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There are no ultimate answers

Life is often compared to a game, Shakespeare says, “We are to gods what flies are to wanton boys; they kill us for their sport”.

A person is walking along a mountain ridge. He stumbles and falls. As he tumbles down the cliff, he sees the branch of a tree projecting from the cliff-face. He catches hold of that branch. As he is hanging there precariously, he sees his guru standing on the mountaintop. He asks the guru what he should do. But there is no way the guru can help him physically.

The guru tells him: “The region to the left of the valley below you is dry and thorny. The right side is lush and green. Look to the right and try to fall there. Now that the fall is inevitable, and you may be plunging to your death, enjoy the scenery during your last leap.”

Your assessment of any situation should be realistic. At least some kind of enjoyment involves willingness to suffer unpleasantness. You go for an ayurvedic massage. Ayurveda says body massage is good for health. Sometimes masseurs use their body weight to apply different degrees of pressure on your body using their feet, not hands. It might have seemed an unpleasant prospect, but once you go through it, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. You went through all that in anticipation of joy. I may add that a failure to enjoy adversities is one of the main reasons for the increasing tendency among today’s people to commit suicide.

A suicide is the end result of incurable anxieties. Take the case of this man who decided to commit suicide. He went to a palmist and explained his situation to him. Then he asked him to tell his fortune. The palmist was thoroughly perplexed. On being asked for the reason for the strange request, the man replied, “Well, you see, I have seen so many reverses of fortune that I want to make sure nothing would go wrong with my suicide plan!”

Life is often compared to a game, Shakespeare says, “We are to gods what flies are to wanton boys; they kill us for their sport”. Recently one of my aunts expired. She had been in deep coma for a long time following a brain hemorrhage. She was taken to her home so that she could die there in peace. She was kept at home for a few hours, but was readmitted to hospital when her condition worsened. She soon died. It was an unbearable sight, of life refusing to leave the body even as death was tightening its unrelenting grip on her. My question is, “If life is God’s game, need He be so harsh?” What kind of divine sport is this?

We cannot understand the reasons behind the occurrence of many happenings in the universe. We can probe the answer to certain whys up to a particular point. Then we come to a dead end.

We can give explanations, but they might not provide answers. Buddha gave an example: If an arrow is shot in the dark, it may strike someone. Is the injured person going to ask, “Who shot this arrow, why did he shoot it?” What is more pertinent than an answer to the why-question is the practical action of removing the arrow and dressing the wound. In a sense, any answer to a given why-question is nothing more than the formulation of yet another why-question. In other words, there can be no ultimate answer to a why-question. Your question as to why God allows tsunamis and earthquakes to kill thousands of people belongs to this category.


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