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The Tsunami Shock and After

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A giant wave of destruction has passed over Southeast Asia swallowing many human lives. In minds that are sensitive, it has created indignation; in hearts easily moved by appearances, a great sense of tragedy and pity. In those who have survived, a sense of fear and horror may haunt for a long time to come. Yet, if we wish to probe the deeper causes and not just the superficial material ones, we need to steady our gaze and try to look behind the appearances. Tragedy and grief, horror and fear are natural human reactions and while they have their just place in self-defence and in giving vent to strong emotions, yet do they cloud the clear vision of truth. They prevent us from looking straight into the eyes of that which appals and threatens us.

The sea in its upsurge of sudden and violent fury ran over the earth swallowing nearly one fifth of a million people. And the death count has shaken our nerves and hearts. But have we ever taken account of the millions and billions of sea-creatures and lives that man as a species has been plundering and destroying and displacing and swallowing for gluttony and greed. For a change perhaps it was a truth of our own action that rebounded as it were from the ocean deeps. The sea, guardian of its creatures, in a moments’ gesture rebounded and reflected the threat that man has been imposing upon the marine world for centuries. For Nature is an impartial and equal mother. Her wisdom and love pours out as much in the making of a blade of grass, a petal of flower and a honeycomb as in the building of galaxies. Man, to Nature’s view is only one among many of her children. We abrogate to ourselves a unique place of being greater among equals, and though there is a grain of truth in it, it is not a truth that man can claim by force of might. If man is simply an animal like others, then he cannot claim a superior place either in Nature’s eyes or God’s. As with other species before him, man may lose out to others, become endangered by its own kind, or who knows, may even be wiped out in masses. Nature did not weep when it wiped out the dinosaur, nor let out a sigh when man led many an animal to the verge of extinction. Nature is too vast for the animal-man. It cares little for numbers even as we care little for the flowers and grass and ants that we trample below our feet or the birds and fish and other animals that we sacrifice to the dark gods of our belly. Nature destroys but does not lament. It goes ahead even simultaneously to create anew. For it sees and knows that nothing is truly destroyed. It is simply a reorganization of the energy of life to build other forms. The balance of All-Life is always preserved to its total vision. The waste of one life-form goes into the building of another life-form. It cannot be otherwise. For if Nature were to only create and not destroy, the balance would be altered in such a way that existing life-forms would find life miserable!

But then there is also a subtle truth behind man’s greatness. That lies not in his animalness but in his divinity. The divine element in man is never destroyed but the form is, so too the soul of the drowned rises from the ocean deeps beyond the clasp of the giant waves and the dark and sombre chill of the sea. It rises beyond the pyre and grave to inhabit new shores and resume its journey in new lands. Here too, the tragedy lies in our ignorance, our imperfection of seeing and knowing, our ego-bound limited vision that can neither see the soul nor comprehend the totality of All-Life. Is Nature then at fault or is it an unfair God at play, capriciously destroying at will all that we cherish and hold dear?  Or is it that both Nature and God snatch away the bonds and the limits that we hold on to as dear to us, so that teased by the blindness we seek for light and sight? Is not destruction a challenge to build anew and afresh?

Yes, and there can be no doubt about it.

But what do we need most to build for man? A shelter of brick and clay, to find him a morsel of food, to give him back the same animal life that he lost?!?

No doubt that may be the first necessity of our animal and physical parts. But would we not care to build in our mind and heart – vision and strength and hope. And lend to our ignorance a vision of the whole, to our blindness the sight that sees not just the destruction of the body but the immortality of the soul triumphant over death. And who would do that? Not the vain-glorious philanthropist feeding the corpse of desire so as to revive it again. Not the politicians and the ‘aid’ of the so-called ‘developed’ nations. Not the kind of media that thrives on morbid sensationalism or at best raises only some dust of sentimental piety, whose fervour settles down as rapidly as the waves that climbed high. Man is in urgent need to outgrow himself and his limitations, self imposed by his ego that chooses to live in ignorance or best in a superficial knowledge, studying the surface play of Nature and its fringe of outermost forces. But there is a deeper knowledge and power to which man can rise, a wider and fuller seeing to the summits of which his vision can climb. Even now, in our ignorance that vision sometimes unfolds itself. There are some who dreamt of the destructive tide, some who sensed it in their bodies. Some areas and animals were strangely protected as if by the working of a mysterious all-knowing force. What the animal works out unconsciously, man must do so through conscious intuition. The mysterious Power that rests in the high and solitary peaks, acting only now and then from behind as a miraculous intervention must become man’s inborn nature, or shall we say, Supernature. The mere animal-man grows into a divine being, a new and different species sharing the Vision and Will of the All-powerful Wisdom.

Yes, rebuild we must but on a newer plane and on a qualitatively different ground. On a ground where Death cannot reach and where destruction loses its force! Otherwise, we will only play with appearances. We will only master one tidal wave to be drowned by another, conquer plague, tuberculosis and small-pox only to be threatened by heart-disease, cancer and AIDS. Or even if we were to find a secure fortress from known messengers of death, yet would death find us through new agents. For death is only an obverse side of life and therefore it too can create its own forms like life does. No outer defence can help us so long as our inner fortress of nature remains undefended and weak.

Perhaps that is the next challenge, the challenge of the new millennia thrown at man. To create a new body, plastic and supple, to spontaneously adapt to every change. To create a new mind of light that sees with an inborn luminosity far ahead in time and hears through its subtle ears the footsteps of an unborn destiny. A new will of life that has the power to turn the tide away or ride over it as a sport and fun holding the lion’s mane. A new heart, not just sharing a weak sympathy born out of a common fear and nervous pity, but a heart that is as strong as it is compassionate, that can spontaneously sow the seeds of hope and courage. In short, a new man or better still a new being in a new body. Perhaps this is what Nature is busy creating right now even as we wail and lament. Perhaps the shaking and quaking of the earth’s and ocean’s floor is a physical symbol and expression of the shaking and quaking of our inner space. The giant wave only a massive release of a stupendous energy thrown upon from the disc of a hidden sun, rising out of the caves of the dark subconscient depths below our feet. All forms of life that cannot bear its heat and light hide or perish. The rest undergoes the scorching blaze of the fire of an inner anvil so that a greater power can emerge out of our very cells. Perhaps the destruction we see is only the loud thunderclap of a new creation and death and tragedy —  a bliss waiting to upsurge and rise higher than man has ever known.

Time shall reveal  the awakening  of a now sealed all-seeing eye of God in man!

***

There are other lessons as well taught by the Tsunami. For one, the myth of evolution as nearly a process of adaptive survival lies shattered and sunk under the ocean depths. The Jarahwa and Onge tribes, perhaps the oldest living ancestors of man stayed safe without the advanced warning systems. So did the animals in the Sri Lankan zoo and other places. But modern man relying too much on machinery failed to take heed. True, we will install better machinery but how about installing a better consciousness in man? How about evolving within us faculties and powers of foresight and foreknowledge? These are things well-known to yogis and even now there are clairvoyants and intuitive sciences that need further study and perfection.

Similarly, there have been stories of some amazing survivals. A girl staying in the sea for 48 hours and returning safe; another floating on a natural raft for a few days feeling all the while some invisible presence around and helping her. A man from Indonesia survived a week on the sea floating on a tree. The limits of human physiology and psychology were, as if, stretched beyond their logical limits. Perhaps the laws of our body are really the limits of our physical mind, a recurrent habit and a perpetual conditioning of many millennia.

So also the rare heroism and courage exhibited by some individuals. Crisis, it seems, brings out not only the worst but also the best. Perhaps each crisis and adversity is the other face of truth laboring, however paradoxically, to bring out the imprisoned god in man. To sum it up, is there a way to develop or recover within man some latent or lost faculties so as to better understand and master Nature? That such faculties exist is testified both by the cases of extraordinary acts in common man as well as by the rare and uncommon yogi.

In any case, the possibility exists and though now rare, there would be surely some way of discovering and generalizing it in the human race.

This does not mean that we have to only observe and learn and not to act. Of course, the need of the moment is to act but in an enlightened way, so too the need of the hour and the Time Spirit is to evolve beyond man, not only in our external machinery but also and even more importantly in our inner technology, in our inner consciousness.

Action itself has two aspects. One that is outward and visible; the other that is inward and unseen. So also action with hands and word and feet and wealth is outward and necessary, even indispensable. Great is the service that saves and serves the body and the outer man; greater still the service that saves and serves the spirit, opening new vistas for humanity, laying the foundations of a better inner technology of man. Saving the animal man is good, no doubt, but there is an even greater need to evolve the divine man, one who is spontaneously immune to disaster and master of his destiny, death and fate. Let those who mock at this higher and greater possibility for want of faith and courage do so. But let others engage themselves to this greater inner conquest with a redoubled zeal. For in it lies the hope of a lasting security against all ills, in this lies the certitude of a golden future. It is the emergence of the New Man and the spontaneous action of his consciousness that is the best stake even for the old humanity. And this service towards man’s greater potentiality will in the end prove to be the greatest possible service to the present man itself. Time presses for a change, not only without but also within. The Tsunami is only just one signal calling our attention toward this needed change in man himself.

***

There is a role for the physical and the social scientist. There is a role for the spiritual scientist too. And each one must do his bit in his own field. Each of these approaches do not cancel but in truth, complement each other beautifully. The physical scientist has to discover ways and means to act physically upon physical elements. The social worker and the philanthropist have to step in for the outer retrieval. So too the spiritual scientist must work towards discovering ways and means to control forces of outer nature through inner means. Such possibilities not only exist but have been used by certain extra-ordinary persons in the past. Such a power would involve two main aspects — the power of fore-knowledge and the power of fore-action. Though modern science preoccupied with the surface may find such a thing difficult to understand but there is nothing fundamentally unscientific about it. In fact, from a deeper perspective it is perfectly intelligible. When we look at things from outside, they appear as separate objects. To our outer view, the sea is the sea, man is man, house is a house, tree is a tree etc. This is however only a partial and superficial truth of the sensory world. The deeper truth is that the sea, the man, the house, the tree are a single continuum, physical or otherwise. And if we go still deeper we would discover as the seers of the Upanishads did that each separate part is not only linked but contains in itself the whole. Thereby arises the possibility of manipulating the world by manipulating oneself. A new and more intimate relationship begins to be discovered between ‘us’ here and the universe ‘out there’.

But how do we actually realise this possibility? The ancient system of Vedas and Tantras actually worked it out by discovering not only the hidden forces, but the consciousness and beings that act from behind over Nature. They saw the force of consciousness and the being, the elemental spirit, so to speak, behind the mountain, the rain, the clouds, the sea, each species of the animal world, and other such seemingly less conscious or even inanimate forms of Nature. This was no mere totemism or rituals based on magical thinking by some primitive men. Though the possibility is there that unripe minds of the larger sections of humanity may have understood only the ritual part and forgotten the spirit. Nevertheless, if oneness of things is a fact, there must be other ways of entering into contact with and modifying the forces of Nature. Ritualistic worship and soulful prayer may be one of the ways. The other way is a knowledge and control by identity.

These are obviously processes that the rational mind may find difficult to understand. And all that it does not understand, it tends to reject as infra-rational. But just as there is no doubt an infra-rational movement (though for that reason not necessarily less effective as noted in the animals who escaped Tsunami), so too there is a supra-rational movement of consciousness, more intuitive, more decisive and in all likelihood possibly more effective.

***

Finally, one may say that there is a positive side even to the worst of calamities. The Tsunami brought in its wake a solidarity that cut across all outer and inner differences. All mass disasters have this effect of bringing out the hidden oneness of human beings. Let us hope that a day comes when we do not need Tsunamis to realise this. Let us also hope that strengthened by the storm, the survivors not only have a better material future, but having gone through the adversity, have a stronger psychological being as well.

Let us also hope that one day man recovers the harmony he has lost with all that surrounds him by discovering a higher harmony within himself.