I am occasionally flooded with the glorious insight of being insignificant. Though insignificance is commonly felt to be negative, my experiences aren’t. Below I offer some examples of my experiences and I am curious if readers also have these sort of experiences and if so, what your minds do with these insights?
#1 Traffic: I am driving in lots of traffic where I can see lines of cars in several directions. My mind drifts to other cities where I have seen the same: NYC, Osaka, Cleveland, LA, Seattle, Minneapolis. I look at the faces of the people in their cars coming toward me and think how they all, like me, wish other people to think of them as special or important in the world. Then all the city images seem to crowd my mind at once and the masses of people makes our aspirations to be important seem preposterous. Then I am flooded with insignificance.
#2 Hospitals: I am walking through one of the hospitals in which I see patients. I see sick, suffering people, their tearful, worried families, and the busy staff. I start to feel the floors upon floors of the hospital layer the presence of all these people into my vision before me. Then I think of hospitals I have walked in Seattle, North Carolina, Washington DC and in Japan, Pakistan, China, and Mexico. My mind is filled with millions of humans trying to stop suffering and despairing of its fate. And all this contained in the tunnels of hospitals so that I get an image of humans as ants in masses and yet arrogantly fooling themselves of being more than the mere frail organism they are.
#3 Storms: I am in a hurricane (been in two) or a severe storm. As the sea swells and the wind shakes loose panels, I see how easily everyone on shore could be snuffed out. And indeed millions have been killed over the millennia by the forces of nature. But not just people, but animals, homes and memories. Yet the sea and the wind care not. Their power is fierce but calm and steady — impersonal. Life’s meaning seems to disappear. This huge power floods me with insignificance.
I have these floods of “visions” once or twice a month. They are usually when I am around a large number of people but they can even come in simple coffee shops with just a few people sitting around or during holiday gatherings. They also occur in grocery stores, shopping malls, sport events. Whenever I think of many people doing the same thing, or people dwarfed by nature — when I look into the sky at night, for example. The slide into insignificance is common for me.
When these insights comes, I first can feel a slight tinge of sadness but as just as it starts to expand, it is replaced by a deep pleasant restfulness of feeling, breathing and thinking. My concern for significance is replaced by a joy in the glory of insignificance. I feel a forgiveness for my own and everyone’s silliness. I feel acceptance. I feel alright being a simple bug, of being a small insignificant organism doing what I do like everyone else and everything else on this tiny planet in this huge universe. I always end up in a deep rest with a soft smile coming upon my face and I continue doing what I am doing with a new light happiness. It even comes as I am writing this.
As a final note, I must say, that none of what I feel or what I write about is philosophical. I am not thinking during any of this. The feelings and intuitions just come. They are raw. I don’t try to still the sadness when it peaks its head out, and I don’t try to feel restful or happy, it just happens. There are no thoughts of gods or spirits, no buddha-mind, no universal-consciousness. It is all just very simple. I feel pleasantly ordinary.