Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mindful Matter

Although I have a few unfinished posts to edit back in Maine (not home anymore exactly- or maybe it is, maybe I have just joined the mega-rich and I have homes all over the world), this will undoubtedly be my last from Thailand. I have the 12 hours bus to Bangkok tomorrow and then my flights from BKK to Taipei to LAX to NWK to PTL. Somewhere in there I jump the international date line and pick up that day I lost back in 2010. I will have to wait and see whether two August 22nds are worth the September 30th I gave up.

There is too much inventory no matter which door I open, and I fear certain ones will unleash a saltwater flash flood so tempestuous, so voluminous, everything will be swept up and sent tumbling. So I keep them locked, ignore the pounding, keep myself busy with movement and details- What to throw out? What last minute gifts to buy? Where do I have to be when? What needs cleaning and mending? Who could use this old thing? I go through one farewell ceremony after another, looking into each child's and each adult's eyes completely and fully, seeking to imprint the particulars while swimming in the conjoining and everlasting whole that supersedes and survives the Nice to meet you's and the Farewell's.

That duality- the individual, temporal wave and the holistic, abiding sea- as a friend mentioned on my last post, does seem to own a more blurred line in Isaan. It may be the Buddhism, or it may be the political history, or it may just be being poorer.  Much in 21st century America stretches towards an elevation and focus on the former- individual rights, individual comforts, individual security, me and mine and my personality and personal gain, and seize the day! An easier target for politicians and ad men, surely.
Until I recently read Tich Nhat Hanh, I had always thought of meditation purely in terms of an emptying, towards a blankness. In itself a worthy goal. The same reason I enter into quiet, old, stone churches-seeking stillness and quiet. Yet in Hanh's description, mindfulness begins with the breath, but ends with a transcendence of both emptiness and fullness, of being and non-being, where one is finally mindful of all.

That lone rice farmer, walking through his field, taking each stalk in his hand to push into the mud, to scythe down, to thresh apart. The hand is the grain of rice is the plant is the mud is the sun is the water. Is the water is the past is the present is the future.  And perhaps that day I left behind in September is where I am continuously flying to Thailand, where I am never leaving.

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

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