Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Notes on Nature, Intellect and Happiness

What survives is the fittest, not necessarily the happiest.

Happiness can be an indication that one is doing something wholesome.  Wholesomeness being evaluated by one's genetic and cultural heritage.

In troubled times, seeking happiness may be detrimental to reproductive fitness.  If in a war, all of a community decide to stay home and have hot stew, their genes will not survive.

Times are always troubled, one way or the other.  Peace, sanctuary, calm and contentment is by its nature, not sustainable, because organisms in these states will be trod upon by other organisms who are warring, exploratory, violent and ambitious.

The "natural" goal of an organism is fitness, survival and propagation.

Happiness is not a goal of nature, but of the minds of a subset of the human population.  This subset recoils against brutality, anxiety, competition, stress.  (We will not go over why this subset so recoiled.)

This subset is thereby less fit for survival, in an objective sense, than its complement.

When this subset tries to advocate happy living to the masses, the masses are not amused.

The masses need coping with failure, not contentment with failure.  Because the masses understand (at a collective level) that contentment is only possible for a subset.  As an analogy, that only one member of the family can be lazy.

Achievement of certain natural goals can make one feel happy, but the process and the journey of achieving those goals is generally grueling.

The journey, being a long and not generally altogether a happy one, is therefore not undertaken by organisms seeking happiness in the short term.

Such organisms are curious misfits in the natural order of things.  They may exalt themselves as transcendental, but that might be a compensation for the feelings of inadequacy.

As human awareness and intellect continues to achieve new heights, it is becoming alarmingly difficult to feel that one has to undertake a journey to happiness.  Why?  Because the beliefs and restrictions which kept one on the narrow path of the journey are demolished by an evolved intellect and awareness.

We no longer accept authority, faith, a promise of a better future if only we live a certain way.  We have seen through the fallible humanity of the greatest gods and statesmen, the illogic of the most intricate belief systems, the hollowness of the most hallowed ideals and theories.

History is no longer hagiography.

And therefore, increasingly more people are unwilling to sacrifice their present for the future.  This sacrifice requires faith.  That faith is no more.

In the absence of a path, or a goal, the mind seeks something here and now.

The quandary of the modern human is this: the awareness of time is more insistent than ever, but the intellect demolishes everything which is supposed to hold one steady through the times.  Both these effects are the consequence of an ever evolving brain.

Hence, boredom is the natural state of the modern man.  Boredom is an awareness of duration without anything interesting enough to fill that duration.  The more vacuous a stimulation is, the shorter the time it proves somewhat useful.  The longer it takes for something to provide joy, the more it requires putting aside oneself and believing in something "bigger".

Methods were always available to stupefy one's intellect and to dilate one's perception of time.  Then one could enjoy looking even at a blade of grass, and be joyous when a star came over the horizon.

Drugs, attention manipulation techniques, music and dancing, love and belonging, all accomplish one thing: they diminish the intellect and awareness of time to a level that one can find the present quite fulfilling.

After a certain level, an intellect is ill-suited to a joyous life on earth.  One can try various devices to stay somewhat amused, but then adaptation happens and the intellect sneers at those devices after seeing through them.

An evolved intellect, after say 20 years of formal education, sees no moral or urgent sense in following the natural goals of genetic fitness, survival and propagation, because, it has developed too great a distance between itself and the organisms's "inner voice", the genetic imperative.

The questioning intellect considers a sacrificial journey to a promised future a fraud, and finds the present infantile.

Birth rate necessarily has to decline in advanced societies, and boredom has to increase.

As civilization continues to advance, we are, more and more ... freaks of nature.


Venkat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The profundity of this article can only be gauged by someone who has been through the various -isms purporting to take one towards happiness.

rajiv sanghvi said...

Hi Harmajit,

Its Rajiv Again

Sorry but need to post a link here

A discussion between sadhguru and javed akhtar at think 2012
Mr Akhtar floors him again!!!!!

saket said...

I think it's neither the fittest nor the most intelligent ones that survives but the ones that are more adaptable to changes.