Being Human

by perpetualflaneur

endless knot ring

Have you ever had those brief encounters that left a strong imprint on you? No, I am not referring to the romantic kind (though it is most welcome), but one that’s equally exciting and enchanting, if not more.  You know, just one of those instances when you were just blown away by both the person and conversation, depending on how and why it started in the first place.

It’s a sort of human and spiritual connection that not only language can establish but one where the meeting of two strangers, from different backgrounds, with the same purpose and openness of hearts and minds, set the momentum, though brief. It’s not as life-changing as any big event, but if you think about it, it’s one of those interactions that will be recalled every once in a while for its sincerity and content.

Well, I was fortunate enough to have had one recently. Just two weeks ago, I’ve had one of those 30-minute encounters that surely left a lasting impact on me. I was in a nearby city with my sister on one of our usual days when we spend time together. After a long day of walking and absorbing the glory of the sun and ending it with a sumptuous meal and a glass of wine, we decided to stop by a shop right next to the restaurant. From outside, you can tell that it was a Nepalese store, showcasing many items that reflect their culture and their beliefs. So, upon entering, we were welcomed by a woman in her 50s and a teen who is not more than 24 years old. Walking in, she had a big smile on her face and a calm yet vibrant demeanor. We started off with looking at some jewelry on the display glass, until my eye caught a ring that spoke to me instantly. What had happened after was not only uplifting but was also worth sharing, thus, this piece.

She was ultimately surprised that I had known about the Endless Knot because she had guessed my Catholic upbringing, figuring out that I am Filipino and because most Filipinos are. I told her that I may have that background, but I am more spiritual than religious and that I welcome teachings and beliefs from other religions. That was when she expressed that even though she is Hindu, if people who have other belief systems come knocking to her door to teach her about their beliefs, she would welcome them with open arms. For her, life is all about learning. If one cannot learn, or refuses to learn, then one has already limited the life they could live. In learning we come to know, and in knowing we become. She also said that you, or we, always have a choice, if you want to believe this or that; what is also most important is that you learn how to respect and accept others. Because in the end, all our spiritual beliefs aim to do the same thing and that is on how to be human and be humane in doing so.

In case you are wondering, the Endless Knot is a symbol found in Buddhism and Hinduism that roughly means infinite life (as it relates to their teachings), and according to her, it also means eternal consciousness. In Feng Shui, I’ve also heard it could mean endless life and love as well as luck because of the loops and the symbol of infinity. While all of these are wonderful, I have added my interpretation, especially after my insightful conversation with her. For me, it also means our affinities with one another, the possible connections we can establish with people once we look beyond our individual selves. It could be brief, it could be one-time, or it could be everyday until the day we die.

Because in the vastness and variety, we are all connected. It’s not just your religion, your ethnicity, your profession, your gender, your sexuality, your political affiliations, your hobbies, your principles, or whichever identifier we have in life that connects us all; no, it should be more fundamental than that. It’s the fact that we are all living, breathing beings. In accepting that we are all the same in that sense, like the lady I briefly met, we both recognized our  moral existence and showed our mutual respect.

I understand that sometimes it could be difficult to get along with others, let alone connect with them. It’s also due to our upbringing, the strict cultural and social (political too!) codes that we were raised in. Deviating from these could mean ostracization from that particular society  that is why we always have that fear, thus, ignoring the infinite possibilities of communicating and understanding those who may not share similar beliefs.

Like the ring that I bought, I believe that we are all bound together. Interwoven in an Endless Knot of communication, of possibilities, and of mutual respect because we are all links in this infinite loop of human connections. I am not asking you to abandon what you know and who you are, but what I am asking you is to open your minds and your hearts. What the lady I briefly met reminded me was that feeling of joy, of not judging another because they are different from you, that despite of our differences, we found something in common. If we had acted otherwise, equipping ourselves with our preconceived notions and our limiting views, then I wouldn’t be writing this. I wouldn’t have that satisfaction of knowing, of once again believing that there could be harmony and agreement among us, especially now where there  are issues that seem to be tearing all of us apart, as if we are not of the same species sharing the same world. I hope you always remember this: it is possible, only if we all let it happen.