Sunday, December 02, 2012

What is reality?

The concept of a 'god' is incorrect. The concept of a 'non god' is incorrect too. The concept of 'something or nothing' in between is incorrect too. The mind gives rise to such concepts and then attaches itself to form. All such concepts are incorrect representations. All attachments to such concepts are incorrect. This applies to concepts of self, ego, free-will and all else that the you are conjuring up! Such a line of reasoning, along with a complete detachment to the past and the future brings you to the present moment, the 'now', the reality of all things. All concepts and form disappear! No, this is not escaping from the suffering in this universe! This is standing your ground!

Bliss is only in the moment! Yes, it slips away! And that is because it is only in a single moment!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On right and wrong

"Everything is lawful", says Ivan in the classic The Brothers Karamazov. In response to which the novice saint Alyosha smiles and gives him a kiss on his lips. Hard to understand, but doing the right thing is the same thing as doing something wrong. Being good is the same thing as being evil. There is no difference. No moral repercussions follow whichever path we choose. People do that. They commit and justify the most grievous, heinous acts. They justify any misdeed. I mean anything. What makes great men? What makes wise men who are so far and few? They might be the ones that see both paths, really the grayness to be just the same and still pick the 'good' over the 'bad'. God, moral codes, ethics may help in making such choices. Conscience is one of the biggest burdens faced by a free man, devoid of God. Doestovsky describes this far better than I can, ever. For the wise men out there, I also got one Steinbeck's word " timshol".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On hope and faith

It is convenient to categorize people and their relation to faith into these blocks:

  1. Ones with blind faith in god.
  2. Reasoned believers.
  3. Non-believers who haven't quite thought about it and hence do not have conviction.
  4. Reasoned non-believers.
  5. people who gloss over their infirmities using god:)

One may cope with difficult circumstances by not relying on faith/god. There is usually a point where one usually finds it extremely hard to continue doing so. At some point in our lives, faith usually steps in and saves when we cannot survive by ourselves anymore. People follow a statistical distribution in the types of their reactions to adversity. Such reactions are also distributed across times. for e.g. if your dad dies, you may resort to faith immediately or at a much later point (distributed). No two people are exactly alike in their reactions. Few people even risk saying there is no God. Most meekly obey and play along with rituals even; worship rather than be defiant. On a personal note, I have never been through a situation which I have not been able to cope with, myself. The longer I do this, the stronger I get, the firmer my conviction becomes that man is alone.
It has been a year since I realized the importance of hope in a man's life. I thought I had hit a dead end; no amount of thinking was letting me progress further, if there is in fact scope for any more progress. However recently, I got some much needed help from an uncle who understood where I was and asked me to think about faith to be a cause and hope as its effect. Light of day, eh? Not quite. This might be an important clue. I have to reason whether faith is the cause and hope is the effect, all by myself. I have felt that hope is inbuilt and have described this in detail elsewhere. We are naturally inclined to be hopeful. Does that apply to faith as well? Are we born with it? Am I not admitting that I am such a hopeful person only because of faith? Is this plausible? Quite a contradiction! More later.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

On hope and dying

I feel this is an important post, a by product of many months of dedicated thought, reading, feeling, introspection, reasoning and watching all the relevant movies. There is much to be written about - it is very much incomplete and was hastily put up online out of a need to keep some of the thoughts alive and to keep refreshing my memory. It concerns man and this abstract notion called 'hope'. Before you go on - I recommend reading 'The Stranger' by Albert Camus and watching the following movies, many times over, if need be and think seriously about every sentence, scene, song lyric and meaning and apply that to your life.
1. No country for old men
2. O brother where art thou
3. A serious man
Each of these movies is a Coen brothers' masterpiece dealing with a host of issues, moral questions and more importantly the emphasis on hope and death. How does one face one's own demise? Should it be through a reliance on God? On religion ? On what? What happens when all truth becomes lies and there is no hope, absolutely no hope? What next? What is keeping us afloat right now? When you are old and get cancer/heart disease, what are you going to tell yourself about your impending death? How are you going to face this terrifying ordeal, quoting Mersault in The Stranger.
To give you a few examples about hope's importance- let me give you a snapshot of some of my current thoughts - I am hoping secretly, dreaming even that I get to be with this pretty girl with whom I had a minor connection many, many years back, hopes for a job, for love, for a whole bunch of things, many of them being quite unrealistic, to say the very least. Most of these hopes are not even in my consciousness. But, I know they exist. Everything that is keeping me afloat is some form of hope. I live in denial of my death, by hoping and telling myself I have another 30 odd years to live, with hope that there is enough time. As time goes on however, my state of denial does not change. I believed 10 years back that I would not die soon and the exact same hope lives on. I secretly believe/hope I will probably not change for another 100 years. In reality the 'when' one dies does not matter. Hope, however, leads me on. Hope for self protection, hope for an interesting life, hopes for a gazillion other things keep me going. I hope that I control my own path in life and beyond, with not much thought or much capacity to know about the 'beyond'. All this while I discount the fact that life controls me and surely I do not hold the trump cards in this matter. I do not have a say. The vagaries of life will also have their say on everything that lies between now and my dying, just as it happens in those movies.
My mom believes that when she dies, she is, rather her soul, is going to be magically transported to this mystical planet created for her by a spiritual guru. Other people I know want their soul to be carried to heaven/hell. Some others believe they are just reborn. Death is just the beginning, eh? The root of many of these ideas can be traced back to 'hope'. When you hope and believe in permanence of the soul, what else do you need sustenance from to live out the remainder of your life? Your body and mind will be literally breaking apart and yet you will survive till you die, cling on and swim in a pond of hope. There will be bad days and uncertainties, possible ups and downs in your belief system, but with some luck you may not survive too long.
Camus describes an alternate method to face death, one that feels right, for now. It is that of knowing that life is hopeless, sticking to this idea with surety, and hence liberating yourself of the pain of death. Mersault is sure about the non-existence of god and gives up every little bit of hope in his life. What is surprising is that while he goes through his ordeal and a lot of pain, he does not find despair at the very end. When one consciously and willingly gives up all hope, is there really no pain and suffering in the end? Possibly not, but there is definitely less suffering that is felt than when we are holding onto hope and watching the rug being pulled from underneath us. As Chigurh in No country for old men quips- 'Of what use is the rule you followed, if it brought you to this'?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

On boxes that can speak

One might think that when you need to mail a box, you toss in the contents, close it, stick tape, attach all the address labels and after you pay the fee one hardly need to think about it before it arrives at its destination. But this particular box was unlike any that I knew of. Not only did this box go missing for a full two months after it was mailed due to an undeliverable address, but when it resurfaced and after I got the box back, it actually spoke about its journey like no other box I know of. I also had to fight with all my strength to get it back, plead with every unsuspecting mailman at my door and make dozens of calls to the mail retention center or the place where all dead mail goes- mail that can be dead but can still sometimes speak a tale, if only one strains their ears enough. I had filled the box up with random contents from my past, memorabilia, file folders that had carried unread articles from many a PhD dissertation; books that were printed using typewriters of a bygone era, from professors who had been unsuccessful in publishing them and had simply given them away, palmed off on unwitting students who had shown the slightest interest. In the box was also that single book for which I had sought out the missing box and would keep on fighting to get it back; every other content of the box was quite dispensable. The book is one of those classics, gifted to me by a long gone girlfriend, her slanted handwriting on the first page, good will and wishes still speak of her affections when she penned the note. The after effects of love can endure for much longer than lady love herself. Ah! Going back to the box, we should not digress here- the box spoke of an unbelievably long, battered, tortured journey- It was ripped apart with so many tons of mailman's blue tape that the 'white' - the original color of the box was no longer visible. It was incredibly soft, quite unlike any other cardboard I have ever seen- must have been dragged on a dolly in moderately heavy rain and subsequently left to dry in a languid afternoon sun that is so typical of humid days around here. Wetness that stifles and lingers, refuses to go away even within an oven, perhaps. The box that had once been proudly rectangular, sharp so to speak, was now bulging to the extent that it was now oval, almost like a over sized, blue football, one that was wee bit too heavy to be thrown around in a game though. It was almost ready to burst in despair, reminding me of an overfilled stomach that cannot digest. Address labels had been ripped apart and reattached many times over; no one did know where the box was supposed to go anyway. The only thing that must have helped it reach me was this green tracking label which I had attached merely out of habit for I do not pinch pennies or dollars for that matter. When I removed the tape to inspect the insides of the box and its contents, there were also these large gaping holes, large gashes that one could see through, gashes that were a mark of a brutal contempt for its being, rips that were probably caused by the sharp edges of the same dolly that carried the box through the rain. This also explained all the need for the extra blue taping in the first place. Holes need to be patched up, covered up to dissuade people from taking a peek, just to control their utterly voyeuristic instincts. Some boxes can speak of unspeakable things as well, mine sure did. In the end, after I had removed and put away all its contents, precious book inclusive, I trashed the box. Sadly, the box had absolutely no possibility of a reuse. There was no need for a funeral or a wake for that matter. It had simply played its story to me, possibly just once and then the tape ended, abruptly.