok: After the operation on the right eye, and the world seems different, everything suddenly seen in clear three-dimensionality. Reflected light, rich, deep colors and a strange familiarity of objects, things become somehow known. I’ve seen these things so often before but now seeing them with an expanded awareness. It sounds visionary, you could say revelatory but it’s the result of eye surgery, rather than insight… nonetheless quite astonishing. I have this clarity in one eye only; vision in the other eye is like an old yellowed photo, dull and indistinct.

The operation on that eye will be in October, back to the Rutnin Eye Hospital in Bangkok. The surgeon makes a hole in the eye and puts in a tool that uses ultrasound to emulsify the lens. The lens becomes liquid and is sucked away, then a plastic foldable lens is inserted in the place where the natural lens used to be. That’s it, done. Local anesthetic is enough, or general if you feel claustrophobic about the covers over the face as the procedure is going on. After the op there are different kinds of eye-drops that go on for about three weeks and it feels a bit itchy but that’s all.

I’m amazed that it’s possible to do this; the plasticity of the human body, parts can be taken out, replaced; systems are deconstructed, reconstructed, subject to change. It all supports the idea of anatta: no abiding self. There’s an underlying flexibility about the mind/body organism (namarupa). One example of this is that I have a very refined piece of plastic in my eye instead of a natural lens. And, looking through this at the world, I find there’s an affinity with clear-wrap, cling-film, transparent plastic food packaging – the way the plastic surface refracts the light. In this strong sunlight in Thailand, I notice the reflections on chrome and glass – the clarity is sparkling and beautiful. Also these enhanced colors, reds mostly, and an overall bright clear blueness in the white areas. All this has the quality of an iPad screen, retina display; high-density pixels merge into one – an extraordinary brightness.

At home, curious Thai faces examine my new eye, and I’m looking back at them looking at me, seeing subtleties in their features that I’ve never seen before. It’s all quite new, an extended reality. So, I’ll be going around for the next few weeks, looking at my surroundings and considering the phenomenon that I am experiencing this and the mystery of that which is seen.

‘… the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving. (the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha)’ [SN 56.11 (dukkha nirodho ariya sacca)]

Photo image: Skyline at Ploenchit Bangkok. Reflections on an earlier post The Beholder

16 thoughts on “that which is seen

    • Thanks Ellen, it’s wonderful. I snapped the photo on the way into town where the eye hospital is. And yes I’m squeamish too so let’s not talk about it too much.

  1. When I was just a little boy, my great-grandmother Nettie– who had been functionally blind for many, many, years– finally had surgery to fix her cataracts. I’ll never forget the smile on her face as she walked around, just enjoying the sensation of seeing things again.

    • Wow, that must have been an incredible experience. The old eyes are yellow almost brown by comparison. I suppose people just get used to putting up with it and slowly drift into blindness.

  2. How remarkable and so wonderful–all of it! Yet another way of seeing, as you say. I’m glad you are well, Tiramit. As always, thank you for another postcard.

  3. Sorry to say I’ve been missing some of your more recent posts. But happy to hear the operation was successful! An irony: the new lens is not “you,” as you suggest. But then, having it and seeing a new (old) world also suggests the old lens was not you, either. Though we spend a life automatically assuming, without reflection, that every part is ‘us,’ it turns out that neither is any part, down to the smallest element.

    Another wonder: someone made that lens, developed the concept, tested and refined and tested again, returning to ‘you’ what, by virtue of its gradual disappearance, is not ‘yours’ at all: your vision.

    • Good to hear from you! I think it’s the structure of self we are seeing, being both part of it and observing it. The lens draws our attention to the structure, and the greater structure we are intermeshed with – that ‘someone (who) made that lens…’

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