Saturday, February 16

Disconnected( Arbit?) Thoughts

Couple of days back, I wrote a quiz on the "Literature and Environment" course. The course is more about philosophy than literature or environment and hence interesting in a vague sense. A lot of stuff like Eco-criticism and Eco- feminism are things that I neither find interesting nor agree with. But still, there are these golden flashes of an elusive treasure that keeps occurring throughout. There is something about philosophy which is frustrating yet intriguing. Its like that Pandora's box which is half open and lures you in. Two steps more and you think the end shall be seen but reality shows it to be a bottomless pit.

I have always wondered what would happen if all the philosophical questions had objective answers. It would mean an end to all doubts about purpose and karma. There wouldn't be any police or law enforcement agencies, since everyone would know* what is right and what is wrong. Everyone would do only the right thing, since what is"right" becomes an absolute truth which is no longer dependent on subjective intrepretations. It would be the ideal world, but a boring one at that. Isn't uncertainty the greatest boon of mankind? I remember the dialogue of Brad Pitt as Achilles in the film Troy "The Gods envy us. Because we are mortal, because we are doomed, each moment is so much more precious."

Words are powerful, yet at some level only a symbol of man's effort to propagate( to others) and re-assure( himself) his own ideas and the objectives behind his actions. Without words an enlightened man is no different from an ordinary mendicant. Actions might speak for themselves but not so loudly nor clearly as words. Where would we be without them ?

Without words, we would have no way of sharing ideas with others, which in turn means that we would either try to figure things out ourselves or stop trying at all. Maybe the real answer is that, *that there is nothing to be figured out*! Things happen just because that is the way things are. This again is an oft repeated concept in our course. The "is"ness of a thing whereby it just "is" what it is. Probably deep down we all know that it is the truth, yet the hope of a greater reality pushes us to do more. We are not satisfied by eating good food or getting a shelter to sleep. Our wants go beyond. Maybe the realization of such a truth, *that there is nothing to be realized* might mean a return to the stone age or even behind, to a time when all we would care for is a good meal and a safe sleep.

So while engrossed in these Eco poems and essays, I did some googling on the "Zen" school of thought. The zen philosophy says that to attain enlightenment one should be "intentionally aware" of the "present" without being "judgmental" about it. After thinking on it for sometime I concluded that it probably means one should clearly *know* and make an effort to understand what is happening ( around), without trying to figure out if it is happening for the good or bad. This again means that you shouldn't try to "interfere", but just let things be. I agree that the above statement appears to be self contradictory at multiple levels, since most of our actions are reactions to external stimuli and thus its impossible to act and yet not "interfere". At some level even our very presence is an interference. Then again, it might mean you should do those things which come *naturally*" to you, without letting the guiding hand of knowledge nor the filter of civilization change that natural course of action nor modify it. Would this mean a return to the hippie culture of 70s, where people try to portray the rebel image? I doubt. The problem with a being a rebel is that you again made the conscious decision of being a rebel. To follow zen philosophy would probably mean to act in a way as though the society was never there, neither *against it* nor *with it* nor *parallely*, but in a way that ignores its very existence itself.

OK, .. this will be continued later in another post.


Vijay Shankar said...

Where is the alternative to gurunath post?

wolverine said...


Are coming :)

Czar said...

Zust one thing!
Lite ra mama.

Gyaad ra mama. :D

Mahesh Mahadevan said...

Alternative to Gurunath :-O I certainly await that post - oh what a deng it will be!

Re: words, I remember something (not surprisingly) from anime, about words being like threads that affect our actions; and how they can strongly change the course of things.
I sometimes wonder, though, that words are precious, and the more sparingly and carefully used, the more precious they get. Reminds me of this man and (in a lighter vein) this man.

Mohan K.V said...

Very nice post!

The Achilles quote - perhaps we can say that too of final sem at IIT :-) But alas, the weightier the moments, the more sad things hurt you :-(

The 'act natural' part - feedback and the associated response is so inherent in all of us that we probably couldn't even recognize each other if you overheard me speaking to someone else! Where does the 'me' end and the feedback-response part begin?

Again, nice post! :-)