Monday, July 11, 2005

Divide and Survive

As a newborn baby, I communicated in only two ways. I cried when in any kind of discomfort and slept blissfully in its absence. As a newborn, I came as close to desirelessness as any person could possibly dream of. Barring my physical needs to satiate my hunger, I had no known desires. Slowly my cognitive senses developed and I began to identify sounds, people, and things around me. My first fascination was with sounds. I was surrounded by all kinds of sweet sounding toys. I would turn, stretch my hands and try to grab the toy whose sound lured me most. I wanted those toys to be in my hands, as they made me feel good. I would cry if the toy I held was taken away. Those were my first visible signs of desire. From then on, my body ceased to be my only source of discomfort. My fast developing mind had started giving me factors, external to my body, through which I was to feel pleasure or pain. My sense of "I-ness" was developing. Anything that wasn't in my hands was not mine. So, I wanted, in 'my' hands, anything that lured me.

As my mind evolved further, I started identifying people. My parents and siblings, owing to their frequency of meeting my eye, were the first ones I recognized. They expanded my emotional boundaries of I-ness. My house and its now familiar surroundings expanded my physical boundaries of I-ness. I still wanted in my hands anything I liked. But if I couldn't handle it for any reason, I wanted it within the familiar boundaries of my home, or in the familiar hands of my family members. I would feel uncomfortable if anything that I thought was mine went beyond this physical and emotional boundary. My first sense of partitioning my world was slowly shaping up and gaining ground. The irony of the whole development was that nobody taught me these things.

As I grew, this sense of I-ness and its related boundaries also grew but only so much to serve my purpose. In the school, the boundaries included only my closest friends. I still wanted the best of grades for myself. I would then expand my I-ness to get the next best grades for my friends. I soon learnt to make this I-ness very flexible and expanded it only if it suited my purpose -- my selfishness. The essential pattern of my existence was slowly developing. At any given moment of my life and under any circumstance, I needed those boundaries to exist and separate me from the rest of the world. The defining factor of this boundary was that I wanted it to be the smallest possible coterie of homogeneity to share my I-ness with and yet just large enough to get my job done.

A dog doesn't let another dog intrude into its boundaries. This is true for almost every animal. Man, having evolved with and from them, is also bound to have such boundaries. Man has evolved enough to proclaim himself a social animal. But those primitive instincts are still deeply rooted in him. Man needs an excuse to shrink these boundaries and a reason to expand them. Caste, religion, patriotism, racism and others are such excuses. Development, well being and protection are the reasons that force man to expand these boundaries. The very fact that patriotism exists means a country exists. The very existence of a country entails a division of land. That essentially is another fallout of separating the world from your collective I-ness. Patriotism is but a hypocritical and celebrated form of selfishness. This essentially makes a traitor a person who prefers a more conventional selfishness to the covert selfishness that is patriotism. Are we then justified in punishing him for treason?

What would happen to our petty excuses for dividing humanity, if entire earth were to be attacked by aliens - a la the Hollywood movie "Independence Day"? Would Al-Qaeda, whose entire existence is a consequence of this exaggerated I-ness, still go on with the terror strikes? Or will it welcome the aliens with open arms? For, after all, aliens are doing its job for free! Wouldn't our petty squabbles on caste, religion, land, patriotism and others lose their prominence when our very existence is threatened? Wouldn't we expand our boundaries to make the whole earth and 'humanity' a part of our collective I-ness and separate the rest of the universe, aliens included, from us? But that essential boundary would still remain. It is this boundary, this division that separates man from God. "The body has fewer inhibitions than mind", said Dr. Victor Frankl in his masterpiece "Man's search for Meaning". The day the mind successfully overcomes these inhibitions and breaks this boundary, man would knock on the doors of divinity.

Monday, July 04, 2005


I'm the road.
Now, I'm the road.
I was once, not the road.
I once dwelled on the road.
I once had life, unlike the road.

A lively kitten, beside the road.
I lived, foraged and played around the road.
A jaywalker that sometimes crossed the road.
My instinct was my 'Oracle' on the road.
It once ditched me, when on the road.
A car ran over me, on the road.
I wasn't a human dying on the road,
so the traffic didn't stop on the road.
A trolley then crushed me on the road.
My eyeball popped and rolled over the road.
Only to be sandwiched, between a tyre and the road.

I soon resembled a torn leather on the road,
as blood stains mixed with the dirt on the road.
Now, I'm one with the road.
Rather, I'm the road.

Man didn't let me live around the road.
He didn't let others scavenge me from the road.
Nature's law of "nothing to waste" -
is itself a waste, when on the road.