Last night we went to Chinatown for Chinese New Year: a crushing assault on the senses. Music, pumped from amplifiers, pounded my eardrums,... a thousand smells from a thousand food vendors forced their way into my nostrils,..... hordes of people everywhere: stepping on my feet, poking me in the back, pushing, sweating, yelling, eating, breathing. Everywhere a sea of red.... red banners, red shirts, red lanterns, red signs.
And contrary to expectations, nothing "happened". There was no central event such as fireworks... not the sort of focused thing you'd expect in the West. Rather, it was a continuous primordial process-- something organic and alive.... an entity created by the crowd itself. An entity that swallowed individuals.
I've experienced this phenomenon in India as well... the sensory input is so strong and so varied that it overpowers the rational-language based mind. Language-thought stops--- leaving only a pulsing vibration of sensations. Ego dissolves. Awareness expands. The barrier between individual (I, I, I; me, me, me) and the larger entity (crowd, group, event) breaks down or dissolves completely. For a while, you are the sensations and they are you and no ego-thought penetrates to disturb the unity.
So it was last night. But then we wandered to the main street... started chatting again... and once more resumed our lives as atomized, ego-dominated individuals.