Friday, 11 January 2008

Thoughts about the world

Before I resume writing about China's economy, or get started on Hafez's Divan for my Persian poetry class, I decided to ramble a little about some of the philosophical ideas that I have been thinking about lately.

As I was sitting beside my window, reading and watching the boats pass by with infinite sluggishness, I began thinking about the world in new ways. Looking out of my window, with a birds-eye view of manhattan, I felt that everything was planned; orchestrated in a perfectly ordered fashion. The people, the cars, the airplanes, and reality itself, appeared as though it were being pulled by some invisible thread. I like to call this thread "destiny". Where destiny is dragging all of us, I am not sure; but that this thread exists, I am certain. In Shantaram, it is said that the universe is tending towards some ultimate complexity, called "God". I don't know if this is true, but, here is what I think about God and the universe:

I see the universe as an elaborately constructed illusion. In Hindu philosophy, what is observable is termed "maya", or magic. I believe that there are only two possible origins of the observable universe: it is either a construction of our own mind, or the work of some external power. Which of these is correct, I cannot determine. Still, I think that what we don't observe is what truly exists. At this point, with my limited knowledge and experience, I feel that my concept of what really exists only includes destiny. I think that the origin of the observable universe, and the reality that cannot be observed, are intertwined and inseparable. In some religious philosophies, these two ideas are collectively termed, "God".

I believe that the enlightened one is the person who understands what truly exists and its origins. Therefore, some may say that he or she is the one who understands God. If we look to the example of the enlightened Buddha, we find that he never revealed his enlightenment in his teachings. Instead, what he put forth were guidelines that, if followed, would keep people happy. I believe that he is the originator of the concept of "ignorance is bliss". I think that there are only two potential motivations for his doing this: either profound truth, even if revealed, could never be comprehended by the average person, or that enlightenment would lead to complete disillusionment with the world, making the person worse off than they initially were. It would take a person with immense mental fortitude to both comprehend the truth and survive the disillusionment.

My outlook towards life is also based on these ideas. The past has already happened; though it often has a bearing on the present, it is unchangeable, and so is it is useless to dwell on it. The future is predetermined, therefore, I don't worry about it. Enjoying the present is essentially all I care about. I have been reading the Bhagavad Gita and have become acquainted with the concept of "dharma" - or duty. I find it my duty to do whatever I have to in the present to unravel the mystery that is my future.

Just some thoughts.