Born-Again Karma

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page - MUKUL SHARMA

It’s been said that be­ing born is like be­ing thrown off a very high cliff. At first, the bliss of feel­ing alive and lighter than air is so brac­ing and pow­er­ful that it gives a sense of overwhelming god­li­ness — and gid­di­ness — in be­com­ing just hu­man. And, mer­ci­fully, that lasts a long time with­out the faintest knowl­edge that the ground at the bot­tom of that precipice is still com­ing hurtling up to meet us at ter­mi­nal ve­loc­ity.

In be­tween we glory in our child­hood, then go through the rigours and right­eous­ness of school­ing and col­lege, be­fore build­ing our houses with our spouses in the fall­ing air and liv­ing in­side them look­ing out the win­dows at the street or scenery that seem to be to­tally solid. What we don’t re­alise all through this de­light­ful ex­pe­ri­ence that is full of our own chil­dren by then is that the out­side is also drop­ping along with us at the same speed and will meet a sim­i­lar fate sooner or later. Good we don’t linger on that thought or we wouldn’t be able to func­tion for even a sin­gle day!

There are a lot of ways people have de­vel­oped death-de­fy­ing stunts to deal with this. An un­con­scious de­nial is one of the first ways we learn; mean­ing, if we don’t think of the bot­tom streak­ing up, maybe it’ll back away. For the ma­jor­ity of us, it works for most of our lives. For oth­ers, re­li­gion seems to per­form won­ders — prob­a­bly mainly be­cause it negates death as a nox­ious phe­nom­e­non to be avoided at all costs.

But it’s also been said that though birth is the leading cause of death, death is the chief cause of be­ing born. Maybe there is some­thing to be said for karma af­ter all.

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