The thought that ‘people’ are just a manifestation of different causes, drivers and phenomena is an interesting one.
We all have a strong sense of ‘self’. And an equally strong sense of other ‘selves’ too – not least when those other selves jostle, oppress and thwart us.
So the Buddhist doctrines of ’emptiness’ and that we have no ‘inherent existence’ challenge the common sense experience of selves, ourselves and selfishness.
Somewhat tired, somewhat hot; and somewhere between bored and irritated – I had a moment of enlightenment reflecting on this, at a work event this week.
This speaker who is mildly irritating me, on many levels simply does not exist at all…
If I looked at them at the molecular level, they’d just be a greyish fuzz of particles – in fact when you think about it, at the molecular level it probably makes no real sense to think in colours or shapes at all, it’s all a probabilistic blur.
At a bacterial level, that person was a teeming mass of microbes; which largely outnumber ‘their’ own cells. And many of those were probably running faster, because of the heat of the room and the anxiety of speaking.
As they were speaking, the speaker was constantly having holes punched through them by cosmic rays – some generating cellular malfunctions and mutations which the person’s immune system was hopefully mopping up.
At a planetary level, the roomful of people I was sat amongst would be about as visible and significant as a handful of microbes on a Petri dish is to the human eye.
And at a room level, lots of mounds, fungi and little creatures were probably gently coming to life thanks to the light, heat, food and prey that sixty odd people were all exhaling, expelling, shedding and radiating.
And that’s before we get onto scales of time – how does an hour of speeches look on the timeline of a mayfly, an oak tree or a solar system?
With all those things going on, it’s hard to stick with the idea that the only thing happening in that room, was a person with an ego imposing their ego on my ego.
Letting go of the ‘person’ and seeing the myriad causes, effects, scales and timescales in which you could see them, helped me escape irritation; and embrace a sense of wonder.
Different perspectives helped me get a different perspective.