An Indian Civilizational Perspective

The Shackles of Our Answers.

Khilona jaankar…. and then a few notes on santoor..and the actors outstretched hands out of a window….. and tears began rolling down from my cheeks. The tragedy of the situation and the song were enough to bring the tears. But in the midst of the tears I uttered "Beautiful!". Sorrow and Tragedy seemed beautiful.

The question that follows is: Is Sorrow Beautiful? If the sad rendering of the song in Rafi’s voice could make me cry and enjoy that feeling then why can’t I enjoy my personal sorrow? Same emotions, same tears, same heaviness. What is it that makes personal sorrow ugly and an actor’s sorrow beautiful? The personal sorrow takes up a personality when we attach ourselves to it. And in that active-aggressive (as opposed to active-passive reaction for an actor’s sorrow) reaction, we are actively seeking closure. When the personal sorrow strikes – the sequence goes – we first attach our identity to it and then seek answers (explanations and closure). All the while we are seeking answers surrounding our sorrow, we are missing the beauty of it.

Are Answers, then, really the solution or the problem itself?

Answers constantly put limits to the exploration and stymie the next steps. When we ask a question – we raise the "ante"…. the need to go to the next step. Then comes along a teacher or a Guru (well meaning but devastating in effect) and gives you an answer and while it gives you some wisdom, it takes you one step forward but only to stop you there. He/She finally applies the Super Glue to permanently fix you to that spot in the journey. This "Super Glue" is called Faith. Now, there is no need to ask questions or look for answers. You have been provided an answer and are required to stick by it.

A Guru who provides an answer is like a parent who provides books, food, laptops to a little kid while keeping him confined to his bed. The parent attempts to explain and "teach" the kid what the world is like but in the confines of his bed. Bloated, with heaps of books and CDs and books lying around, the kid can explain what a sunrise over the Himalayas looks like to perfection, but can never "feel" it for himself. For that to happen, he has to leave the bed, his house, and reject the love of his parents (which manifests in providing the answers/solutions to him readymade) and make his journey to the Himalayas.

Questioning without answering is that journey of the kid from his bed to the Himalayas to "feel" the sunrise.

An image or sensory perception is formed when our nervous system takes in light, sound, smell as waves (air/chemical changes in air/light waves) and sift through these formation to finally collapse the disjointed inputs into a result – an image or a smell. That is our attempt at "making a choice" at the sensory level.

The visual system allows us to assimilate information from the environment to help guide our actions. The act of seeing starts when the lens of the eye focus an image of the outside world onto a light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye, called the retina. The retina is actually part of the brain that is isolated to serve as a transducer for the conversion of patterns of light into neuronal signals. The lens of the eye focuses light on the photoreceptive cells of the retina, which detect the photons of light and respond by producing neural impulses. These signals are processed in a hierarchical fashion by different parts of the brain, such as the lateral geniculate nucleus, and the primary and secondary visual cortex of the brain.

Unconscious Inference (Source: Wikipedia)

Hermann von Helmholtz is often credited with the founding of the scientific study of visual perception. Helmholtz held vision to be a form of unconscious inference: vision is a matter of deriving a probable interpretation for incomplete data.

Inference requires prior assumptions about the world: two well-known assumptions that we make in processing visual information are that light comes from above, and that objects are viewed from above and not below. The study of visual illusions (cases when the inference process goes wrong) has yielded a lot of insight into what sort of assumptions the visual system makes.

The unconscious inference hypothesis has recently been revived in so-called Bayesian studies of visual perception. Proponents of this approach consider that the visual system performs some form of Bayesian inference to derive a perception from sensory data. Models based on this idea have been used to describe various visual subsystems, such as the perception of motion or the perception of depth. An introduction can be found in Mamassian, Landy & Maloney (2002). See here [1] for a non-mathematical tutorial on these general ideas.

As if that was not enough! The "Rolling history" of all these results is then used by us to create an interpretation of the world which we then "live" in. We never realize how our senses and the "I" converted a rainbow of infinite possibilities into an opaque result… called our world!

Are Answers to the most fundamental questions therefore .. the "Truth"? Or are they "Truth Compromised"?

Krishnamurthi says "Total Negation is the essence of the positive". So "Assertion" should then be the essence of the negative! When I have selected an interpretation out of the infinite possibilities I have – by doing so – rejected the rest!

THAT attempt to immunize against the infinity to embrace the finite is what the learned call "Illusion". Not that the interpretation that my nervous system chose to represent to me of the light, sound and smell did not exist but the fact that THIS interpretation (possibility) was chosen over others based on the predilection of my nervous system and brain – and presented as the world is what is illusionary about the world. "Existence" of the world, therefore, is not an illusion but the fact that we choose to assert the existence of a unique world is the Illusion.. the Maya!

Life in itself is a journey and it will inevitably take us in a direction – a direction of freedom.. of Truth. Because that is the essence of the primordial substance of the creation. "Answers" and "Interpretations" pose and create an Inertia in this journey that stop us. "This cannot be true – because I BELIEVE "THIS"!!". These beliefs are structures that we have created out of the various "answers" we have accumulated in our lives that we Treasure!

One keeps what one finds is valuable. These "valuable treasures" – our beliefs (towers and hills made of answers) are shackles that stop our journey.

Then, is Life of "Questioning without Answers" – in itself – the ONLY way to Freedom? Possibly. I don’t want the inertia of the answer to this question to interrupt my journey!

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7 Comments
  1. Sanjeeva Tiwari says

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  2. cindrella says

    Well Written Desh. I donot know the answer to your question.. but i do know that all of these questions and thoughts exists in mind.. and when we drop them (drop thoughts, drop questioning), we are free. It is only the mind that is leading us in to circles. WE think we are this mind and when we realize that we can be free of it and we are not our mind, all such questions fall and then we are free. Free completely. This duality of question and answer exist in mind, just like the 2 eyes of Shiva. When the third eye opens, the duality vanishes and we see both were always same.
    I am not sure what I am writing is making sense at all to you. But, just my thoughts in a response to your well written blog. I am a regular reader of diggindianews.com that started not long ago. Hope to find more of your articles there. My vote “up” to your article.

  3. cindrella says

    Well Written Desh. I donot know the answer to your question.. but i do know that all of these questions and thoughts exists in mind.. and when we drop them (drop thoughts, drop questioning), we are free. It is only the mind that is leading us in to circles. WE think we are this mind and when we realize that we can be free of it and we are not our mind, all such questions fall and then we are free. Free completely. This duality of question and answer exist in mind, just like the 2 eyes of Shiva. When the third eye opens, the duality vanishes and we see both were always same.
    I am not sure what I am writing is making sense at all to you. But, just my thoughts in a response to your well written blog. I am a regular reader of diggindianews.com that started not long ago. Hope to find more of your articles there. My vote “up” to your article.

  4. Desh says

    Thanks, Cindrella! I like your thoughts.. specifically the one where you explained the significance of Shiva’s 3 eyes (Netras).

    If you feel like writing here at Drishtikone.com – feel free to do so after registering yourself.

  5. Desh says

    Thanks, Cindrella! I like your thoughts.. specifically the one where you explained the significance of Shiva’s 3 eyes (Netras).

    If you feel like writing here at Drishtikone.com – feel free to do so after registering yourself.

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