Figure 1: The pseudoscalar meson nonet. Members of the octet are shown in green, the singlet in magenta. The name of the Eightfold Way derives from this classification.
The swim on the warm Sunday evening is exhilarating; as I have neglected any kind of physical exercise, for the past few weeks. After my laps I sit exhausted on the steps; with my head resting on the railing, and close by eyes against the sunshine. My eyelids turned a bright orange; and then I see the phenomena of the sub atomic particles, appear as if in a dream. The quarks or whatever it is; carried by cosmic rays hitting my eyelid, rise out of nowhere and form a bright blue pattern against the orange background, like exploding firecrackers on the 4th of July. They rise out of nothing and formed this momentary pattern like a rising blue fountain of light; that branches off into all cascading directions, and then disappears as the stream fall back into nothing. I know we cannot see these sub atomic particles; and it has taken researchers years to even find them, so I came back and do some research. The model above describes the scientist’s findings.
Decades ago when I was studying Buddhist meditation, I was fascinated with Gautama/Siddhartha’s quest; as he struggled to find the source of misery, pain, old age and death and how to escape from its cycle of rebirth. He describes his long search and his practice of severe asceticism, of tantric practices, of bhakthi and devotion, and over many decades sought the greatest masters, to learn from them. He traveled to the great centers of learning; and held discourses with anyone who would engage with him, during his long quest. He said that after a particularly long penance; he went down to touch his belly button and felt his back bone instead, through the skin. He realized that extreme mortification of the flesh is not the way to truth and knowledge. He had already enjoyed the luxuries of the palace where he grew up; and the way of the householder and kings indulging in all the sensual pleasures, was also not the way he realized. He had to find a middle path that anyone could follow.
Scientists have come up with an eight fold way to describe the quark model; and Buddha also came up with his eight fold path, when he delved deep into his inner conscience to attain Nirvana. Everything is scientific and each model took a lot of work to arrive at. There is no creator here or death or destruction; as energy and mass interchange but do not disappear. So this was the biggest secret at the heart of all creation; that there was nothing there at the core. When Buddha tried to grasp the absolute and weighty argument of God; he found it wanting, as in the heart of the lotus, there was only bliss and compassion. He defined the way of knowledge that would lead us away from our ignorance; as he was sure that it is our own actions and karma that trap us here, and not the work of gods and goddesses. There are no super beings in this realm; only the Sanga or the likeminded folks to whom he preached his eight fold path of Dharma. So to take refuge in the Buddha, the Sanga and Dharma are core principles of Buddhist practices and to achieve enlightenment; you have to walk the path laid down by the ancient, who were Self awakened ones. This is represented by the eight spokes of the Dharma wheel; and those who walk this path, can find the direct knowledge to the cessation of death and suffering.
Division Eightfold Path factors Acquired factors
Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā, Pāli: paññā)
1. Right view 9. Superior right knowledge
2. Right intention 10. Superior right liberation
Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: śīla, Pāli: sīla)
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
Concentration (Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi)
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
The next evening as I walk outside a mantra is constantly chanting in my head “Om Mani Padme Hum”. I quite my mind, and observe in wonder this mesh of Maya that surrounds us all, in the green grass of mother earth, the grey clouds of the heavens and the people going about their business of society. In the dusk a myriad of lightening bugs appear, again mimicking the quarks rising out of nothing and shining brightly momentarily in random places, and then disappearing into the darkness again. My heart is light; and the vegetarian meal that I have eaten, just right for this occasion. I have tried to find a concrete solution to everything; that one solid truth that would free me, from this cycle of rebirth, suffering and ignorance. No equation answers everything and so I look at the core deeply. I laugh at having discovered this void; as I realize this is all there is, and it is only our desires that manifest and create this being. The mantra goes on and within its chanting, all is filled with compassion and truth. If I am indeed this nothing or void at my core; and all my manifestations are external, then who is this I, who observes and stays the same compassionate being? The mystics may know the answer but I am here now; and as Rajiv Kapoor fades away, I become this mantra that goes on unending out of nothing into nothing.