Different Strokes|Jun 2, 2006 12:22 PM| by:

Of Little Buddhias and Buddhas

Budhia, or the marathon child, has created a history of sorts by his non-stop spell of running continuously for 7 to 8 hours covering a distance of 65kms. The child is merely 4 years old and could not have been trained for the run. Lifted to a star status overnight, the child finds himself at the heart of a controversy thanks to the short-sightedness of NHRC and the ministry of child welfare. But equally short-sighted is the vision of his well wishers who would perhaps ensure that he finds his name in the Limca book of records or the Guinness book or some such book and forgotten as part of an unbelievable history. Or maybe the sports ministry takes up the case of this child prodigy for further training so that he brings laurels to his state and the country when he grows up to be a marathon qualifier. Of course there is the other side, the activists who always need some reason to be active and feel alive! They must stop Budhia since is it not unfair to let a child run beyond his normal and natural capacities? But it is precisely here that the logic fails. For who decides the capacity, – the average man who can run barely a few km or documented history or the physician’s fixing of the limits of human physiology? But have not these things been mocked at our faces by all who, whether through methodical efforts or by a freak anomaly of Nature or its ingenuity, have exceeded the bounds of what we call as normal? Is normal the only right thing, and does the supernormal have no right to exist or exert itself? The question may be taken still deeper. Why do we either simply admire or fear, worship or decry, exalt or censure that which exceeds us? Why don’t we try to study and understand and emulate individually and if possible collectively. But for that we have to go beyond Budhia and all such prodigies that Nature throws up from time to time. What we call as a genius, in any sphere whatsoever, is nothing but an exaggeration of dimension, a self exceeding of Nature beyond her own limits. For it is not the physician or the activists who have set the limits of what can and what cannot be and it is Nature that can with equal right and ease break those limits in her high moments, without as much as asking us whether she is allowed to do it or not!

In fact we may ask, since we see this with increasing frequency these days, as to what really is a child prodigy? Is he simply a freak of Nature to be admired and forgotten? Or is he a gateway to deeper possibilities of Nature hidden in the very stuff of our bodies and minds which is revealed momentarily in a genius whether in the physical or the psychological sphere of human endeavour and action? Is a child like Budhia simply an isolated instance and an anomaly or is he the forerunner or at least a pointer towards greater possibilities? These are the valid questions that we need to ask as men of Science and as seekers of truth. True, Budhia is one such marvel of Nature, not just a wonder child but even more a wonder cleft in the fields of god through which a new seed of possibility seems to sprout, a seed which if studied can change all our notions of health and illness and eventually even of death. So is Ramamurthy, the great Indian wrestler a marvel. The five year old who can memorise and recite the scriptures is a marvel. The brethren who claim to live on air, the sun-gazer who draws energy from the sun, the inspired poet, the prophet and the seer who can break through the boundaries of Time and Space are a marvel, the magic healer who cures through the mantras is a marvel, the man who can sacrifice his personal profits and gains for a larger good, lay his life upon the altar of freedom and truth is a marvel. There are such geniuses and marvels in every sphere of human endeavour. But let us not simply eulogise the individual marvel for the individual is not an isolated freak but a prototype, a grand result of Nature exceeding her limits and her laws. And just where are the limits of Nature and its possibilities in us? If the limit of 10 or 20 or 30 kms can be exceeded and stretched to 65, then what prevents it from being stretched further to even 100 or beyond? So also with other things. If the limit of our life span can exceed the mark of 125 years (as it has done at times) in one human being then why not in others and why not even more and much more? There is no logic that it cannot. In fact all logic is in favour of such an exceeding. Even if it is a gene gone awry then nature should multiply it for it is a favourable mutation. If it is lifestyle then it can be emulated. If it is a confluence of circumstances, then it can be studied and cultivated. Or do these things go beyond a single body or a single life time? Is it simply the revival of a lost memory in the individual and the race, for indeed we are told in Indian myths that each age has its own lifespan which may even exceed a thousand years in the age of Truth or Satya yuga, the golden age of man.

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves. The question as to what more wonders lie in the fields of Nature hidden carefully in the folds of Night? And why does she conceal it from the race as a whole and why does she reveal it now and then? For it is often through the abnormal that Nature opens the door of a deeper truth upon us and the anomalous is simply that which is yet to be normalized and generalized in the race. The history of great inventions and discoveries is replete with the dawning of a great truth upon the human mind through an observation of that which did not fit into the neat and normal formula. True, not all that is abnormal is necessarily higher, for it may be subnormal rather than supernormal. Yet even when it is subnormal it reveals to us a hitherto hidden side or aspect of truth that has eluded our eyes which are focused too much on the common, the usual and the normal. There is a message that Nature tries to give us through all these hints to our deaf and dumb hearts. And here the message is obvious, what we call as normal with regard to our body and its functioning is nothing else but a convention, a pattern that Nature has set for us, a groove that our mind has hardened into a fixed law. But what we read as Nature’s laws are merely habits. They are simply a recurring pattern of motion which the force of preservation in Nature fixes for certain purposes. This force of preservation fixes the type; it defines the limits of an object or a species. It is necessary when Nature is in repose or a phase of lull. But there are other moments when Nature wakes up from her slumber of dead habit and wants to undo and redo and do something higher and better. The force of preservation takes a back seat and the force of destruction (of the old) and the force of creation (of the new) is active and palpably felt upon the surface expanses of Nature. Such are moments when the normal begins to lose its boundaries; the limits of so-called laws, whether man-made or Nature-made begin to recede and everything goes through a vigorous churning as if a giant spear of some great god has dug itself into the bosom of the earth and is shaking it to bring out the hidden layers to the surface. Such are moments when things seem to go topsy-turvy, and certain things change beyond recognition, while certain other things appear before our sight, things which we always knew but hazily and never with certainty.

We do believe that a new age is fast dawning upon mankind as a whole even as the old draws to a lingering close. Nature has once again entered into her more creative moods. Therefore do we see an increase in child prodigies. Therefore we see an exceeding of every limit and experimentation with each and every thing. Therefore we see that in every sphere of life the old bases are getting shaken and new forms are replacing them. This is of course true and easily seen in the psychological and, even more, in the social sphere. But what is not so readily recognized is the winds of change coming over even in the body and what we call as human physiology. For the change here is slow and often imperceptible, but when it happens it is concrete and palpable. It is herein that we find a new significance in the phenomenon of one like Budhia. He makes us think what we dare not think. He makes us see what we refuse to see. He makes us believe what we would otherwise doubt. And if we go to the root of it then it is not Budhia but Nature that is forcing us to see and to admit that the human body is indeed undergoing a slow but palpable change! What that change is going to be only time can tell but it is quite possible that many things that we call today as illnesses are merely aborted and unsuccessful attempts of Nature at bringing out this grand change. This is not so difficult to understand. A human being undergoes a series of changes even within a single lifespan. Each such change brings a developmental crisis with which his body and mind has to cope. But what determines these changes which come in as cyclical a manner as the changes of season? Is it the pressure of a hidden force within us, within our very body cells that seeks to emerge periodically, some original force of creation that sleeps deep in the atoms and the stars? And the whole body-life-mind apparatus must change suitably to accommodate it. It must re-create itself or rather the emerging power must re-create the form it has built. There can be little doubt that the content and quantum of consciousness in an elderly man is greater even though his body and mind may be showing a decline. It is as if an old and tired horse was being flogged by a new and energetic master. But since we cannot keep pace with this inner (and outer) pressure for change due to a lack of plasticity and due to a fixity of habits and notions, therefore we feel the limitations, the rigid frame unable to keep pace cracks up and shows as aging or an illness. However, in lower species like plants and animals where the pace of inner change is slow, there is hardly a visible illness. And since in our present times the pace of inner change has been accelerated we also see the emergence of new and different illnesses, even at a much younger age. Both the abnormal child prodigies and the normal curve of life lead us to the same point that a greater power resides within us and is only pressing for its emergence.

Is there any other logic to it? Well, when we come to study the case of child prodigies we see one thing stands out quite prominently. It is indeed so deceptively simple that we forget to take note of it even though it is the only thing that stands out. The common element in all these cases is that the child is endowed by some unusual faculty or capacity which is discovered by some chance event. But even more strangely this capacity does not grow exponentially with the child’s bodily and mental growth as one would expect. Thus Budhia may not be able to repeat this performance when he is 16 years old and better equipped with a greater lung power! At least this has generally been the case so far. Child prodigies seldom make it to the top when they grow old enough. The thing that obviously strikes us in all these cases is that the unexpected performance takes place either before the mind is developed or else sometimes in an underdeveloped mind (as in the case of an idiot savant). It seems that the development of mental faculties in some way inhibits these sudden and abnormal bursts of energy unveiling the genius in our clay. Could it be that the mind with its notions and conditioning interferes with the full play of our innate capacities? At least the waking mind that is full of all kinds of information which it blindly believes in and thereby sets limits to its own possibilities by a kind of self hypnosis! But there is below our waking mind a much more powerful subconscious mind and an inner mind in which many unusual faculties are as yet asleep. The yogis have known it always. But even within the limits of our ordinary human experience we actually see this happen. In moments when some veil is rent between the outer and the inner, the person can remember things from the past effortlessly, reproduce faithfully chapters from books in a language one has never studied, bring up material from our past lives, know the thoughts and feelings of others, telescope the future into the present, heal from a distance, hear without ears and see without eyes. No wonder the mind is known in the ancient Indian Psychology as the sixth sense, one that can sense things directly without the aid of external sense organs. But our so-called schooling focusing on an information overload to our outer waking mind alone often dulls the child’s innate capacity to enter into the domain of this deeper, subliminal and more powerful mind substance. But if the same child is unconditioned with our can and can’t, possible and impossible, he will be able to draw energy and inspiration from this sphere that closes its doors as we grow into adulthood. And it needs yet another Budhia to tell us what we have always known but never believed that the so-called laws of our bodies and mind are perhaps merely habits.

It is time perhaps that we grow up and change. It is time perhaps that we appreciate greatness wherever it is found even if it wears the most modest of appearances in Budhia. One cannot create a Budhia through reservations, but one can bring him out through early recognition and training. For to recognize and admire true greatness wherever it is found is to admire the work of the Master hand that can sometimes use the most modest of materials for His divine craftsmanship and carve the image of greatness and beauty out of mud and stone. Let us listen to this divine artisan who is speaking to us now through this little boy, now through another. Let us salute this great output of energy by the great Mother Nature in her vast upward labour. But also let us join in her efforts to expand and to exceed, to excel and to emulate her greatnesses more consciously so as to become living examples of the marvel that Nature is and intends us to be.