By Vikram Kolmannskog
Ba, my maternal grandma, had a Buddha. She must have noticed that I often looked at him. One day when we were visiting, she gathered all of us — me, my mom, and my dad. We sat in a circle on a carpet on the living room floor. In the middle was Buddha. Ba carefully picked Buddha up and washed him. She did it attentively and lovingly, as if he were a baby, baby Buddha. She said or sang something, maybe mantras. She dried him. And then she handed him to me. I carefully wrapped him in some of my clothes and put him in my suitcase. Back home in Norway, I unpacked and placed him in my bedroom. Now, thirty years later, he is here with me, in the bedroom of my apartment in Oslo. I lie in bed watching him as he sits on the windowsill. His golden body is slender and smooth, a simple robe covering his left shoulder and leaving the right shoulder and chest and arm bare. He sits in a lotus position, in contact with the ground, steady as a mountain. He sits with his back straight. He sits with dignity. His arms and hands are soft and relaxed, resting on his lap and legs. His eyes are half-open; he looks both inward and outward, attentively present here and now. His lips form a slight smile. He knows something. He seems friendly. The morning sun is shining through the window now, touching lips, cheek, nose, eyelids, and forehead. We are smiling. We are shining.
I sit like Buddha sits. I just sit. It’s simple. Just sitting means not doing much, not chasing after anything. I can simply be, rather than constantly doing something. It’s simple, but not easy. I need to practice. I need to practice just sitting. I sit with my back straight, alert and dignified. I exhale and relax. I close my eyes. What happens when I just sit? What do I notice? I get lost in thought. But then I notice this and am no longer lost. I hear some sounds. I sense bodily sensations. I discover something about the quality of these phenomena – the thoughts, the sounds, the bodily sensations: that they arise and pass away; that there are some I want and some I don’t want, but they all arise and pass away.
I bring Buddha an orange. I place it next to him on the windowsill. Buddha and the orange glow golden in the morning sun. I look at them. I think of the components making up the orange: sunlight, rainwater, air, nutrients in the soil. I also imagine the farmer who has cared for the tree, the people who have transported the orange here, the woman in the shop who sold it to me. I pick up the orange, carefully like it’s a baby. I feel its weight in my hand. I notice a navel on the plump little thing. I feel the skin with my fingers. I sense a subtle smell. Then I dig my fingers slightly into the surface and start peeling. A fresh citrus scent. Sticky on my fingers. I loosen a segment. I bite off a bit, the thin skin bursting between my teeth, the bittersweet juice. I chew, spit mixing with the flesh and juice. Sunlight, rainwater, air, soil, the entire cosmos in my mouth. I swallow and sense how it moves down the throat and becomes part of this body.
Becoming Buddha: Meditations
‘Eating’ is an excerpt from Becoming Buddha. In the book we follow Vikram on a meditation journey that includes all of life, everything from sitting to shitting, fucking to fighting, suffering to shining. The slender book also includes meditation guidelines as well as a section with more background information on the meditations and their sources. Becoming Buddha is also available as a podcast and as episodes on the meditation app Insight Timer.
Vikram Kolmannskog is a queer cis-man of dual heritage, with an Indian-origin mother and Norwegian father. He lives in Oslo, Norway, with his partner Daniel. Vikram is a gestalt therapist, supervisor and professor of gestalt therapy at the Norwegian Gestalt Institute. Vikram writes fiction as well as non-fiction. He is the author of The Empty Chair: Tales from Gestalt Therapy; Taste and see: A queer prayer; Lord of the Senses: Stories; and Becoming Buddha: Meditations. Vikram’s website: www.Vikram.no. Vikram’s teacher profile on Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/vikram.