I recently picked up a copy of “Curiouser and Curiouser” authored by Neeraja Raghavan. Neeraja has a masters from IIT, Kanpur and was a research scholar in Chemistry at Princeton University. Her quest for “uniting that which is within reason to that which is beyond reason” led her to write this book.
The book traces the journey of a butterfly that transforms from the caterpillar into a beautiful insect form and asks the question “what changes and what stays constant?” And it is this question that leads it into a voyage of discoveries….as the butterfly flits from river to the oak tree, dewdrops to rosebuds, moth to firefly….
Sample this conversation the butterfly has with the Sun
“Sun, are you constant or do you change?” it asked hesistantly.
“Well, it depends on who asks that question”, replied the Sun with a smile.
“To you, I keep changing as you will not see me again until the morning. But to the galaxy of stars that shine in the skies, I am eternal, I never stop shining, nor do they, as you can see”.
The butterfly shook its wings in impatience “what is the truth then? Do you change or don’t you?”
The sun laughed. “The truth depends upon who asks the question. To know the truth, there must be a knower, who is that? My answer will change with the knower”
Continuing its quest for the answer to the questions, the butterfly talking to the Stars, hears:
” ..time isn’t the same everywhere, you know. Some of us are ahead of you by minutes, hours, days, years…and there are other heavenly bodies in the skies where lights get trapped, it can’t escape them…so you can’t see them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist!”
This journey of self discovery is what we all need to embark upon for our own selves. What has changed in us and what has stayed constant in us since the day we were born? Am I the same person that I was yesterday? Am I the same person that I was 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago….if not, what has changed? Body, mind, thoughts….? But isn’t there something that hasn’t changed at all in all these years? So, what is that reference point?
“The famous poet Kahlil Gibran, wrote that the only one time in his life, when he was rendered mute was when someone asked him the question “Who are you?”
It is a question literally impossible to answer with words because who we are is formless and the words belong to the world of form.
Each one of us is a soul with a body and not rather a body with a soul. Soul cannot be observed and measured with tools we use to observe the material world. The best way to perhaps answer this question is to look at what we are not.
NisargaDatta Maharaj, answering this question, in the book I am that, says”
“Just as colors in this carpet are brought out by light, but light is not color, so is the world cuased by you, but you are not the world. That which creates and sustains the world, you may call it God or providence, but utlimately you are proof that god exists and not the other way round, but before any question on God can be put, you must be there to put it.
The reason why I liked Curiouser and Curiouser, is because it takes a complex subject like this and treats with it utter simplicity and gets to the core of the answer: We are all interlinked to every part of cosmos in ways we can never even imagine”. To know what the answer of what changes and what doesn’t, go read the book.