the quiet space

POSTCARD#383: Bangkok: Switch off the TV and switch off the media in my head, their weapons of mass distraction that blind and deafen the population. Leave it alone, disengage from all things hateful before it starts burning down the house. Enter the quiet space and the silence is deafening, random notes of birdsong far away and beneath that, a deep quietude. It’s so remarkably neutral, I feel I’m sometimes not here at all. Seated on the sofa, watching my own breathing, I need to clear the mind of self, starting with the word ‘self’ itself.

Focus on nothing, despite the tendency to think of nothing as something. Nothing becomes both subject and object… what’s happening? I am not here, incognito perhaps, concealed in a makeshift identity. I don’t really know, it all seems to vanish as each new day dawns and deletes the memory of the previous day, an hour passes, replaces the hour before it and I can’t remember anything that recently happened.

A shipwreck of unrelated remembered things is cleared away and forgotten. Does anything still linger? An immediate awareness of self held in the act of endless seeking comes to an end. There is no seeker but there is seeking. There is seeking but no object. Seeking non-objects means seeking the motionless space in which the answer is, before the question is asked. The place where everything is and is not.

No-self, nothing exists anywhere, any time, ever. Deathlessness is the death of death… this too shall pass, the fragility of newly born beings, finely tuned creaturely beings which appear briefly, limited lifespan, and all that remains is the breathtaking tracery of what all this was, on an immense scale, a moment before it passed.

Lifetimes of sensory input, arising and passing away, karma of circumstances. A story is created in the mind, a few pieces get stitched together, switched around, and let’s say this is how it began: ‘Once upon a time.’ A story inside a story (inside a story) leading back through all the generations of previous segments of the story like this and linked to a lineage of ancient stories interconnected through a great number of former lives in the distant past.

An alertness is all there is, receiving the world and, since we are also the world, so to speak, it’s an all-inclusive enfolding, unfolding, and remaining in the present continuous form, ‘listening’ and ‘seeing’ and here comes the in-breath hurriedly at first, followed by the long, long out-breath. The in-breath comes again and so on like that until the mind forgets and most of it, then all of it, drifts into the past tense and gets forgotten.

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


 

bhavaṅga

POSTCARD#380: Bangkok: I’m in the 8th week of my diet – three days approx 1450 calories per day, followed by four days approx 1500 calories per day. Then back to the three days again. I’ve managed the change in eating patterns without too much difficulty. It’s the long hours between meals that are the hardest.

Looking at my state of mind during these times, one thing that helps in the mornings in coping with the contractions of the empty stomach, is the remains of my Nortriptyline night medicine for the (PHN) headache condition I live with, and those chemicals may be still active in the dopamine receptors… neurological technospeak. Later in the morning when that medicine wears off I start the Neurontin and that goes for the rest of the day.

So today, I’m noticing there haven’t been any serious headaches and it’s been like this these last few days which is unusual. Does it have something to do with the way I’m managing the headache with pain meds and the same meds help with the hunger pangs? What I’m saying is, the reciprocal nature of the thing means I’m learning how to tolerate the hunger pangs at the same time as tolerating the headaches. Just allowing it to happen and there’s no conscious memory of it being painful.

It requires a certain kind of meditational attitude and I do have that, spending typically many hours seated in my chair with laptop on my knees, arms on each arm rest, and feet flat on the floor. and what might be a yawning cavern of hunger is simply a light, floating sensation because I’m in that meditational state “bhavaṅga” (luminous mind). “Bhavaṅga” occurs when there is no active cognitive processes going on. I’m in my chair, mind focused on nothing, or the space between things and this is the preferred state; agreeable enough to overlook the discomfort, therefore allowing the hours to pass in a gentle introspective mood.

Looking back on this whole thing, although I’d read about bhavaṅga a long time ago, I simply stumbled upon the way to do it in these circumstances; noticing how the body reacts, responds, and the mind reveals there’s a slightly deeper awareness in here, dormant until something like the correct password is entered then it’s activated… and I don’t need to know the password of course. It’s enough to know that this is how it works.

All kinds of other difficulties however and this morning is particularly awkward because I have to go and see the Neurologist about the headaches, and I need to have a blood test done before the appointment. So they tell me I have to fast (take no food) before the blood test. It means I can’t have breakfast until after 11.30 am – four hours later than the usual breakfast time, and I cannot take my headache medicine on an empty stomach, so if a serious headache comes along, no medicinal relief… I have to put up with it.

A ‘self’ arises, comes into being full of anxiety and scenarios of distress, anger and outrage… so it’s not hard to understand that this embodied identity I call ‘me’ is just not helpful at all. No, thank you. I will not get into this, and drawing confidence from the reserve of underlying calm, I’m able to find that space before it happens, and wait there for a moment until bhavaṅga arises, then watching the in-breath, the out-breath…

When I got to the Out Patients, the blood test was done then into the sandwich shop and the feeding frenzy (I must have eaten more than the approx. 450 calorie limit per meal). After that there was the medicine, three capsules of forget-me-nots in their crinkly acetate enclosures with a couple of gulps of water from a bottle I carry with me. I noticed again, to be honest, there hadn’t been any strong headaches that whole morning.

In to see the neurologist and she asked me how I was, I said yes ok, told her about the diet, now 2 months and about the meds, just last week I noticed I was forgetting to take the Neurontin doses. So I thought I’d try to intentionally reduce the Neurontin and it was easy, no problem. Now I’m taking less than 3000 grams per day, reduced by nearly half, and there are headaches but I’m able to put up with it until it eases off and lessens intensity.

That’s how it feels, but I don’t yet have the words to describe it adequately. Pain Management of headaches aligned with hunger pangs due to dieting for nearly 2 months (weight loss: 12 kg = 26.4 pounds). Also something learned is that the bhavaṅga practice can alter perception which enables me to endure the all-round discomfort better than before.

 

COVID-19 Vesak Day 2020

POSTCARD#367: Bangkok: Falling asleep like a dark veil falls over my eyes; the transparency of a transitional state, a forgetfulness of holding on to things… an easing away, then it all falls backwards into space. It’s the best part of the day for me; that smooth slide into sleep. I take a mix of Norytriptiline and Remeron in very small amounts. It works like a sleeping pill, but is in fact a pain killer. The sleep aspect of the drugs is so good, I sometimes wake in the morning and the body is in the same position it was in, the night before – practically no movement during the night.

The rest of the 24 hour period is not so peaceful, a headache and dry mouth, like a hangover when I wake in the morning, of course not caused by alcohol because it is dangerous to take that with the other drugs on the menu. So, I do a set of simple asanas on the yoga mat next to the bed. Then the shower and things start to clear up with the first dose of the main drug after breakfast. There are times when the meds put the headache away completely for most of the day, and that’s good except for the cloudy brain, things not being clear. Other times the meds put it away only for an hour or so…. sometimes the meds don’t seem to work at all and the uncertainty of this is a huge challenge.

An example of contemplating physical pain with Wise Reflection is the Buddha – remembered today, May 6, 2020, Vesak Day. [click on the link for more info] The Buddha would have looked long and hard at his pain condition, as I do now after 5 years of the headache. It interests me and makes me happy to have this small insight into the Buddha’s pain. The same for all friends here in the blogging world who suffer permanent pain, orthopedic or neurological or both.

I listened to the Vesak Dhamma talk given by Ajahn Kalyano. Ajahn talked about the years the Buddha studied ascetic practices (self-induced pain), his body was skin and bone and eventually he abandoned this practice because the center of focus was now on the Kilesas (Defilements), Greed, Hatred, and Delusion (sounds like a heavy metal band). These three Kilesas can be sourced, analyzed and contemplated with Wise Reflection today.

Ajahn also said that it may be helpful to think of all the many and various aspects of the Kilesas as a virus embedded in the body and Mind – a suggestion that Covid-19 may be contemplated in this way. Lastly, Ajahn referred to the BBC 70s video of an interview with the King of Thailand Bhumibol Rama 9 who passed away October 13, 2016 – not so long ago. The interviewer asked if the King believed in Original Sin. The King replied no, he believed in Original Purity. Ajahn Kalyano said this was an insightful reference to the practice of contemplation of the Kilesas.

The past never gets old, always brought into present time, revealed again as an event remembered, with characters acting out the part as we recall it. It can be steps we take to be free of the old conditioning. It can be a memory or an image held in the mind refreshed over and over that gives us support in some way. An image of the Buddha, or Jesus, or Allah, or others…

The Buddha, when he was still a bodhisattva, considered the satisfaction in life, the misery and also the escape therefrom. We read in the Gradual Sayings (Book of the Threes, Chapter XI, par101, Before):

Then, monks, this occurred to me: That condition in the world owing to which pleasure arises, owing to which arises happiness,—that is the satisfaction in the world. That impermanence, that suffering, that changeability in the world,—that is the misery in the world. That restraint, that riddance of desire and passion in the world,—that is the escape therefrom.


Photo: Great Buddha Statue Bodh Gaya

 

to let there be no resistance at all

OLD NOTEBOOKS: POSTCARD#359: Bangkok: I’ve had the pain in the right side of my head for five years, and swallowing these expensive forget-me-not capsules every wakeful moment since the whole thing was diagnosed. So every now and then I get round to reducing the habitual intake of pharmaceuticals and see how that works out. This time it was different in a significant way. Instead of having the meds everywhere in my bag, my pockets, my purse, gather them all together and keep them in one place, slightly out of reach. Up on the top shelf of the bookcase – not impossible to get to, but not easy to access… went to sleep that night and forgot all about it.

Then, somewhere in the darkness of early morning, the pain comes… ringing the urgency bell, louder and louder, nearer and nearer. Still in the dream state, ‘I don’t want it to be here!’ Panic and the fear of unknown things. Wide awake now and the fear is dispersed, but the reality of it triggers all systems in a wild inarticulate way – the avoidance, resistance. Obstructing it, subverting it by any means, running away from it.

‘What can I do?’ There’s nothing I can DO about it, except to reach out for whatever comfort there is nearby and see how that goes. But there’s just no getting-away from it. This is a no-choice situation and, strangely enough, things start to improve as soon as I stop trying to do something about it.

The immensity of the pain is occupying all the space and I’m backed into a corner. No escape, the only thing I can do is turn around to face the pain and step into it. Fearlessness, but really no other way to go, no choice – then the discovery; dropping the resistance to the pain causes a moment of ease to arise.

It was this action (or non-action) that led to a glimpse of consciousness without an object, quite an extraordinary, out-of-this-world feeling. There was desperation all around but just enough of an easing in the pain to tell me that whatever it was I’d done was the right way to go. Just letting it be there, without backing away. It was somewhere here I noticed the easing. Allowing the alarm to ring and finding the conviction to let there be no resistance at all, no tightening up. For this one insightful moment, the worst of it subsides and the emergency mode is switched off.

Then the pain comes back, deep stabs of it like bolts of lightning passing through, but the intention to allow space for the pain is still there. As the immensity of it become less and less, acceptance opens more and resistance begins to fall away. I see now there’s the intention to be open and accept the pain, hidden from ordinary wakefulness, buried deeper than the pain can reach.

An old friend sent me a link Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) It’s a mindfulness training to assist people with stress, anxiety, depression and pain. So I’m going to look into that.


 

incredible lightness of being

POSTCARD#274: New Delhi: about the permanent headache, the anaesthesiologist lady in the white room says there’s another kind of treatment available: Pulsed RadioFrequency (PRF), so I could consider this rather than coping with the pain by self-medication. The new procedure stuns the nerve that’s causing the pain. Agreed, let’s fix it for 25th July, and all of a sudden with some degree of excitement I’m looking forward to a major change in my life.

That was then, this is now. I got the flight back to New Delhi from Bangkok, all the usual rumble tumble and really, what’s all the fuss about, I don’t feel the pain as much now as I did at the beginning, nearly two years ago. The meds give me a space where there is almost no pain at all. The lingering ‘mind’ aspect of the pain (that re-minds me about other things to do with the pain) is pushed out of the way due to a particular attitude/ focus of mind that doesn’t find it interesting to be with these associated shadows of mind.

Forgetting, of course, the deep stabs of pain, which penetrate, like long steel blades, and there are no meds to make that go away, ringing the urgency bell in the dark morning of an environment that seems bleak, unforgiving, and just BAD. Anxiety and despondency, the evolving stages of pain and confusion in between, and retracing my steps that seem to have once brought me to a place of peace, like entering a room within a room, and there’s a door leading to another room and so on, until I’d forgotten which room was which, with no plan or diagram showing how it came back to the present time. Why? I think that somewhere along the line I must have said to myself, enough is enough, this’ll do! And a large chunk of it (The ‘rooms inside rooms’) was erased from memory completely. So now there’s no finding my way back to there and then, how it was before all this happened.

The meds seemed to be as much a problem as the headaches; the nightmarish Alice in Wonderland bottle with the label saying: DRINK ME appears and long after that experience I’d wake up in the morning, roll over on the pillow and it felt like I drank too much wine the night before, but I don’t drink any alcohol at all (unrelated: that’s another story) whatever, like a light that shines in the darkness, I’m a meditator; early Buddhism/ the lineage of Ajahn Chah.

The headaches have ricocheted through these quiet spaces so much I’ve had to expand the boundaries to include mind states that are more like contemplation than focused meditation. Every time I gratefully fall into the meditative state of mind, it feels like I’ve been away from here for such a long time… returning to the knower, the fundamental mind, addressing the objects of the mind, thoughts, and phenomena arising in the mind. Staying there with this incredible lightness of being, and happy enough to not reach out much more than that.

Right View and Suffering, okay once I’d gotten rid of the adversity attachment (note to self: this will change too). Now there’s an opportunity to know the pain is likely to ease with this new ‘procedure’, I’m into this new stage of what’s happening with this headache and the degrees of focus, (no-one seems to know) leading to the confusion again, the kind that had to go away, away and get out of here – not thinking at all that the desire to get-rid-of-it is the same as the desire to-have-it. Polarizations, there’s no difference between ‘out’ and ‘in’, good or bad’, and so much more. So I have to let it in through the barrier I built. Let it go and let it in, try that and see… close the door that wasn’t open to it.


PIcture at top: A wall painting in Bangkok’s Suwannabume airport

terrestrial ocean

POSTCARD #255: Bangkok: Elevated passageways and corridors in the mind creaking like we’re on an old sailing ship, swaying with wind and air currents, the swell of the sea and the flip of waves at their peak. These lightweight structures hold the sails, huge areas of stretched canvas sailcloth – I can only see a part of the whole. The creak and strain of long hemp ropes, tarry old wood decking and a wide-open sky. Then the pain comes, ringing the urgency bell… see how it triggers all systems in a wild inarticulate way… make way! Allow the alarm to ring and let there be absolutely no resistance, no tightening up, just letting it be there… the worst of it subsides and the emergency mode is switched off. In the Buddhist sense I’m drawing attention to an awareness of Suffering and the cause of suffering, but not just labeling it; ‘the cause’ of Suffering is the 2nd Noble Truth, no, I’m asking, what is this ‘cause’? No labeling from here on.

What is the cause of Suffering and what is the cause of the cause? The desire for it to not be there, the confrontation, the avoidance, resistance… obstructing it, subverting it by any means. Running away from it, wanting things to be different than the way they are in a totally impossible way.

Childlike, I can see my (child) self as a baby, attending to whatever object appears, comes into range, immediately focused, the totality of each thing, as it arises – conscious experience without language.

Flickers of memory like this… food is a wonderful experience, it’s not Food, it’s Wonderful, it’s not ‘wonderful’ – no words for it, it’s a feeling(?). Then, just as easily, the bad, the awful – then the aftermath of the disaster, early childhood systems of understanding the world – but for my (child) self there’s no ‘understanding’, because there are no words in infancy to describe anything. Catastrophic! I am the cause of this hurtful chain of events. How it was then, and how it is now are no different. I am the same ‘me’ as I was then, language acquisition is here now, I’m expanded, filled out, developed and extended into the world but still the same ‘me’ (time can disappear in this kind of investigation), so how can I help protect the ‘me’ that was then, with the ‘myself’ that is now, equipped with adult skills?

Meditation. I’m sitting on the meditation cushion like a chick in the nest, cheep-cheep… waiting for the return of the Parent Bird (mother, father, both or neither) and, beak totally wide open, like a suitcase lying open on a bed waiting to be packed with things, my (child) self perceiving the Parent Bird visiting the nest (or not visiting), and for me now seated on the cushion too, there’s the acceptance, the wide-open giving-way-to it.

Maybe also in adversity, how much I’d prefer to not do this any more, because the recognition of the familiar forms of interaction between my (child) self and authority figures in the family group are too scary – for a moment I ‘see’ the blocking… but there aren’t any words, it’s something felt.

Simply how it came to be the way it is, but no words. A wetness at the eye, a glimpse of my (child) self receiving conscious experience, and the perception of it has shaped, formed the person I am today – it is the person I am today.

Then the pain comes back, deep stabs of it like bolts of lightning passing through, but the intention to allow space for the pain is still there. As the immensity of it become less and less, acceptance opens more and resistance begins to fall away. I see now the intention to be open and accept the pain, hidden from ordinary wakefulness, buried deeper than the pain can reach.

It’s this that tells me, when all other options are gone, there’s no running away from it now, I have to turn around and go back into the pain… for a split second the pain eases, an extraordinary and out-of-this-world feeling.

Absolutely no escape from the pain… then finding this window I know that’s always here, and everything is swept away like a flood of water finding its way through a landscape, rapidly filling up all the spaces and getting into all the corners… I am a sailing ship on a terrestrial ocean.


 

christmas day 2016

img_5138POSTCARD #239: Chiang Mai: Seasons greetings blogger friends. No snow here, only the memory of it falling in the silence of mind, like a dream I can’t wake up from pulls me back, over and over. Tree branches without leaves, black figures in a white landscape – image invert.

Words come out in gusts of steamy vapour puffs. Reflected light seen fading to zero white, pixelated edges of peppermint, menthol and bright electric blue-turquoise. Thinking of ice-rinks, chilled nasal passageways, and cranial cavities discovered in the sharp-edged inbreath. The cold is motionless presence. Little hanging earlobes are slowly freezing, teeth are cold, lips are a rubbery fumbling.

Eyes water in the looking-out between scarf and hat, but inwardly removed, seeing instead, the sunshine of some future time where I’m presently situated, at a table on a hotel balcony, remembering the past as we do, brought into present time. Coconut palms shwish-shwoosh in the benign climate of warm winds and the sea.

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. [Toni Morrison]

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Photo taken from the hotel balcony in Bali.
Excerpts from backstory included here

fortuitous solstice

img_0302POSTCARD #238: Chiang Mai: I got to the airport too quickly, no Bangkok traffic on the route out of the city, so I had to wait for the check-in staff to arrive at the desk. I must have been the first passenger. Okay, good, more than enough time to make it to the departure gate. Stop for a Starbucks Cappuccino on the way, check my emails, and then it’s an amble rather than a walk. A very long, straight corridor, reaching so far, the end of it truly is a vanishing point; it disappears into nothing. As you get nearer, the vanishing point slowly becomes visible; there’s a yellow sign pointing to a left turn. You make that turn and finally arrive in the busy departure area sticking right out into the large open runway, seen through huge windows on either side. I see the flat horizon line all around and a few aircraft standing at different gates. Various things happening, aircraft service vehicles, passengers’ luggage being loaded.

So I stroll along to gate 54 and there’s my plane, Thai Smile Air, bound for Chiang Mai. Interesting, take a photo of it because, no reason, that’s what you do these days. Examine the photo; zoom in to see the opening where the luggage belt enters the aircraft. It really is so much like the body of a bird, plumage shifted to allow her little chicks to sneak under that soft belly and warmth of the nest. The surprise came when I noticed the red bag going up the belt was mine – the first to go up, because I was the first to check in. Was it really mine? (See photo), I had to enlarge the pic as far as it would go to identify the white ribbon around the handle, the purple Thai priority label and small white sticker from inspection scan at the entry to the airport.

Yes, it was mine, bearing all the characteristics that defines it as ‘my’ bag. I notice how that’s a whole thing in itself, of course, the action of searching for your bag among other bags coming along the luggage belt and reaching the point of seeing it, the identification – the familiarity of that whole event, the taking-place of it . The difference now is, I see it in this unexpected context. There’s the coming together, the re-cognition of parts that were separate before I saw how they became form – unknown until I see it now.

A curious returning to the observer effect in physics. Ground zero, everything spreads out from here. The coming together was preceded by the slow amble along the corridor and pause for a moment in a place we normally ignore in the rush to get to the gate. Taking the photo of the plane for no reason other than there was plenty of time to do it. And this action coincided exactly with the movement of the luggage handlers placing my bag on the belt.

A fortuitous crossing of paths, you could say, an event occurs that has no name until I make it so, I decide it is mine, it becomes something, and “curiouser and curiouser” (said Alice) that this should occur on the Winter Solstice (21 December 2016) identified as Christmas Day in the Fourth Century AD by Roman Emperor Constantine.

Having seen it like this, the memory disappears totally in the one-hour flight to Chiang Mai. Quick to get out of the plane and waiting at the luggage belt for the bag to arrive, waiting and waiting… all the other passengers get their bags and leave. Has mine been lost? A moment of panic, then it comes along the belt, the last one out because it was the first to go in.

“I looked in temples, churches and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart.” [Rumi]
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Rumi quote from Anka Hoerster’s site and her post: Time with the Divine 4
~   G   R   A   T   I   T   U   D   E   ~

sentience

img_4903POSTCARD #237: Bangkok: Awake at 3.30am, Jiab had to get the early morning flight to Delhi. Coffee, bagels, and conversation. Cases loaded in the taxi… bye-bye. Lights diminish in the perspective of where the straight road leads. How strangely the moonlight illuminates the garden. I go back into the house, put away her warm coffee cup, her plate with bagel crumbs, and wash them in the kitchen sink, clink-clink. I don’t feel like going back to sleep, wide-awake because there’s no headache. I had the injection yesterday, and all that remains is the pain where the needle went in.

I’m now looking at a no headache period of a month, at least, and when the headache-free time is used up I’ll go back to see the friendly needle man in the neurology department again. In the meantime I feel like running up and down the staircase and doing crazy things. When I sit, sometimes I find I’m searching for a pain in the head that isn’t there. I’m so seldom in this ‘ordinary’ space where the headache is usually situated, I don’t know what it feels like – only the memory of how it was last time I was here. There are no words for this. What is it, sentience?

It feels miraculous, even though science would have it that the nerves are numbed in that area and no longer send erroneous pain signals to the brain. See how a technical explanation can occupy the place where the experience should be – such a lot could be said about this kind of thing. We’re so much in fear of the natural world, we’ve allowed Science to make our lives dull.

Four hours later I get a Skype call from Jiab in the Delhi house. I’m holding my phone screen like a mirror looking at Jiab sitting in the room I was in two weeks ago. What time is it there? 1½ hours earlier… trying to understand these back-to-the-future time zones again and again. The world is seen but the one who sees it, curiously absent, lost in thought somewhere in past or future time. The value of simple things… taken for granted.

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers [Basho]
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Excerpts from an earlier post: Ordinary Miracles, and with thanks to Sue Vincent & her post: Butterflies in the Rain. Gratitude also to sandrasightseer for the Basho quote. The photo of the moon is from our Thai social network

 

patterns in a cloudscape

IMG_4196POSTCARD #221: Bangkok: Looking through these amazing photos from Jiab, now in Bhutan; mountain peaks disappear among the clouds. In the process of editing, I discover a curious arrow shape in the clouds, just to the right of the place where the sun is breaking through. Also to the left of the arrow point there’s the same form of another arrow shape breaking up into formlessness. It reminds me of the great wheeling patterns, above and over your head, seen in the cloudscapes of the North of Scotland where they have so much rain. It’s a small example of this kind of clockwork of interconnecting wheels created by vast and compex air currents that is seen here.

Something revealed when you crop the original, and attention is focused on the smaller elements contained in the image. Like discovering a window within a window and things are revealed that weren’t obvious at first glance. A small perceptual jump, the process of (eye + the object seen) is not a fixed thing, it’s flexible. I can say, yes I’ve seen it and yes I know what that’s about but that’s just the memory deciding what it’s going remember, what it’s going to recreate in the mind – there is no memory, just the act of remembering [Nyanaponika Thera]. What’s needed is the investigation, the motivated enquiry that just falls into shape when things are examined in more detail.

IMG_4145Also seen in Jiab’s next picture here; a group of people sitting on the steps of a public building. Photo taken because of the colourful costumes and painted building features. Zoom into a curiously emphatic conversation between two men; the man on the right seems to be interrupting the man on the left and somehow dismissing what he is is saying. There was something about this that seemed meaningful… then I suddenly saw it: they are deaf. What we are seeing is the language of the deaf, a visual system of facial expressions accompanying ‘signing’. How do I know this? I was a teacher of the deaf in a former life; seven years in London schools and adult evening classes. I used to know all this and how to fix hearing aids – a closer look at the photo reveals a man in profile in the background wearing a hearing aid. So this must be a group of signing deaf people waiting for the building to open and chatting among themselves.

These days I seem to pause in between things and fall into a contemplation of images like these with their connected meanings (yoniso manasikara). Pictures appear in the mind that have no words, just fall into a sequence. A story unfolds…

Right attitude allows you to accept, acknowledge, and observe whatever is happening – whether pleasant or unpleasant – in a relaxed and alert way. […] You are not trying to make things turn out the way you want them to happen. You are trying to know what is happening as it is. [Sayadaw U Tejaniya]
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