Friday, December 4, 2020
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ~ Lord Acton’s best known line. In retrospect, it becomes obvious that the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has had a negative impact on the USA—it resulted in the USA acquiring absolute power over the world and becoming absolutely corrupted. Now the situation is so bad that the Americans can’t even hold a proper election. In the recent election, there are so many glaring anomalies in the voting and vote-counting processes that you need to be a truly gullible and ignorant (or biased and corrupt) person to believe in the results that the mainstream media is touting—the official results are yet to be declared. Only seventeen years ago, the Americans had marched into Iraq with the purported aim of creating a democratic utopia there—they wanted to teach the Iraqis how to hold proper elections, but in 2020, they have botched their own election. Henceforth, the USA will not have the moral authority to preach democratic values to other nations.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
It cannot be philosophically demonstrated that things exist outside the perceivers mind and that the information received from the senses is a reflection of the true reality and not an illusion. But a non-philosophical mind is never plagued with doubts about the reality of existence—it plays the game of life without questioning the senses. It’s only the philosophical mind that is capable of doubting the senses and treating existence with skepticism. A philosophical mind is a rare entity; majority of the people are non-philosophical—they plunge headlong into the game of living the life of laborers, farmers, soldiers, scientists, businessmen, politicians, etc., without being plagued with philosophical doubt. The tendency towards philosophical doubt is not only the trait of the philosophical mind but also the fountainhead of philosophy.
Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Friday, November 27, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Monday, November 23, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Ralph Ellison, the author of Invisible Man: A Novel, became a communist in the 1930s after coming under the influence of communist intellectuals in New York. But in less than a decade, he realized that communism is as dangerous as Nazism. The extent of Ellison’s disenchantment from communism comes out in a letter which he wrote to Roger Wright on August 18, 1945. While talking about the American communists, Ellison writes in the letter: “If they want to play ball with the bourgeoisie they needn’t think they can get away with it. If they want to be lice, then by God let them be squashed like lice. Maybe we can’t smash the atom, but we can, with a few well chosen, well written words, smash all that crummy filth to hell.”
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Monday, November 9, 2020
In his commentary on the Brahma Sutra, Shankara, the seventh century CE philosopher of Advaita, says that the man who wants to gain knowledge of the Brahman, the ultimate mover and principle of the universe, must have four spiritual qualifications: first, he should possess the ability to discriminate between the real and the unreal; second, he should be indifferent to all pleasures and he should have the fortitude to perform actions without caring for the fruits; third, he should possess six virtues, which are shama (ability to control the mind), dama (ability to control the senses), uparati (ability to strictly observe one’s own dharma with dispassion), titiksha (ability to live with pleasure or pain, and hot or cold), shraddha (faith in guru and in the Upanishads), and samadhana (deep concentration); fourth, he should be filled with the desire for liberation. Shankara notes that the knowledge of the Vedic rituals and the ability to perform them is not necessary for those who seek knowledge of the Brahman.
Sunday, November 8, 2020
My advice to the libertarians (and to the members of Ayn Rand’s tiny cult: Objectivism): "Never second guess the political concerns of your countrymen from an armchair." The libertarians and the objectivists are utopian and dogmatic—in last four years, they were filled with a blind hatred against Trump and his supporters, while they mostly ignored the corruption scandals and unruly protests of the liberals. They believed in Trump’s defeat with a fervor that you usually see in the religious zealots—and now they have got what they always wanted: Trump is defeated and their favorite candidate is the new President. Objectivism has always been a magnet for the naive, alienated, and ignorant, but from the libertarians, I expected a better political judgement. They claim that their philosophy is grounded in reason, ethics, and realism but in their political discourse, they rarely show any sign of these values.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
The Roman Civilization, when it fell in 476 CE, was not defeated in a military sense; it was stolen by a cabal of corrupt Roman politicians, intellectuals, and King Odoacer and his barbarian tribes. Now history is repeating itself—the USA has not been militarily defeated by any foreign power, but it’s being stolen by its leftist politicians who have joined hands with tech, media, and finance industry oligarchs and some foreign powers. This country will find it difficult to recover from the messy election that they are having. The great American robbery is on.
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Friday, October 30, 2020
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
The teachings of modern philosophy are not modern; they are not the novelties invented by modern thinkers; all the great philosophical questions and their possible answers have originated in the ancient times, before the sixth century B.C.E. No “real” modern philosopher will have the audacity to claim that his ideas are his own or wholly original. Since philosophy is always based on the work done in the past, we can draw the inference that a “real” philosopher is never a revolutionary who advocates a break with the past; he is, at the most, a reformer who tries to make some improvements in the thoughts which he has inherited from the past.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Once upon a time the gods won a great victory over the demons and they became arrogant. They boasted, “This victory is ours! This triumph is ours.” They failed to realize that the victory was won for them by the Brahman, with whose power the universe is created and in whom, at the end of the kalpa (aeon), it dissolves. The Brahman noticed the arrogance of the gods and appeared before them in the form of an Yaksha, but the gods failed to comprehend the identity of this wondrous entity. They deputed Agni (the fire god) to ascertain the identity of the Yaksha. Agni proclaimed that he had the power to burn down the entire universe—the Yaksha asked him to burn a straw; Agni tried but he failed to set the straw ablaze. Then the gods deputed Vayu (the wind god) to ascertain the identity of the Yaksha. Vayu proclaimed that he had the power to blow away the universe—the Yaksha asked him to blow a straw; Vayu tried but he failed to move the straw. After that Indra (the lord of the gods) was sent to investigate—the Yaksha presented before Indra a beautiful woman called Uma Haimavati. Indra asked her what this wondrous Yaksha was that had the power of hindering Agni from burning and Vayu from blowing. Uma Haimavati, who is the personification of wisdom, said, “This Yaksha is the Brahman. The gods are feeling pride over a victory that was won for them by the Brahman, so he has appeared as an Yaksha to teach the gods the lesson of humility.” Since the gods derive their power from the One, the Brahman, they must not become arrogant. This story, which I have retold in my own words, occurs in the Book Three and Book Four of the Kena Upaniṣad and can be seen from two angles: first, it’s a moral injunction that the entities in positions of power must avoid arrogance; second, it’s an evidence of the monistic metaphysics of the Vedic thinkers.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Monday, October 19, 2020
The presocratic philosopher Parmenides, who is regarded as the founder of western metaphysics, believed that all material things, and their changing forms and motions, are a reflection of the same eternal reality, the “Being”—he proposed the monistic principle “all is one”. In his Physics, Aristotle rejects Parmanedian monism by noting that a thinker who denies the multiplicity of things, and all the changing forms and motions, is not engaging in natural philosophy. In the thirteenth century, Aquinas assumed that, with Aristotle’s assistance, he could appropriate the “all is one” Parmanedian god while avoiding the pitfalls of monism. In his Compendium of Theology, Aquinas writes: "If we gather together the various points established thus far, we perceive that all perfections in God are in reality one. We have shown above that God is simple. But where there is simplicity, there can be no distinction among the perfections that are present. Hence, if the perfections of all things are in God, they cannot be distinct in Him. Accordingly they are all one in Him.” (Translation by Cyril Vollert). But Aquinas, it seems, was unable to bring Parmenides and Aristotle together and the duel between the two Ancient Greek philosophers continues.
The cosmic forces of the universe are eternal, limitless, and absolute, but that does not imply that man is insignificant. The significance of man lies in the fact that he is not only the ultimate interpretation of the cosmic forces but also their ultimate interpreter—this is because the Supreme Principle of the universe, the One who creates the universe out of nothingness, by bringing space, time, and matter into existence, is closely related to the man’s mind. This is a key teaching of the Vedas and the Upaniṣads—these ancient texts preach that man must endeavor to relate himself to the Supreme Principle (the One) of the universe.
Sunday, October 18, 2020
The Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, which is clearly related to the Katha Upaniṣad, and is a part of the Black Yajurveda, is named after the Sage Śvetāśvatara whose name means “the one who possesses white horses” (which means, the one who has pure faculties). The philosophy of the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad is close to the Samkhya school—it talks of creation emanating from the dual principles of Purusa (the cosmic spirit) and the Prakrti (the cosmic material principle). Samkhya denies the existence of god but Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad subordinates the Purusa and Prakriti principles to a supreme god or the “One.” The text offers a view of the “One” in its Fourth Adhyaya (fourth book). Here’s the first verse of the fourth book (translation by Robert Ernest Hume, 1921):
1. The One who, himself without color,
by the manifold application of his power (sakti-yoga)
Distributes many colors in his hidden purpose, And into whom, its end and its beginning, the whole world
dissolves—He is God!
May He endow us with clear intellect!
In the next three verses of the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad’s fourth book, the One is pantheistically identified:
2. That surely is Agni (fire god). That is Adltya (sun god).
That is Vsyu (wind god), and That is the moon.
That surely is the pure. That is Brahma.
That is the waters. That is Prajapati (Lord of Creation).
3. Thou art woman. Thou art man.
Thou art the youth and the maiden too.
Thou as an old man totterest with a staff.
Being born, thou becomest facing in every direction.
4. Thou art the dark-blue bird and the green [parrot] with red eyes.
Thou hast the lightning as thy child. Thou art the seasons and
Having no beginning, thou dost abide with immanence,
Wherefrom all beings are born.
The thinkers of Ancient Greece believed that the gods are envious of human prosperity and happiness, and they interfere to ruin the life of all those who lust for great riches and perfect happiness. Commenting on the terrible fate of Croesus, Herodotus writes in his Histories: ‘‘presumably because God was angry with him for supposing himself to be the happiest of men.’’ Only the gods can be perfectly prosperous and happy. The chorus in, Aeschylus’s play Agamemnon warns:
In fame unmeasured, praise too high,
Lies danger: God’s sharp lightnings fly
To stagger mountains.
The notion that the lust for wealth and happiness leads to perdition is emphasized in several ancient Hindu (and Buddhist) texts and continues to be a part of the Indian ethical theory till this day.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
In the study of ancient history and philosophy, the need for accurate chronology cannot be denied, but in case of ancient Hindu texts there is an inordinate amount of emphasis on chronology. For most present day Indians chronology has become the simplistic way of glorifying their ancient heritage. Too often you encounter people who (without furnishing any evidence) boast about some texts being from the fourth or fifth century B.C.E—they are convinced that their culture is great merely because it’s the most ancient. But what are the key learnings from these ancient texts? What was the culture in which these texts came into being? What kind of people composed these text? What is the relevance of these text in our modern times?
Friday, October 16, 2020
The importance of pronouncing words in the right way and using grammatically correct language is emphasized in several verses of the Rigveda. The Vedic sages insist that while reciting the hymns if correct language is not used and if the words are not correctly pronounced then the gods are not appeased. This means that a sense of purity in grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary had developed as early as the twelfth century B.C.E. For instance, the hymn 26 of Mandala 7, which is attributed to Vasiṣṭha Maitravaruni, opens with a verse which notes that Indra is pleased with sacred formulations or correct chanting of hymns. Here’s a translation of the verse 7.26.1 (The Rigveda, by Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton, OUP, 2014):
“Soma, unpressed, does not exhilarate Indra, nor do pressings unaccompanied by sacred formulations (exhilarate) the bounteous one.
For him I beget a hymn that he will enjoy, a newer manly one, so that he will listen to us.”