Saturday, February 7, 2015

The analytical world-view of the West is not the sole and ultimate way to look at life and consciousness !

In our blog titled the ‘ The ‘hard-problem’ of thought, ( link: we alleged that the Western concept of 'consciousness' is grossly inadequate to include and explain all that the contra-matter realm ( mind) of man routinely does in the usual course of life. The intention of this post is to see, in what sense a mere passive 'consciousness' is acclaimed as the right-path of leading life in many non-western cultures and traditions. 

The intention of this short-post is to further proclaim that the sense in which the term ‘consciousness’ used by the West is totally inadequate, and even misleading to depict the multiple modes and roles in which the non-physical realm( of mind and thought) function. Let us examine how the orient traditions, especially their religious traditions look at ‘consciousness’ in a passive way, though very un-similar to the way the West mean by the term. The difference is more about the way both traditions look at life and existence, than a difference in the understanding of a particular psychology term.

This post is about the open nature of consciousness, like life itself, that could be lead, and the life-course defined and directed, the way one likes it.  

The way one looks at 'consciousness' often reflects the very way one looks at one's culture, and it is the way one looks at one's self, the world and the very phenomenon of life and existence ! Our age is dominated by the ways of the West in every aspects of life, as if to feel that it the ultimate way of nature. This paper intents to open-up minds for a more wider outlook on life and existence, exploring many futuristic options.

Many open minded writers and thinkers of the world now agree that, it was only a matter of sheer 'chance' that the Greek-bundle of knowledge and philosophic systems reached European world through the Muslim invaders, and then the modern world and its current institutions got built-up predominantly on Western thought lines.

Mr. Marc Edmund Jones (in his Book ‘Occult philosophy’– ‘SAMBHALA’ USA), wrote in favour of the greatness of Eastern traditions by equaling it with the classic Greek tradition in every sense:
He writes: “Any effort to determine causal connections more than two millennia afterwards would be futile, but it must be remembered that developments in philosophy east of Indus, paralleled very completely to those among the Hellenic thinkers. It may as well have been pure historical accident as the circumstances of any particular genius, that led to the building of modern western idea upon the Grecian rather the Hindu Contribution”  

We better take-up the Hindu and Chinese traditions, and see what they have got to say on the silent-consciousness, ( without active thoughts)to lead an ideal way of life. 
In Hindu thought, the centrally advocated attitude towards life is 'nishkam karma', ie, doing one's duties (work) with the least expectation about its result. It is submitting to the truth of life and nature, and go on doing whatever duty comes one's way, with total detachment. One's ego is not at all a ‘participant’ while undergoing life this way. It is the way of passive 'consciousness', or leading one's life as if it is, in an act of blind-participation in the nature's ( of the Almighty's) intended ways. This view on life presupposes a ‘self’ other than the ‘ego’, or at least a transcended ego,( or a nullified ego) that undergoes the ‘experience’ of life.

A renowned Hindu spiritual Guru, Acharya Rajneesh ( popularly known as OSHO) preferred to call this way of leading life  'witnessing', ie. encountering life without any emotional participation or judgment.  In other words, leading life as if he is only a passive 'witness' to it ! He also liked to call it 'living without mind'. Here, mind for him is the instrument that create, and run on thoughts. 'Consciousness' is meant to be the mode of passively being  ‘conscious’ of  life that goes around one…

This central Hindu view of  life was not much different from the early Chinese thought. The ‘plane of the sage’, as per ancient Chinese thought was, that of an enlightened man who has achieved mystical union with the universe. The later developed 'Taoism' was the way of looking at nature, and learning its WAY, the TAO. The thrust was on acting 'spontaneously’, trusting the intuitive knowledge of every person. Taoism is interested in intuitive wisdom than rational thinking, rational thinking here means, the activity of the mind, or the tool of ego- the worldly self of man.  

In the Zen tradition of Japan, a mix of the vital essences of Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism, again the thrust is on experiencing life as it comes, without any ‘abstraction or conceptualization’. Zen asserts freedom from all fixed beliefs. This is true spirituality as far as the Zen-way  is concerned. 

If one look deep into the essence of Christianity, he will find that, Christ also had advocated a similar outlook on life, without any worry about 'what one eats or drink'. It is the God in heaven that looks after such needs of man. Look at the birds in the sky. They are not sowing, harvesting, or accumulating anything for future. It is the God in heaven that looks after them. Indirectly, the way of life advocated by Jesus Christ also is very similar to the spiritual ways advocated by the eastern traditions; that of leading life as it comes, with a certain oneness with existence and God.
Man’s provisions comes not exclusively out of his labour and effort, but it happens with the care and Grace of the divine.  

Leading life the above way calls for only a passive 'consciousness', without involvement of a rational mind. Life has a certain inherent sense, meaning and unity with whatever is the ultimate
Truth and reality. Having a ‘sense of time’ akin to one’s irrefutable relation and unity with one’s said origin and substance is what gets translated into this special, ‘live’ consciousness. It is rather about keeping a ticking consciousness about this sub-realm of eternal time, than having it around the nitty-gritties of ego’s synthetic( or the relative) sense of time.

This difference of the Western-world about the way they look at life and world is very evident from certain uttering of Francis Bacon, an early days champion of modern science: He called-on science to:  
Ø       ‘Haunt’ nature in her wanderings
Ø       She should be bound into service    
Ø       Made her a slave
Ø       Put her in constraint
Ø        Torture-out the secrets of from her
( words ‘haunt’ and ‘torture-out’ refer to old Europe’s witch hunting tradition )

The stark difference in the approach towards life and nature of the Orient and the West has come out clearly here.

The silent ‘consciousness’ that the Orient traditions appear to advocate is not to exploit nature with the intention of creating a culture and tradition of rational utilization of her resources. It is a Way, or Journey with nature, NOT seeing her as a commodity to consume.

The  way of the Orient appears to advocate that, it is possible to lead life with a ‘live’ relation with nature, or the subtle energies of existence. Man can be ‘conscious’ ( intuitively) about such WAY of nature, or existence, without any need of utilizing the rational ( or analytic) faculties of mind.

So, better we understand the way of the West and that of the Orient as TWO distinct modes of utilizing consciousness, or, two distinct cultures of letting the faculty of thought, defining life. Once let it ( thought) out to move, like a wild-storm, it takes many courses, sometime even beyond the control of the one who had let it go ! What lets one know the ultimate truth and reality may not always be the inquiry mode of thought, but a way of its ‘absence’ ! Eyes and ears do not toil to see or hear. They are un-close-able widows towards the external world and its reality. Man is a passive receiver of various ‘categories’ ( or qualities ) of existence these sense –organs  provide. Similarly, man seems to have an intuitive faculty (or a hidden, internal sense organ, as once referred in a previous section of this paper ) that goes on  providing man with ‘sense’ and knowledge that is adequate for leading life.

In the Way of nature, and in the way of passive consciousness, while the subject- man- is actively engaged in the routine course of life, a silent awareness of the timelessness of the act is actively ALIVE in the background ! The conscious-mind takes-on life, in a reflective way, as if he is NOT separated from existence in any sense. The active mind is never felt required in the act, as it is the tool of another kind of entity, the ego. Ego is a social product, and it tend to consider each person, and each object in the surrounding as a potent threat to his life. In this mode, the mind is a tool exclusively of the ego, connected only with whatever the sense organs and the world have constituted as life. It has nothing prior, or nothing beyond the empirical, or the overt life. In the former model, the subject never open, or operate the ego mode. His belonging-ness is to a wider whole, that needs no definition for language-interpretation, like the newborn child does not ever need any defining act before seeking out its mother, or her nipples !

 It poses a very serious philosophical question, as to what model from the above two examples fits in leading a more contented way of life; whether the analytic and inquiring WAY of the West, or the not yet fully explored way of the Orient. 

What need to be firmly realized is that, though the act of analyzing may not require any mother-premise to base it upon, for arriving at conclusions or inferences based on such analyzed phenomenon always necessarily ( by all known logic) need  a mother 'premise', or a bottom-world view premise. Analyzing could be just looking at the immediate cause of the occurrence. It is an excellent tradition that all the credit for introducing to world as a value must go to the West !

But as reasoning,and arriving at conclusions are acts of  seeking and establishing logical consistency with a first-premise, or an already known and well established universal, the quality of such universals will always affect the degree of truthfulness of the conclusions. When the act of final inference is based on the 'zero-sum game', the present bottom universal of science, the revealed facts and theories will also tend to be in-line with, or consistent with such base-premise, ultimately not bringing any fundamental change to the existing course or meaning of life.   

Suggested further readings on the above theme: 

Authored by: Abraham J. Palakudy, 
He is a seeker of knowledge. His areas of special interest are Mind and Reason, Metaphysics, Spirituality, and polity
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Twitter: Voice of Philosophy@jopan1

Acknowledgement: The image above was taken from Google image pages, with due acknowledgement to whosoever it belong to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is it the old jungle law that still rules the world ?

Is it the old jungle law that still rules the world ?

Law of the jungle was very simple. It was the rule of the strongest. Whether in the matter of having food, mate or a resting place, it was the privilege of the strongest to be the first. If any one else wanted all those privileges, he was free to have it, by defeating the former.

The single criterion for having this kind of upper-hand on everything was PHYSICAL STRENGTH.

A change happened to this singular criterion of physical strength at later stages, at least in the history of the species of man. The less strong could group together, gathering the strength of many, to defeat the strongest single member in the group. This grouping together did not happen naturally. It required leadership skills of some one from the group of the less strong. Instead of the superiority in physical strength, an element of mind had emerged in the scene. A mind that was capable of uniting the oppressed to fight the strongest. He was more a strategist than a physically strong man. This quality was respected in the same way once the physical strength was respected in the jungle. Instead of the strongest man in the group, now the strongest  leader with the largest, or the bravest followers was respected in human societies. These leaders had become invaders and war-lords in the history of the world.

 This man of mind was shrewd enough to keep all the other strong men in the tribe also with him, in the fold. It was a natural fraternity of all the strong men.  The original spirit behind the grouping of oppressed class of men to defeat the strongest in the group had taken a retreat here. Hereon, the phenomenon of men’s grouping in the history was always the grouping of strongmen for supremacy in societies. Even if the original form of grouping of the less strong with the original spirit had occurred at times, it always was later taken over by the strong men as their own, for achieving their goals. 

When collective strength of the group also couldn’t save men from natural calamities, wide-spread diseases and famine, the religious man had taken over the leadership of human societies in between, claiming his supernatural connections. He became all powerful in matters of both war and peace. The Brahminical hegemony in Indian societies, and the long reign of the Church in Europe are best examples of this phenomenon. In Europe, Church head had even the right and privilege for appointing Kings.

The criterion for social leadership had again taken a marked deviation from the period of  Industrial revolution in EuropeA new category of  powerful men has started emerging in the scene, in the form of the manufacturer-trader class. Besides the leadership skill required for the old kind of social-upper-hand, this new class had the special gift  of ‘business acumen’ too, to claim their superiority in society. It has become the most admired quality in modern societies henceforth.

The attraction of the adventurous travels to the new overseas markets and the exotic items brought from these mystery foreign lands by these new class were so powerful that, it is said, the British high society members were even willing to exchange their knighthood and similar honours to acquire them! Many European Kings and rulers, in collaboration with these new trading class, could free themselves from the clutches of the all powerful Church during this period, and bring an end to the era of Church supremacy in the world.

Luckily or unluckily for the world, this new class of business men never attempted to take over political thrones for themselves. They  preferred to remain in the back ground, and finance the operations of the political class instead. How the East India company, a private company initially, had come under the direct operations of the British Empire is part of the recorded history. The phenomenon of the grouping of all the strongest for achieving the common goal  was again seen here.

Freedom as a right of men was rarely demanded by ordinary people in history. Magna Carta treaty, wherein human kind heard for the first time wonder concepts like FREEDOM, was demanded by the then Nobles from the Kings of that time. King was arbitrarily confiscating ships and cargo of the Nobles who were in trade. The treaty was forcibly got signed from the King under threat of military action, by the group of Nobles!

The House of Commons also was introduced in England with the active help of the House of Lords, who wanted to reduce the power of the King in collaboration with the  new rich class of Traders. Thus the seeds of democracy was never sown by genuine common people during its re-emergence in the modern world. But it was undertaken by other parallel class of powerful people, who wanted to take over  political power from the hands of its former masters, and keep it with them. It was always changing of political and social authority from the hands of one master to the other.

This old reality about democracy is unfortunately alive and active even today ! It remain in the hands of politically active and powerful, two classes: the professional political leaders, and their friend, guide and collaborator, the business class.

It is hence the reign of the old jungle story in modern societies even today- -the reign of the powerful, over the common citizens.A passive media, willing to sing in the tunes demanded by any current master- who ever they are- help the drama to thrive in the world, without obstructions.

The new 'liberalism' only aids this calamity !

This age is proud of its 'liberal' ethos. Every man is more or less allowed to pursue his ways of gaining happiness ! The state is supposed to be only a mechanism that helps to facilitate this base goal of the society. It looks fine and perfect in theory. But what it leads is to the same old jungle way of life, where the freedom of every unit of life was more profound in a special way; as there was no controlling authority at all ! Those who could act smart against the strongest could ensure his survival against all odds. But the natural competition for survival was real,with no diluting from any central authority.

If we look closely at the liberal traditions of today it is amply clear that those jungle day social system was what got translated into our modern day democratic-capitalistic system. The only very damaging difference is that the governmental system here has legitimized the going, in the name of economic development of the collective, ie. the whole nation. The old time natural supremacy of the strongest has got altered into the supremacy of those could make it big in the economic front; ie. the entrepreneur class ! The old free game has got restricted by  governmental intervention, with the intention that the entrepreneur class may thrive,and bring 'DEVELOPMENT for all citizens ! Those who could aid the above process are welcome to join the scheme as ancillary forces. Modern democratic societies attempt to cement this socio-economic system in their nations, as the only viable model. No other paradigm of development is there in the platter of the modern world, hence, modern world has fallen into a man made kind of jungle system. The supremacy of 1% entrepreneurs has become the order of the day for the rest 99% common citizens, and the establishment runners, a kind of Godfathers for the former class. 
Here, FREEDOM has turned a natural privilege of those who could make it into rich entrepreneur class, and those who are into professional political activity who define and control the freedom of all.  

Freedom has not been taken away from any one, but it has been made something to be aspired and achieved exclusively by individual effort ! The routes are only two; amass wealth, or share political power by joining any political party. The rest are destined to be the class of 'subjects' ( Citizens) in the establishment, as it was always in the history. 

As liberalism is the root ideology that got developed into modern capitalism, with its added insistence on the philosophy of 'self-interest' as man's base nature, it naturally ended up squarely on the old jungle laws, with an air of legitimacy. MInding, or caring for the other did not find any acceptable ground in capitalism other than that of plain ALTRUISM. Thus every modern democratic state took it as their moral duty to look after the poor and the underprivileged in the country as if in a super refugee camp. 

Contemporary world has no other model of development other the above described democratic -capitalism. Hence, the other predominant features of the 'jungle' are also widely prevalent in the modern world, such as ever increasing demand for rights and liberty by the ancillary class of people. Those who are at the bottom most level of life standard, a sure and certain outcome of 'sieving-out' function of the non-productive elements in capitalism, increasingly lose their very entity as dignified human beings. They lose the base respect towards their own selves first, and then that towards the fellow beings, and world in general. 

They become anti-socials, and as a natural law, take up criminal activities. Many turn into organized camps of violence such as naxalism and Maoism, and a few into terrorist activities, for some real, or imaginary causes. In s nutshell, such individuals are men with lost self-identities. The mainstream world does not belong to them. They live in a no man's world, alien and dangerous for any peace loving society ! 

World has lost it common sense to realize the above natural outcome of modern 
democratic-capitalism !

It is like a theory in physics; when every one attempts to win over the other for ensuring his own self-interest driven growth needs, it naturally creates an economic, or wealth based  hierarchy in society. This wealth based hierarchy leads to power and relevance based hierarchy. The ones in the top get to enjoy unlimited freedom in society, at the cost of lesser and lesser freedom and liberties for the ones in the lower strata. More than the material needs like food and shelter, the questions about basic 'selfhood' of man take centre stage here. The existing system may satisfy the food and shelter needs of the majority population, but what it fails to see is the needs of the mind of man, or for that reason, that of every unit of life on the planet. 

A truly democratic establishment was originally supposed to bring in equilibrium in such a volatile state of inequality, but as we have seen, due to the sole model of development now known in the world, states are compelled to be with the class of entrepreneurs for the 'growth-needs' of the nations.

No one, or no agency exists in the contemporary world to advise 'common sense' to the present masters of the establishment that, the need of the day is to have a socio-political system that insists on the need of every man to look after the needs of the fellow men also, for the sake of lasting peace and tranquility in society.  When one cares for his own survival, personal development and freedom, jungle kind of competition is natural and inevitable. It will automatically lead to the hierarchies on the above described lines, that would definitely lead to social anarchy ! 

Here one need not share his wealth,or resources with others. He must simply realize the danger and damage in keeping the rest of the world in the abyss of irrelevance and disdain ! He must realize the danger and damage in creating exclusive realms of life, comforts and standards for himself and his likes in society. As Gandhi said, he must realize that the extra wealth been given at his disposal by nature merely as a TRUSTEE of the common wealth of the society ! Every occupation in life must receive equal respect and dignity in society, instead of the existing tendency of reserving high social status, freedom and highest monitory returns only to the entrepreneur class !

No man will cry about what the other man eat, where he sleep and dine, if he gets equal dignity in every sphere of life in society. Like the natural difference in body size and shape, man is naturally equipped to live with such inequalities in life. But problem arise only when inequalities in dignity and respect stands highly INSTITUTIONALIZED in any society, and it is this institutionalized gross inequalities is the bane of modern societies ! 

Rousseau had once said that if a society have gotten rid off the wretchedness of lives of the poor and the underprivileged, the pleasure of being rich and powerful felt by the higher class of men would cease to exist ! He meant that the only pleasure of the rich and powerful in the world is their marked difference from the common folk. 

What every enlightened establishment must strive to ensure is the absence such institutionalized relevance and higher status of its rich and the  powerful !

 Hence, man’s collective common sense must rise to realize that, sustainable freedom for the world is possible only by liberating the other person !  The unchangeable law for having one’s permanent freedom, and freedom of human societies in general is, liberating the other by each individual, and liberating larger societies by state institutions. A liberated man only would be able to realize the worth of FREEDOM, and then liberate all others around him.

Our civilization on earth would deserve to be called truly civilized, only when  our socio-economic and political institutions realize this simple natural law and set right their ways.   

Authored by: Abraham J.Palakudy

He is a seeker of truth and knowledge. His areas of special interests are Mind and Reason, Spirituality, Metaphysics, and polity

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