Not surprisingly for the venue, if I were to be known, I came across an interestingly expressive character in a Coffee shop who was talking to the world. Not many in his immediate world though appreciated the opportunity offered by him to acquaint themselves with his particular perspective on life.
As is becoming an English pastime befitting of the continental French I spend a fair amount of time in Coffee shops people watching. On this occasion I settled myself down with iPad at hand in order principally to undertake some varied research and immediately became aware of a man of about forty five outwardly expressing obliquely his inner most anxieties. He I’m sure didn’t or wouldn’t have been aware that he was reaching out for some affirmation of his existence but to me that’s what he seemed to be doing.
As I was sitting there I overheard him tell the same story of a recently failed job adventure in North Africa to whoever would show him the courtesy of listening. It seems that he was lured over to this rather volatile region of the world on the premise of managing a care centre. By a twist of fate he ended up being the person who needed the care having contracted a Gastrointestinal complaint. After a rather uncomfortable experience that he described in graphic detail he was sacked, settle his Hotel bill and arrived back in the UK after some disquieting maneuvering. He was in one piece although still unaware of the true extent of his medical troubles as became apparent by the way he made the sample bottle a central prop in his graphic narrative. His pallor seemed to confirm the story of the inner turmoil that he describing.
It was now my turn, which I welcomed, as I caught his attention by suggesting that he was living a rather busy life. What followed was an easy two way conversation with a person who was trying to discover his own inner depths. Aren’t we all in some way striving to scratch to varying degrees below the veneer of our own psyche? To find the ‘why’ answers to life’s secrets. This mind traveler obviously was and he opened up to me almost immediately after telling me his oft rendered account of his North African adventure. It seemed that he had recently been a business man, in sales, had depression by decent and had thereby enquired into his condition through the devices of Psychology and even Buddhism. This struck a cord and I probed further and asked where he practiced his Buddhism? In the heart was his reply.
In my still limited understanding of Buddhism its aim can be summed up in two words ‘stop suffering’. It’s a religion for tax purposes only and other than that is essentially a self help process that uses the practice of Mindfulness Mediation. This provides an opportunity to observe the way that the mind works for example how moods and feelings arise within yourself. After many years of insightful meditation practice it’s hoped that these mental states can be inwardly controlled and otherwise positively directed. Further 2500 years ago Buddha the ‘Freud’ of the ancient world identified the nature of human suffering in what Buddhists express in the ‘Four Noble Truths’. This being the prognosis of the human condition the road to recovery or in Buddhist parlance Enlightenment was laid out in the ‘Eightfold Path’. This was the path in the broadest sense that this mind orientated individual was traveling. He had identified the mental issues that nature and nurture had unwittingly bestow on him and was busy attempting to inwardly describe them and to ultimately control them.
I listened intently with a small amount of insight and personal knowledge of his journey and then offered a hot business tip as he also suggested that he was in need of more practical guidance in relation to his immediate business or job needs. He wrote this tip down and given his outward nature I suspect he will explore the possibility offered and my hope is that he flourishes in the material sense at least.
For my part this encounter underlines the interconnectedness that we all have with each other and how in some part by viewing someone else’s life we also look into the mystery’s of our own life. Also others can sometimes hold a mirror up to our own inner functions or dysfunctions and thereby offer the possibility of taming the beasts that lay dormant or otherwise within our own psyches.
Something tells me that my path will again cross his and that there is more to learn.