Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Sep 16, 2014

TTW: Purpose Of Life - Existentialism

What's the purpose of life and why do we live in an Universe devoid of meaning... 

THOUGHTS ON EXISTENTIALISM.

“If you can hold a flower and see life in its tender petals, vibrant colors and complex design to inevitably give birth in it’s dying, to another sustainable life, then that is Living. But if you can love the flower’s beauty, care for its ‘being’, however temporal and fragile, and ensure that it blooms into thousand flowers within your love, that’s The Purpose of Life. Remember, Love is what transcends death, even after you die. You still flower into thousands of hearts and live forever in their thoughts. So Love.” – V.E.D
 
Thought Of The Week @ Sept 2014

At some point of life, most of us, face the inevitable question ‘What’s The purpose of life?’ and then we try to answer either with our own day to day efforts of living or just leave it to be answered by the society / culture / religion to which we belong. Yes, I have faced this question too and slowly I have come to realize that it’s really not a question about Living but about Dying. It’s really hard for consciousness to hold on to the idea that each one of the steps that we take in living, is one more step closer to our dying. But then I think, it’s one thing that we rarely forget…
 
Living and the Dead | The Existentialist
Hemu's Art Blog
Recently one of my friend, Architect Hemalatha Venkatraman, from Chennai Blogger’s Club (CBC), posted one of her paintings, what she describes as, “… a personal outlet after a person of mine committed suicide after he could take no more of it, simply because he felt it to be pointless, as an existentialist”. This triggered a chain of thoughts on Existentialism, The purpose of life, Who Am I etc. which I am putting across here, in this post.

But before I go further, I deeply share the anguish and pains suffered by Hemalatha and hope these thoughts will some how lessen her pain.

To begin with, let me try to give some back ground on Existentialism.

As the science progresses with more and more theories, scientific proofs on how the Universe, mankind and ‘thinking self’ evolved, each one of us are slowly losing the comforting legacy of faith and hope as the back bone of living one’s life and the inevitable coldness of eventual death of our ‘being’ creeps deeper into the depths of our living. In past, it was religion, culture and society that gave us faith and hope; i.e. there is something beyond our dying, and our Righteous actions, Ethics and Morality, gave us some kind of direction to move forward. But these relics of past are slowly being eroded from the foundations of our thinking, either by science, or by the modern philosophy that says, well there was nothing before and inevitably, there nothing will be in the hereafter. Universe was created with a Big Bang and like wise will die one day. So some of us don’t see the point of living meaninglessly, toiling away either in suffering or bliss, pain or pleasure along with the constant anxiety of being a ‘being’ who are inevitably going to die. All this drama of life just because we were born, which was not even our own doing?
So What’s The Purpose Of Life?

SørenKierkegaard, who is generally considered to be the father of Existential Philosophy, (Though he did not use the word existentialism), said that each one of us is solely responsible for giving a purpose or meaning to his / her life and to live it sincerely and truthfully.

People are so smart that we actually come to realize that we exist.” - Kierkegaard

After the age of four or five we are aware of our existence. Not only we are aware of the fact that we exist, but also we are aware of that fact. We know about our freedom to chose our actions, type of morality that we want to live with as well as whether to jump off a cliff or not. However, as Kierkegaard explains in his book ‘The Concept of Anxiety’, this freedom, far from being a reason for happiness, provokes a feeling of anxiety and dread within us, which in turn increases our self-awareness and a sense of ultimate personal responsibility.

But you see, this is a very disturbing thought. Unlike any other living thing, e.g. animals, we also realize that we are inevitably going to die too. This gives our highly evolved brain an anxiety that, as the brain goes, needs to be removed or minimized. In old times, faced with this kind of existential crisis, we created cultures to belong to; have faith in religion and Gods; in effect erecting scaffoldings for the idea that there is a meaning to one’s life. This kind of culture, society gave us a reason to live and in the case of belief in a particular cult, religion or a personal God, to live beyond dying too. In effect, all these gave us, instead of a cold and empty universe, a ‘meaningful’ universe to live in.
However, as the history progressed to modern times, existentialist like Nietzsche defined all these structures of culture, society and religion as something that inhibits our life from living wholly as one should be living.

As a result, we have come to see the world we live in as a world that we should resent and disdain, a world from which we should turn away, transcend, and certainly not enjoy. But in doing so, we have turned away from life itself in favor of the myth or an inventions, an imagined ‘Real world’ that is situated elsewhere” - Nietzsche

While anther existentialist, Sartre says that we are the kinds of beings who are compelled to assign a purpose to our lives. With no divine power to prescribe that purpose, we must define ourselves.

While Existentialism is a philosophy that guides us to look deeper into the reasons of our existence, it definitely does not provide any means to exist. So this is where one should consider the thought from Dr. Earnest Becker, Cultural Anthropologist - Pulitzer Prize Winner for his book 'Denial of Death' who says, “In order to stand up in the morning, one needs to believe that life has a meaning. We, in addition, also need to believe that each of us as individuals, that we're valuable contributors to the culturally constructed drama to which we subscribe.”

Don Justo - Man with a purpose of life, took 60 years to single handedly build
his 131 ft high 
Cathedral in Madrid, Spain (here he is with my brother Animesh)
 Click here to read more...
And what Becker asks us to think about is, that culture gives us opportunities to feel like we are valuable people, through social roles with associated standards of conduct, the satisfaction of which gives you the sense that you're a person of value in a world of meaning. We design goals to achieve, ideas of what we can be, etc.

And there're a lot of other theorists like AbrahamMaslow and Carl Rogers, putting forward the idea of self-actualization – the higher self as they said.

While throughout the history, there have been thinkers who proposed a meaningful way of life…

“In case of humans, a ‘good’ life is therefore one in which we fulfil our purpose, or use all the characteristics that make us human to the full”. - Aristotle c. 384 – 322 BCE

“(A good life) can be achieved by being content to live a simple life” – Diogenes Of Sinope c.404 -323 BCE

“The universe and everything in it is an endless flow of life, in which God is an eternal presence. Man, as part of the universe is also a part of this continuum” - Rumi c 1207 - 1273

If you really look closer, these are thoughts that shield us from constantly being aware of death, which will immobilise us in living. We do have proclamations from people like Richard Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion” and one that is on the top of my list of Grand Proclamations, from really a true scientific genius, Stephen HawkinsThe God Does Not Exist”. Scientists say things one day and when faced with a new evidence, they change, which is alright with me but that also makes me not to take their proclamations as final reality about things they are not equipped to understand as of now, like matter, consciousness, God etc. So till the time we don’t have conclusive proof against our own faith in the goodness of “just being”, I find these props a great and meaningful way to continue to live.

And the most important of these are self esteem (Be good at something, Help other people, Find a problem and solve it), loving deeply – a close personal relationship with family, friends and people, a certain intuitive belief in the existence of our own sub-consciousness, inter connected with the supreme consciousness. These altogether make, however un-quantified, our life purposeful in this cold expanse of empty space.

For me the way of living has always been the way of Karma Yogi, which comes from Krishna in Bhagwat Gita
 
Sculpture of Krishna, explaining life to Arjuna from Bhagwat Gita
At Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh, Himalaya

“Performing action (Karma) is our only duty (about things that comes our way, with 100% dedication, sincerity and focus), we should not think or worry about the fruits of our actions”. – Bhagwat Gita Chap. 2 verse 47

In the end I will again go back to the thought in the beginning, which I truly believe in…

Remember, Love is what transcends death, even after you die. You still flower into thousands of hearts and live forever. So Love.” - V.E.D

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I will be very grateful to receive your thoughts on this topic and discuss further, do leave a comment.

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Shashi
नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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Farther Reaches of Human Nature - Maslow

TTW: Selected Thoughts on Love, Life and Divinity... by V.E.D

Over the year I have shared some Thought This Week (TTW) and here are some of the best one from this year ....
Hope you will enjoy them.
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WE CAN NOT BE ANYTHING ELSE...

Each one of us has a destiny to fulfill and we are stuck with it. We can’t be anything else. We are born with a map imprinted within our DNA, to achieve the greatness, fitting perfectly within the universal fiber of cosmic design. Hence our job, in this life, is not to become what we think as ideal, but to be, who we already are. But the problem is that we don’t look hard or deep enough within. We just keep floating in superficial desires and needs created by the chaos of our mind and day to day living.  

Remember, the easiest way to find that purpose of our life, is to look for what makes us blissful and at peace. Something that we are deeply passionate about and cannot live without achieving or being.
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DIVINITY OF OUR NATURE
“We can make our life ‘divine’ through each step that we take towards growing up – blissfully aligned with nature.

Remember, it’s quite possible to bring out the 'divinity of our souls', in living a beautiful life; with unconditional love and wholly accepting each step that we take in awareness, to where ever it takes us.”
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BE THE CHILD WITHIN YOU AND WALK…
“There is no past and future… it’s only the present which is ‘Now’. So don’t look back or worry about future as you don’t “Own” this life to those times, but your own yourself this ‘Now’, to be what you can be.

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LIFE IS IN THIS 'NOW'
"We always wonder, what’s lacking in us as we realize that we are not living life to its fullest potential. But there’s nothing lacking in us, it’s just that we get so bogged down by living in Past and future. The life is not in those cherished memories of past or in the insecurities of the future, but it’s in this “NOW”.

So to a live a beautiful life, live this moment passionately, without a thought about past or future, because the reality of life is right ‘now’ and here. Give it a best shot and you will succeed"
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BONDS OF LOVE  
"Bonds of love are without the knots of hope and desire. And if you need that kind of love, which ties one to another, then you don’t. Belongingness is not a shackle but freedom from it. It’s one’s own loving one needs, to realize oneself wholly into ‘being’ what one is.

So go ahead, Just love!!!" 
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BEAUTY, LOVE AND LUST
“Beauty of any kind is self sufficient, does not needs someone’s praise or acceptance. Just as love has its beauty of itself, does not need confirmations from the family, friends or any one you love. 

Remember, if beauty has expectations, then it’s going to dry out and fade in very short time, just like lust.”

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Shashi
नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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Thought This Week 1st Aug, 2014                               TTW: Sept, 16 - Existentialism

Aug 22, 2014

32nd Edition of Shadow Dancing with Mind - CELEBRATING MADRAS DAY

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADRAS!!!
This is my 32nd edition of “Shadow Dancing With Mind”, which celebrates Founding of Madras, (22nd August, 1639), with a call to "ONE ASPECT I WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE ABOUT CHENNAI"… as well as take you, “UP, CLOSE AND PERSONAL” with some important people I came across in Chennai in recently…

In this edition you will also 'walk' with me through my impressions “STILL LIFE” from Vrindavan, where Krishna’s Love Flowered… And then we end with “THOUGHT THIS WEEK” from Verse Every Day… 
“BE THE BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING THAT YOU ARE…” V.E.D
So here it is and hope you would like the selections from the blog…

Well Chennai is a beautiful, peaceful and culturally very important city, the world over. But being a North Indian, living in Chennai for last two decades, I have developed a different perspective of the city. As a resident, we have some way to go, in terms of infrastructure, development, public transport etc. but then these are things that will be hard to achieve as an individual. But we can all chip in to create awareness, about things that are not right in the city. And the one I would like to talk about lakes among 90 wild life and nature spots that we have in and around Chennai…which attract beautiful migratory birds from across the world, apart from sustaining local flora and fauna.


Another famous person from Chennai, is B K S Iyengar, who brought Yoga to the West, died recently, in his honour, I would like to dedicate this post about Yoga and the perspective the west have of it now…

Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it. But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.


C) UP, CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Over the year, it has been my pleasure to meet and interact with Timeri N Murari, a Chennai based novelist, journalist, playwright and screenwriter; whose best seller ‘Taj’ has been translated into 25 languages. His screenplay of the award-winning Hindi movie Daayraa (1997) was voted one of the ten best films of 1997 by Time magazine. In our discussions, he has remarked about his characters, “Once the story starts growing, one character starts taking over” and this is what is the ‘central character’ of his latest book, ‘Chanakya Returns’ which was recently launched at Odyssey in Chennai.


The moment I reach the foothills of Himalaya, the soulful Sufi songs of Abida Praveen turns into a pulsating sphere of earth colors, submerging all my consciousness into the vast sea of joy and happiness. The effect of her songs, the words of Sufi saints and the pure mountain air of Himalaya is such that all my worldly worries retreat into oblivion and only the ‘now’ exists, to be cherished as in eternity. The queen of Sufi Songs, Abida Praveen, remains to be my favorite of all times and when the chance came to meet her and hear her soulful singing, I was blissful.


A book maker who uses photography as her vocabulary…
DAYANITA SINGH is the first Indian to have a solo show at London's famous Hayward Gallery in 2013, who vehemently refuses to use Digital Cameras and computers to design and create her books. She loves making her books by her own hand, armed with scissors, knives of various form and sizes with scotch tape, instead of Cntrl+C and Cntrl+V, which is the usual way the 21st century world works in almost every field now.


D) STILL LIFE
I have been travelling a lot these days, from Chennai - Bangalore - Coorg - Delhi - Vrindavan and back to Chennai. In all these two weeks, spending time in a spiritual retreat like Vrindavan was the most invigorating one.


E) THOUGHT THIS WEEK:
"Absolute love is perhaps the most difficult thing to find in life for many of us, but it comes naturally to a mother… To really love, we should allow love to happen. Remember affection and care almost always transforms into love in depths of our heart and soul." - V.E.D

A global creative co-operation of poets writing linked verses at a very popular Haiku group at Google Plus... The poets write one after the other, taking the last line of the previous poet as the link to thread their own creative output. The result is one of the most beautiful collections of verses...


Hope you have liked this edition of my blog. Let me know your views and I will be grateful if you can leave your comments …

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Shashi
नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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31st Edition
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