They say music and smells hold memories. With Bangalore it’s also normal sounds and weather. Days you wake up to the sound of sparrows chirping away, the fan overnight having turned the room into a freezer and the morning Sun breaking in through the windows slowly cutting through the chill. Days that remind you of waking up in the mornings to chirping sparrows and mynas. To the sound of MS singing the suprabhatham or the Sahasranamam. Two whole months lined up, just to play in the shade of the Sampangi tree, or watch the sparrows, the mynas and the squirrels, and sometimes the hawk which never left empty-clawed and managed to hunt down a couple of sparrows at least, with morbid interest.
Every time such memories unfold is followed by the conscious realization that no matter what, that childhood is gone. I sometimes wonder how it would be if I had to go back to school, to run around the same ground, to meet the same teachers and learn again. It just does not work. I guess, one of those things you had to do when you had to and move on. Looking back, reminiscing and feeling nostalgic is one thing. Having to live through that life is something totally another.
But then, every thing, every moment of those days happened and you did go through them, but all that is left consciously of them is memories. And memories which you can’t always summon like a DVD from a library and relive. Memories that get awakened at different points, sometimes through some smells, sometimes when you hear MS singing the Hanuman Chalisa, sometimes just a glorious Bangalore morning.
Reading the Tibetan book of Living and Dying it brings me to the term Samsara and where he says that everything that happens in the real world is an illusion and the only thing that is true is the mind and it’s nature. This of course is the core of Eastern philosophy. I wonder how that applies to us. That everything that matters is the current fleeting moment we are living in. The memories that haunt you, the fears you live with are just illusions from the world and all you have to do is close them out and look at the real nature of the mind.
In the book, Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance, he talks about his time in the Benaras Hindu University learning philosophy. On being told that the real world is illusory, he asks the teacher if the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were illusory. He leaves the classroom on being told that they were.
To reject a whole tradition of philosophy based on one question and what one believes as one of the ultimate crimes against humanity, and not getting the answer he wanted, I felt was being a tad too impatient. Which again is my whole issue with Western morality where you tend to label some things as indisputably right and some as indisputably wrong. And one of the main things about trying to understand a different philosophy is to see it from where it perceives and not from one’s own perception. The concept of illusion, rebirth and Nirvana are central to the eastern system of thought, where you are expected to shed all your emotional attachments as illusory and not something that the mind should be occupied about to get too attached.
Every morning in bus is spent reading articles on the NYtimes blogs. There are some brilliant ones on philosophy, written about moral relativism, atheism, naturalism, etc. One such article dealt with becoming Vegan, and atheism. Articles that make you wonder where you stand when it comes to religion, etc. Personally, it is a bit difficult for me to see where they come from, what they are rejecting and how they are able to reject, and I know it’s because it’s not my side of the fence. This side of the fence might be different, might be the same at the core or even the same just under the surface. But that is something I need to inquire and find out.
Am not an atheist yet. I don’t think I’ll go that way entirely, at least currently. But yes, there are questions, which need to be asked and answers attempted. Till then you head on a journey seeking answers. You might not find what you are looking for, or what you really want or even need. But the journey definitely promises to be an interesting one.