Touch of Divinity

Well known Marathi Poet B.B. Borkar probably knew exactly what he had in mind when he wrote the starting couplet of a poem:

tethe kar maze juLati
divyatvAci jeTha praciti

Loosely translated, it means — wherever there is a mark of divinity, I salute humbly. Borkar, of course, had something else on his mind (from what I want to talk about) — probably those divine souls who spend their lives in oblivion, and yet contribute profoundly to the human cause, with all the inherent ambiguity of that phrase. But the scope of those lines extends far beyond such noble souls.

For there is something about divinity (not just the religious conception of divinity), which most human being have an innate capacity to experience. The experience itself might well be subjective (isn’t experience by it’s very definition subjective?) — but the fact remains, that we have some conception of divinity.

Robert M. Pirsig, in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance talks about quality — and in fact goes ahead and weaves a whole metaphysics around it (which he further espouses in his subsequent book Lila: An Inquiry into Morals). Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ) turns over its head the conventional metaphysics of subject/object duality, by putting Quality before subjects/objects. According to MoQ, quality is neither subjective nor objective, but the very genesis of subjects and objects. Not a very intuitive metaphysics, I know.

On a very orthogonal(?) note, the local myth, and indeed literature, (at least in Marathi speaking regions, however I’m not certain about the scope at all, not being a scholar) talks about a special substance — called paris in marathi — which can convert stones into gold, just by touching them. There is also a phrase in marathi, paris sparsha (sparsha is touch, for those who don’t know Hindi), that stands for an inside-out change for good, like the stone getting converted to gold due to paris.

How is all this remotely relevant to divinity? When one is touched by divinity, in whatever way, in whatever degree, one changes — even if briefly. We’ve all experienced that, even if momentary, profundity — when mind is in a state of quasi-equanimity. To use Pirsig’s MoQ, mind is in a state very near to quality, and in such state, mind can only produce quality. One can easily substitute quality by divinity. There are few, who are touched by divinity so deeply that they change inside out — reconstructing the mythical paris. In other words, their minds are always near quality. Borkar probably is talking about such people. Most of us are far far away from there. And yet, we all know those moments when we were brushed (if not touched) by divinity. The question is, do we really cherish it? And if we do why do we let ourselves drift?

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