Thursday, March 26, 2009


Something interesting I've noticed.

When looking at the itihaasas and puraaNas, and even epics from other cultures and folk stories in general, you see some interesting similarities. One is the quest for immortality that arises from time to time. More importantly, though, is the secret to it: vengeance.

You have stories of people who were wronged and their family sets out to avenge. Bitter hatred grows over years and years, even over generations. Retribution is craved by those wronged, and once revenge is had, the other side lusts for it. Children are expected to carry out their parents' vengeance whenever possible. Look at dhRSTadyumna, who was born because of his father, drupada's craving for vengeance against droNa. Those who crave it don't give up on life very easily as well. Sometimes, that provides one's sole reason to live. And then there's the idea that people even take it from life to life. shikhaNDii/ambaa, went through the barrier between one life and the next for his/her vengeance.

Most telling of all, however, are the descriptions of ghosts, spectres, and other supernatural beings that exist because of their torment and hatred in life. There are many stories of spirits who were so consumed by their desire for revenge that they are transformed after their deaths. Too many, actually, and I can't even choose one that would do this justice, but you can take a look at almost any given J-Horror or K-Horror flick if you want a modern take on it.

The desire is important. If you crave immortality, then you'd have to seek unrequitable vengeance. The second you get it, you won't be immortal. The motivation would be gone. But, with that desire consuming your very being... Well, it's just not a quality "life," is it?

The interesting thing here, if we are to follow the yogic or one of the various other devotional paradigms, is that this is completely counter-intuitive. The teaching holds that true "freedom" from the cycle of saMsaara, from karma, from everything, entails immortality. That is the true nature of the soul. In order to acheive this goal, to really merge one's self with God, or to see what the self truly is (depending on your point of view), we must strip the conditioning we have undergone. We must let go of the biases, attachments, desires, and influences we have gained by living and experiencing things. God is just but that justice is not formed or influenced by God's experiences. It is absolute. Therefore, if we are to merge with God, we, too, must shed the biases we have from our experiences and gain this sense of absolute justice.

Perhaps I've diverged a bit, and perhaps that's an impossible goal. Regardless, the fact remains that one must strip the "impressions" one gets on their citta one by one. To say that intense desire fueled by more intense suffering and hatred can provide a sort of immortality (or strict binding to the world) seems to not work. Add the idea of forgiveness to this mix. Forgiveness alleviates and undoes the strife and pseudo-immortality (respectively), but then paves the way for the other immortality we've discussed. Attachment goes in the opposite direction of forgiveness.

Now that we can see each and cross between them, maybe we can make our choices. As for me, I think immortality is overrated. Without human experiences, I don't believe we can prepare for further experiences. For us to have our reality shattered, we need a reality, par exemple. But, I wait to be corrected. Divinity isn't hiding.

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