Live like a Spectator

A few days ago, I  read a beautiful thought in the Persian mystic Jami's (coeval of India's Kabir) profound poetry, ' There's a mystic in a truly intellectual self which doesn't let one get too attached to anything.' It had me thinking. A truly intellectual mind is above mundane attachments because there's an ever present hermit in the core of an enlightened person. Gita's eternally thought-stirring exhortation by Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield, 'Tanmay apitu tatasth' (engrossed, yet not involved) articulates this evolved state of mind which remains like a 'drashta' (spectator) despite being in the hullabaloo of life.

Asadullah Khan 'Ghalib' articulated this higher consciousness in his inimitable manner, 'Bazeech-e-atfaal hai duniya mere aage/Hota hai shab-o-roz tamasha mere aage' (The world is like a child's play/This charade has been going on before me for ages). The cavalcade of life is best observed from a distance when one is an indifferent spectator. A little distance always lends a new perspective to life and Truth.  'Saahil pe baith ke lahron ko dekhte hain/Saakit khade hum door se chehron ko dekhte hain' (Sitting on the sea-shore, I look at the swelling waves/Remaining silent and unfazed, I observe the faces from a distance). To see life in its myriad avatars, it's a must to observe it from a distance with the heart and mind of an un-involved onlooker. When the great Buddhist monk Sariputra was arrested and taken to the king of Java, the king asked him, 'Young man, you'll soon be beheaded.

Are you not afraid?' The ever calm Sariputra said, ' Why should I be scared just because the blade of the sword will cause me some pain while getting decapitated by it? I have a body but I'm not in it. I have gone beyond the quotidian feelings of pain and pleasure.' The king was stunned by the fearlessly measured reply of 23-year-old Sariputra and he freed him to spread the compassionate message of his master Buddha. The same happened when the great Arab mystic Mansoor Hallaj was being excoriated for proclaiming 'An-al-Haq' (I'm the God) in 940 AD in Kufa. The evolved mystic went beyond all perceived pains of the human body and proudly declared on the cross that this very pain had now metamorphosed into indescribable bliss: Dard ka had se guzarna hai dava ho jaana' (When pain exceeds its limits, it becomes its own remedy!).

We all can be interested and disinterested in life just like the great souls mentioned here. It's very much possible to be engrossed, yet not immersed just like water and oil. The two remain together but don't get mixed up and merged like milk and water. ' Duniya mein hoon, duniya ka talabgaar nahin hoon/Baazaar se guzra hoon, khareedaar nahin hoon' (I'm in this world, but I'm not desirous of it/I've gone to the market but not as a buyer). Asar Lakhnavi's philosophical take on life is further consolidated by Salaam Machhlishahari's equally apposite couplet that puts an accent on the dispassionate existence of an individual, despite his ostensible involvement in life's varied activities, ' 
Majnoon hain magar khwahish-e-Laila nahin karte/ 
Hum ishq toh karte hain, tamanna nahin karte' (I'm a lover but I don't long for my beloved/I love but I don't covet). Human life finds its true significance, in fact, its true calling in the non-involvement of life's interminable illusions. A superior and unagitated mind realises this and gets insouciant to worldly pleasures, though it doesn't make its indifference obvious. 
                                  ----Sumit Paul