In today’s article, I would like to take you all into a roller-coaster of understanding the fine elements of life. To the best of my knowledge, I have simplified this article and expressed honest opinions and ideas. As always I welcome your valuable suggestions and comments. I hope you all get something useful out of this genuine effort to bring the LIFE into words.
Oscar Wilde once said that “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all“. He put the summary of our everyday life in just one statement. What did he mean? Are we not living? What is the difference between living and existing?
Life is an ever unfolding journey to those who open themselves to all kinds of possibilities and to those who are willing to take risks to tread the path without considering the qualitative merit of the end-results or the journey’s comfort levels. But, life is a stagnant rotten pond to those who attach themselves to the qualitative aspects in every element of this journey. And most of us contribute to the rottenness of this pond by swimming aimlessly, running away from our own selves every second, into the world around, and yet, within the boundaries of our own preconceived notions. We do not let fresh waters of creative life enter our existential stagnant pond.
We do not, for a moment, stay calm and ask “Whence did we come from and where to are we headed?“. This is what is hinted by Oscar Wilde when he says that people just exist and not many live it. Even a robot programmed to do certain acts, exists just like us. Include AI and a 50 years futuristic tech in it and it will seem to exist better than us. But can it LIVE? We have a chance to live and yet we do not! “Live” happens when we understand the purpose of our existence and take willful choices to build the journey of life. Not only understanding, but a sense of satisfaction should be innate irrespective of the apparent pains and pleasures that we face from time to time. A satisfied, meaningful and purposeful existence is called LIVING whereas a combination of mechanical, aimless and purpose-less acts, is called EXISTING .
Let us go in-depth into this topic by dividing different aspects of life and understanding the roots of certain basic elements by asking those questions which we often ignore. This gives us more clarity and greater chance to LIVE rather than just EXIST.
- Awareness – We become aware of ourselves and surroundings
- Self awareness
- Sense of shame
- Interaction – With this awareness we interact with objects and life forms
- Body and its instruments
- Mind and its games
- Dualities – This interaction causes dual transient states of happiness and sadness
- Constants – There must be something constant within these transients
- Sense of absoluteness
- Bliss – The ultimate goal of life
Our life comprises of days and nights of work (any kind of action is work). Whether we work during day light or under the night moon, we start our “day of work” by WAKING ourselves from sleep. When we are asleep, we do not know if we are sleeping, but when we wake, we are sure we were asleep until few seconds ago. In fact, it takes some moments to regain our awareness back. Once we regain this awareness, we proceed to our daily routine (or some special activities on special days).
Have you ever questioned how we are awakened? Please do not say by alarm – we all know that alarms have cursed us since their inception into this world for being absurdly used into un-truthful and repeated snoozing. The same question can be put at the end of the day of work as to at what exact moment do we fall asleep? and How? These two questions are never asked. We carry on our day by hatching ourselves out of these questions and yet we do not question them. What is our hurry? Is not the goal of humanity, as a whole, to understand the mysteries of their very existence? Well, the answer to that is not direct but to be meditated upon in form of the following example – The same way a wave/ripple arise and receded into an ocean, our consciousness wakes and recedes into its background periodically. Any way there is a huge barrier between sleep and wake. When we are asleep, the wake is asleep to us and when we are awake, the sleep is asleep to us. So, I will leave the contemplation task to you and proceed further taking it granted that we become aware of what we know as “ourselves”.
Not only that we are self aware, we become aware of surroundings. This awareness completes the feeling of “NORMAL” to us. Imagine either you do not feel the surroundings or your self, what happens? So, this awareness of self and surroundings is what makes our life butter smooth.
But, this awareness brings in some senses of boundaries. We know that we are naturally born without clothes. But as we grow older, we are taught to cloth ourselves as it is “Civilized”. Who decides what is civilized or what is normal? Wearing a short or bikini in beach seems normal and yet not so when meeting with a client in the office. What is that sense of “shame” that we carry around which is not seen in any other species of animals? Isn’t it worth asking? Why did we choose to clothe ourselves? Is it just for protection? If so, we all would have had similar clothes/Uniforms in a given region. Or, people would choose to not cloth if they feel they are well protected anyway. But we choose to cover at least those areas of “SHAME” (as we may put it) and this is a fact no one can deny. If some people do not, we see them as ODD. I feel this is the first thing one should answer themselves as to why they are clothing and why is it odd to not clothe in public and why does public (group of people) feel weird about this. If the answer is for the sake of others, then they are slaves to others’ opinions, are they not. If the answer is for their own sake, what is that sake???
This sense of shame separates us from animals and yet, ideally speaking, puts us deep into the attachment to our own body without our realization. See how un-prepared you were to answer the above question? That much how we fool ourselves in our life by following blindly without questioning and we call ourselves advanced species. This awareness of self and privatizing our body is a key aspect of our existence which we never care to question and ask others. This sense of privatizing also creates boundaries between different humans, which when crossed (in their own definition, what ever this crossing may be) cause problems.
So, first element to understand about our life and existence is the “Self-Awareness”, “Awareness of Surroundings” and “Sense of Shame & Boundary”. If these aspects are thoroughly reasoned, we will be content with our actions. We need not answer others. But we should at least be truthful to ourselves. See a yogi who is nude. He does not care what others think. He chose whatever he chose, by reasoning within and that is why he is content with himself. In-fact, in India, during the grand congregation of Yogis – Kumbhamela, one can see hundreds of “Naga Babas / Nude Yogis (male and females)” and we see people taking their blessings and considering them revere. But if the same Yogi roams on roads, I am sure people would think he is mad or police would be enforced on him/her. This is the hypocritical society but if you consider the YOGI, they are at least content with their choice!! This hypocrisy of society will go away once each member of this society truly understands the roots of the problems I mentioned.
Awareness aspect has been now taken care of. Let us come to what we do after waking? We interact with the so called surroundings through our sense of surroundings. How does this interaction takes place? The subjective interaction happens through the MIND while the objective interaction happens through the physical body. All of our interactions can be put into the following:
- MIND – Acts as CPU
- Sense organs, Motor organs – Acts as peripheral devices to CPU
- Internal organs, blood, muscles, etc., act as the remaining parts of computer
What separates ourselves from computer is the “awareness” of mind (whose roots we may call as soul). In fact, we can never prove that computers are “unaware (or soul-less)”, we just think they are so, because of un-responsive states of their base forms (metals/plastic/atoms). So, it is better to say we are more dynamic in our conscious awareness i.e., our soul/awareness has higher degree of consciousness.
Anyways, coming back, are not the above three groups elements of a complete set which forms the whole process of interaction with outer world? To eat, drink, speak, befriend, form an enemy, cause trouble to others, be helpful to others, etc., does not the above three groups enough? More so, mind also facilitates us even to reach those worlds which are not physical – Dreams/Fantacies/etc.
We said Mind is CPU, so it is the central processing unit in our self. When I say mind in this section, I mean it is both the self-aware entity (direct product of soul may be) as well as just the instrument governing the interactions. So, do we need to take all that is input to “us” through this mind as true? Mind, often, relies upon senses. Senses often tend to deceive. The sky seems blue, horizon seems to be a place of sky and land to meet, mirages seem to be waters, etc. Are these not delusions? Then how can we trust this MIND? This is another aspect one should question. How to define and then discriminate TRUTH and UN-TRUTH ? If we take help of mind, our definitions and hence the process of discrimination will be polluted by its weakness. Then what is the solution? How to interact with surroundings without being fooled by this CPU? Let see.
Dualities and Constants:
With the given awareness and interactions, what is the result? Two things:
- We either like the interaction which grows into a sense of pleasure or joy to the mind leaving “us” in a happy state.
- Or, we dislike the interaction which grows into a sense of pain or discomfort to the mind leaving “us” in a sad/worry state.
These both are inevitable. In fact if we summarize all our relations with surroundings – with objects as well as with life forms, each of those interaction has a “sense of happiness/sadness” varying with time. TIME is very crucial here. For example, we like a pet and over the time it dies. The time which we spent with it seems happy while the event of its death and there by its absence makes us feel unhappy. If a question is put as to “how is your interaction with your pet” we cant give a definite answer. The same is the case with any relation and more so as the degree of consciousness increases in the object of interaction i.e., with humans, the confusion is highest.
Ask yourselves, why does an interaction causes happiness or sadness to us and ask again if they actually are causing that to us? If the interactions are really causing us the happiness/sadness, why are we not in that state always? We tend to weep or be sorrow only when we are reminded of the disturbing situation or while living the situation but not otherwise. When we eat, sleep, take a bath, crack jokes with friends, why are we not sad of the disturbing situation that happened? Or when we are sad, why are we not happy of the situations when we really enjoyed a trip with our best buddies?
This line of questions will critically prove to you that the answer lies in understanding the weakness of MIND. It is MIND’s play. When MIND is associated with a particular thought, it induces a “state of being” in us. When that thought changes, this state of being changes too. If this effect of MIND is transient, are not the states of Happiness and Sadness? So, beyond this MIND are “we” and we are actually untouched by it. But because we apparently are induced into a temporary state of being, we feel we are happy or we are sorrow. The very transient nature of these proves to us that they are passing clouds which mean there must be a medium in which they pass and that medium should be stable. That stability is our “I AM”-ness. (soul/Atma/what ever you call – beyond mind).
Once this is realized through thoroughly contemplating on self-critical questions, we can truly define RIGHT/WRONG, GOOD/BAD, etc. in our own terms of understanding. Infact, everyone has their own definition of good/bad and right/wrong and yet, they follow their own GOOD and their own RIGHT most of the time. This is an interesting fact to note. This majority following their own GOOD is the absolute GOOD and absolute RIGHT. This background which influences the relatives to sprout like waves in ocean, on the surface of life is the only CONSTANT in our existence. This constant needs much more thought and questioning.
Ok, given we are aware, we interact, we became pray of happiness/sadness and learnt some hidden secrets, what is the ultimate goal? We see everyone around us in some hurry or another. Where are everyone running to? Why is the struggle to shape life into different structures? After all, every one is going to live only for few years. And most of them do not know what awaits their death. Then why a sense of “honorable” living or their own defined “happy living” ?
At every interaction, a human intends to achieve a futuristic self defined happiness. But this definition keeps changing as his interaction changes. Say a teenager is into games. The moment they are in a relationship or grow older, their games are not anymore the same joy givers. As they grow much older and have life partners and children, they struggle to keep the family safe and happy. Are they struggling to be happy? Is that not ironic? How can one struggle and be happy?? That is only their defined happiness. Here, in our example, the defined happiness lies in what the family defines as happiness, and here it is a smile by the end of the day 🙂 But for this smile, if a human works loads during the whole day, does it make his life HAPPY? Or, let us say they keep maintaining this life style. Then what? When kids grow up and move out or when family members die or acquire some diseases, then what happens? Let us say they lead a sorrow life. Then? Every one eventually cease to exist (their bodies). For this small bubble like life, why so much hassle then?
The reason is the innate sense of “living forever” exists in all of us. Though its a fact we see that death meets everyone, we still think or atleast feel we are fine and will live another day. Is this not the hope we all lead our life with, at the least subconsciously? The truth of eternal life, though realized by some, may be the result of this tiny emanation of momentary hope of living next moment too. But so what? if we were to live, through many lives, the similar life, what use? and what is the purpose?
Whether knowingly or unknowingly, we all tend to be asymptotic to be happy. We do not intend to be sad/worry. Sometimes sadness may be result of our intention of being happy (as defined earlier). So, the key is to be beyond these dualities. We saw earlier that the dualities are the transient states induced by fickle mind. What if we can, by reason and logic, go beyond these emotions and dualities? People think that would make us a rock. BUt that is not true. Those who seem to be like rocks, still are emotional in a way. Those who are beyond emotions or dualities will lead a life with a background truth that everything is transient and hence lives like a water drop on a hydrophobic leaf. It exists on it and yet is free to roam on it. This state of going beyond the limitations of preconceived notions and living in a state of simple realization of TRUTH is called BLISS. All our life struggles (over life times) should and will lead us to this state of BLISS. Think about it. When we watch a movie we like, and we go to similar movie in the hope of liking it too. Why prolong the sense of liking? Repeated watch of same movie, though liked first time may cause nothing new in us. We may be bored as well. But still the lingering for finding happiness remains.
The one who goes beyond these petty transients and stays forever in BLISS is the most advanced being.
In this essay like article, we learned to ask right questions that allow us to LIVE than exist. Though most answers should be taken from already experienced souls via scriptures, for those who do not believe the truth value of the ancient lore, this article at least gives proper line of questions for them to search, in order to live purposefully and meaningfully!