Our immortal selves - C.K.Mathew, C.S. Rajasthan

The greatest secret yet to be revealed is regarding what happens to us after our body decays and we are no more.

Of course, this assumes that our body is but the vessal that carries something more than flesh and bones: all religions accept the fact that there is a soul that lives on even when the body is gone. Most religions contemplate a life after life, a divine and metaphysical heavenly paradise where the soul fuses with a universal Spirit that is the very embodiment of God Himself.

It is unthinkable but there are many amongst us who ponder on the question that there may not be anything after all once the heart stops ticking. The end. How very awful, but the possibilty is there, you must grant that. It does not in any way detract from the concept of the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God, for He was, is and shall be always there, whether we are there or not. Perhaps we are but insignificant pawns in the great Plan that is being played out by Him. Perhpas we, as a race, do not matter at all to the great Universe, this third planet spinning around Sol.

At a prayer meeting to mourn the passing away of a well-respected and well-known senior citizen of Jaipur, I heard one of the speakers quote from Psalm 103:

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

Written some time circa 1000 BC, these words make it clear that even then, three millenia ago, men were contemplating the frail and transitory nature of the human existence. And perhaps, several millenia later, if the human race still exists, we may be still scratching our heads over it. Our mortality is our common inheritance, scattered as we are over several continents and dispersed as we are over several racial groups. We worry about it, we spend countless days and nights in the inexplicable natue of our lives and yet we reach no conclusion. This alone, this predicament of ours, unites us as nothing ever can or will.

And that is why we leave our markers behind us, to remind ouselves and others who follow, that we were here once, we lived and celebrated, we did great things and made a wonderful noise, before we left. The crumbling marble statues of the Roman and Greek civilizations, the inexplicable Sphinx presiding over the mysterious Pyramids, the artefacts of the indus civilization, each of the paintings of a Michelangelo or a Leonardo da Vinci or a Picasso, each marker we leave behind is a courageous and indomitable reminder that we left behind to remind us that though our lives here are fleeting we yet aspire for an immortality that will define us as the proud and wonderful species that we are, the homo sapiens. We perversely write our names on old monuments, hoping that our scribblings will proclaim our identity long after we are gone. We name schools and hospitals after our revered parents or some great benefactor, hoping that their memory will live on in the institutions that we build, for generations thereafter. Even the books we write, the poetry that we recite, or the sculptures and paintings that we create, all shout out the words, I am, I was here once, I lived before I died, and what I did here so many years ago, are the things that you see and admire today. In your appreciation of what we did, we live again, we become immortal.

There is no doubt about it, even though we may deny the truth of it, the fact is that we are obsessed with our mortality, the shortness of our existence, the impermanent nature of the human condition. We may not be able to articulate it, we may not even acknowledge the bitterness of that inescapable truth, but there it is, we are seeking to perpetuate our immortality even though we know that there is no such thing.

So then, what is the message of this blog? Nothing that we do not know, nothing that we have not celebrated and sung peans about. That we human beings are the finest creatures that the Almighty has created; puny, inconsequential, of little significance in the overall perspective set against the vast and immutable Universe, but undeniably great and impossibly heroic. We are what we are, homo sapiens, the wise and knowing humans; knowing that we are here but for a brief moment, nevertheless strutting around as if we are immortal gods.
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