OLD NOTEBOOKS: POSTCARD #361: Bangkok: Expanding into the spaces in the interior we never looked at before. The breakfast table 27 March 2020: I lift a glass of home-made juice to the mouth, apple and guava, and drink it all to the end… the very last drop, slowly dribbling down the frothy glass towards my mouth. The almost vertical glass held against open jaws, teeth, lips, tongue, and head thrown back as far as it would go. I stay in this position for a moment and glance across the ceiling up there, beautiful forgotten dry white space. The fan spinning and these recessed ceiling lights. Oh no! Bad move! The eye will automatically focus on an aspect of the light (I can’t get it to not do that) and what followed was an intense stab piercing the right eye like a bolt of electricity down inside the skull and pain in my head so bad I nearly fell off my chair.
Disabled for the rest of the day! It stayed with me even after taking the prescribed three capsules of pain killer – the meds couldn’t stop it, they only make me feel better about having the pain. So why was it so bad this time? Something to do with the unusual way to sit… head back into the shoulders, then the stab of light entered the neural network in a way that hadn’t happened before.
Stepping into present time: the world is experienced in duality, as in; there’s ‘me’ and there’s ‘it’, the Headache. ‘I’m here and that’s there’. How can ‘I’ get away from ‘it’? It’s no good thinking ‘I hate this pain, I want it to go away’, because it doesn’t just go away. What happens instead is, I get more and more attached to how bad it feels. There are views and judgments about ‘it’, the object in question; the Headache. I’ve had different forms of this Headache for five years, and was thinking I’d seen it all, but this one with the ceiling light was like being hit on the head hard, with a metal hammer.
Okay, so where to go with this? One thing I discovered that’s helpful, is that the ‘me’ I live with is not a substantial thing – sometimes not there at all. No-self, anatta, there’s no one here to feel the pain. Where does it go? Nowhere because it wasn’t there to start with. An illusion. The important thing is, if there’s no ‘self’ there’s no pain – the pain is there but doesn’t hit its target. Thus I’m motivated by the pain not to discover anatta, I just want to find peace and quiet and no pain.
Some years ago before the Headache arrived, I learned to play with the space between thoughts (Link to post “in-between thing), the space that’s absent of thought. Staying in the space in between, I see on either side and all around is the confused traffic of thought and I’m aware of that but not part of it. Depending on what’s going on, I seem to be able to pass through or over or under these thought items.
I can focus on one item of thought or whatever and then focus on another and maybe there’s a bit more focus on one than the other but I see it’s possible to be focused on both at the same time. What I see now that I didn’t see then is that this is about letting go of some of the constructs of a separate ‘self’.
“The Buddhist ‘Suffering’ dukkha has to be understood in terms of its cause: the origin of dukkha is our attachment to the sense of a separate self that makes the judgment, and creates ideas rather than seeing things as they are.”
“All life is a single event: one moment flowing into the next, naturally. Nothing causing everything. Everything causing everything.” [Wu Hsin]