This essay wishes to delve within one of the most important questions asked by man and hopefully clear the mists that choke its clear realization. "A revaluation of all values," as Nietzsche calls it - however in a much more contained form and upon the values of another. We shall turn Descartes into a common man and follow his line of thought to where it takes us. If it deviates into the void, then the wanderer shall be brought back to his track. We shall notice that his argument never reaches his full objective, but rather lodges into comfort and remains within the abstract. After man is left behind can the question be answered? Is it reality we are seeing?
To see the true nature of things; a question mark? No, it is the murder of the question mark, the ink dribbling off the page. The man surrounded by darkness asks himself - am I awake? He looks around, but light does not appear. He questions his mind again and again and yet, an answer fails to arrive. "I cannot know", he answers. "No one can know." But it is a lie; great certainty can come and its secret is contained within the death of the question mark.
Man gazes through his senses and witnesses discrepancy. A king's court it seems, where buffoons and clowns run rampant around golden pillars; colorful masks of madness or sorrow or glee. Again and again one is set upon it, and again and again one forgets his own creation. "It is prudent to never trust the senses that can deceive us", the man says. But does not one call the innocent guilty? The senses do not lie; they simply offer what one is. Is it not man himself who clothes the clowns and names gold as gold? Is it not Reason that listens to the testimony of the senses and calls the object in its myriad of forms? Deceived, it seems, is the mind itself by its own illusion.
The man then tries to stretch his hand, feeling each finger, each muscle and questions. "Am I now stretching my hand? Or am I within my own bed dreaming that I am moving? No", he reasons "If I was now asleep I would not feel myself with such distinctness. But then again I can dream that I am feeling myself." He stands in quiet contemplation. He tries moving anon. Again he sits. "One cannot know the answer", he finally allows. But have we not just said that the mind does not witness reality, but illusion? The man is neither moving, nor is he asleep within his bed. He lies within his own created light; the darkness becoming unbearable. But it is not real light, and it is not real darkness. "Am I awake?" the man asks. He is merely lying within his small chamber, fumbling, through the darkness of his own closed eye lids, for the door knob. He has never seen the room; so he conjures the possible image of the room. He has never seen himself; so he creates the ego. The image he creates has nothing to do with real light; and the ego has nothing to do with himself. So he continues to search and search, never knowing that he is merely within a dream. What happens when one names this one dead and that one alive? He is dreaming - and when I say this I am dreaming, too. Chuang Tzu called these words the Great Swindle; for one cannot know that he is dreaming until he is awake.
Yet, man is still asleep; never discerning who he is. For that is what sleep expresses; one is, but one is not aware that one is. It only natural; for man has evolved out of the animals. Animals find themselves in a heavy sleep - no animal is conscious of itself. Man's sleep is the great evidence of his roots. Hearken onto the questions humanity has challenged: where do I remain? Am I located in my bodily chamber? My intellectual faculties? My soul? - He is merely tumbling through darkness. The awakened do not need to question - he is aware of himself. His eyes are open; he has stepped into light. Why question where one is, when one can see himself? Ego is merely the replacement for the sleeper; the awakened needs no ego - he is already there A man who is aware of himself has not inferiority complex. Any position of leadership - political, religious, and social - is based upon a deep inferiority complex. This feeling of lack is the cause of people becoming ambitious; because if one does not mark his name upon history, in his own view, he is a failure. They desire this, although even the greatest names in history have gradually been forgotten. How many people can we keep carrying? This ambition as well, hints to something animal. Robert Ardrey has determined that all animals carry within themselves an instinct called the "Territorial Imperative". The dog that is urinating upon the tree is marking his own territory. Now any dog that will come near that tree, will know that it is not available. Man works along the same line. Gaze upon all the lines drawn upon the sand - all these nations are simply people urinating and marking their territory. This is England, this is Africa, this is America - you can smell that it is a different country. Otherwise what is the need of nations? What is this need for differentiation? Behold all the idols man has created, all the childish superstitions, and all the commandments from gods - only dust within the night. Glimpse upon history - the two World Wars - they prove man's sleep.
Only a handful of people have awakened throughout time. Only a few had the courage required to come out of hibernation. Heraclitus affirmed: "Whatever we see when awake is death, when asleep, dreams". When one is asleep he sees mirages, hallucinations - his own private realm. When awake, what does one see? Heraclitus says, "Whatever we see when awake is death." Perhaps that is why man is still asleep, perhaps that is why one surrounds himself with the fogginess of dreams - so that he is not forced to accept the reality of death. But one cannot awaken until one has faced death; has challenged it standing. And when one sees death, when he does not escape from it, he will know that death is life. Move into death, and you move into life - for Heraclitus says that opposites connect and blend; they are one.
Throughout time the awakened have tried to wake man from his sleep - and they have failed. A Gautama Buddha, a Heraclitus, a Chuang Tzu - again and again have they attempted, and again and again have they known defeat. For we have staked so much onto sleep. It is just like a man who is dreaming of riches, he is dreaming that he is an emperor within a palace of gold - and one endeavors to waken him. He is merely a beggar on the street. Only a poor man will dream of riches; the rich never dream of being rich - it would be illogical. The beggar has invested so much in his dreams, that he will resist any attempt to wake him. And even if one tries to force him awake; he will fall asleep immediately afterwards. For when he is awake, he is merely a beggar - when asleep, he becomes a king.
Man is always searching for something. Has he ever asked himself what is he searching for? Even if in some vague moments, he has an inkling of what he is searching - it is always blurry, it is never precise. If one tries to define his object of pursuit, he will gradually lose his need to hunt. The quest can only breathe in a state of dreaming, of sleep - when one is in darkness, one things are not clear, one keeps on searching. I have once heard an anecdote of a great mystic woman called Rabia Al- Adawia. Once, during sunset, people have found her searching on the street. She was an old, frail woman - her eyesight weak. So the neighbors decided to help her.
"What are you searching for?" they inquired.
"That is nonsense, I am searching. If you can help me, then help." she answered.
They started laughing and said," Rabia, are you mad? You call our question insignificant, but how can we help if we don't know what to look for?"
"Very well," Rabia said "just to appease you, I am searching for my needle."
They started searching, but soon they realized that the road was large and the needle such a minute thing. So they asked,
"Please tell us where you lost your needle - the precise place. For the road is ample and we can go on searching forever."
"Again you spout nonsense." Rabia said. "How is it concerned with my search?"
They all stopped and eyed old woman. "You are certainly captured by madness!"
"Very well." Rabia answered "Just to satisfy you, I have lost it in my house."
They stared in silence.
"Then why are you looking for it here?" they finally asked.
"Because it is light here, and inside darkness."
The sun was setting and there was still a little light left outside on the road.
Yes, you keep on searching - for riches, power, knowledge. But if you look at the rich people, the people in power, the ones who have knowledge; they are all still searching too, still asleep. Yes, Rabia is right. We all keep running around, thinking we are headless, looking for ourselves - and still we keep looking outside. Where have we lost our heads? Where have we lost our being? Stupid little monkeys trapped within our rooms, drawn like flies to any little light; when whoever has looked inside has always found and awakened.