POSTCARD 147: Delhi: Phone rings. It’s a message from Jiab in Mumbai… image downloading, a photo taken from her car window. Reflections in the glass make it look like the yellow-top taxi is fusing into the back of the red bus. She’s stuck in a traffic jam; same here in central Delhi (on my way to Khan Market), rivers flowing through all the urban creeks and tributaries, as one vast river and this curious thought that it’s the same time at any point along its route. Or extended through every passageway in the city, as a mass of end-to-end steel/chrome-plated metal, creaking along like the glacier I visited a long time ago in Switzerland moving so slowly, the end of its 133 kilometer length is four hundred years older than its beginning.
Placing parenthesis around a block of time creates a beginning and an end, the world seen in a particular context… ‘my’ view of reality and the actual state of things out ‘there’ appears separate from me. I live in an illusion, riding around like a passenger seated in the vehicle of the body, input from data received through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch – and a mind that creates meaning based on memory files of similar events occurring in the past. There’s this identification with the thing-ness of things, thoughts, solutions and problems, reviewing, seeking, and memories of past times.
Yet, I can see the mind as an object; I am an organism contained in and created by the ‘world’, a body made of earth, water, fire and air. And if they’ve invented something that can break up the molecular structure of solid objects, concrete and steel, I find it impossible to believe, of course, more likely to disbelieve – but, given this all-inclusive subjectivity as the nature of the world, I’m inclined to believe it is possible, and everything tilts in an unexpected way.
Traffic seized up here in the approach to Khan Market, but the signal is still good so I take a picture and send it to Jiab in Mumbai, 1400 kilometers away.
‘Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise.’ [Śūraṅgama Sūtra]
We are looking at the same thing but see different subjects.
Our individual perception of an event depends on how we may have experienced it in the past. If it’s something never experienced before, the mind will search for the nearest match..
Love the image of traffic as a glacier, spilling out across the land in its little fingers and frozen valleys. Sometimes I marvel that the road outside my house connects to a continuous strip of pavement, uninterrupted, from my mailbox to the heart of Yellowstone Park, or Mexico City. The other night I was thinking of the atmosphere… What if it’s acoustics were different, and we could hear the sounds from anywhere in the world? I imagine it would be almost crushing… We almost have to insulate ourselves somehow, to focus in on our little slideshows of experience, to look closely enough to see it isn’t even there…
Interconnecting networks that reach from the road outside your house to the road outside my house. My sister in Scotland sends me an sms message and it’s immediate. I was thinking of whales under the sea the other night, sound communication in the medium of water, elegant elongated squeaks and songs from thousands of miiles away. You’re right about the comforting boundaries we create around our identity… without that we’d be blown away all the time.