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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Karma Sutra: The several phases of our life, and the constant movement

Our life comes to us in phases. These phases give us some stability and a semblance of the present. But at the end, we must keep moving on.

Written by Ritu S | New Delhi |
September 26, 2016 9:37:12 pm
Dandelion seeds in the morning sunlight blowing away across a fresh green background The end of a phase simply means the start of another… (Source: Thinkstock Images)

“Isn’t it queer, how it’s all gone… Yet it seems to me as if all the years I lived with him had never been real… Oh! It was wonderful! Yet it doesn’t seem any more real than a cigarette one has smoked.” (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by DH Lawrence)

Human beings are told to ‘live in the moment’, to realise ‘the power of now’, to ‘make the most of the present’…and, yet, how does one possibly live in the present moment when it’s fleeting and fittingly called momentary or transitory (kshnabhangur).

It’s no wonder then that life has been compared to candy floss and grains of sand. When we bite into candy floss, we in fact bite into the suggestion of a candy, just as when we try to hold a fistful of grains, they slip out of our hands, silently, yet relentlessly. And so it is with our present, with every tick-tock of the second’s hand, it’s gone.

However, if it is any comfort, our life comes to us in phases. These phases give us some stability and a semblance of the present. Every phase has a few constants, such as our place of residence, place of work, the set of people that we interact with, even our set of problems seem to have a pattern in them!

On the surface, things seem to fall into a predictable and an almost rigid routine. This predictability, however, can drive us insane due to the mechanistic sort of a monotony that sets in. And, yet, despite its repetitive nature, it does offer us a sense of comfort – the comfort of the known and the familiar. Sometimes, this comfort that we draw from the known devil even gets in the way of our seeking something better or of a greater value in life.

And, yet, it is a constant conflict, to want things to change and change in a desperate way and also to hold on to the predictable way, in which our life flows. Any phase, despite all its drawbacks appeals to our instinct because we have an innate fear of the unknown. Such is the human dilemma.

But, change is the ultimate truth of life, tathata, the suchness of life, as Buddha coined it. And one fine day, the phase ends. Whether the change is for the better or for worse is insignificant and subject to personal reality. The fact of the matter is that a phase comes to an end, as all phases of our life do. All the factors that made it what it was, good, bad, ugly, have receded.

That which seemed steady as a rock and which we took as a given (for granted most of the time), to be enjoyed or endured for the rest of our life – be it a person, a situation or things…all vanish, are gone; never to repeat itself. So near yet so far, the monuments that saw the drama of our life now seem like ghost houses. There’s nothing left there for us now, just our echoes and shadows. If this isn’t maya (illusion), then what is?

All that we are left with is – our version of the past. Prettied up notions, facts that we distort to suit our current state of mind – we either under-play the challenges and overrate the advantages, or vice versa. And, yet, no harm or good can come out of it now (except, if we choose to cling to it). Once the phase is over, it’s over.

Life is changing every moment. ‘This too shall pass’ has become a part of our personal history. Buddha says: ‘Nothing here is worth clinging to’. Charai veti, charai veti – keep moving, keep moving. Past, present, future are all illusions of the mind.

Let us use this privileged human birth that enables us to seek that which is permanent in nature, beyond space, time and causation – the invisible infinite.

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