Urban Pirates

Thai Pirates

He stands dark by the train door. She notices his darkness and registers that this is an important moment somehow. She excuses herself in putting her brief case down on the floor next to him, and he stands aside and acknowledges the request politely. The train carriage fills up and his darkness is pushed closer in her direction, and he becomes more familiar to her.

She opens the flap of her large shoulder bag with its striking red striped lining and takes out her iPad to continue on with her mailing like everyone else on board. Then, she is no longer conscious of him as quite suddenly a tidal wave of compassion wells up and the arms of her heart open wide to gather up all the suffering, all the darkness and ignorance, all the greed, vulgarity and hatred of all beings in the world. She gently lays it under the light of the wisdom of the Holy Beings. Then, she closes her eyes briefly with the surge of this swelling up of human suffering, and a hot tear falls.

Just such a Holy Being writes about poor Thai people who have no means or awareness of education, or its power to develop potential, so they perpetuate abuse and negative values. The young men, beaten by their fathers, grasp their human entitlement to wealth by becoming pirates. They can earn a pittance in their locale, but reject it in favour of raiding boats to steal gold and large hauls of money, and while they are at it, imitating the model of successful pirates before them, they rape the women on board. They are asleep while following other sleepers.

She blinks and becomes the pirate consumed with transient lust for a virgin’s jewels, and simultaneously becomes that plundered young woman. They are absolutely aspects of her and of her lineage. She is deluding herself if she thinks that none of her ancestors were pirates, and none of them were raped. She is also blind if she thinks that under the right circumstances and timing she herself would not plunder or rape.

But how can we break this loop of immoral behaviour spiraling down and down? Is Thailand a Buddhist Thai Nhat Hanhcountry only in name? How can these pockets of ignorance and depravity still exist even in the countryside dotted with ancient monasteries and robed aspirants begging for alms from door to door? People may have a legacy of poverty and misfortune, but they live among those who offer themselves up to the Buddha and are models of contentment, sleeping in a narrow bed, giving freely, living by strict rules of moral discipline. Has the lack of virtue of these pirates blinded them to any decency, to anything beyond their own sensual needs and pride?

Pirates and violated women fill her heart and again she gathers them up and purifies them, exchanging herself for them. She knows them, in the same way that she knows the dark stranger, so she looks round with moist eyes and a billowing heart, but he is gone. She feels their brief encounter was so important during this welling up, this gathering up of all darkness. Their contact is not accidental.

Dwelling longer with the suffering and depraved making the lump in her throat, she leaves the train at her usual stop and follows the lines of workers going to their offices. She climbs into the taxi immediately, aware of her incredibly comfortable and bright life, celebrating the eradication of raping pirates in her particular urban ocean, but vowing to stay always aware of all other oceans and their plights. She reaches into her bag to take out her iPad and continue with her admin. emails., but there is no network connection, so she reaches back into her bag to boost the signal with her portable wi-fi modem. But it is missing, along with her mobile phone!

Then she understands his darkness exactly. He is a silent pirate and has plundered her, quietly slipping his hand under the flap of her bag to steal her treasures. Strap-hanging in a rapid commuter train, crowded with people, he has claimed his entitlement in urban Japan. There are no waves or ship’s masts, no easily available maidens or casks of gold, but flying between the high-rise blocks and smart business people, his legacy is clear: ignorance, depravity, desperation. There are countless temples and shrines wedged between multiple train lines in this Buddhist country, and compulsory education for all children, high levels of manners, but he has remained in his pocket of poverty and ignorance.  This is his darkness. This is their connection.

She willingly gives him her material items so revered in high-tech society, though their signals and numbers will be terminated as soon as she can get to a telephone to report this petty pick-pocketing. She recognises that his need, though deluded, is greater than hers if only satisfied momentarily. She imagines him in a corner eagerly pressing buttons on her devices with dirty thumbs, finding they are non-reactive, and angrily throwing their gleaming plastic at the concrete. She hears the crack and thud of impermanence, and his inward scream of desperation.

When she arrives at her workplace and discloses what has just happened to her colleagues, and her need to borrow a phone from them to report this crime, they are shocked, protective. They lavish her with enquiries and fraternal suggestions of action taken in their own experience of similar things, but she stays calm and says that the thief’s desperation is a greater concern than her expendable devices. They talk of ‘violation,’ and the Thai pirates and their rape victims are triggered in her heart. She reassures everyone gathered round her that she does not feel ‘violated,’ but cannot tell more of her connection with this dark stranger. Violation implies ‘the violator’ and ‘the violated’ in opposition. She knows she is both and that a separation is delusional.

Compassion is invisible, but its power reaches all realms. Every human being possesses this essence in their true nature. We can accumulate it and allow it to surge up, and one day our united compassion will awaken all the sleeping.

Bodhicitta

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