There is a great
joke I heard on American T.V. that for me epitomizes the answer to this
A guy from America was
searching for the meaning of life (like all of us). He had heard of many great
gurus in different countries, met many, but was unsatisfied. Then, someone
mentioned a recluse who lived in the Himalayas,
and said he would not disappoint him. Finding him after many months of trying,
this American went up to the meditating man in some corner of the mountains. He
waited until the guru opened his eyes.
quest, what pains he had to take, and the good things he had heard about the
guru, the man asked him the question he had been longing to get an answer for.
“What is life?”The guru replied
instantly, “It is a fountain with water flowing out of it,” and fell silent. After waiting for
more, the American asked him,“That’s it? Is
that why I came across the seven seas to you? This cannot be the answer to my
question…blah, blah..” “You have to give
me the real answer.”“Ok”, the guru
said. “I will tell you the real answer. Life is a fountain with no water
flowing out of it”, and fell silent again, for good.I find this story
hilarious, but also insightful. We are so full of ourselves that most of the
time, we are blind to the abundance of life forms, and inanimate objects in
nature. The universe is so big and unfathomable, that whatever we might achieve,
we are dwarfed by it. Essentially, life
is what you choose to make of it, or believe it to be.
I find some
writers particularly insightful at explaining the niceties of the inexplicable
in a palatable way. J. Krishnamurty, the teacher-philosopher, is one of them.
He advocates freedom from all dogma, and not to believe anything unless you
have experienced it for yourself. If we look around, we will notice that
everyone has an agenda. Also,
everyone has limited experience, based on which they generalize. For example,
before I visited the U.S., I
could not have visualized what a 4-lane highway looks or feels like, because I
had not seen or driven on one in India. Essentially, think and
experience things for yourself before you start believing in anything, is the
learning from this man.
Another writer I
found very good at philosophical yet understandable writing is Richard Bach.
From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, the story of a seagull who is grappling with
questions about the meaning of life, to his other books, he has a good take on
life, rebirth, reincarnation, religion, and many other issues. Among current
writers bordering on the philosophical, Robin Sharma and Paulo Coelho are
probably the best (also indicated by their sales). With a simple yet effective
style, they are able to get beyond the ordinary stories that they tell.
I would also rate Osho
as another great author. The sheer volume of his writings is amazing. His wide
sweep of all possible religions, belief systems and his interpretations are a
treat to read/listen to. He was a unique guru in many ways, who dared to
confront the hypocritical ideas of all religions and yet explain the good
things about each one of them. His persecution at the hands of the U.S. and other
governments proves that they were really scared of what he was preaching, maybe
because much of it was true. One other trait I liked in him is that he was not
scared of the white man. Many of the ex-colonies of white nations seem to carry
the slavery in their minds even today.
I also have a
theory of life. I call it my
Mega Theory of Life, and it has a simple explanation for all that we
do-BOREDOM. We are all trying to get ourselves out of a state of boredom, by
doing whatever we do. See if it explains everything or not-the wars, the seeking
of pleasure, the quest for money, the religious discourses, and so on.
Believe it or not, that is the title of a book, and it's not written by an Indian. The book is actually a set of cartoons drawn by a world traveller, and has a foreword by Dave Barry, the funny man. The title got me curious, and I flipped through a few pages at the bookstore, and flipped for it.
It has a unique set of drawings of whatever Mo Willems of New York University, upon graduating and travelling across the world, felt he ought to draw. So whatever he remembered most from his day got drawn, with a commentary added on, sometimes a sentence or two, sometimes just a phrase or comment.
A different kind of book, for sure, and a very entertaining glimpse of mankind, from Indonesia to New Orleans, USA. By the way, I was in New Orleans once (or twice), and still remember it as a party place par excellence- there were some horse-riding cops around and streets barred to traffic- pedestrians only- and many other interesting things, including their unique Cajun food. India is also incl…
Airports generally have a lot of advertising- for tourism, or cosmetics, or for their own duty-free shops if international. But depicting your culture through airport art is an art..and Mumbai airport Terminal 2 seems to have done a lot of it right. The murals on its walls are good at showing Indian motifs - sample these.