And then the altruistic hermit said, “A pebble’s life isn’t for me. Human life has come too far, a pebble for me to be. We are almost masters of the universe and I shall do more, for that to pass.”
So once again he sat atop the mountain top, basking in its familiarity. Once again meditating for days and months, for years and eons, no water crossed his throat, no food reached his stomach, just chants from deep within his soul. He stood up on the tips of his tippy toes and froze for years and then some more. (For more details on his modus operandi, see part one written previously).
And finally, happy with his devotion, the Lord of Eons appeared and asked, “Valiant monk, what would you like as a boon before you swoon? Very happy I am with your dedication”.
And the hermit replied, “Make the human species immortal”.
“Thats not possible.” Said the Power that be, “That can only be me”.
So then the wise ascetic replied “May we never be destroyed by anything we can see, no bomb no meteor…no floods, no tsunami, neither earth quakes nor hot global bakes, no alien invasion, no symptomatic disease (He still wanted his probiotics, you see, so he let the asymptomatic be). May we not be destroyed by the living or non-living!” And then he screamed, “MAY WE FORGET WE ARE MORTAL FOR AS LONG AS CAN BE!!!!
“So let it be” said the Power that be, smiling stealthily. And that’s how it all came to be.
And so they forgot they were mortal, you see.
Buildings were built to scrape the skies, markets brimmed with produce and rice. People travelled to Nice and Venice. Parties were held, elections were rigged, rumors were spread, and in mirth they lived.
They forgot they were mortal, you see.
They obsessed with looks and spent on goods. They thought this life was all there was. Of the before and after, they never gave a thought. Wealth defined all and intellect took a lower rung. Life ebbed on, emotionally strung. So engrossed were they in their own saga, that naught did they see the upcoming drama.
They forgot they were mortal, you see.
And then came the jolt of mortality, rather inevitably.
Not in a bomb or a meteor. Not in a global bake or news that was fake. No earthquake, no tsunami, not a bacteria or a parasite, or even an alien might. Just a virus, on the fringe of living and non-living, it crept in asymptomatically, you see. It landed unliving on the unsuspecting living, replicating without interrupting. Shedding its coat, outside the door, it inserted its core and of itself made many many more. The unsuspecting human went mirthing on, with nary a cough or even a fever on. And while some lamented death of generosity, the virus multiplied copiously, spreading into young, old and all.
Yet they partied on. Let the old die, they first said and the infirm as well. And then crashed a tsunami on the economy. Markets crashed, firms closed. Produce ran out, hunger got a foothold. The young starved along with the old. Doors closed.
Even the pebble became a hermit.
Fear took hold.
We are still mortal afterall, you see.
The brain is numb. The brain is alive. Numb to the ebb of emotions within.. pulsing with sizzling electricity to delve beneath. Lifeless to the eye but dissecting out life itself. Can the utterly materialistic and the utterly metaphysical coexist? Can one contemplate the futility of emotion driven angst while in the throes of it?
What is life? Is life defined in our incessant efforts to feed and clothe and luxuriate oneself? Or in the pursuit of a higher purpose such as altruism when in effect all altruism is but the ego crowning itself? Or an amalgamation of the two, with wealth enough to disperse and earn the sash of nobility.
Or perhaps the high drama of a tumultuous relationship between lovers, siblings, friends or even fanatically held views on religion or politics. Whether it’s one or another or a blend thereof, that’s the bread and butter of life as we know it. Like the ocean, always in motion, always crashing onto the shore high tide or low.
Life is in essence a battlefield of desire vs ethics, of self vs communal, of being vs nothingness. What better place to contemplate the irrelevance of being alive or dead than amidst the battlefield of life itself, with one’s very life at stake. Trying to hold on to life while fully aware it doesn’t mean a damn once dead. Why do we eschew death and not life when death has ironically more meaning than this drama we call life. After all nothing is certain in life but for death.
By design or by chance, by the divine or by default, life isn’t particularly amenable to being pried open and it’s workings demystified. We chisel on at the surface thinking we are sculpting a life out for ourselves when in essence the bulk of it remains unknown and unknowable. We may decide what clothes to wear or what emotions to express or even pretend to meditate on it but rarely do we get a say in what genes our very own cells express or the path of a hurricane. In any case, to those who live at the surface of it all, merely but merrily mired in everyday dos and don’ts, ethos and ethics, children and professions, going beneath the surface seems to be a wasteful exercise.
Afterall, the realization that our everyday ups and lows, desires and disappointments have utterly no meaning in the grand scheme of being, may very well detonate the very life we try to make sense of – as we know it. It would take the zing out of lovers pangs, the bling out of every deal. So you can surely choose to let it be, not sift through to the bottom of it all, losing the heap in the process. Live. Love. Suffer. Happy. Sad. Such is life.
If meaning and the very purpose of a meaning cease to exist outside the confines of the here and now, is it even worth contemplating?
However to realize the meaninglessness of the life and yet decide what the heck, let’s live anyway, in full pursuit of happiness, love, wealth and the entire repertoire of worldly pleasures as they are called, now that is true detachment – detachment from the very need for a purpose. An hermit in essence and a pebble in paradise. Nirvana.
The morality bandwagon. Everyone is on it these days. Everyone is running for causes, standing up for a belief or two, raising money for charity, sharing pictures of the down trodden. It is indeed fashionable for a child to donate half his coveted birthday monies to ‘charity’ ( thereby installing in him from very early on, a distinct distaste for the word itself). Schools trumpet their community service programs. High school kids feverishly volunteer at soup kitchens, sew care blankets, shelf books at the library and log in hours.
As if this were not enough, one could get onto a higher plateau of ‘righteousness’ by proclaiming an undying loyalty to the color green, by buying organic, by touting a reverence for ‘environmentally friendly’ products. We stand on our plastic soapboxes on our carefully manicured and weed free lawns or the local park and espouse the need to denounce the very things we are enveloped with in our lives. Yes, please stop spewing carbon dioxide into the room with your respiratory processes, you are increasing your carbon footprint!
As if this were not all, one could possibly attain the next level, or nirvana, by standing up for the soon to be extinct animals, for the poor creatures used for science and cosmetic research and pulling a puppy or two from certain death in some railroad track. All the while chomping on your favorite grilled chicken.
Yes, it is fashionable to be on this morality bandwagon. The more vocal you are on twitter and Facebook and other assorted media on these and other carefully selected ‘issues’, the higher you morality index. You can demand to be revered and clock yourself with a ‘Look how noble(er) I am’ shroud.
Yet, truth is, that is exactly what all this is . A shroud. Whom are we kidding? Really?
It is the basic survivalist ego in humans that propels us to “save” the earth and to elevate those who proclaim to do so on a elevated, nobler plane.
All these moralistic stand-ins, die-ins and hand outs are but basically but an attempt by humanity to save….humanity itself. If it were not for the belief that the environmental changes caused by our over-consumption, would in effect obliterate us in the far future, would we even bother? Or would we continue to over consume and pollute if, hypothetically speaking, we remained unaffected by it all but everything else were to die? If not for the abject horror that our grandchildren ten generations down may not recognize a tiger if one were staring at them, would we bother to ‘save’ them?
To be naked, is to see the deed for itself. What propels one to help a fellow human or to save the earth for the humans? Immediate gain in terms of publicity or the perception of some moralistic or spiritual gain now or in after-life? Is there any altruistic behavior untouched by either? Would there be any altruistic behavior if not for one or the other?
Altruism obviously evolved with the evolution of the multi-cellular or colonial life forms. As long as there was a lone bacteria, a lone amoeba, fending for itself, it did not need to worry about its fellow brethren. But once the cells realized the advantages of living in a colony, or even as a multi-cellular organism, altruism was necessary to keep the organization running. Team work can only be accomplished with give and take. For any advantage living together gave the cells, they had to also give up some of their individualism for the common good. This they did, without much aplomb, in the early sponges and even the early amphibian. What the heck, cells even had to completely specialize and commit to one function such as the kidney or the heart for the entire organism to survive optimally.
So when did this simple survivalist phenomenon take on a nobler aura? With the evolution of consciousness perhaps? When the thinking brain had to rationalize the individual’s sacrifice for communal good. With the evolution of the consciously thinking brain, there was a danger of the individual reverting to well, individualism. For thinking brain is not clairvoyant (yet) and is often shortsighted. Hence the evolution of morals to safeguard communal good. In recent times, this seems to be going towards its peak with altruism sparking off glossy headlines and rather pompous facebook posts with guaranteed likes.
A single individual set out to (pre)serving himself or herself is deemed selfish. However, an entire species, namely humans striving to preserve themselves is deemed noble. Go figure.
So there was this hermit on a hilltop. He had been sitting still for so long that anthills grew around him, on him and in him. Trees had dropped their branches and with every wisp of air, the leaves tickled his nostrils. Vines crept mirthfully around him, entangling his thumb with his forefinger. The rain fell as on a pillar, the sun beat down its uv’s, the winds blasted his hair off their sockets and the cold froze his shoulders. Seasons passed, ants crawled, bees buzzed, spiders spun, and he sat on, seemingly oblivious. No water entered those lips, no food touched that belly.
He has attained Nirvana, everyone said, staring at him in awe. They filed past him in reverence which he never saw. They brought him food that he never ate. They adorned his seat with flowers that he never smelled. They chanted his praise that he never heard. They sought his blessings that he never gave. Years passed. He sat still.
He has attained Nirvana, everyone said. He is beyond hunger, thirst and greed, they said. No sorrow, no joy, no emotion could move him, they claimed. His is in the ultimate state, they said. That for which one needs to do penance for years, endure hunger and thirst for eons before they fade away. Forget family, forgo love, shun hate and ignore greed, until one feels that inner peace.
It takes a great deal of introspection, everyone said. Scouring hundreds of religions, thousands of gods, dealing with the mirth of agnostics and philosophical thoughts. It takes grit, they said. And a burning desire to find the truth.
He has attained Nirvana, everyone said, it takes devotion and deep thinking. He is one that has gone beyond the need for food, for water, for love, for plain laughter. He has attained the sate of nirvana, they said, he is now so still, so unmoved, so without desires and needs, much like the pebble at his foot, everyone said.
The pebble at his foot.
The pebble at his foot had been lying there for years, no one said. They did not file past it in reverence. They never brought it food. They never adorned it with flowers. They never chanted it’s praise. They never sought it’s blessings. Years passed. Vines grew on it, ants danced on it. Spiders crawled, spiders spun. The pebble lay still.
It is beyond hunger, thirst and greed, no one said. No sorrow, no joy, no emotion could move it, no one claimed. It is in the ultimate state, no one said. It has no wants, no hunger, no thirst, no desire, no one said. The pebble must have done penance for years to reach this state, no one said. It is in the ultimate state, that for which one needs to be a seeker for years, endure hunger and thirst for eons before they fade away, no one said.
The pebble is the state of Nirvana, no one said.
It took evolution millions of years, everyone had said, to make the first life form out of rocks and pebbles, reptiles out of amphibians, humans out of monkeys, and even more to refine a hermit out of a human. So had everyone said.
The hermit became a pebble, while the pebble stayed a pebble. Evolution made a human out of a pebble while nirvana made a pebble out of a hermit.
The hermit and the pebble are but in the same state, no one said.
We see the world as made up of discreet units – living or otherwise The rock, the wave, the shore. The bug, the plant, the carnivore. Tom, Joe and Dumbledore. Each living their parts out on this plane of existence with their various life events, sometimes interacting, mostly self-absorbed, sometimes self-aware and always self-fulfilling.
We think of ourselves as ending in the tips of our toes and fingernails. That the skin encases all that is I, Me or Mine. Our minds define the self as the body that it can immediately control by physical movements and conscious will. The hands, legs, the neck, the mouth…each moving to the will of the mind the puppeteer, or so we think.
But the self really extends beyond. Beyond your pedicured feet and above the frizzy tips of your permed hair. It exudes out into the flower you pluck, the rock you move, the words you type and the pat on the friend’s back. The core of you, the amorphous I, the focus of your existence is not really contained in your immediate body. It is flows into all that you influence. And it does so for everyone, and as our spheres of influences intertwine, we become extensions of one another.
Every single entity has orbs of influences generated by neuronal activity or of potential energy – living or non living as the case may be. Since we ‘feel’ our hands and feet, we think of ourselves as defined by that we can feel and touch or that which is encased within that which we can feel and touch. But our influences very obviously extend beyond what we can feel and touch. We move our hands and we move the rock…the rock a part of you then as much as the hand. The self, the body, the food, the rock, concentric circles radiating from the core…extending all the way into the adjacent orb. Intersecting and intertwining with the circles of those around physically or mentally. The boundaries of the self extending with every influence – intellectual, emotional, purely physical or a permutation of the three or even more. And when you die, the influences die, and you become the core.
Like wrinkles on a sheet of fabric in 3d, pinched out upward, downward or sideways, depending on the pulls and tags on it, we are all but points on a graph in the very same space time fabric, sometimes long and thin, other times extending laterally, influencing the peaks and valleys next to us, and constantly changing the topology of the fabric. We may think we are distinct from the peak to our left, and/or bigger than the one on the right, but we are all but peaks and valleys all the same, off of the very same fabric. Of Space and Time. All made up simply of the exact same sub atomic particles that oscillate between matter and energy, between being and nothingness.
Once you stretch you mind to take this in, you do but stretch this space time fabric and all the wrinkles flatten out into a one unique, rather singular identity. Or none.
Your “I” is your evil ego, lose it, they said; do not think of yourself as an ‘I’. How is that possible, I asked. If I do squish my I into an shapeless mass, devoid of individuality, it is still an I, albeit an amorphous I. Until someday that I transpose viscerally into another perhaps, living or otherwise, I shall remain this very I, and even if I did transpose, the other will now be my I. There is no escaping this I. It is here to stay, said I.
Do not obsess about your I; do good to others, they said, and forget about your “I”. Let your I dissolve into this water nourishing others, they said. Yes, I dissolved my I, but it surfaced in others. What of them, I asked. They are all but I’s, in you and you and you and in him and her and them.
We may give up the little “i” in one to benefit the larger communal I, but the I remains. It becomes even bigger than before, bursting with all the self-righteousness of your selfless deeds. The individual I becomes the collective I.
It is not my I or your I, that we need to lose, if we are to lose the ego, for the ego of one soul is neither different and nor distinct from the collective ego of the species. We need to lose the ego of the race, of being, of existence – of this need for survival of ‘our’ race, ‘our’ species, of this humano-centrism that we are so preoccupied with, of this desire to live out this life, on and on, if we are to truly to find and free ourselves of all I.
I is the thinker and the thought. I is the epicenter of it all. If all is one, one is all, all is I. You, me, I. Every focus of thought is an I – you think you are an I, I think I am I, they think they are each an I, so are we all, all eyes of thought.
Our I’s are but multiple reflections of a singular eye on multiple planes of glass. All scattered in time and space. Rip time, warp space, and you’ll see that there is but one I.
In all. Living or otherwise.
To be free!!
As free as a bubble, floating in the air, tethered to nothing, nothing but…air!
But the bubbles aren’t free for they but dance to the whims of the ever flowing, diabolical wind!
Ah, to flow like the wind, around the earth and over oceans. Blowing trees and leaves, and sundry plastic across streets, wrapping itself around vertices with terrifying forces. But the wind isn’t free, for it but blows to the whims of the earth moving its heat!
Heat – now that must be free – oh no, it is but a function of the burning sun…
The sun! Our ever dependable, everyday, brilliant sun! Lighting up the solar system, the king thereof! But the sun isn’t free, for it is but a delusional constant, slowly burning into obscurity at the whims of it’s fissions, fusions, nutrinos, and their bombardments.
Neutrons, protons, electrons, electric charges spinning and zipping around, forever choreographed, chained to their orbitals, never free to roam away …until they pulsate into energy…
Energy! Pure singular unifying energy! The only entity that is truly FREE!?
That which depends on nothing, gives birth to everything, the one that manifests as many.
Entangling itself in its own creations, the constant dialog of being and nothingness.
To be, is to never be free.
We are obsessed with reliving lives, over and over.
Not necessarily our own, but any life.
We re-live life scenarios in movies, in books, in gossip, even in our dreams.
We find it incredibly interesting to watch a series of events unfold in a character’s life be it one’s own, a girlfriend’s or one digitized. The suspense of what happens next grips us and keeps us clinging to our seats.
Yes, this stretch of time from when we are born to when we die enthralls and enchants us. We lament the woes in our own while relishing those in others, fictional or otherwise. We get entrapped in plots and schemes, hatch dreams and follow subversive themes.
And our minds get so braided with the events until there is no distinction between one and the other. Our thoughts get entrapped within the lives we follow, the life events to be precise.
If only, even for a minute, we could look away from the book, take out eyes away from the movie, wake up from our dream… If only…we could take our thoughts away from the so called events playing out in time. Events, that lack relevance before or after.
Before and after – the stillness jarred by the infinite loop within the finite in-between.
“An·thro·po·cen·tric (anTHrəpəˈsentrik/adjective) : Considering human beings as the most significant entity of the universe; interpreting or regarding the world in terms of human values and experiences.”
A pervasive term that pretty much sums up the way we live, the way we think.
A majority of the religions that have a mass following are built on the very same idea – that the world was created for humans, or that humans have a self imposed responsibility to ‘save’ it. That taking birth as a human is a high achievement. From depicting gods in human form to instilling survivalistic lingo in holy books.
Altruism is but an exalted off shoot of the very same anthropocentrism. The need the do good for humanity- not just so humans can survive and procreate. but also to achieve a more exalted state of feeling ‘noble’. I work for the good of humanity and therefore I am good!! Norms and morals, created around the benefit of greater good – aka humankind. Is this mass self-obsession any better or worse than a obsession about just the self?
The morality bandwagon. Everyone is on it these days. Everyone is running for causes, standing up for a belief or two, raising money for charity, sharing pictures of the down trodden. It is indeed fashionable for a child to donate half his coveted birthday monies to ‘charity’. Schools trumpet their community service programs. High school kids feverishly volunteer at soup kitchens, sew care blankets, shelve books at the library and log in hours.
As if this were not enough, one could get onto a higher plateau of ‘righteousness’ by proclaiming an undying loyalty to the being green, by buying organic, by touting a reverence for ‘environmentally friendly’ products. We stand on our plastic soapboxes on our carefully manicured and weed free lawns or the local park and espouse the need to denounce the very things we are enveloped with in our lives. Yes, please stop spewing carbon dioxide into the room with your respiratory processes, you are increasing your carbon footprint!
One could also possibly attain the next level by standing up for the soon to be extinct animals, for the poor creatures used for science and cosmetic research and pulling a puppy or two from certain death in some railroad track. All the while chomping on your favorite grilled chicken.
Yes, it is fashionable to be on this morality bandwagon. The more vocal you are on twitter and Facebook and other assorted media on these and other carefully selected ‘issues’, the higher you morality index. You can demand to be revered and clock yourself with a ‘Look how noble(er) I am’ shroud.
Yet, truth is, that is exactly what all this is . A shroud. Whom are we kidding?
It is the basic survivalist ego in humans that propels us to “save” the earth and to elevate those who proclaim to do so on a elevated, nobler plane.
All these moralistic stand-ins, die-ins and hand outs are but basically but an attempt by humanity to save….humanity itself. If it were not for the belief that the environmental changes caused by our overconsumption, would in effect obliterate us in the near or far future, would we even bother? Or would we continue to over consume and pollute if, hypothetically speaking we remained unaffected by it all but everything else were to die? Seriously? If it were not for the abject horror that our grandchildren ten generations down may not recognize a tiger if one were staring at them, would we bother to ‘save’ them?
Altruism obviously evolved with the evolution of the multicellular or colonial life forms. As long as there was a lone bacteria, a lone amoeba, fending for itself, it did not need to worry about its fellow brethren. But once the cells realized the advantages of living in a colony, or even as a multi-cellular organism, altruism was necessary to keep the organization running. Team work can only be accomplished with give and take. For any advantage living together gave the cells, they had to also give up some of their individualism for the common good. This they did, without much aplomb, in the early sponges and even the early amphibian. What the heck, cells even had to completely specialize and commit to one function such as the kidney or the heart for the entire organism to survive optimally.
So when did this simple survivalistic phenomenon take on a nobler aura? With the evolution of consciousness perhaps? When the thinking brain had to rationalize the individual’s sacrifice for communal good. With the evolution of the consciously thinking brain, there was a danger of the individual reverting to well, individualism. For thinking brain is not clairvoyant (yet) and is often shortsighted. Hence the evolution of morals to safeguard communal good. In recent times, this seems to be going towards its peak with altruism sparking off glossy headlines and rather pompous facebook posts with guaranteed likes.
This anthropocentric altruism has taken roots deep within our very survilvaistic genes. People jump to judge those in apparent odds with this supposedly divine nature. They do not realize that it is but a survivalistic trait of the race. Of course there is nothing wrong in being anthropocentric. Every species has an orb of adaptive behaviors, that have become so genetically ingrained that survival is not possible outside this realm. So within this orb for humans are all such morals, such as nobility, holier than thou, help your needy neighbor, save the little lame duck…lets survive as a species and lets help the earth survive so we may. Altruism has indeed an exalted status within this orb of morals.
Simply put, altruism is but a higher form of selfishness. A majority of altruists would claim that they are helping humans in need so that humankind as a whole could benefit from their action. True, but then that itself is a selfish desire for one’s own species to survive. If not that, then for a desire to keep life the way it is. To preserve animals from extinction, to save the earth so life ( our lives and other lives that support our life) does not become extinct. There is hence always a selfish purpose behind altruism. Is that bad? Not at all. However, remove that element of higher level of selfishness and all altruism would perhaps disappear.
Altruism stems from an innate desire for nobility, attention and in extreme cases, fame. In some religions, altruism promises a better afterlife or rebirth in better circumstances. All altruistic behavior has an innate purpose that is not so altruistic.
Why then is altruism so revered? The altruists so venerated? The circle of survival. What if humans did become extinct? So be it. Life renewed. A single individual set out to (pre)serving himself or herself is deemed selfish. However, an entire species striving to preserve itself is deemed noble.
The naked thought makes no distinction between good and vile, a single human and humankind, between the living and non living between that which exists and that which does not. Nothing more venerated than the other, nothing more worthy of saving than the other. Within the opera of the living, emotions, morals, ethos, are all but theatrical effects while life plays itself out on the stage.
There was a time when everyone believed that the earth was flat. That the world was created by a judgmental humanoid superpower at a singular point in time. That there is a place called heaven and a place called hell. They built temples and shrines, wrote verses and chimed, appeased the gods and prayed for afterlife.
There was a time when everyone believed that the sun and planets revolved around the earth. And then for a while they believed the planets went around the sun. They believed in black holes and worm holes, in inertia and the laws of physics. They looked for forces and particles, for numbers prime and a unifying force. They chipped away at the blocks hoping to find the cause.
There was a time when everyone believed humans had to live eternal. They cured the plague, curbed the epidemic and saved every child. They studied the cells, the brain, the spleen, and made 3-D printed organs to prolong life. They killed the chicken, enshrined the dolphin, poached the elephant and protected the walrus. They swayed to the whims of survivalistic fads, and held on to their science.
There was a time when everyone believed that there was a right way and a wrong way. And that life had to be led a certain way. They formed rules, imposed laws. There were traffic rules, marriage laws, building codes and tax laws. There were dress codes, grammar rules and social norms. They believed all men were equal but some were not, that women didn’t matter until they said not. Then all were equal but animals were not. Every two score and one, the mores changed, the laws changed but beliefs stayed.
There was a time when everyone believed.
In one thing or another.
Does it matter? Does it not matter?
If the world is just a darn simulation, and we are merely playing our parts, a darn show on a stage that has no other relevance than that of being, does anything even matter?
Or does it not matter?
If all is one, then one is none. It does not matter. Nope.
Wait, it does matter!
Because after all it is all matter!!
As long as it is matter, it matters!
Matter matters since matter is the system. Within the bubble of the material simulation, all matter therein matters. Every little bit playing its part, the rules, norms, systems within systems, within the mega system, working seamlessly as a cosmic gear box.
Within this world, a micro-system of pulleys for instance follows the principles of levers and fulcrums. An airplane operates on the principles of aerodynamics and laws of motion. A chemical system works on the principles of thermodynamics and electron transfer. A cellular system works within the confines of biochemistry and genetics.
A ecosystem runs on the principle of predator and prey, of procreation and survival.The more abstract and complex systems of civilizations run on emotional conflicts, drive and desire, morals and norms. And then the overall systems overlap and unite them all. So, much like a gigantic set of gears, the systems within existence run their own machines and prod on others as well.
As the fractal of systems develops along, adding more and more mini worlds within, the system gets more and more complex, until the little units lose their identity, becoming part of the whole.
And in this gigantic system we call the cosmos, existence, the world, the universe, and so on, every little matter matters, every little pulley has to pull, every little plane has to fly and every little actor has to play her part.
Norms and ethos, religion and science, rules and regulations, are the glue that keep the simulation alive. Good and bad, evil and noble, morals and laws, all essential attributes that oil the machine, but have no other significance outside of the system. But within the system they are paramount to its very survival. So fix the creaky door, feed the poor, amass your riches wisely, watch the Kardashians, read the holy book, berate your enemy, love your child, live your life per your jewish heart, your hindu dharma, your christian virtues, your atheistic ethics, your personal zen. The play must go on. You are in the system, you are the system.
Outside of this orb, none of this matters. Dissolve the system, disregard the ties, then nothing matters. Neither the pulleys, nor the planes, neither the actors, nor their plays. There is no good, no bad, nothing noble, nothing humble. No exalted life after death, no heaven no hell, no god, no demon. For you have left that orbit into the void of voids.
Then nothing matters. But then nothing exists.
Your choice. Are you matter? Are you energy?
Does it matter? Does it not?
Are you or are you not?
Glassy insignificants, contained in space…reflections, illusions..the splendor of kaleidoscope.
Kaleidoscopic minds, contained in time…drama and emotion, the splendor of life.
Life and the hunt for its metaphors, finding the metaphor = finding life? Meaning shrouded in complexity.
Complexity gushing out of every singularity, in a rush to obscure the obvious.
The obvious hidden under layers of evolution, mutations and discrete manifestations.
Manifestation of energy, as matter – yes, thats what started it all.
All that exists but a singular energy.
Energy that insists on manifesting.
Manifesting as an another, to itself.
Itself blinded by its own.
Own, a kaleidescope.
Kaleidoscope. Insignificant pieces, contained in space…reflections, illusions..the splendor of glass!
Our brains are like VHS tapes. No, not in that they are obsolete (yet), but in that they are capable of working only in a linear fashion. Even if the data is all in there, all wound up in its entirety, it has to be consumed one frame after another, in a linear fashion and cannot be read in its totality at a singular point.
When we look at a multi-step math problem, the answer is not immediately obvious to us – we have to solve it one step at a time. Say a child is given a problem 2x+1=5. She first calculates 5-1 and then divides to get the answer. It is almost as if there is only one enclosed channel in our brain available to us and we have to walk along its confines to find the solution.
However, it is not just our computing ability, but all our decision making and actions in general that follow linear multi step processes. And since the process is linear, the need for “Time” to solve problems.
‘Forward’ flowing, irreversible, illusory, Time.
What if we had multiple intersecting channels? How would that change our world view?
For starters, we would then be faster decision makers. We would be able to run multiple scenarios in our heads and arrive at the best possible outcome in far less time or maybe even instantly. This would then change everything. There would be no more ‘mistakes’. Think stock market – it would not even be categorized as speculation any more. Would that make us more robotic? Perhaps. For then there would be far less drama and emotional roller coasters. Life as we know it will not exist. All the drama, the emotions which arise due to illogical decision making would downright disappear. We would, in a split second or rather instantaneously be running multiple what if scenarios in our heads and come up or rather instantly realize the right choice – be it the choice of a mate or the answer to the fundamental questions of nature.
We would just in effect ‘Know”. Know processes in their entirety. There would be no more questions for there would be no quest, only a knowing. No more Time!
Time! Time is what impedes us from being that all knowing!
Would then life even exist, as we know it? For life but exists in our minds as a sequence of events, some perceived to have been in the past, some experienced in the present and others to be relinquished to the future. But a sequence it certainly is. A sequence braided into Time.
No Time, no Life! Time is the culprit!
Ever flowing, irreversible, insidious, Time!
Trump is a convenient caricature. He is an easy target to mock, to proselytize to, and also to make oneself feel morally superior to. He is good for the collective ego.
However, in spite of the media portraying him otherwise, he isn’t racist, sexist or any -ist for that matter. Men, women, his kids, his wives, girlfriends, customers, clients, and more importantly his voters are all but commodities. He did not set out to be amoral, sexist or racist, he just set out to make money and garner power.
And he stuck gold, when he identified this solid populace, that was aching for a leader, and so made himself the product they were looking for. The cult of of Trump was born.
The brilliant businessman that he is, he identified this disgruntled mass of Americans, and molded himself to this image that they were aching for. He made himself a reflection of the bigoted, racist, supremacist, uneducated, narrow minded mass that has not grown along with the times but is instead stuck in the 40s or so. The world has moved on but not these folks. They still ache for the times when skin color meant privilege and a high school diploma was all it took.
This is the fodder that feeds the monster. The only way to shatter the monster is to educate this base, to bring them out of their bubble. They need to see where the world is now. To be more open minded. To accept diversity. To make them realize that globalization is real. That America is a country of immigrants and will always be. To make them realize that we all need to work with one another, not against. To make them realize that the paradigm has shifted, many times over, and they have missed the boat.
We should in fact be thankful to Trump for he has exposed this glaring gaping hole in our midst. And has shown us how big and deep the chasm is. However, educating this base is no mean task. They are shrouded in centuries and generations of illiteracy, ingrained bigotry and racism. The process has to start at the roots – in kindergarten. And this involves revamping the education system so we can create innovators, adaptors, artists and technologists that can compete globally, productively. And, even more importantly, we need thinkers. For, we need to widen the mindset, so as to be inclusive and appreciative of the vast diversity of humanity.
America is quite simply in dire need of an intellectual overhaul.
When the survival of a species depended on and still does on its social construct and its very evolution has been defined by the connected civilizations it fosters, it is indeed difficult and, nearly impossible for an individual of the said species to be, well, an individual. A introvertive, introspective, deeply contemplative, individual, a loner if you will.
It is hard to shake the shackles of such carefully constructed social bonds and norms. The mind, even if it does come up with a quasi original thought, immediately rushes to get some form of validation from the herd. If not instantly available as likes on fb, it searches through the yellowed books of yore, looking for validation. Not seeking such validation is viewed at times as fool-hardy, and more often as arrogance. But such adjectives are immaterial when the quest is nothing material.
Getting to the core of things is a one way, one-foot-wide path. Nothing that has been said before, nothing that is being said around matters. You cut the thorns and grass directly ahead, or trample on them if you will, and forge ahead. It does not matter in the very least if there is a vast forest fringed with a vast ocean around you. All that is immaterial. For all that is around you is but an extension of what is ahead of you, an extension of the fractal of the core of things.
The knowledge of the core of things is already within us, even if not consciously so. It is our awareness of it that lags behind. We flounder looking for it outside, while the outside is by design, but a complex metaphor. Not everyone’s thought processes lead on to the next step and then to the next and then the next. Some stop at the very beginning, accepting some pre-constructed paradigm, some venture out a bit more, but then give up and settle on some hybrid philosophy.
It is only the loner who forges on – and even if the loner’s goal is not at hand yet, every rest stop has a sense of contentment, of a part accomplished by the self and self alone. For in this journey in search of the self, what matters is but the self. Everything else, needs to be shelved.
My icon. Is no more – in his mortal form. But will live on.
At 92, a mind as vast as the cosmos, an intellect sharper than a razor, he continued to inspire. There was not much that passed him by – philosophy, politics, medical science… He made it his business to keep abreast of everything. Having never ever bowed down to circumstances or social moors, he stood strong. One can never fathom the depths of his genius, the true grit of his personality. Much of his writing has been lost in the yellowed annals of ‘The Mail’ in Chennai, India and in the other newspapers he help launch. However, he learnt to blog, at the age of 88, and leaves behind a handful of them, laboriously typed on the laptop even as his eyes were failing, between brutal dialysis sessions.
He could quote Shakespeare, Milton as the occasion ordained, or even the Rig Veda for that matter. He never won an accolade, never won an award and did not care for any. He put his heart and soul in the newspapers he helped start. From television to radio, he covered it all. He wrote speeches for famous politicians, from Indira Gandhi, to MGR. In an era when entrepreneurship was frowned upon, he started newspapers and magazines, taking on behemoths and when they failed, he moved on, effortlessly, shrugging them off as another experience down the line. He took risks, let nothing set him back. Never one to ever worry about money, he lived like a king, to his last day.
All the education that ever mattered – books strewn around – thoughts strewn around – from Dostoevsky, Norman Mailer to Updike and History of Love – in all their glory – to be chewed upon, and pondered. A bounty of thought and visions of far away lands some real, some imagined lay hanging in the air. ‘We all live in bubbles’ he proclaimed one day. My 5 yr old mind imagined us all in soapy kaleidoscopic bubbles as I walked carefully as to not pop them. “The world is Nothing” he said another day. It took years of rumination to get that one. He said schools were useless, grades a farce and traditions bogus. He filled my head with existentialism, scientific breakthroughs, Freud and art while we were ‘taught’ to memorise grammar and historic dates at school.
He inspired me to be intellectual, irreverent, creative, rebellious, and inquisitive – in an era and culture where girls especially were brought up to be complacent, normative, politically correct and in the box. I was never rebel enough for him.
Assimilating into a new country was for him, an easy uneventful transition, not a full blown rite of passage. One would think that he had lived in his adopted country all his life. And when it was time to start dialysis, 3 brutal times a week, he dealt with it with aplomb, waking up at 5am, dressed like he was out to party, making great friends at the dialysis center, and fought on, head on, against it, for 8 years. In the meantime, he researched wearable dialysis gadgets, signed up for clinical trials that never happened and kept his hopes alive nevertheless. Dialysis and any of his other assorted diseases never kept him from enjoying all that life had to offer. His illnesses were mere wrinkles. He ironed them out and moved on.
His intellect carried on as usual. He wrote blogs, followed politics, lived life. In his nineties, when I informed him of the supreme court decision allowing gay marriage, and how things had changed ‘since his time’, he remarked ” things have not changed, this is a concept as old as…and proceeded to educate me on the philosophy of Havelock Ellis. At 92. Between gasps of labored breathing.
Saraswathi Ganapathy. 1924-2016.
He had taken up his mother’s name instead of his father’s in the 1940s.
…A Rebel, a Genius, a Mastermind.
A great mind never dies.
Fractals are everywhere… in the foliage of the trees, in the waves of the ocean, in the neurons of the brain, in the atom, to the solar system. Fractals pervade all existence.
The idea that the world and life itself are a tapestry of intricately woven fractals is nothing new. When fractals were discovered, it became quite apparent that they are everywhere. Some fractals are obviously simple recursive units, other more complicated copies of multi themes. However, our mind seems to compartmentalize our knowledge as theories and realities and more often than not fails to apply theory to the reality. Even when the idea is no longer a theory but a fact.
For it is the whole that the mind grasps, not as a sum of it’s parts.
Once we realize that all existence is but a fractal, a conglomeration of multi fractals within fractals, we are no longer intimidated by the complexity.
Fractals not only remind us that the manifest world is really very simple, if one focusses on the unit rather than the whole, but also provide an answer to the big question, how could this complicated world arise out of nowhere. When one looks at the sea, the trees, the rivers, the sky, the stars, the bugs, the birds, and of course the ever-present teeming millions of humans, the mind reels from the complexity and variety of life, of nature, of matter. Many a mind has been boggled with confusion at the sheer complexity of existence. The mind wonders, how could such complexity have evolved? And therefore invents a superpower to create it. Then over the ages, the superpower acquires more accessories in terms of myths and miracles and voila, a religion is born. But is the universe really that complex? All existence is really simple. Simple, elegant and therefore deeply understandable – if only we look for the core of everything.
This stretch of existence that we call ‘Life’ is but a unit of a mega fractal with multiple planes of existence both emotional and physical. On a larger scale, it is composed of life-life interactions, such as the food web, the matings, the emotional interchanges, and the drama they beget. This mega scale is but a fractal of individual life forms which in turn are fractals of cells. The basic unit of the cell are the biochemical processes that generate energy, energy within the cell to respirate, to replicate. And when one bores down these biochemical processes, they are but chemical reactions. All life boils down to this – chemical reactions. And all chemicals are but made of the very same subatomic particles. And so are all galaxies, all cities, all populations, all life, all atoms, all subatomic particles…a part of this multi fractal, each getting closer and closer to the core as it gets smaller and smaller.
It is not just the tangible things that could be part of fractals, but the intangible as well. We scream as anger ebbs in us, the scream the fractal of tiny emotional outbursts in the neurons. After all, neurotransmitter molecules rule the brain. Their interactions along the neuronal walls fractalize to form emotions.
Even our quest for knowledge follows the fractal pattern. Just as we are unaware of what lies before or after life, we ponder over the before and after of the world’s existence. On a smaller scale, we ponder about the subatomic particles and what lies within.
Will we ever fully understand every nuance of this tangled world? As scientists, we chip away at the mysteries, one rock at a time, at various points on the fractal, hoping that all this knowledge, aggregated, would solve the puzzle for us. But this manifest universe is infinite and there are infinite factoids that can be mined within it and therefore this approach will never offer complete knowledge of this universe, which is by definition infinite. It hence follows that it would serve us much better to hone in on the unit of which all this is comprised so that we may extrapolate the rest.
We need to rethink our thinking. We need to shed the complexity. We analyze loads and loads of data, make connections and draw conclusions. We are trained to see the ‘big picture’ and oftentimes forget that the picture is but a sum of its parts. We get entwined in the arms of the fractals, mired in their apparent complexity, while life’s secrets lie in plain sight, in the sublime core.
What is the soul? Is it that which according to some, is transferred through births and rebirths, or is it the neʹphesh or psy·kheʹ…the life we possess now?
It is, but, that which you think it is. What you feel when you say I.
Is there an I, fundamentally undefined by your name and bearings, something that seems to stand out, stand still, while the murky waters of this business of living swirls around you?
Or is the I in you intricately woven with your identity as a person and bestowed upon you since your conception?
Or as you dig deeper, is the I a synthesis of the two, turbulent, yet still. A conscious recognition as the oneness of all things material, energy in its various manifestations in apparent entropy while in reality a synergy. A cosmic dance between the state of being and nothingness, between manifestation as matter or as energy. An existence with no other significance than that of being.
Only you will ever know and what you know, is your truth.
The I in me, I call the soul. A soul masked by layers of genetic codes, of information, of society, its ethos, mores, and of religions, generations old. As I look for a deeper identity, an identity irrespective of the above, I realize it is rather an identity that is as intricately woven with the said genetic code, the information overload, the society, its mores and norms, as it is with the essence and oneness of all things. An identity I call my soul is one that at once pervades and unifies all.
You and me, cells of the same cosmos, defining the one cosmic body we call existence. I, you, me, the stone, the atom, the black hole…all one. Singularity bursting forth as multiplicity, yet singular all the same.
Is there one so pure, so naked, that defines and encompasses all? That which rises above, yet stands still, timeless as time ebbs around it. That is the essence of this journey we call life. To realize the essence. The process the purpose, the purpose, the process…of breaking free and becoming one…the soul, the body, the dirt, the star and everything in between and beyond.
One. Therefore None.
Be a Roman.
While living this life, live. Live as your genes, your environs, your instincts mandate. Live as your dogmas, your notions, your religions dictate. You may break free and run away, but you will not go far. You may free yourself from shackles of one kind, only to find yourself chained onto another.
You may flee but you cannot hide.
While living this life, in this body, in this world,
You have to bow down to your genes, deal with the occasional disease, wear the customary clothes, say the polite hello, work the low paying job. You have to eat after all, and marry and navigate the social mores. You have to go to the town to buy your grocery, raise your kid, feed your pet. You have to live this life after all.
And when your body is ravaged by a disease, when your coffers run low, when your cellar runs dry, and your enemies run amok, you have to seek solace and comfort. A religion, a god, a ritual, an abject belief, a magical penny. Yes, you have to seek comfort, for you do have to live this life after all.
And seek solace, you will, in myriad ways, theism, atheism, nihilism, altruism, capitalism. No one ‘ism’ better or worse than the other, but better or worse just for you, so you seek those that comfort you the most. Rest assured, yours is the best way, in fact the only way for you, for it is your life and you have to live your life after all.
So, while living this life, live. Live as your genes, your environs, your instincts mandate. Live as your dogmas, your notions, your religions dictate. You may break free and run away, but you will not go far.
You break free from this very life that you lead, stand atop the peak of your thoughts and take a peek.
When this life that you lead no longer matters, your progeny, your job, your angst no longer matters.
Nothing matters then. Your genes, your environ, the rituals, the religions, the dogmas, the ‘isms’ all irrelevant, for then, and only then it’s no longer about this life that you lead after all.
Artists and philosophers, both abhor reality. They are in abject denial of the ever-present present and are constantly trying to re-interpret, to repaint, to redefine reality. They refuse to take reality at face value and and have a need to re-create it if you will.
Why the need to redefine and repaint? To look at something and accept at face value – just to be – denies us the depths, heights and breadth to which our minds can reach.
While the artist takes recourse in imagination, the philosopher rides on her intellect. Intellect and imagination – there is no intellect without imagination and no imagination without intellect. The artist and the philosopher are one and the same.
To accept that which has been handed down generations verbatim, to just stare at a beautiful sunset, to walk when you can dance…what is the point of that?
To recreate the sunset as a splash of dots, maybe purples and magentas instead of reds and yellows, vibrant mashups instead of the serene, to paint as it affects the senses, not as it hits the retina, now that is art.
To break sacred old norms, to question beliefs, scientific or religious, to explore, to reinvent, to rethink thinking, now, that is living.
Simulation is the buzz word of the day in popular science magazines, of nascent and tenured philosophers and established scientists. Even popular figures like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are proclaiming that we may very well be living in a simulation(s) of our far out descendants, as mere players in an elaborate game orchestrated by futuristic brains.
All that we think as the present, is then a sham, a fantasy, of the future.
Back in 2003, Nick Bostram published a paper in which he postulated that if the human race survives long enough, it is very capable of running a significant number of simulations. If that were true, it would be hard to distinguish past, present and future on the timeline as multiple simulations intersect and interact.
So, the question is – are we in a simulation or is this all for real??
Yes and No!
We are most definitely living a simulation. But this simulation is the brainchild not of some super powered ultra brainy futuristic descendent or of aliens, but of our very own minds, here and now.
Yes, here and now. We are the both creators and players in this simulation called life.
Even before the dawn of the so called conscious mind, emotions have shaped life’s perception of itself. Consider the pet dog, eagerly awaiting its human companion. It runs to the door, barks, jumps up and down by the window, perhaps imagining the human walking in, perhaps not. We will never know, but what we can fathom is that this is perhaps the beginning of ‘anticipatory emotions’. In essence a longing for a distinct set of events in the future. The conscious mind, of course spins various what if scenarios, simulating if you will, a series of futuristic possibilities. The action taken now, in the present, then determining the future course of events. Deciding to play a video game today instead of studying for an exam, sealing the kid’s fate at McDonalds and not at the choice grad school perhaps.
Add layers of emotions and intra personnel conflict and things get more interesting. We get angry, fling insults, imagine intentions and deceptions, profess love and devotion, and in short, get so intertwined in the drama we paint with our emotions that we forget that all this is all but a grand opera, at times fun, at times tragic, and at all times entertaining. An opera all the same, that infuses us with vigor, enthusiasm, grief, guilt, ambition, desire and a desire to live, more!
From the moment we are born, we spin this web around ourselves. For starters, we begin playing the ‘role’ assigned to us, the identity we are born with – the child of such and such, with such and such attributes…We learn to relate to people from the people around us, learn to eat, even think as the people around us or like the books we read or things we watch. We are molded. We develop ambitions, desires, love, hatred and these shape our actions in this grand play. And the more we get into this ‘play’ the more distant we get from our naked selves.
But then one might ask, aren’t we born in certain coordinates beyond ‘our’ control? That is if we think just us as in this one body is ‘us’. what if we thought of ourselves as the entire cosmos? WE are the entire cosmos, I am you, you are me, I am everything and this conscious little body that I call me is just that, a conscious blimp, that I restrict to my conception of self, but in reality I am All.
We somehow associate the self only to conscious acts – those that we are actually aware of. However, this simulated world is not self inflicted by the ‘conscious’ me but by my sub conscious.
The mind began on this journey of simulated existence complete with a creator, who ostensibly created everything, a set of morals to make sure everyone played their roles and even somewhat frightening consequences if they did not. Some imaginative minds spun benevolent gods who gave favors if one was good and others created malicious ones that decreed death to all but themselves.
The minds forgot that Life, at its very core is but a series of chemical interactions aimed at sustaining and propagating itself, period. Going to grad school, falling in love, waging war, but mere accessories, that die with the death of the life form, each with no significance before or after. Even their significance during the lifetime is but limited to within the drama itself. Does it matter to the cosmos if we drove a Maserati today, became a CEO or if we even did figure out a universal theory? The cycle of life goes on, no matter which way we spin our realities.
And the more we get into this so called reality that we spin around ourselves, the farther we get from figuring it all out. Our identities merge more and more with the persona and ‘life’ we create for ourselves until we stand clothed in multitudes of identities, mired in the branches of the fractal…entrapped in the trappings of ‘everyday’ life.
All that we think as the present, is but a sham, a fantasy, of our minds. And therefore is the past and the future. We are but living a simulation after all. A gloriously intricate, intriguing simulation. But a simulation, nevertheless.
A thinking, evolving mind can take either of two paths.
Why? or How?
It can wonder why? The why of life, of the world, the why of ‘I’.
Or it could think how? How does life work, how does the world work, therefore how do ‘I’ work?
The ‘Why’ is way harder to figure out than the ‘How’. We know as much about the why of life now as we did thousands of years ago when we first started thinking. No more, no less.
But the ‘How’ of things, we know a lot more about. And we have come a long way using the knowledge of the how of things to make more things we can find the how of.
Deciphering the ‘How’ of things has brought us to this convoluted complicated world of cities and concrete jungles, gizmos and gadgets.
The ‘Why’ lies dormant, getting buried deeper and deeper in the ‘How’ of things. Buried under cities, concrete jungles, gizmos and gadgets.
But then it is the ‘Why’ that holds the secret to the ‘I’.
We are all cataloged. And cross cataloged. Like books in a library. We are men or women or in-betweens, we are Hindus or Christians or Jews. We are doctors or philosophers. We are good or bad. We are petite or fat. Rich or poor. We are atheists or religious. We are insane or intellectual. All tagged and cataloged, into neat little pigeon holes.
And under the tangled strings of all the tags that supposedly define who we are, we lose our real identity.
Can my thoughts break free of my tags? After all, thoughts arise from the body, first shaped by the belief I am born into, honed by experiences of my status, and molded by the books I read and words I hear. However, thoughts also have this strangely ethereal quality that jettison them beyond their roots into yonder, and into impossible realms.
I am and I am not. I am neither man nor woman. I am undefined by riches. Not boxed into a belief, neither am I defined by my body. I am insane and intellectual. I am materialistic and esoteric. I am defined by my mind, by my thoughts. A breaker of tags, I am abstract.
I carry the tag of the untagged.
Yes, we are all tagged. One way or another.
In the catalog of the damned.
The mainstay of Darwinian evolutionary theory , the concept of the “natural selection” has become a counter -evolutionary force in the context of human evolution.
That is because human discretion rather than natural selection now decides who survives and who does not. Nature selects in a mathematical, unbiased and complex way that is a result of a multitude of factors. Humans, on the other hand, use their flawed and as yet half baked conscious logic to determine selection and hence it is riddled with miscalculations.
The evolution of conscious thought and emergence of (il)logical thinking has led us to this predicament. This is not to say nature is somehow “superior” to humans ( who are but a part thereof) or that decision should be left to a “superpower” that is behind it all. It is simply because human decision making is nowhere yet near perfection. We still rely on calculators and computers for analytical decision making and for the more subjective areas, rely on our not so perfect judgement skills alone. However, our conscious thought is not yet capable of holding in parallel, the multitude of factors that could affect a given situation, come up with hundreds of what-if scenarios and then make a choice.
In nature undisturbed, of course, there is no conscious decision making, but rather an organic flow of consequential happenings.
We can picture the workings of nature in the absence of our conscious interference as one gigantic chain reaction. The antelope that has a defective limb is slow to escape and so falls prey to the supersonic leopard before it can procreate while its more agile cousins leave behind progeny. In an undisturbed jungle landscape this works well to eliminate the weak and make sure the strongest survive and pass on their genes. Enter the human. He saves every slow moving antelope on moralistic, ‘humanistic’ grounds, even attaches plastic prosthesis to the ones with a defective limb, and then being politically correct, wants to save the jungle as it were as well. He introduces all the poor speed challenged antelopes into the said jungle- only to be devoured by the leopards. However, while alive these weaklings had competed with the more agile ones for more food, so the speedy ones are not so agile anymore! The population of antelopes collapses and so does the leopard’s. The jungle collapses and then they blame it all on climate change. Just to give one rather simplistic example.
If our thinking was supersonic and unflawed, we wouldn’t be chipping away at the world’s mysteries one tiny nick at time. It would not take us years to prove the gravitational theory or Fermat’s last theorem. Lets face it, our brains are still in the infantile stages of analytical thinking. Unfortunately, our logical shortcomings does not preclude us from throwing our decisions around and masterminding the world. Let us instead spend our energies actually honing our thinking skills rather than throwing it away half-baked, and altering the course of a perfectly fine evolutionary process.
It is time to give religion a well deserved rest. The kind of organized, tradition enriched, communal religion with its set repertoire of mores and ethos that fragments society rather than enlightens it. We need to give it a rest.
What was the original point of religion anyway? As I have mentioned in a previous post, it originally evolved as human consciousness evolved and as set group of people geographically isolated, ascribed to the same set of prefabricated ‘beliefs’ and inculcated them into everyday life, not just philosophically, but into the mundane as well. It served well, for few hundreds of years, as it created a moral framework of ‘right’ actions and threat of consequences for ‘wrong’ ones that sort of kept the society in harmony, albeit at the cost of intellectual freedom.
Religions, as they stand now, do for the most part, foster beliefs and ethos, that go against simple logic. Yet, people stick to them in the name of tradition or for a fear of peer or moralistic rebuttal. Is it necessary to hang to antediluvian religions that claim that there is a super ‘man’ somewhere ‘up there’ who one day decided to create man and then everything else for his benefit including women , or that women need to shroud themselves head to toe so as to not allure men, just to give a few examples? Yet, we hang on to these, or parts thereof, as a child who clings to his blanket and pacifier.
More dangerous than innocuous beliefs that are merely illogical, are the off shoots of these religions that cultivate hatred, fanaticism and cults. Kids brainwashed from a young age, their thoughts so molded that they lose their capacity for independent thought.
Religion as a spiritual outlet does not have to be communal, neither does it have to be shrouded in superstition and irrelevant mores. Religion can be a personal philosophical journey, each to his or her own. Neither impinging on nor decreeing what others should think. Laws, independent of religions, already exist, as a safeguard against self destruction in the saner societies. Religions if they do have to exist, should not decree laws of the land as in the pre-dark ages era. Religion should merely be one’s personal spiritual journey, if you will, and free of intellectual restrictions.
What can be more dangerous to human survival than loss of independent thinking? As human consciousness evolved so did thought and premeditated actions. Natural selection as an evolutionary safety net is being over-ridden. Humans now decree, independent of biological processes, as to which life forms including which humans survive and which do not. We cannot take this evolutionary responsibility lightly. And to base those decisions on religions, old and jaded, is pure self-destruction.
Can the eye see itself?
Can thought perceive itself?
Thought can perceive but cannot see. The eye can see but what can it perceive? Perception of the outside world is but a mishmash of all senses.
So it is with thought. It cannot see or hear or touch. It has to synthesize but that which all other senses perceive.
Is all that input necessary for thought to perceive itself? Yes, it is necessary to perceive the outside. But for itself?
What is thought trying to perceive when we say ‘itself”? The thinking being bereft of the body? The process of deduction? The firing neurons?
Is it thought that is trying to perceive the self? Palpable conscious thought? Or is the conscious mind trying to delve deep into the subconscious in a state of thoughtless understanding?
Is there an understanding beyond or bereft of thought? An understanding not limited to consciousness?
Feelings of sympathy, love, and of course happiness are ‘good’ while emotions such as hate, envy and the like are deemed ‘bad’. So much so that if envy arises in a person, the person as a whole is labeled ‘bad’. Aside from the fact that emotions arise, period, and that we merely react to them and do not create them, it seems rather naive and simplistic to label emotions ( and people) so. Of course consequences of these emotions left in their natural trajectory may be good or bad, either for the individual and/or for the society and therefore the labels.
For the sake of argument, lets get to the root of envy. Say you have a decent sized house. A friend buys a newer, better, bigger house, throws a lavish housewarming party and boom, the pangs of jealousy start grawing in your bosom. Why? What are you thinking? You WANT that house! But you CANNOT have that house. Frustration. Why him? Why not you? The unfairness of it!!!! Yada yada yada. But then that envy could goad you to to earn more, give you a goal, a purpose in life. ( whether or not a materialistic “purpose” in life is inferior to a so-called spiritual one is the fodder for another blog).
As the wise sages have said from the time sages existed, desire is the root of all. Remove desire, you remove life. The desire for wealth, for fame, the desire to live, in fact the desire to live better than thy neighbor. Life is desire. To desire is to live. Envy is but the fuel. Emotions are necessary not just for suvival, but to flourish.
Emotions seem to act only at the plane of conscious thought since judgement of good and bad, happy and sad seem to be tied to conscious awareness. Whether our kidneys work or not, our subconscious deals with it the same way. However knowledge of the diseased state of one’s kidneys leads to sadness, anger and despair at the conscious level, none of which are really conducive to their functioning in any way.
Imagine a world where everyone has attained “nirvana”, shunned or ‘overcome’ emotions… A grey world with people sedately moving around in orange robes…….and imagine a world vibrant with desire with flashy neons with the latest tech gadget. Lets face it, we all live in this world with no frigging clue why we are here and what the heck we are doing in here. Lets at least do it in style.
There are various degrees of entrapment. On one hand, we get so entrapped in events and consequences of our own lives and on the other, in the doings of everyone and everything around us. The process of living takes up so much of our collective conscious thought that we forget to ponder over the purpose of it all.
Everything we do can essentially be boiled down to our attempts at foraging for food and for mates. Period. We of course pretend otherwise.
Yes, we consider ourselves to be on a higher plane. Do we know anything deeper and more sublime that the most prehistoric life forms? Of course, we are, ostensibly, more conscious of our existence. Now, this in itself is no claim to fame. I know I am. So what? If I know not, I still am.
The trappings of everyday life almost obliterates the awareness of the biological system within us. We get entrenched in the emotional high drama, within the family, with co-workers and other assorted people who cross our path every minute of the day. In whatever gaps are left, we get mired in botched plans, dreams of future and in politics of relationships. The media too keeps bombarding us with visuals of humans in despair, the latest gadgets, the rich and famous. It is almost as if we are acting out our parts in a movie. When do we ever, stop, pause, or even slow down enough to see the drama in it all and the futility of this part we play in the grand scheme of existence?
Is it even possible to stop, pause or slow down? Pause and slow down, perhaps. Stop, nearly impossible. Because, try as we might, we are still entrapped in this body and this body is entrapped in this biome. So all or any enlightenment has to dawn within this framework we live in, within this drama, within this part we play. After all, all this drama is but a part of the grand scheme of things.
Save my dog, eat the chicken. No, you cannot eat a horse, but a lowly pig is fine. My religion, my god, my beliefs are fine, yours are the pits. My country, my way. My great grandparents migrated, but you cannot. I can slay the natives, you bow down to us when you come in. Speak my language or else! Save the soon to be extinct walrus so my great-grandkid gets to see it in an aquarium. My bigotry is better than yours. Think my way or think not? Oh, yes, we are a free people.
This seemingly hypocritical way of thinking is but logic gone wrong.
The human mind is rife with inconsistencies. The root cause of which might just be an evolutionary advantage of having ‘preferences’. In countries where the average skin color is lighter, people tan themselves to cancer and where dark is the norm, fairness creams rule the roost, perhaps as a way of standing out and attracting better mates. While we publicly espouse equality, we secretly harbor notions of superiority. Prejudices can be harmless unless of course they morph into mass hysteria.
Apart from the fact that such logical fallacies cause much human angst, and even war, they also cause the human mind to get stuck on a discordant note in their beliefs. We each have our plateau. We take our train of thoughts so far and then, stop. As the human mind evolved and consciousness started peeking out from underneath the layers, awareness dawned. And with awareness came curiosity. Curiosity not just of how this world works, but why.
Science evolved. Experiments came up with amazing discoveries or proofs of discoveries every once in a while, adding to our repertoire of knowledge. Technology evolved. And with that, came a whole new way of thinking. We started to channel our collective thinking force into inventing the next smart apparatus that would make life easier, or provide better entertainment.
The minds that brooded over technicalities of logic started brooding over the technicalities of a smarter car. The curious minds that shaped the birth of philosophies were put to use to design the next solar panel. For all external appearances, life changed dramatically, but the life of the mind – not so much.
How far have we really come, form our earliest thinking days? Not far, not far at all. Our lifestyles dictate that introspective thinking take a back seat to applied thinking. Of what use is it to brood over the meaning of life when brooding over the next political hopeful in an syndicated column can fund your next meal and possibly car?
What we really need is introspection and involution. We have collectively decided that philosophical brooding is best left to feudal lords with trust funds and the best minds should be applied, well, to so called applied science. How then, will we ever solve this puzzle that we call life? After all, it took experimental physicists over a 100 years to ‘prove’ with their tools, what Einstein’s brain churned out, with his “thought experiments”. We need to get out of our comfort zone and rethink the universe we live in and rethink our very existence. Pure and simple thinking, the fountainhead of knowledge is as yet too underrated, as a stand alone tool, to decipher the world.
Art. Art is what sets humans apart. Take away art, and you have a species trying to live, to survive and procreate, just like the scurrying ant or the dog sitting next to you.
However, we do not yet know if the aforementioned ant and dog have minds with conscious thought. And until we find a common medium to communicate, we will never know. But what we do perceive so far is that the ant and dog both go about their lives, eat, and in case of the ant, build communities, forage for food and replicate. However, so far, we have not seen them do anything beyond what is necessary to just live, survive and multiply. While the songs and elaborate nests of birds for instance could be considered art, or expression, they do so apparently to attract mates, not for self expression as far as we can see. We humans, however, spend time on creating things that are superfluous to our survival. We do not need art to survive. Yet, we spend time on art.
Ants of course and others can and do communicate with chemicals. And birds do sing to each other, whales bounce off sound waves, and dolphins do frolic rather adorably. However, do they make noises or frolic for no reason other than to communicate a particular imagery or thought that crosses their brain? While this is a strong possibility, we do not yet have a means to discern it. For Dolphins really have no reason to frolic if their tummies are full and they have their heart’s content of progeny by their side, yet frolic they do. So how is this frolicking different or any less an art form than a ballerina twirling?
In any case, the question is not if and how other species create art, but if art is defined as self-expression for reasons other than survival and procreation, why do we create art?
Through art, we try to express something that cannot be expressed through other forms of communication. Could Dali have communicated The Hallucinogenic Toreador or the Persistence of Memories with words or actions? Or more importantly, why did he even have to communicate these abstract and complex thoughts?
There is an evolutionary advantage to art. Art is but the expression of abstract thoughts that cannot be moulded into words and communicated to a fellow human being in the traditional sense. Thoughts might be a precursor to a design or to put it in layman’s terms, useful for survival and/or they could be an attempt to understand the subtleties of the universe we see around us. How do you explain the beauty of green grass against the shades of blue in the sky or the profundity of Rodin deep in thought? The entirety of that feeling is captured not by words, but in a painting or a sculpture we call art. Words as a communication tool hits its ceiling and cannot capture all the nuances of wonder and curiosity that arises in us.
Art is oftentimes portrayed as in direct opposition to science. Yet, art and science are both our attempts at understanding the world around us. When we take the path of science, we use logical deduction, words in sequence, to derive answers. The sky is blue, because…the light is diffracting because….and come to a conclusion that sates our curiosity. However, as an artist, we see the colorful landscape, take it in its entirety and try to retell it in terms of a photographic depiction or as our own interpretation. By repainting the scene or by capturing the essence of an emotion in splashes of color on a canvas, we have in essence, understood it deep in our subconscious in a way that cannot be described by words. Science chews slowly while art gulps it down. But both lead to a certain satisfied feeling of having had a well digested meal.
The New Epoch
By S. Ganapathy
The human species has entered a new phase, an exciting phase- combining physics with metaphysics. It is of course difficult -even perplexing for those in the earlier generation to comprehend and grasp fully the mindset of this new epoch we are in. It is not just the generation gap but something mystic. A metaphoric expression, as it were. This epoch baffles the conventional psychologist- Freud as well as the Jung school.
I have had the privilege of long discussions with noted psychologists in the 50s and we covered in our talks major psychologists from Hevelock Ellis to Addler. I do believe that psychology as a science and a clinical discipline has its limitations. There are aspects of human behavior which are yet to be unraveled by psychology – It is becoming increasingly obvious that there are aspects of life which are apparently not amenable to reason or logic.
Psychology fashionably describes these aspects as periods of depression. because of an inability to comprehend and appreciate the epochal aspects of an emerging behavioral pattern, the tendency is to categorize these aspects as symptoms of depression. The new epoch is just not something that could be held captive by a terminology. It is an error if it is sought to be explained by a common psychological phrase – depression The new Epoch is an attempt to interconnect the physical with the metaphysical. One of my late friends who was a professor of physics in the university of Mysore and an acknowledged scholar was fond of saying that metaphysics begins where physics ends. This is a pithy statement, too concise to encompass adequately the truth.
The new epoch is naturally going through a struggle to weld the two critical thoughts into a single alloy. The struggle will triumph. To illustrate the point, the child of the new generation talks of biology, ecology and mathematics are a kind of fulcrum while simultaneously his thoughts dwell on the validity of existence. He seeks for meaning and the purpose of life. Whenever he airs his quest aloud, the elders – the other generation folks are alarmed. This is not normal for the boy they exclaim in chorus. And the experts pronounce their judgment. What a pity! The elders, the experts and the other generation, as a whole have become obsolete, outdated- their relevance and validity are lost. One should recall Lord Tennyson’s immortal lines “Old Order changeth yielding place to new, lest one good custom should corrupt the world ( and the truth)”
So all that burdened inferences and conclusions have long outlived their relevance. The emerging thoughts and attitudes coming out of the intellectual “New Epoch ” foundry have already replaced an untenable old order.
The Call Of The New Order
The emerging epoch is obviously a synthesis and the world which is slowly waking up, to this totally new and hitherto hidden phenomenon, stands at the cross road . It is a kind of revival of the evolutionary process, if one wants to describe the unfolding in the terminology of physical science (biology) . But I think the emergence of the new epoch is beyond reach . May be it can be surmised loosely as a cosmic transformation, the relevance of mysticism is still to be understood. Metaphysics has to be acknowledged… Survival has reached the point when synthesis of the physical and the metaphysical has become the only way.
The new epoch will be the product of this synthesis. This leads us to the realm of consciousness, mysticism and metaphysics. Consciousness is the fundamental concept of metaphysics in the same sense that energy is the fundamental concept of physics Awareness and being alive ,a synthesized order is unfolding Synthesis of the physical and the metaphysical is the New Order.
The great synthesis!
The flowing force
Of time and change
The twilight hour is drawing to a close
Dawn is breaking – A New Epoch –
A New Order replacing the Old Order. Synthesis of the physical and the metaphysical. And the Bard who sang paeans of the French Revolution (Wordsworth) would today exclaim “Bliss is it in this dawn to be alive and be consumed by this cosmic synthesis.”
The SAGA has begun.
We will watch the breaking of dawn from the ring-side and resume in 2013
***This blog will remain in a constant state of flux, between the edited and the updated…constantly changing…like life itself…evolving as thinking evolves…***
Some of the world’s dominating religions would like us to think that only a couple thousand years of human civilization are relevant and that the world was either comatose or in a state of moral and psychological chaos before their inception. However, human race has been flourishing for over 5000 years and surely the inquiring mind came up with other workable theories before then. Of course it is hard to put a ‘date’ on some of the older religions such as Judaism and Hinduism. While Judaism may be more streamlined, Hinduism is more akin to branches of alternate thinking tied together by some commonalities.
However, this is not a treatise on religions and I am sure there are ‘experts’ towards that goal, the point is not which one of these religions is superior and which one decreed as the ultimate by a higher form, but rather how relevant are these systems and where do they stand today?
Religions are but theories of this enigma called life – how it came to be, why it came to be and a how-to – at least for those who need or want a set of instructions to go with it. Religious thinking evolved as human consciousness evolved. Religions started as an exquisite marriage between the need for social norms to ensure societal survival and the more individualistic mind yearning for answers to profound yet fundamental questions. Some amount of individualism has to be sacrificed for communal good and this would only happen if those rules were etched in so called holy books and trimmed with futuristic consequences extending oftentimes into the afterlife. This ensured that society sailed more smoothly.
However, over the years, the religions gathered more and more moss, traditions got tarnished with superstition, high priests established themselves as demigods and more importantly, many of the basic tenets of the religions lost their relevance. But then peoples’ minds had become so mired in the rituals and moors of the religion they were born into that it became impossible to break free. The fear of consequences and now and in the life after, fear of excommunication and ridicule kept the outliers more inline, bound by the chains of their religion.
The mind continued to think, ask questions, science evolved, aided by the few who ventured into the woods, their logic and scientific methods as tools of choice to chip away at this mystery called life. Science developed as the logical alternative to religion, the pathway of the mind as a flowchart of ifs, hows and whys. Theories were formed, tested, some proven with tools created. The proofs however limited by the tools. How can you measure that for which there is no tool…yet. Do all tools have to be of the physical form? Thought matters, is that tool enough?
However, as of yet, science does not have all the answers, especially so for the big questions such as the ‘why’ of life. Science as it is today and religion are both but crutches, temporary aids to living life. If one limits science to materialistic tools, that is. Religion, limited by logic, science limited by its tools. But the mind yearns to go beyond beyond science and religion, knowing that it knows nothing yet. Science has been merely chipping away at the edges of questions, religion shrouds them with a cloak of theories.
It is because of the limitations of the knowledge we have today that religion is still filling in the cracks, as a band aid, an instant gratification of sorts, so the mind could then look beyond the questions and get on with this mundane life. There has always been a constant tug of war between religion and science. Those that stick to empirical formulas and facts limp behind, forever caught in the duality of living a life they have not fully understood yet while those mired in religious beliefs go on unperturbed, but ignorant.
What if the mind broke free? Of every tenet, every decree, every tradition of their religion? What if we stood naked, draped only by our thoughts, evolving, spinning a web around us? Is it possible? More often than not, it is the fear that something ‘bad’ would happen that keeps us from this nakedness. The fear of some materialistic loss in this life that we lead as a consequence of our transgression. Ridicule of friends and family or fear of an after life in hell. What if we rose from such fears and did stand tall?
What then, where then, is the answer? The mind screams. Its neither science as it stands today nor religion. It is something beyond, an off shoot of their intersection. Some minds cling on to religion in order to fill in those gaping holes science is yet to fill. Is this necessary? Why not leave the unanswered questions just as they are, unanswered, instead of spinning theories to mask them? Whom are we cheating? What does religion accomplish today anyway? There is more strife, hatred and abject terrorism in the name of religion than any positive consequence from it. Individuals may seek and obtain peace, or even respite from the unsettling nature of life’s deep questions as they rest on their deeply ingrained religious beliefs, but then they give up on true liberation, and get mired forever in the web of hypocrisy.
The only valid argument religionist have had so far is that science has not answered any big questions yet. However, we should stop considering the scientific method from the purely physical nature that it has now, and explore other planes of thoughts. We need to extend science beyond what is today. It is at present an analytical tool on the observable universe. We need to extend it and go further into metaphysical and ethereal realms.
If we are to find the essence of all, we need to look beyond the tools of the physical world, beyond tools such as microscopes and telescopes. What we need are thought accelerators more than particle accelerators. We need to delve deep into thought and introspection. It is a deep knowing, not defined by our thoughts, beyond our thoughts, not quite a feeling, but a subconscious perception that comes when one sheds all, accepts all, brings the inside to the outside into one seamless existence. It is a personal strife, a personal journey that encompasses all, undefined by words or even thoughts or emotions.
A sanyas of the soul.
We are all but bubbles strewn out of the same soapy solution. All the same, yet, all very different. Each one of us a different permutation, a different combination of the other. Similar, yet dissimilar, just the same, however.
Look at all the people around you. They are but what you could have been, what you may become, under a different set of circumstances, in different coordinates. They are all you. Different versions of You. Of Me.
You and Me – the difference is a little rearrangement of the genes, a different parameter of birth, a different location, a different combination.
Like bubbles strewn out of the same soapy solution. We see many but there really is only one. You.
Stop! Stop parenting your kids! Stop telling them what to do, what not to do. Stop telling them what to think, how to think and what NOT to think!
Let the child lead you with their open minds and naked souls. Trust them. They do not judge with generations of preconceived notions. They do not jump to conclusions based on prejudices. On the contrary, they look at each event for itself. So their judgement is pure, unbiased.
The child wants a candy. Do not refuse her a candy. A candy does not kill a child. But keep denying that one candy and it becomes a sugar rush so insatiable that when you are not looking, she gorges on candies. And then that would kill her. Not that one candy, but the candy rush you bestowed upon her.
The child asks why. Why do we pray? Why do we have to be polite? Why do we have to wear clothes? Lead him to reason for himself. Lead him not to answers, to your answers. But rather let her get to her own answers.
We are all under the mistaken notion that the older we are, the better we know. How untrue. Why bestow our jaded and rusty old views on a sparklingly clean young generation?
It takes courage to unparent. But unparent, we must. Treat your kids as an equal, if not more. Listen to them first, before thrusting your views upon them. They will teach you to be free. To be naked. To be euphorically liberated.
We need to find the essence of life, mired as we are in the mundane, the daily commute, the rise and fall of the stock market, the cacophony on the streets, the emotional humdrum of everyday life. Perhaps it is all not so humdrum after all.
The world we perceive is not the world that really is. We ‘see’ colors and almost attribute a material characteristic to it. In our minds colors are solid and vibrant, an emulsion if you will, draped on all things. However, all colors are primarily mere reflections of the same photon…each just travelling towards us in slightly different ways or wavelengths. You see a friend running towards you. Now you see the same friend walking towards you and then you see the friend just standing. It is still the same friend, however, if this friend were to be a ray of light then you would ascribe a different identity to it at those three different times. Obviously color is an illusion, so are textures and weights. Even if the scientific mind recognizes color for what is it, it still describes the telescope as white, not as a conglomeration of subatomic particles reflecting all the light that falls on it. Our brains are tuned into our senses to comprehend in a certain way and yet, can snap away and look at everything in their subliminal form once in a while.
It so appears that even if we have an innate ability to perceive the illusions for what they are, we are still limited by our senses in those perceptions. We may chose a green ball over a red one, knowing very well, the green and red have nothing to do with the ball itself, but yet we persist for thats the way we are wired. We are aware and unaware at the same time.
And like the photon, we too oscillate between dual identities of the world, and of ourselves.
Time exists because of the intrinsic dynamism of matter. Electrons revolve around the nucleus. Planets revolve around the sun. Movement and time are intertwined. Remove motion, time stands still. But still exists as matter exists. Remove matter and time is erased. Matter is but energy personified. Electron protons neutrons, all oscillating between their elemental energy and physical forms. Pulsating between being and non being. When matter bursts forth from energy as an entity with mass, time is created. Time is but an entity, a manifestation.
Time is what makes this life seem like what it is. This perception of our minds that sees life as a passage through time.
Is time an illusion? Is time exclusive to this span between birth and death?
The past, present and the future are all singular at an instant. It is just our perception that stretches them out on a timeline, into the known and the yet unknown. Imagine consciousness as the pull of a zipper. As it runs along the two strands, experiences are locked into consciousness and the point of the zipper’s tag is perceived as the present moment, the zipped or intertwined part, the past and the free strands, the unknown future.
After all, the conscious brain started developing only a few million years ago and is evolutionarily still young, compared to other life functions. Consciousness seems to be limited to animals with brains. Are plants conscious? Or is their subconscious blissfully taking care of all the functions of living. Is consciousness even necessary to live? After all, all of our most important life sustaining functions are done unconsciously – breathing, blood flow, immunity..
Just like our perception of color and texture makes things seem so different than they really are, our perception of time is also an illusion Our conscious brain which is dependent on our senses is probably only capable of awareness at specific points and comes into awareness much as the zipper going through the teeth on the strands, the awareness and perception of present is defined as awareness of the conscious mind. The past present and future are always there like the teeth of the zipper. Its our awareness of those that moves, not our lives.
To be is to know. We know what we are, why we are and how we are. We may not know that we know, but know, we do.
We limit ‘knowing’ to the senses we sense. To sight, smell, sound, taste or touch. These are the modes by which we ‘learn’ or gain knowledge. Once we perceive, it becomes a thought. We feel something, or see something …such as the feel of the wind or color of the sky and this leads to formulation of thoughts, say “oh, the sky is blue” or “the wind is gentle”. We then relegate these thoughts to the memory bank in our brain and this becomes part of the ‘conscious knowledge’ that it carries.
But there is a knowing that is beyond the realm of our senses that we need to try and bring to the forefront of our senses. We are so attuned to sensory perceptions that we ignore the non sensory perceptions of intuition or internal knowledge. The non-sensory perceptions have to be brought to the sensory bandwidth in order to be recognized and integrated into ‘knowledge’.
We ask questions because we perceive an anomaly. However, to perceive an anomaly we need some knowledge of normalcy. For how can we perceive discordance if we have no idea of harmony? When we see a jigsaw puzzle with a wrong piece, or a missing one, our brain knows it does not fit there because it has an idea of what would fit there. It is just a matter of finding that piece.
So it is with life.
Life is a jigsaw we try to comprehend. We seem to know some pieces, some seem obscure. But we sense what does not fit. Theories and philosophies try to fill in the gaps. The mind questions, parses, broods. We question paradigms that do not seem to fit or seem to have missing links. This is because our subconscious has an idea or knowledge of what should be there. It is just not in our conscious knowledge bank as of yet. So we try to bring the subconscious into the realm of thought, to decode if you will. This entire effort is just to be conscious of all that we already know. To find those missing jigsaw pieces. So the conscious brain continuously tugs at the subconscious, trying to open it out into the conscious.
Therefore, it is not that there are questions that we will never know or that the world is so complex that we do not have the capacity to decode it, it is just a matter of reaching deep into our subconscious and bringing the submerged knowledge onto the surface, of merging our conscious into our subconscious until there is no more need of perceived knowledge. The subconscious and conscious become one.
Fear defines us. Fear defines all that we do. It could be some subtle, subconscious fear or a phobic fathomable fear. Fear binds and chains us into doing what we do.
Fear keeps us from naked thought.
As toddlers, we are at times fearless, wanting to touch the proverbial fire. However we are taught to fear fire, and to fear not only the dark, and the unknown, but a plethora of other ‘undesirable’ objects and behaviors. We are taught to do things the ‘right’ way, the ‘right’ way to be, to think.
And as we grow, our thoughts get tunneled for fear that we may intrude upon some set moralistic, cultural or social boundary. Even if we did want to venture out, our fear of disapproving glances from those around us keep us in check. We do not want to be ‘the’ transgressor. The fear of being a moral or social outcast keeps us in. Fear becomes a habit.
What if we had no fear, or shed the fears we have? One tiny fear at a time.
Fear fear. It takes courage to be naked…..until it becomes the new habit.
A blog of musings of a naked soul. A soul that sheds all external influences and looks at life, at existence, at consciousness, from within and from without…. as an insider and as an outsider. A soul, shorn of beliefs, traditions, learnings, and ultimately knowledge itself. Preexisting knowledge that is. When the soul, in its most ethereal form involutes and reflects upon itself or perhaps realizes there is nothing to reflect upon, then comes true knowledge. Pure, simple knowledge.
I am and I am not. I am neither man nor woman. Neither boxed into a belief, nor am I defined by my body. I am insane and intellectual. I am materialistic and esoteric. I am narcissist and humble. I am mundane and spiritual. I am simple and incomprehensible. Defined by my mind, by my thoughts, a breaker of tags, I am abstract.”
Let the naked journey begin……
Death stares at me in the eye. I watch the last of my father’s bated breaths, Yet, it is not frightening. No horror, no grief, no sadness. There is an aura of calmness, a sense of serenity. Death itself is the ultimate peace. It is the living that rides on a roller-coaster. It is the living that bounces between singularity and multiplicity, forever in flux….death is oneness. A singular singularity.
We were ‘dead’ before we are born. Yet, we never give thought to this fact. We never wring our hands and wail over it. We seldom give thought to what were we before we were born or even conceived. The fact that we just did not exist before we lived does not seem to faze us as much as the realization that we might cease to exist after we have lived.
Death is shrouded not only in mystery, but in macabre and tragedy. We have absolutely no knowledge of what happens after we die – do we just shut off or does a part of us live on? We have absolutely no frigging clue. Yet, we are afraid.
Afraid of what? Why is there a basic pessimistic tragic assumption. Why do we assume its gotta be bad?
Birth and death are but the same in reverse. The body comes into being for a period of time and then ceases to be. If consciousness were to pervade beyond death, then it is logical to presume, that it preceded the body before birth as well. however, we are not conscious of anything before birth or after death. Therefore any state of consciousness that is relevant is unique to this span of life.
Are we more than our body? Is there a so-called soul? If there was a soul and it existed before birth, and exists after death, there must be a state of being-ness we are unaware of, before and after life. However, no one has ever known it. Therefore it is quite inconsequential to our current life span. therefore its quite futile and unnecessary to brood over it.
Anyway, coming back to the original premise, why is death considered so morose and frightening? Death and dying are not the same. The process of dying itself, could definitely be painful, morose, and frightening. However death itself isn’t so.
No one in this realm that we call life, has ever known what lies beyond, and therefore it is quite inane to assume that it would be something unpleasant. In fact what lies beyond is probably beyond the realm of pleasant or unpleasant, of anything we experience in this life. It is not really worth brooding about for we will never know and do we even need to know?
For this life that we live has no bearing on death and death and thereafter has no bearing on this life.
There is this chasm of the mind that has very slippery slopes. No matter how much the mind tries, it keeps slithering back down…no matter what it grasps onto, it keeps falling back, down into the chasm, into the dark valley of the void.
There are those, who, restless with intellectual inertia turn inward and seek within themselves. And then there are those, whose quests lead them to replace one deity with another, living or otherwise, one religion with another. These are the inhabitants of that intellectual chasm, of that mindless limbo land.
The chasm is indeed a world onto itself. There are many in this chasm that have forgotten or were never aware of a world beyond. They bicker among themselves in this chasm, fighting over whose god is greater. They build shiny shrines, break the ones that others have built. They hurl physical and verbal grenades, trying to gain sole supremacy. They fail to see that they are but throwing stones at their own reflections, each tinted a different hue, similar all the same.
Meanwhile, the lone ladder waits for that lone brave soul. For there lies a whole new world up there, lighted and lighter. A world where the mind, breaking free of its own confines harmonizes one with all. A mind that breaks free of norms and rituals, of ethos and morals. A world of naked souls with naked minds, whose life paths are in sync with the before and after.
Why does the mind not want to think deeper, to take that thought one step further, to analyze? Perhaps there is a plateau of comfort. The thought process finds this equilibrium where the inherent curiosity is sated just enough, and some minds, tired of thinking, settle at that level. For most, its an abject belief in a religious tenet, that precludes them from any thinking so they can focus on the more mundane aspects of life. For others it might be a synthesis of a religious philosophy they have been brought up with and their own analysis. And then for few, it could be some point on their own original inward journey.
As the human mind traverses along this evolutionary path, the conscious and the sub conscious close in on each other, settling on a higher and higher plateau every time the neurons connect. The full potential of this incredible journey reaching its zenith when the mind is able to take its thoughts to the finish line – when thinking is no longer a linear sequence along time, but a burst of absolute knowing.
From nothing we come…. to nothing we go…..
Yes, nothing does matter!
For between nothing and nothing
So carry on!
What if we stopped thinking about the future…about consequences…about what ifs…..
We revel in futuristic forward thinking. A lion hunts when it is hungry. Once it has eaten, does it worry about its next meal? Does it ponder if there would be any more watering holes left due to global warming and therefore would there be anymore deer left to hunt? It eats and then digests that meal. It acts on the next meal plan when it get hungry again. The key word here is ‘acts’, not ‘thinks’.
Does forward thinking actually change the way we behave or even our decisions? For every point we stand on in the present there are infinite possible out-spokes. Myriad possibilities of which our own decisions and behaviour play but a very small part.
As an extreme example, take the case of a terminal disease diagnosis either for oneself or someone close. The mind immediately spins of various scenarios. Scenarios of the person suffering to various levels, scenarios of the person dying in these many days or months. Scenarios of how the person dies, where the subject is when that happens and infinite scenarios of life after the loved one passes. However, at least in this extreme example, the subject has absolutely no control over one suffers or when one dies. Which is true even if one decides on the level of treatment. Even if the treatment is terminated, the process and timeline of the process is completely out of one’s control. So what was the point of the brain’s exercise on coming up with all the possible scenarios?
At times as these, the brain seems to be obviously on an auto-pilot mode. How much of this thinking is voluntary or conscious? Is there a subconscious engine that drives the thoughts and we are but aware of the tip of the iceberg?
The human mind entwines itself with possibilities and outcomes. It gravitates towards what if scenarios, Towards increased tangential thinking, towards extrapolation. towards stress. How is this adaptation? What evolutionary advantage can this possibly have?
Or has our tangential forward thinking mind detached us from the evolutionary process?
A child born was left untethered…
No right or wrong, no sin or virtue, no morals or norms touched it’s mind……
It was not led to be this or that….to think this or that…..to believe this or that….
It’s naked thoughts ran their course…..
We could all shed our layers and be that child…
Light. Is it a wave? Or a particle? Electrons, are they energy? Or matter? The duality that is apparently ingrained in all things material pervades the ethereal as well. We live in a constant dilemma of duality. Consciously or subconsciously. The soul tries to free itself of its physical coordinates, succeeds, but slips again….as if tethered to the coordinates by gossamer strands…like a snake slithering out of its old skin but never quite getting out.
The duality of the self as manifested physically and the identity of self as a formless singular idea within, coexist in all of us at all times, consciously or otherwise.
We react to events, to ideas, mostly as we have been preordained genetically and trained environmentally. What if we never had any external influences shaping our thoughts? What would then our reaction be? Is it even possible to be so untethered? It is hard to answer that question since even imagining such a situation ultimately relies on our pre-existing thoughts. A predicament much like Schrodinger’s cat.
As one keeps up with the thought processes, the strands of duality do seem to disappear, albeit for few staggered moments and then snap back. This cosmic dance of duality and singularity will go on, as long as we inhabit this body, and as long as our brain is doing the thinking.
The thinking mind oscillates between the two entities, the boundary between them but a hazy mist. To categorize the visible, palpable present as mundane and the unseen and/or theoretical as profound is a tempting fallacy. Pondering over the present, this world, these surroundings is just as profound as pondering over the before and after, over the infinite.
Even as the mind grapples with the fact that we are not dissimilar to the person sitting next to us on the bus, or the bus itself, all but manifestations of the same energy, in various forms and energy levels, and strives to imbibe this oneness into the core of one’s being, the mind still snaps back to being who we are, a passenger on the bus, distinct from the next person on the bus and the bus itself. For as long as we live this life.
This blog is an ode to this cosmic dance. The dance between one’s journeys of the mind and journeys of the body. It acknowledges that the present is always here, either in plain sight or in essence, even when we have travelled far in our thoughts. For it is this life we are trying to decipher, the here and now.
Many plants can be propagated by grafting. Carefully break off a branch, rebury part of it in soil and voila, it sprouts roots, then shoots into a being of its own! Or is it? Had it stayed where it was, it would have been a part of the parent life form. However, now it is assumed to be distinct, a unique plant. Or could it just be called a transplant in space of the parent?
In essence so are we all, derivatives of our parents, transplanted in space and time. We grew from a cell each of our parents, differentiated into a whole. Not much different from the way organs develop from a single cell. Yet, the only difference is that organs remain inside the body while the progeny is expelled into a life form of its own.
We like to think of generations as unique and distinct. But are they? We are all but points on the line. You are but your parents on another plane.
The fractal of life.
The race is on. Global warming, carbon footprint, ozone depletion… The race is on – to save the earth. There is panic everywhere. Almost as much panic as plastic in a landfill, choking us, as we bleakly look everywhere for a solution. For a miracle cure that would assure us…that no, the earth will NOT change, that we will survive as a species forever, and that all will be well.
The race is on. To cure cancer, to cure chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to cure that obscure chromosomal abnormality. The race is on, to fight very disease, to live longer, forever.
The race is on, to save every species from extinction, to save every human from annihilation. To make sure every life form, no matter what its shortcomings, survives. Longer. Until unable to bear the burden, the earth, and life itself, implodes.
The very things we do to survive in the short term will more than likely shorten the long term.
The race is on.
We are all acutely aware of our bodies, identify ourselves with our bodies. We think of our body as being one. A body. What if it isn’t?
Evolutionarily speaking, the very first multi-cellular organisms were but a colony of individual cells each of which could very well be ‘a’ body. But living together, they all formed ‘a’ new body, each individual unit performing all the functions every other unit did. However, gradually this group of cells started to speciaize so they did not have to do all the work but just some of the work such that if every unit was perfectly coordinated with the others, they could survive perfectly well and in fact better than if the individual units were by themselves. Thus evolved the complex life forms if we were to accept one of evolution’s most basic tenets.
Taking this a step or more further, we could indeed all be just that, a colony of cells cooperating in a perfectly synchronized way. Think about it. What if this were true? So then who are YOU now?
Who are we? No, really, who am I ?? The daughter of so and so, the father of this and that, living in such and such? Did I choose to? Did I decree to whom I would be born, when and where? Afterall that practically decided my entire fate – being born or rather encompassed in those particular coordinates. I am thenceforth jailed in the persona with this name and THAT is my identity. Really?
Is it even possible to break free of the identity you are born with? After all, your very being, your very cells, your very neurons… Your thinking is decreed by your genes and the environment you are encompassed in and the influences you are bombarded with.
So the dilemma of the naked soul. Shedding off of the layers is harder than it seems. There is always that ingrained note from the past, that bigoted view enshrined through generations, that song in the head that just doesn’t go away. But the soul rallies on, to shed them all. To be naked.