Thursday, December 18, 2014

The enigmatic paradox

One of the greatest secrets of the universe is even simpler than the h2g2's answer 42. It is this: the truth, that which sets you free is neither good nor evil, neither correct nor wrong.

Now if you have ever been baffled by the beauty in nature or disgusted with war and terrorism or just disillusioned in life, you would find your mind polarising, wanting to take sides. Because taking sides gives the mind the semblence of and the motivation for moving forward vis a vis the alternative of being stuck in hopelessness and despair.

But which side should one take? If the answer to this question is even slightly important to you, you are probably already on a quest for answers. You could meddle with philosophy (particularly impressive are the works of Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero and Plato) and metaphysics while losing yourself in the works of Kant, Schopenhauer, Ouspensky, Gurdjieff. In your search you could discover bizarre rituals of secret societies like the order of Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Yazidis, the Zoroastrians or marvel at magical koans and the mystical lives of sufis and yogis. Poetry by e.e. cummings and w.h. auden and songs by leonard cohen will give wings to your heart and make you cry.You would decide for yourself that pirsig's compassionate metaphysics of quality touches you somewhere where rand's superficial objectivist philosophy though powerful wouldn't even begin to skim.

Between hoarding and processing so much information you would stand up for friends, fall in love, be betrayed, understand fear and discover that your condition is not very different from the general human condition. And at some point, you will laugh at the pointlessness of it all and arrive at the truth i mentioned above.

Or you could spare yourself the hardwork and consider that the following is a paradox:
In the pursuit of an idealogy to live life according to, so as to have done justice to it thereby leading to the notion of freedom (consisting of peace and contentment and the absence of guilt) in the end - 'good' and all that it stands for is a better guide than 'evil'.

The above sentence and all ideologies, concepts and religions derived from it are extremely deceptive. This idea has for centuries in different contexts enmeshed mankind in battles in which humanity has always lost. In its enigmatic best, this notion has the potential to throw the thinker far away from any understanding of freedom. Truth thus has always remained elusive.

For our amusement let us in simple and elegant ways try to show what is wrong with the above idea:
The first thing that breaks it down completely is that the measure used to compare the two is what is being compared in the first place. The whole problem is analogous to answering that a mango is more mango like than an orange on being asked which of the two should be preferred.
Secondly, there is also an element of bias because before even beginning to compare the two we have already formed judgements (depending on our natures) as to which side is worthy of emerging victorious. 

The reverse - 'evil' and all that it stands for is a better torchbearer than 'good' is by similar reasoning, a paradox. Races, cultures and civilizations have perished trying to defend, uphold and preserve, the good, the pure, the clean, the white, the more, the true.

The problem with swearing by any ideology however legitimate it sounds like in the beginning is that it makes you fearful of losing whatever thing of value it helped you to hoard in the first place - wealth, power, grandeur, luxury, supremacy, superiority, a sence of entitlement, etc. Once you have things that you are fearful of losing you try two things : to make others see value in the things you hold dear, or you set out to destroy everything that threatens you. Thus while fighting for and standing up for your 'good' you become that which you set out to destroy in the first place.

Pause for a bit. Think if you help your brethen in their diffcult times as easily as you pick up a weapon to defend them. Congratulate yourself on being a part of a race that has used its intelligence to spot the differences between the opposing values and put the worldly miscellaneous in correct baskets (albeit in their heads).

However it is my hope that we soon realise the danger of believing that either one is more correct, more beautiful, more right, more legitimate, more worthy of preserving than the other. 

Now and right now is the time to transcend.

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