Charvaka talks to Maitreya about ideas of death
different creatures and a type of bacteria. Close up of Charvaka
Maitreya is asleep on his bed. He struggles to get up as Charvaka enters.
No no don't get up!
Maitreya groans as he still tries to get up.
No, no, no! Keep sleeping.
How are you feeling?
Charvaka takes a seat by the bed.
Are you up for some banter?
I got you a gift. Alphabets.
Charvaka flips through a book, so the pages face Maitreya.
It's amazing how we imagine that these few alphabets will someday arrange themselves in a way that everything will suddenly make perfect sense. A permutation of known words suddenly bringing forward a previously unknown meaning. It's so oppressive, this obsession with final answers.
We create God, soul, heaven, afterlife, even life-imitating technology, all sorts of transcendence to cope with the idea of an absolute end.
And then, we die for an idea which promises some sort of immortality.
Charvaka pauses. Maitreya doesn't react.
It gives me some kicks though, to know that, a part of me was a part of an animal once, a flame, a star. A part will become mineral, flow in a plant, sprout in a fruit, get pecked by a bird. Every atom of my body recycled by the universe. You think you are a person but you are a colony. A microcosm which has ten times more bacteria in its body than it has human cells.
Maitreya tries to speak but only succeeds in grunting.
Wait, check this out.
Charvaka flips through the alphabet book and stops at a page.
U for Unilateralis Cordyceps,
The fungus enters an ant's body through its respiration. It invades it's brain and changes how it perceives smell, because ants do everything they do from their smell of pheromones, right? So this microscopic little fungal spore then makes the ant climb up the stem of a plant and bite hard on a leaf, with an abnormal force.
The fungus then kills the ant, and continues to grow, leaving the ant's exoskeleton intact. So, a small fungus drives an ant around as a vehicle, uses it as food and shelter and then as the ultimate monument to itself.
And when the fungus is ready to reproduce, its fruiting bodies grow from the ant's head and rupture, releasing the spores, letting the wind carry them to more unsuspecting food.
There. Our entire idea of free will down the bin. One single small fungus spore does that to an ant.
You have trillions of bacteria in your body. How do you know where you end, and where your environment begins?
Maitreya turns his head away and says nothing.