Human existence is illusionary in nature; the sooner we realise this, the better, writes Pratiksha Apurv in Speaking Tree, India, on July 23, 2017.
From childhood, we are brought up in a society that encourages competition, ambitions and the accumulation of wealth as the sole motto of human life. Often this cacophony of desire, ambition and greed, stills the lone voice of the most relevant and existential question of ‘Who am I?’ In villages in India, there is a saying: “Kuchh aage ki socho, ye sab toh mitti mein mil jayega – Think beyond this life, all this will dissolve into mud – earth.” This is a significant statement to make one aware but nevertheless we avoid the need to know our own inner self. While we are all aware of death as a distant possibility, we continue to accumulate wealth, never realising the facticity of our body which is made up of the five elements and is created from them.
The paintings Cosmic Fusion-I, Cosmic Fusion-II and Cosmic Reality try to depict this paradox, where everything is so visible yet remains hidden or rather ignored by many. The body made of the five elements will soon be gone and what will remain is an unknown – undiscovered self.
In Tattvabodha, Adi Shankaracharya talks about the five elements: “Brahmashrya Satvarajastamogunatmika Maya Asti. Tatah Akashah Sambhutah, Akashadvayu, Vayustejah, Tejas Aaph, Adbahay Prithvi – from Brahmn the three gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are made and then the akasha or space is, and from space, vayu – air is born. From the air, agni or fire is born and from fire, water is born. From the water, earth, the last and fifth element of the body is born.” The sage is indicating to us the illusionary nature of human existence. However, in spite of such indications, mankind has never earnestly attempted to address the question of ‘Who Am I?’ All other possible aspects of life on earth and now in space are being explored by us. As if the search for one’s own inner self is the last thing we want to do, the last task of life when we are old, infirm and of no use to society. But, by then it will be too late to even understand that all our riches and dreams were nothing but a temporary identity, a bag full of ego that will have eventually merged with the five elements.
In another shloka, Adi Shankaracharya says: “Upadhi Vilayadwishno Nivishesam Vishesmuni Yatha. Va Tejastejasi Viyadhyomni Jalam Jale – Once the seeker has lost all his identity after the decimation of his ego, the seeker dissolves into Vishnu, who is the ultimate reality.” The conditioned mind or ego is actually the main obstacle for the seeker. The search for power and self is all a creation of man’s ego; through it, he tries to attain a false sense of security.
We never realise that the more security one creates outside, the more vulnerable we become inside, the more insensitive we become inside. The feeling of security has a different meaning for those on the inward path, because there one is certain that nothing can happen. Everything is a shadow projection; forms can come and forms can go. The Buddha says that this nothingness is already there and it can be realised in a single moment, when the mind of desires is gone. What remains then is just emptiness. The Kaivalya Upanishad gives a glimpse of what to expect when this ego, the mind of desires, is decimated and when all expectation and outside insecurities are gone: “Na bhumirapo na cha vahinrasti, na chanilomesti na chambaram cha. Evam viditva paramatmarupam guhasayam niskalamadvitiyam, samastasaksim sadasadvihinam prayati suddham paramatmarupam – There is neither earth, nor water, fire, air nor sky. In this state when one realises that there is only the Supreme Being and even the witnessing is gone, then one enters into the true Self.”
Kabir, too talks about this awareness when he says: “Panchtattva, guna teeni chadariya, das Kabir jatan se odhi, jyon ki tyon dhar deeni chadariyan – Kabir says he is blessed that because he wore the shawl made of five elements, three gunas and other attributes with great care, he put it down as pure as it was given to him by the Lord.”
Osho says, you can know the divine hidden deep in the heart by two ways. “One is if you go on becoming more and more aware, more and more a witness and less and less a doer, then you can know that reality hidden in the heart. The other path is yoga, the path of means, methods and techniques. In your awareness, soon you will come to a point where the transformation, the mutations happen – where you are lost forever and only the divine remains.”
The paintings depict this inner reality.
Pratiksha Apurv – www.pratikshaart.com
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