“Okay, then, the Slayer . . .”
Conversations were easier with George Dixter. Of the three other people who constituted the ‘circle’ I had been accepted into, he was the most conventional in his approach. As if reading this in my expression, he sipped some of the coffee he had thoughtfully brought for us both. He also passed me a currant slice – both bought, freshly, from the bakery across the road from the little park in which we were now having our impromptu breakfast. Unlike Don Pedro and I – and Maria Angleo, who worked in one, he didn’t have a passion for coffee shops. His preference was to sit in the park, next to the station, and watch the mandarin ducks in the elegantly shaped serpentine pond.
“You can learn a lot from life by watching ducks,” he said, wistfully. “For example, look at that sleepy cluster over there–” he pointed and I looked across to the middle of the water, near the island sanctuary, and considered the almost still group of the beautiful orange birds. Despite it being a cold February day, they were the very picture of peace.
“The mind can be like that, but you have to observe it in action to see its other habitual states.”
“A bit like in meditation?” I asked.
“Well yes, but in meditation, one seeks passivity, whereas in studying the mind, our goal is to watch its habits . . . and its toolkits.”
“Toolkits?” I queried.
“Toolkits, yes . . . .” Dixter mused. “The mind slays the real – it’s an old Buddhist maxim. It’s usually very hard for a beginner to grasp that the thing he has come to value most is the opponent of true perception.”
I looked across at his wily face and he smiled back. The use of word ‘beginner’ had been designed to provoke – I was catching a deeper drift to this conversation, and George Dixter was almost always polite – unlike his gruff mentor; so the action had kind motives . . .
I maintained my non-reaction and he continued, approvingly. “There is a point from which we watch the world, or think we do, and that point is what Don Pedro calls ‘the Slayer’ – but he uses it in a slightly different way to the Buddhists.”
He paused to sip some of his coffee from the polystyrene cup and took a bite of the currant slice. “It is pointless to speak of going beyond the self, because the words will only confuse, as we don’t at first know what the self is. It’s something that can only be seen and felt, because, really it’s a relationship.”
“A relationship?” I liked the sound of that. It conjured up an unnamed set of feelings that had been growing in me since I met Don Pedro, now nearly a year ago.
“Relationship.” continued Dixter. “We come to that state of belonging to something first, and from that, we see into the fog of reaction and find it is clearing. It’s different for everyone, of course, but there are common elements.” He sipped some more coffee, then added, “That sense of inner belonging is very important because it engages the energy of the emotions, without which nothing real happens.”
“The intellect is clearly not enough?” I added, knowing the answer.
“It has its place,” Dixter replied, “But only in a limited universe, whereas that sense of belonging is part of an infinite universe . . . “
“So, there is meditation, but then there is something else, something more of the now?” I asked, beginning to get the shape of what he was describing.
“Well, yes – but true meditation is also of the now. He finished the last of the cake and licked the crumbs off his lips, washing them down with a final gulp of coffee. He took a deep breath and sighed, enjoying the view and the peaceful mandarin ducks. It’s simply a matter of watching what it is that thinks it is me, watching it retreat, yet still being conscious of the awareness of something – and then seeing the world at the same time. And then holding that dual perception until it deepens and deepens . . . at that point we can be free of identification with the ‘out there’ and begin to really see. But the mind, or rather the conditioned mind will always object, because it is threatened!”
There was a sudden rush of wind and a twig broke off a tree on the central island, falling into the water in the middle of the ducks. Peace turned to noisy chaos and the surface of the water exploded into a fury of panic.
“Couldn’t have put it better, myself,” he said, chuckling. He got up and brushed the last of the crumbs off his old Burberry mac. “Same time tomorrow?”