We are living in an age where there is a perennial rush to become, not be. Often at the expense of everything that makes us human – charity, humaneness, love, respect, compassion and appreciating existence itself. While becoming is, by definition, a natural process of evolution to go from one state of being to another, the path of becoming without centering, without grounding, without acknowledging and appreciating some key realities – emotions, thoughts and states of mind – within us as we move along, is not quite natural. In nature, everything has a state of being, evolution and stabilisation. In ancient Hindu thought, this is called Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. This goes on in the entire duration of anything existing in its physical form. The problem with this age is that there seems to be little time for stabilisation and appreciating being-ness, partly due to the competition, partly due to our expectations (formed by the ever-present tendency to expand, avarice, media that projects ‘ideals’) and partly by the idea of instant or quick gratification. Cricket going from test or ODI format to the T20 mode is enjoyable but life going that quickie way is a tad bit unnatural.
We need to ask ourselves who are we doing this for? How is this useful? Is this truly giving us happiness?
Are we human anymore?
Or does that not matter anymore? I write this piece with a lot of introspection and sense of worry. I was in Cambridge when I heard of how a drunken youth in Cambridge coming back from a ball displayed a currency-note to a destitute man teasingly and then burnt it right in front of him! I have heard of how a girl fearing the baggage mental health brings to the table as well as having no time to be considerate why certain chaotic actions were done by a guy due to his obsessions (having had OCD) rejected him outright even after all he wanted was some time after expressing interest. I have heard of how children have brazenly taken their parents, sometimes by hand, and left them in an old-age centre, alone and helpless. I have seen first hand how people have lay injured on the road after an accident and people have just not stopped their cars to help them up since they have either been in too much of a rush to get somewhere or just not wanted ‘trouble’. In a race, there is a finish line to reach to. With there being no possible end to one’s expectations and definitely no limit to greed, I naturally ask:
What is this invisible finish line we are going for? Can there even be one?
Some would say it can only be relatively measured with how much joy we feel in the moment or with our lived experiences till then. Others would say it can be measured with the sense of completeness or satisfaction one has with life. Aren’t both these ideas highly subjective and fleeting?
What is joy? What is completeness? What is satisfaction?
Is joy just the state of being when one has a rush of hormones, and the excitement and happiness one gets thereby? Is completeness not just the feeling of wholeness based on your ideas of the world and life that you create in your mind based on your experiences and perspectives formed till then (which itself is never quite ‘complete’, ironically)? Is satisfaction truly satisfaction when even the smallest of passing allurements, from a passing new fad to bigger material points of accomplishment, can make you again feel deeply unsatisfied? Recently someone said to me that apparently I give too much importance to emotions, to love, to acts of charity. Hell yes! And proud to do so. I am sorry but I do not accept becoming a humanoid robot (Honda is doing a good job on that alright) and I do not accept this sheep-mentality of being herded by generational expectations and fads. I reject them, I abhor them and I stand against this entire manner of thinking, and in doing so, am probably a rebel to the zeitgeist of the age! But more importantly, I feel all of this is rooted in one fundamental point:
What is the purpose of life?
Is the purpose defined by the number of houses, cars, gadgets and things one can end up possessing by the end of one’s life? Is the purpose defined by the number of friends one has or the kind of experiences one has had? Is there a purpose at all, some would ask? Without wanting to bias the debate anywhichway, I think the key point is to firstly reflect on that! The answer to this is usually not one which somebody stumbles upon one fine day or even after sustained inquiry, for that matter, in most cases. And that is not an answer you can get unless you resolve the question
Who are you truly?
Are you just a sum-total of your bodily parts? Are you just a product of your experiences? For the biologically minded, are you just a zygote who got lucky to have survived this long, haha? Are you defined by the things you possess or the actions you have done? If you reflect long and hard on this probably none of these alone define you and even taken together there still remains an unchanging reality to you that evades these inquiries. An essential core, so to say, that is simply based on three things: existence, comprehensibility and bliss.
Existence: we are.
Comprehensibility: We know we are.
Bliss: We are at peace and blissful in the knowledge that we are.
Does this knowledge help? Does this tell us who we are? Can we just by reading this in my words or listening about this be completely awakened to this? No! This has to be realised and experienced. In its starkest, realest, barest form. And that experience, that realisation is empowering and liberating. It is empowering in that it makes us aware that we are not slaves to materialism and simply cannot be. It is liberating in that we cease to thereafter make false identifications about who we are. Somebody asked a few days back: does this mean we do not do any actions because what is the point if we can just be, know we are and be happy with this knowledge? That is a perfectly valid question to ask. Why bother acting or doing anything if there is a transcendent reality to us? The simple answer is:
We must engage and realise the transcendent reality while being in the relative, the material, and yet not become attached to it.
We must perform actions and yet never get attached to the results of those actions. This is very easily said but very tough to do. It is in this understanding that we are truly human. It is in this realisation that humans have immense potential. The tendency to expand and attain more is not wrong and is actually only natural but if we try to manifest that tendency with the limited and the worldly, we will never truly succeed. It is like trying to accommodate the skies within a box. It is like trying to extract all the waters of the oceans from a small creek. It is just not possible!
I would like to end with a moment of calm and reflection, and conclude my meditation here by asking all my readers to seek. Seek what makes us human. Seek what gives us true joy, completeness and satisfaction. Seek what is the purpose of life. And most importantly, seek who you truly are!
In that quest, in that seeking, and what you attain thereafter, will you find true bliss.
Image Courtesy : Zhuanlan