Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Razor’s edge- W. Somerset Maugham

This book cannot be characterized as a must read but surely accounts for a pleasant reading. The most alluring aspect of this novel is a truly simplistic yet sophisticated narration by Maugham. His ability to put thoughts into words is quite crude keeping the reader naturally involved right through the end. It’s not some intrigued plot that keeps you hooked but it’s a strange resemblance with ‘life’ that you want to go on reading. This book is primarily about a young man named ‘Larry’ & his quest for god. His spiritual odyssey takes him all over the world. His experience & encounters present the reader with poignant views on the very existence of being & soul, the aatma and it’s oneness with the Absolute. In the course of narrating Larry’s journey, Maugham gives a fascinating glimpse of love & passion via Isabel’s eternal longing for Larry and his love. I have picked up some phrases/quotations from the book that I’ve really liked. So, I’ll put an end to my blabbering here while you get a clear picture of the book as I quote Mr. Maugham…..

(Isabel’s last meeting with Larry before she got married & Larry started his quest)
“Larry had reserved a table at Maxim’s. We had lovely things to eat, and we had champagne. We talked our heads off, atleast I did, and I made Larry laugh. One of the things I’ve liked about him is that I can always amuse him. We danced. The heat & the music & the wine-I was getting a bit light headed. I felt absolutely reckless. I danced with my face against Larry’s and I knew he wanted me. God knows I wanted him. I had an idea.”

“World isn’t a creation, for out of nothing nothing comes; but a manifestation of the eternal nature”

“I think its all stuff and nonsense to say that there can be love without passion; when people say love can endure after passion is dead they’re talking of something else, affection, and kindliness, community of taste & interest, and habit. Especially habit. Two people can go on having sexual intercourse from habit in just the same way as they grow hungry at the hour they’re accustomed to have their meals. Ofcourse there can be desire without love. Desire isn’t passion. Desire is a natural consequence of sexual instinct & isn’t of any more importance than any other function of the human animal. Unless love is passion, it’s not love, but something else and passion thrives not on satisfaction, but on impediment.”
"Passion doesn’t count the cost. Pascal said that the heart has its reasons that reason takes no account of."

"I saw that he’d fallen into the trance which the Indians call Samadhi and in which they hold ,the duality of subject & object vanishes and you become knowledge absolute."

"It is not essential to salvation to retire from the world, but only to renounce the self”

"Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it."

“If in those moments of ecstasy I had indeed been one with the absolute, then, if what they sad was true, nothing could touch me and when I had worked out the karma of my present life I should return no more. The thought filled me with dismay. I wanted to live again & again. I was willing to accept every sort of life, no matter what its pain and sorrow; I felt that only life after life, life after life could satisfy my eagerness, my vigor, and my curiosity.”

This is something that I can so much relate to. I’m not a piously religious person. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in god. I do believe in God with all that I have… I am just too naive to understand the philosophy that goes behind the religions.
Whenever I pray, it’s complete with all the rituals. I have a little temple at my place where I’ve neatly placed God’s idols. I’ll get fresh water in a lota, light an agarbatti, put roli on the idols, place prasad and pray in a completely self-righteous manner. However, the reason I do this is not a devout belief in the rituals, it’s primarily because this is how I’ve been brought up. My rational mind is utterly oblivious to the rituals that our religions preach but my heart tells me to avidly believe in ‘God’. However, I’m just an average person who’s too raw and incapable to go into the details, quite unlike Larry. My logical mind that questions the rituals can obviously not look out for the right answers. So, it chooses an easy way out & I follow what I’ve been taught, a standard way to pray.
Coming back to the point, I’m thankful to God for giving me all that I have & most vital of all-wisdom to retain what I have. I have no idea what’s gonna happen when I die. I might become a ghost;), or might be born again, or salvation…this one not possible I guess. This I can surely say because I’m still too attached to this materialistic world. Given a choice, mine would be to born again and face the joys & sorrows that the world is going to offer. I still have lots of dreams and aspirations….this life is just not going to be enough!!