POSTCARD 139: New Delhi: Lights change to red just as we’re getting near and traffic comes to a standstill. On the intersecting side, cars start revving their engines as the green light shows over there, and it takes a moment to see the elegant cow standing quietly among the cars, dressed in the body given to it, held in its place by the restrictions of stationary vehicles all around. Exotic and dignified, the animal has a calm and wise bearing; just looking at the world and waiting for the lights along with everyone else.
I’m thinking I should take a photo of it… yeh, good idea, but where’s the camera? Frantic rush to find it, deep in my bag, a pen, papers and things flung out on the seat then leaning out of the car window, take a photo click as surrounding vehicles start to move with the green light. There’s the cow walking at the speed of the others – not holding anyone up, no reason for any driver to be impatient, nobody toots their horn.
Funny how the cow is simply going along there in its own lane, not attempting to overtake, just slowly making its way in the limited space and in the direction of the traffic flow moving towards the next intersection, the next set of lights. It seems to know where it’s going, has probably travelled this route many times. I can see it disappearing in the distance, head held high above the cars, bobbing along with the rhythm of its walk – a being that’s in this world but not of this world.
To me it’s an extraordinary moment. I’m the Western cultural migrant assimilated in the East (resistance is futile). I have userID, password; there’s a sense of connectedness with the East, although still carrying some weight of Western thinking and childhood conditioning from the West. Thus insisting on a preconceived reality by creating supporting statements to prove what I’ve already decided is the correct way of going about things, and convinced about this simply because my continuing engagement with it somehow pushes it over the edge, the tipping point… metaphor becomes reality (although I know there’s really nothing there).
Nobody else here is paying the slightest attention to the cow in the traffic, just waiting for the lights to change. My kind of Western reasoning seems to confirm it has objective reality and that’s tolerated here, along with all the preferences, likes and dislikes that don’t fit. It doesn’t matter because the ‘object’ is not the goal. The answer may be one of many associated answers – maybe all. And related searches are revealed in interaction with the question – more of an exploratory thing, open-ended – the observed world and the observer of it in an all-inclusive oneness….
Smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a grain of barley, smaller than a mustard seed, smaller than a grain of millet, smaller even than the kernel of a grain of millet is the Self. This is the Self-dwelling in my heart, greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than all the worlds. [Chandogya Upanishad 14.3, 8th-10th century BCE]