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Series II - Chapter 33 - ‘The Urge To Seek’
TWO GOLDEN-GREEN birds with long tails used to come to that garden every morning and sit on a particular branch, playing and calling to each other. They were so restless, always on the move, their bodies quivering, but they were lovely things, and they never seemed to tire in their flight and play. It was a sheltered garden, and many other birds constantly came and went. Two young mongooses, sleek and swift their yellowish fur sparkling in the sun, would chase each other along the top of the low wall, and then, slipping through a hole, would come into the garden; but how cautious and observant they were even in their play, keeping close to the wall, their red eyes alert and watchful. Occasionally an old mongoose, comfortably fat, would come slowly into the garden through the same hole. It must have been their father or mother, for once the three of them were together. Coming into the garden one after another through the hole, they crossed the whole length of the lawn in single file and disappeared among the bushes.
“Why do we seek?” asked P. “What is the purpose of our search? How weary one gets of this everlasting seeking! Is there no end to it?” “We search for what we want to find,” answered M., “and after finding what we seek, we move on to further discovery. If we did not seek, all living would come to an end, life would stagnate and have no meaning.” “Seek and ye shall find’,” quoted R. “We find what we want, what we consciously or unconsciously crave for. We have never questioned this urge to seek; we have always sought, and apparently we shall always go on seeking.”
“The desire to seek is inevitable,” stated I. “You might just as well ask why we breathe, or why the hair grows. The urge to seek is as inevitable as day and night.”
When you assert so definitely that the urge to seek is inevitable, the discovery of the truth of the matter is blocked, is it not? When you accept anything as final determined, does not all inquiry come to an end? “But there are certain fixed laws, like gravity, and it is wiser to accept than to batter one’s head vainly against them,” replied I.
We accept certain dogmas and beliefs for various psychological reasons, and through the process of time what is thus accepted becomes ‘inevitable, a so-called necessity for man. “If I. accepts as inevitable the urge to seek, then he will go on seeking, and for him it is not a problem,” said M.
The scientist, the cunning politician, the unhappy, the diseased – each is seeking in his own way and changing the object of his search from time to time. We are all seeking, but we have never, it seems, asked ourselves why we seek. We are not discussing the object of our search, whether noble or ignoble, but we are trying to find out, aren’t we, why we seek at all? What is this urge, this everlasting compulsion? Is it inevitable? Has it an unending continuity? “If we do not seek,” asked Y., “will we not become lazy and just stagnate?”
Conflict in one form or another appears to be the way of life, and without it we think that life would have no meaning. To most of us, the cessation of struggle is death. Search implies struggle, conflict, and is this process essential to man, or is there a different ‘way’ of life in which search and struggle are not? Why and what do we seek? “I seek ways and means to assure, not my own survival, but that of my nation,” said I.
Is there such a vast difference between national and individual survival? The individual identifies himself with the nation, or with a particular form of society, and then wants that nation or society to survive. The survival of this or that nation is also the survival of the individual. Is not the individual ever seeking to survive, to have continuity, by being identified with something greater or nobler than himself?
“Is there not a point or a moment at which we suddenly find ourselves without search, without struggle?” asked M. “That moment may be merely the result of weariness,” replied R., “a brief pause before plunging again into the vicious circle of search and fear.” “Or it may be outside of time,” said M.
Is the moment we are talking about outside of time, or is it only a point of rest before starting to seek again? Why do we seek, and is it possible for this search to come to an end? Unless we discover for ourselves why we seek and struggle, the state in which search has come to an end will remain for us an illusion, without significance.
“Is there no difference between the various objects of search?” asked B.
Of course there are differences, but in all seeking the urge is essentially the same, is it not? Whether we seek to survive individually or as a nation; whether we go to a teacher a guru, a saviour; whether we follow a particular discipline, or find some other means of bettering ourselves, is not each one of us, in his own limited or extensive way, seeking some form of satisfaction, continuity, permanency? So we are now asking ourselves, not what we seek, but why do we seek at all? And is it possible for all search to come to an end, not through compulsion or frustration, or because one has found, but because the urge has wholly ceased?
“We are caught in the habit of search, and I suppose it is the outcome of our dissatisfaction,” said B.
Being discontented, dissatisfied, we seek contentment, satisfaction. As long as there is this urge to be satisfied, to fulfil, there must be search and struggle. With the urge to fulfil there is always the shadow of fear, is there not? “How can we escape from fear?” asked B.
You want to fulfil without the sting of fear; but is there ever an enduring fulfilment? Surely, the very desire to fulfil is itself the cause of frustration and fear. Only when the significance of fulfilment is seen is there an ending of desire. Becoming and being are two widely different states, and you cannot go from one to the other; but with the ending of becoming the other is.