contained spaces

POSTCARD#305: Bangkok: There’s a dream I had once and, as soon as I woke up, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper I found in my wallet. That paper was with me for years, and when I found it again, it was indistinct and the writing, a hard-to-read scribble. So I keyed it in before it was reduced to a fragment of paper and disappeared. Then a few years after that, I found the document and created a post with it, titled: before after’, published on April 12, 2016. There were a few comments including one from Michael who suggested an alternate ending. So, nearly 2 years later, I decided to rewrite the dream and have Michael’s idea stitched in near the end. It goes like this:

I’m standing at a bus stop, waiting for a bus. The bus arrives, stops at the stop, and I get on. Instead of ordinary bus seats, there’s furniture, sofas, armchairs, a small coffee table, TV, curtains on the windows, and it’s laid out like a room interior. I find a place and sit down. Other passengers on the bus are sitting in unmatched furniture, everybody looking around for the person who comes to get orders for snacks and drinks. Nobody comes, there’s a long interval of nothing happening at all and after a while I start to think maybe it’s because the bus hasn’t left the stop yet.

At the same moment I remember I left my shoes outside the door at the bus stop. This is because in all houses in Asia you have to leave your shoes outside when you enter. In the dream, there’s something I’m not sure about here, how to resolve the issue of leaving the shoes and never seeing them again? Okay, so I can just leave the shoes there and when I get off at the next bus stop, I’ll take someone else’s shoes (it happens in Buddhist monasteries).

Yes, but this still doesn’t feel like a satisfactory resolution, and I’m walking towards the door of the bus to bring my shoes in, even though I know they can’t be there because the bus has left the stop. There’s the feeling of motion, chairs and sofas all-sliding around slightly in the movement, and the sound of the bus as it is going along.

But when I look out the back door, there are my shoes lying on the pavement where I left them, and the bus hasn’t moved an inch! How could it be that the inside and the outside of the bus seem to have their own rules of logic? It’s like, I get on the bus, the door closes, and the inside of the bus is moving along – I can tell because there’s the feeling we are moving, the furniture is sliding around. But when I look outside, we are still in the same place.

Is it because stepping into a world contained inside the dream, means you are an observer in another dream – a whole other situation, with its own characteristics and its own context… a dream inside a dream? Shortly after that I wake up, and there’s the enigma of it, there’s the world as I perceive it, but outside of that, there’s another completely different world, just going along as things do? The example of the chicken hatching out of the egg, pecking it’s way out of the world of the egg and into another contained space, another world…

Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story instead of the actor in it. [Ram Dass]


a buddhist’s sense of suffering

IMG_2872bOLD NOTEBOOKS: CHIANG MAI: I’m lying with an IV drip in my arm and exactly why, I don’t know right now, but there’s also a laser beam directed into my vein along with the needle. So presumably, laser light is present all through the circulatory system as the chelation fluid enters my body. This special treatment may provide a cure in the long term for the PERMANENT HEADACHE I’m learning to live with… who knows, I’ll try anything, and at least they treat you well here. I’m laid-back in a comfortable soft TV lounger but instead of TV watching I’m looking out into a small garden with birds to watch and scribbling notes on a print-out from the first draft of this post… careful of the pain from the needle in my left arm.

FullSizeRender (7)I have to say, this is about my experience of headaches, discomfort and suffering so if you don’t like the thought of reading more about pain, click the button and get away from here now! But if you’re curious and interested in the buddhist sense of suffering, think of any kind of discomfort you have experienced and consider this: it’s the struggle to get away from pain that causes the suffering. The energy used in trying to get away from it just fans the flames and makes it what it is. And, because it’s habitual, maybe a lifetime of doing it like this, things just go on and on until I see the only thing that’s preventing me from letting go of suffering is that I’m still holding on to it.

This insight into suffering comes about, not by choice, but by allowing yourself to be in a no-choice situation – or maybe it’s like that; there’s no other way, absolutely no escape. And, what I’m talking about here will be familiar to sufferers of chronic pain, usually you do everything in your power to not even think about this kind of thing, so there’s a kind of unpreparedness about it. Unknowingly you’re caught like the proverbial rabbit hypnotized by the circling predator. Helpless, you give up, go stumbling towards the pain and unexpectedly, a door opens inside that place and there’s an easing. You discover it’s a mind thing; the habitual action to get away from it is the cause of the pain… it’s this vortex you get to in the end that leads to the discovery of the moment of easing held in the center of pain. I feel the moisture of an eye-blink, the absolute physicality of being here.

There’s a strange kind of time shift about it, it’s somehow not until after it’s happened you notice time skips a beat. It’s somewhere around here that the realization happens; ignorance is displaced by the knowledge of it, awareness floods in and there’s an acceptance of this new direction towards pain; you let it in enough to somehow find a release from it. It’s an immediate understanding that somehow you know you’ve gone through it, so you can’t be ‘held’ by it anymore There’s a real sense of achievement, you are bigger than it; there’s motivation, energy, freedom.

How to apply this? A conceptual understanding of the release forms; it’s more than an acceptance of the pain, it’s an embracing of the pain – an expanding awareness that pain is not a thing you carry along with you. Dispose of all the heaviness; it’s something to be travelled through. It’s this that lets it go (frees it). The knot in the string is undone. Can’t be explained, not a conscious understanding… just that something is changed inside the thinking process, a felt difference – “felt” rather than “thought to be” – and the suffering is suddenly not there anymore.

‘We learn how to let go, in the process of observing the consequence of our grasping.’  [Ajahn Munindo, Dhammasakaccha]


Note: excerpts from an earlier post: things not being right and special thanks to Pennycoho for our short exchange in the comments box long ago   –   G   R   A   T   I   T   U   D   E   –

the visitor

img_8129OLD NOTEBOOKS: BKK: I had a job as an illustrator many years ago, 1985 I think, part of a lifetime spent shading-in with a Rotring pen, and touching up with typewriter correction fluid, whiteout liquid. No computer enhanced imagery in those days – no computers. Cut and paste was not the metaphor it is today – it was done with a real pair of scissors and glue. But usually I’d sit for hours at the desk without much movement, only the hand holding the pen, carefully searching for form… a happy silence in the room on the top floor of a Bangkok shop house with door leading out to small roofed terrace and bougainvilleas in large old clay pots, red and pink blossoms everywhere. Very little traffic noise, blue  sky, and few people came to see me there; I was happily alone in this self-contained apartment for many days at a stretch.

The small lizard (gecko) came to visit me one day and I hardly noticed it at first, a small rustle and clink sound from somewhere on my art table, covered in all kinds of drawing equipment, books and discarded papers. The clink sound again got my attention and I just sat still and waited to see what it was – so completely still, a spider could have spun a web in the spaces between my fingers. Then another rustle in the bits of papers on my desk, discarded sketches and cut paper crumpled up and trashed… and there it was!

Aiming for the cup of coffee gone cold, forgotten, but it was the spoon for the sugar, stirred into the coffee; it was that that it wanted – lying there in a tiny spill of wetness on the surface of the table. It must have come here before, it knows about the coffee spoon. I see its small head get nearer and nearer to the spoon, alert and aware of any movement. But I am a mountain, unmoving. The tongue extends out, lick, lick, and it gets into the hollow of the spoon with its tiny front feet, there’s the same clink sound, caused by the weight of the small creature.

The next day, around the same time it came back and sure enough, headed for the coffee spoon, lick, lick, lick, and it was gone. As the days went by, I got accustomed to it arriving, always around the same time. Then one day it didn’t come, in fact I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen it. Sometimes I’d see it moving up the wall by the door and out through an open window to the roof terrace and the bougainvilleas outside. So I got up from my chair and out to the terrace also to see if the plants needed any water from the storage tank… and there it was, in the tank! Not in the water but standing ‘on’ the surface of the water!

Surface tension, amazing! I didn’t know lizards could do that. So I backed out of the terrace and left it for a while. When I went out again the lizard was still there in exactly the same place. I looked at it and there was something about the way it looked back at me: Get me out of this predicament, please? Hmmm was it not able to move because the surface tension would give way and it would sink? I went inside again and searched for the plastic mesh container for A4 paper and all kinds of junk, emptied out the contents and went out to the terrace.

Carefully sinking the plastic mesh tray into the water then over and down, under the lizard. Slowly scoop it up, out of the water and I placed it down in a shady corner on its side so my small friend could crawl out of and run away and hide. That was the last time I saw it (sad). I worried about the affect the sugar and tiny amount of caffeine had had on the lizard, and felt guilty about that. Maybe it induced a kind of lizard ‘high’ resulting in unwise decision-making and stepping out on to the surface of water. Ah well, if that was the case, I saved it in time…


tanhã, craving

Wheel.of.Life-largeOLD NOTEBOOKS: Craving perpetuates the fever of unsatisfied longing, this is the state of tanhã. The opposite of a sense of well-being, tanhã is not a happy bunny. It constantly feeds the hunger of desire but the action of feeding it only sharpens the edge of appetite. Too much is never enough. It explains very well the reason why some people are committed to ‘wrong view’ with an intensity that takes your breath away. Tanhã is this deep craving for the ‘self’ we construct in fear of ‘no self’, a result of tanhã. I am ‘me’, in this world, due to tanhã, the reason for rebirth.

In the story of King Assaka and Queen Upari, Queen Upari died and became a cow dung beetle in the next life. But she felt quite at home in her lowly existence as a cow dung beetle, because of tanhã which is delighting in whatever sense object presents itself and wherever it finds rebirth. Reborn as a dog, it takes delight in a dog’s existence; reborn as a pig, as a chicken, there is always delight in each existence. [‘Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective’ by Mark Epstein].

In the causality sequence that forms the 12 step cycle of the wheel of existence (paticcasamuppada), tanhã is step 8. The way to stop tanhã arising, is to cut off the conditions that lead to its beginning; interrupt the sequence before tanhã happens, and bring the whole thing to an end. The entry point in the cycle is just before tanhã: step 7 feeling (vedana). At the vedana stage, there are three possibilities: pleasure, pain or neutral feelings. If feelings of pleasure or pain arise, then craving or aversion will take place and tanha will be the result. If, by an act of will, only the neutral feeling is allowed to arise, the 7th link will be neutralized, de-activated. That being so, tanhã cannot arise, and the next link (upadana) will fail to arise and so on. [See “Fundamentals of Mainstream Buddhism”, p214-215, Eric Cheetham]

For me, the discovery that interrupting the sequence at vedana changed the momentum of everything was awesome, to say the least. This is how I quit the tobacco habit and my whole attitude changed. By allowing the neutral response at vedana to be present for a moment, I noticed an easing in the craving, a cessation, just enough to trigger my curiosity. The cessation took place when I noticed it was the way out of the cycle of repetition, and I understood then how to be free of it. The neutral feeling didn’t register as anything, just the awareness that there’s a space, a gap that wasn’t there before; a vantage point where I could see how to change the cycle of events. It’s in the nature of tanhã (as with everything else) to be transient like this, it’s something that comes and goes. Knowing it leads to Suffering, we can stay distant from tanhã for a moment, and allow it  to start the process of cessation by itself. Trying to confront or defeat tanhã will not work because willed action only causes it to arise again.

Situations that used to completely overwhelm and demolish me disappeared; other habitual behaviour began to fall away. I began to notice the wonderful emptiness, the wholeness, a peace of mind that comes about when you understand there is a way out of Suffering; everything that arises, ceases.

…there is a noble truth about the cessation of suffering. It is the complete fading away and cessation of this craving [tanha]; its abandonment and relinquishment; getting free from and being independent of it. [Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta]


Source for header image
this is a summarized form of an earlier post titled, ‘too much is never enough

created fragrances

nose_sinuses_smellOLD NOTEBOOKS: Switzerland: Industrial Zone: Waiting for the bus home. There’s that slightly odd fragrant smell in the air again. Somebody told me about it; there’s a laboratory here that creates commercial smells: odorants, aromas. The air is always full of fragrances. It’s the smell of fruity jam today. Another day, it’ll be a different smell, a more subtle thing you can’t identify, a component of a popular smell – not unpleasant, just odd. The fragrance of fruity jam, which strikes the nose when I open a new jar, is  a ‘replacement aroma’ created under laboratory conditions by chemists.

The manufactured smell is a chemical compound designed to trigger an olfactory experience. I’ll react in the same way even though the smell/aroma/fragrance is completely artificial. I fall into the ready-to-purchase mode – mind is saying, yes, yes, yes, get it, own it, have it… the familiarity of the smell is all that it takes. A perfect example of the Buddha’s Paticcasamuppada, the chain reaction of consciousness (dependent origination). The wonderful smell of bread from the bakery section in the supermarket. I’m drawn to it because of the aroma even though there’s no baker’s oven in a supermarket. I know it’s an illusion, but still respond to it as if it were real.

The artificial smell starts a sequence of mini events in the mind instantly when it makes contact (phassa) with the memory/ recognition/ acceptance, and there’s feeling (vedana). As soon that point is reached there’s the craving for it (tanha). I experience a state of wanting, a kind of greed, (upadana) and it’s very likely that I’ll go into the ‘bakery’ just to take a look, caught by the nose… it’s not real, it’s a chemical compound pumped into the air or sprayed somehow inside the bakery section.

Airline food served at 600 mph, and an altitude 38,000 feet; an exotic olfactory experience of roast potatoes, beef, onions, cheeses, French cognac, a hint of cigar smoke, ground coffee, crème caramel, port, liqueur. And we are served sad-looking pre-heated food… a bit disappointing. Do they really expect us to not see through this? But I think that’s part of it; somehow we’re satisfied with the illusion, a puff or a spray that releases the manufactured odorant in the air we inhale. There’s a knowing acceptance of it: “well isn’t it interesting how they can create artificial fragrances these days?” It’s okay to do this. Not only food, there’s the smell of leather upholstery in a new car, that distinctive odor created by chemical processes sneaks into our consciousness and we allow it to happen. All kinds of products, the smell of a new carpet triggers something in the brain, a physiological change and in the mind there’s recognition and the familiarity about it. An acknowledgment of the illusion being part of the whole panorama of illusion we create in our world of perception. The characteristics of the illusion lock into place and it becomes as real as anything or everything else. Does it really matter if it’s artificial… the whole world of perception is artificial.

The bus arrives at the stop and we all get on. It rumbles off down the road into town and the smell of fruity jam is still in the atmosphere, I can smell slight traces, then I get distracted and soon after that I’ve forgotten all about it.

‘Though my view is as spacious as the sky, my actions and respect for cause and effect are as fine as grains of flour.’ [Sogyal Rinpoche]


Summarized from an earlier post titled Fragrant Illusion, written during my time as a teacher of English in banks and offices and small industries in a small town in Switzerland.
Source for header image. Please visit the original page for the interactive version of the image.


‘server not found’

dreamstimefree_26288_3OLD NOTEBOOKS: Here in our new place in South Delhi the internet speed is really low at the moment so I called the technician and he said it would be okay tomorrow for sure, but right now they were working on the line near to where I am. Okay, thanks, bye-bye and hang-up phone – that’s it… the devastation of no internet. How can I just say to myself, well you can read a book or something? We are internet-dependent beings, without internet we become kinda unstable… and I remember writing about this feeling before. So I spend some time looking for it in my drafts folder. There was a storm at the time too and I find it in the Search box, using ‘storm’ as a title, et: voilà! It felt like all the unearthed electricity in the air, had given my internet server a boost just at the crucial moment and ‘server not found’ was actually found:

Switzerland: Just before the storm started I was having this internet upload speed problem; trying to get a post into Publish but not enough oomph for it to go. I try again; waiting for it to slowly come up with the WordPress site to click on the upload button, but stuck again. I start to take it personally, caught in thinking this is ‘bad.’ And, pretty soon, it gets blown out of proportion, turns into a small crisis, like a fire burning down the house. The intensity of feeling is incredible. This is what a very low internet speed can do. Am I in withdrawal? Focus for a moment, just there at the desk, feet flat on floor, watch the breath, stop the mind, and suddenly I’m in an empty space, surprised to discover it was that quick! And without the wandering thoughts, there is just silence! Just the physical awareness of the body, comfortably seated with this inactive thought process like its engine has given up and it’s immobile. I could hear the storm really loud around this time; lightning and thunderous bangs and crashes across the sky – a perception of vast distance.

It’s like someone in the floor above has gone berserk, pushing over huge pressed steel cabinets and metal desks, metal oil drums, BOOOOM, BADAAANG, and a small silence in between, then the echo of it returning from a long way away in the immense space of night sky. Still sitting at the desk in the violence of the heavens and the room is brightly illuminated by a flash of lightning very close, followed immediately by another overwhelming CRASH. The lights go out, and for a moment I’m thinking the sound is the bricks and masonry of the building tumbling down.

I fall to the floor in a crouched position to protect the head and then up from there quickly out to the front room, and exit by jumping over the balcony from our place on the seventh floor? No, can’t do that, look around, no damage I can see. The flap of wings as birds roosting on the balcony rail are stirring a bit, but they’re not really getting in a tizzy about this. If the buildings were to fall to the ground, no problem, they’ve got wings and can just fly away.

Back into the room, waken up the computer and I get a connection right away, loading completed immediately. And that’s the story of how I got this post written in a room full of flashing lights like a Press event taking place and uploaded no problem – harvesting ambient electricity? The sounds of war and bombing raids; the noise of it was colossal, somebody said later it’s because of the Jura mountains reflecting the sound and the lake resonating like a huge sheet of metal; an area of about 500 square kilometers.

‘The first noble truth says simply that it’s part of being human to feel discomfort. We don’t even have to call it suffering anymore; we don’t even have to call it discomfort. It’s simply coming to know the fieriness of fire, the wildness of wind, the turbulence of water, the upheaval of earth, as well as the warmth of fire, the coolness and smoothness of water, the gentleness of the breezes, and the goodness, solidness, and dependability of the earth. Nothing in its essence is one way or the other.’ [Pema Chodron]


cruel pillows [part two]

Aluvihara-Resting-BuddhaOLD NOTEBOOKS: Delhi: You may know already about my permanent headache caused by PHN on right side of the head and I’m a Buddhist so I can’t appear to be too grouchy about it. I can walk around gently balacing this headache, do my shopping and as long as things are simple and easy, I’m okay. I’ve been researching the kinds of pillows available in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s an on-going search because of my disturbed sleep at night. And it’s not easy in Chiang Mai a country town, where the staff are trained to smile, look nice and be elegant, but they don’t actually know anything about the product: I want to buy the softest pillow you have please?.

The sales girl shows me a pillow and poses beside it as I give it a little squeeze with my hand and she smiles. It’s not soft enough, try the next one, squeeze it, and sales girl, elegant, posing gives me a little smile again and I’m beginning to feel, get me out of here, there’s a headache coming on. I try every pillow they have in the shop and the sales girl is tiring of the instant smile when I squeeze; but I buy one because she was so good at posing beside the product. Get back and crash out with a bad headache. My side of the bed is full of pillows tried, discarded, there’s no space for any more.

Eventually I find one in Delhi and this pillow is so good! I take it with me everywhere; a totally soft pillow placed in my suitcase on top of everything. It’s also a good way of holding a whole lot of loose items tight in an oversized bag because the pillow expands into all the corners when you squeeze it in and zip up the bag tight. So, fling in loose items like pens, cables, adaptor plugs, knowing that the expanded pillow will hold everything in place and get to the other end, take out the pillow and everything’s like a screen-shot of how it was when you were packing at the last minute.

So I took it with me to Switzerland then all around the UK and back to Bangkok. One morning, early, Jiab puts the pillow into the washing machine. I see my pillow pegged out there on the washing line and I’m in a state of shock! Yes, she says, pillows can be put in the washing machine and I have to go out to look at it a few times hanging there in the hot sun, but it it wouldn’t dry out enough so I had to improvise something else that night and was tossing and turning for hours… cruel pillows. It was dry by the end of the next day but when I tried it that night, it was lumpy.

So I found another one in India, a crafty- artisan place, wild cotton filled fragrant pillow, I was assured. I tried it one night and it was great, so good to rest the head and feel normal. Then a couple of days later, I went for an afternoon nap – the headache is always better when it gets laid down. And, lying on my side with ear planted deep into the soft cotton, I was just drifting off into sleep when I hear something moving inside the pillow! An insect? A tiny lizard? Something struggling to get out from the weight of my head for some reason. The thing is you get insects and ‘things’ in the strangest places here, and not impossible that, when the pillow was being filled maybe some cotton-habitat creature ended up in there. So I opened it up, scissors at the stitching at one end. Spread everything out on the floor. No insect, no small creature… maybe it scuttled away unnoticed, aha! freedom, didn’t see it, but I did find some leaves and a bit of a small branch. Well, getting that all cleaned out and stuffed back in again was not easy and there was quite a bit left over. Never mind, stitched it up again with needle and thread, Then the final fluffs of cotton removed and got it back into its pillow case, slightly slimmer and looser, slowly lowered my head on it and it was wonderful, even better than before. So good!

I’ve suggested to Jiab we open up all the hard pillows in my collection and take out some of stuffing but so-far she’s unconvinced…

cruel pillows [part one]

7427ea210acc16b3b0130f (1)OLD NOTEBOOKS: DELHI: I just remembered this expression: “a bull with a headache.” It comes from Scotland, where large Men drink whisky all night, then one staggers through to the breakfast room in the morning and is demonstrably angry with everything, then one goes off to work in the wild, wet, wooly Northern landscapes of my distant memory.

Now I live in Asia which is really nice, gentle and warm and I’m a Buddhist and all is well in my world, except I’ve got a headache – all the time. A Buddhist with a headache? What to do, I have wondered many times. For me it’s an opportunity to be conscious and aware of what I’m doing all the time, because the headache is likely to get bad at any time. And I’ve thought too about what we’re doing here in the blogging world… our consciousness/awareness of our ‘world’, in a sense, is what we’re writing about, really, one way or another. Even if a lot of space may be taken up with trying to express how we get to that point. Even so, it’s an all-inclusive thing, isn’t it? And sometimes what we write is not as important as the spaces left where there’s nothing written. No point in asking why the ‘world’ should be (or shouldn’t be) like this. Or even try to identify it and analyze it – as you’ll see if you keep reading this – I’m just trying to make friends with my headache, in a round-about way, not too direct… see how that goes. I’m not expecting it ‘to be’ anything, at times I try to anticipate what it’s likely to do next, wondering how it’s getting on.

The headache arrived last September as a result of shingles on the right side of the head, here’s the link: PHN, but it might give you a headache reading about that, so why don’t I just introduce you to the headache itself? Think of a motorbike helmet that holds your head tightly, a snug fit … that’s it. Now there’s this cloud of intense feeling that, as yet, doesn’t have a name, it’s just energy. As long as it remains anonymous, things are okay – reasonably okay, the only thing is that what you have is this hair-trigger-sawn-off-shotgun-crash-helmet of a headache, minding its own business and nobody’d even know it was there.

So, the lesson is, be careful about what you think! Now, in some foolish un-mindful moment, I might say to myself: Do I have a headache? I can’t feel it now… and BOOM it demolishes my head. So naturally I get to know not to do that, not to ‘name’ it, identify it, or try to make it into something. And, important, I have to learn about this mechanism that can be held in the default STOP position. It’s the: please-don’t-go-there thought; that split-second, small, even tiny, space before the thinking process is engaged and what was really, absolutely, going to happen, by some miracle, doesn’t.

It cannot be stopped sometimes, of course, and you find that the forewarned intuitive snap feeling it’s about to happen means it just happens anyway and there’s devastation all around as you reach for the meds that are opiates anyway so you’re kinda hovering on the edge of a Edgar Allan Poe nightmare most of the time when you overdose on them.

This is how it is, predictably unpredictable so you have to be ready for it to happen any time. If it takes place at night, probably the best way of explaining the feeling of it, when dosed up to the eyeballs with sleeping pills, but still the headache remains and you’re awake for hours, it’s this: pillows appear cruel – have you ever thought of pillows being cruel? Probably not, well I know everything there is to know about pillows, in my research since this headache came to stay with me last September. Really, what I don’t know about pillows is just not worth knowing.

But that’s a whole different story…. [See: part two]


Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 17.12.04About this picture: This is the missing head, a screenshot taken from a YouTube video, which shows the head briefly at the end of the clip:

The whole story is, it’s an ancient Buddhist sculpture, which at the time of the top photo, was at the Beijing World Art Museum and being made ready to be sent to Kaohsiung in Taiwan where it will be reunited with its head.

Its head was stolen in 1996 from the Youju Temple in Hebei Province. The sculpture, made of white marble, is around 1,400 years old. The body is 1.59 meters tall. The head was obtained and offered by a private collector in 2014. Repairs will be made before it is put on public display in 2016. Twenty years after it was removed. The museum has selected another 77 relics for the exhibition in Taiwan.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council approved the body be sent to Kaohsiung for a three-month Buddhist Cultural Relic Exhibition jointly held by the administration and the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Hall, before the complete statue is sent back to Hebei. It symbolizes the possible reunification of Taiwan with China.



OLD NOTEBOOKS: DELHI: Sitting quietly on the meditation cushion, together with this headache that’s moved in recently, and I’m wondering if it’ll quieten down too – sometimes it does. At first it’s like there’s this energy of time and space moving through me from the past into future in continuously transforming evolving forms – but it’s more than that; internal processes happening by themselves – there’s no ‘me’ involved here, because I’m engaged with this swirling mass of headache and also just on the edge of understanding it’s like that when the whole thing becomes transparent – there is no beginning/no end… and it all slips into what you’d call the bigger picture.

So the meditation becomes more of a: let’s see now where are we at? (the headache and me). The outside world is not outside it’s inside too, every time I look/watch/see an object, it’s internalized. The brain creates a customized picture of it for me – and we all agree – who says the sky is blue, it could be a fantastic different color?

The pressure points on the cushion and floor where my legs are folded, and right knee supported, also parts of the body that are in contact with the surfaces of mat, form sensory data which reach the mind and give me balance, and I slip into this physical position like a hand fits the glove.

But then later as I’m walking through the rooms, the thought that I am as much inside as outside is a bit unexpected. The music I listen to becomes me, it is who I am, the alto saxophone sounds of Paul Desmond enter the hearing mechanism and I’m immediately on a 4D wave of melody floating out the window, I just take it for granted.

Then I smell lunch, go through, and eat the outside world. It enters my body. It goes to create flesh, blood and bones. Fingernails and hair grow. It’s quite an experience. The headache is a long swirling blue veil unravelled all around and caught in gentle aircurrents, of the saxaphone music – you could say it’s not getting the attention it deserves. Then all this becomes momentary, the headache disappears again and there’s the curious awareness of nothing. An experience of ‘open moments’, nothing in itself – but how did that happen? Where did the subject go? Suddenly there’s nothing in ‘here’ where the ‘me’ ought to be.

Virtue and the mind itself shows the way to go; the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Everything else in this great mass of no-thingness is an intuitive part of the whole, while functioning as form which is what we are on one level, everything else is too, and here we can study and learn so much from each other, while all of the world is comprised of particles that become increasingly smaller until their structure is formless space.

The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God, as if He stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge. [Meister Eckhart]


Source for Header Image
Note “open moments” comes from a post in the blog:A Buddhist Year titled, ‘Time
Music I was listening to: ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’ by Paul Desmond:


1024px-Siddharta_Gautama_BorobudurOLD NOTEBOOKS: DELHI: I have this headache that lives with me now; wake up in the morning and it’s there… dreamy half-formed images like wings of birds fluttering around in front of the headache then I see it’s becoming something and try to correct it so there’s no ‘becoming’. As soon as I do that, there’s no headache – wonderful except, I fall asleep again; the mind assumes, since there’s no becoming, no subject is focused upon, no actual thing (nothing) happening, this must mean sleep; okay, goodnight. Zzzzz….

Wake up again, and stumble out of bed, the whirr and buzz of the mechanism of headache that still hasn’t managed to become anything yet is taken into the hot shower. Then dressed in scarf and warm clothing because it’s cold here in North India this time of year. Downstairs from the third floor holding on to the hand-rail in an almost spiral staircase makes you dizzy to look at it and balancing the head as best as possible in a stable position because now the headache has become a snooker ball rolling around and crashing into the walls inside a sphere at the top of the vertebral column.

Stone steps with shiny-soled slippers that slip. Spinning around, everywhere in the mind thoughts arise; there’s always a subject searching for an opportunity to ‘become’ something. Is this what holds beings in the cycles of rebirth? Curious idea; a possibility… so it must be to do with non-becoming – allowing it all to ‘become’ without anyone ‘becoming’ it. Let’s see, how does that work? Stop here for a moment and think about this.

Am I down yet? Which floor am I on now? Having to be careful about not slipping, how many landings are there? I’m losing my sense of direction. But this idea gets my attention: active thought arises from somewhere in the midst of a great cloud of inactive thought. I can decide to not-become a thought just allow it to ‘become’ by itself.

So it’s possible to be focused on two parts of a thought at the same time… there’s a kind of transparency about it, a ‘becoming’ but no one who ‘becomes’. There’s no become-ee; a headache but no ‘headache-ee’ – it doesn’t belong to ‘me’. There’s awareness of the headache, but no awareness of to whom it is happening, there must be a larger awareness that includes this – an awareness of one thought that includes awareness of another. There’s something that allows me to consider this; I’m seeing it from somewhere else.

Yes this must be it, I’m at the ground floor now, and these stairs are difficult I get lost in them every time – don’t know if I’m going up or down. The mind searches for this awareness in some place completely unknown. Where is it? The space that’s unattached: the space-in-between. This takes me to another awareness that’s quite distant from the headache. It’s like it’s happening somewhere far away.

The mind is the canvas on which our thoughts are projected and is part of consciousness. Our body is a holographic projection of our consciousness. [B. M. Hegde, cardiologist and former Vice-Chancellor Manipal University]

Source for header picture. Note: this was developed from an earlier past titled ‘non-becoming‘. the structure of it is almost exactly the same, only difference is I had no headache in those days. So I was inspired to apply the same strategy in dealing with the headache I have now and it’s been quite succesful.