The other night, I was on the train with Akiko. We may have been on the Yamanote line, coming back from her work. She told me about her day. I listened. I looked out the window and could see the people standing on the platform waiting for the next train. As the train pulled out, leaving those people behind, they slowly became blurs. Just a mixture of paint on a palette.
I looked around inside of the car, and it was packed with people. There was no discomfort or nervousness within. Even though people were everywhere, and every time you took a deep breath you could taste them, nothing within told me it should be any different from what it was.
And you COULD taste them. The sweat, the smoke, the over-powering perfumes. But that wasn't all. You could taste their nervousness, their need to be alone, their need to have private space on a train that was completely full. The energy in that car pulsed and screamed to be let out, but I could not join it. All I could do was see.
I turned to Akiko and said, "I'm in Japan, huh?" "Yes. You just noticed?" "Yes," I said.
I had no way of knowing where I was.
There is knowledge, of course. I know where I live, and I can get around anywhere in Tokyo. I know my phone number, and Akiko's phone number. But thought doesn't interfere with what is happening around me.
Even though I sit in my kitchen as I type this, I do not know I am in my kitchen.
Let me go slowly.
In order to know something, I have to have a memory of it. Otherwise, I cannot know it. I can only know things based on the past. I can never know anything in the present. I can only have memories of the past invading the present.
How is it possible to know someone or something when there are only memories? It is accurate to say that while I have memories of knowing something, I can never know it. How is it possible to really know something?
I may go to school and study a subject until there is nothing more to learn, but does that mean I know it? Or is it simply, I have memories of what I have studied?
To know implies that it is finished, and never again will it breathe new life. It is essentially dead. Can something really be known, or can there only be memories of knowing?
This is important to see for yourself. If you say you know your wife or husband or partner, is that true? You have memories of them, sure. But do you know them? If they are known, then they are doomed to be unchanging. You have to decide on a final design before you can claim to know anything. Is that what you really want? To say, He or she is this way, and that is it! You essentially strangle the beauty out of your so called loved one.
Some say that to know means direct perception. But the word really means to recognize. And you can only recognize what you already know.
Direct perception implies that you see without interference; that what you see is directly connected to you. Direct perception is to see beyond what you have known.
It is not that you become connected to what you see, but what you see is you.
There was a delayed recognition on the train. I sat in the silence, and for whatever reason the thought, "This is Japan," arose. It was understood, and that was all. Even so, I still didn't believe it.
I had to ask my wife if it were true.