I waited in a long snaking line in a cavernous Starbucks deciding which caffeinated elixir to shock my body with when I noticed how amazingly different each person in line looked from each other. Sure, it’s New York City – I expect diversity, I’m used to diversity. But what really struck me was feeling in an instant the vastness of each person as an individual with deep and complicated lives that fill up massive amounts of space and time in the world.
And that we all exist in that massiveness at the same time. I imagined standing amongst dense brush, the city of insects, covered in spider webs as thick as cotton, each web with one little spider in the center. The webs overlapped but were created and existed separately. We are all the centers of our own webs of contacts, connections, conversations, a greater network.
Nearly everyone in line had their head bent down, eyes glued to their hand held device, tapping or scrolling. Only the one family, the one couple, and one older gentleman were not mentally in another place.
As I looked at everyone not connecting to those around them I suddenly felt connected to all of them and a sudden swelling of love, a great acceptance and empathy, overwhelmed me. All these beautiful souls walking, or texting, or surfing through the world. My heart went out to all of them and everyone around us.
Tears came to my eyes at the strength of the love, my heart pounded, I felt shaky.
It didn’t matter that not one person looked up at me or noticed me in any way. We were all there together and in the world together. We are all just little bits of the same big mass, the same big network of humans in a larger network of energy that embraces us all.
We are all the same. If only we could feel that all the time. I knew being tapped into that love would be a fleeting experience so I let myself swim around in it while it was there. I looked at each person and loved them.
The love was an inner vibration, a humming, an echo of the feeling produced by chanting “Om.” Om is the infinite vibration that is always around us and within us; it is the sound of the Divine; it is the energy of love. Chanting Om brings us into harmony with the infinite. Beyond the sounds of Om is the unstruck sound – anahata – a sound that exists without anything producing it. (Book 1 Sutra 27)* In the chakra system anahata is the heart chakra. Its inner state is compassion and love. This love is the kind of love felt without attachment or self.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to feel love’s immensity for a moment, maybe longer. It’s important to nurture the glimpses we get of the greater reality – of the Divine – and remember the experience when we feel lost or disconnected. Love is always there.
*Swami Satchidananda discusses the four stages of Om in this sutra in his translation and commentary of the Yoga Sutras.