The force of farce

At times the world around seems false or falling apart. And then the realisation dawns albeit fleetingly that it is our own world view, not the world, that needs tinkering. Our perceptions dictated by the senses don’t change what exists or happens beyond our skin. The closing of a window does not alter the scenery.

Practised and punctured senior journos have no problem admitting that ‘we are not important, but self-important’. Still, the all-knowing aura is a necessary bluff, despite being obvious. A put-on scholarly snootiness has been the hallmark of print and we only see its magnified manifestation in prime time now. Social media, downright democratic but agonisingly anarchic, is the new genie that has overwhelmed every other form of communication. But, be it a select few of the past or the stampede of the present, it is always a parade of personal perceptions passing off as public opinion. And I am aware of the proverbial four fingers pointing inwards.

If perception is not reality, what is? After all, humans can’t grasp the abstract and need mental handles to hold on. Bharathi, in his trademark epic eloquence, amplifies this millennia-old confusion as queries in his poem ‘nirpadhuve nadappadhuve’. He asks if all that we see and perceive are mere optical illusions bereft of any depth of meaning. (Arppa Maayaigalo, ivayil aazhndha porulillayo). The desultory, delusional undertone is something everyone, just off cradle or one foot from grave, experiences at some situation.

Scriptures and savants suggest a simple solution: Acceptance and surrender. Sri Krishna bluntly says: Whatever happens, is happening or to happen is for good. He does not say good will happen. But the Lord can get away with this ‘loophole’. We know God knows and knows better. The same Sri Krishna however says this is not a mandate for inaction. ‘Do your best as prayer to me and deem the rest, whatever outcome, as prasada from me’ is his SMS — Story Made Short. Somewhat similar to the army dictum: Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die.

That still leaves the question of perceptions open. Good and bad. Right and wrong. Superior and inferior. Legal and illegal. Pragmatism and idealism. Dos and Don’ts … the list of this or that, not to mention the grey shades, is endless. In both public and private matters there can be a million debates but often only one decision and one course. So who is to judge? And what is the guideline? Arjuna was deserving of the Lord’s constant company and counsel. He was not only a great warrior with formidable command over war-games and weapons of the time but also a person of great intellect who could entertain such profound doubts in the first place. We are but mere foot soldiers, lame and listless, with blunted tools, a vision not beyond the touch screen and only thoughts of the next meal! Quixotes tilting at windmills?

It is easy to take refuge in the moral plane, throw up one’s arms in spiritual negation and also dub it enlightened bliss. But then now even so-called saints across religions, have taints to their karmic debit. The point is, at the mortal level there is no escape from action. And perception dictates action. At best one should take responsibility for that and be ready for the consequences. And then, of course, throw up one’s arms. Free will is tethered to the freewheeling sweep of fate. But it is certainly there even if only in a narrow bandwidth. The OS that our body-mind hybrid is bundled with and the embedded self-destruct programme will ensure the comeuppance, whenever.

Forget super souls. Don’t we the ordinary teeming faceless millions, with a FB page for sure and a tweet here or there, and yes, on that touch screen, feel like mute spectators in a fool’s gallery? Don’t politicians, parliamentarians, professionals and people too, anyway prove our comic credentials everyday, at home, work and even in sleep? Are not our entrenched notions of ego, invincibility, self-importance and all the petty bickerings reflective of God’s sense of humour, though seemingly pervert? The idea is depressing and demeaning. But then it is also liberating. Nothing lightens up life itself as learning to laugh at oneself. Even philosophy can become fun if treated as a joke!

Why look for sense when it is all nonsense? Seriousness is a serious disease. Self-mockery is the only antidote. This is not giving up but a gap to gather one’s wits. To accept we know nothing is to know everything. Once the slate is blank, even a small point later will be stark.

See you in two weeks, hopefully with fresh perceptions. Of course, don’t take them seriously, even if they seem so! Just my job!

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Jawahar T R