Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seeker vs the State

"My girlfriend is a vegetarian, so that pretty much makes me a vegetarian." (Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction)

Relating to a seeker is hard work.

Any relationship has a set of expectations. The very act of relating is a human act, which fulfills certain emotional and social needs.

If the relationship has no emotional expectations (say with a bartender), even then there might be expectations of a certain consistency in behavior, quality and service. Any transaction, even a conversation, is pleasurable only insofar as it assumes certain facts about human nature and about having a common ground of what we value.

A seeker seeks to challenge and to transcend the status quo of existing mores, values, sets of expectations, roles, automatic mental states and behavior patterns.

A significant question is: If everything is to be questioned, then what is to be enjoyed?

Traditional religion seeks to moderate our aggression and to cultivate nurturing and love. A religious person (as opposed to a fanatic) is generally found to be forgiving, kind and a believer in peace and harmony.

On the other hand, liberalism, hard-core spirituality and new age pooh-poohs personal love, the bonds of family, the joys of kinship, the harmony of complementary roles (parent-child, brother-sister, employer-employee, husband-wife) and tries to establish an egalitarian equality between humans (treat your child as a friend, your wife as a friend, your teacher as a friend, your employee as a friend).

This equality may seem like a progressive idea, but it leads to confusion, chaos, constant re-evaluation of any expectation born of roles, and hence stress. The student may gloat over a teacher who never scolds, but imagine how much harder the teacher has to now work, in the absence of authority. The wife (in a patriarchal society) may initially welcome a husband who decries and protests against gender roles and biological differences, but after a while she (as well as the husband) will be thoroughly confused. Any expectation or resentment towards the other will be evaluated and questioned internally rather than it finding resolution via the other. Spontaneity might be left to trite matters, such as having dinner and who showers first. For the deeper emotional needs and growth, egalitarianism might be counter-productive.

A seeker likes to say that he or she does not need anything from the other. Not only is it narcissism in disguise ("you are not important to me"), it is counter to human nature to be in a relationship where there are no needs and expectations. It is no longer a relationship then, even though there may be regard, politeness and care. Fellowship is a poor cousin to love and attachment.

If the other is important, then it means I am not sufficient for my own happiness, and this admission is highly problematic for a seeker.

Of course, personal love (like all matters human) is problematic and rarely a smooth ride. But a seeker's rejection of its undeniable role is even more problematic. The rejection of personal relationships genuinely leaves no space for the other. The other has all the space, limitless in fact, but that is not the same thing as the other having a space in one's heart.

Those relating to and loving a seeker are not primarily looking for compassion, but passion. Not friendship, but belonging. Not detached playfulness, but attached longing. Not forgiveness all the time, but also anger and reactivity. Not just a soul, but also a body and a mind and a heart.

A seeker thinks that by diminishing reactivity and normal human impulses, he/she is making it easy on the other. This is a fallacy which needs to be probed. The impulses and reactions and needs and expectations and suchlike are what a relationship is. In the absence or diminishing of these, the relationship itself is diminished. It may become more peaceful in some sense, but it might be a fundamental mistake to think that peace trumps passion.

In the absence of normal human patterns, the relationship itself, being a human phenomenon, is nullified.

A spiritual seeker's primary, perhaps the only, relationship is with himself/herself. Despite protestations to the contrary, a seeker always puts himself, his values, his Utopian ideals, his seeking, first. Everything else is secondary.

Meerabai is an archaic case in point. Another one is Gandhi. I am not saying that they did not make valuable contributions to humanity or that they should have left their vocation for the sake of their husband or wife, or that they were not evolved or thinking people. I am saying that their personal relationships were failures and this fact needs to be plainly accepted as a consequence of placing more importance on what one believes than what the other person needs. Gandhi, in his (perhaps misguided) battle against his libido, never asked his wife if she was thereby sexually starved.

Is it inevitable that someone who challenges the status quo in one field cannot live a somewhat conformant existence in another? Perhaps not.

It is an error to go too wide in one's seeking. All that one will achieve at the end will be Oneself. It is not such a big prize, come to think of it.

Monkhood is therefore a more rational choice if you want to go all out (not that I recommend it). Then you do not put another through the misery of having his/her expectations thwarted.

Seek and question, but also accept. Do not blindly question everything. Accept what brings you joy, and what brings the other joy. Accept the transience of joy. Accept that joy may leave sorrow in its wake. Accept that joy outweighing sorrow is a life well-lived. Accept that needs are not fictions. Accept your own humanity, and that of the other.

To subject another to total rationality is to be insufferable.

To look too closely at everything is also a defect of vision.

26 comments:

Yayaver said...

There is neither view nor viewer. Only view exists. Same holds for seeking.

Darshan Chande said...

A seeker likes to say that he or she does not need anything from the other. Not only is it narcissism in disguise ("you are not important to me"), it is counter to human nature to be in a relationship where there are no needs and expectations.

That is true. But is it not possible that when one is aware of the reality of the existence… that life is inherently devoid of meaning, and every conscious being is after all living primarily for one’s own ego, and so every relationship is a tool to gratify one’s own ego and not of the other, and in such a case having expectations will inevitably entail hurt… Is it not possible that when one is aware of all that, as well as the realization that with-expectations is the only way to live despite the awareness, one will take the life as some sort of “video game”. He will play it with emotional involvement, that is, with attachments and need and desires etc., but since he takes it as a “game” (for he knows the higher “reality”) it all sort of takes place on the surface, while his grounding is comes from a much deeper level of awareness where the waters are still. At that deep level he is really “indifferent” to whatever’s happening with and around him. When bad things happen, he does get sad, or say “suffers”, but that again remains on the surface. In the depth, he is indifferent to everything. Just like we play video game and it makes us happy and sad at times. We “need” points when we are in the game. But we don’t “need” it when we turn on the realization that it is game. So, isn’t it possible that a person is living this “game world” life, being in relationships and all, but at the same time, at the depth where this awareness lies, he does not “need” these things (which are illusions) to be contented in life.

I think in that sense when an aware person says he does not need anything to feel contented in life, it won’t be called narcissism.

One more thing I would like to add. I know your views on spirituality and enlightenment. I call myself a spiritual truth-seeker, but I am not of the spirituality which you are rightly rejecting. As it looks to me, my ideas are closer to yours than to so-called mainstream spiritualists. However, as I talked above, taking world as a video game helps to really be contented (which I called “suffering-less”, in the depth that is) and that I call enlightenment. It’s as best as it can get. Again, please don’t take it negatively because I am comparing life (something which is important) to a video game. It’s the best way I could explain the attitude which the awareness of the reality necessitates.

I would very much like to know what you think, Harmanjit.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@darshan:

"I think in that sense when an aware person says he does not need anything to feel contented in life, it won’t be called narcissism."

My question is: Is it possible for an aware person to feel contented?

Darshan Chande said...

@Harmanjit,

Thanks for the reply.

Okay. Now it's about what is contentment. I think one is contented when one is “at ease” in the mind; when one does not suffer. Here suffering only means affective suffering. Of course, as you said in ''Aphorisms on Suffering'', it is not impossible to escape cognitive disapprovals, nor is it possible to avoid physical pain. Also agree that even affective suffering is inescapable totally. But I am just saying that with the awareness, this suffering only takes place on surface. It becomes rather impossible to suffer in the depth when one's aware.

I will clarify more on what suffering I am talking about. You know, when one becomes hopeless about life, when one cries (not all kinds of crying though) out of some loss incurred, asking ''why me, why me'', bangs head on the wall, when one goes into depression-like state... That is what I mean when I say getting affected in the depth. That becomes impossible with the awareness. Only small variations of temper take place on surface (yes, because we are wired to have affective responses), but as soon as one turns on the higher realization the ease is regained. So basically contentment is always in hand. When we are playing a ''video game'' we don't suffer deeply in the aforementioned ways, right? The reason is precisely that we know that it is not real. So when about this life also when one knows that it is not quite the way it looks to one, how can one suffer that way?

Now if you ask whether “that” is possible, I want to say yes, because I am in that state. But I am afraid I don't want to hear that I am ''supremely deluded''. Hahaha! Anyway, I think as I am not saying I am ''absolutely free'' of suffering, that supremely delusion thing doesn't apply here. All I am saying is, deep affective suffering as “that” is impossible. And thus, contentment is possible. Even in the presence of physical pain and/or other kinds of suffering (like, failing in exams) the person who is aware of the higher reality won't suffer in the depth that way.

Wait. I just got another way of putting it. A contented person means a satisfied person. Discontented is unsatisfied with the way things are. Now, when one knows that the universe isn’t meant to be certain way, and that it is all indifferent and devoid of intrinsic meaning and all… he would realize that there’s no point in being unsatisfied with the way things are. Deep dissatisfaction comes when I think that things should be “this way” but they are “that way” so I am not satisfied. Like that. But when I remove this notion that things should be some certain way only, following my realization of the higher reality, I know that being satisfied or unsatisfied has no point. The reality just IS, and we have to accept it as it IS. So, dissatisfaction doesn’t arise, in the depth. Hence, the contentment.

In all what I say, important is the difference I am making between surface and depth. Game world and real world. Suffering in the depth is avoidable. Contentment is this possible.

That’s my honest view.

Darshan Chande said...

TYPO: ...as you said in ''Aphorisms on Suffering'', it is not possible to escape cognitive disapprovals

Anonymous said...

The true tragedy is when the "seeker" does not know what he seeks/sought but others follow(relate to) him thinking he knows what he seeks/sought and let him be leader, let him define how they are.

A "seeker" who knows what he seeks cannot be a seeker.

So what exactly do a "seeker" and all those who follow a seeker who is not a seeker, seek?

Anonymous said...

'Again, please don’t take it negatively because I am comparing life (something which is important) to a video game.'

Why not? It's a truly appalling metaphor and a reasonable description of narcissistic disassociation.

'But is it not possible that when one is aware of the reality of the existence… that life is inherently devoid of meaning, and every conscious being is after all living primarily for one’s own ego, and so every relationship is a tool to gratify one’s own ego and not of the other, and in such a case having expectations will inevitably entail hurt… Is it not possible that when one is aware of all that, as well as the realization that with-expectations is the only way to live despite the awareness, one will take the life as some sort of “video game”. He will play it with emotional involvement, that is, with attachments and need and desires etc., but since he takes it as a “game” (for he knows the higher “reality”) it all sort of takes place on the surface, while his grounding is comes from a much deeper level of awareness where the waters are still. At that deep level he is really “indifferent” to whatever’s happening with and around him.'

So how's this working out for you?

Maya said...

Darshan referred me here, and after a long while i m finding a post that i agree with..

and regarding the ongoing debate.. i will have to agree with both of you guys..nomatter wethr you are aware or not one can never feel contented neither does one can alienate oneself from pain and sadness.. at the same time i will agree with darshan that awareness about our insignificance in this world or awareness about how everything works does dilute the effect...

We all do get affected, but a person who is aware of the workings of the world wont find it really "shocking"..because it would be something that would have been factored into earlier..

Anonymous said...

"A spiritual seeker's primary, perhaps the only, relationship is with himself/herself. Despite protestations to the contrary, a seeker always puts himself, his values, his Utopian ideals, his seeking, first. Everything else is secondary."

Slavoj Zizek on Star Wars, Western Buddhism and Virtual Capitalism

Modern Man said...

Harman,

You seem to understand that a seeker is suffering (as are we all), so if that seeker finds solace in seeking, why all the opposition towards his doomed-to-fail project?

Being narcissistic and maintaining unrealizable dreams may not be a preferable way to live, but perhaps it's a small price to pay for the seeker (and those affected by his seeking) if he is able - through his seeking - to avoid the lowest lows of his suffering. In other words, may we not permit him to disengage from life and human relationships if by doing so he's able to avoid the crushing pain of life (a new study implies that the brain reacts to heartbreak as if it's experiencing physical pain: http://health.newsplurk.com/2011/03/love-study-brain-reacts-to-heartbreak.html)?

Beware you destroy the seeker's only anchor.

-MM

Harmanjit Singh said...

@MM: "it's a small price to pay for the seeker (and those affected by his seeking) if he is able - through his seeking - to avoid the lowest lows of his suffering"

aha, but a hard-core seeker does not merely remain content with avoiding the lowest lows. he seeks a constant high (for himself only, mind you), and in the process causes quite a few avoidable lows to others having "normal" expectations from him in terms of his worldly roles and responsibilities.

by all means ameliorate states of deep suffering and the various neuroses, but be careful lest you lose the plot altogether. life's aim is not to live without suffering, but to actually achieve some tangible outcomes while keeping suffering/sorrow at a low. enlightenment as a goal in itself is a narcissistic endeavor.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@darshan: dissociation is a coping mechanism when it becomes too painful to confront something. but seekers dissociate obssessively even from joys and bonds which are yet to become painful, in the extreme journey to avoid pain altogether.

and i agree with anonymous that your video-game analogy is good only for you, for others who relate to you, then will see you as a (perhaps budding) psychopath who doesn't really get involved but plays games.

Darshan Chande said...

…your video-game analogy is good only for you, for others who relate to you, then will see you as a (perhaps budding) psychopath who doesn't really get involved but plays games.

Oh, I am disappointed at that!! If you read the line I wrote right after the above thing, I clearly cautioned that I used this analogy to explain the attitude that an aware person requires to keep. But I guess since you seem to be totally averse to the idea that contentment is possible (even in the way and the extent I mean it, which is not unrealistic after all), you aren’t even interested in understanding my point.

The “game world” just means, to keep the realization that as the world appears to us, with all sorts of meanings and beliefs in/of meant-to-be things (like, romantic love, soul-mates etc. even world-peace, for that matter), is not worth suffering for, because the universe is by its nature random and chaotic, and devoid of intrinsic meaning. Nothing is meant-to-be. Now of course, with this realization, even if one lives in this world like all others, in the mind, there’s bound to be the distinction. I am not implying that I would tell everyone that I am living life as a “video game” and only playing with you people! It’s just the realization for oneself. And “playing” wasn’t to be taken negatively. In my example, the seeker may live just like all others. He can be loving and caring and all that. But just because he will know the “reality” this distinction will inevitably arise and remain in his mind. In fact, we do know that all the people primarily live for one’s own ego. (And that’s fair, I believe.) Any living being’s first moral responsibility should be towards oneself only, and only then he would look for collective wellbeing. So, without awareness, they are living for themselves only. When they love someone, that too is for their own ego first, for example. They are just doing it unknowingly. An aware person would just know it. That’s the only difference. Hence, the real world and game world exist for him. While for unaware people the world is the only world. An aware person thus will not “deeply suffer” from any of the affective pains which the unaware people suffer.

Just living a contented life (be it in the way I described) qualify person as a narcissist?

The article here (Narcissistic Personality Disorder lists several criteria for a person to be called a narcissist and says at least five of them should be met. Okay, the number is arbitrary. But yeah. Now say, this aware person does not have 1) a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) 2) isn’t preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love 3) doesn’t believe that he or she is "special" and unique 4) doesn’t require excessive admiration 5) doesn’t lacks empathy 6) isn’t often envious of others 7) isn’t arrogant.

Only thing is that he is aware, and that very awareness is the key that he doesn’t have any of the above-mentioned qualities. And because he is aware he can’t help seeing this world as not quite real as it appears and hence keeps the “game world” attitude. The attitude only for himself. He doesn’t have to go on telling everyone about it, expect of course, when he thinks someone will understand him.

Darshan Chande said...

(Continued…)

So, how does this person qualify as a narcissist? One criterion from that site I didn’t write though is this: …is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. Now, who doesn’t do that? Everyone cares primarily for one’s own ego. Most people don’t know it. An aware person would know it. When someone loves the other, he is caring for his own ego. Even with the best intentions, lovers get hurt. Why lovers alone, everyone gets hurt by those they relate with, simply because of the fact that everyone is living for one’s own ego first. But the hurt hurts more because of the unrealistic view they carry. An aware person also can’t help causing hurt to others in his life, but that is so in everyone else’s case too. But because an aware person, owing to his awareness, can save himself of hurt, why is that called narcissistic??

Finally, not to be discourteous, but I read above in your comment this –

…life's aim is not to live without suffering, but to actually achieve some tangible outcomes while keeping suffering/sorrow at a low.

As far as my understanding reaches, I see the universe is intrinsically meaningless, and so there couldn’t be any “moral ought”. Of course, I do believe in morality as an endeavor to create and maintain order and collective welfare in the world, starting with the self and going on to include all earthlings. And I try to live morally. But morality is after all a human construct. No one is “ought to” follow it as an externally imposed responsibility as long as one is living in the way which is not seen as “objectionable” by the people around him. So yeah, basically, there’s no intrinsic meaning, and /or purpose behind the existence. If that you agree with, then I would like to know on what basis you decide the above quoted thing. How can YOU decide what is life’s aim.

If you are saying it for yourself and the people who agree with you then it’s alright. I am only curious to know whether you mean it for yourself, or you mean it in general.

Sincerely.

Darshan Chande said...

PS:

…dissociation is a coping mechanism when it becomes too painful to confront something. but seekers dissociate obsessively even from joys and bonds which are yet to become painful, in the extreme journey to avoid pain altogether.

I have not even spoken about disassociation. Nor have I said about avoiding pain altogether. I think I clearly spelled out what I meant by contentment. Or rather, by “suffering”. I am only saying that after the realization of the higher reality it is impossible to “suffer” in the depth. The suffering only takes place as small variations of temper on the surface. Hence the contentment.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@darshan: i will reply to your detailed response in future, but i wanted to tell you (even though it might not matter) that i didn't mean to put you down. my apologies if my response seemed offensive. it was perhaps too strongly worded.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@darshan:

An analogy is a car. The avoidance of suffering is to keep the car in a tip-top shape. No noise in the engine, a finely tuned carb, etc.

i am not proclaiming an aim for life, i am saying that the car is to be driven to a destination, not just to be kept fault-free in the garage.

unfortunately, for seekers (and i have been one), a too-wide questioning has led to the conclusion that there is no point taking the car anywhere, that it might as well stay in the garage.

that, in my current understanding, is not a healthy way of thinking about life and the universe.

i could be wrong, though.

Darshan Chande said...

@ Hermanjit,

I totally get your point. I think you just missed the last line of my second comment. Which goes as –

In all what I say, important is the difference I am making between surface and depth. Game world and real world. Suffering in the depth is avoidable. Contentment is thus possible.

From what I see, basically, you are advocating the same position which I am speaking for. Just that you don’t call it “being contented” whereas I call it that. I am NOT of the view that “absolute/100%” suffering-less state is possible. Nor am I saying to disassociate (to keep the car in the garage, in your words.) But to use your words only… I would say, all I am saying is this: Be aware that the car is not the ultimate reality. Drive it, but when accidents happen don’t cry, because there’s no point. When one knows that the car is not meant to be driven with certain specific goals only, and that it is subject to myriad of random and seemingly chaotic other agents of the world, it is quite likely that the car will not reach the goals the driver wishes for it. When the driver is aware of this reality, it is not possible for him to suffer at failures.

Anyway. Good discussion!

Thanks you. :)

PS: The link of that website where I quoted the criteria for narcissism from, didn't appear in the comment above (something went qrong with HTML). Here it is. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Anonymous said...

"it is all indifferent and devoid of intrinsic meaning"

Is the concept of 'intrinsic meaning' meaningful to you, so that you exist in a universe that lacks a possible property, or are you simply saying that intrinsic meaning is a contradiction, and therefore not applicable to the universe? If the latter, are you not confusing the impossibility of a property with its absence, in the way that you draw conclusions from it?

Wouldn’t that like living in a universe where the only real thing was velocity, but through awareness you learnt that all velocity is relative, and make the conclusion that the universe itself has no intrinsic velocity as you can't have a fixed reference point to everything, so the universe is devoid of ‘intrinsic velocity’ and therefore all these non intrinsic velocities are not as real as the thing that...could never exist as it’s a meaningless concept?

Anonymous said...

To seek, or not to seek, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

To seek or not to seek is NOT the question
What dost thou seek is the question
How art thou? asketh the narcissist
Who art thou? asketh the enlightened
The narcissist and the enlightened
N'er shall the twain be one
For one is exactly what the other is not.

pankaj said...

I am reminded of Nietzsche's powerful lines about the profound disorientation that results from destroying values - What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us?

Ketan said...

Like Maya above, I too was referred to here by Darshan. And I must say, I could relate to Harmanjit quite wholly. :)

I would never underestimate Harmanjit's ability to get himself in 'others' shoes' so to say, and I don't know how he has this ability, but perhaps he sees traces of himself in others and of others in himself? Which should actually hold true for most of us (I hope I won't be charged with glorifying the kind of 'egalitarianism' Harmanjit had alluded to in the post ;) ), because may be we all are made up of a few common building blocks, it's just the proportions and combinations that differ. And a fine observer like Harmanjit would obviously be able to resolve these components much better than others can.

Without flying off the tangent too much, let me try to get to the point. Where I find Harmanjit's analysis inadequate is in his making 'seeking' and 'being attached' seemingly mutually exclusive. Yes, they are mutually exclusive in time, but they are not as such in person. Meaning, I can be aware of the fundamental nihilism, I can be aware of the lack of free will, I can also be aware of the way in which the Universe 'operates' (or maybe how I think it to operate - entirely without needing *me* to exist), and I can take a quiet satisfaction in the fact that there is no 'obligation' to live a certain way, or even to live! However, such moments can be interspersed with long stretches of time when I 'live' like any other visceral animal! Yes, the degree to which I allow id will resist the 'superego' would vary at different points, but the point is I can still allow myself to be quite oblivious to the other (de-motivating, if I may call them that) 'truths' about life without actually trying hard.

And I don't know why, the way you people put it, 'truth-seeking' sounds too much of an effort! I mean, it just happens. :P There is no need for great 'sacrifices'.

At least in my case, there are no binaries. I can live at both the levels, though I'm not yet sure, to what degree do I have the 'ability' to switch between two modes of living consciously.

I cannot live in the 'truth-seeking' mode all the time, because honestly, I already 'know' sufficiently about the inherent nihilism and lack of free will. What more will I seek? The reason I do not remain in that mode is, because that mode is associated with certain kind of stagnation - each moment is just like the other. Though, ironically, when I felt I was in true love with a person, again - it was the same - each moment was just like the other. :) And I tend to think of such stagnation as 'waste' of finite number of moments I might have to live. Because I would like to experience 'new' things, or if not new things, at least the same things in 'new ways'. :)

And I cannot tell or justify why I feel the above. Maybe, I'm just hard-wired that way. :)

At some point, this post reminded me of Prince Siddhartha who had left his wife in search of truth-seeking. It made me question: is it ethical to leave someone to who one would be committed? Not that I am seeking an answer, but there are few issues in life where I do not give myself the benefit of this argument that 'ethics are fluid' and merely a redundant human constructs.

Might sound too 'calculative' for a post like this, but a life partner who would have also been a truth seeker at some point in time would much better understand the other partner's bouts of detachment, and maybe, could actually take pleasure in them [dil bahal toh jaayega is khyaal se, haal mil gaya tumhara apne haal se - of course, the context in the song originally was different, but conveys the emotion I wanted to talk of :) ].

Anonymous said...

Wow! some of the comments here seem more lengthy than the article itself!
Any relationship be it between two human beings or between God and Human or Human and his surroundings cannot thrive or last if there is no balance in mutual expectations. The pivot does not have to always be at the center point to achieve balance.
As far as householders pursuing spiritual salvation is concerned the prescribed path for them is to fulfill the needs of their family in a selfless way expecting no benefit or reward from them in return. There is simply no question of such a seeker being a narcissist because with all his actions he seeks to minimize his "I". As far as some seekers like Meerabai go, they were inherently cut out for a path of renunciation the family path was forced on them and they land up renouncing the world because that is what suits them best. So it does not make sense for their spouses or inlaws to have family like expectations from them because they simply cannot fulfill them. If Meerabai pursued the path of renunciation all for her ego gratification like a narcissist she would never been able provide solace to people with her words which have outlived her.On the contrary her words come out of a self merged with the divine.
As far as Gandhi or Rama or Krishna go, it is not as if their wives had a problem with their husbands and personalities and goals. They realized their own identity would have to merge with the selflessness of their husbands. That is exactly how they also are remembered till today not as people who created problems and were unhappy but as people who had successful relationships with their husbands. If their husbands had been narcissists who pursued their goals of establishing peace and dharma for egotistical reasons they would have been remembered by the world like Hitler is today.
Any relationship which follows the "what can I get out of this other person for myself " cannot be stable. "What can I give this person" is more in my control than what I can take from this person.
I realize much of your blog denounces spiritual seekers as narcissists, perhaps it is so because you see modern day Gurus like Osho, mahesh,Jiddu, Sri sri, Jaggi........pursue the path of "How am I" instead of "Who am I". The result is Gurus who collect Rolls royces, BMWs perfumes, beards and followers who also chant "How am I". Cool or what?

Susan said...

Hi Harman, very well put. I too believe that a person who finds happiness in his/her ignorance is better off than an unhappy seeker. But then similar to seeking happiness, it is a human propensity to seek truth. In many, the inclination to seek truth overpowers the drive for happiness. In others who are living a "normal" life, it probably is not because they do not want to know the truth. It is more because they probably are not aware of the existence of any other truth than what they already know. One wants to enjoy life, be happy but if one starts feeling that his/her happiness rests on some false beliefs, he/she would rather want to know the truth than remain in that state. as you mentioned earlier, the earlier generation in their ignorance may be happier ( which we cant be too sure of since there are different set of issues to deal with in such a scenario) but given a choice would you want to live a life similar to theirs ?
"It is an error to go too wide in one's seeking" is a conclusion that one is able to draw only after seeing the falsity or futility of it. But as long as one believes that one is on the right track of seeking (be it spirituality or any other school of thought) it would be difficult for him/her to foresake it for the want of happiness. Even if one does that, the conflict will remain which again would not be happy state.

Anonymous said...

After reading all the lengthy comments the answer to the question "What do you seek?" seems to be "Truth","Contentment","happiness", "aaceptance" Now perhaps it maybe useful for each one to ponder about What exactly is "Truth", "Contentment","happiness". and "acceptance". Are these the same thing or are they different?

Chennai Bourbaki said...

wonderful critique.