Monday, December 06, 2004

Twilight of a Being

In the twilight of the evening shadow, as I gazed with heavy eyes at the emerging stars, I became lost in deep contemplation; “what if there exist other life-forms on some planets surrounding any of the stars above?”. Hard as I tried at maintaining a course on my introspective sojourn, the weight of my heavy eyes cast a shadow on my mind. The veil of sleepiness succeeded in shutting the gates of my vision. My head came to rest lazily on the side wall; snooze. Zzzzzzz !!!

I found my self in a strange land with a set of strange people conducting a strange ceremony; a celebration of sorts. I looked around me and saw that the people were different in many ways, every feature of theirs was to me, positioned wrongly. But for some strange reason I felt unusually unafraid. I beckoned on one of them and asked “what is the celebration about?”. And he replied “this is the worship of death”.
I became astonished and probed further “Is death a deity?”
“No, it is a messenger of the gods”. He continued “It acts as a conveyor of souls from one life to another”,
“If it is just a conveyor, why worship death?” I asked again.
“Well, since we live in a world that is largely uncertain and unpredictable, we revere death because of its certainty. In fact, it is the only certainty we are sure of in our world” he said.

The other members of the congregation were by now milling around something that looked like a luminous spire. A pink beam pointing skywards emanated from the spire. There were successive rings of glowing red moving upwards that encircled the beam. The heat generated by the spire increasingly became unbearable but the people remained undisturbed. As they moved around the spire, a rattling sound was generated by the seemingly independent movements of their mid-sections. It was as if their midsections are bags filled with stones, it also seemed to have rebellious inclination . The midsections reluctantly went along with the rest of their body.

I wiped the bit of sweat that formed on my brow with the back of my right hand. “You all seem to be at ease, happy and excited” I said.
“This is one of the few occasions that gives us glimpses into what ultimate happiness is” he said.
“Where I come from, death does not necessarily portend happiness” I countered.
“Death is inevitable, and it is a serious event when someone dies. We use it as reminder to ourselves that one day we shall also return home” he said. He now started gyrating in synchronous movement with the rest of the pack. He continued “You see, Our life is a dream which we wake up from when we die”.
“You mean, this is not your main existence and the real one comes after dying” I queried.
“Yes. Here, we use death as a focus for our lives. Our interactions, relationships, aspirations and motivations are predicated on the notion that we shall surely transit from this plane of existence” he retorted.

The rattling suddenly stopped, each member of the congregation now assumed a sombre posture. A humming sound emanated from a tiny orifice that opened out from one of the things I will liken to a limb.
“Excuse me, I need to join in the supplication” he said. I stepped back a few metres, seizing the opportunity to take in the ambience surrounding the ceremony. The sky was mainly fiery yellow. This was intermittently disturbed by the splashing of differing colours against this sky background. The whole expanse as far as I could see appeared desolate. However I had this strong feeling there was life present in abundance. Here, the inanimate objects had a life or so it seemed. An unimaginable sense of contentment descended over me. I just remained standing in awe. I looked on into the endlessness, lost in my own thoughts.
“Do you know it is only on this occasions that we get to meet other members of our race” he said, interrupting my thoughts. “You mean you do not often see each other” I asked, needing clarification.
“No, we see each other all the time; but it is at this occasions our inner true feelings becomes revealed; no holds bar. And with this come the true sense of oneness” he said.
He seemed to grasp at something and continued “Not too long ago , our true gods came to a realisation that our being is essentially a hypocritical one; our outward appearance was in constant conflict with the inner self, this led to the general unhappiness in our world”.
He went on “Much of our societal norms, values and rules were an aggregation of ideas which to an individual member of our society, were innately untrue”.
He tried swathing at something I could not see and continued. “Our people became afflicted with various forms of madness, but we were not aware of these afflictions. Our collective and varied madness were manifested in diverse forms of worship of dissimilar gods.”
“Uh hu”, I heard myself saying.
“Unknown to us, these were invisible gods created by ourselves; by our fears. We ended up worshipping our creations”.
I assumed a crouching position with my chin rested on my palms and continued listening.
“We sought after fame and groped for security so that like our gods we could be in control; but we were mistaken. Fame and security were expanding universes”.
Stomping his what I will liken to a limb on the ground he resumed, “We became our own gods; gods driven by fear. For we had sold our passions”.

I felt a stick trying to push its way between my lips. I opened my eyes, it was Ladele, up to one of her usual pranks. The complete darkness of my neighbourhood descended on me. NEPA was at it again. The dream put me back on my path of introspective sojourning.

The great religions did recognise the significance of death in the lives of the living. Through death comes life. This might imply an upward progression in the larger realities of multifarious and seemingly infinite existence. If earthly existence is transient (and most of us agree it is), then maybe the man from the dream is right; “Life is a dream which you wake up from when you die”.

True realisation of the meaning and purpose of your existence suddenly dawns on you when you are dying (I sincerely hope not). You wake up and realise “I have failed again”. What are you here for?, For what purpose do you exist?.

The deepest question which confronts man, is “what purpose is his existence?” What meaning does his living portend?. In answering a related question “What is man?”, Samuel. L. Clemens (otherwise known as Mark Twain) reduced man to an automaton, a predictable animal, a pre-programmed machine. In many respects, judging by the behaviour exhibited by man, a dispassionate onlooker might be willing to agree with Twain’s assertion. However, the ingenious creativity in its illogic nature, sometimes exhibited by some members of the human congregation belittles this argument.

Since man became aware of his mortality, he has embraced different explanations in order to fulfil the yearning to know the unknown; the reason for life. But is the vast universal unknown that portrays the immensity of the effect of Godliness knowable ?. Is our ultimate search a futile exercise?. Are we really satisfied with the answers we outwardly embrace, but remain inwardly in turmoil? Or must we look within to find that which is without?. The wave of chaos that now pervades the planet (as seen through the eyes of CNN), somehow indicates acknowledgement in many, that the proffered explanations for existence’s purpose find no place in the hearts of men. Or is it that there is a nothingness of existence?

The immense unknowns humbles those that dare to search; the multitude of followers get shattered by the seeming absence of eternal truths. However, as humans we take solace in the notion that within boundaries that are defined for us, there can be workable truths which serves to useful limits imposed by the bounding conditions. No wonder Einstein came to the conclusion that “Whosoever undertakes to set himself up as a Judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods”.

Each seemingly successful and truthful discovery opens up a new window of the Universe. A plethora of questions surges forth. It sometimes appear that “we live in an infinite continuum, in which the tiniest yet to be discovered unimaginable spec is a Universe; and the Universe a tiny spec. So we must continue on our sojourn, trying to conquer the immense unknown. The beauty of existence lying in the continuing discovery of the missing pieces of this great jig-saw puzzle called life.


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