What are you? This is a rhetoric which has been asked by different voices , among different nations, in different ways and at different times. It is signifiable in it’s ability to have a different answer each time; across land and sea from country to country, from person to person, coloured by the tints of bias and perspective. And all these different answers, all these variations, all boil to down to the same thing, the same essence. Every difference is, in a way, the same thing. It all makes the same difference about itself always. Time and again. Doesn’t it? Oh, that’s not a rhetoric. It is.
Every question, when it comes up as one, has a strong impetus behind it, when asked in good stead. And if you are well and truly informed, and if you well and truly wish to inform yourself and everyone around you, it will always have a leverage on you , always nagging you to fill the lacunae it creates.
“Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.” – John ii. 7 But can you fill your conscience with answers which will surpass the weight of your questions, which can stand strong on their own ground, by not giving way to the hapless ways of the world and receding into a decorated wall of rhetoric and glorifying it again and again to only signify it’s false foundations and dwindling founders in a tone rosy to you and rosy to all? Maybe your moral compass will wage war against it, but history repeats itself and human memory is short and you will fall prey to the dingy world order and standard social conduct, and you will fall back in line; until you don’t stop looking for answers or more importantly, start asking the wrong questions. Because there will be something which will not want you to know what you are. The irony here is that you are the something.
“We are all short sighted, and very often see but one side of a matter; our views are not extended to all that has a connection to it. From this defect I think no man is free. We see but in part, and we know but in part, and therefore it is no wonder what we conclude is not right from our parallel views. This might instruct the proudest esteemer of his own parts how useful it is to talk and consult with others, even such as come short of him in capacity , quickness and penetration ; for since no one sees all, and we generally have different prospects of the same thing, according to our different, as I may say, positions to it, it is not incongruous to think, nor beneath any man to try, whether another man may not have notions of things which have escaped him, and which his reason would make use of if they came into his mind.” , said Locke.
But then if there’s the word human, there’s the word hope, and there’s the word conscience. We will find the answers , sooner or later. To question that are your own or queries that are borrowed. We ask the questions. And along those lines, do we borrow fancies which really border on the surreal ,but are enjoyable. And that does a lot to define us. We are a constantly evolving species. We grow every moment. Regardless of the fact that this momentous growth is never a certified affair for the better but, the noir in us is the light in us , isn’t it? At this moment , maybe you are listening to some particular track by some particular artist with some particular lyrics. And you are reading this particular article. There is this particular impact of this particular track in your head which when it mingles with what you are reading is going to give you this particular groove about this article and about that track in a subtly different manner than it would have under other conditions. Maybe this will impact you. Maybe not. But certainly neither of the things would receive its, appreciation or criticism or a stance in between them when they occur simultaneously. This conundrum haunts all of us. Sadly, very few try to solve it. Nature definitely holds you gripped about it’s own deluding nature but be sure that it does not lack the vices to render you incapable to discover the truth. When I know something you know, something which you do not want anyone to know, but something which I know you will do everything you can to know how to stop me from letting people know, if funnily my intentions stand firm to let them know. Maybe I wouldn’t be accurate on an exact scientific or an artistic note on this , but this is the way Nature and we work.
“All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of nature, but the man lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor. But the man who knows the relation between the forces of Nature and actions, sees how Some forces of Nature work upon other forces of Nature, and becomes their slave.”, says the epic poem Bhagavad Gita. It is without question a philosophical stance to ask what we are. There is sadly but no textbook answer to this. Multiple facets and arguments of many aspects need to be analyzed in a sequence. The utmost human virtue required here is not the questioning mind but the element of patience and resilience. If someone could text you this answer or whisper it while we are all dancing in a concert, it wouldn’t require mention among the most fascinating questions of mankind. The truth is a only an even identity of all the good things in the world. And never an easy agreement to win over.
“Who really knows, and who can swear, How creation came, when or where! Even gods came after creation’s day, Who really knows, who can truly say when and how did creation start? Did He will it? Or did He not? Only He, up there, knows, maybe; Or perhaps, not even He.” , the Rig Veda 10:129 gloriously says.
Since antiquity, from the moment human conscience began to prick him, we began poking about everything that we saw ,and heard and felt and smelt. Curiosity is the groundbreaking zeal of our civilization , desire’s just a humbugging add-on. We and our ancestors have been occupying these lands and been living since generations. Now this question about our nature was asked generations ago and it is prevalent generations hence. Certainly though, every generation did give this thought some additional quantification. Each time period gave its monumental meaning to what we are; which were particularly an impression of the habitat, habits, hunger, hiatus and haecceity of this time period. When man’s child was begotten he saw this entire question as a stark conflicting one; and he gave it a meaning exclusive to his haecceity, hiatus, hunger, habits and habitat. And so on and on as each generation came into being this question of what we really are has became an intricate entity itself, consisting of the multitude of implicit meanings and exclusive experiences associated with it. And it is very influencing, to an extent that today it plays our thought process and not vice versa. In this situation when everyone starts to give it a generalized and particular meaning to it, it loses it’s sheen. We no longer want to know who we are. Maybe the person in the woods as says the lyrics or the guy betrayed as portrayed in that movie. It has ever since receded into a submissive background, a vague idea exploited by pop culture, novels, music and much histrionic melodrama. Was it all worth it? Sometimes, in the search for answers, maybe we need not get lost.
“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire”, says Dan Brown aptly. While the R.R. Martin, “People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”
What is the way then? The only trick to be followed is to not seek anything. We are all like moulds of clay, fitting and conforming ourselves to many varied situations and people. And the way we get out of them is the single most validating definition we can have of ourselves. It’s never a hard and fast definition we have of our selves. And it varies from individual to the other. And we need to properly walk that path of self realization to find the inner self rather than going to places around and people about it. Because we will never be able to truly ever find out what we are. Earnestly focusing all we can do is find out our life in others and in places away from us. It’s not what we are but rather what we are not. And to that end we need to work hard and give our thought a clarity “because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth”, as reflects the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez.