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