Sunil's Blog – Mistico Indio

Ruminations of a poet and philosopher

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Tibet

Posted by Sunil on December 6, 2012

By Sunil Kumar

The roof of the world; a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. In today’s world; Tibet is synonymous with quiet reflection; synonymous with a mythical Shangri-la. A closer look at the country’s history reveals a more violent past; tempered by its association with Buddhism, an Indian cultural import.

Today’s cartographic boundaries are not like the past; the relatively fluid, mystical kingdoms that existed in close proximity. We have relatively rigid dividers, and more insularity. Admittedly, democratization in one thing; the internet gives us access to instant communication. But, merely two centuries back; the world must have seemed infinitely more mysterious, lost worlds waiting to be discovered.

It may come as a shock to some that what seems like a placid, docile people were in-fact intensely warlike at one time. In the eighth century, Tibet had even conquered some parts of modern-day China, including Xi’an. But, the most interesting part of the country was its esoteric doctrines; stories of transportation, levitation, shape-shifting that can beat any science fiction story for sheer fantastical quotient. The land of the lamas had always been construed as an obscure philosophical conundrum; a sort of Eastern Egypt.

China’s atheist Cultural Revolution destroyed a lot of the ancient monastic system; so the world may never know what was transmitted by Tibetan and Indian philosophers such as Nagarjuna and Padmasambhava. But, even with what remains of its past; most people can make an educated guess as to the mental labyrinth of the Indian- influenced Tibetan intellectual maze. Fans of the country’s military history may be intrigued by the fact that even as early as 1834; the Sikhs had invaded Tibet under Zorawar Singh.

Religion in Tibet; its Bon, shamanistic and Tantric Buddhist practices including the ‘Book of the Dead’ are again some of the other-worldly parts of the country’s cultural identity.

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Freedom

Posted by Sunil on August 15, 2012

Freedom

By Sunil Kumar

The London Olympics ended this week. A dazzling spectacle; brilliantly choreographed and executed. Our sixty-sixth independence day, but do we really know the price of freedom? Souls lost so that we can have a shallow symbolic event; I feel happy for a national festival and everybody goes to sleep. How can we define the idea? What are we really free from? Want, anger, sacrifice, desire. Greed: never, industry, politics and the vast majority of people are building temples to Mammon.

I will not generalize and try to put everybody in the same bracket; that is foolhardy and limiting. As Jiddu Krishnamurti said, labels are defeating. Hate is a waste. How then can I or anybody rise from the confines of our daily lives and truly live the selfless life. If freedom means the independence to think; then I am truly free.

Never mind the constant charade of the world; its relentless din; the desire to create an impact. Aug 15 comes every year; the ritual of flag-hoisting is thrust upon us as a jingoistic call to arms; an opportunity for people to make speeches, mouth hollow promises and revel in their own self-importance. A place in the sun; for a few minutes; disperse and deliberate.

We were slaves; history informs, of the British. No longer; now in a free state; marketing, slimy sycophancy and economic imperialism have taken its place. Reality can be factually bleak. Yet, big institutions have been built; our economy has been growing at more than some percent per quarter; facetiously called the Indian rate of growth, so the West can give us aid with caveats.

Television shows fashionably quote the outside world. We speak the language of the colonizer, adopting it as our own. So, is freedom more than that; a way to end deprivation, corruption, create an ideal world. Food to eat; my humble self tells me that is good; but does everybody have enough? Coffee table discussions trying to find a meaning and a solution; hypocrisy where everybody quotes the poor to feed the rich. Plans drawn up to benefit the world’s less fortunate are self-defeating; where does everything end up; in the pocket of the industrialist or the politician.

This independence day, I take a pledge; to be free of confining thought; limiting abstractions and a self-imposed patriotic din.

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What Dreams May Come

Posted by Sunil on May 1, 2012

By Sunil Kumar

Waking consciousness is maya, the real world is an illusion. For most of you, this may seem like philosophy, and for everybody of us in the real world including me engrossed in the action of the real world, this seems to be a fallacy.

But according to quantum physics, and the indecipherable laws of the universe, nobody knows whether the real world is actually there or an illusion. I know it is there when I don’t get food to eat, or I get injured. There is a whole host of other things. But, on a more profound, sub-atomic level, everything is actually uncertain, an illusion.

Maybe then the laws of the Indian shastras, other esoteric traditions, and belief in the paranormal is true. Now, to the main subject of this post, a dream.

Dreaming is defined as “a sequence of sensations, images, emotions, and thoughts passing through a sleeping person’s mind”. According to another source, dreams embody a synthesis of our being that is manifested at both the physiological and the psychological levels.

Many books talk about the astral plane, something beyond our daily consciousness, which we communicate with at more profound times. Similar ideas have been described in many spiritual traditions, including India, Egypt, the Catholic monks, or the Sufis. A lot of people have had revelations.

ESP, clairvoyance, the bending of the spoon et al. We have to credit the modern world today as it has discovered ways to make money out of such phenomena.Paranormal regression, karmic cleansing, movies, investigations and other thoughts. So, do as you dare. Catch all ya Readers later.

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Thought Police

Posted by Sunil on May 1, 2012

By Sunil Kumar

(Now for all my genuine followers and the other folk, here’s a new post)

There is much to be said about divinity, inspiration, creativity and all that jazz. When we are caught in the vacuum of our own existence, a sort of cocoon, nestled in our rather intriguing connection with the universe.

What is spiritual living? By the way, what is religious awakening?The narrow rituals taught to us by our forefathers, religiously followed and imposed by our peer group, people in authority or the narrow bunch of fanatics who have not thought anything beyond their own limited existences.

Our daily lives are mundane, blindly following society’s gigantic strictures, which they violate at will, cannot really understand and indulge in a collective gasp of idiocy. Genius is an interesting word.

Let us consider Srinivasa Ramanujan, the mathematical prodigy. According to legend, he attributed his prowess to the his family goddess, or his own eclectic visions. Einstein, Niels Bohr and some other scientists of the Western tradition felt some profundity in the conception of the universe. Richard Feynman, also a scientific maverick, was sometimes found in strip clubs or sometimes playing the bongo in Brazil.

I have only considered material scientists here. There have been many interesting individuals in art, literature, engineering and a whole host of other fields. In India, the spiritual visionary, who saw something more profound and other-worldly than the mere mortal. So, what is the narrow scope of defining a “genius”? A normal man slaving to earn his daily bread is also an example of intellect at work. To find an idea that penetrates deeper into the narrow confines of our apparent reality or modifies perceptions, is that beyond normal?

Or, are all of us visionaries. Some people in the world would like us to believe so, some would not. Every day, the media manufactures our new thought for the day, creating a twenty-minute superman or superwoman. 24×7 channels, blogs and the internet create a global ideas network. So, what are we, stardust, flesh-and-blood buffoons, or divine messengers. They can also interpret dreams online, some site which can tell you and me that what you dreamt of yesterday was a massive connection into our unending psyches.

Deja vu: the experience of seeing things already seen. Some people believe that it is related to malfunctioning of the brain, reincarnation or temporal-lobe epilepsy. Clearly, it can be self-induced, and like everything on the planet, there is scope for interpretation. Profound visions, ideas and feelings can take hold of you at any time, whether you are walking on a noisy, bustling, squalid street in Bombay or close to a London pub, or a Delhi garden.

Spirituality, from the Latin spiritualis, literally means ideas connected to the spirit, that are probably immaterial, although most people who overtly practice this vocation have been some of the most material and revenue-generating marketers the world has ever seen.

So, in a narrow sense, what could be spirituality? What is an answer? Is it beyond our limited comprehension? Are all the rules created by these different monastic orders, the so-called leaders and gurus a mere window dressing. The answer is still out there. Till then, I’ll keep thinking and writing.

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Worshipping False Godmen

Posted by Sunil on August 28, 2011

By Sunil Kumar

Religion is the opium of the masses.
– Karl Marx

There is probably no other country in the world as obsessed with religion as India. From the Buddha to Christ, and the Hindu pantheon, we have the Almighty as a 24×7 support system.

The most interesting aspect, however, is the rather earthly scandals that seem to engulf our Godmen. Although rational education has inculcated a degree of scepticism and derision for organized faith, yet the sheer commercial savvy and global reach of our religious purveyors has to be admired.

All of us are intrinsically self-obsessed. For many, it is a struggle for money, prestige or sheer survival. Feeding on insecurity is a marketing gimmick our gurus learnt early. Faith is a personal ideology, something we discover after internal trials, negotiating with God and internal struggle.

The obsession with organized religion stems from our inadequacy to think. Liberal agnosticism can only be inculcated in people whose creative faculties are not impeded by mumbo-jumbo: candles, incense or the muezzin’s call to prayer.

Also, an unshakeable faith in the superiority of one’s own religion is a sure-shot call to conflict. Most ideas are man-made and diligently adopted by the masses. If God truly made us in his own image, then surely he could have given us the ability to constructively sift through ideas.

Money,cellphones, glamour and a need for instant fame drives today’s superficial generation. When inane talk shows, feuding soap operas, and incessant scandals occupy our mindspace, quiet reflection and the ability to connect with a higher power is sorely missing.

Turek vs. Hitchens Debate: Does God Exist? from Andrew Ketchum on Vimeo.

All the religious babas feed into the very material anxieties afflicting our tortured psyches. Philosophers often attribute maya(the feminine principle) as the reason for the soul existing in material reality. Most of the followers of spiritual superstars are naive and gullible women(and men).

If the Parish, the Temple, the Mosque, or the Agiary did not give you the right solution, then all our godmen certainly can’t. Religious rituals, round-the-clock adherence to some established community norms cannot salvage our mental peace, only real-time practical thought can.

Although atheism has become fashionable, and some even consider mocking established religion as good, there has to be a healthy balance between organized thought, faith and our own ideas. In the mad rush to be fashionable and cool, most of us do not seriously think about spirituality and the soul.

An old adage said: man is known by the company he keeps. When an incessant rush to ape sportsmen, filmstars, and the neighbors becomes an intrinsic part of our psyche, our true religious heart takes a backseat.

Most of us hanker for the quiet, sylvan surroundings that help us connect with our inner selves.

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The Foreign Minister’s Visit

Posted by Sunil on August 28, 2011

By Sunil Kumar

Blood is thicker than water. All of us agree that the India-Pakistan relationship is drenched in red, albeit of a different hue. Whenever our distinguished foreign ministers meet, there is a lot of talk and practically no substance. Promises are made, only to be broken at the next moment.

Our opinionated intelligentsia, millions of media personnel and distinguished analysts indulge in systematically undermining the Indian nation-state. As cry-babies, we constantly bicker on our inept bureaucracy, inefficient police and archaic laws. But, practically little actually changes. When Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s first woman minister of foreign affairs landed on our shores, the media was agog with stories of a feminine touch: Roberto Cavalli shades, Birkin bags and pearls. We also had the vision of a peaceful detente between two old foes: India and Pakistan.

When blood is spilt on the streets of Mumbai, there is absolute apathy from the state and the government. How can a woman’s accessories be more important than the thousands of people who lost their lives, crores of property destroyed, and the sheer negligence of our lawmakers?

Our diplomatic entourage, with our distinguished foreign minister, erudite foreign secretary are busy planning their next plum assignments. When the Indian nation-state is bleeding from a thousand cuts, why don’t they arm our police with more weapons, fence our borders and create a more robust security infrastructure?

As honest tax payers, the least we can expect from the government is concern for a hassled population. In some time, Mumbai is set to be the most populated metropolis in the world. The strain of living in an urban jungle is already evident in the collapse of many civic institutions, pressure on land, resources, lakes etc.

When we talk of building world-class cities, and bringing our country at par with the rest of the world, the least we can expect from the media is attention on serious issues and not frivolity. My empathy is for the millions of traumatized citizen who have been brutalized by the senseless violence emanating from across the border.

Admittedly, an eye for an eye makes the world blind. But when you are already bleeding, somebody has to take guard and sock it back. When a journalist with the courage to take on the oil mafia is gunned down in broad daylight at an avenue that is supposed to be one of Mumbai’s safest, what precedent does it set for everybody else? We have to assume the reign of terror will continue, and those in authority will accept our neighbor’s sweets.(Bombs come with the package)

Moral posturing, and preachy news bytes have not gotten us anywhere. When will India wake up and smell the coffee? Maybe, in our next birth, when our sins are washed away at Haridwar. (Ahem, beg your pardon, even the ghats at Varanasi had to face militant ire).

India earnestly waits for a savior. Not the supermen of Bollywood, or the religion inspired concept that has led to more misery, and blood than anything else. But the next practical realist who can actually save our souls. Till then, waiting for a new beginning.

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The City of Djinns

Posted by Sunil on August 10, 2010

By Sunil Kumar

I walk through a mausoleum. Distant voices, eerie past. The modern city merges with remnants of a bygone age. Global terrorists and spoofs. The sands of time in a splitsecond. What is eternity? The imagination of poets and philosophers or the miasma of a daily grind.

Well-manicured gardens with sycophants in the city of power. Find the soul in this city. Ostentatious celebrations reek of falsehood – Really?? Analysis probably leads you to a dead-end.

Wasn’t I reared on history, ghosts and the celebration of life? Slang – crass, no unfamiliar? Commercial, carnal cities on the Arabian Sea are probably worse. Who are we to judge? Do cities have a heart? Adios to buried politicians, seats of power: back to life alive, positive, meandering, incredible and interesting!!

[Apologies to Monsieur Dalrymple ]

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Avatars, Digital Incarnations and Nirvana

Posted by Sunil on December 27, 2009

By Sunil Kumar


The eternal skeptic lives. This year is coming to an end. “Avatar” – Hollywood marketing at its best lives up to the hype and is acclaimed as great film-making. But was there a story in all that technical wizardry or merely poor men eating cake marvelling at a rich man’s 300 million dollar world?

It’s been a year since my personal fulminations have been online. “Existential Angst” in England, and an Indian interlude.

Nirvana cassetes stock mein nahin hai and Cobain in Indian English has left for his heavenly abode. Colloqualisms are wonderful. If Sakyamuni were alive today, Boddhisatva would mean a doper with only a faint idea of religion.

Link it with a dawg idea – and please Mr., Mrs. Miss xxxsan, heaven loves me more than you could know.
TIME INTERRUPTED

Three hundred days, innumerable hours and countless seconds come to an end when one annus durabilis comes to an end. I don’t know what durabilis means, just identify it with mirabilis and horribilis, the Queen of England and Princess Diana probably knew it with some help from (ahem!) red-tops.

In my next incarnation, I’m going to be digital and my brain not a mish-mash of three hundred different influences competing for space.

Enlightenment will be within my lifetime and my ineffable presence will glide through the galaxy. Nirvana will not be a grunge band from Seattle, and it will not mean extinction of a soul flame.

Ideas and opinions will merge into a new idiom, and the world will acknowledge that human ideas are borrowed, mingled and re-used.
A NEW WORLD ORDER
Rich countries will not con poor countries, and natural resources will be equitably distributed. Frequent TV breaks will not disturb my thinking, and conmen will be a thing of the past.

Books on philosophy will not remain noble statements enshrined for college courses, academics or rock singers. Golfers, governors and commoners will not be caught in sex scandals and carnality will not be a taboo subject – admired, reviled, spoken of in hushed tones and sold to the highest bidder.

Nobody will know what idealism is – and not misuse it. Countries will not be bullies and invent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Social inequities would end and nobody will starve.

Six billion people will have a reason to smile – and MJ would not need to sing meaningful songs, marry Elvis Presley’s daughter and be accused of being a paedophile.

Media generated frenzies would not engulf the entire world and money would not be the sole means of survival. Hollywood blockbusters would not make money on apocalyptic scenarios.

We would not live limited lives devoid of meaning – searching for solace in false religions. There would not be prophets of doom and godmen in all parts of the world.

Till nirvana remains elusive, let me pray for a mutation- Avatar, personal and collective.

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