Evolution works in mysterious ways. In the overbearing objectivity of chance and randomness, it sometimes picks traits that do not seem to make logical sense. How could they? For our very existence is underscored by a maddening cacophony of evolutionary coin flips. Yet, we strive over and over again to justify to ourselves some providential purpose for our being. We are the only species that demands reasons for their own existence to the point where we have spent centuries trying to place it in external objects, or the transcendence of a higher power through metaphysics and reason alike.
The implications of a Cartesian self must not be lost on us. If It is only our mind that truly exists and creates the reality that we perceive, then why do we then ascribe value to that which is external over ourselves? Our purpose then, must be to be at peace with the one thing that we are certain exists – ourselves. True bliss comes from looking inwards for meaning in the face of external turmoil and meaninglessness. I have sought to capture this in my sculpture titled Bliss. We have much to learn from nature. Like the horse in the sculpture, that exists in the wild only in the moment and yet in perfect harmony with everything around it. Bliss is much more than mere happiness. It is a constant state of peace and equanimity.
While happiness may be ephemeral, and a response to external stimuli, bliss is internal, a response only to the state of mind.
Much like the horse in the sculpture, we exist in a free and natural world, but external factors and the logic of a global economy makes us chase after artificial goals, repackaged as satisfaction and fulfilment. It is the society we live in and must continue to abide by. How do we then negotiate our inner peace vis-a-vis unbridled demands of external forces? We cannot allow ourselves to look at the world through the blinders that are put on us. We must remember, the external forces that dictate our lives never give us what we desire, instead they only tell us what to desire. Once we identify and separate what we truly want from what we are expected to want, we find clarity.
Bliss is a curious thing. It is a state of mind, and yet we can experience it only as fleeting moments of tranquillity. This is the beauty of existence where all our revisions of the past and hopes and aspirations of the future, exist only in the present. All of nature exists in the present, but only we as human beings can string together these moments as a flow of time. We are spectators of a temporal zoetrope, we can miss the show, embroiled in fetters of diktats imposed on us, or we can break free and blissfully experience life on our own terms.
The sculpture “Bliss” can be experienced at Sonal Ambani’s Solo Sculpture Show “Transcendental Time” at the Kolkata Centre for Creativity in Kolkata, India.
Photographs by Amar Ambani