Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Seeking the Unknown, part 6

As man grows older, his mind is weighed down with memories and experiences.  To read a book or to watch a film or a sunset is not the same for him now as it was when he was young.  In youth all experiences were novel to him.  Now, having seen it all, nothing is very new to him.

Give him a novel, and he will recognize the familiar tricks of the writer.  The familiar building up of anticipation and then release.  The familiar setting up of ambiguity and moral choice.

Give him a song, and he will recognize the sentiment as having been sung before.  The familiar crooning and the elements of poetry.  The familiar expressions of the familiar feelings of heartache and longing.

What sustains the spirit of adventure as one grows older?  As more and more enters the sphere of the known, does the hankering and the seeking become more insistent, or does it fade and die?

If what the sages say is true, then the search for the unknown cannot be diminished by the knowledge of the known.  It can only become more focused, focused away from the known.

But life is finite, and at the end the unknown is still ahead of the seeker, infinite in its expanse.  Living longer will not help the seeker.

The seeker's only value is exploration.  Each day the seeker does not explore is a waste of a day for him.  He has to go toward the infinite, and it must fill him with shame to circle around a puddle.

The infinite is never reached.  The seeker's journey never ends.  But the journey is not thereby futile.  It would be a tragedy for the seeker if it ended.  What would be there for him to live for, then?

To seek the unknown is the very flow of time.  From the known, the past, into the unknown, the future.  The seeker is more ardently in love with the future than with the past.  The future is his beloved, and the past contains only ashes for him.  And that may be scary for the ambitious, for who the future is full of risk, and the past provides wealth.

The seeker floats and flows in the river of time.  The ambitious plans to navigate it.

The seeker trusts.  The ambitious prepares.  While the ambitious revels in light, the seeker lights up during the night  The ambitious is energized by the crescendo of trumpets, the seeker seeks the silence of stillness.

या निशा सर्व भूतानाम् तस्याम् जागर्ति संयमी
यस्यां जागर्ति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः

What is night to all beings is the time of awakening for the seeker
When all are active and awake, that apparent day is like the night for the silent.

(Bhagwad Gita 2.69)


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