Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Rat Race

The two rats were lounging back, engaged in discussion.

The first rat exclaimed: "But what's the point of racing our fellow rats?  At the end of the race, whether we win or lose, eventually a cat will swallow us anyway."

The second rat retorted: "But a cat might pounce on us here too.  So what is to be done?"

They both started pondering over this predicament, and became silent.

It was a grave impasse.  How, indeed, to live if death anyway was going to end it all?

Zorba the third rat joined them after having stolen some cheese and brought some for them too.  He asked them why they were so sullen?  Both the rats explained their quandary.

Zorba laughed.

He asked them: "Are you trying to avoid the cat while going about your daily life?"  Both of them nodded yes.

He asked them: "Why? Why not give up and offer yourself to the cat right now?"

Both the rats loudly proclaimed: "Because we want to live, Zorba!"

"But why do you want to live, my brothers?", continued Zorba.

They had no answer.  They just wanted to live, because that was their nature: to live and not to invite death.

Then Zorba sat down in front of them, and said, "Remember what I am going to tell you now."

"Whether you live this way or that way, death will overtake you.  Therefore death is irrelevant.  It is not a factor in how you should want to live your life.  If you win the rat race, the cat will devour you.  But if you don't join the rat race, the cat will still devour you.  Therefore, the cat is only an excuse for you to not do anything, anything at all.  There might be other reasons why you are not interested in this particular race: perhaps because you want something different."

"But never, ever blame the cat.  The cat is a constant, an invariant in whatever you do.  Therefore the cat is to be disregarded.  Completely, utterly, absolutely."

"If you live bemoaning the impermanence of life, it is perhaps that someone has told you that there is something other than this impermanence, which makes you want THAT and not THIS."

"Beware of those false prophets.  They will bring you nothing but misery."

And then he gave them some bits of cheese.  Impermanent though the sensation of taste was, the rats were thankful.  And hopeful.


Harsh V. said...

can the rats consider killing the cat?
of course, some new cat might come on the horizon, or they themselves might become cats to others; or there might be catless state for a ignoble way less to death.

Or this THAT Cat a Given?

Harsh V. said...

"Beware of those false prophets. They will bring you nothing but misery."

And then he gave them some bits of cheese. Impermanent though the sensation of taste was, the rats were thankful. And hopeful.

Nice, poetic
esp. Nice..."And hopeful"

Venkat said...

Simply brilliant! One of the undeniable facts of life is indeed death - and both the seeker and ambitious man ( the man who doesn't join the rat race and the man who does respectively) cannot escape it. Truth may indeed be a pathless land but at it's end lies death. Just of out curiosity Harman, having left actualism in early 2010, is there a 'philosophy' or an 'ism', that governs your daily life?