Zen Spot #76— Mindfulness, meditation and a tunnel beneath the train tracks February 5, 2018 00:05

The station

It will remain unnamed except to tell you that it is one of over 150 local train stops in the Philadelphia area. Each station provides a safe way to get from one side of the tracks to the other — from inbound to outbound and likewise--mostly tunnels that pass underneath the tracks.

Of the 150 stations, approximately 15 receive passengers for trips beyond the region, to New York City, Washington DC and Chicago. The rest are commuter stations that transport riders into Center City. Commuter trains are smaller and have no locomotives.

Longer range trains are behemoths that, in some cases, reach over 100 mph.

Descending into quiet and whistles

The tunnels have hard walls--ceramic or brick. Concrete stairs. No matter the season, because there is less wind or, in some cases, complete stillness, there seems to be a reversal of weather. In the summer, the tunnels feel cooler. In the winter, warmer. Surprisingly silent inside, despite the way sound bounces off tile, each tunnel is an austere eight second refuge sometimes producing a whistle on the windiest of days.

Underneath the violence and unquiet

You can hear a locomotive when it is thirty seconds away. The apocalypse barreling. Fifteen seconds out, you can feel the ground start to shake. As it passes, the fight or flight response tickles one’s animal interior.

Eight seconds of earthquake

Sitting in the tunnel when a train passes over is, with eyes closed, perhaps, the antithesis of a path to mindfulness. Or, perhaps, it is a precise metaphor. One can feel the experience taking effect. Inside the experience one’s mind is completely focused and, as the train disappears into the distance, one’s mind slowly returns to it’s full and upright position.

The Middle Way

I took the photo above on a beautiful, searing August day. The tunnel was a respite. I was outbound. My mother was waiting for a visit. Time was abundant.

Sitting on the cool concrete floor, halfway between the entrance points, I closed my eyes, breathed and waited for the apocalypse. It arrived and never arrived at precisely the same moment. It faded in and faded out. In between, the clarity was amazing.

Interdependence.

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What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?