Friday, July 13, 2007

A Strange Reflection

Perhaps the greatest treasures of life are reserved for those willing to embrace suffering, and gamely accept the law of sacrifice. Indeed, I use the word 'law' in its fullest sense--an implacable regularity and order that seem to be reflected in all aspects of the cosmos, whether within oneself or in the wider universe.

It seems reasonably acceptable if the law of sacrifice means that one willingly accepts pain to reach a higher end--denying the primrose path and choosing the narrow way. It seems just that the creation and manifestation of anything worthwhile inevitably brings with it toil and trouble--of utmost joy at the end perhaps, but the upward path is paved with sharp stones and carpeted with drudgery's dust. With hope and optimism, strength of will and an uplifted heart, the road might well be tolerable, even pleasant and enriching. But it is not even remotely easy.

Or observe the even more mysterious action of this law in the wider cosmos. Take a walk through a supermarket. Observe the fresh fruits and meats--these nourishing sustenance born of death and blood. Our very lives are inescapably founded on the destruction of other beings. Creation is founded on dissolution; life on death, joy on pain.

It is a cruel, terrible law for those who ponder it deeply. And one might apply the words of Lady Macbeth (spoken in quite another context) that to think of things in such a way will 'make us mad'. Perhaps it is only a divine madness that could manifest a cosmos so strange; perhaps only a supreme Love and Bliss could justify a machinery so cruel and tortures so grand. Perhaps it is vain for mere human minds to seek for any 'meaning' and to arrogantly question the architectonic Tempest that bestrides the vast stage of the universe, the insane omniscient Director moving every player and shifting every scene. Is it all a 'tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing', or are we indeed the idiots in a tale told by a Wisdom far beyond us?

Man is made in the image of God. Insane, wise, all-power, all-love, such are humanity's perennial images of God, and these too are our own deepest aspirations; and perhaps, our deepest truth. It has been said by Sri Aurobindo, a Hindu sage, that only a supreme Truth can endure and suffer a supreme darkness, only a Power beyond compare could play with the most complete weakness, and only the highest Bliss could harrow the deepest hell--and victoriously conquer.

To conquer, to rise, to soar. Is that the innermost aspiration of the universe? Is that what the ever-marching Spirit of God in humanity calls for? Then the furrows of the gods must be plowed with deep plowshares; the breasts of the earth must be cleft with pain and toil. For the future returns, the inner crops, the strange, occult growth deep within man—the secret fire and inner parts that grow stronger and mightier with every titan stroke, with every winging triumph, with even the little joys and pains of life. Unseen, unheard, ignored, till the fruit is ripe, the day is done: then in mountainous silence or tempestuous flame, a strange yet ever familiar being shall arise, piercing primordial gloom and riveting one’s eyes.

Then one goes home. Then there is peace, power, knowledge and love—eternal gifts justifying the passing travails. But this too is the beginning of another whirling, another journey. In light and fire perhaps, in the arms of the Everlasting--incomprehensible still, but still drawing us, ever upwards, ever onwards. We press on in the Face of infinite beauty.