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What I'm looking for is a word that tries to get the feeling of the imminent plunge. That immediacy.

I don't think I've ever been back before. Not the real me.

Though Miranda would say there's no real me to come back.

No essential self. Lately I've got really interested in Buddhist ideas. The core of it's a way of seeing and being in the world.

I'm not interested in two and a half thousand years of cultural accretions, the esoteric, ritualistic side of things. Like any other religion (though for me what differentiates Buddhism is that, for the most part, it isn't like any other religion) it's got its schisms and its sects. In the process of becoming organised religions lose their initial spirit. That's their tragedy and their danger. They become fixed as institutions, as embodiments of social and political power. The great thing about the Buddha was when they asked him if he was a god he said no.

When they asked him if he was a guru he said no. So what are you? they asked him. I am awake, he said. I like that.

Especially since lately I've come to see that I've been asleep for a long time.

OK. If there's no essential self who is this person who's come back? Who's sitting here today, as near as damn it, at the top of the waterfall? It's a very domesticated waterfall, it must be said. But its edgeness is the same (except for scale, and scale's irrelevant here) as the edgeness of, say, Niagara.

What I'm interested in here is the quality of water on the edge.

Now if water were conscious, surely it would pause before the plunge, savour the easy leisure of the horizontal before exploding into the vertiginous perpendicular. Water would relish its own white-knuckle ride, its very own white-water rush.

Pretentious or what? Perhaps the most valuable thing for me in coming back home is that I get myself cut down to size.

All that self-deprecatory British stuff seeps back in. Though Ems insists Brits aren't anything like as self-deprecatory as they used to be.

* The short story collection The Great Master of Ecstasy by Glenda Beagan is published by Seren, price pounds 7.99, available from > CONTINUES TOMORROW
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 27, 2011
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