Senti Warning: Step in at your own risk!
(I am unable to sleep. It was that Expresso I had at Qwiky’s at the
I hate building a sleep deficit. The rational part of my brain loses control and the emotional part takes over. In common language, I become cranky. The irony is: I can see it happen, I can see my emotional part dictating my chain of thoughts against the protests of the rational part and I feel helpless. My room is stuffy. Al of a sudden, I can hear the Fight Club sounds in my brains and then suddenly the Reservoir Dogs theme. Really love it when this happens. But I have an exam tomorrow and a long day after that. I need to sleep. I decide to go to the terrace. There is a pleasant breeze blowing, the soft glow of the sodium vapour lamps under the green canopy provides a calming effect. I lean back against the low wall in the terrace. The cold of the wall feels deliciously soothing and I am calm enough to observe my own train of thought)
I hate quiz weeks. I always become edgy and nervous. Thoughts of the impending CAT rat race (cat-rat?) and the spectre of the Darwinian placement process are enough to induce extra edginess. It is one of those times when the monotony of being and the constant throb of ambition threaten to hijack the fun from life, the joie de vivre, as the French so seductively put it. Suddenly I think of my schooldays. A time of innocence, a time of concentration. Have never reached those levels of concentration since. Did the TM (Transcendental Meditation) have anything to do with it? A feeling of yearning for that simplicity. Reminded of the teachers of the IIT classes at
I realize that my philosophy after coming here has changed and today, I look down upon the very idealism that I once treasured. I feel a knot of fear in my stomach. The world seems so intimidating all of a sudden. It is all very fine to pontificate about the notion of God being only an idea, but involuntarily I recite a shloka I learnt as a kid. Maybe it is the rising of the sun or the delicious wind blowing but I suddenly feel a revival of my spirits. Correspondingly, the rational part of the brain seems to gain hold again. It is all fine to mourn a lost idealism but a very important thing to keep in mind while following ideals is to constantly question the relevance of the ideality. That is, as societies change the values change. Agreed there are a few basic values which are eternal. Truth and Ahimsa are absolutely essential for a sane society. But beyond that most of the values are the dictates of the economic and social compulsions of the times we live in.In fact, most morals and values are often the reflection of the values of the powerful classes of that society.
Maybe it is the rising of the sun or the delicious wind blowing but I suddenly feel a revival of my spirits. Correspondingly, the rational part of the brain seems to gain hold again. It is all fine to mourn a lost idealism but a very important thing to keep in mind while following ideals is to constantly question the relevance of the ideality. That is, as societies change the values change. Agreed there are a few basic values which are eternal. Truth and Ahimsa are absolutely essential for a sane society. But beyond that most of the values are the dictates of the economic and social compulsions of the times we live in.In fact, most morals and values are often the reflection of the values of the powerful classes of that society.
Another key point which I think most of us know at an unconscious level is this: Any tradition/movement/idea will survive at a mass level, only if it will bring about economics returns at some level, maybe not immediately, but it should bring an economic incentive. If it fails to do that and is carried on by the force of emotion, then people will start questioning it and quietly breaking such traditions, before it eventually disappears. (I have based these arguments on some instances. Going into them here would be tedious. There maybe practices which do not have this feature. But they will be followed by small groups, or tightly knit communities. Even in those communities there should be an element of choice in the framework. If arrogantly imposed, even those will perish.)
Therefore, practices which were attractive or elegant once have to be jettisoned if they are not relevant for the times. There will always be old people saying that things were better during those days but they too are looking at the world through rose coloured glasses. That does not mean we should lose all sense of idealism. It just means that we review our value systems and goals periodically to see if they are consistent with reality. For example, I still think that “Simple Living, High Thinking” is the most elegant and satisfying way of living. However, simplicity thirty years ago may have meant having a cycle if you could afford a Bajaj. Today it means owning a Sumo if you could own a Land Cruiser :-)
Coming back to the changing nature of moral values: Herein lays the problem of the idealist. An idealist may take a prescriptive stance but the compulsions of change will lead that notion of idealism to be changed. However, she cannot change it as the act of changing would reflect on the idealism of her stance. Therefore, the idealist preacher is stuck in a situation where she has to impose her philosophy or be caught on the wrong foot. That is how many well meaning thinkers have ended up becoming hardliners and contributing more to the untruth of the World. In other words, idealists and crusaders are more likely to cause non-ideality than the Average Joe.
Therefore, what we are left with is an Absurdist view of life. Yes, there is no inherent meaning to life. But that is a liberating notion, not at all a sad one. Since my existence doesn’t have a pre-ordained meaning I can go about shaping it whatever way my intellect leads me to. Therefore, the only thing left to do, given that we have come into existence, is to plunge into the world with complete involvement and determination to experience all that it offers. The determination to experience the world should be so complete that if there is any obstacle then we must invent ways to go over it. Hedonism is my religion :-)
Feeling clearer, I walk down to Hot Chips for an early breakfast.