I look at your face and I miss the clothes you are wearing, I focus on the bird perched on a branch and I miss the whole tree, I pay attention to my dance steps and I miss the fluidity of my movements. Our consciousness is like a radar scanning the environment looking basically for trouble and ways to avoid it, but in doing so we miss the rest where there are no obstacles. We myopically pay attention to what is immediately important to sense danger or pleasure, but think about all the constants going through us at this moment, like temperature, pressure, light, etc… We are so used to them that we miss how they shape, condition and unite us.
Language also does not help either. A table is a description of a specific molecular dance, regardless of it being a wood or a glass dance, and so again we forget that all atoms, including the ones in our body, are 99.999999% empty space. All is in a constant state of pulsation, on and off, a flickering in and out, yet we only notice a flicker at the time, a part of the whole. Our coming and going, our birth and death, move slowly for us so we miss the continuity and forget that, for example, right now we are travelling at 220 km/sec. across the galaxy.
I have always been myopic but recently I’ve had an eye operation that has given me a 20/20 vision but, unfortunately, in the process I have lost my close sight to a great degree. This has reminded me of our difficulty to keep a global, universal vision and yet not lose sight of the ground under our feet. How to remain fully grounded while at the same time shift our attention to the background, to what we thought unimportant, paying attention to the spaces like a painter is aware of the spaces in a canvas. After all, we can see and hear less than 1% of the electromagnetic and acoustic spectra. How to pay attention to the silence and, like a musician that is aware of the gaps in the melody, listen for the silences in nature, in people and in ourselves.
A constant awareness of an inclusive vision of the world can help us loosen our myopic identification with the part and see the interdependence of all existence. From this perspective the explosion of a supernova and the death of a microbe are both cosmic events. Millions of cells in our body, just like millions of stars in millions of galaxies, are continuously being born and dying. Ninety per cent of the cells in my body carry their own microbial DNA which means that they have a “life” of their own, independent of “me” and yet I hold on to an idea of “me” as a separate entity responsible for everything that happens. But while I keep this grand vision I cannot forget, at the same time, to be impeccable in everything I think, say and do. How can I perform a happy, sad or tragic dance perfectly without losing sight of all the other dances and not getting lost in my own drama? Finding a way out of this conundrum is our predicament as human beings. Krishna tells Arjuna to go into battle fearlessly, without seeking a result and a Zen master would tell us to jump into the dance floor and dance until the dancer and the space become one.
So, let’s face it, as long as the music is playing what choice is there but to dance. Of course there are many dances and many ways to dance but for now I chose the tango, full of passion and vibrancy. Tango, anyone? Please, join me and let’s dance!
We seem to be caught in our predicament of focusing on a small area of attention to the detriment of the whole and vice versa. Two visions: microscoping vs macroscoping.