POSTCARD#349: Bangkok: It’s been three years coping with this pain hovering over me night and day. In the beginning my life was dominated by the headache (referred to here as: H) but I’ve discovered all kinds of things in the process. One thing not to be taken lightly; I learned the steps that lead away from suffering as if it were a code built into consciousness.
Another thing of course the severity of pain is not the same as it was. Maybe the mind gets used to it and there’s not the same urgency. But one aspect of it still strikes the nerve system on the right side of the head, the neck and shoulder. It can be any screeching sound like chairs being dragged across the floor, in a concrete room.
Here in Thailand there are some women whose voices, in laughter, are… utterly shrill. For me it’s a high frequency sound weapon, it penetrates through the auditory sensory organs and becomes something no longer heard. It feels like cold steel. I have to leave the room immediately, jump out the window into the garden and a forward roll gets me to a waiting taxi and away from that place forever.
But before anything else, it was necessary for me to be aware of the thinking mind. Mindfulness of it is not enough, it’s more like I needed to be aware of, how I think. I have to consciously take a step in that direction in order for things to have the momentum necessary to develop of their own accord.
So much of it is simply how it appears to be. The medicine plays tricks on me but I don’t pay it any mind. The effect begins to take place, H becomes non-hostile and becomes a tension band holding skull and neck muscles, tightly but secure. I can move away because there is nothing holding me. No pain. It’s detached, without a self to whom it would cause suffering. It’s the medicine that does this (necessary here to say). I put in these terms because that’s how it all seems to fit.
What is leftover is that part of the medicine that is the antidepressant. This is the place where I can gather up the mind, get it all in there, close the door, and melt into the darkness. From this comfortable place I can focus on the rest of the body/mind in a meditative way – an insightful contemplative state of mind.
As the years go by I see I’ve missed so much about the quantum world and how there seem to be groups of Buddhists who realise that we are consciousness itself. ‘When we rely on others to tell us their truth, we lose our power to actually realise pure spontaneous consciousness of independence.’
In the beginning I had to stay still for the medicine to have its effect. Nowadays I’m able to go around and just live with how it’s coming down. The large amount of medicine means I’m a bit unsteady on my feet, and I forget things – otherwise I’m okay.
‘see beyond the way things appear to be.’ Ajahn Munindo “Acceptance and Relinquishment” Volume 18
“… and how there seem to be groups of Buddhists who realise that we are consciousness itself. ‘When we rely on others to tell us their truth, we lose our power to actually realise pure spontaneous consciousness of independence.’”
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“Buddha says there are two kinds of suffering: the kind that leads to more suffering and the kind that brings an end to suffering.”
― Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.
“I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That’s all I teach”, declared the Buddha 2500 years ago.
Thanks Ben, the way I learned how to understand suffering is through the Four Noble Truths
1. There is Suffering (Dukkha)
2. Suffering is caused by Desire (Tanha)
3. We can find the way out of suffering by letting go of Desire (Tanha).
4. The way to achieve freedom from suffering is by studying the Eightfold Path
The quote is taken from one of the links you sent: buddhainthemud the other one I couldn’t open
Yes, I recognised the quote. As for the Four Noble Truths: I first came across it when I was 16. It seemed both utterly obvious and oddly familiar. Enough to set one believing in reincarnation and karma. 🙂
I’m falling behind in my dialogue in the comment box. This one jumped out at me. I read Walpole Rahula, “What The Buddha Taught.” It’s the whole story with the Noble Eightfold Path spanning the entire thing. I read it twice at first not knowing much about Buddhism. By the end of that epic experience there was this huge familiarity and I was convinced in some sort of rebirth…
I don’t know why the link to NegativeTherapy.com didn’t work for you. I just tried it your “the calm meditator’s endeavor” post and it worked fine.
Glad to hear that you seem to be managing and learning more to help you cope with H.
“seem to be managing and learning more to help [me] cope with H.” Thanks Rachel for this comprehensive comment. It’s definitely the way to go.
I have problems with certain sounds triggering pain, too. One of the worst sounds in the world to me is the knife striking the plate when my wife slices a banana in the morning.
These days I always carry a pair of foam earplugs in my pocket.
I’m glad you’re finding ways to learn and adapt, and (somewhat) find a silver lining.
I think that sound would send me off too. I’ve had a few totally impossible moments in Chiang Mai in restaurants with concrete floors and serving the visiting Southern Chinese who shout rather than speak (someone explained that in their language there are nine tones. the only way to be understood is to shout). The way out for me was a music video listened to with earphones and a visual to hold my attention. Otherwise I’d go mad. Any Chinese reading this please don’t take offence, I’m the one with the condition that needs to be resolved somehow.
I’m feeling a lot of compassion for you after reading this and your other latest posts, you’re a hero getting through this with such poise, stoicism and poetry x
Susan, sorry for such a late reply, I’m struggling with low sodium level and other things that leave you feeling… ‘I just can’t be bothered to do this’ or whatever. No one has called me a hero before and I just want to say, it gives me such a Boost! So thanks Susan, much appreciated.
Thank you for sharing this, T. I write this from my hospital bed being treated for A-Fib, a heart condition that could have led to stroke had my Apple Watch not told me my skyrocketing heart rate. My H is much less but not gone, mostly ignored but with the stress of my husband’s decline, this heart condition emerged. On anticoagulants and blood thinners. More treatment tomorrow. I will be fine. Wishing you my best. Sorry we weren’t able to get up your way. Hugs, Sunny
Your level of energy never ceases to amaze me. But waiting for a spouse to breathe his last and in the process have to cope with a new heart condition of your own that has arisen in the undoing and opening; this sounds to me like a dangerous situation
Tiramit, between a rock and a hard place (shrill Thai voices and shouting Chinese)…. for this reason I don’t think I would live there. Here I often awaken in the still night relishing the silence and often during the daytime as well… I never could have imagined the value of this…. It is huge…..the importance of silence. Wishing for you quietude. -Maureen
PS But don’t get me wrong: I love Thailand and have always deeply appreciated being there….. It’s just that…..
No need to apologise it seems to me you know Thailand very well
Thanks Maureen for that insightful and meaningful image of silence
To see beyond the way things appear to be.
To be consciousness.
It’s good to hear from you again.