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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.