I never could have thought my keyboard transforms so naturally into a grand piano every time I write. The prelude, the exposition, the recapitulation: it's my mind that creates; the fingers execute.
These passions we pursue – are they accomplished in this life itself? What if they are not? What then? Isn’t it simply our purpose to execute, to grow richer, to raise ourselves higher in thoughts so that even if we were to die not having reached that summit we set out to tread, we leave behind us reverberations in the cosmos for someone else to pick up from where we left off? Isn’t life an on-going process where we know no beginnings and no ends? Aren’t we merely caretakers of dreams we might ourselves have sown or perhaps carriers of those sown by another one or some other ones before us?
I often wonder what I am really and how significant or inconsequential my existence is in the larger world. Aren’t I miniscule in a boundless universe? Yet when I ponder over this thought I’m very much everything. I am a microcosm in itself. I possess within myself all that’s there in this immense physical world outside of me. Those life-streams of oxygenated blood gambol inside of me like rivulets; the clouds carrying water and drenching all with new hope rise and fall within me; the mountains in their grandeur, raring to be conquered, inch their way up my own structure of the pelvis, rib, sternum, skull, and dazzle in crests of blue-white-gold upon my forehead and my crown chakra; the axis that holds me together and around which my numerous dances of life and death are performed is no more than my very own spinal cord; the currents inside of me transmit themselves from one molecule to another until I am that one colossal hub of energy that sparks and fizzes. I am my own cosmos. All begins in me, makes its way to the outside, finally ends in me. I am the life that is there and that is in all.
I am in perpetual motion within my inner self and with the outside. Whatever happens inside me happens outside of me. I am a part of it all. I could never exist without this connection, without this constant collaboration with the greater cosmos. Everything that occurs out there in the crevasses of the earth, the swirling seas, the biosphere, enters my premises and vice versa. Nothing exists in isolation. We are one. We are atoms dancing our mad dances, colliding with each other, creating, co-creating, dissipating eventually into nothingness and into the beginning of another lifespan. The air around me is abuzz with activity. It is alive in its grand network of the goings-on. Just as we blow out carbon dioxide and take in oxygen, we assimilate and then spill the many thoughts that overrun our minds. We are rainclouds, unable to hang on to our countless droplets after a given time. We have to let go of them in order for all to partake in the cosmic cycle. We cannot incarcerate forever in our many pockets of consciousness those dreams, those passions we set out with. We have to release them. And it is through this release of our various thought sediments into the cosmos that we attain our own personal salvation, then move on. This indeed is the law of universal sustainment.
What to me might appear as the first drop of early morning Sun has in reality travelled those many light minutes and across infinite spaces to get to me. What might tower over stretches of land like a giant, spiralling into cyclonic winds, annihilating all that comes in its way, comprises billions of atoms performing their terrible dance of destruction. I am an atom from such a storm. I am a light molecule from such a Sun. I execute to my best and in my very own way my dance to this grand cosmic spectacle. My purpose is to merely perform my ballet upon my arena, to expend my energy, to combust and incinerate myself for the larger cause. I could illuminate the earth and moon with my light or rip the sky apart with my arrows of fire, rain down and bring a stretch of parched soil to life again or maybe lull the world to indolence and cloak it in my valleys of flowers and rocks and trees. I am part of the greater whole and work in conjunction with the other parts; a fragment, yet a god in my own making. I have powers but only if I can allow them to tap to the rhythms of this dance of life and death about me.
I am uninformed of a monarch of the universe sitting upon his throne, meting out the destinies of earthly beings. I am sceptical of a final judgement that might decide my heaven or my hell. The only truth I am sentient to is of the murmurings of new dreams and their kinesis as the dreamers perform their numerous ballets around me. The cosmos is made up of matter. I am matter. Matter never dies; it changes form. Dreams don’t either. They live on. And we are mere caretakers of such dreams; or carriers. We move on into our own oblivions or into newer forms but we plant the seeds of hope, of new beginnings and unending yearnings after us for those who will take to them as easily as a pianist’s fingertips do the keyboard; and as easily as we did the dreams that we have so long been pinning ourselves to in this journey of ours.
We need to realise too that if it is certain dreams that we’ve set out to accomplish then our only obligation is to the labour we put in to realise them. Who are we to paint our pictures of the perfect consummation? What is that perfect consummation anyway? Is it not insatiable, this chasing after the ultimate? No summit is the final summit. Neither can an idea be quarantined within the walls of one lone mind. It has to disseminate in order to live on. Did Gandhi accomplish all that he had set out to achieve? Was his journey the final journey, his summit the definitive summit? Did he eventually tread the footholds of the sublime peak he had envisioned or was he able to merely make a beginning? And if, as many would feel, he did make it to his pinnacle, then why, even in moments of laughter, did he have the glints of sadness escaping his eyes?* Why was his, the resounding cry to his inner and outer being as he stumbled to his death? Was it for the agony taking over his bodily self as the bullets pierced his heart or was it the moan of a man leaving behind him the succession of dreams unaccomplished, the questions unanswered, the desires unquenched? Yet it was after all his dreams that outlived the frailty of his corporeal existence. They made a difference. They liberated the minds of millions and do so still. They reignited the soul of a battered nation. His is a thought that continues and will so. The countless ripples he left behind him are the residues of that thought he released onto the world about him? They will pulse and breathe and burst into newer and grander dances of human hope and victory.
Every moment for us is a journey and our lifespan comprises a network of these innumerable journeys we have undertaken before that final synthesis of our tattered bodies with the earth that had in the very first place birthed it. Moving forward, journeying into newer worlds or experiences or thought-processes is the quintessence of our existence. Mountain glaciers melt into rivers that must make their way to the greater sea and to that state of being where heat vaporises the droplets into masses of cloud, which must again rain down and fill channels that are seeking perpetually the larger reservoirs to contain them. The stretches of vegetation we see around us sprout from within the soil to finally mulch into non-existence, yet having disseminated their seeds and pips for posterity. The Einsteins, the Newtons, the Gilberts, Edisons, Amperes and Ohms, the Buddhas and Christs, the Aristotles, the Platos, the Da Vincis, the Monets and so many others have sown thoughts and ideas that have been cultivated and perfected over the generations and will do so forevermore. Their concepts were mere ignitions that flickered, took to flame, to illumine. The thrusting of their theories, concepts, incomplete works into the universe after them and having them fall in step with the dances of life, evaporate, transpire, eventually rain down upon the world to release newer ideas, newer philosophies – this never-ending process has sustained civilizations for eternity.
It is all about moving forward. Reversion has no place in this continuum of life and living. Every morning is a new awaking. Every step we take is a journey into a new experience whether it is seeking the sublime through great inventions and discoveries; or whether it is drinking a mug of coffee that makes its trip from the container into the mouth of the drinker to invigorate his senses or perhaps have him watch it spill over before it touches his lip. Every move to perform our mundane or extraordinary tasks is an onward step. Every moment of our pausing to consider between our dailies is a voyage into our inner selves that grows us as human beings. And it is this moving forward that is after all the dance we partake in as co-creators of this universe. We emanate the energies stored within us and transmit them to those around. And the immense passion we nurture in the pursuit of the greater truths in art, literature, science, philosophy, humanity and all others is what tears through not just our psyche but also ignites the minds of those who are in sync with thought processes such as ours. They are impelled by an inner though mysterious force to feel with intensity the passions we have nurtured so far.
If the passions are so powerful that they crack open the crust of the earth and issue like volcanic eruptions from within the artist, philosopher, scientist, seer – so much so that each passion itself sets afire a people or a cosmos and even rises above that person it is in possession of, so he becomes a mere vehicle in its expulsion – then that is the one that will sustain all tests of time. And these passions cannot simply be. They need to be tested. They need to be flung into the pits of raging kilns, honed like the blade of a warrior’s sword, pounded and shaped, buried deep in the skin of the earth just as a squirrel would bury its nuts over winter, letting the mud smother them, the rains thrash their bodies, the winds and other adversaries hunt them down – and still survive. It is only the survivors that finally make it to next spring. It’s the same with dreams and the passions living inside of the person. If they can splutter, choke, half-die, battle, yet still live on, they certainly will. It is this passion then that is more potent than its carrier and needs to be fed and sustained. It needs to live. It has to. And in order for it to do so, its caretaker must propel it into the universe. He must give it form and life. That is his life-mission, not the realisation of a pinnacle that he has set for himself as a yardstick in his egoistic pursuits.
I am born with powers, some more potent than the others. I sow my dreams, nourish them then work to build on them. I am the gardener, not the seed. I nurture the many kernels of truth that I come across or those that I excavate and find, to plant them for a new beginning. I cultivate the several species that live around me; and sometimes I revive those that edge towards extinction and give them new life. I am the caretaker of my dreams and will be so until somebody else takes them on after me or sometimes with me. I am never master of that which I seek. I am its slave, feeding its desire for fruition. Every act I perform is larger than me, however tiny or insignificant it might appear. And I am bound by the sequence of actions that govern my life – the ordinary and the sublime.
And my labour in my day to day life is what consecrates me as a true human being and is a way to my stepping closer to the higher life that we are all aiming towards. I was never born to squander time because this very time apportioned to each one of us is merely a tiny breath in this extraordinary ocean of breaths that drowns us. My agreement in this life is with the labour I’ve set out to perform in big or small ways. No job can ever be classified into ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ in status and we need to recognise the fact and respect others and ourselves in its integrity. No scientist building a space shuttle can be superior to the lone wood carver chiselling away to produce a figurine that might illumine the mantelpiece of a home; no builder who constructs colonies can be greater than the sweeper who rises early mornings to clean up the mess created during the day by others; no man working himself at the workplace to support his family financially can be more important than the woman raising his brood of children and keeping his home workable. There is significance as well as beauty in every task because no single work exists in itself. It is a contribution to the grander human existence and to the wider cosmos. A lack of equilibrium in one will upset the momentum of another. We need to work in unison and to dance our own dances to the very best. We need to breathe passion into our dances so that when we fall in step with our co-dancers, the final result is one of utmost perfection and synchronisation. The very passion we transfer to those around us is what inspires them because this world then transforms into one enormous hub of energy that connects, reconnects and empowers.
Dreams need not necessarily be of the majestic kind like climbing the Everest, or writing the greatest book ever written, or building the highest monument that will outlive posterity, or composing that immortal melody which will touch the chords of millions. We are each born with our own passions and our own physical, intellectual and creative limitations, our own geniuses. Each dream of mine is not mine alone. I am not the owner of my dream. I am the executor. And I am certainly not the master but the caretaker of dreams – mine, or of those innumerable ones sparked off before me. I contribute or must contribute to the building and maintaining of this magnificent circle of life that has no beginning, no middle, no end.
An extract from a forthcoming collection of essays: The Cosmic Ballet