Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Real, yet so fragile

Dad's not well. He sometimes feels weak and dizzy--last week he stumbled and fell down, hurting his head. Mom tells me to wake up early, not at my usual 8, but before 7, so that I can accompany Dad to the nearby hospital for a checkup.

Then we plan to buy a house that's under-construction. I speak to the owner, discuss and haggle with the rate, and everything is still in a phase of uncertainty when one morning I visit my in-laws . There's an empty plot just next to theirs' and it's a small hillock. They suggest that I buy this site and build a house there, instead of going for the other building. I ponder over it.

I get up early. It's a pleasant feeling, the sun's not up yet and the surroundings are a hazy white and fresh. I have an early breakfast and go with Dad.....

Just before leaving for office I sit back, pondering over the above situations.

The one involving 'buying the house' was a dream that I saw early in the morning. It was so real and lucid--and never once did I doubt its authenticity, as long as I was inside the dream. Once I woke up, I realised that it was just unreal.

And sitting here, I compare the dream with the 'real events' and see no difference between them, whatsoever. The pleasant early morning feeling, my accompanying dad to the hospital, my plans of buying a hillock....they are no different from one another. All are events and they are just as real as long as I'm there, in the thick of the action. Once I come out of it and sit at a distance and look back, they are just wisps--distant, fleeting, unreal.....

I remember a story of Lao-tzu where, he dreams that he's a butterfly and the next morning he starts wondering whether he dreamt a butterfly or whether the butterfly is dreaming now that it is Lao-tzu. Break through the surface and you find a vast, deep ocean. The everyday reality that we're familiar with may not be the only one that exists.

If I look back at last week's events, they appear no more than one of my nightmares. Real, as long as you are there. Come out of it and it's gone. But most of my life is spent in this 'Unreal' world of events and situations. Once in a way I wake up and ponder over the seriousness or futility of everything but almost always, I'm inside-- stuck up and playing the game. And when there's a distance, it's a very funny feeling. It's like you've killed someone in your dream and the police are chasing you...... you run, feel terribly anxious, frightened, your heart's racing--and the alarm wake up with a cold sweat...after a few seconds, you laugh at the whole absurdity.

Life appears absurd at moments but these moments are rare.

Yet I cannot deny and shun this temporary reality until I'm anchored in something that's permanent, something that's authentic. Unless I know and experience a higher reality, I'll always be playing this game, waking up once in a way to laugh and again get drowned in the forgetfulness and go on playing the meaningless game...

That permanent reality, what the mystics call as enlightenment, is what I want. Maybe it's what we all want and seek at some deeper level, although we may not know it. We delude ourselves with irrelevant things--possesions, security, validation from others, desires, money, name--and deep down, we're always thirsty, we're always seeking and striving, always unfulfilled. Nothing satisfies us. We seek and chase everything and anything all our lives and one day the damn game just ends.

'If you want enlightenment, you'll have it. Our wish isn't strong enough. If you truly aspire for it, you'll get it.'

How do I develop this strong wish? How to pursue enlightenment, with tremendous passion? How do I wake up, never to fall asleep again?

I continue to ponder, as I slowly drown in the everyday game of life.


  1. To be enlightened, I believe that you have to know yourself...To know your mind and your body and how your reactions to external stimulus. That's all you need. That's all you've got. Dont get lost in thoughts Vishwa. Go and take a slow walk, and put your attention on your feet and your breathing. And enjoy!

    One step at a time.

  2. Thanks val....I got similar advice once--witness your body, mind and thoughts--and gradually you'll know directly that you aren't these. That's the first freedom--from this physical and psychological self.

    There's a story of a Master who drowns his disciple in a river for a while, and later tells him that he should seek God as he sought for a breath of air while he was under water. I seek that passion, that intensity.

    You follow the Zen path, don't you(My guess). Why not write a post on your journey, your goals(if any) and experiences?

    Thanks, once again :-)