Saturday, April 24, 2010


"My first sight...

My first sight of Cambodia came from the window of a Russian Y-9, an aging prop-jetliner that departed from Bangkok. Through the round window I saw Cambodia and felt a kind of urgency that said, “Look, I’m seeing this for the first time!” I saw mostly forest, brush, an occasional road. Then fields, terraced and delicate. Roofs of corrugated steel. Palm trees, white oxen. No water.  -  Phnom Penh 11-Feb: 2005

I wrote the above during a three-month “pilgrimage” I took in late 2004, a trip that took me to Italy, Malta, Turkey and Southeast Asia. Shortly after my return to the United States I taught a weekend meditation program. On Sunday afternoon, at the end of my final talk I decided to let myself have no idea what I would say next. I said that to the group, “Now I’m going to say something and I have no idea what it will be.” Four words came to me and I spoke them aloud: slowness, more tears, water.

Now, five years later, these words are a kind of root for everything I do, or fail to do, or want to do. Also a root (route) for wherever it is I am going.

Slowness. John Cage advised us to “quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences.” Chögyam Trungpa said, “The most important thing one could ever do for oneself or others is to sit down and unravel the confusion in one’s mind.” The Slow Food movement believes taste, nutrition, pleasure, community, sustainability and social justice are all indelibly linked by the word slow.

In Bangkok I began to witness an uncanny lack of haste in an otherwise apocalyptic megalopolis of thirteen million people and countless hurdling vehicles. Yet within all that, people walked quite slowly, very naturally and beautifully. I began to witness an elegance my own body was seldom capable of. It was only when I began to walk more slowly myself that the invisible dunce cap I felt myself wearing vanished from my head.

One can talk very fast and still be slow, or run quickly and be in slowness. It is a matter of staying connected to the dralas, that intangible feeling or atmosphere and presence that is always available to us.

As for the second word(s), more tears, I will let this video segment speak for that. It’s a YouTube find, a piece about Cambodia and is bit long, twenty-three minutes (with an awful commercial in the beginning). It is a document of the tremendous pain inflicted through haste (you could say), the quick grab for profit none of us are immune from reaching for. It brings home the situation for many in our world-community. I guarantee it is rather unique and stunning and the necessary stuff of more tears.

Cambodia Land Grab - Is Cambodia's Prime Minister behind an illegal land grab? All over the country, hundreds of thousands are waking up to find the homes they owned have been sold to developers. 

Water will come in future weeks...


  1. After a lifetime of trying to overcome being slow-witted and spacious and quick to tears, it's so moving to find a place to rest on the Western Mountain. I didnt want to say "moving," but moving it is, because each piece I read helps me relax my grip and slide a little farther downstream. Thanks Bill.