Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Potter's Wheel

What if you may be already dead?

Think about it. We know that some of the stars, we still see, vanished millions of years ago. We still their light now because of the very large distance between such stars and earth. Even at the speed of light it takes several million years for the light from those stars to reach us.

Could it be possible with human beings also? Like 'consciousness' (or atman in all of us) has really finished its job, achieved its purpose and unified with the universal consciousness long long ago but the body exists just like the light that reaches us now  makes us still 'see' the star when the star has vanished long long ago.

Vedanta uses a very  nice analogy to illustrate a similar concept.

Potter's wheel. The one used by the potter to make different kinds of earthen vessels.

Potter gives one nice push and the wheel begins to turn round and round. The potter uses the clay to shape different pots etc. After making few pots and pans, potter is done with his job.  But due to the nice initial push given to the wheel, the potter's wheel is going to continue rotating for a while till all the energy is dissipated and it comes to a stop on its own accord.

So the time when the potter finished making his last vessel is when the purpose of the life was achieved. Time after that is just due to excess initial force given which is going to keep the wheel turning for additional time more than required. 

Vedanta says our lives at some point become like that. We continue to exist as human beings long after the purpose has been fulfilled just because of the karmic force. It may happen in this life time or after many life times or may have already happened. Who knows?

I really liked this analogy. That's all. I do not want to think that we can know for sure if our life's purpose has been already met or if we are still required to continue to make pots and pans. We just do not know. Wise sages say that you know when you get there. So there is no point in speculating if we should change anything. I do not believe so. This analogy should not be use to become fatalistic. That would be inappropriate.

By the way, Vedanta uses this analogy of excess time the potter's wheel continues to turn to illustrate one particular kind of karma called 'prarabhda karma'. For beginners, it's all a very advanced hair splitting to get very particular about such intricate topics. We need not to concern ourselves much with that.

Another metaphor used for 'prarabha karma' is that of an arrow that has left the bow. It can not recalled. It has to go and hit the target. The target (i.e. us) can fortify ourselves against that arrow with spiritual practices so that the impact is minimized or completely eliminated.

Analogies that our sages came up illustrate some of the hard-to-grasp concepts are simply mind blowing.

I am sure, if you Google, you will find many better explanations of the analogies that I have tried to provide here. I just write on such topics even if I do not fully comprehend so that the act of writing makes me go look for additional references and also reinforces some of the thoughts that I would like to sink in.


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