Thursday, May 26, 2016

For a world of thinking people

After reading a blog post of mine (Legal Lawbreakers), an ex-colleague of mine sent me a message yesterday that the criminals would be punished by God.  She has absolute faith in her God, she wrote. 

Is there any justification for such faith?  Nowhere in the history of mankind do we get any reason to believe that divine intervention has awarded justice to any people at any time.  On the contrary, we have infinite examples to show how the wicked flourish and the naive perish. 

It is easy to delude ourselves with such beliefs as divine justice after death.  Hell and heaven, the Judgment Day, Karmic consequences, and other such religious carrots-and-sticks don’t serve any purpose to make human life more equitable on the planet.  Religions also offer believers ways to circumvent the stick and secure the carrot: a confession or a bath in the Ganga or some other ritual can wash away your sins. 

If religion were indeed effective in helping people resist evil with the carrot-and-stick eschatology, the world would have been a holy place long, long ago.  For centuries, religions brought terrifying notions about life after death.  But the evil in the world has only increased by diabolic leaps and bounds. The situation is as hilarious today as it is alarming because it is the religious people themselves who are the biggest swindlers.  Examine the assets of some of the religious institutions in India, for example, and one will be astounded by their enormity.  Even the Ambanis and Adanis would want to rethink about their entrepreneurial strategies!

That’s why I always recommend the cultivation of rational skills.  People should be taught to use their rational faculties in order to understand why evil is undesirable and how goodness can be cultivated if we all choose to leave gods and demons to themselves and exercise our reason and imagination. 

Have you ever wondered why religions never encourage people to think?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

To blog or not to blog?

“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living,” said Flaubert. A meticulous writer whose novels became classics though he was, Flaubert died penniless.  Many great writers lived rather miserable lives because writing was not a very remunerative job in those days.  There were many artists too who lived in utter poverty though after their death their paintings were sold for sums which they could never have imagined in life. 

Is it because they never worked for money that their works had such profundity?  Does money contaminate everything it touches?

There is no money in blogging anyway.  At least, not anything significant.  Flaubert and Dostoevsky could accept the agony of pennilessness because they were in search of something much more meaningful than money.  It is their search for meaning that made their writing profound.  And that search, the search for meaning, is an endless search.

Why don’t we find such deep writing today?  The best writers of our times take shelter in the intrigues of history and/or the chiaroscuro of language.  V. S. Naipaul had even gone to the extent of proclaiming the death of the novel.  Contemporary society cannot inspire profound works.  The human species has become too shallow intellectually and emotionally.  Spiritually too, of course.  Godmen have taken the place of gods.  Mammon has taken the place of gods.  Money cannot stir the depths within.  But who wants depths anyway?

As a blogger I too would be happy to make some money out of the hobby if possible.  But there’s nothing in it.  And yet I continue to blog.  As Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear...”  I know that blogging for me is more than just an addiction.  That’s why I cannot but blog. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Two Values and a Dream

Indian Bloggers

This post is written for Indispire Edition 118: #Values.  It is specifically about three “immensely necessary skilful values” that the emerging generation should possess.

1. Thinking Skills

Serious thinking seems to have gone to some shopping mall and got lost there.  It must be fiddling with the keypad of some smartphone trying to send its selfie picture to everybody in the contact list on half a dozen social network sites where egos go on rollercoaster rides at breakneck speeds.

Let it come back home and sit down coolly with a copy of Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy or  Jennifer Michael Hecht’s Doubt: a history.  Let it hobnob with the insane Nietzsche and the statesmanly Jefferson.  Let it discover the bloom that blushes in the desert for no one in particular.  Let it bathe in the springs of classical literature.  Let it learn to listen to the symphony of the planets. 

2. Scientific Temper

There are a lot of scientists all around.  IT professionals and docs and engineers of all sorts.  Yet why is there a preponderance of superstitious practices?  Why do we still look for rocket technology is Ravana’s Pushpak Vimana and the link to it in some underwater limestone shoals? 

Science should not remain confined to the classroom and the profession.  It should pervade our entire life.  If it does, the world won’t be spending a lion’s share of its wealth manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.  The world will be a beautiful place.  No hate speeches, no jingoism, no terrorism of any sort.

3. Integrity 

Why are there so many frauds in the world?  Does the world create them or do they create the world?  Look at our godmen and other people in religion.  Can we find one percent among them who possess basic honesty?  What about our political leaders? 

Integrity is a skilful value that we can dream about, I guess.