Tuesday, September 24, 2013

aadat se majboor

It has been about two months since I read Sam Harris' Free Will, which despite being a short read gives a lot to chew upon, and I have been trying to see if his theory fits my version of reality. I have to confess I'm not really surprised to learn that I find it holding on despite any situation I throw at it. In the book, Sam Harris speaks about the lack of free will in our lives and how all of us are prisoners of our pasts, our biological and cultural upbringings, and all that we think to be our choices might not after all truly be choices. My interest in the filed sprung up after I heard Anand Gandhi's TedX talk where he spoke about a certain fungus that enters the brain of an ant and affects it's thought process by regulating it's sensory inputs. ( I highly recommend the talk and the post ). The more I look at the nature of people and see that intelligence is a very relative concept, the more I'm getting inclined to believe that we after all are just a baggage of half-baked ideas and adulterated experience. Though before I go further, I have to take into account that since I'm viewing the whole thing from a very subjective perspective, my view of the issue is coloured by my own prejudices and preferences. It might also be the case that since I have this hammer in my hand, whatever I see looks like a nail. Which again reinstates my belief in lack of objectivity and absolute truth.

Now when I was looking for answers to the questions posed by Harris, I came across UG Krishnamurthi's The Mystique of Enlightenment in which UG argues that we can do absolutely nothing about enlightenment, that it is simply a biological phenomenon and that if and when it has to happen, it will. And after that I looked around the biology of a human, more specifically the nature of the brain, the physical manifestation of ideas and emotions, the really thin difference between living and dying to the point where right now I'm pursuing the meaning of being human and if we are Biology or just Chemistry. ( All this from bits and pieces of Richard Dawkins, VS Ramachandran, Mary Roach and conversations with two young Pharma students, Dheeraj and Ravie ). Unfortunately, or probably not so much, since I'm juggling between all these things, validating and verifying all these non-concrete ideas in relation to the influence of art and if reaction to it is just a bunch of secreted hormones, I have not been able to gain any deep insights. All I have, therefore, is a post that is just a collection of haphazard thoughts.

Or maybe those thoughts are not so haphazard. I can see that all of them follow a pattern. And everything I learn now is contaminated by my past experience and will affect anything I will learn later on. Taking it further, I can also claim that I learn something because what I once did has paved a path for me to learn this now. Which means that what I was once has shaped me into being what I am now. But right from the moment I was born, I have always been reacting to what life has given me; my genes, my family, my environment which in turn have made me choose ( sarcasm intended ) the path that I have walked upon so that I have turned into this unique being that only I am in the entire universe. And this is what surprises me the most when people are not happy with where they are now and say reflectively, " If only I hadn't done it back then". If they hadn't done it back then, they wouldn't be here right now repenting, right, but then they could not have done otherwise because that was the only thing they were capable of doing back then. Or maybe it's that they have to repent now because its the only way they can react. This is what is so annoying about arguing for a concept this abstract; every statement I make is irrefutable but also indefensible. A lot similar to talking about someone like God. Either you intuitively get it or not. ( Shit, that statement is like a mini time-bomb ).

Imagine a series of infinite universes, multiverse if you like, stacked one on top of other, and of the two choices you have every moment ( that's all we have really- to do this or not do this ), another universe is created with the choice I didn't make. Actually, such a system would be wilder than we can imagine because for each of those choices we didn't make, there stem out two other choices and so on and so forth. Anyway, I turned atheist a few days ago. Now, that doesn't make sense because when you look at my birth or upbringing or cultural influences, I have been surrounded by the idea of God. Then isn't it a truly free decision I turned atheist, defying my past and surrounding? Come to think of it, it really isn't that surprising. I have been trained in Rational Thinking, in a lot of ways I am surrounded by bad interpretations of mythology which don't match up to my idea of reality, I have been following closely the work of Four Horsemen of New Atheism, I don't really find a need for God and very importantly, it has helped me overcome childhood fear of ghosts and Pretatmas because like Amma pointed out, I took what she taught me and inverted it head-on. ( She always told me not to be scared of ghosts because where there is negative energy, there will also be positive energy. When I don't believe in the idea of Positive Energy aka God, my logic tells me there can't be demons either ). Will I be atheistic for as long as I live? I don't know, but speculating from what my past record has been, I'm not too positive on it. I might come across a Spiritual Scientist who might manage to convince me, or find a real need for God and have my prayers answered, or simply wake up one morning and realise that science's reach can go only so far. What I will be I can not know until I'm in that situation then.

Hang on, is that statement not illogical? If I'm a prisoner of my past and can't get off my rail track no matter how much I try ( infact, I can't even try getting off the railway track because that's the only thing I know; just remembered this brilliant hypothetical situation I read  that all of us are prisoners and just because we don't even know it's a prison, we can't even contemplate that there exists a world outside of our walls ), why can't I predict my future? If we take into consideration the paths of all things that live in our world and calculate all their intersections and repercussions of their actions, then we can map out our futures precisely but otherwise, it is simply beyond the capacity of our imagination. All of us are trapped and we can only be ourselves. So just take it easy. Is that frightening or liberating? I guess how you look at it depends on what your journey has been like so far.

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