‘The view outside my window’ While deep in thought, Shiva would often embark on an inwardquest that was hardly close to being a pleasant exercise to indulge the facultyof the intellect in. It was a grueling journey of self-interrogation, whichwould leave him with an amalgam of expressions on his face: mostly a frown anda half-smile. This stage was what philosophers would call an ‘intermediatestage of confused happiness’.
After the seemingly debilitating contemplation, Shivawould open his eyes and look at his rather flummoxed friend, a friend who wouldaccompany him on most days to the tree beneath whose branches they sat forhours on end. He would then ask him the most fundamental of all questions, ‘Can you see that which is not?’The friend’s initial replies mostly constituted vehementnods, which underwent predictable transformations on subsequent questioning,into shoulder shrugs that probably signaled an acceptance of being ignorant.While the authenticity of the responsive gestures of the friend could bedoubted on account of him varying his responses just to incite some excitementinto an otherwise banal and insipid question-and-answer session, the state ofbeing ignorant and the act of accepting the same are to be considered ratherhighly in any quest, whether mundane or not. Meanwhile it must be noted that one never knows how tomeasure one’s preparedness for the occurrence of life’s greatest of events,which would herald a complete transformation of the self. But then, iflife-changing moments were to occur, why would the doctor order it when in ametaphorical state of stupor? It isinexplicably rare that an individual is not ready or even conscious at theselife-altering moments. One such unmissable event is that of the dawn of wisdom,which I would rather call an ‘onslaught’ due to the event’s sheer dominance andbrutality in its nature of occurrence.
The onslaught of wisdom could be ethereal, but it would bepreposterous to assume the absence of a physical, chemical and a biologicalcounterpart to it. Deep inside the mental make-up and possibly amidst theneural networks in the brain there must be a mechanism to infuse wisdom intothe individuals. But then again, wisdom is nothing that man can pinpoint at, forsuch an act or validation itself requires a superior cognizance with which onecould recognize wisdom in the first place. The ignoramus knows not how to treatwisdom for such an entity never did come into his awareness or cognizanceearlier in life, or presumably when such an entity was indeed perceived by himin the past, he was left baffled and disarmed to act upon it. Was Shiva now ready for such an onslaught? Was he now readyto receive the answer to the question that he would periodically bombard hisfriend with? By nightfall, when Shiva would return home, he would muck aboutrestlessly, and call out to the wind and the stars. Sleep was not a necessityanymore, but being awake meant a terrifying conscious wait for the dawn. Butthen, dawn came with half-promises and hopes of delivering the panacea that hesought, to cure his chronic ignorance.
It was chronic due to the underlyingtruth that ignorance can never beseparated from the ignoramus. At dawn, he would have to proceed to the tree,whose branches seemed eager to provide him with the shade that would assist himin his quest. Maybe the life in the tree too hoped that he gets what he soughtafter, and in the process the tree would be glorified for eternity, for beingthe catalyst in his success. Shiva had no friend in the neighborhood but on the veryfirst day that he had met someone who sat beside him, while he was in contemplation,he had very mysteriously and instantaneously recognized him as one. He never hadwittingly sought any company. The friend would arrive quite unpredictably, butwould always be there when he would open his eyes. It became such that as thedays went by, the friend was felt to be there for longer periods of time. Washe also pondering over the same question or was he there just to witness theseemingly futile exercise of seeking answers to abstruse questions? “Can yousee that which is not?” he was asked again and again.
At the heart of the question lied Shiva’s preconceivednotions of existence and non-existence. All that his eyes saw, existed, butwhat of anything beyond? What if he were to shut his eyes from the world?Nothing would be seen except what he had planted inside his head eitherconsciously or subconsciously. The physical attributes of matter were soconvincingly conceived that to assume away their authenticity in adding toreality meant a Herculean effort. The frailties of the mind were seldomtampered with, and to delve into this realm of the spirit required anincredible amount of courage.
He was a saint by demeanor, but a warrior atheart with huge repositories of courage waiting to be utilized at the opportunemoment. None of his days under the tree were visibly fruitful; thestates of confusion and happiness did seem to coexist and linger on for morethan he thought it would. Then came a very fine day, a day when he wasexceedingly satisfied with himself. There was a sense of emptiness in him, likethat of the interior of an empty cup waiting to receive in full capacitywhatever was to be poured into it. Such an epoch-defining moment could neveroccur without tell-tale signs preceding its occurrence. Whether it was to be anonslaught of wisdom or just a period of temporary bliss, was yet to be seen.But one could tell from the intensity of the moment that some implausible eventakin to the disintegration of matter into spirit was to occur, albeit withinthe framework of his own mind.
What shows you the world? Notyour tiny little eyes.It is a tinier entity: the mind,without which you see nothing.All you see is through this tinypeephole,That acts as a window to your ownworld within.What of the friend? On that particular day, the friend shothim a glaring glance at the end of the usual session under the tree. This time itwas the friend who had asked the question, rather rhetorically, “Can you now see that which is not?”Even the birds who listened to this, chirped at their loudest and began hoppingaround the branches of the tree, creating a symphony that seemed to be thebackground score for what was happening under the branches of the tree, whichwas their stage.
The rhetorical question had hit Shiva so hard that he burst inecstasy; he became an embodiment of joy. Everything around seemed to beephemeral yet eternal; he felt that he was an immortal celestial being treadingupon earth, but also experienced the entire eternity in the span of a moment.The friend was laughing beside him, and the next moment he was gone as if hewere never there in the first place.
Containing this new-found joy within him, Shiva stood up andwalked around in the neighborhood and enquired of the first person that he met,of the whereabouts of his friend. The bewildered person replied that there wasno such person in the neighborhood. Infact, with responses from the people that he met subsequently, the truth wasonly hitting him harder; he had been sitting all alone under the tree since thebeginning.
A second wave of wisdom now dawned upon him, taking him to apedestal rarely treaded upon by other mortals. He now saw that which wasnon-existent, and surmised that the non-existent was the basis of the existentreality. He said to himself “That which is not, is the basis of that which is.What I see, is the view outside my window, and as shown to me by the windowitself.” He returned to the tree, and this time sat there without anyconfusion, with no agenda on his mind and seeking nothing whatsoever.
Thefriend was there too. But this time, no questions were asked between the two.And so there were no answers.