gentle ways

IMG_2243POSTCARD 144: Bangkok: Impossible to write about Thailand without reference to the car bomb last night in downtown Bangkok, the Thai word for it is ‘baa’ (insanity), was it a madman or was it a politically motivated act intended to provoke retaliation? There’ll be a long investigation and what it means is ordinary people will endure the traffic jams as roads are blocked off; life will go on as usual. Extremists give Thailand a bad reputation; it’s a story we know all too well these days – a created enemy.

I wasn’t able to discuss it with M my Thai niece in Chiang Mai, who’s thinking of things much more important than crazy people with bombs and anyway I’d left for Bangkok the day before, and had no idea there was a bomb because my place there is nowhere near the disaster area and I don’t watch TV. M told me when I called her about the pictures of the chocolate tart she sent me that we made when I was in Chiang Mai. She got the recipe from a YouTube video; created from a packet of Oreo cookies and 2 bars of good quality dark chocolate and one bar of milk chocolate. Open up the cookies and discard the pasty yucky bit in the middle. Smash the Oreo itself to a fine powder and mix with butter to make the base. Then break up the chocolate and melt in milk in a bowl inside a larger bowl of hot water. Pour on top of the Oreo base and put in the freezer overnight.

It’s a kinda reconstituted thing, I thought, yeh nice! Fun thing to do with M and she liked the idea that we are engaged in this activity together, impressed that I was able to scrunch up the Oreo with a spoon really well because of large strong fingers. I was rushing to get it finished though and M was holding things up with her attention to detail, The sequence is important, you have to do properly Toong-Ting, its work like that, she says. I correct her because, well, it’s natural to do that: ‘it works like that,’ I say. She looks at me, then goes back to her scrunching of Oreo: Why he, she and it have ‘s’, and the others don’t? And I say it’s because it’s Third Person Singular, you know? (knowing I’ll have to think up an explanation fast).  But… Why? So I decide to try this: it’s just the way words relate to each other, the way things fit together, and the he-she-it one is different from the others. Just different, that’s all. M accepts this explanation and I’m relieved. We go on scrunching…

The Thai culture values peaceful, gentle ways. The Buddhist teachings guide people through the delusion arising from hot emotions like confusion, anger; the mindfulness of knowing that whatever arises, falls away. Thais have this deeply felt jai-yen (keep a cool heart) attitude that’ll hopefully allow things to remain calm in the years to come. Everyone is quite well aware of the danger. It’ll take more than a single bomb at Erawan Shrine to cause a reaction.
(Note: At the time of writing a second bomb has exploded in the river at Sathorn Bridge)

“Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do children as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” [Helen Keller]


Note about Helen Keller: Helen was frustrated, at first, because she did not understand that every object had a word uniquely identifying it. [The] big breakthrough in communication came when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on the palm of her hand, while running cool water over her other hand, symbolized the idea of “water”.
Photo: Flower seller Phuket

looking out and looking in

IMG_0627POSTCARD 143: Delhi-Bangkok-Chiang Mai flight: The flight from Delhi arrives at Bangkok a bit behind schedule so we have to move along quickly to the transit desk and transfer to the domestic terminal for the next flight to Chiang Mai. In-flight bags on a small trolley, and we’re zooming along on the moving walkways in this celestial structure of steel and glass. As yet, passports are unstamped, les frontaliers, the no-man’s land between country borders. We’re unregistered, no identity, invisible data.

It’s always the journey to get there… after I get to where I think is ‘there’, there’s another ‘there’ to get to, and all of it leads back to ‘here’, an ‘everywhere’ place made up of everywhere else… then it’s extending away again. It can only be the journey itself, not the destination – the Path is the goal, this is where we live. Isolated scenes from parts of the surroundings seen flashing by as we’re soaring along the high speed walkways; smooth as swans gliding on the surface of a lake. Two thousand miles of transportation corridors from Delhi to here, flight corridors connected end-to-end, through which we travel in the sensory cloud of transient ‘now’ consciousness looking out and looking in. There is nowhere that consciousness isn’t present. Consciousness is everywhere, so vast – indeed everywhere is included in consciousness, “And the deep lane insists on the direction”, an extended corridor projected out towards the designated destination where everything in the perspective it creates seems to disappear in a vanishing point.

An incidental episode of familiarity comes along… the déjà vu of cups of coffee taken at these restaurants, bars where they have wifi. Have I been here before? Must be the last time I came through, or was it the time before that? Was I going – or was I coming back, transit to New Delhi? I spoke with some people there, if I happened to meet them now, I wouldn’t remember. No time this time, we’re at immigration, passport stamp thump! through to security, take off my belt, shoes, my watch. Laptops out of bags and put them into the tray together with my phone to go through the X-ray machine.

Just then, the phone rings… reflex movement to reach for it, but it’s too far and the security officer shakes her head… let it go through. Phone ringing happily as it rumbles on its rollers into the machine. I pass through the X-ray, muffled ringtone continues then lovely ascending increased volume as it comes out the other side. I want to pick it up but people are waiting, a bit harrassed; there’s the putting-on-of-the-belt and shoes. Security officials seem unmoved by the tremendous ascending 4D heavenly ringtone, probably happens all the time… eventually I get the phone. Hello?’ It’s M, my Thai niece: Where are you now Toong Ting? I tell her we are boarding the plane in a minute and will be in Chiang Mai in about one hour. Silence for a moment, then she says: I make choc-o-late-cake. Clearly punctuated percussive articulation, she speaks English as a second language. I tell her, oh nice! and try to explain how the phone got X-rayed as she was calling me, but she can’t find anything to say to that… attempting to find a link with something else it could be related to, mind travels away with this information. No time to discuss, we have to go now, bye. Speedwalking through to the Departure gate and they’re boarding just as we get there; processed, find seats, strapped in and ready for take-off… engines roar, climbing again up into higher altitudes.

You hide me in your cloak of Nothingness
Reflect my ghost in your glass of Being
I am nothing, yet appear: transparent dream
Where your eternity briefly trembles [Rumi]


beyond belief

IMG_4118POSTCARD #131: Delhi: I received this photo of a plane journey on my phone from M, my 11-year-old Thai niece. She was on a night flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. All our devices are connected so I get her photos, downloaded images, screenshots, kiddie’s apps and have to subscribe to an increased GB storage plan due to these thousands of ‘cute’ digital items, increasing daily. I read in Google somewhere that the number of mobile phones exceeds the population of the world, due to users that own multiple devices. Let’s say there are trillions of images all around the planet… whatever, there’s just this sense of vastness. Like the stars seen through M’s downloaded pic of the plane window. More than that; a quick look at Google tells me there are 200 billion galaxies out there, a Universe filled with a septillion: 1024 planets –on ‘the short scale’ (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) and 1042 on ‘the long scale’.

Changing from the Macro to the Micro, each star that can be seen from the plane window out there looks like a micro particle – wiki tells me that ‘point-particles’ are zero-dimensional. So it doesn’t take long to start thinking about transparency, lightness, non-being:

You are boundless space.
You are nothing that you appear to be.
You are the fathomless ocean, forever flowing.
The waves do not affect you.
Nothing affects you, for there’s no you.
[Robert Adams]

(reblogged from: Known is a drop, Unknown is an ocean

It’s just that everything I’ve been taught as a child is the received perception that’s passed down through generations of those with the same mind/body organism as I have. Most of us hold on to creationist belief systems, “God” – the ‘Big Bang’. But what caused the big bang? What came before that? A lot of people I know spend most of their time in contemplation, one way or another  – meditation or focused thought, and seeking a way of living that allows for this because it’s possibly the most important thing you can do with your life.

Advaita Vedanta talks about Brahman being the cause, and the world is the effect. Without the cause, the effect is no longer there. What that means is the ‘World” is real when seen with Brahman but it’s false when seen without Brahman. So basically Brahman is the original cause and those of us who see without Brahman are seeing the World as an illusion. Sounds like the sky is blue, the grass is green because the human sensory system creates it like that, and there’s no way to prove this is ‘real.’ That’s how it seems to be, in a manner of speaking – the sense there’s something missing… Brahman/Pure Consciousness/Reality? Not seeking, just considering the question. I like what cabrogal says: ‘Pure consciousness has no object’ – this has become like a kind of koan for me.

The Buddha didn’t agree with the external, eternal creationist idea:

“As far as the suns and moons extend their courses and the regions of the sky shine in splendor, there is a thousandfold world system. In each single one of these there are a thousand suns, moons, Meru Mountains, four times a thousand continents and oceans, a thousand heavens of all stages of the realm of sense pleasure, a thousand Brahma worlds. As far as a thousandfold world system reaches in other words, [the universe], the Great God is the highest being. But even the Great God is subject to coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be.” (Anguttara-Nikaya X 29)

It’s like saying these are all concepts and true reality is not a concept – words cannot reach that far. I received another picture from M, her painting of a beehive, done after she got off the flight and back in school again. It’s a natural hive in the forest. When Jiab asked what the bee outside the hive was doing there, she gave it some thought and said it was counting the stars – a created answer, sort of an on-the-spur-of-the-moment thing…



Note: I Googled the title of this post after I’d set up the thing for publication and discovered in Amazon it’s the title of a book: ‘Beyond Belief’ by Elaine Pagels about the “secret” Gospel of Thomas. The idea that the Jesus Teachings were changed by Churchianity. Jesus was saying he was the son of God but we are all the sons and daughters of God, no difference. We can all be enlightened. I was wondering if anybody had read this book and should I order it from Amazon?

thinking about it

1ChannaiPOSTCARD #128: Delhi: After I finished writing this post I went back through the draft and changed it so much I forgot how it originally started and how it ended. Decided then the best thing to do is accept that this is not the beginning of the story; this is an entry point in a story that goes on and on and obviously it starts with Jiab’s photos of the visit to the coast at Chennai (Madras) South India, and the perfect silhouette of flying seabird upper right.

I came to Madras more than 30 years ago, and now remembering how things were then. I must have been convinced it was of real value at that time but the fact that it was all forgotten about later says that this was mind-created… things appear then disappear. So now I’m returning to the place I set off from but not the beginning – too remote and lost in time. Returning to this as a starting place riding the waves, flip from one journey to the next; it’s all connected. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey to get there – the Path is the goal.

And sometimes in the process of creativity you have to destroy all kinds of things you really like. Deconstruct everything to the point where you still kind of half-remember how to put it together again but usually it ends up as something very different from what you intended and surprisingly, somehow better! Sometimes, though, it can’t be reassembled in any satisfactory form at all, remains as fragments of rememberings and has to be let go of completely.

Mostly it’s thinking about it, thoughts, a function of the mind that synchronizes with the sensory data received and the world and objects appear the way they do. Fortunate or unfortunate, we may find ourselves with the karma/vipaka of received knowledge misinterpreted – maybe adrift on a boat without a sail, depending solely on the happenstance of things. There’s sadness about remembering how things could have been and having to accept they’re gone.

IMG_1262At first I thought how beautiful these little fish are … then I realized they had all been alive just a few hours before this photo was taken. Now they are dead. It’s like this in all fish markets everywhere I’ve been in Asia. People look at, feel, examine the animal they intend to consume, negotiate a fair price and it becomes the evening meal.

I remember my niece M when she was very small, crouching down close to a plastic bucket of water containing a beautiful yellow fish that mommy had bought at the market and she was watching it die as the man whacked it on the head a few times with the wooden handle of something designed for the job. Beautiful fish wrapped it up in plastic and then in a bag, sold! This was part of her education.

It’s difficult for me because I was brought up with fish and meat already chopped up and prepared for display in the supermarket. This is how it is, in the West we choose not to think about that, meanwhile the majority of the world sees the truth; the whole animal, head, tail; fully aware of what they’re doing. Yes in the West we decide not to think about that – even though thinking about all kinds of other really weird stuff from time to time – so we can decide not to think, we can stop thinking when we need to.

fishnet1This is why I try to give that great turmoil of thoughts a rest for a while… the whole thing. Stop thinking. The state of no thought, no language, no images, a great emptiness for a while; but eventually another thought comes along. I examine that for as long as it takes and let that one go too, then return to the state of no thought. Vipassana meditation, yoniso manasikara: proper, wise, or appropriate attention; skillful, wise, or critical reflection. Purposeful, systematic and methodical thought (please take a look at this link).

But then of course we all continue to eat fish. In UK it’s deep fried in batter with chips (French Fries), pretty basic but tasty. It comes in all forms. I remember walking through a fish market in Yokohama with a friend named Curtis Cairns and Curtis stopped me to look at a whole fish on display, pinkish grey in color, “I think that’s a Grouper’ he said, but I’d need to have them cut off the head, tail and part of the skin, take a slice of it and place it in a polystyrene tray held with Clingfilm with a barcode label and then I could recognize it.”

“… thinking I am this and you are that is what separates you or I from everything and we become something. In that something the ego is and as it is everything isn’t. That dream of thought the ego “knows” is the making of a reality that isn’t but thinks it is. So my ability to walk with one and see the other is what allows me the ability to see love in everything. The love I see is the love or “God” I have. The thought I think is the making of a reflection that wants and lives in need. The thought is an expectation of something to come. That something though isn’t real and what is real is left behind as the thought chases something it needs” [tommyg1231’s Blog “Tell Me Why?”]

Just a note about Curtis Cairns. Hey Curtis I lost you! It’s been years. If you happen to read this, please be in touch…

change in plan

IMG_1935POSTCARD #124: Bangkok: Ah well, life’s like that, we made a last minute booking after M went to Koh Krabi and Jiab and I got a flight to Bangkok. No traffic on Sunday so we were at the house before we knew it. The plan is Jiab goes to the Bangkok office on Monday, leaves for Delhi Tuesday and goes to Kathmandhu in a few days to organize the rebuilding, after the earthquake, using local staff. ‘Bare-foot technicians’, on-the-job training, they get paid quite well, mostly clearing rubble and then re-establishing infrastructural stuff. It could take a long time. For a more up-to-date account of how things are check out garyhorvitz’s blog: Kathmandu Komment, Everything is Everything and more recent posts.

IMG_1369I’ll go back to Ch’Mai and continue with care-taking duties of M until 16th May then back to Delhi. If I stop and think about it, I find I’m starting to take a position against it, locked into the suffering and looking for some kind of punishing way to develop the problem – a grasping reaction, I have the cause but no effect. Let the mind unstick from it, the karma of cause/effect/ flowing like a torrents in a river. Present time contained in the here-and-now of where I am, as if it were contained in a book I’m reading… open at the page where I was, re-enter at the same place and time when I was last here. I am a character in a story about a world seen through clouds of thoughts thinking thoughts embedded in this self I recognise as ‘me’.

How am I to inhabit what remains of this lifetime, feels like I’m at the end of the railway track, can’t go any further, step down from the train and there’s this open view out to sea.

“Lal Shabaz was wandering through the desert with a friend as evening began to fall. The desert was terribly cold, so the two pilgrims began to gather wood for a fire. With their pyre neatly constructed, they realized they had no way of igniting it. Lal Shahbaz’s friend suggested that he transform himself into a great bird and fly down into hell to collect coals for a fire. Lal Shahbaz considered this a wise suggestion and flew away. After many cold hours Lal Shahbaz returned to his friend empty-handed. Puzzled, he asked why he had not returned with fire to keep them warm. Lal Shahbaz replied, “There is no fire in hell. Everyone who goes there brings their own fire, their own pain, from this world.” [William Dalrymple]

upper photo: a Thai mythological creature guarding the gates of a Buddhist temple.
lower photo: a Buddha Rupa unharmed in the Nepal earthquake
With thanks to Gary Horvitz ~   G   R   A   T   I   T   U   D   E   ~

you can only experience something if you’re separate from it

IMG_2144POSTCARD #123: Chiang Mai: We’re on the second day at Doi Ang Khang, not far from the border with Myanmar. Living in a created log cabin structure built on a hill. It’s possible to walk up to the main hotel building because it’s not far but there’s a public vehicle, song-taew that M likes to go on, so we have to call for it every time. M gets on first then I clamber aboard. She laughs: Toong Ting, the whole thing goes down – paloomph – when you get on! Ah well, it’s nice to be noticed… it’s because I‘m heavier than most Thai people. Jiab gets on and the suspension of the vehicle hardly alters.

IMG_2132We start going up the hill and at the top get into another vehicle that takes us all around an amazing wild garden titled Suan 80, created by the much revered King of Thailand on his 80th birthday, at the time of writing he is 87. The whole of this area was planned and created by the King and is titled The Royal Project. M runs and skips along the ascending pathways through exotic flowers and fields of vegetables. The simplicity of it. While Toong Ting lumbers along stopping at places where you can sit down, M runs back and asks if I’m okay, then runs off again.

I’m struggling with mind states that do more harm than good. Years spent busy with the traffic of thought, intensity, uncertainty and believing simply that this is NORMAL – this stress is how life is supposed to be lived. No instruction, advice, no indicators; it never occurred to me that maybe I should stop pretending I have control over what happens and just let it be… a lifetime of small events that I couldn’t do by myself – it’s simply taken out of my hands. Okay, give up control and I’m carried along in the wave… am I simply selecting the data that fits the theory? Mindfulness of the question is enough for the present time.

Otherwise pretty much immersed in thinking about what other people did and failed to do and should have done but didn’t and the true purpose of life is seemingly missing… thus finding my way out from the complex untruth created by those with whom I had placed all my trust. But I’m past that now, can see through it; karma being as it is, it’s not impossible that in some future time there may even be a quality of gratitude for so-called elders’ ignorance (their ignoring). This is the human condition.

A small bird appears out of nowhere, lands on a thin tree branch, The tree branch takes its weight, swings low and springs back up – bird folds away its wings, looks around, experiences the swing of the branch. Do trees know the birds are there? Does water know the shoals of fish that swim through it; is the blue sky aware of flying flocks of migratory birds… then the thought arrives: you can only experience something if you’re separate from it.

IMG_2145“There are forms, shapes, colors and so forth, but there is no thing there. There is solidity, and no self-existent reality. All there is is the quality of the experience itself. No more, no less. There is just seeing, hearing, feeling, sensing, and cognizing. And the mind naming it all is also just another experience.” [Ajahn Amaro]


Upper photo: The Border point with Myanmar (Burma). Middle photo: Thai Script tells us this is Garden 80. Lower photo: The road continues on the Myanmar side; same terrain, different country

everything is a metaphor

IMG_2142bPOSTCARD #122: Chiang Mai: Jiab suggested we hire a car with driver and  go to Doi Ang Khang, the mountain, for some fresh air and hill walking – beneficial for health for someone in my condition. Do I want to do this? Ask a question, and the answer comes with it – as if it were part of the question. The answer is in the asking. So off we went. M sitting beside me in the car and I had my passport in my jeans pocket. She felt the hard square shape: What’s this Toong Ting? I said it was my passport. M knocked on it with the knuckle of her finger:
Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Hank who?
You’re welcome.
It’s playing with the idea that Thais cannot pronounce properly the ‘th’ sound in ‘Thank You’. Then another one:
What kind of dessert do ghosts like?
I don’t know.
Ice cream (I scream).
That led to the pronunciation, and difference in meaning between ‘dessert’ and ‘desert’. For example, the whole central part of Australia is mostly a vast area that consists of nothing but custard and bananas and blobs of ice cream, fruit and currants.

It was a four-hour journey, pretty scary steep incline of roads and sharp bends kept us alert. Also gulping of air to get rid of the ear pops until we finally got to the top, into the hotel room and M runs through all the space, jumps on the three beds and into the bathroom. Mirror takes up the whole wall. I see her looking at herself – not satisfied. Ah well, we don’t usually fall in love with our reflected image, there’s always something judgmental – things that are always not as good as they could be (the Buddha’s teaching on Suffering Dukkha). The antidote is alert watchfulness, mindfulness, sati; mindful of being mindful, remembering to remember to remember. Learning how to learn.

Lunch came and before we could start to eat, M had to take a photo of it and send to her friends. It’s an amazing thing that we use the wonders of technology to send an image of somebody’s lunch over the Internet; a created postcard sent and instantly received. Then the actual lunch is eaten and gone forever. Except that M wouldn’t eat enough, and Jiab said something about she was too thin. I could feel the hopelessness in M, like… please don’t tell me this again! So I said I thought M looked nice, thin, elegant: What does elegant mean Toong Ting? I said she looked like a movie star, beautiful… then after that I kinda regretted saying it because she started acting strangely. We got back to the room and she’d hardly look at me and at the same time cuddle up against me. But it was soon forgotten when we got out and started the walk up the mountain.

The first stop was the pagoda, one hundred and ninety steps up and down. I couldn’t quite figure out why it was there, except that everything is a metaphor. Trees wrapped in coloured cloth, auspicious meanings I understand only because I’m expected to understand (to be continued)

“our world and the beings in it in all their diversities are but the illusive manifestations of mind. While the illusion is taking place, it is “real”, but its essence is unreal like a dream. Therefore regard all phenomena as insignificant, similar to a dream, and rest your mind in this perspective in the moment.”[ The Seven Points of Mind Training of Atisha]


The Atisha quote comes from a comment by Ben Naga in a recent post
~ G R A T I T U D E ~

‘return to go’

traffic lights1 POSTCARD #121: Chiang Mai: I have an appointment with the doc about my blood pressure. It goes all right, arm placed in the tightening strap, BP is reduced slightly, get more pills and come back in 10 days. Downstairs and out; we have a slightly complex schedule today and I have to say there’s a small anxiety in me that’s saying maybe we can’t get it all done; M’s mommy is coming to pick me up in the car outside the clinic, then we’re going to the airport to meet Jiab coming from India. I get a call from M: How are you feeling Toong Ting? And I say yes I’m fine, where are you now? There’s a silence then M says: I’m in the car. I keep forgetting she doesn’t know locations… I ask, are you near? There’s a dialogue with mommy in Thai then: about 10 minutes from where you are. Okay I’m waiting outside the clinic bye-bye! Anxiety again about waiting there for an unknown period

Car arrives and I get into the back seat with M, mommy in the front, driving. I always have to get in the back with M – she insists. Jumps past the large arm rest in the ‘down’ position that divides the back seat to make space for my large body mass. A small smile as if to say you’re welcome, then the shuffling of play objects out of the way and debris of food wrappers on the floor and lately ‘the book’ she’s reading placed on the armrest. It’s her world, it’s where she spends a number of hours of every day going to and from school, and then stopping at restaurants to get fast food because Mommy has to work every day – there’s nobody at home to cook. I get in the back seat and there’s a sense that this is where M lives.

We get to the airport and have to drive around and around because there’s just nowhere to park. Anxiety returns. When it’s near the time I get out and meet Jiab, help her with her bags, car comes by and we’re in. Jiab has to sit in the front with mommy because M doesn’t allow her in the back – in fact there’s an immediate small resentment when Jiab speaks to me with some affection. Same thing when we stop at a Japanese restaurant Oishi Shabushi, I have to sit next to M. This is a place where there’s a moving belt of small plates of food and you have about an hour to eat as much as you want for a set price. The haste and urgency of it encourages M to eat a lot. The rest of us are required to show enthusiasm. So, once again I eat too much and we stagger out to the car park and drive back to the condo.

It’s obvious to me, with this high BP and expanding waistline I have to overcome this anxiety and try to get back to normality, the middle way, the Path; ‘return to go’ as they say in the monopoly game. Get back there and start again.

To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed;
To be able not to be frightened
And at a loss for what to do,
When frightened and at a loss;
This is the learning that returns us
To our natural state and transforms our lives.
[Liu Wemin, 16th Century]


small journeys

 IMG_2126POSTCARD #120: Bangkok/ChiangMai flight: it just happened by itself, we got on the plane and it took off, M said na boowa (boring) and spent most of the time reading her book, 400 pages, a detective novel. It’s the largest book she’s ever read, and now 2/3rds the way through, I’m amazed and I can’t find anything to say, so I have to read my book too: Rabindranath Tagore: ‘The Religion Of Man’, a series of lectures at Oxford in the 1930s, in which he insists on a higher Self – must have been ground-breaking in those days. Looks to me, now, like wishful-thinking although there are so many examples of folk songs and ordinary utterances; I’m more or less convinced. He was popular in Oxford because of his high class (Brahmin) lineage. I ask M about her detective story and receive such a complicated narrative it’s difficult to follow: okay, yes that’s interesting, so we can talk about this later.

We get landed and mommy is waiting to receive us, a big hug, into the car and we’re away. Stop for lunch on the way and I can see M has this hang-up about having to eat… she’s not hungry but mommy has this anxiety about it, so we have to go eat. M performs the best she can and I eat until I’m full… required to set a good example, although M can see through that – it’s a game we play; a secret we have. Back in the car and they drop me at the condo. A world alone just me and the pills I have to take for high blood pressure and the silence of no questions from M. I fall asleep and dream about all kinds of dialogue with M even though I know she’s not here. Wake up in the darkness and it’s the same as if she were here, watching a YouTube video and when I ask her a question, she doesn’t answer… just a presence.

This is how it is without her…

“It cannot be gain-said that we can never realize things in this world from inside, we can but know how they appear to us […] the sky and the earth are born of mine own eyes, the hardness and softness, the cold and the heat are products of mine own body, the sweet smell and the bad are of my own nostrils” [ Rabindranath Tagore. “The Religion of Man”]



POSTCARD #119: Bangkok: The Thai new year came and went and it happened I had to go for a medical, nothing important I thought, but the doc said I had high blood pressure and gave me all kinds of pills to take. Anyway, when M got to hear about it, I became her patient and she’d arranged something on the porch, a comfortable chair and low table for my laptop, thermos and books. There’s also a ceiling fan out there so it was nice to just sit in the garden and simply ‘be’  there with the birds and the squirrels and ‘be’ a human (‘being’ as a verb), just being human.

Trying to focus on the infinitive form of the verb ‘to be’, the strange thing is, when I catch up to the present tense: ‘I am,’ it immediately becomes the past tense: ‘I was,’ (a moment ago). Chasing the elusive present time, a mind function identifying a miniscule speck of familiarity in a vast universe of an expanded present moment stretched beyond belief. And in the time taken to process it, the present moment immediately moves back into the past. It feels like everything happens after the event. Impossible to comprehend, words cannot reach…

Birds fly in all directions; the numberless beings in the world, and M enters my line of vision, carefully carrying a small plate of fruit, places it on my table and asks me how I’m feeling. Looks at me with her small oriental face, her eyes shine – consciousness is limitless so it can take this form. She does a spontaneous twirl and runs off with a hop and a skip … still partly a child. M isn’t the individual ‘I’, she’s the ‘I’ of everything that ever was – no particular self, she has a great number of selves, spends her days multitasking identities. A fictional character dressed in a costume that lasts a lifetime, playing a part in a narrative contained in an anthology of short stories. And the book is shelved in a vast library categorized by subject and author, most of which we have all read at some point in former lives.

Can’t help thinking somehow I missed the point of it all in my own childhood. A shadow of regret; life was only attraction, aversion, indifference: I don’t want that, I want this – something thought to be deservedly earned because I’ve been having such a hard time trying to obtain it… always, always, out of reach. Believing in the user illusion; the things we cling to (the clings we thing to). And the Church days; pray for peace and experience struggle. Pray for understanding and discover confusion. Pray for patience and encounter unbearable endurance. I never thought there could be something wrong with the question. Belief in the impossible and denial of the obvious. ‘God’ is not an object, ‘God’ is the subject…

The entry point is time evolving, developing, mushrooming out in all dimensions; the effect becomes the cause of the next effect and next cause in events that seemingly merge from a ‘before’ to an ‘after’. The bigger picture is that of a great river enfolding/unfolding and the presence of a sense that all of it remains to be seen.

“…we do not experience a succession of nows. This present now is the only now there is. The now in which the body was born is the very same now in which these words are appearing. It is the only now there ever truly is. [Rupert Spira]