Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, phrased this irreversibility very succinctly: no man ever steps in the same river twice, for, it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
Echoing the same line of thinking, T S Eliot wrote, We do not pass through the same door twice/ Or return to the door through which we did not pass. This permanence of our words and deeds leads one to the conclusion that our life is but a palimpsest – a blackboard being constantly written over, after erasing the earlier writing, but never completely so. In our age, the internet is also a kind of palimpsest – our every email, every WhatsApp message is retained permanently, never totally erased, on some server, somewhere, in some alien location.
But the last word on this subject is in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It says, ‘You are what your deepest desire is. As is your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny.’
Hence, we need to be careful, with each act of ours, we cross the point of no return.