I was sitting on a train the other day and suddenly into my perceptual field came into strong focus everybody’s bag. They had been there all along I just hadn’t noticed them as anything significant. Maybe it was because the train was full and people were having to deal with their bags that I noticed them as they were moving them into a new position on their shoulders or putting them between their feet or holding them differently. There wasn’t enough room for the bags all of a sudden, just people. Anyway there was a train full of bags glaring at me and it struck me that we are obsessed by bags. Everyone has a bag or two or three and there are shops that sell them and we need them of course for putting things in. It also struck me that everything is a bag. The whole of life, the universe and everything is a bag. And I chuckled to myself when I thought that because it’s true. Chances are that the bags I was looking at contained other bags inside them plus never mind the bags what about us. We are a bag too – a series of bags really. There’s the obvious bag of the skin, that we wear other bags over – trousers, shirts, dresses, they are all body bags, shoes are foot bags, gloves are hand bags! Hats are head bags. It goes on. All clothes are bags therefore. Cars and trains and planes are too. They are metal bags we get in that enfold us. Then there’s the rest of the body which in many ways is a whole series of bags or skins that wrap individual muscles and organs and nerves and bones. And when you think there must be something in these bags that are the real thing and not bags and you start to look at the microscopic side of things you see that there’s wrappings in there too. Each nerve fibre is wrapped, each muscle fibre and then you look even closer and see that they are all made of cells that are bags too. Each cell has a membrane, that’s a bag and in the cell there’s objects (organelles) but when you really look at them they too are cleverly disguised bags wrapped into all kinds of different shapes and then when you get down to the nano level of things you are looking at molecules and atoms and they too have shells that wrap around the nucleus of the atom which is more and more looking like its composed of nothing. So basically I saw a great truth I think, that we carry bags to remind us that the whole universe macro and micro is made of cleverly disguised bags with ultimately nothing in them. All we have to do is get past the bags then we will see what the Buddha saw. Here’s a picture of one of my favourite bags.

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