As some of you know I am half Indian half Italian. Ever so often, as I walk through the streets of New York, I may come across a man of the Sikh tradition wearing a turban. As this immediately reminds me of my father who is also Sikh and wears a turban, my attention will just lock in on this one person, a stranger in the masses. My eyes will then follow them for as far as my range of vision will permit, as if trying to catch up with my dad in a sea of people.
Recently I have also been hearing the Italian language spoken quite frequently as I walk through the streets of NY. In the midst of all the different sounds of the city, different languages being spoken, my attention like a magnet locks into the intonation & words of my mother tongue and stays with it with longing, as far as my range of hearing will permit.
Different components of our identity, held intact by memory, are constantly filtering what we take in of the present moment. At times narrowing our focus into details in a way that expands our experience & at other times in ways that insulates our experience.
Because we seek continuity, we allow our past to flow into the present, even frame our present. Frequently it feels like we are having the same experiences over & over again, being drawn to the same details in our surroundings in a way that renders them perhaps redundant over time. It may even seem that the past is repeating itself. It does because we keep inviting it in through our attachment to our personality as defined by our past.
In Yoga Philosophy we are encouraged to find our identity with the totality of life, ‘Ten Thousand Things’ *. So then whomever we cross paths with, whatever language we hear, in any setting in any part of the world, before any living creature, all of existence comes into the radar of our experience in way that is vibrant, abundant, animated, fresh & ever renewing.
* "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to become one with the ten thousand things." - Japanese Zen Master Dogen