the forever war

POSTCARD#307: Chiang Mai: The image here, was taken while we were on a visit to the holy Buddhist sites in North India. It shows a group of men involved in some sort of argument, viewed from the window of our tour bus, as it was moving through crowds of pedestrians and various kinds of vehicles. The sound of very loud angry voices and heavy blows got everyone’s attention, all I could see was the top of their heads because other passengers crowded the bus window. No room to squeeze in, so without seeing where to point the camera, I held it in a downward position and ‘click’. It was guesswork, thinking it’ll probably not come out, but it did – the group perfectly positioned in the centre of the frame. The bus made its way slowly through the crowd then accelerating along empty streets and we were gone in a moment.

Looking at the image now, the man in the green shirt is trying to do something with that pole and the other guys are preventing him or pushing back. The tremendous intensity coming from the green-shirted man is noticeable.  Murderous thoughts ready to explode on the surface. There’s another emotion too, he looks determined but tearful, as if he might start to cry. It was significant, I suppose because there we were on a tour of the Holy sites where the Buddha had spent most of his life, and now this 2500 years later, an example of Greed Hatred and Delusion. The Buddha must have come across many such disputes, and quietly observed aspects of the argument, or sometimes he would have been asked how best to resolve the issue.

Looking at what’s written about the three defilements, or three poisons, and contemplating these, I see that the natural human preference is that conflict be forgotten, and as long as no effort is there to keep it going, conflict falls away by itself. There’s all kinds of other stuff that engage the mind however, conflict is gratifying, feeding the base sensory driven state. We fuel the fires to maintain conflict in the mind; in our world media coverage and war-mongering, the opportunity arises to build up tension, involving narratives in the mind, peaking in justified outrage. If the political manipulation of circumstances were not there, we could just as easily allow the conflicted mind go, but we’re drawn in, and it gets to a point when engagement with the consequences of conflict is inevitable; this is always how it is.

I started up my laptop this morning Thai time, and discovered that the US led coalition had sent missiles into Syria. I wanted to write something about it, then found an old post titled ‘Conflict and Release’ that seemed somehow unfinished, waiting for events to be right for its conclusion. So that was all I could do, and here it is rewritten. Regarding the event itself, all sorts of things come to mind, mainly to do with cover-ups, otherwise the same as all other kinds of war and arguments forever unfinished. The Buddha offered a way to understand how the mind works and to see, through ordinary human experience, the way to bring an end to Suffering.


I seem to be rewriting old posts these days, rather than writing new posts. This is how it is at the moment, busy in the studio and not active in front of the screen. I hope to be able to offer up some examples of new Art soon.
Be well
T

 

the sense of coming home

POSTCARD#289: Bangkok – New Delhi: The early evening flight, leaving Bangkok at 7pm, arrives at Delhi 9.30pm local time; a four-hour journey swiftly moving into the darkness of an evening already turned to night. How many times have I been on this flight? Must be at least thirty times; travelling back the 1½ hours to India Standard Time as if it were an unseen future event just arrived in the space where it hasn’t happened yet. Now it’s almost the end of all the there-and-back-again years, we pull up our roots and return to Thailand in six weeks, after nearly 7 years away. Looking forward to getting back… yes, when we get there, it’ll all just seem like yesterday…

Now it’s later, the descent into Delhi and attention focused on this last arrival. Directionality of Plane-Rush to hit Runway where it is expected to be, where wheels touch earth, first the left side then the right… deep sink-down lurch, take the weight, waiting for the bounce-back tipping point – contemplation of death, and disaster averted, we have arrived. The last Delhi flight I’ll be on, last chance to feel the sense of coming home, taxiing over bumpy ground towards the lights of Indira Gandhi Airport in the distance.

This is how it must be, wandering from one life to another with no direction or purpose other than Jiab’s office, and to go on doing it – but I came around to seeing how it works; how fleetingly one life passes and another arises in circumstances that suit the event as it’s looking for some reason to “be”, seeking name and form in waves of samsaric yearning. That’s how long the thought of it lasts before the letting-go-of-it intention comes to mind, and the whole thing is let-go-of in a shavingth of a slice of time.

Everything else remains to be seen. Passengers de-plane; step into the great halls of Arrivals and Moving Walkways for nearly a mile, then stand in line, passport stamp, thump! Get bags and out into the Delhi night – into ‘severe-level’ air pollution, visibility 200 meters, over 20 flights delayed. It smells of dung fires, red diesel and something like fried eggs? Why do I need to be here? That tenuous awareness is all that’s attached to a wholesome direction in this pattern of peaks and troughs. Every now then mindfulness cuts in and I remember again, to let it all go. Hold on and let go – hold on to the intention to let go.

Thus everywhere I look there’s a sense of ‘self’ searching for the opportunity to ‘become’… anything’ll do, whatever. I see it’s what holds beings in the cycle of rebirth – finding that reference in so many words, again and again these days. Breaking out of the cycle is by non-becoming. Allowing it to ‘become’ without becoming it.

Bags in car and we’re off in a tunnel of light surrounded by darkness and other’s tunnels of light. Nothing can change it – only the mind, of course… but that would mean starting up the engines again… seeing it from one moment to the next. And moments do not lead to other moments as I used to think, it’s only one moment, one long, extended moment, beginningless and without end.

‘You are the one witness of everything and are always completely free. The cause of your bondage is that you see the witness as something other than this.’ [Ashtavakra Gita 1.7, translated by John Richards]


This text dedicated to Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria
Photo by Berti Buffy, on the Buddhist Pilgrimage and a visit to Sravasti (Jetta’s Grove)