Restless

I did nothing this weekend, by which I mean, I did nothing productive this weekend (other than writing this post), and it has left me with an overpowering sense of uselessness and thoughts of an aimless existence. But on the other hand, I needed a break because I have been working really very hard the past week almost to the point of exhaustion. This has made me wonder how do I achieve a balance between these two states of being.

And then I realized I would never be able to feel really comfortable with what I’m doing. By being comfortable I do not mean happy nor do I want to derive a purpose from my activity or feel proud of it. Being comfortable simply means to want to attain the mechanical state of doing without any emotional attachment to the actions.

As I was absorbed thinking along these lines, I made an amazing discovery. Let me share it with you..

We will never feel comfortable with what we are doing because at the subtlest level, the idea of work is related to matter and to achieve any kind of sense from it is the work of the ego. The main reason we feel uncomfortable is because matter changes constantly and the ego derives meaning from matter. This means that if we align more with the ego, we are going to derive meaning, aim, purpose, everything from the matter that is constantly shape shifting. This is bound to keep us in a restless state of existence, which may be perceived as unstable and not something to look forward to (the best example is how we tend to find stability and security in every damned thing on this planet!).

But if we align ourselves with the soul which is eternal and unchanging, we may not feel ‘uncomfortable’. The real difficulty is to make this journey from matter to soul, and it happens when you start living in the present and become an observer, not only of everything around you, but also of yourself, of the matter that you are made of!

 

Need

This world needs you. This world, made up of little people with lofty ambitions, needs you as you are. You have come to this planet with a simple mission; and that is to be and live as you are.

What hinders us from perceiving this reality is our illusions about life and living. Let me tell you how I arrived at this beautiful conclusion. I was sitting all alone in my room, watching the beautiful sunset far away in the distance, absorbing the last golden rays, the vestiges of a beautiful day, feeling nostalgic and sad for unknown reasons. I would have been preoccupied further in the same way, when my smartphone suddenly beeped signaling the arrival of a chat message. When I took a look at my phone unwillingly, I saw a teary emoji and a message asking me for help. The warrior spirit took over me and forgetting myself for a moment, I began soothing my friend who was in distress. It was a silly reason over which she was unhappy, but her inability to have a clear perspective increased her confusion and dismay and left her with no sight of hope. All that she was seeking was a shoulder to cry upon, a willing ear to listen and a nurturing heart to care.

When I think about this incident, I have to admit that, the fact that my friend chose me in her hour of need defines my purpose in this life more clearly than anything else.

We all need people and things to make us feel sufficient and satisfied with our existence. In the same way, there are people and things that need us. You play an important as well as a trivial part in the life of all the people that you come across. As a child you delight your parents and guardians. As an adult you delight your friends and relatives. As a parent you support your children. As an employee you participate in a small but significant way in building the economy of your country. And believe me, if you are troublesome and wicked, you may be notorious and treated as an example of what not to be!

So, how can you feel worthless even for a moment? You must be thinking what my purpose was in writing this post. This post is for people who feel they are unwanted, unloved and who feel unsatisfied with their existence. I have met a lot of people who want to change their present state of life. They keep thinking that unless they achieve something, love someone, have something, be someone, they are not going to be satisfied. They look up to a ‘successful’ person and nurture an ambition to be like them. They compare themselves with others and feel miserable. They play with their own complexes and lose the game. And then they feel their existence is meaningless. A supreme illusion!

But then they forget, there are people who need them. They forget their purpose. I read about a recent divorce case of a celebrity which was making headlines for a few weeks on every TV channel and all the newspapers. Clearly, his commitment to his fans overrode all of his personal obligations. According to me, a celebrity has a noble purpose which is to put a smile on a million faces. The world needs them as much as it needs you. And that is because each is unique in his role and his purpose in serving the people around. And likewise every single thing that exists in this world has its purpose…Just like that one sunset which served its purpose by allowing me to wallow in melancholy…

 

The Choices We Make

I’ve often wondered about human free will versus the theological belief of a higher power charting a unique path for us to tread upon. When young, the energies of youth infuse in us a positive spirit and we tend to believe that indeed we have a will of our own. However, after crossing the third decade of life, usually when most of us experience the mid-life crisis, we somehow succumb to the annihilating force of a higher power and moan in despair, as the concept of fate and destiny which we had till now kept at bay, starts surfacing.

Today, I wish to dwell upon this aspect of our existence.

Do we have a free will or are we just puppets in the hands of an invisible but invincible entity? I would like to believe that the moment we realize our limitations as well as our power as a human being, we become entitled to a free will.

Let me explain this further.

We cannot choose to be born, to exist (and I would not want to enter into that territory here). We do not even choose our temperaments, our appearances and our unique traits. All these are something that is bestowed upon us by our DNA. It is also true that our experiences as a child, shape our future as an adult. That is, upon becoming adults, we cannot choose anything different from what we have been conditioned to choose.

In another words, what we call fate, can also be translated as the pattern of survival, which has been ingrained into us. (That is how terrorists are bred!) So, if we decide to break that pattern and un-condition, un-learn and un-do all the things that we have been taught, won’t it mean that we are exercising our free will?

Of course this is the most challenging task for a human being. To unlearn what has been learned.

Now, let me for a moment dwell upon another aspect of free will. I have often come across people who seemed unhappy in their present state of life. They blame the condition of their life on their fates. They think that they are too helpless to reverse their situation. However, when I examined in detail, I found that they have brought such hard times on their heads through their own choices in life. And the only significant factor that played a role here was a lack of courage.

In other words, they chose a fate for themselves because they did not have the courage to choose something else.

Therefore, if you need a free will, it is not something that will be granted to you free of cost.

Free will can be exercised only with a great deal of courage and the ability to look beyond the easy way out!

The Life Purpose

What is the purpose of my life?

Every time I face a difficult situation, this question makes its way to my head, making me believe for a while that I’m indeed an existentialist. But before long, I argue myself out of it in an agreeable fashion. This time the conclusion I’ve reached is so fascinating that I’ve decided to share it with my readers. Read on…what if I am able to help you fix this problem called life? Maybe I’ve found an answer which you would only be too glad to understand and analyze!

Well, this question first came to me when I was an adolescent. I even tried to share it with one of my literature professors, but he just smiled and shrugged, thinking that an ambivalent attitude would be the best way to get out of the dilemma. He was a poor man who had received a scholarship and a gold medal at the end of his university years. Once I watched him long enough from a train, when he was standing just on the opposite side, on a platform, looking at the ground near his feet, contemplating hard. What was he thinking about? I do not want to define the feelings that I experienced at this sight. It is enough to say that, that image of my professor has stayed in my mind forever. The reason I bring him here is because, what he conveyed to me was, in spite of all the odds he had decided to look at the brighter side of his life, and somehow he had turned that into a life purpose.

Yes, that is what I’ve been taught by everybody ever since I have faced any difficulties.

Now as an exercise, let’s erase all that we have been taught. Let’s unlearn what has been drilled into our heads since childhood. No, I’m not going to tell you how bad the world is. I don’t want to talk about the entity called soul. Neither will I dive into Karma theory. I won’t even bring in quantum mechanics.

What I’ve discovered when I unlearned all these theories and facts about life and living is that our life indeed has a purpose and it makes me smile because just a decade ago I was so full of doubts about it and wished I was never born. I looked for answers everywhere.

I looked at the people around me who told me earning a lot of money was the true purpose of life and I tried doing that. But I soon realized I was not ambitious for material things. Then there were others who said that work is worship, and I took a job to dedicate myself to some purpose. But, it got tiring after a while and still I do not have a clue why I was doing it. A quick resignation followed. Then I went to the temples to understand what religion has to offer. Other than faith it had nothing to offer and alas I could not pray. So I turned to books to seek answers and I found many interesting people and guides there who had interesting theories that stimulated the mind and for a while I wanted to trust them and adopt their ways. But then, again, the wisdom they shared was too difficult to imitate and adopt. So then I turned to spirituality which took me on a journey to seek my soul. But again it was an arduous journey. I soon learned that I couldn’t eliminate the petty desires of my senses.

So, did that mean at the end, I had not found any purpose? Any concrete evidence of what I was supposed to do with my life?

No.

The answer that I was seeking was beautifully hidden in the question itself. The word ‘LIFE’ which I considered as a noun was in fact a verb. The purpose of life was life itself. To live and experience life. To see it ripen and embrace the nature from which it had risen for a brief time. To see it falling down, getting charred, and then rising like a phoenix, innumerable times. To see it rolling a stone up the mountain like a Sisyphus forever and ever. To see it condemned to Hell like Satan. To experience the anguish of being banished from the Garden of Eden again and again. But to also enjoy the brief period of bliss before the Fall.

The only logical question that arises here is about death.

How could the fact, that we die, also retain the meaning and purpose of life? What is the life purpose of a body which has been mutilated, raped, abused? What about mental illness, what about cancer, hunger, famine, poverty, incarceration? How do these experiences give meaning to life? Why do we experience such intense and extreme realities, if we can call them so?

So, as we say, youll never know until it happens to you. The people who suffer such extreme realities, are here to experience life as it has been given to them. And when we learn to take an experience for its own sake, we actually learn something consequential from it. Some of us somehow need to experience that variation of our existence. It is an experience ‘meant’ for some of us to lead us on some other path. It is an experience not ordained, but perpetrated by the desires of an uncivilized, discontented race of human beings.

And there is nothing pessimistic about it. Just like there is nothing optimistic about gaining fame! We are not here to argue if experiences are good or bad, but just that these are the experiences that have to be experienced.

So each life has a unique purpose. And that is to experience the unique journey of life that has been charted for you. Your experiences are going to be unique and all your own. These are the real treasures of your existence. And no amount of experiences borrowed from others, ‘wise or otherwise’, is going to make the journey any easier or difficult for you.

The Tree

As a person who loves travelling, reading, learning about the world that surrounds me, the one thing that I pitied most of my adolescent life was the supposedly inanimate tree that stands mutely before my house. No, it was not mutilated, withered or infertile. In fact, Spring brought forth its beauty and splendour every year and afforded me the most beautiful sight I could find in a city. What my restless mind pitied was the fact that the tree had to stand in its place every moment of its life, witnessing the same sights day and night, quietly shedding its old parts and donning new ones year after year. The maddeningly repetitive acts were a sheer torture as I imagined myself in its stead. What if I was stuck in one place unable to move, bear wind, sun and rain unflinchingly, just forced to accumulate experiences without being able to exorcise them in any way?

The perception of this dichotomy gradually dissolved and as I actually accumulated and shed experiences, I found that just one particular object in nature had so much to teach me.

What I perceived as movement in my existence, was actually so limited to one small part of the Earth, that it did not really mean movement from a higher plane. I cannot escape this planet after all. However, trotting the globe would also have been a welcome respite. But my life was restricted to very few repetitive acts I performed year after year. And that is when I realized I was so much like the tree that stood just a few feet away from me, doing nothing much than patiently welcoming the change in the external conditions and experiencing the same seasons over and over again.

And the more I contemplated about the tree, the further I learned about the secrets of life. The simplest fact that it taught me was that I could cultivate the ability to tolerate the changes that the external conditions impinge upon my self. And if I refuse to welcome those changes, I’d still have to tolerate them anyway. Nature is much larger and pretty ruthless than you’d like to believe.

And once I cultivated the patience, it also taught me that there is nothing wrong in being stationary. The perception that it is dreadful to be stuck at one place was so limiting. The tree as a stationary object of nature was serving so many purposes, as a source of livelihood and beauty! Why couldn’t my adolescent eyes understand such simple fact of life? And then I could at once understand the concept of sacrifice and love that issued from the twisted branches in front of me. From a pulseless object, the tree had now transformed into a source of wisdom and knowledge for me. How could I have ever undermined its existence? Or dared to pity it even for a moment?

Now, if just one lone object in nature is filled with so much purpose and service for other creatures surrounding it, how much more are we human beings capable of, if we consider ourselves on an elevated position compared to that tree? How can I find my existence without purpose? And likewise can’t I be a source of beauty, happiness and livelihood to others?

Wouldn’t that align me with the true order of the Universe, or the Nature?

Existence

Every kind of expression is a way of purging ourselves of some irresistible emotion. We as creatures are meant to experience and express. These two are the only events that we actually repeat in varying degrees throughout life.

Birth is our ultimate expression and death the ultimate experience. And the entire life is an accumulation of different experiences, which apparently we believe are good or bad for us as per our state of matter.

Our self-worth is based on the quality of experiences that we have, which again are based on illusions. That is why trying to construct a positive or a negative meaning out of our life is a totally meaningless activity. The life is only meant to be lived and watched mindlessly like a movie. But just like the movie, life surprises us with twists and turns and thus elicits every kind of feeling..

Recently I watched the movie Lucy in which Luc Besson says that our ultimate aim is to share our knowledge with others. But what struck me was the music towards the climax. The notes elicited nostalgia, which made me quite uncomfortable. If it was done deliberately, it just meant that we really do not enjoy going beyond the human limitations, whatever good, bad, great, they are supposed to be. In other words, we want our life to be much more than it actually is, we want to leave a legacy of our existence. We just want it to be worth living.

But then, just because life is apparently meaningless, doesn’t it make us free? Free from the consequences of our action? Of course by first showing us that greed, ambition and revenge mean nothing at all?

So, in a way, this meaninglessness is necessary, because ultimately, it teaches us to proceed towards our dissolution in a more peaceful state than we actually do, when we attach ourselves with the objects and creatures of this world.

Life as we know it

I learned about absurdism when I was in college, when I was nineteen years old. In a way, I was too young or inexperienced to understand why absurdist questions troubled some men – literary men. I was studying so that I could become educated and get myself a well paying job once I finished my education. There was meaning in what I was doing or hoping for my future. And so I understood absurdism in a very narrow-minded way. I concluded that since we are all going to die eventually, achievement is a fruitless exercise. I considered absurdism as a preoccupation with death.

But I never believed that there was no purpose to my life. After all there was a purpose why I was learning literature. But for a young adult who has been well provided for and who comprehends the privilege of a college education, the concept of existentialism is hardly going to make sense. And once I completed my graduation, and started making my mark on the world, I realized that the world is a ripe place waiting for me to savour its delights. Everywhere I looked there were objects and people who gratified my senses. Fascinated with what I saw, felt and devoured, I was convinced that life not only had a purpose but much more to offer generously to anybody who stood before it with open arms.

But then, all of a sudden, a shattering experience left an eternal emptiness in my heart which no amount of love or care could refill. And that is when I became so preoccupied with my suffering, so much, that the world became a dismal place. No amount of optimistic advice was capable of bringing me out of my despair and wretchedness. And as I deliberated upon this preoccupation with suffering, I realized that I was also unhappy about the fact that I cannot allow the world to make me happy – the same world which just a while ago stood before me with a beatific smile. No matter how much I tried, I could not fill the vacuum that was left by that experience. When I thought I’d reconciled myself to that pain, I realized it was nothing but an attempt to fill the ditch with loose earth, which gave in the moment the lightest memory of that incident stepped on it.

What was I going to do, but live with it!

This effort to struggle with the pain and anguish gradually led me to believe that there was indeed no meaning to my life. The meaninglessness stemmed from the fact that I was unable to reconcile with my pain. Had I never experienced such anguish, I’d have continued existing blissfully without a thought to absurdism.

There were limited options I could try, to continue to exist and try to rekindle the love and delight for the wide world once again. The most appealing one was to commit ‘philosophical suicide’ that is, to seek God and find a lofty purpose in the anguish I suffered. And as I started healing myself by reworking on my brain center, a new thought occurred to me. What if I encounter such pain all over again? How will I adjust to a world or this nature who grants happiness and suffering at brief intervals? I’d lost my naiveté, a belief in a utopian world, because it could not safeguard me from despair. The only comfort I could derive for myself was from an idea called God which existed outside the material world.

When I further deliberated upon the metaphysical codes, I realized that a belief in the idea of a God invalidates existence in human form. The material world is mere illusion, or we experience an illusion of matter as the scientists now call it. Then, this corroborates the absurdist claim that the attempt to find meaning in life is futile.

And this meaningless scramble will not come to light unless one experiences suffering.

Therefore, the whole purpose of our life is to learn scientifically as well as metaphysically, through extreme suffering, that this existence is non-existent!

The question is once again: Why?