On eggs, tenderly
Life is like an egg. This I read in a
one-line intro to a poem written by my father which appeared in a
collection called Twenty Five Poems, published about 35 years ago. Life
is like an egg, according to the proverb he was quoting; if held too
tight it would be crushed and if held too loosely, would slip between
fingers, fall on the ground and break. Life, then is made for a delicate
handling, between grip and carelessness
Twenty five years later, I read the Satipattana Sutra under the
guidance of Ven Athureliye Rathana, and realized that the above proverb
captured the essence of the concept of upaadaana (attachment) and
relevant commentary. I was struck by the importance of understanding
that ‘grip’ and ‘neglect’ are two sides of the same attachment-coin,
that tight embrace and callous disavowal can both birth sorrow.
‘Caress’ was the operative metaphor that touched my sensibilities
during those discussions. It is eminently applicable to all things;
objects, persons, political preferences, friends, parties, ideas,
discussions, love etc. If we grip anything too hard, it ends up
possessing us. We go nuts.
The ‘other side’ is about rejection; throwing everything off the
table with a swift, firm sweep of hand. Bliss results? No. Just a lot of
stuff on the floor to pick up later.
The point is, it is not a black or white proposition, but a black AND
white one where intersection does not necessarily produce a dull, vague
and blurring grey but a vantage point that allows us to see colour,
colour separation, colour-mix and most importantly beyond colouring.
We are fragile, imperfect, flawed creatures though, blundering along
from one ‘grip’ to another, one ‘rejection’ to another, believing
erroneously that we are doing the enlightened thing by rejection.
With passion and with dispassion, with enthusiasm and apathy,
bull-headed objection and with meek submission, we perpetuate tyrannies
of all kinds, including those which thanks to our fascination with them
help lengthen our sansaric journey.
We are imperfect and perhaps our karmic energies are of volumes and
tenor that prohibit meaningful journeys on enlightening pathways.
Perhaps we can only hope to aspire to general comprehension and not
vigorous application of principle. Perhaps we are lazy.
Perhaps we entertain the wrong set of images whenever we consider the
relevant philosophical dilemmas.
Perhaps we are waiting until we encounter the pathaagena aapu bodhiya
(the tree that we’ve earmarked in the cosmic forest to shade under in
anticipation of obtaining map to emancipation) and have forgotten that
‘tree’ is metaphor.
The truth is that we are called upon to grip, kick aside or caress
this or that every moment and most of the time we get agitated about
We grip tight the things we love (our life, our political projects,
our work, our dreams, etc) or we boot the things we can’t stand.
The former makes for sore fingers, the latter for sore toes. And the
things we love suffer grip-burn while the things we dislike get covered
with foul odours that eventually will return and hover just near your
nostrils when the ‘rejected’ comes seeking ‘unwanted embrace’, as is
often the case. Right now, as I write, and in the ‘right-now’ of your
reading, someone is desperately trying to cling to an article of faith
(let’s say ‘pertaining to Constitution’). Some cling to some articles,
others to others.
Some want to flush this article down the tube while some others want
to drag it out of the cesspit. Someone’s getting covered in a lot of
Sure, it’s all for the common good, the ‘people’, the majority, as we
We know, however, that no one owes anyone any favours, or, to put
more accurately, few would acknowledge that favours are owed.
Someone is gripping an egg. Another is looking the other way thinking
‘not my business’ even as an egg slips through his/her fingers, falls
Eggs. That’s the future. The baby. I wonder if these agitators (of
either sway) are aware.