Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Nirvana is where you are, provided you don't object to it." - Alan Watts

It's funny how much of our time is occupied with a constant, silent craving and twitching restlessness. Some people turn on the TV or radio as soon as they wake up, because they need reassurance that they are not alone. Others check their Twitter or Facebook pages for retweets or "likes," or the dating web site they signed up for, for new matches. Others watch the scales obsessively for the new, glamorous person they hope to be, or check their investments throughout the day for signs of pending wealth.

I've always been fascinated by the story of Taylor Touchstone, a 10-year-old autistic boy in Florida who spent several days naked, hungry, scratched, insect-bitten, and completely alone in 1996 in a Florida swamp crawling with alligators and poisonous snakes, where four Army Rangers had died on a training exercise the year before. An avid swimmer, Taylor had floated down a creek, away from home, and gotten lost; for days, he unknowingly eluded round-the-clock searches by local deputies, Green Berets, Rangers, and others. What struck me was that when he was found, but for some dehydration and sunburn, he showed no evidence of distress. With no sign of trauma, he simply commented that he had seen lots of fish and calmly sang "Row, row, row your boat" as he was being taken to a nearby medical center for observation.

The laser-like focus that seems common to autistics apparently preserved Taylor's emotional equilibrium; to him, everything, including tangled thickets, snakes, alligators, insects, and severe thunderstorms, were merely objects of calm fascination.

I have never been consistent in attempts at meditation, but I have noticed that one occasional effect has been to achieve a state of mind where one really doesn't want anything, in the needy, craving, itching, grasping sense. If it's a sunny day with a beautiful mountain view, a commendation from your boss, and plenty of invitations from friends, that's nice, and if it is cold, damp, dreary, with a bleak landscape in sight, an empty social calendar, and your boss muttering about staff cutbacks—well somehow, that's all right too, and it's all the same. I am not referring to a torpid indifference that clouds the understanding and paralyzes the will, but a stop to the chattering radio station in one's head that is constantly going on and on about how disappointing everything is and you surely deserved better. How few of us achieve that, even after a long life; how different the world would be if more of us did!

© Michael Huggins, 2012. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Celestial Elf said...

Alan Watts is a wonderful inspiration, thank you.
Here's my animation of his' account of Nirvana,
Watts' Nirvana