Today, I asked a female colleague at work, “After this life is over, would you be happy to be reborn again as a human?” Her answer was an immediate, “No!”
What made me ask this question, you may want to know. Well, this morning when I woke up feeling lazy and worn out from the excitement of the Germany-Sweden match, this thought popped into my mind. And, as usually happens (that is, in the early hours of dawn), I understood (or thought I understood) what Gautam Buddha and all the other Buddhas (meaning, the ‘awakened ones’) meant by the word ‘moksha’. That is, liberation.
I have been liberated at least a couple of times in my life. Once, when I kicked the habit of smoking after eight years of heavy huffing and puffing on the killer sticks; once when I lost all fear of the unknown, because I was overwhelmed with the very dilemma of survival, and I thought, who the hell wants to worry about the unknown when you have so many real-life problems on your plate? The third I won’t mention here, since it’s a bit personal (but somewhat like Siddhartha Gautam forsaking his family. Get the drift?) Suffice it to say that it was highly liberating after years and years of being on a long leash.
Of course, the Buddhas meant much more by the word moksha, right? Their view of liberation was all encompassing, and not bits and pieces as have been my experience. That is not to say that my awakening hasn’t begun, but I know it will peter out in due time, as happens with the millions out there. So, what did the ‘enlightened ones’ mean by liberation, exactly? This brings me back to the question at the beginning of this article.
As far as my awakening mind can grasp, liberation as per the Buddhas, means freedom from the punishment of rebirth. Yes, that’s exactly what they believed life to be—a punishment, and getting out of the vicious cycle of life and rebirth was what they were hoping to achieve. Whether they succeeded or not, no one knows, because dead men tell no tales, but the more important point I want to put forward here is, really, is life such a drag?
Looking back on one’s life, one remembers well the getting up at an ungodly hour (or at least, a most child-unfriendly hour) to catch the bus to school, where you spend most of the day stuck in a classroom learning stuff. The early childhood learning, I guess, is important, but I always say, is it necessary to do LCM and HCF throughout the ten years of school? And, I always say, once you learn a, b, c, d, you should be able to make a sentence, then a paragraph, then an article, then maybe even a book. In short, ten-twelve years of school is perhaps not needed. And, surely, not a full eight hours every day!
So, even if people have fond memories of school life, I am not one of those. What about college (so called higher studies)? All I know is that l just about managed to get a degree, and that too, because I thought I might not get a suitable girl to marry otherwise! Anyway, however you look at it, for me education meant exams, exams, and more exams, which of course are far from fun. After that, your life is all about work.
Now, this thing called work—what’s so great about it? Well, on the flip side, it gives you a certain status in your society, you get your monthly packet to eat, drink, and be merry (the last two if you are lucky, otherwise, it’s basically just a question of survival), and it’s something to pass the time (cursed as we are by an interminable amount of time compared to say, the dog, which just needs to stay afloat for a short twelve or so years). Now, here’s the other side of work—most people, I hear, hate their work. The lucky ones (those who make their hobby their career are happier, I believe) are few and far between. Now look, I’m not talking about the ones born with golden spoons in their mouth, they are all the more rare compared to the rest of the less fortunate humanity. So, why do people hate their work? There’s plenty of reasons, some universal, some more individualistic, however, all said and done, it too is a drag.
Continuing on, here comes marriage and family responsibilities, and boy, now you are stuck for life in a situation that can cause havoc with your emotions, not to mention your wallet (know how much it costs to raise a child in today’s world?). It’s a fix you just can’t get out of without giving your blood along with your pound of flesh. The honeymoon, in most cases, hardly covers one full moon cycle, before the reality bites in. Really hard!
Somehow, you drag on with the semblance of a routine life, and then as you near mid-life, disease strikes! They are called the non-communicable diseases, and they usually make their unwelcome presence felt once you are in the middle of this insufferably long and arduous journey called life. Blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, stroke, erectile dysfunction, and so on, and as the horizon nears, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, and what not. I often wonder how, despite sending a man to the Moon and a rover to Mars, and with advancements like FB, Twitter, Instagram, the smartphone, etc., how come they haven’t discovered a cure for all these dreaded diseases? Whatever is on offer are just to relieve the symptoms, that’s all. I may be wrong, but logic says that if the cure is found, most big pharmaceutical companies would go bust.
So, all in all, life is a big drag, and like my co-worker (mentioned on top) I also wouldn’t like to be reborn. But, how do I find moksha?