The joy is not in the ride,
but how you ride.
Without mindfulness, how do you enjoy anything?
Without mindfulness, how do you not fear everything?
From Wikipedia, ‘”Battlestar Galactica (BSG): Human vs. Cylon” is a pair of steel dueling roller coasters at Universal Studios Singapore. One half of the ride features an inverted roller coaster track in blue (Cylon), and the other half features the traditional seated roller coaster track design in red (Human). It is the tallest dueling coaster in the world; tipping at 42.5 metres. The trains are launched from their stations at high speed… [and] feature several near collisions mere inches apart. The Cylon coaster is designed like the Cylon Raider (in the TV series) suspended from the track with legs free that performs intense maneuvers including several inversions in the form of a zero-g roll, a Cobra roll, corkscrews and vertical loops. The Cylon coaster also plunges into a 5-metre deep pit filled with artificial fog to give thrill seekers the sensation of a near miss with the ground. It also includes sudden turns close to buildings emphasizing the sensation of a near miss. The Human coaster is designed for riders who want a roller coaster experience without inversions.’ As the Human ride was supposed to be less intimidating, I decided to give it a shot first – for warming up, so to speak! With most of the other rides on this weekend, we had to queue quite a bit for our turn but the queues for these two are understandably shorter! Not only are humans bizarre enough (with ‘inverted dream-thinking’) to be willing to pay to be scared, we are also happy to queue for kicks!
Most of the rides seemed to last for only 30 seconds or so, though we queued for about 30 minutes for each. This is somewhat the story of our lives – to spend most of our time anticipating the very occasional and short-lived highs? Is it worth it? The BSG rides last about a minute each though, and are the most terrifying. What you fret seems to last forever, even if it’s really just a few moments – the direct opposite of pleasant short-lived highs are long-lived horrors! Practically, it is as hard to make a long ride as it is to create many sustainable highs. For the easily freaked out, the ‘highs’ are really ‘lows’ too. Both extended emotional high and low periods can be life-threatening! Talk about relativity in perception and experience despite the same situation! A friend had told me to prepare for a near-death experience! Yet, halfway through the Cylon ride, it suddenly lost its element of surprise. While the others were screaming wildly away, I had expected something more challenging, though I was also glad that I could enjoy the rush fearlessly. The kick was lost to the extent that I didn’t even think I would queue for the ride again. Still, I was grateful for the ride. It was an affirmation of sorts, that perhaps, the roller-coaster ride of Samsara’s ups and downs with its twists and turns had become a worn out one, one that I don’t see much appeal in ‘re-cycling’ again. We often overrate the mundane rides of life, just as we underrate the bliss from peace of mind which masters these rides.
Some close their eyes to shut out the horror of coaster rides, but the g-forces could still be felt while the imagination runs wild. Why not just open your eyes to experience the trials and tribulations while being unmovingly mindful? From seafaring days, dizziness arises from attachment to stability. On rides designed to make riders lose their bearings, the more you expect and cling to the familiar, the more you’ll suffer. The warnings on the way to the coasters did make me entertain backing out of the Cylon ride. Just the day before, I fretted a little about whether I should try it. To my pleasant surprise, despite it supposing to be scarier, it was more enjoyable than the Human ride. Perhaps the warm up was worth it. Perhaps my meditative practices had trained me well to be less affected by attachment and aversion to thrills and spills. I knew it wasn’t life-threatening because I had faith in the system. If so, any fear had to be irrational, self-concocted. (The ride was recently reopened after a fault was rectified though.) The ride was invigorating instead of stressful. It offered a wonderful opportunity for me to see how calm I could remain in watching the mind that watches the topsy-turvy scenery. On the family outing with a dozen other adults, I was the only one eager to test my guts and ability to maintain equanimity with the BSG rides. When I got off the Cylon ride, the others cheered upon my return. I grinned and waved it off. All that I did was to take the ride as it is!
Is your mind transformed by situations (心由境转),
or are situations transformed by your mind (境由心转)?
– Buddhist Saying
When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute.
But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour.
– Albert Einstein
Cylon Rider’s Front View