On Love

Love Hearts

I come online many times to this blog and start a new post, like this one, and I want to write something on Love. And I want my post to be carefully worded because I want what I say to mean many things. Yet, when I sit down to think about what I must say, I don’t have words to put forward. It is as if everything I want to say has vaporized and I would rather log-off yet again and wait for the next smart idea to start writing.

But so far as Love is concerned, there are no smart ideas. There are only real or surreal things to say and put forward but has anyone who ever thought and wrote about Love said things plainly enough? No. Or at least I know that I haven’t.

There is something about Love that causes the writer to keep going around in circles trying to build some sort of a palace of thoughts and feelings and emotions from there to address what he wants to say. Any discussion on Love has to make it sound mystical and full of reverence.

And so the point is, it is too damn difficult to say things plainly. There are no simple ways to define how Love is supposed to feel. It means different things to different people and for some people, what, who and how they love is always a big big secret.

Advertisements

It’s not my Karma

Karma

 

Karma, they say, basically means that your good and bad actions or deeds come back to reward or punish you. So, if something good is happening in your life right now, it is because of your past good Karma and if something bad is happening, it must be some bad Karma.

Of course, it is only a concept that people theorize about and it comes mostly from religious texts but, of course, no one can ever know for sure. Well, then why am I writing on this? It is for two reasons.

First, I think it is completely wrong. Why? Because it requires me to presuppose that the Universe is a just place. It tries to fool me into assuming that I am the most special component at the centre of this universe and the entire universe along with the laws of nature are colluding to make things happen with only me on its mind. Or, increase the subset and say it has us – all humans – on its mind. Even then, I feel that once you consider the vast expanse of the universe and our relatively tiny and irrelevant place in it, the concept just stops making sense right then and there. The universe is huge and we haven’t explored even 1% of its size to see if there are any others like us on some other planets. It is so vast that we haven’t yet, and might never be able to discover any other forms of life in it. Yet, we can be so arrogant and self-centred to make this gigantic claim to know that the same universe is designed to run as this rewarding and punishing machine that know exactly what some tiny human did and what he/she should get in return.

Secondly, let us suppose that this concept was somehow acceptable on the grounds that it encourages us to do good deeds increasingly more often than bad ones fearing Karmic retribution. Fair enough. But I am still not too happy with it because now it attempts to do something else that spoils the essence of being human. That it does by telling people that their achievements and failures are somehow magically linked with a past that they might never know to be true (like from “past lives”), thereby fictionalizing our lives. Does it also mean that one’s efforts to achieve something and their emotions and feelings attached to it are basically irrelevant in front of Karma?

We don’t need to find supernatural explanations in everything. Sometimes, things just happen. The essence of being human is in doing and dreaming, it is in rising and falling, it is in flying and hurting. We deeply cherish both our good days and bad days and that is how humanity gets its charm. Let us not trivialize it by resorting to a concept that stinks of wishful thinking and immaturity in order to gain a placebo effect.

Does everything happen for good?

good bad

When something bad happens and people tell you, “In the end, everything happens for the good,” I find it unbelievable how easy and simplistic they make it sound. How do you know things ALWAYS happen for the good? And how do you know that that good will be for everyone involved? Moreover, how and when will you know the end if there ever was one?

If someone was born physically challenged. Would you say everything happened for the good? You know what could have been good? Being born NOT physically challenged.

If someone contracts a fatal disease, like cancer, would you say everything happens for the good? One might give examples of survivors like Neil Armstrong and Yuvraj Singh and make a point that “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” But ask yourself this. Did cancer make them stronger or was it the fact that it was cured that made them stronger? And what about the thousands that Cancer really kills as opposed to the very few handful who survive?

Two people who love each other get separated. Would you say everything happened for the good? Good of whom? For one, I could understand, but for both? I can’t agree. And by “In the end..” what do you mean? When should that end have been? Finding the next partner? But even that might not be the end? You might separate from them also. Then what? Will the end keep shifting until the whole thing becomes pointless?

Life is not for people to pretend to simplify. Human beings are complex and their lives and situations are complex. Good doesn’t always happen. Nothing’s ever right and you can’t always make things right.

Let us not cheat each other of our tragedies by saying that everything happens for the good. Things just happen. You don’t get what is good for you, you just get what you get. There is no universe looking out for you trying to strike a balance. You just need to be happy in whatever you have.

Enjoy your happiness but equally enjoy your miseries.

 

Argumentum ad populum

 

As per Wikipedia,

In logic, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it. In other words, the basic idea of the argument is: “If many believe so, it is so.”

Some simple examples of this fallacy are:

  • Everyone’s doing it.
  • In a court of law, the jury vote by majority; therefore they will always make the correct decision.

Some other important issues that suffer from argumentum ad populum:

  • A politician charged with provoking riots claims that majority of people have voted him back to power; so this charge against him is false.
  • XYZ religion is followed by millions; therefore all its claims are true.
  • Chemical castration for rapists is the right punishment because the majority wants it as a law.
  • A government is elected democratically and by vote of majority; therefore all its policies represent the people.

Such arguments may sound persuasive but can be fallacious at the same time. One could claim that smoking is a healthy pastime, since millions of people do it. Governemnts, religious clergy, godmen and other groups try to suppress dissenting and unpopular ideas normally resort to such arguments to persuade people against these ideas.

In fact, centuries ago, almost everyone used to believe that “the Earth is flat”. Does that mean the Earth was actually flat and that it has become round now because most people believe that now?

Therefore, a clear logical analysis of important arguments is necessary to understand whether we are believing an argument because it really true or because we see majority agreeing with it?

Do you know any other prevalent ideas that are assumed to be true just because many people believe it to be true?

The Quotable Mark Twain 2

marktwainquote

“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?”

“All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.”

“There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

“All generalizations are false, including this one.”

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

“When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.”

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”

“‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.”

“There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.”

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

“Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.”

“Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we.'”

The Joys of Stargazing

Star Gazing

It was almost 4 AM on a chilly December night (or morning) in Delhi a few years back and I stood on the open terrace of my house gazing up at the night sky with my telescope. The sky was clear at last, there was no moon and so it was a good time to look for those otherwise hard-to-spot stars and star-clusters. To read the sky map, I had a torch double wrapped with red cellophane paper so as to prevent it from ruining my eyes’ acclimatization to the darkness.

Astronomy, or rather Amateur Astronomy, was a new hobby of mine, only a few months old. I had recently been reading as much as I could on the subject, joined the local Astronomy club, met and spoke to other passionate enthusiasts and even bought myself a 5-inch Newtonian reflector scope, which has become one of my most prized possessions. Reading on the subject and then spending time contemplating that knowledge gave me a new perspective.

Tonight, as I was gazing at the stars and contemplating the vastness of the universe beyond those skies, I started to get goosebumps. There are about a hundred billion stars in each of the hundred billion galaxies in our universe and I guess almost all of the stars will have their own solar systems – some big, some small. So that makes the number of planets in the universe so large that it is beyond comprehension of ordinary human brains. And yet, despite this vast number, we know of not a single other planet, except our own, to bear life.

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

Of course, being the only known (to us) life bearing planet, makes our place quite special in the universe. And what makes us even more special is the fact that we are able to contemplate our existence and ask questions about our own origins and the origins of the universe and then seek answers to them using our own intelligence. We were formed out of the same starstuff that makes the rest of the Cosmos – the planets, stars, comets, asteroids as well as the galaxies billions of light years away from our own – and we have evolved to think and ask questions about ourselves.

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

Yet, on the other hand we also know that the reason why we haven’t been able to find life elsewhere in the universe is not because it does not exist, but because we are not intelligent enough and capable enough of finding out. The vastness of the universe trumps our little brains. The gigantic interstellar distances dwarf by trillions and trillions of times any distances we have seen on our earth or even in our solar system. The cosmic clock runs on a scale that trumps the longest lifetimes of humans and make us insignificant. And so, as the contemplation went on and on in my head, I lost myself into an even longer train of thoughts and it was as if I was slowly being removed from the earth. And finally, I truly realized that my relation to the universe was far greater than I had ever imagined before. I had become one with the Cosmos, not in the usual religious way, but in a much deeper and meaningful way. Because as Carl Sagan said it so beautifully:

“The Cosmos is also within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.”

It is a unique perspective because it also makes me realize how precious our planet really is. We have our friends, family, idols and enemies all here on this planet. It is our home. Everybody we have ever known lives or lived here. Outside of it, there is just loneliness in the vast universe. That also makes everybody I know here that much more special. The apparent insignificance of my own existence is in itself the reason why I should continue to live because this is the only life I have and will ever have. And I am lucky to be here today. When I learn something about the universe, it is basically the universe learning about itself. When I look out at the Cosmos, the Cosmos looks back into me.

My thoughts are interrupted by a sudden strong cold breeze and I realize that I am now shivering. I hear a truck pass by somewhere in the distance but otherwise the night is very quiet. It is almost morning and the darkness is fading away. A bit like the darkness of my ignorance is fading away because of the knowledge of my own real self?

I am quite tired now so I gather my stuff and head back inside for bed, leaving my telescope behind as it continued to gaze endlessly at the cosmos beyond.

Remembrance of things past

Sometimes, I look back into my life to see how much of it was real and how much was made up. It is an important question and applies to everyone who ever lived. Not that I am a liar, but I admit that sometimes our sheer vulnerabilities make us believe in something that isn’t true. Sometimes we know that, and sometimes we don’t.

Make up a lie, and believe in it with all your heart and repeat it for a really long time, and you will see it becomes the truth. Children do this all the time. They imagine a world and then believe in it such that it becomes the truth for them. When you were a kid, don’t you remember taking credit for jokes that someone else said, or a story that someone else told? And over the years, at some point, didn’t that joke or story become truly yours? Or what about believing someone else’s ideas as your own?

Likewise, even as adults we are not so far behind. Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false naming of real events. Words that were never said, fights that never really happened, love that was only in my mind, plans that were never made, feelings that were never felt, letters that were never written and friends that never were. But repeat them often enough, and they become real. Our memories also deceive us.

“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the latter. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it.” ~ Mark Twain

Yes, every life has it. We all remember that which never happened. It is tough to admit it, but its true. Each life is like a book but with some untrue short stories. And many of these, we don’t even know are lies.

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” ~ Marcel Proust

%d bloggers like this: