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Answers and Spirituality

Whatever things that I am going to write about has had influence in my life and is a very simple and easy way to follow and utilize. I am going to talk about a truth- the truth that nobody specifically knows what’s really going to happen, that nobody knows what exactly is going on. That no religion has all the answers, that no way of life has all the answers, that no thought process has all the answers, that no emotional practice or austerity has all the answers, and this alone is a major tool and how we can shape our life for the better. 

The question obviously becomes why? Why is it so important that nobody knows what’s going on. Our whole life, we’ve been thought to follow rules, to do what our culture says, to do what our government says, to do what is expected, to follow whatever religion we are raised in – basically to do everything that’s already been planned because it is how it is,it’s the way it should be, and therefore we should be this way because everybody else says, and that, in reality, is a bunch of rubbish!

The fact of the matter is, this universe is absolutely insane. We have no reason as to why we’re here. Not only why we are here, but also what being here really means, what existence really means-what space-what the universe is! How a cell somehow replicated and created a complex life as we know it, as we are living in here right now after billion of years of the BIG BANG- what the BIG BANG start from? What was before the BIG BANG? These are all questions that we can never have answers to and therefore we can say that we know everything, that every way of life is right, that every practice will ever or has ever been correct.

A great example that I read about recently was that the reason why hippies or people that dress like hippies, wear face paints, tattoo themselves, do crazy things to their hair-the reason why they are looked so down upon in our societies is because they show how silly this “reality” is, you know, like we put on suits and ties and wear nice clothes and slick our hair back and shave our faces and put on makeup and therefore we are being a part of this world correctly. We are doing this all the “right” way, the “expected” way. And when somebody comes along who was completely different or has nothing in common with this way of living or this way of life – who has crazy amounts of eye shadow and paintings all over and maybe who are wearing giant neon jumpsuit- they kind of spit in the face of this “expected” reality. They let our subconscious and primal mind know that this is all nonsense, that our actions are acting as if “what we were” OR “where are we going to school” OR “what job we have”. We have this super cosmic reasoning-doing it the “just” way is how we attain a great life. Isn’t it kind of stupid?  We assume and cross our fingers and just hope something “good” will happen, and when we seen these punks, these outcasts, people who basically don’t fit into the norms of the society- they remind US on a subconscious level that we really don’t know what’s going on – we have no idea what’s going on, what’s right, what is or isn’t the ultimate truth and therefore, we all are kind of lost!

Now a lot of people might be scared not having the ultimate reality or not knowing what’s going on. And that makes sense you know – the unknown does create fear. You might be following Buddhism or Hinduism. Why do you follow these practices if in the back of your mind you don’t know if they are real or not-or if they serve any greater purpose. 

And that’s really what it comes down to with this ultimate realization of nobody knowing what the heck is going on- that it makes this whole life- a big guessing game- that we should have fun. Kind of like playing hide and seek – we’re looking places, we are finding things, we are looking for new things, we’re discovering- BUT, we should never be over-confidently obsessed and say ” this is the biggest discovery that and that’s all I needed ever”. 

That’s what spirituality is all about. It shows us that look – you may know a lot, you may even learn the things that make sense- that fit your perception of what life is. But you should never stop looking. Keep being curious and eventually, this unknown factor in life, this factor of uncertainty, which scares a lot of people, will turn into some more so like curiosity. It becomes FUN. We are less scared to go and play with colors on holi, and we become more excited than anything – because we know whatever we find is probably going to benefit us in someway or help us in some way we might not have discovered. 

Religion is the most fun, when we know we don’t need it. We are just a Big Banged Universal Universe, we’re just humans humaning and there’s no RIGHT way to live or WRONG way to live or a way we should or shouldn’t live. It is always about what we decide ourselves which works the BEST and what makes the most sense-which makes us wake up in the morning and enjoy this existence, love what’s going on and therefore continue with the TODAY of all 24 hours with intensive bliss and happiness. But what I actually mean by religion being the most fun when we know we don’t need it is that – If you can see that this is all just a BIG GAME, that there’s really no SET answer or SET finish line or SET place we’ll be going, that we really have no idea – well then you can take all this practices that exist throughout the world that many many ancient teachers and philosophers and gurus and priests have kind of used their time to discover – thinking up, implementing, putting their lives. You can take different aspects from all of these and apply them to your life and figure out what makes sense to you and have fun because of it.

So for me, it sometimes is like I really like absurdism and that the universe is all chaotic and insane and that we don’t know about what’s going on. There also comes into it is the feeling or thinking of what way can we live our life that reduces suffering and makes life happy and joyous. And that’s where BUDDHISM comes in with the four noble truth and eight fold paths that can liberate us, from suffering and then with that, well, how can I be graceful? How can i enjoy life? How can I practice in a way that makes sense to me? That’s where Hinduism comes in with, you know, just devoting time and love and passion to these deities with however you wish to see the universe, with however you wish to utilize universe.

It’s upto you, and these are all things you can decide… and enjoy and not just be scared by, but instead be excited by – when you see that really nobody knows what’s going on, nothing makes sense.

That’s what your day comes down to, you know. Go and learn about science, figure out what makes sense. Well I used to love studying cosmology and about black holes, about supernovas, about expanding universe, but then at the same time, I think is what if we didn’t know about these all? Would it even affect our day to the slightest? And therefore there are again things to learn that are fun about to keep in our brain. But I don’t think we should obsess over it. We should focus – what I think- is a cultivable lifestyle what works best for us – what makes us happy – what keeps us in a good emotional place and state of mind. 

Let’s just help people and help ourselves and love the universe- all of our existence from the all the way from a tree to as equal and unified and with time, we could create a utopian (hopefully) society. That’s just my view and hope you share that too. And again, that’s my view because I realized that – nothing is set in stone- that everything is flux, that existence is flux, this planet existing is a part of a wave of universal existence it won’t be here forever either.

Nobody knows what’s going on- we’re just ONE little species on this big rock called Earth. We don’t have all the answers, we just like to think we do- but we don’t. And if you can get over the fear that comes with that initially, and get into learning, new philosophies, new ways of life, and start embracing that unknown aspect of life- you will start loving the fact that you don’t know what’s going on. Everyday is a mystery- it’s like playing a video game and every day is a new level. Not scared of the level, you are infact excited to take part in it and see if you can get something done with it. 

What I have basically come down to is YOU CREATING YOUR OWN REALITY and realizing that you doing so isn’t something odd, outcasting type of an action. It is more of just you realizing the true nature of reality which is- for us as one species in a ball-that no one knows all the answers- no practices. Everything boils down to your perception and the way we want to live- the way we want to practice, or the way we want our day to end.

 

 

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Is Bruce Wayne Batman?

There’s an ancient Greek legend about a ship that launched from the port of Theseus, and sailed around the world. So during the journey, the ship encountered various dangers. Storms ravaged its sails, which had to be replaced. The floorboards gradually gave way and eventually had to be changed out one by one. Crew members then decided that they liked the look of  some island or another along the way and stayed behind.  And as the ship sailed on, more and more of its crew members got replaced until finally, not a single original plank of wood, or hand on deck, remained.

Now here’s the question : When the ship finally returned to Theseus, was it the same ship that left? The answer, lies in the concept of identitas or “identity”. Philosophers describe identity as a relation that a thing bears only to itself. So whatever makes a thing uniquely what it is defines its identity.  And if two things are identical, they are said to share an identical relation. Now whether two things are the same might seem blindly obvious. But ofcourse, it isn’t. Because : P H I L O S O P H Y.

The Philosophy of identity can get pretty slippery, largely because like ship of Theseus, things change.

And when they do, they eventually stop being what they are, and become something else. Now this goes not just for mythological ships, but all kind of things. Like the mug kept on your table, the Rs. 100 note in you pocket, and even B A T M A N.

Is Batman, identical to Bruce Wayne?

By saying identical, it doesn’t only mean “look alike” but also that they share the same identity – they are literally one and the same. So you may yes, as Bruce Wayne and Batman are identical as everyone fucking knows that Bruce Wayne is the man behind the cowl. Not only that, you might say Bruce Wayne is the very essence of Batman. He saw his parents getting killed in that alley. HE BECAME THE DARK KNIGHT. No one else could take his place!! But hold on.

People have actually taken his place. It turns out that Dick Greyson, the original Robin, has pinch hit for Batman, donning the cape and cowl to protect the streets of Gotham in his boss’s absence. And so has Police commissioner Jim Gordan after Bruce Wayne was reported dead, he reluctantly accepted the role himself.

Both of guys have been Batman.

So if the person inside the costume does’t make Batman – Batman, then what does??

The Indiscernibility of Identicals.

The idea is that if any two things have to be identical, then they must have the same set of properties. If this theory is to be believed then the ship of Theseus became a new ship as soon as that first plank of wood was replaced. As soon as its parts were not all original, then the ship suddenly acquired a new property. And with a new property came a new identity.

So likewise, Bruce Wayne and Batman cannot have the same identity as they have their own set of properties. Bruce Wayne for example has the property of being a millionaire playboy, but Batman doesn’t. That guy is all business. Meanwhile Batman has the property of having fought Joker, which Bruce Wayne hasn’t.

And the different versions of Batman aren’t identical to each other either. Because the person wearing the costume, even if it’s the exact same costume(which it usually isn’t)is gonna have different combat techniques, and even, say, a different moral code.

So, is there a limit to how much something can change, and still be the same thing?

Think about this. A sculptor takes a lump of clay, and names it Lumpl. He then forms Lumpl into a sexy carved with a six pack statue calling it Goliath. Are Lumpl and Goliath identical?

Our intuition might say YES, because they’re composed of exactly the same amount of the same physical stuff. It’s been kneaded and molded into a different shape, but still : no part of Lumpl is not Goliath, and vice-versa. But consider this : If we wreck the statue, and smush it into a big blob, Goliath is gone, because part of what it means to be Goliath is to be shaped like a statue. But Lumpl, being a lump, doesn’t have a set shape. So it will remain, after Goliath has been destroyed. So on one hand Lumpl and Goliath seem to be identical because they are the same exact thing, just in different shapes. While on the other hand, they don’t.

One way to try and make sense of identity, and explain how an object endures over time is by making a distinction between what we call essential and accidental properties.

Essential properties are the core elements needed for a thing to be thing that it is. Accidental properties are traits that could be taken away from an object without making it a different thing. Accidental properties are traits that could be taken away from an object without making it a different thing.

For example : Think about a dog. A dog without a tail will still be dog, either you give him a shape or a silly poodle doo, don’t let it bark- what you still will posses- is a DOG. So all these things are accidental properties, they’re pretty easy to pick up. But it can’t be really tough to find its essential properties, the things that, if they were absent, would make the dog not a dog anymore.

And the more something changes, the harder it can be to determine its identity. A tree can loose its leaves and still be a tree. But if you cut the tree up and make it into a bunch of notebooks, is it still a tree?

And if you think a notebook is not a tree, then at what point of time, what point in the whole process of it becoming a tree, will it lose its tree-ness? Was it when it was cut down and was thus no longer living? But isn’t a dead tree also a tree? Or did it happen when the tree was cut into pieces and was lying on the ground? Did it make a difference when those pieces were collected? How about when they were ground up in the pulp?

The tree stopped being a tree when its essential property was lost. But when exactly that happened depends on your perspective. Plus, many thinkers reject the concept of essential properties altogether. Existentialists for example deny the very existence of essential properties. I mean, you cannot step in the same river twice, can you?

Nothing is identical to itself because everything-including both you and the river-is always in motion. It keeps on changing. So not only is the ship of Theseus an all new ship by the time it returns back to Theseus, but it was a new ship the new time anything about it changed!

Now it’s interesting enough to think about whether ships and trees endure over time, or what makes Batman Batman. But ultimately why – why the fuck should we care for all this? I mean you must be thinking why the hell am I yelling so much of philosophical gyan when ultimately philosophy is a thing of the past although it being the father of each of the subject currently studied?

Welllll…. If objects are important to you, then you’ll probably want to know if you have the same object that you think you have. And when it comes to tangible stuff, we tend to value persistent identity. If you take out Rs. 100 from my wallet to buy lunch, stop by the ATM and replace it, is the money that I had identical to what I had this morning? Of course this won’t matter to you until you can buy thai noodles with that. But again, for example, if your favorite mug is broken into pieces by your sibling and he replaces it with an identical mug? Will it make a difference? What if – your dog runs away, and some one catches the dog, falls in love with it, after a while sees the ad on the newspaper from the you of the missing dog and then eventually he replaces YOUR dog with a different dog with identical features and gives it back to you? Will it be the same dog?

If you are still reading this, obviously you were interested. This wasn’t just your stuff, or rather anyone’s stuff. Don’t think about identity – we all are BAT people.

 

 

 

 

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Gandhi’s Non-violence : A solution to India-Pakistan?

(The following content maybe regarded as biased, prejudiced, extreme-right, sanghi, narrow-mindness and chauvinism by some intellectuals of the society. If you have a soft corner for the so called father of his nation and believe in his principle of non-violence, you may choose to ignore the write-up)

We all know Pakistan and all its government have been sponsoring petty terrorism and cross border infiltration, radicalizing youth, funding the separatists in Kashmir, resulting in deaths of a number soldiers. Still we’ll be ignoring the fact that there are literally myriad lives being affected by killings of the soldiers. The fidayeen attack in Uri, most chances are their parents don’t even know that their sons have been radicalized being promised something utopian in the afterlife by “hurting” some people (Oh, the irony!) Still, like the soldiers have been scapegoat since years now, they’ll be killed by such activities, people will be angry for some days and criticize the government for not taking any steps, IPL will come and everybody will forget what happened. I mean this is what has been happening over the past right? No one would care for them.

So- is the Gandhian way of non-violence a solution?

For this we need to understand what Gandhi’s non-violence actually is. He held that total non-violence would rid a person of anger, obsession and destructive impulses, that nonviolence is a thought, word and deed, that how creating a nonviolent and non-exploitative relationship within the society was imperative for an ideal society, that construction of Poorna Swaraj or complete independence was only possible by the truthful and nonviolent means.

All that is crap and utter bullshit.

Gandhi took non-violence to an extreme level. When I say extreme, it’s more extreme than the fanatic gurus and lunatic left wing extremists who talk about a Utopian class-less and state-less society at the end – the “communist society” – that too only by passing through phases of capitalism (more at Why isn’t anything right with the left?) According to an interview given for his biography to Louis Fischer, this is what Gandhi said and he reported :

“Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. I believe in hara-kiri. I do not believe in its militaristic connotations, but it is a heroic method. That would have been heroism. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to the evils of Hitler’s violence, especially in 1938, before the war. As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”

-The Life of Mahatma Gandhi (1950)

Now I fail to understand such a stance for non-violence. Clearly, either he misunderstood non-violence, or in a bid to look cool and different from the philosophers at that time, he didn’t have an iota of idea about what he was preaching.

Again some warriors of Gandhism and the pseudo-intellectuals claiming everything was right with the Gandhian principle would quote incidents like Quit India Movement which was followed a surge with violence which lost it’s momentum there-after, thus claiming that violence was actually not which was needed to win the war. First off : Gandhi wasn’t the leader in the movement. Second : Violence started only after all the leaders went to jail. Third : Even if he supported the violent upsurge, it was maybe because his ideologies failed in the previous ones? Otherwise why this change of stance?

Also, some claim that he supported violence for self-defense. The following abstract is a testimony of his support for violence for self-defense- of course with a little bit of skepticism from my side. 

“Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence.”

– The Doctrine of the Sword

See what he did here? He connects violence with a moral failure (even by using violence), even in self defense .Connecting violence to moral failure with violence is more of an extreme support for non-violence  which in my intellect, is flawed and without any premise.

People who would claim I nitpicked certain points and paras to prove my point are free to judge so. But taking a Gandhian side of non-violence for tackling cross border terrorism or finding a solution with Pakistan – I am sorry but I don’t support it.

We talk about having a “Gandhian way on non-violent approach”, but haven’t we had enough of those? What happened after we started “sada-e-sarhad”, or the Shimla Agreement ending in ceasefire at borders or letting go of the 90,000 POWs? Did anything progressive happened? What happened when we gave them the MFN(Most favored nation) status? Are our goods immune from non-tariff barriers there?

People when talking about finding a solution, like a diplomat would or an aspiring civil servant would while answering such question of the GS-4 section of a mains paper, will fill the answer with all types of keywords for an “ideal” ethical answer like compassion, integrity, brotherhood, love, what not! But the reality is, if you were one of the person from a family losing the earning member of a family, and your future barring the “concession” will be nothing more than filled with darkness, you would not think “technically” or “diplomatically” or “ideally”, but emotionally. This doesn’t mean we should go for a war with them, but I just want to ask, TILL WHEN will this continue?