POSTCARD # 480: Bangkok: The world is functioning everywhere at the same moment. The here-and-now taking place in all other locations at the same time as it is for me right now, in this place… population of the world, 7.753 Billion (2020). Overwhelmed by the immensity of it in terms of ‘Self,’ “the vast myriad of things seen as independent entities” [Buddhadasa Bhikkhu]. “When the mind contains unknowing (avidyā) it inevitably experiences all things as being ‘self.’ It’s not that we make a deliberate effort to consciously establish a self. The ‘self’ is merely a condition that arises when there is grasping and clinging in the mind.” Attempting to grasp an impossibility, and it just gets more and more impossible.
Characteristic proliferation of mind when confronted with an immutable truth; when I understood that the Macular Degeneration AMD in my right eye is a permanent condition and I’d have to have the injections in the eye once a month for the rest of my life, I was reminded of a comment by blogger Jude: “… the mind is creative no matter what the stimuli. Imagination, let loose like a racehorse, goes careering off then is yanked back unwillingly and all kinds of fearful things arise, created by the struggle.”
How to have mindfulness so I can catch that creative awareness before I get hijacked by how bad it seems? But this is the classic “End Of Days” scenario (not the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, no not that one,). It’s the bit where mindfulness steps in and I stop having the injections in the eye, because there are more important things to be considered before the arrival of death itself.
Birth and death, I remember seeing a TV programme about a woman giving birth – it was the first in a BBC series on the human body, about 20 years ago, I remember it was so vivid, I suddenly felt this immediacy of it happening to me: the blinding light, echoing sounds; the coldness, the impact of air entering the breathing passages, inflating lungs? Revisiting the birth experience… emerging into the world, the first consciousness of where we are now sweeps through, and the body/mind organism is removed from its inner world.
Seventy-five years go by, and even though the mind clouds it over with improvised explanations, and received knowledge, the body sense knows I don’t breathe the air, the air breathes me. I am not looking out through my eyes at the world, the world is looking in through my eyes and enters my inner being. As the Buddha has said, all sensory objects enter the physiological organism through the sense gates āyatana, and sounds are heard, food is tasted, words are spoken, things are done but there is no doer doing the deed – no Self in charge (anatta). The process itself selects the sound, or the sound selects the process, same with mind actions, the words, the thought, the concept appearing in the six external sense bases bāhirāni āyatanāni. That TV film left me quite transformed… awareness is aware of itself, “consciousness is outside the thinking mind, the uncreated.” (Ajahn Sumedho)
I’m saying there is no self but there is the small sense of self associated with a craving for ‘things’ that enter the physiological organism. This is the self that arises in the sensory world, driven by desire and bound by suffering. When I stop thinking about it, it disappears. Not so for most people I see. Everywhere I look the surroundings are populated by people with bowed heads, unable to face the world without their devices, their small window on the inner self. Stuck in the basic functions of interacting with the world of sensory stimuli. The deluded, not-knowing state, attachment to sensory events, caught in the vast myriad of things, beset with random karma…a tangled skein of thread, a woven nest of birds, a thicket of bamboo and reeds. “It is by their not being able to comprehend the dependent origination, that people are entangled like a ball of cotton, and not being able to see the Truth, are always afflicted by sorrow – born often into conditions that are dismal and dreary, where confusion and prolonged suffering prevail. And, they do not know how to disentangle themselves to get out.” [The Buddha’s words on Dependent Origination]
Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only.”
Image Details: Five forms of the Buddha, in Wat Phra Soon Kaew, Phetchaburi, Thailand