On 8-8, the coming together of two perfectly symmetrical infinity symbols, we were blessed with the arrival of our twin girls. There is, around these little girls, what neuroscientists might call a flood of oxytocin in the brain -- and what most of us might call a warm, happy overflowing of love. I've been on both sides of the following dialogue:
INT. HALLWAY & STUDYPERSON 1, with a baby cuddled in their arms, is mesmerized by tiny doll lips, button-nose, eyelashes. Baby's fist tenderly holds onto PERSON 1's shirt, and coos, half-asleep. PERSON 2 works on a computer nearby, brow furrowed, trying to meet a deadline, and equally enrapt by what's in front of them.
Can you stand it? You have to look at what I'm looking at.
PERSON 1 waves PERSON 2 over insistently, they get up and look over PERSON 1's shoulder at baby. Same cute baby, except PERSON 2 is mostly focused on meeting their deadline at this moment.
(heart not quite in it)
Wow. She's so cute.
PERSON 2 returns to their work. PERSON 1 so enrapt by baby, they don't realize PERSON 2 isn't as moved in the moment as they are.
Or there's a more common example: the person eagerly showing their business colleague a wallet photo of their baby, the colleague cooing obligingly. These interactions are great examples of how hard it is to communicate interior experience. What Person 1 was really trying to show Person 2 was what was in their mind (that subjective experience of being flooded with love), what was in their brain (the flood of oxytocin). In a sense, Person 1 wasn't trying to show Person 2 the baby any more than a junkie is addicted to heroine -- they're addicted to the neurotransmitters in the brain released because of the heroine injection. And Person 2, in a different psychological space at the moment, isn't quite as flooded as Person 1.
This solipsistic gap creates a great challenge when it comes to sharing dharma, to sharing the value of meditation. In meditation, there isn't even a baby. There's just a person sitting cross-legged on a cushion. The entire experience is locked inside your subjectivity. Maybe that's not entirely true. Spend time in the presence of practitioners and we might be stirred the effects of all that time on the cushion: their radiant smile and child-like joyfulness, the depth of their wisdom, their exceptional warmth and tenderness and attentiveness. Or we might not be. Maybe we dismiss them with the adjective that damns by faint praise: they're nice. Maybe we pass them by, in the same way that the stressed-out pedestrian passes by a billboard. For that pedestrian, the billboard never even existed.
We are a society of Person 2's -- busy, busy, busy achieving, making money to pay for the bigger, bigger, bigger, better meal, appliance, car, club, vacation,house, boat, plane, and now, space ship. How to bridge the gap between Person 1 and Person 2?