Chapter 5: When We Attain Reality
The moon reflected in the stream, the wind blowing through the pines
In the cool of the evening, in the deep midnight, -
what is it for?
When we attain reality, it is seen to be neither
personal nor impersonal.
There is no sin, no paradise, no loss or gain;
About this transcendentality, no questions!
Who is thought-less? Who is birth-less?
Man is a useless passion, says Jean-Paul Sartre. Why is man a useless passion? He says, “Because there is no meaning in life.” Man searches and searches, and the gain is nothing but frustration. Man is doomed to fail because meaning, as such, does not exist. The message of Jean-Paul Sartre is that of despair, hopelessness, anguish. If there is no meaning, naturally, man is a useless passion. He exists for nothing, exists accidentally, arbitrarily; he goes on keeping himself occupied in useless things, but the ultimate end is nothing but emptiness. Nothing is gained. Man comes empty and goes empty. The whole effort - and the effort is great - is just pointless.
The myth of Sisyphus in Greek mythology is of significance. It says that the gods were angry with Sisyphus. They condemned him to carry a big rock to the hilltop. It is a hard task, it is an almost impossible task, but Sisyphus does it - he carries the rock to the top. And then, the ultimate result is that the rock cannot remain on the top. Because of its weight, of its own accord it starts falling back into the valley again. And it happens again and again: Sisyphus carries the rock, prepares a thousand and one details, fights with the heights, and the ultimate result always is that the rock rolls back into the valley. Sisyphus goes down, starts the work again.
This myth is symbolic of man’s life. From birth to death you struggle and you struggle, and it is a hard struggle and it is an uphill task, and you carry a rock.and by the time you reach, the rock starts slipping back. At the end is death waiting for you, and death destroys all that you have done, it takes away all that you have created. And again another birth, and the whole nonsense begins again, and so on and so forth.
If you look at the life of man, Jean-Paul Sartre has a point there. Man is a useless passion - meaningless, all endeavor utterly of no significance. Then why does man go on living? That becomes the most important question; then why does man go on living? Maybe just because of cowardice? Because he cannot commit suicide? Because he is afraid?
Another existentialist, Albert Camus, has said that the only metaphysical problem - the only - is of suicide. All else is of no significance. Of course, if man is a useless passion, then suicide becomes the most important question. Everybody has to encounter it: why not commit suicide? Why go on living?