Who Am I ...?? Why Do I Seek..???
As he sat silently with his son over the dune overlooking the body of water, Rosh saw the sun setting behind the clouds over the horizon.The golden hues played with the slits in the clouds and the hues started turning purple.
Mesmerised, Josh whispered to his father, “It's beautiful, isn't it Pa? The unreal colours make you wonder whether it is really real."
"Yeah,” said Rosh, "Is it real? It is as real perhaps as you and I. Or are we unreal too? Who are we really?"
He sighed and paused, collecting his thoughts, and then began to speak again, "A King wanted to know who he really was - not as a king, but as a sentient being.
He asked his ministers. When they could not satisfy him with their answers, they told him of a wise Bhikshu (Buddhist monk) who lived a solitary life in the forest. The King sent a chariot to bring the Bhikshu to him to answer his enquiry.
When the Bhikshu arrived, the King welcomed him and inquired courteously, “Thank you for coming at my request. I hope you were not inconvenienced in my chariot.”
“What chariot?,” the Bhikshu queried.
The King pointed to the chariot and said, “This chariot”.
“I see no chariot”, replied the Bhikshu.
The King was a bit puzzled. He pointed to the chariot again, and said, “This chariot from which you have just alighted after your journey from the forest.”
“I see that vehicle. I am not blind. But where is the chariot?,” the Bhikshu repeated.
The King was now thoroughly perplexed. The Bhikshu, seeing how the King was puzzled, took pity on the King and said, “I see no chariot. There is no chariot. Let me show you what I mean”. He pointed at the chariot driver, and asked the King, “Is this man your chariot?”
“No,” said the king, “He is the driver.”
“Ah! So he is not the chariot,” smiled the Bhikshu, “Then these horses must be the chariot you are talking about?”
“No”, replied the King, “they are just horses. They are in the chariot, but they are not the chariot.”
“Aha”, said the bemused Bhikshu, “So, the chariot is neither the driver, nor the horses. Let’s bring them here then. Now where is your chariot?”
The King pointed at what remained of the chariot, still confused. At the Bhikshu’s request, the wheels were separated and brought forth. The King agreed that the wheels were not the chariot.
Slowly the whole chariot was dismantled and each time, the Bhikshu asked the King the same question - whether that particular piece was the chariot. The King acknowledged that it wasn’t. Finally there was nothing left.
“Where is the Chariot?” asked the Bhikshu finally.
The King had no answer.
"Ponder on that and perhaps you will discover who you are", said the Bhikshu as he walked back into the forest.
Dusk was turning into night. Silently, Josh stood up, put his hand in his father's palm and helped him up. Turning back, they walked back to home, each lost in his own thoughts.
"But where is the me that I identify with in any of these?"
"Yesterday I told you the story of the Bhikshu who helped the King in his quest to understand who he really was."
"Did that help you discover who you really were? Where is the chariot? That is the question."
"Vedas, the oldest extant literature of humankind, have answered this question. That answer is 'That thou art'. Tatvam Asi."
Seeing Josh’s blank face, Rosh explained, "The key thoughts of Upanishads are:
"I am me, God is God. I am me, Nature is Nature. So this way of thinking always makes two. Me and the rest. This line of thinking leads to war, to grief, to envy, to race.”
“The proliferation of these sayings in Upanishads shows Vedas believe in Monism, rather than dualism. This is why many scholars believe that Upanishads teach Advait - which means primal unity. Tat tvam Asi. That art thou."
"Chandogya (C., 6.3.2-) Upanishad says: ‘Atma is the only reality, everything else is just different forms and names’. Vedas also say that deep inside us, we already know who we are. Yet why do we forget it? Why do we seek it? Why is this question important anyway?”
Pope John Paul II once wrote in his Encyclical:
“… A cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?"
"These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle."
"They are questions, which have their common source in the quest for meaning, which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives…”.
“Do you begin to see now?” asked Rosh.
Josh walked quietly for a few moments, then replied, “I can see why it is important to know, Pa. What we do in life, what choices we make in life comes from our perception of who we are. So it is important to know who we are.”
"Aye," Rosh sighed, "You must know yourself. You are worth knowing. Perhaps, more than anything else."
'There is hope', he thought, as the duo walked into the bush discussing life and how one could live life.
But the crows perched a top the trees disagreed.
"Oye!" one said.
"Aow, Haw, How?" the others cawed........and it continues......till now .....