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.

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