24 July 2008

Letter 2.47

While astrology continues to not fascinate me, I do, on the other hand, have an interest, of sorts, in breathing, and am glad to know that while doing your yoga you do a great deal of breathing. So no I. Actually, my fundamental meditation practice is mindfulness of breathing, whereby one simply sits down, continues to breathe normally, but 'watches' (mentally) the breath -- i.e. one is aware of the breath as it touches the tip of the nose. This practice results in a feeling of great calm and ease (which becomes greater as one becomes more experienced), and also in a certain clarity of perception. Due to the calmness the breathing (as well as other bodily processes) slows sown; but the emphasis is not on the breath as much as on the paying-attention-to-the-breath.

So you can sit in the lotus position, can you? Perhaps I inherited my own ability to do so (in spite of an otherwise rather unsupple body) -- and perhaps the corresponding ascetic inclinations -- not entirely out of the blue.

Do I want a tape-recorder? Well, I don't want the possibility of involvement with the customs people -- and also I don't want a tape-recorder. Gradually I'm coming to understand that the way to find a solidly-based happiness is not by acquisition but by renunciation. If it is better to give than to receive, it is better yet to give up.

No, I have no objection at all to seeing other people, along a river bank, or anywhere else, nor any particular interest in seeing other people. Also I have neither objection nor interest in their seeing me. What I do try to avoid is fusses, which are seldom if ever worth the trouble; and I've learned that if I ever sit down to meditate (or sometimes merely sit down to rest) when other people around me a fuss is very likely to be made over me -- 'What country are you from?' etc. etc., cups of tea, and endless quantities of socializing, all of which I find simply not worth the effort of being involved in -- and therefore I have a preference for solitude, where there is nobody to fuss over me and nobody for me to fuss over. It is possible, of course, to simply ignore people, but 1) this requires at least some effort which might otherwise be more profitably directed elsewhere, and 2) sometimes they can intrude themselves in a very positive and aggressive manner. (Their conversation -- with rare exceptions -- consists of a series of questions all of which are totally predictable since I've heard them so many times before and which are also, therefore, of no interest at all even if they had any intrinsic interest to begin with, which they didn't, and generally concern subjects which I find no pleasure in thinking about and are not really even my concern; finally, often enough I really don't know how to answer the question without arousing hostility. For example, when wandering about if I am asked 'where are you going to?' often enough I'm not 'going' anywhere at all, but simply wandering about; but not only would people be totally dissatisfied by a reply 'Nowhere, I'm just wandering about' -- for they want positive content, something they can know and cling to: 'I'm going to Colombo': that they can repeat with assurance that they have understood -- but, being dissatisfied, they would either plague me with further equally-difficult-to-answer-and-equally-dissatisfying-for-them questions or otherwise try to pass off some of their dissatisfaction onto me. In short, then, I avoid people because -- with certain exceptions, of course -- it is usually well worth doing so.)

Now that this diatribe (explanation? you asked, after all) is over, I find that so is this aerogramme.

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