Chiang Mai: 05.00 hours. Darkness of early morning. I can hear a motorbike some way off, coming nearer, and voices talking loudly. They’re shouting to be heard over the sound of the engine. The motorbike passes below my balcony on the third floor, sound fills the room, and I realize it’s the driver with a friend on the back having a converstation as they are going along. Curious acoustics here in this narrow street; concrete and glass buildings face each other. The sound of the two voices disappears quickly past my windows and moves on further down the street, contained in the little capsule of their moving world. I hear it again, faintly now, and fading into the distance.
Strange dream-like event; receiving pieces of an animated conversation moving past me at 30 mph. Then it’s gone from my auditory awareness and (I assume) is being heard by other people further along the street. There’s something here about consciousness creating a sense of continuity; like how you string beads on a necklace and it appears to be one whole piece. A continuous stream of individual events taking place and, in the context of the body, it appears to be one, on-going connected reality – an illusion. When I wake up in the morning, it takes a moment, and everything is a development of the night before.
It must have been the motorbike that woke me up; windows wide open all night in the hot air, with just the mosquito mesh separating me from the world outside. Only 20 miles to go, straight up in the sky, before you reach outer space; no gravity, the universe (where did I read that?). Wow! outer space is so near, half an hour’s drive to get there, if there’s no traffic problem. So, what does that feel like? I suppose it feels pretty… precarious, balanced on the end of a flagpole fixed on top of a monument – the absolute verticality of it… quite scary. The only thing that gives me any sense of stability is the ‘self’ I’m inclined to depend on sometimes? No wonder there’s this tremendous attachment to it; can’t let it go, irretrievably lost in thought; I am contained in this body, stumbling around in this small area I inhabit, on the surface of the planet. I am a bit uncomfortable with the reality of what exists only 20 miles above my head. And go through life assuming that all there ever is, or all there ever can be, is ‘me’; the experience of a created self.
I hear a sound, and think: if that sound is out ‘there’ then I must be hearing it in ‘here’: the subject/object duality: ‘I’ am my body, I am my feelings, I am my consciousness and everything else (that’s not ‘me’) is out ‘there.’ In here, I’m me, I have a personality, it’s myself. And Bert0001 refers to it as: the ‘my’ in ‘myself.’ A distinct feeling of focus that disincludes other evidence – it’s all about me. Fortunately, I can understand and know that the idea of a self just seems to be there, seemingly continuous – a kind of mirage. Delete the ‘my’ from ‘myself’ and I’m free of all the tugs and pulls of likes and dislikes, emotions are not ‘my’ emotions, they’re just emotions; things that happen – liberated from the papañca, proliferating concepts, and concocted thought trying to make something real that’s just not real at all.
I’m glad to be awake early, leaving this place tomorrow and I’ll have to pack bags and get ready. Why can’t I just walk on to the plane not check in any bags at all, only passport, ticket and the contents of my pockets? Why bother with luggage? Ah… if only life were so simple.
Some time after this I hear the Tuk-kae lizard chuckling in a corner somewhere: tuk-kae-tuk-kae tuk-kae. And the Coucal, (whoop-whoop bird) (centropus sinensis) clambering around in the branches; whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop…
‘Just as a monkey moving through the forest or the woods holds on to a branch, lets it go and holds on to another; in the same way what we call viññāṇa (consciousness) arises as one thing and ceases as another, by day and by night.’ [SN.II.95]