Monday, 22 August 2011


He asked her, “Tell me what is your most priced possession?” He meant, of course, an object– a thing. Spring came by and went away. The blooms of summer are turning to dust. Autumn is primed for its grand entrance. Winter is starting to prepare its brooms of steel*. The earth shifts on its axis, as it has done time and again, and still her answer remains nothing.
She sends her quotes in the mail. “We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust”**. And she sends her poems.

She sends essays on Parmenides, Sartre’s être-en-soi (the brute existence of things) and être-pour-soi (consciousness), and Śūnyatā: Phenomena are śûnya or unreal because no phenomenon when taken by itself is thinkable: they are all interdependent and have no separate existence of their own***. She quotes conversations between Ananda and Buddha, “It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?" The Buddha replied, "Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.”

She sends her all this and more. In reply she gets nothing.
She runs her fingers through sheaves of paper, clicking back and forth through tabs, Google searching her name; there are figurines in gold and silver on the bookshelves. There are no diamonds in the mine. “What have I got to show for it all?” she slowly mouths the words. The reply is heavy in silence. It sounds like nothing.
My mother dislikes the dark, not because of the things she can’t see but because of the things she can. My mother likes to be left alone. She is happy when there is nothing.
He looks at himself in the mirror and tries to frame the question again. What do you want? What are you looking for? Every question begs something in reply. He looks in the mirror again. This time he imagines the vast blue sky. Someone far away seems to be saying, “Was there anything you wanted to ask?” He can come up with nothing.

*from a poem by Emily Dickinson:
Like Brooms of Steel
The Snow and Wind
Had swept the Winter Street –

*** Eliot, Charles (1993; author); Sansom, G. B. (edited & completed). Japanese Buddhism.

No comments: