headache and wind chimes

Soi 14 Oct 23POSTCARD#364: Bangkok: I wake up in the morning with the usual headache, and from the balcony of the next-door house, wind chimes play a perfect chord in the air! I don’t usually hear it so clearly. Movements of the air disturb the chime bars and strike the same groupings of notes over and over. A different arrangement every time – variations on a theme.

The leaves of the trees whispering together, it’s going to rain. Then I remember, this is Songkran, the start of the rainy season. It is overlooked and forgotten that Thailand’s Songkran celebration event has been postponed because of COVID-19. The coming of the rains, of course take place around that time and because we’re all working from home, we don’t notice these changes in the outside world… until they arrive on our doorstep. I see the dark sky out the window, small birds dash around searching for shelter.

I have to get out of bed, bring the headache into the shower, and see how that feels. I slip through the curtains into a pleasant wakefulness, released from the memory of that which I’m held by, usually, and even though I’m not thinking about it right now, I become an extension of the wind-chime’s notes as they gently intrude in consciousness…

The rain will continue, a total downpour, lasting for hours possibly – and it is a novelty for me even though I’ve lived here for decades. I come from the North of Scotland where weather events are not so overwhelmingly generous in such an abundance of plant growth. It amazes me too that the Thais have a composure about these sorts of things, which are seen mindfully and with respect, as phenomena appearing in consciousness.

It’ll be like this for the remains of the day, all night and well into tomorrow when hopefully, the sun will come out again: 36 Centigrade (96.8 Fahrenheit) which is tolerable because of the cool shadows where everything stays wet.

Shower pressurized water massages the headache – lulled it into a relaxed state, mesmerized by sound and sensation. I am a sensitive being these days, on the negative side, there are sharp penetrating light frequencies and high pitched resonances which activate the headache and it can take a long time to recover. So far, so good, step out of the shower and I’m deafened by the downpour on roof and balcony objects. Sensory mechanisms function without my involvement. There’s just an alertness, waiting for things to arrive in consciousness. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and cognitive functioning identifies and directs everything; an all-inclusive experiencing of awareness receiving and transforming itself.

I’ve learned how to see the pain in the context of the First Noble Truth and can abide in the small space that’s neither here nor there, rather than suffer it as something that is ‘wrong with me’ – informed by a created self and stories of past and future created in the mind. Knowing this brings it all to a standstill for a moment… this is how it is, the awareness of it, simply that.

Stories of past and future arise again and the narrative requires me to ‘believe’ in it before it begins. I’m hovering on the brink of what it could be, still contained inside that little space that’s neither here nor there… do I want to get swept away by this story, when I’m quite comfortable being here? It’s telling me I have to engage with it, become it [Bhava]… yes, but I’m also able to stay here in the space where it hasn’t happened yet.

Mindfulness of non-becoming. See how that feels here under the roof, with the deafening sound of it, the here-and-now of it – everything is always in present time. This torrent of raindrops is indescribable… like an incessant, fierce applause that goes on and on. I’m enthralled by it, spellbound maybe… time to get out of here and downstairs for breakfast then I can start the meds for the day. See how that goes.


diwali: an inner light

DharmaPOSTCARD #21: Delhi: This year’s 5 day Diwali festival begins on Sunday 03 November. Diwali is about celebrating the awareness of the inner light; that which is beyond the physical body and mind – pure, infinite and eternal. The light of higher knowledge that dispels the ignorance masking one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things. This ‘higher knowledge’ brings bliss, ananda. In the same way we celebrate the birth of a child – the birth of our physical being – Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light. The story may vary from region to region, but the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman).

The name Diwali, a contraction of deepavali (row of lamps), involves the lighting of small clay lamps which are placed outside the house and kept lit all through the night. It’s about the triumph of good over evil; there are fireworks to drive away evil spirits going off all through the night – not possible to get much sleep – any lingering old thoughts of attachment are blasted out of their dusty little corners. You can’t really pretend it’s not happening… it’s a social event, parties going on until late at night

KevalajnanaFor Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha (nirvana) by Mahavira (a reformer of Jainism) in 527 BC. Interesting to note that the Buddha and Mahavira were contemporaries, and there’s an odd similarity between Mahavira and Buddha; google their names and you’ll get all kinds of info. Both were princes and renounced their kingdoms at the age of 30. Mahavira’s father’s name was Siddhartha (Buddha’s name), and both attained enlightenment. They both practiced extreme asceticism, but the Buddha went on from there to develop the Middle Way. Jains believe in a soul, but for Buddhists there is no self, no creator of the Universe, it has no beginning and no end. There are many other similarities and I’ll write a separate post about that one day.

Dayananda_SaraswatiDiwali is also celebrated by the Arya Samajists as the death anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They also celebrate this day as Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti. Diwali begins on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej. The Indian business community begins the financial year on the first day of Diwali (Dhanteras). Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. Diwali was given official status by the United States Congress in 2007 by former president George W. Bush. Barack Obama became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009.


Note: this post was created with excerpts from the wikipedia page. Upper image by Manish Jain  spiritualartwork.wordpress.com. Middle image: illustration of Mahvira, a reformer of Jainism. Lower image: Swami Dayanand Saraswati