Thoughts Sans Boundaries


Posted in life, musings by Aditya Moorthy on December 21, 2009

(Arabic phrase from Quran that means ‘in the name of God, the merciful, the beneficent’)

Like many people, I muse about life. I ask some of the cliched questions such as the meaning of life, is there purpose for human life, what should we strive for, is evolution a mere accident in the unimaginable size of this universe etc. And, like most people who ask these questions, I don’t have a definite answer. In fact, there is not even a glimmer of hope that I would find a definitive answer.

I come from a culture that is known for pioneering this study and many a treatise have been written from time immemorial trying to address these and other questions. This innate nature to question would probably not be as strongly entrenched in me, had I not been born and brought up in this microcosmic society (I beg for pardon if this usage of microcosmic society in the sentence is a wrong usage, but I hope you get the point I am driving at). This has an even bigger impact on me since my parents have brought me up with the independence to raise these questions and boldly try to find the answers however rational it may or may not seem. Here I should digress to say a bit about the people who have had the most profound impact on me. I have been blessed with some of the best people one can have the opportunity to know in their life. This includes my parents, my brothers and one friend (whom I consider my teacher and brother in more than one way) and his family in India. I do not wish to name anyone to guard their privacy. But this digression is important to emphasise that few people have this opportunity to meet so many great souls and learn from them to differentiate the different shades of grey that we encounter in our lives.

Coming back to my earlier point on whether these questions are rational enough to ask or not and the reason for which I say that is because, I have had the opportunity to experience scientific way of approaching and the loosely put religious or spiritualistic way of approaching on various aspects of life that portray the different shades of grey that we very often encounter. The thought of rationality appears in this discussion because, science demonstrates to you through the concept of reasoning (and hypothesis and proofs) that the universe is an immensely vast place and the fact that life exists in this piece of rock that we call earth among the uncountable number of such rocks is a mere accident and unavoidable given our knowledge of chemistry. So, if science were to hear my appeal to it to find the answers, it would reply back that there is simply no point in asking this question as it is merely philosophical in nature and having an answer (if an answer exists) will have no bearing on existence (or life as I term it here) itself.

On the other hand, humans have conceptualised (or experienced) God which has given birth to religion in many forms depending on the environment in which it was born. This is not a debate about whether God exists or not but more a philosophical inquiry in what is the purpose (if there is something called a purpose) of life. So from this perspective, if I raised this question to ‘religion’ (and I put this in quotes because that is probably the easiest way to collectively refer to any form of thinking that is not scientific in nature), the answer would be quite different depending on which school of thinking that I raise this question to. But most of these diverse group would agree that self realiasation and experiencing God is the key purpose of life. Now we can debate in length about the concept of God itself and many scientific minds would immediately dismiss it to be a brainwashed concept handed over through many generations. But I do not wish to dismiss it likewise. I think, merit should be given to those thinkers who claim to have experienced God and achieved self-realisation and tried to hand over their experiences so other may also experience the same. I can specifically speak for (if momentarily I take upon that arrogance) the thinkers in the today’s Indian sub-continent. The reason why I do not dismiss like the many scientific minds, even though I reasonably understand the scientific process is because, the thinkers and philosophers in this region did not attempt to teach dogma but rather urged everyone to think, ponder, question and challenge their hypothesis and seek the ‘truth’ for themselves. They provided the tools for people if they needed but never insisted that they use their tools. And this broad minded approach akin to the scientific approach of allowing theories to be disproved by others, does not allow me to throw away their claim of vivid experiences simply because I cannot demonstrate that in a laboratory.

We have all been trained well in the scientific process – learning all branches of sciences in our school curriculum, has enabled us to easily embrace the scientific method but the same cannot be said about the self inquiry school since none of their tools have been taught to us in a structured manner for us to embrace or dismiss the benefits that you can achieve through self-realisation or realisation of God. If for example we take the simplest of the tools – Faith, most of us do not have the greater strength to sustain faith. Even though we try it at different points in our life, we soon lose confidence in it and relapse to our scientific method of approaching a problem. I am not suggesting here that when someone is suffering from a cardiac arrest, the people around that person sit next to him / her and say that we’ll keep faith and hope it cures. That would be madness at least in the context in which we deal with our lives. But faith as one of the tools, here takes a larger role to sustain it to achieve self-realiasation among the using of other tools such as self-inquiry, meditation etc.

I have many a times tried to use these tools to try to understand or seek answers to the questions in my mind. But like most people, I give up, because it is hard, does not align with my predominantly scientific mind, does not have interim results to encourage me to sustain etc. Here, people who solely follow the scientific approach would pooh pooh me saying that there is no point in even trying as one is never going to achieve anything through this. But I resist the temptation to agree with them and give up for reasons stated above. Even if I never see the light of the day in this approach, I think I would be contented that I did experiment with a non-scientific approach to experience the elusive self-realisation or enlightenment and was not pigeon holed into thinking only in terms of hypothesis and proofs in a laboratory.

So, why do I seek answers in the first place? I don’t start asking these questions to achieve enlightenment as I think that is at a farther point of my journey of life but rather to deal with the unexplainable experiences – painful and pleasurable that goes on in our lives and to deal with them with more maturity and with innate strength especially if the experience if painful. When I usually have these discussions with my brothers, I try to give an analogy that people are, in some sense behind a huge wall blocking their vision. So when you attempt to jump up and have a look on the other side, you get a glimpse of it depending on how high you can jump. The ability to jump higher comes from the eagerness to pursue the objective of knowing what is on the other side of the wall and also by gaining more awareness about what you saw during the previous glimpse. So effectively, the more aware you become and more eagerness you have, you can jump higher and higher, until one day you can jump over the wall and maybe that’s what many who have jumped over call it as enlightenment.

The sheer act of attempting this is an enriching experience in itself. No matter if you believe in God or not, or believe in the concept of enlightenment or not, but the journey to self-inquire and peel the skin of abstractness and unexplainable episodes in your life is an exciting one. I constantly endeavour to do this albeit I lose the strength to pursue, but as I said before, being blessed with the some of the great souls in your life, helps you to regain your lost path and pursue it again with new vigour.



2 Responses

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  1. Nat said, on December 21, 2009 at 9:51 pm


  2. Scoobs said, on December 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    When you remove a hole from a hole, what remains is a whole – Kenopanishad (a Hindu Upanishad)

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