Thursday, April 24, 2014

Imagining beyond being - The Foundation

As a good friend of mine read part two, she wrote back anxiously, I guess, to know if something strange/profound had happened. Quite surprised, I read the whole of it and found I had been a bit angry with people, quite irritated/disappointed with society, and overambitious about myself. In effect, I had felt emotions I should not have, about most people who don't matter anymore, at least as much as they used to. I re-read the post slowly and deliberately, so that I would see through the vehemence of it, and never write like that again, emotions glaring!

But that was not the only finding. I found I also violated some of the underlying principles of the philosophy I'm an adherent of now. It also struck home the point of examining the source of my thought processes of 'beyond from being', the ways of controlling passions and emotions; understanding the meaning within the apparent meaninglessness of life; and many more aspects, that would ultimately deliver wisdom from, and to, that way of life. Maybe this post could serve as a primer of the outcomes of that initial examination, which is still an ongoing journey.

About seven years ago, for the first time, I faced the reality of 'what is the meaning of life?' The years thence led me through the search for a philosophy, that would serve as the basis for a meaningful life, and one that would serve ultimately as the meaning itself. After a worthwhile pursuit of a few pearls of wisdom from the philosophers of my birth-religion (some of which reflected in my earliest writings but do not appear here now), and then of my brief encounters with a few philosophical dimensions from the West, I finally rested myself on the most sensible of them all - stoicism. (Considering where I found the source of this pearl of wisdom, it would befit to agree with what is said proverbially: that we find inspirations for life in the most unusual of circumstances and trivialities!)

Everything about the premise of stoicism - the wisdom of the self-possessed person immune to overmastering emotions and life's setbacks* - struck a chord in me. I hardly ever knew what hardships were, if you mean hardship as it is generally meant. I have been made steady by the sacrifices of many a human, starting with my mother, whose victorious struggles with unfair lives yielded me a fair one! (To me, they are the first beyonds!). But there are always hardships, of various kinds, for all of us. Some setbacks (as I saw them) early in life and the resulting emotional turf wars for extended lengths of time did make things difficult - the eternal struggles of the beings. But this essence - that there is wisdom possible for a self-possessed** person - sowed the first seeds of contemplation and critical introversion, with a curiosity to understand the roots of being human, precisely because I had long been under overmastering emotions and I always saw setbacks of different kinds. Once the seeds grew to be trees over the years and I began discovering the fruits of that wisdom, there has been no stopping. And then, an even higher sense of wisdom: the consummation of the individual with nature and a life in harmony with oneself and nature, no matter what fate sends in one's way, all the while living contentedly with what are just necessities and not be left wanting for anything.

Again, initially they did prove to be difficult, the sensibility and reasons of austerity and idealism in this. They still do so, at times. But no answers are impossible when the questions are reasonable. The questions of the nature of self, the oneness of that self with Nature, being human, beyond human etc. And thus goes on the process of critical introspection that has led me to where I am now. In light of all that fate or fortune has brought me, the stability of the reasoning arising from this introspection of the self-possessed does yield wisdom. There is no greater sense of contentment than realizing that oneself is steady in the path he chose for himself, in accordance with nature, and is prepared to be unfazed by what fate or fortune sends one's way.

This has been the best part of the journey so far, one that brings happiness and contentment from the understanding and realization that the subordination of pleasures, passions and emotions to the supremacy of the mind and the soul delivers wisdom, rooted in reason, for a harmonious life. And that is still just the beginning. I have a long way to go yet! I err, I stumble, I fall. But I pick myself up, and move on.

And so it was that the previous part about expendability turned out to be a shaky bit in the journey; a rocking boat caught in a storm. There may be bigger, more powerful storms coming. I brace myself! I know I have the courage to carry on to the beyond, and the strength to bear to stop being the being, even if it means expending some of the beings. As I know, it may end up as a solitary journey, but the path is clear, and I thank the stoic ideals which serve as the light at the horizon.

* - Preface of 'Seneca: Letters from a Stoic', Penguin Classics, 2004
** - Did you immediately sense selfish here, ignoramus?! Selfish is wanting for oneself, whereas self-possessed is holding oneself ground in reasons of the self; kind of a prerequisite for introspection, if I may say so.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Imagining beyond being - Expendability

As I wrote the introduction, I did not realize that I was writing just that - an introduction. Hence the title update now. Little did I anticipate that I would come to follow it up with quite a heavy dose of life lessons. But the difference between that introduction and this follow-up is the difference between two worlds - one of imagination and the other of reality. The situation here is the choice between the reality shaped by the thoughts of consequences of the imaginations if they were to turn real, and the reality that happens by itself. After all, it is one thing for an imagination to become real, and quite another for reality to happen by itself, unaided by any sort of imagination.  How many of us have had the true pleasure of saying 'I imagined I would live this way'?!

The following is the result of yet another battle of mind and heart, and the overarching and unyielding determination to go beyond rather than just stay being the being, no matter which one wins. It is in all ways defined by the motivation to break from being the being and become the beyond. And if I have to come to realize anything since that first thought, it is this: It is not impossible to go beyond the being, only just too difficult, at times, to hold on. But the point is to hold on. And the conclusive lesson is this: If a fellow being who knows he/she can be beyond, too, along with you, but still refuses to break free from the being for reasons whatsoever - society, insecurity, fear - it is not your fault. That is the reality that happens to them. If your reality is shaped by your imaginations, you cannot reconcile that with the reality that just happened to them. The logical thing to do is to let go and just move on your path to beyond. People leave. Simple. To rise above mere mortals, it is inevitable to break free from them! And that is how it often becomes a solitary journey. Here's to mutual expendability; you to them and they to you! I may probably leave you with the feeling that I sound like an anti-social, but I'm not. As I said in the introduction, I'm only just better off without the society. I don't raise slogans nor do I hold banners of protest against this damned society. There is nothing sacred in fighting something in the middle of which you yourself are. Instead, I think it is wise to be invisible to that very something, and make your way through it unnoticed and finally break free. (Paradoxically, I'm very obvious with this statement, am I not?!)

Most often, it is the society which keeps the being prisoner, and clips its feathers of hope to fly away to the beyond. And my latest experience is fully borne from this fact. Many people who should have mattered to me for life (and sincerely did at some point!) - some friends, other social gangs, and most of all, the women any of whom could have been my woman - all proved me wrong that I could take them too to beyond; and all of them preferred being the being. At best, I have tried to give them the elixir of imagination-driven reality, but they just wouldn't drink it! They have sided with the reality that happened to them, or worse, that they brought down on themselves. The infinite vicious darkness called society is just not the ground where I can take these beings head on and convince them of the possibilities of the beyond, and ask them to join me in overcoming the distasteful, dispirited, unambitious society. Looking back from the eyes of their society, they have all played their cards wisely. One more frog to the damned lot in the well! Good for them, and good for me!

For the pitiable souls (myself one, at some point in the past), it is awful to see how easily the society belittles something as significant as the motivation that once made them near-impossible to be held back in bondage. One of the reasons must be the fear instilled in them of becoming meaningless when death stared right at them and asked them what they made of their lives. I think many beings are slaves to the society because they are slaves to time and death, and the resulting fear of an imminent failure to state the meaning of life, should either time or death cut their journey short and make them answer to the society's question of 'the purpose of life'. The beings have a cause for the future, while the beyonds have it in their present. In this confusion, the beings do not understand that the beyonds seek a meaning starting now, as they live, which could only prove right in the long run. Even if death were to stare at them for an answer to the purpose, the beyonds have made right by the very ambition to start creating that purpose. As much as I have seen, the beyonds live, whereas the beings are always preparing to live!

That said, when I knew at every stage I was taking one step closer to the beyond, my beings could not understand. Looking back, I thank them all sincerely. For, as I said, the beyond is not the opposite of being, but the absence of it. Now I realize that the absence of that common lot brings meaning to my solitary journey. Still, I have not given up the ambition, or the over-ambition so to speak, that someday I will take, at least, one being to the beyond with me. To win that heart, I have an unrelenting spirit, an elevated spirit, of envisioning a beyond, far far away from the being. And when we start on the journey to create wonders, we will propose one toast to the expendables!

To the best of times!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Imagining beyond being - Introduction

We are no strangers to imaginations. Imaginations are like the breaths we take. They are there every moment in whatever form they come in. A life without imagination is like a flower without a color or fragrance. They are a part of us. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they do not. Sometimes we wish for them to go away, or to stay for just a while, and sometimes to stay forever - sort of a second life. The roots of imagination never leave us, but the branches reach worlds apart, and the flowers they bear are intoxicating. No matter how reasonable or wishful - depending on whether they are driven by thoughts and reason, or by pure emotion and feeling - our imaginations seldom stay or go away to our whims and fancies. They are just there around all the time and we constantly fight for them to stay or leave. On attempts to avoid all this, there is no dearth of definite ways to control the mind, and thus the imaginations; all the methods of self-control. But how far do we go to achieve the levels of control we like to exhibit, with people and things alike?

I must say I'm a bit overambitious to aspire for the highest levels of self-control, my personal definition of which is becoming increasingly complex. Paradoxically enough, the possibilities of deeper meanings and eternal consequences extend or contract the definition, based on the stakeholders and the circumstances; just like an archer who knows he is responsible for where his arrow lands. I wonder if I'll ever define self-control completely. All that is driving me now towards whatever I wish to define it as, is a ray of illumination on a cleaner path, away from the dirt and darkness around, (which I will call the society, for want of a better comparable. Don't get me wrong, I do not hate the society, I'm just better off away from it). I know neither the source of the light nor how long the path is, but that light is a better guide, and that path a better alternative to an infinite vicious darkness. And, now and then, I'm tested to my limits to sway from this path. I hold steady sometimes, and I break down at others - reminders of the human nature, only with a strong sense of awareness that I both succeed and fail, and that this cycle will never end. Just being human.

The true purpose of this complex self-control, as I see it, is the constant endeavor to be beyond human; one that is a bittersweet journey; and one that is a constant tug of war to break away from the social-collective being and become the solitary-individual beyond. The irony of this endeavor is that, when I feel I have won over the commonplace desires and passions of the crowd, and stood steady as the individual I am, the resulting exaltation and pride break the very meaning of my having exercised my mind to break away from the being and become the beyond. I try my best not to be exalting or self-gratifying, but I also allow myself the latitude to feel these emotions, and let them ride the wave. In short, a proud beyond becomes just another being, defeating the whole point of it all. The beyond should not be the opposite of being, but the absence of it. The other side of the irony is that if I end up letting myself down, staying just the being that I am, the resulting pain of having failed in the exercise to be beyond takes me out like a boat caught in a storm. And so it has been for years and years, on one occasion after another. After all these years of this tug of war, this is what I have learned about self-control.

All said and done, come what may, the journey to becoming the beyond will go on forever. The ironies of this stormy journey, filled with its surprises and shocks, may rock the boat so much so that it can capsize into the vast sea any minute and take me down with it. But the awareness of the endeavor will keep my hands steady, my feet firm, and my eyes straight. Every storm ultimately subsides. And there I see the light at the horizon!