Monday, July 30, 2018

The Meaningless Ideal

Many talk of it, few have seen it.

Ask anyone who talks of "everlasting happiness" or "enlightenment" how they came to even have a notion of it in the first place.  They will have to point to a scripture or to the sayings of a guru.

Ask them what that state is, that they are seeking.  They will again quote someone.

Is it not strange that they have formed a major goal in their lives based on hearsay?

Have someone say something about "all are my part" or "unconditional love" or "I am not real", and ask them how that notion translates itself into their daily lives.

Do they, literally, care for a stranger as much as they care for themselves?  Do they have a bank balance or a home that they allow themselves to use, but not a stranger?  Is their "care" only emotional, or does it translate into action?

Do they not expect anything from their beloved?  It their love is literally unconditional, why do they only love a particular person and not everybody?  If they love everybody, once again, do they give to the first beggar all that is in their pocket?

If their "self" does not "exist", can they emphatically tell first what they mean by the word "self"?  Do they mean to say that their body, or their brain, or their past and memories, or their dreams and thoughts, or their ways of thinking, preferences, credit history, criminal record, national ID number, the property in their name, is not "them"?  Do they not give special treatment to their "own" family versus a stranger on the street?  Ask them what is this "self" that they are denying the existence of, and whether this self, evidently not being all of the above, is not just a notion which has no bearing on their day-to-day life?  It is as if they fill gas in their car, care for its battery, change its tires, drive it to the office, but deny that the "car" exists just because all one can point to is the gas tank, battery, tires, gear handle and the various other parts?

Such phrases are used by people with little understanding of what might constitute meaningfulness.  In an impressionable state, people read a book which says "And in unconditional love I found everlasting bliss and freedom from care" and think that this is a meaningful sentence.  Every phrase in such a sentence - "unconditional love", "everlasting bliss", "freedom from care" - is an abstract notion which falls apart when subjected to the slightest analysis.

And if "analysis" and the "mind" cannot fathom these notions, then how come they are speaking of them?  Is it not their mind which speaks of them?  Is it not a thought that is coming out of their lips? Even more alarmingly, how did the minds of those holy ones come to know of these and how did they write (apparently) meaningful sentences about these notions and the inter-relation-ship of these notions with other such (vague) notions?

The important quality which is missing from such thoughts and notions is Rigor.  It is important to set out the parameters of one's discrimination in any quest for understanding.  Without those parameters, it is only too easy to spend one's life chasing chimeras and illusions.  Rigor is not compressible into a few sentences, but the following few heuristics will help:

I.    What is the meaning of this phrase or notion in terms of what I know?
II.   How does one evaluate the truth of what someone else is saying about this notion?
III.  In what tangible, observable way does the truth of a notion, or its acceptance, change one's day-to-day life?  Is that change discernible in the claimant of these notions?
IV.  What if the notion were untrue?  Will I be heartbroken?

A seeker of understanding must subject himself and his notions to the highest rigor.  For if mind-less notions are allowed to reign, it is not understanding that one seeks, but self-satisfaction.