Saturday, January 14, 2012
Thursday, July 07, 2011
The plan for my trip (7/13-8/3)--on which I am embarking with my parents, 7-year-old brother, and maternal grandmother--is to visit Chennai and Bangalore (major cities in South India), with intermittent visits to Guruvayur, Srirangam, and Melkote (smaller cities that are sites of ancient Hindu temples). My posts will be sporadic, as I'm not sure when I'll have internet access, but I intend to take several pictures and let you all into the most interesting aspects of my trip. I hope that what I have to say resonates with you all and brings something valuable (TBD!) to the table.
So, until I reach India, adieu!
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
It is crowded
Millions of people moving about
Walking, Jogging, Running
There is no space between the people yet they never touch each other
They continue about their business
Without notice or care for what is around them
Eyes are focused on something that only they know and see
Ears listen to the sounds that are only in their heads
Skin feels only the fabric covering their body
In their midst stands a young boy
He has black hair and brown eyes
The young boy calls out but no one hears him
He then screams out, nothing
He tugs at the sleeves of those who walk by and around him
They don’t feel him
He cries and they take less notice of him, if that were even possible
The tears stream down his face but matter not for no one cares
He stands in the center of millions of people, from all walks of life
Yet he is alone, never seen, never heard, never felt
He reaches out and is never touched
His pain and his story is his alone
The path he walks is only walked by himHe is the loneliest boy in the world
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Now, to adequetely deal with this age old issue, one must set certain perimeters in which to allow the discussion to flow. First is what is the Nature of God? What qualities does God/gods possess? What is the nature of the world in regards to good, evil and God? One can spend an entire corpus of writings to deal with this topic but I will focus on three frameworks, the view of God and nature via Christian belief system and the view of God and Nature within the Hindu and Buddhist system.
Accounting for the various strands of Christianity, I will narrow my focus on to the generally accepted ideas amongst the branches of Christianity in regards to God, evil and the world. In the Christian conception of God, God is omnipotent, omniscient, all benevolent, all good and just. He is the God of justice and fairness. In this framework, the individual soul is only born once and joined with a body, at which point it is endowed with absolute free-will, which is a gift from God. Since God is all good, he cannot be the source of evil. God is omniscient so he clearly knows about every instance and moment of suffering and evil. God is also omnipotent so he must necessarily have the power to change it. God is also all-benevolent, meaning He wants the best for all beings and wants to ensure all beings are happy so He has the will or intent to do so. In the words of David Hume, "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Now is when Krishna finally speaks in his full capacity. This verse is amazing poignant even though many people gloss over it. Here, standing in the midst of this world war while Arjuna is breaking down in front of him and all others, then Arjuna resolving not to fight, Krishna merely smiles or smirks. It is the smirk of a being who sees the situation as it is, the world's greatest archer Arjuna is now cowering in the battlefield like a child refusing to fight. He smiles, as he conveys all that he needs to convey in that smirk. He smiles because he knew this was going to happen, he would not fight this war with his hands or weapons but using his knowledge and wisdom. For Krishna, this was his war, to reignite Arjuna's knowledge and ability to discern reality and dharma from the trappings of fear and ignorance. He wasn't fighting men but the shackles of the human condition and he knew he would break them so that we can transcend the limitations of our own existence and enter into the bliss of knowledge and truly see the nature of the world.
With that smile, Krishna launches into his song, his Gita. Looking down upon Arjuna, Krishna says, "You seem to speak such wise words Arjuna but you are lamenting for what is not worth lamenting over. The wise do not grieve for the living nor the dead. There was never a time you did not exist, neither these kings nor me. Nor is there a future when we will cease to be." Krishna here begins to give Arjuna a brief lesson on what really constitutes the "I" and its nature. It is consciousness which is what we truly are, nothing more or less. The body, the mind and all that is connected with that are transient. The emotions we experience are like seasons to the planet, they exist but for a moment then pass on. As they are by nature fleeting, one is to weather them and remain steady through their emotions. The body is like clothing for the consciousness, it is worn then discarded when time comes with a new body then taken.
Krishna asks Arjuna to look past the phenomenal world, the world that appears and into the world that is ever eternal, which is the substratum for the world of sensory perception. For those who are born death is certain and so is life certain for the dead, it is the way of nature, why should you grieve for the inevitable. Krishna makes a key point about the nature of duty (dharma) and ones action. One must discharge their duty, for a warrior/prince like Arjuna, whose duty is to always fight for righteousness, law and justice, this war is his calling. As I briefly touched upon in my post Background of the Gita, the Pandavas have been harassed and continually assaulted and viciously attacked by the Kauravas. As long as they lived they would be under constant threat of death. Even a request to govern 5 villages was refused. Krishna's point is it is your duty, no one else's to fight for your rights and principles, if you get stuck with the ephemeral emotions and attachments then justice/dharma will never be served. Once you determine a course of action and see justice falter, you cannot hesitate to do your duty. In fact, he even says its a sin to shy from your duty. A teacher who doesn't teach is sinning, a doctor who doesn't help people is sinning and so on.
Krishna does something quite peculiar at this point, he undermines the very nominal understanding of the scriptures, the Vedas. He says that the Vedas, only deal with the tripartite nature of reality sense gratification, selfishness and knowledge. "All purposes of a small well can be served by a large body of water, so all purposes of the Vedas can be served by those who understand its nature and limits." Krishna tells Arjuna to transcend the bounds of the letters of the Vedas and religion and to rise beyond them and all duality. Here Krishna makes one of the most iconic and fundamentally poignant statements, "You are only entitled to the action/duty that you are beholden to, never to the fruits of that action. You are not the cause of the result of your actions and never be attached to avoidance of your duty. Acting without attachment to success or failure and equipoised in those results, that is what is yoga."
This is called Nishkama Karma, or desireless action. It is the crux of all Hindu spirituality and social action. As conscious beings, we are required to act but we shirk from those duties and actions that are necessary because we are too attached to the outcome, good or bad, success or failure. All desire bind whether the desire is good or bad, so does all attachment to fruits of that action. Krishna's point is act because you have to act not because the success or failure of that action. Do the right thing because it must be done not because good is going to come from it. A doctor's duty is help people in times of physical ailment or deterioration. Whether or not they can actually save the person isn't fully in their power, so the end goal isn't something in their control so why make that the focus of your action. All consequences of any action are dependent on infinite number of factors, one of which is the action of the individual but it is not the sole or overriding factor but it is an important. It is better to act out of duty, which is the only thing that one can control then not act and let things pass by. Krishna is asking Arjuna and us to see ourselves as clogs in the universal machine, an important one but nonetheless one of infinite clogs. The universal machine cannot continue to proceed properly without our actions but it can function without our desires or attachments to the fruits. Now, I will address the rest of Chapter 2 in a subsequent post. Comments?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
One question that haunts me and I think a lot of people is the question of Significance. Is our individual existence, individual efforts and actions of any real or lasting significance? Or is it merely a tiny ripple in the ocean that is our universe? Many of us walk through life without asking that question about ourselves because we are content that while we live our lives, we will affect and be significant to those who are around us and care for us. This should be enough and a satisfactory answer but for some persistent reason it is not, or at least for me.
Many including myself, live our daily lives in very much an autonomic sort of manner. We awake, we shower, eat breakfast, jump into our car or take public transportation to work, work long hours, take a lunch, work some more, leave the office, come home, cook, spend time with our friends or family or even alone then go to sleep, rinse, cycle and repeat the next day. We do this for at minimum five days a week. Then on the weekends we spend time going out, doing the chores we neglected over the week, spend time with people and so on. We do this over and over again till maybe when we hit our mid-lives suddenly we ask where has the time gone and what is my impact, aside from my biological legacy?
Honestly, I don't have an answer for that question that will please everyone maybe not even anyone but myself. Sometimes the depressing truth is that most of us will fade into oblivion only leaving behind genetic material, I don't think this necessarily has to be the case but most of the time it appears to be the case. When I originally started writing this post a few months back, I would have said that most people would disappear into nothing and only leave behind their genetic legacy without changing the world for the better or any way but now I don't think that is the case at all. Life actually throws surprises at us and causes us to reassess our world views and outlook on the ebb of our existence both universally speaking and also specifically in regards to the individual.
Our significance is this, we, each and everyone of us are the living force of nature. Billions of years of stellar, planetary and now biological evolution have led to us, the only known highly intelligent and conscious beings in the universe as we know it. In our very bodies dwells this history of expansion, modification and development of consciousness. It burns within our being brightly but we lose sight of it at times and by doing so we lose sight of our own significance. This earth is our home and all living and conscious beings are our relatives. We are significant in our insignificance, amongst all other living creatures on this planet, it is we that alone have the ability to protect and save each other and them. With this fundamental knowledge must come an ethical imperative for us to act accordingly.
We find ourselves burdened by our fears and ego. Recently, I came to the insight maybe had by hundreds if not thousands before me that our fears are a by product of our own egos. Fear is the emotion or thought that our very self worth or even at a deeper level our notion of self is potentially entirely extinguishable. Fear of loss, fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of abandonment, fear of change, fear of the unknown and so on. At the heart of all these fears is the ego. It is the ego that will change or be affected by these fears. It is our very notion of self as we have come to view it that is at stake, which causes these fears to arise. It is these fears that drive us from understanding and fostering the significance that the universe has endowed in us.
These fears begin to disappear when we find our purpose both as individuals and as a world. Our purpose is simple, sustain this planet and sustain ourselves. Build a bond with one and other so that we no longer remain islands unto ourselves but a support system, where each of us can and must depend on others. We are the harbingers of our own path and as a collective we have a huge impact on this planet. What we do here in our every day actions has an aggregate affect on the people around us and the world at large. This might be a running theme in a lot of my writing, the idea that we are called upon to be more compassionate and caring, for it is our inherent destiny if we are to survive and sustain ourselves. It is a destiny we are afraid to accept at times because it will shake us to the core and require that we re-engage ourselves with our fellow beings beyond just a superficial level, opening up our own selves and expanding our consciousness developing empathy and sympathy. This is the key point of people who gained this insight and were able to issue it out into action like Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and the thousands of people who devote their lives to others.
Next post I will pick up from Chapter 2 of the Gita, which is Krishna's overview of what he will delve into. Any thoughts or comments?