ABSOLUTE VIRTUE

Playwright Eugene O’ Neil once said, “Remember that every man is a variation of yourself; no man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart”. This relativity of human kind actually extends to the entire cosmic universe. The existence and even location of millions of objects in space is dependent upon other objects. If it were not for the gravity, many objects would lose their weight and position. For example, we cannot see Dark-Matteror perceive its existence, but because of gravity exerted by it, we know it is there! Imagine that Mass or Matter beyond electromagnetic waves is perceived by inference alone! Einstein’s Theory of Relativity further brings the relationship between Mass and Energy. According to him both are the same; that is, both are conserved separately but atomic particles (Matter) can be converted to a form of Energy (Non-Matter) such as Light, Heat or Kinetic.That brings us to the Law of Conservation of Energy that we read about in the school. According to this the total amount of energy remains constant over time. In simple terms it means that when energy is consumed or dissipated it appears in an equivalent and some other form or forms. In other words Energy cannot be created or destroyed! Since there is relationship between Mass and Energy it also, by extension, means that the Total Energy or Total Mass in the universe is constant over Time as observed by us.

In my previous article ‘The Virtual World’, I had argued that how we see objects is dependent upon a form of Energy called Light emitted by such objects and reaching us over Time. If this Energy including Infrared and Ultraviolet were not to reach us, as far as we are concerned, such a thing does not exist. But, nay, Dark Matter does exist as otherwise who or what would be applying such gravitational force.

Suffice it to say that only constant is Total Mass or Total Energy and everything else is relative. Every consumption of energy by us is reappearing somewhere and someone is being affected by it. So far there is no difference between Science and Spirituality. We believe in the same thing. Where we differ is what we perceive by inference. Spirituality feels that there is a Creator since Scientists acknowledge the fact that Energy or Mass cannot be created but merely converted. Then who created it? For example, Guru Nanak as brought out in the very first lines of Guru Granth Sahib made an effort to explain God, the Creator (Ek Ongkaar). God, he said is Satnaam (Truth) and is “Aad Sach, Jugaad Sach, Hai Bhee Sach, Naanak Hosee Bhee Sach”. (True in the Beginning, True in the Primeval Age, True now, says Nanak, He shall certainly be True in the future). This means that God the Creator is beyond His Creation and when the Creation dies (or actually reappears as something else), He will not die.

Bhagwat Gita says exactly the same thing. Ahamaatmaa gudaakesha sarvabhootaashayasthitah; Ahamaadishcha madhyam cha bhootaanaamanta eva cha (‘I am, O Gudakesh, the Self that dwells within all beings, as also their primeval beginning, middle, and end’). Both, Guru Granth Sahib and Bhagwat Gita also tell Man not to worry about the past or the future because it was and is beyond him. Also understanding of the cosmic world is beyond man: Na tu maam shakyase drashtum anenaiva swachakshushaa; Divyam dadaami te chakshuh pashya me yogamaishwaram (But thou art not able to behold Me with these, thine own eyes; I give thee the divine eye; behold My lordly Yoga). It is only then that Arjuna saw various manifestations of Lord Krishna as the Creator.

Anyway, a deeper study of Science and Spirituality bring out that there is hardly any difference in what both believe in; except that Science feels that what is now unknown or un-understood by Man will be discovered by him later in a scientific way whereas Spirituality feels that God reveals to Man what He chooses to reveal.

As brought out on page 606 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Aape mar jivaida piyara sah  laide sabh lavaaia (The Beloved Himself kills and revives; all draw the breath of life, given by Him). Aape taanh dibaan hai piyara aape kaare laaia (The Beloved Himself is power and presence; He Himself engages us in our work). Jiu aap challaye tiu chalaye piyara jiu har prabh mere bhaayiya (As the Beloved makes me walk, I walk, as it pleases my Lord God). Aape janti jant hai piyara jan Nanak vajeh vajaaiya (The Beloved Himself is the musician, and the musical instrument; servant Nanak vibrates His vibration).

This is no different from Bhagwat Gita, eg, Chapter VII: Beejam maam sarvabhootaanaam viddhi paartha sanaatanam; Buddhir buddhimataamasmi tejastejaswinaamaham (Know Me, O Arjuna, as the eternal seed of all beings; I am the intelligence of the intelligent; the splendour of the splendid objects am I). Balam balavataam asmi kaamaraagavivarjitam; Dharmaaviruddho bhooteshu kaamo’smi bharatarshabha (Of the strong, I am the strength devoid of desire and attachment, and in (all) beings, I am the desire unopposed to Dharma, O Arjuna!) Ye chaiva saattvikaa bhaavaa raajasaastaamasaashcha ye; Matta eveti taanviddhi na twaham teshu te mayi (Whatever being (and objects) that are pure, active and inert, know that they proceed from Me. They are in Me, yet I am not in them). Tribhirgunamayair bhaavairebhih sarvamidam jagat; Mohitam naabhijaanaati maamebhyah paramavyayam (Deluded by these Natures (states or things) composed of the three qualities of Nature, all this world does not know Me as distinct from them and immutable).

At this stage, I am not going to get into any discussion about the Good and the Bad or Evil. However, it is important to take stock of what we have established so far

· One, we have established that Energy or Mass cannot be created or destroyed. These can only be converted to other forms.
· Two, we have established that there is a (so far unknown) Force (as believed by Science) or Creator who has created this fixed quantity of Energy or Mass and this Force or Creator is beyond the laws of Nature.
· Three, that because of our inability to produce new Energy or Mass (as opposed to converting what this Force or Creator has made available to us); every action of ours is relative to such reconverted forms.

Some simple examples of the last point above are that we, human beings, do not create water; we either melt ice to get water through the use of Heat Energy or convert sea water into water by excluding salt by evaporation. If the world balance of Total Mass or Total Energy is to be maintained, then every action of ours has an (or several) equal reaction(s) over Time; some of these are immediately noticeable by us whereas some take more time; some may be at the same place, whereas some may be at another distant place. An example of the latter is the concern of the developed world about global warming and environmental issues. They themselves used Energy during their industrialisation years causing unfettered depredation of the environment; but, they want China and India to put cap on emissions during their rapid industrialisation requiring unprecedented use of Energy. These are clearly double standards.

Here is what Jeremy Seabrook wrote in Outlook magazine (16 June 2008 issue) in an Opinion titled ‘The Paupers Arrive..Late for the Banquet’:

“In a world of prodigality and poverty, of excess and exiguity, and a system that violates the elements that sustain life, if India and China increased their wealth twenty- or fifty-fold, what would be the effect on the resource base of the earth? It is yet another unfortunate historical accident that India and China should be poised on the brink of the age of heroic consumption at the very time when the western powers are coming to the sober realisation that this era may be drawing to its close. The insistence that India and China forbear to pollute in the reckless fashion of the West at the time of its early industrialism is an indirect recognition of the impossible task they are faced with. Although the economy is the only area of experience in which the knowing and cynical of the world still believe miracles to occur, it would require unprecedented supernatural intervention to satisfy unbound human desires, which hover like an epic plague of locusts over the harvest-fields of the earth.”

Strong words these. However, these are in recognition of both our findings; that Energy consumed would produce some reaction somewhere else over Time; and two, that we have only a fixed amount of Energy. It is for this reason that I steered clear from any discussion on Good or Bad because who is going to be the judge? As seen by George Bush global food crisis of 2008 was a direct result of enhanced consumption by India and China! One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

This argument can be extended to arrive at the realisation that there is nothing like Absolute Virtue or Absolute Evil. In God’s Universe there are no Absolutes; everything and every action is in relation to another thing or action. It is because of the Relativity of Time. The only Absolute is the Creator Himself; He is Timeless.

What if ideas, concepts, words and sounds too have an Absolute Total Quantity over Time? In that case we would only be regenerating these (in the same manner as other forms of Energy)! When I was small I read of a machine that would produce all possible combinations of letters and digits and punctuation marks (say in just one language). It would thus produce all the literature of the world that has already been produced and all that that is going to be produced. There is only one problem though; the time taken for all the combinations would be eternal even with super computers. After that another eternity would be required to sift the meaningful from the gibberish and who knows all the meaningful from all the gibberish? In relative terms (the only terms known to us) one man’s gibberish is another man’s intellect!

Now we turn to the concept of Free Will. All religions believe, with some variations, that Man does not have Free Will. If you followed my arguments so far, we can never have free will since we have a position in this universe which is relative to others. Every action of ours is in relation to others. Here is what Swami Vivekanada had to say about the concept of Free Will,” Therefore we see at once that there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know, and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by conditions of time, space and causality. … To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here.”

In Guru Granth Sahib it is said thus: Hukme karam kamavne payiye kirat firao (According to the Lord’s Command, people perform their actions; they wander around, driven by the karma of their past actions). And what exactly is this kirat? It is what God ordained for you. In Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna not to be carried away by the fact that those arrayed across from him were all related to him and would die by his actions; he said in any case the whole universe is related to you and in any case they are going to die. But what about your Karma?

This brings us to the most interesting concept of Life and Death; we know that these are not Absolute. Hence, for something to be born (not Created but born in the sense of the word ‘Born’ as we understand), something has to die. This also explains the doubt by a number of meta-physicists who feel that if Creator or God already knows that his creation (say, a man) would be wicked when he grows up, why did he create him? It also explains why there are floods and earthquakes.

In the great Hindi movie Waqt (Time), there was a beautiful song whose lyrics were:

Aage bhi jaane na tu, peechhe bhi jaane na tu
jo bhi hai, bas yahi ek pal hai


Anjaane saayo ka raaho mein dera hai
Andekhi baahon ne ham sabko ghera hai
Ye pal ujaala hai baaqi andhera hai
Ye pal gawaana na ye pal hi tera hai
Jeene waale soch le yahi waqt hai kar le puri aarzoo.

(What is beyond you don’t know; what is past you have no knowledge
What is really there is only the present moment.

In this world dwell the shadows strange,
We are all embraced by unseen arms.
The present moment is the only light, rest is dark for us.
So do not lose this moment, only the moment belongs to you.
O living being, think, only this Time is your own
To fulfill all your desires)

There is only one flaw in the lyrics of the song; that is, the suggestion to “soch le” (think). It is because the moment you think, you are transported to another “pal” (moment), which is either in the past or yet to come.

A few years ago, when I went to Spain, I saw the bull-fighting that I had heard so much about. All the impressions that I carried of bravado were shattered when I learn that it was not so much fighting but it was actually more like a play or drama with three Acts called the tercios (thirds), the start of each one announced by a trumpet. The first stage is tercio de varas (the lancing thirds) when the picadors soften the hump of the bull with lances. In the next stage, the tercio de banderillas (the third of flags), the three banderilleros each attempt to plant two banderillas, sharp barbed sticks into the bull’s shoulders. These anger and invigorate the bull. In the final stage, the tercio de muerte (the third of death), the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape, or muleta, and a sword so as to finally kill the bull by piercing his heart by a sword through the already softened hump, what is termed as estocada. Accidents do take place in all the three acts. However, in this play or ritual or drama the bull has no choice but to die.

I was reminded of the Hindi movie ‘Anand’s famous speech by Rajesh Khanna, “Babu moshaye yeh zindagi ek rang manch hai; aur hum sab usme kaam karne wali kathputliyan. In kathputliyon ki dore upar wale ke haath mein hai. Kab, kaise, kahan, kis kis ko uthna hai yeh koi nahin jaanta” (Dear Sir, our Life is a play-stage and we are all puppets participating in this play. The strings of the puppets are in the hands of the Almighty. When, how and where he would make anyone disappear (die) no one knows”.

Many have misinterpreted the last words of Christ on the cross, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’ to indicate the wickedness of the Romans. Actually, Christ has said these for the entire mankind. He knew that Man has no way of knowing what he is doing because only God has that knowledge. Talking about Christ, He also gave us an example of our ignorance in believing in Absolute Virtue when he saved Mary Magdalene from being stoned for being a sinner. He said the first stone would be cast by the one who had not sinned. No such person existed. No such person exists even today.

Hence, if there is nothing like Absolute Virtue and we do not exercise free-will to do anything, we can only strive to do Good in what we believe to be Good. We can neither be judgmental of our own deeds nor of those of others. Here is an excerpt from the song, from the movie ‘Do Aankhein Barha Haath’:

Ae maalik tere bande hum
aise ho humare karam
nekee par chale, aur badee se taley,
takey huste huey nikley dum


Bada kamjor hain aadmi,
abhi laakhon hain is mein kamee
par tu jo khadaa, hai dayalu bada,
teri kirpa se dharti thami
diya tune humey jab janam
too hee zelegaa hum sab ke ghum


jab julmon ka ho saamnaa,
tab tu hi humey thaamnaa
voh burai karey, hum bhalai bharey,
nahi badley ki ho kaamnaa
badh uthey pyaar ka har kadam
aur mitey bair ka ye bharam’

(O God, we are your servants,
Please make our karmas such
That we take the path of Good and be afraid to do the Evil
So that finally we return to you in joy.

Man is very frail,
As of now he has many shortcomings,
But you are all merciful,
And this Earth is in its place because of you.
Now that you gave us birth,
You will bear all cruelties done on us.

When we face cruelties,
Please keep us in your care.
But, when others do Evil and we do the Good,
We should never have a desire to seek revenge.
Let our every step be that of Love,
And we should shun all animosity.

I think that the realisation that there is no Absolute Virtue is the beginning of our knowledge about our Absolute Ignorance!

© 2010 – 2013, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  1. It was a long and an interesting blog post. Though I agree with most of the things you have argued for in the post, I still like to believe that man has free will to do as he pleases, otherwise, if everything from birth to death is preordained, life seems to have no meaning.

  2. Discerning article. It is well conceived idea in Hinduism that you do your duty and do not desire any result, and also recycling of life. Good n bad both are aspects of God. He is present in good and absent in evil . when any good is done we all are involved. Again when there is evil we all are responsible and revoke God Who is absent that time.
    Enjoyed reading Sir . Anticipate more from you on the subject