Everything flows, nothing stays

From Pratiksha Apurv's desk Media Watch

Meditation makes us aware that even in difficult times when different aspects of life are pulling us apart, there is a deeper harmony within, writes Pratiksha Apurv. Published in The Times of India and Speaking Tree on August 14, 2020.

Times of India

Harmony by Pratiksha Apurv
‘Harmony’ by Pratiksha Apurv, 18×12″, Oil on canvas, 2012

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus, in his famous fragmented messages, left two important insights that are now very relevant. The first that everything flows and nothing abides, and second, that out of discord arises harmony. Heraclitus was born in 535 BC, an era before Socrates and Plato arrived on the horizon. In these two insights, Heraclitus provided the meaning of life that it is full of contradictions and complexities, yet harmonious. Much later in the 20th Century, Gestalt theory became the centre of discussion among psychologists like Wolfgang Kohler.

Even today, researchers are busy discussing the theory of perception, and whether the whole of anything is greater than its parts. And how just a few dots could be perceived as stars and not just as dots. These messages from Heraclitus and Kohler might be centuries apart in origin but are much closer to finding the oneness and harmony of life.

There are moments in life, like the present times that we usually refer to as tough times. For some, it is misery.

But, we need to remember Heraclitus’ words that everything flows. In fact everything in our life is moving in a cycle. The problems we face today will no longer exist forever just like the seasons. So, if this moment is tough, better times might be on the horizon. Meditation brings this awareness that even in difficult times when different aspects of life are pulling us apart, there could be a deeper harmony within. So what if some notes are missing, at least the sounds of life’s orchestra are still playing on our journey. This realisation is important, otherwise the world as we know it today, is a little gloomy and people are feeling stressed.

We should all see this as an existential change that would ultimately settle into a more stable and harmonious world, but till then the process of transformation must not hinder the beautiful moments converging to create a happy space. We must pick up these beautiful moments, fragments of bliss, and cherish them.

There is a beautiful verse in Chandogya Upanishad which says that nothing can happen in this world without happiness: Yada vai sukham labhate thaa karoti, nasukham labdhva karoli, sukham evaa labdhva karoti, sukham tveva vijijnasitavyam, iti, sukham, bhagavah, vijijnasa iti — ‘Nothing can be achieved unless it is driven by joy. Before anything is created, there is bliss and harmony.’

It is a simple message. Life is a complex phenomenon and there is no certainty about anything. But everything can be achieved if there is joyfulness and harmony in the little things, like observing nature, looking at a child joyfully playing in the garden or someone just sitting on a bench. These fragments will change the way we see the world. Our perception will not be in pieces but a well-structured form of harmonious life, where existence is celebrating and, thereby, filling our hearts with ecstasy. An orchestra might have ten different instruments, but even if six of them are playing together, we won’t find the music lacking in anything.

Similarly, if there are some problems in life, there are also delightful events occurring in each moment. Both problems and solutions are joined together like the peak and valley. They are not separate. Pain and pleasure together make our life complete. Harmony exists because both misery and bliss are part of our moment to moment living. It is impossible to separate the two, and we have to perceive them as a whole.

Similarly, pain and suffering will be replaced by joy and happiness. Let us open our heart to the world so that the fresh breeze of existence flows into it. In life’s journey, there is nothing more cherished than love and kindness in our heart and this is what makes our life harmonious.


Pratiksha Apurv

Pratiksha Apurv is a painter and writer. She lives and works in Pune. www.pratikshaart.com

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