Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Reflections

Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai.    Starry Nights, Vincent Van Gough.   Space of a mirror/dream.

Walking into the space of the Gorai Vipassana Pagoda is walking into recluse. Sitting in loose circular rows directed towards the centre of the grand dome are some Buddhist monks meditating. The dome- a pink stone canopy stretches in never ending volumes forming a new horizon within. There are waves of reverberation in its atmosphere. This is not just an acoustical experience. It is the geometry or the physical manifestation of the building which aspires and manages to transcend one from the physical world into a spiritual one.  Its ‘golden’ spire, it being the largest stone monument and a technological marvel –all these factual knowledge seem immaterial at the moment one is within its architecture. It is the beginning of an introverted experience. Driving towards the monumental Pagoda, circum-ambulating the enormous golden exteriors and then as one walks into the domed mediation centre, admirations of the volumes follows a reflection into oneself. This is the experience you associate with the image of the Pagoda.

Essences of experiences are often repeated. Or one derives similarities between experiences to make sense of the previous or the present. Van Gogh painted Starry Night while in an Asylum at Saint-Remy in 1889. He has painted a night sky caught in the storm of strokes which swirl across the canvas to create a turbulence over a sleepy village scene. The steeple of the church rises from the village into the sky. To the left of the painting there is a massive dark structure, compared to the scale of other objects in the painting. Its curving lines which mirror the sky create inquisitiveness. Could it be a mountain? Or a leafy bush? Or a spirit rising to the sky? Are we seeing a reflection of Van Gough mind? A mind restless within the confines of an asylum. Each star is lit up by its own curious orb. It is unlike the starry sky one has seen. We see what the artist seems to see. He wrote to his brother in a letter: "And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."

And as we talk of dreams. There are often dreams I get of myself staring into the mirror. As I look on, at myself, I see myself going deeper and deeper into the space of a mirror and all my attempts will be to hold on to myself in that space were I do not even exist-in the mirror, in the dream. It is often a very tiring experience, one that you can call a nightmare.  After this when I encounter my dressing table mirror, the first look at my ownself sends a jolt down my spine. Somehow I am not calm to still be what I remember I am. I touch the cold surface of the mirror to only know that unfeeling reflection of mine will touch me back and the physics of the distances exist in all rationale and scientific values. I have again resorted to logic to wash out a highly emotional and evocative experience. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Some days I continue to stare at myself through all the mirrors I encounter in the day. The side mirror of my car, the glazing at a supermarket, the mirrors in the bathroom of a cinema, the glass door of my office, all which reflects me ‘me’! Logic wishes to understand the rationale of these experiences- these experiences of fear, of introspection, of obsessive analysis. Words, questions filling up in the brain-forming an introversion, a meditation. These reflections and various experiences of a mirror!

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