One day I stumbled upon a new Apple computer in our school computer lab. I was struck by its look; frame and screen jet black, lost in primordial darkness out of which came light and life. God stood on the brink of darkness, and said, “Let there be light”, and light was born, says the Bible. The 22 inch monitor was sharply outlined against the snow while wall behind it, but the infinite darkness, however, did not lose its glory in the surrounding light. It was sitting majestically on the crowded table dwarfing all other systems around it. The poise, the detached unconcern, the shine of its skin as if merged in its soul, reminded me almost of the ultimate truth, that the outer and the inner are a single utility.
She was sitting there, ‘like a spider amidst its self-created net’, as the Upanishad says, and inviting the passerby to get caught in its silken wonder. It swallowed me up, and I became its devotee. Truly, I realized, devotion is all about being swallowed up. You retain a semblance of your personality, as much necessary as to feel how slowly you are disintegrating into your God. It was a piece of poem which was singing the greatness in its creator, Man. It had utility and beauty; mathematics, aesthetics, architecture, and ecstasy blended into a form, the dream of computer users. The keyboard stunned me, as if I encountered a prodigy, a child of complex intelligence, just a shade bigger than my palm, worthy of being held up in both, appreciation and reverence fused into its immaculate contours.
I stood at a distance, forgot (or feared?) to take a chair. Someone came and switched it on. Ah! She lighted up in all her glory, like a maharani suddenly unveiled, her dominance complete and unassailable. The fastness and promptness of her response to the tap of keys, the uncluttered opening and closing of programmes, the sharpness of the functions it performed took me to a world where harmony of thought, word and deed is the password.
Ah! Harmony! In a world ‘out of joint’ as Shakespeare called it. In a world ruled by ‘passionate intensity’ of ‘the worst’, where ‘the best lack of conviction’ (W.B.Yeats), here is a sage sitting on the table in front of me, wearing with great ease beauty in form, clarity in purpose, cosmic in vision, and harnessed power in its operation; all this an intelligent aligning of lines and numbers, of shape and colour, of matter and philosophy. “What a piece of work is man, how infinite in faculties”, wondered Shakespeare. “The greatest wealth of man is his creativity”, said the Dalai lama, and what a tantalizing thing is this creativity! While I stood there admiring the harmony of form and faculties of the little queen, somewhere out there she is being used to precisely destroy humanity and its creative genius, the civilisaton! ‘And yet, the quintessence of dust’, to remember Shakespeare again. Is contradiction an essential component of ‘all things great and grand’ ?
All things man has achieved have glittered and passed, appeared again with a new glitter and faded away. But man is going on, unfazed by the rise and fall of the great and the small, in his insatiable thirst for the infinite. He has not halted in his search for the ultimate achievement, though sometimes questioning it, pushing it away, yet never abandoning the search. From ‘the quintessence of dust’ he has risen to ‘in apprehension, like a god’, fallen back again, not satisfied even in a god. Even when ‘things fall apart, the centre cannot hold’ as W.B.Yeats lamented, like a phoenix he is born again and again to integrate himself and the race into the search for transcendence in transience.
Is this little queen the new saviour? If anything can save man, lead him further in his journey towards the ultimate achievement, it is his knowledge harnessed to truth and beauty. It is not new to him either, he has done this several times in history, and will do it again. Man is moving from the individual identity to his own universal identity, and this is a perilous journey, fraught with unforeseen challenges, most of them coming from within himself. There is a constant struggle in his consciousness, like a baby eagle which emerges from his egg shell to come face to face with the limitless sky, finds suddenly it needs to grow and fly. We are discovering the inevitability of being the mankind within the small frame of our body and mind, and the exploding awareness of expanding consciousness we find difficult to manage.
This overwhelming feeling of being defeated by the borderless dreams man has cherished over time immemorial, bursts into a creativity unknown till now. In science, in power both military and political, in writings reviewing the human predicament, in search for comfort and unbridled pleasure, and in the total quotient of unhappiness, our times are bursting at seams to expand beyond all limitations. There is so much knowledge available to us, but sadly we have failed to harness it into what we are looking for – a unified field of truth, joy, and balance. It is no more ignorance which is a threat to human existence, but unharnessed knowledge. But after my encounter with the Queen, the Apple computer, I was convinced, on a metaphorical level, that we can save ourselves, we can recreate ourselves. When the inherent limitless Self is impatient to break through imposed limitations, the time for turning of an age arrives. It can be a new big bang, a new melt-down into another mass of cosmic waste, or, if man can use his staggering knowledge acquired over centuries of painstaking search for the meaning of life, a new AUM to vibrate us into a world of truth, beauty and balance.
Can science be the Second Coming for a confused humanity?