The sunshine carried delicious warmth to all the inhabitants of Federation Square on this delightful Autumn day. I had chosen to sit near two guys who I immediately imagined to be friends. As I walked up to them from behind I thought they might be mates waiting to go to an event in the city.
It wasn’t until I was actually seated that I noticed one guy was not able to keep his eyes open and was possibly drug affected. I stayed anyway and started to do the metta bhavana for both of them. The other guy was rocking slightly back and forth but was wide eyed and alert. After some time, when he glanced momentarily at me, I just smiled and said ‘hello.’
I could tell he was surprised to be spoken to so openly so we just sat on in silence a little more. Then, almost on cue, a small bird landed and we looked down simultaneously.
He began to converse with the bird apologising for not having food to offer. Slowly, very gently this man and I began to send sentences to each other. Mine were mainly open questions and his were a mixture of answers peppered with long rambles outlining his philosophy of life and reality.
He spoke so gently and so softly I had to shuffle up closer to hear him properly. We swapped names and I slowly let go of the need to understand everything he was saying.
Memories of my brother Michael rose in my mind/heart, in and out of the conversation. The smell of stale rollie cigarettes was so familiar to me from time spent in Michael’s flat over the years. Although its over 5 years since my brother’s death this communication brought him keenly into my consciousness. Renewed gratitude to Michael arose for having made me learn ( sometimes kicking and screaming ) to remain open in situations like this.
Just being present with each offering from this man today, whether it was something I understood or not, was all I had to do. My brother had unintentially taught me how to stay in the face of confusion, madness and fear. And my time with him had consistently shown me that tenderness and care often will accompany you on these romps through others’ reality.
Anyway as a Buddhist, I had a growing interest in noticing how we together, construct our versions of reality and get lost in our own way, time and time again.
I opened my bag of buddhas and watched as my new acquaintance roamed across the buddhas on offer carefully examining them and telling me what he sensed about each one.
He said it was the bright crimson velvet lining the box of a certain little buddha that attracted him the most. He told me that as red is the colour of blood it means connection.
His reasoning had as much to do with Reality as anything else I would talk about or do that day so I felt happy as I watched him very carefully hold this tiny Buddha.
We talked about how it represented the vast potential to be found in all living beings.
He said, “I hope it doesn’t get stolen , too.’
It was then that I learnt that his ‘mate’ sleeping sitting bolt upright right next to us was someone he met whilst sleeping in an alcove last night. These companions come and go and sitting together at Federation Square was better than sitting alone.
He told me how everything he ever had of value had been taken from him over the years.
So after giving him some money for some coffee, food or a rollie I headed home hoping this buddha would keep him company for a while.
Buddha a gift from Lynne B – U.K.