Sleepless in Mumbai!

Sleep, as always, is averting me. No, I’m not in love, neither have I been worried. In fact, it is the most wonderfully peaceful time of my life. But sleep, has its own whims and fancies. And so I blog at this dark hour.

So they ask, why do you climb a mountain? because the mountain is there. So why do you eat food? because there are so many wonderful things to eat. So why do you write? because there are thoughts that try hard enough to be heard. So why do you work? because there are unfinished jobs.

Any other answers, such as – “we climb to make a world record”, or “we eat to nourish our bodies”, or “we write because that might make us famous”, or ” we work to make money” … are lame answers. Okay, wait – this is not one of those blog posts meant to make the point that one should work for oneself and not others. And to prove it, I say – equally lame are the answers such as “we climb because we have strong urge to reach the top”, or “we eat because we are hungry”, or “we write to express ourselves”, or “we work because we love working”.

On such sleepless nights, the philosopher in me wakes up – the one that loves to inquire, because he wonders, not because he doubts. And asks simple and beautiful questions, like this one – why do we act? And after deep thought all answers that it gets finally amount to “for the heck of it”, “for the bloody heck of it”.

No purpose, however lofty, is justification enough – eventually. The more deep I go in thought, in action, in emotion – the more hollow the purposes seem. Purpose is a funny word. Sometimes, it means the “urge before we act” … and sometimes its “the result we hope to achieve after we act”. The assumption that these two are same or linked – is dangerously insane. Sanity, for that matter, does not rest on this insane assumption – though it is made to believe by our schools.

To those who have read him, I might sound like Roberto Calasso, no wonders. His book Ka has been quite an influence.

So this assumption, that our urge to start an action is somehow linked to the results of the action, is what the Buddha called “the concept of causation” … a sort of cognitive association we form between two events separated in time – the earlier one being assumed to be the “cause” of the other. This concept, according to Buddha, is a myth. I don’t completely agree with him. Not because I think he was wrong, but because knowing it, really doesn’t help. And in Calasso style – I ask the Buddha: “what does it mean to help?” … and he replies: “again, ‘to help’ is a concept that presupposes cause. In other words, why do you think – things should help?” … I actually didn’t get his question at first, I thought for a while before I inquired again – “no I don’t think all things should help. But then, I shouldn’t care about those things which don’t help – right?” … Buddha as usual smiled, and said “you think you can control what you care about” … and then I smiled too. 🙂 What I saw in the moment was the fact that I care about things which are not necessarily consequential (consequence is an opposite of cause) … and many times I don’t care about things which are consequential … similarly I many times have “passionate urges for things” which I don’t care about… and many times I’m dispassionate about things I care about….  basically I realized that “caring for something or someone” is more fundamental, more profound, more important, more desirable, more right … than “expecting a consequence” or “pursuing an urge” … I felt nice!

“To care for”, is what the Buddha called Karuna .. and it does not have a “why?” to it … it happens for the heck of it.

For those, who are wondering how I happen to talk to a person who lived 2,600 years ago, I’ve just this to say – that, according to me, is the most inconsequential question to ask. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Sleepless in Mumbai!

  1. Saumya Saurabh says:

    Seems like the Munna bhai in you has awaken and you see and talk to Budha the way he did to Bapu. Nonetheless, curiosity is a human instinct (call it nature if you want to). And to seek answers which lead into the cause of our nature is futile according to me. So i guess the only way left out for us to to wander, wander and wander more (both mentally and physically)…Hopefully that will answer some questions; like it did for many such as Buddha, Bulle Shah, Jesus, Muhammad et al. Otherwise, you can just sit back and say, we do what we do is for the heck of it. As far as my understanding of the “it” goes: It is the nature, that element of the universe in you, that star dust, that strand of your DNA, which can talk to the universe just like you and me talk; even without us knowing it.
    So, to make a long story short: Which way do you want to go? Find that out during your sleepless nights!

  2. Parul says:

    This really intriguing piece of work. Keep writing !

  3. Pingu says:

    Masterji, what’s with the frequent posting??

    Not becoming punctual, are we now??

    P.S 😛

  4. @Saumya “Otherwise, you can just sit back and say, we do what we do is for the heck of it.”

    Lao Tzu would have agreed! 🙂 … but ya, I get the point of what you are trying to say. Dhanyavaad!

    @Parul are you the same Parul I think you are, coz you gave a different mail id, and the post isn’t too intriguing for someone like you 🙂

    @Kavita 😛 Firstly, calling me Masteji is dangerous. In truly Indian spirit, I might become entitled to Guru Dakshina. And thanks to Dronacharya and Parashurama, you know how dangerous it can be. 😛

    Secondly, being predictable is worse than being not punctual! 😉

  5. Nikhil says:

    On a similar sleepless night, couple of months ago, the same thought had occured to me.

    “There are only causes and effects but no purpose.”

    || नमो तस्स अरहतो भगवतो सम्मा सम्म्बुद्धस्स ||

  6. Rohini says:

    I immediately thought of ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ when I read the title. The post turned out to be something else. :p Intriguing post.

  7. @Janik

    Oh how come I missed thy comment. “There are only causes and effects but no purpose.” Very very well put 🙂


    Sleepless in Seattle is quite what inspired the name. Unfortunately, I haven’t met anyone half as sweet and mushy and pink and furry as Meg Ryan 🙂

  8. […] And, if we lack the temperament it takes to stick to this practice, consult the Buddha. […]

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