(Also published on the Elephant Journal)
A few days ago I lost my phone. It was on silent mode, hence I couldn’t call from another phone and locate it. I had used it that same evening to order pizza. But I couldn’t remember for the life of me where I had left it. So I kept looking for it frantically. One hour. Many hours. Feeling some sort of separation anxiety. Finally I got tired and went to bed, hoping the next morning would bring better news. That day I had been going through existential anxiety bouts since morning. What am I doing here? Why should I be here? Am I even at the right place? For a bit, the disappearing of my phone took the heat off from that larger question gnawing me from inside. And I laughed at myself thinking : If I can’t even find my bloody phone, how will I ever find the purpose of my life – complete with a facebook update from my laptop to fill up for the lack of the other gadget.
The next morning we used some technology, some pleading to the husband, some getting worried that it was my office phone, to finally locate it. It was lying right under a box on the ironing table in my bedroom. The same box that I had looked multiple times inside and around, but not just under it. The phone had always been there. Of course. It did not have feet to move. So why did I say that I “lost” it? I never lost it. I only lost the awareness that it was there where I had kept it myself, while being in another world of my thoughts trying to paint a picture far far away.
Can’t the same then be said about everything that we are trying to seek? Or reclaim, thinking that we lost it? Purpose of life. Meaning of our existence. Our true calling. Our essential nature. Our dharma as Hindus say or our dhamma as Buddhists say. Our deepest desire, which defines our deeds, which in turn defines our destiny, and which is ultimately us – as say the Upanishads. If we were born with it, it can’t be “out there” somewhere. We should still have it right in front of us. Inside us. It could never move out of us. Just like my phone. We lose cognizance to it being there – in the here and in the now. In the very plan A. There isn’t a plan B. There can’t be. We are foolish to even think of making one. The present moment in its space-time continuum is inevitable. If it had to happen any other way, it would have happened that other goddamn way.
The way to that one thing, if at all, has to come out of where I am today. Like those paper maze puzzles that have so many paths jumbled up. But in the end only one of those gets you to the destination. The rest have obstructions after a while making you go back. The path of my life is unique. I can’t walk on another one. No one else can walk on mine.
An old legend goes that once God sent one of his assistants to earth to bring a really poor woman whose time in that life was over. But when this dude reached the woman’s house he saw that she had three little girls, two of them still suckling at their dead mother’s breast, and the third one sitting and crying. So the Godman decided to not take the woman with him, away from her girls. On hearing this, God got totally mad at this guy and threw him back to Earth, asking him to return only when he had realized his stupidity. So many years passed and one day three very healthy, happy and pretty girls walked into the shop that this Godman was now working in. He immediately recognized that they were the same three girls, all grown up, and were now getting married into a royal family. After their mother had died, the girls were adopted by another family that brought the girls up with utmost care and comfort, way better than what their mother could have given them. The God dude realized his mistake of suspecting his master’s plans and went back.
Of course the story can be argued in any way. But the point is that the next step on the path of life’s maze can never be seen. It is futile to plan B it. It is sillier to predict it. The eyes can only see till a certain limit. Right now I see my screen, my table, my bed. Even if I draw the curtains and use a telescope, I can’t see the world. The world beyond this world and so on.
So the meaning of life then, is really about keeping the faith in its plan A and losing yourself in it every moment.
Only then, can you find it.
(Image courtesy: showtimemagazine.net)