unfathomable and vast

POSTCARD #256: New Delhi: No memory now of the journey, the three-legged hop from Chiang Mai, Bangkok to Delhi. Nor the specific sense of that wormhole spiraling through space-time, large enough but no bigger than my body size, songs of the mind, and belongings – things we cling to/ clings we thing to. The urgency of speed, an immense engine sound deafened, hidden, obscured and bubble-like enclosure built over it, designed with the dynamics of flight … the same plane flying to and from the same route all of its working life, and the ‘to’ becomes the ‘from’… no end, no beginning. Maintenance crews service the parts whenever it lands – both ends of the journey. From the engines’ point of view, everything is stationary. It’s the world that moves.

Arriving at the Delhi house then, with ears sucked out and everything familiar yet creepy, the coldness of known objects that’ve been unheld for all this time. And dropping stuff here and there, releasing context plug-ins from the journey. Freed from having to have everything to show officials, and always in the background searching: where’s my passport ‘now’? Biro pen to fill in Landing Form, boarding pass with some words written on the back. Crumpled up tissues, a wrapper, and bits and pieces from the journey. Checked-in bag dropped, remains where it is, wide open like the mouth of an opera singer reaching the high note: laaaaa. Contents of pockets’ fly out, liberated, what it’s got in its pocketses, wallet opens, low value currency bills and little old folded notes from a former life, which always seem to be there.

Body expanding, filling out to normal size, and so I go up the three flights, to the top where the steps become narrow and steep, and the stiff old door is reached. Teetering on the topmost step, just enough space to negotiate this particular door lock from some time in history, which opens by means of a remembered turn-key and shoulder-shove. Thus propelled on to the roof, I jailbreak the house and everything out here is pink. Birds quietly watching the sun go down.

I remember now, it’s the crows that perch on the highest branches, and as far as the eye can see all around this massive landmass, broad enough for every imaginable thing, encompasses all kinds of ways of being. I’m expanding and stretching out from the cramped confines of small states of mind, in countries like Thailand, Japan, UK, Switzerland where they believe things come to an end. Pink sky at the end of daylight… unfathomable and vast.

“Beyond the mind there is no such thing as experience. Experience is a dual state. You cannot talk of reality as an experience. Once this is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as separate and opposite. In reality they are one and inseparable like roots and branches of the same tree. Both can exist only in the light of consciousness, which again, arises in the wake of the sense ‘I am’. This is the primary fact. If you miss it, you miss all.” [Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj]


 

place

dsc_1977_00049POSTCARD #251: Bangkok: Sodium-orange street light illuminates tarmac and concrete in colourless shades of grey. Nothing to see at this time of day, on the road to get the 3am flight to Bangkok, awake as if in a daze, car headlights pierce the smoggy darkness in low visibility. Everything creeps in on itself, reduces in size… I am a cell in an organism, tumbling out of the car and into the crowd. Bags on trolley, head spinning around for signs in the usual urgency of searching for where I’m supposed to be, everyone else doing exactly the same thing; check in, boarding pass, queue for security, then immigration. Stamp passport, thump, duty-free, then boarding and take off… catapulted 5 miles up into the night sky, look out and see a few stars shining. No one interested in food or drinks on this raggedy old, middle of the night, flying bus to Bangkok. Large, long-legged Indian men, block up the aisles with limbs like tree branches, trying to get comfortable in the small Thai economy class seats.

In my place, eyes closed and there’s that wonderful light coming in at the edge of vision that I haven’t seen for a long time – a kind of unreal ‘heavenly’ warm creamy white moonlight light. Open my eyes again… where’s it coming from… any light on in here? Nope, totally dark. Close my eyes again, lying back, watch the breath, focus on the emptiness… in a moment it returns. Not seen, indirect, it illuminates the space as if it were a moon behind clouds, just about to appear.

I sleep as long as it takes for a neon tube light to be switched off, and switched on again, flicker, wake up, it’s blue sky morning time. Such a short distance from here to there, some people go home for the weekend. Glad I don’t have to do that, I stay where I am for as long as possible these days – some inconveniences, maybe I’m looking for a book and it’s just not there. I can see it in the mind’s eye, but it’s not ‘there’ in this house, it’s ‘there’ in the other house, nearly two thousand miles away. So I reach out my arm stretching like an elastic band, stretching and stre-etching… get the book, and pyang-ng-ng, back to where I am. Well, nowadays everything is on the ‘cloud’ so it doesn’t matter where you are – although I’m aware, there is ‘place’, the sense of the body grounded.

Out of the plane, expanding into normal shape, inflating back into size in the long walk to immigration , passport stamp, thump! Bags arrive, car into town and the day just morphs into shape, heat, dazzling brightness, and time difference is 1½ hours later. The feeling you arrived before you left… a quirky strangeness in the corridors of time. I’m not able to see the actuality of my situation in the midst of experiencing it, unless it’s something that gets my attention, usually I’ll reflect on it later – ‘later’ arrives and the hindsight of that recent past is forgotten. Flying time does this, I notice, not a scrap of it remains, except for a few words to my future self, scribbled on the back of the boarding pass: When time and space and change converge, we find place. We arrive in Place when we resolve things. Place is peace of mind and understanding. Place is knowledge of self. Place is resolution. [Abdullah Ibrahim]


Photo: Win Sein Taw Ya Reclining Buddha, Mawlamyine, Burma [dinksintransit.com]