the painted face

POSTCARD#404: Bangkok: The days of Biden are here at last. I’m happy but wounded in the battles of Trump. Speaking figuratively, I’m not one to go to war. Many of us suffered when the painted face came on television and we’d have to brace against his silent malice and spite. It hurt deep in the centre of my being. Not able to recover properly, the mind was in overwhelm because the hurt was an accumulation of all the other times he induced the hurt.

He had a knack for it, thus able in an evil sort of way I suppose to swing things to his advantage; the heritage of an old woman born in the Outer Hebrides; the lady who was his mother. I say this because I’m from Scotland and had friends in Skye where I spent my summers for seven years in the 60s. I can’t say I ever met someone like Mary Anne MacLeod of Tong, Isle-of-Lewis, Scotland, but I recognise the Western Isle’s ways of persuasion.

“The likes of which the world has never seen.” He said it too many times – sorry Mr. Trump, the world has seen most of what you said and it doesn’t amount to much. Always and forever, (the collective) ‘we’ are in recovery from the overwhelm, our dwellings lost in the floods of ancient times. The timeless metaphor of a mind overcome in a tide of worries, fears, and things left undone. Sorrow, lamentation and despair; swept along by relenting events, surfacing and going under. These are the perennial ‘floods’, and crossing them is about coming through all that to find some firm ground. The Buddha throws a lifeline to the isolated, overwhelmed beings that we all recognize in ourselves from time to time. If we hold it firmly, it will guide us back home to solid ground and a renewed sense of community.

Suddenly I’m not thinking about the “why” of things anymore, just sitting quietly here, watching the in-breath/out-breath. Intelligent control over the energy of thought… and when there’s an opportunity, seek a place in the high ground. Find equanimity in the midst of uncertainty, the balance, the midway point. Find a temporary abiding there, return to the inward disposition to give, to have compassion for; generosity, virtue, kindness, gladness.

Thus the Buddha’s damage-repair comes into play; that natural ability to relinquish – we may not be skilled in the act of surrender but can access the power that immediately releases the tenacity of grip, the jaw clench, tongue adhered to roof of mouth…. unlock, unfasten, undo. Watchful too of the mindless repetition: I don’t-want-it-to-be-like-this, and so finding it difficult to disengage from making a bad situation worse.

Quietly watching the in-breath and the out-breath, renunciation (nekkhamma) is the ability to let go of the pull towards a sense object. Renunciation is the third of ten perfections (pāramī) that Buddhists cultivate in the mind in the Theravada tradition to this day.

The first two are Generosity (dana) and Virtue, morality or ethical sensitivity (sila). In the aftermath of the inelegant storm that was Trump, I thought it was timely and a good idea to consider these pāramī. (continued Jan 29)

Excerpts from: ‘Parami, Ways to Cross Life’s Floods’ by Ajahn Sucitto

10 thoughts on “the painted face

  1. Thanks so much for writing this, dear Tiramit. I can’t tell you how many of us were holding our breath until Biden/Harris were sworn in. We are so happy to have a government again and an end, hopefully permanent, to the orange man’s tweets. Thanks for your generosity in writing this. Just seeing him called up feelings of hate. Now that he is gone I can almost feel glimmers of compassion but if anyone I love dies or is damaged by Covid I will revert to hate, I am afraid, and even now just thinking that more Americans have died needlessly (400,000) than in WWII, stirs up feelings of anger and hate. Those deaths are on his head along with the death and destruction of immigrants and so much more. I can’t summon compassion except to think of the orange man as a young boy being mistreated. And even then… Now we can stop clenching our teeth, literally, and breath and heal broken spirits but we have been mortally wounded literally and figuratively. Thank you, dear Tiramit, for writing this post. xxellen

    • So glad to have the Biden/Harris presidency, a proper government again. I believe it’ll be the end of the orange man’s tweets – how to get the attention of the 72% who voted for him? How to hold that and steer it in a more wholesome direction?
      It’ll take time to see the whole of his misdeeds. Maybe it’ll take a very long time until we forget all about him, more focused on the hundreds of thousands of those who are sick and die of Covid. The attention given to that tragedy means nothing is left for the orange man and he will go to his grave alongside Fascist leaders like Pinochet in Chile responsible for the 1,500 – 2,000 “disappeared” and Pol Pot in Cambodia, the deaths of 1.5 million people. It’s better to see the orange man in this context.
      There’ll come a day when the extent of his wrongdoings are seen and that’ll be too huge to feel any more anger and hate. Not even compassion except to think of the young boy being mistreated, as you say. It will all drift into the past tense, dead and forgotten… enough to heal broken spirits care for those remaining wounded literally and figuratively. Thanks Ellen for this.

  2. It helps to know we’re ALL tottering forth, checking our heads for blunt trauma. It’s another level of compassion coming up too, for the angry and misdirected souls who continue to think it’s all someone else’s, probably a “liberal”, “fault”. I mean, setting aside the very clear evil, misfeasance, and catastrophic consequences which can pretty much be traced to that Certain Individual we’re still faced with basic reality. At least now the thought of fascist coup and martial law is more remote than it has been for quite some time! Thank you as always!

    • Hi Kelley, yes thankful for small mercies, and it’s new ground for all of us. It’s a threatening landscape and I don’t know, cannot ‘feel’ when or if, or what kind of storm is coming because I’m not American. I can’t easily find compassion those ‘misdirected souls’ or for the Man himself who appears to have taken steps toward anarchy. There was something Michael Cohen said, to do with the way Trump discussed an illicit, secret task for Cohen and others; Trump never definitively said what his intention was, he implied, spoke indirectly. But he still said it, his intention was clear.
      On second thoughts, about the folk who stormed the Capitol and the ‘angry and misdirected souls’ who follow the Man, I do have compassion for the majority of these young people. It’s a societal issue needs fixing not immediately repairable.

      • The original Stinking Wound, so to speak, is coming into view in the US….it’s DEFINITELY an equanimity challenge here, LOL. But you can’t overcome fear with more fear so breathe in, breathe out. Do no harm, take no doo doo!

      • This had a big impact on me, I realized how far away from the crisis I am. For the last few days I’ve been studying the Punnya parami (wisdom), and amazed at the detail Ajahn Sucitto gives us. Maybe you looked at this before, if not click on this Link Parami. it takes you into Amaravati library and you’ll see the publication: ‘Parami, Ways to Cross Life’s Floods’ by Ajahn Sucitto. Read page 73 to 91. I thought it might help to focus the mind. It helped me and I’m no expert.

      • Thankyou!!!!!!!!! this is a great help. And Who really IS an expert after all…. At times this whole thing here seems as though it will swamp one, and then……you take a breath and refocus and…well. We go on. And thank you again: I have gotten so much grounding and true help through reading your blog, especially of late. XOXOXOXOXO

      • I’m glad you have this grounding, I’m glad the whole thing is moving along and it’s looking okay despite some days when it’s not… mindfulness of breathing

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