There is no stronger and more wide-spread philosophy than the Philosophy of Convenience. Indeed, I have proved it in another article: ‘How Innocent Or Unbiased We Can Get?’ that there is only one way to get pure innocence or pure un-bias and that is the Concept of Free Will, which can be achieved only outside this universe. We have self or as Sri Guru Granth sahib calls ‘haume’ writ large on the footprints of our lives. None of us can hope to get out of this loop of seeking something for ourselves, our interests, our family interests, our community, village, town, nation; indeed anything that is ours.
The Philosophy of Our Convenience was born the day Self, Ego, ‘haume’ ‘my or mine’ were born; ie, the day the universe was created. Lets take the Concept of Happiness for example and lets say you are one of those self-sacrificing saints who does ‘everything’ for others’ happiness. In the end, you still have to reckon with this claim: “It gives me happiness to make others happy.” There is no way you can take ‘me’ out of even seemingly ‘selfless’ deeds.
One fallout of this ‘Philosophy of Convenience’ is that most – if not all – of us wish to be regarded as virtuous, no matter what we are doing. The reason is that most – if not all – of us feel that people when they look at our deeds they don’t really understand what goes through our minds when we do what we do. At other times, we detest the tendency in people to misread the thoughts of our minds and give them a different colour than the one we had intended. And the best part is that our intention is also dynamic that keeps pace with our current and ever-changing philosophy of how to be virtuous and seen as virtuous.
- Good, Bad, Virtuous and Evil.
Each one of these were and is necessary for community or societal living. The first three are easy to understand as the products of our desire to make rules about our lives in a society or community. The last one is also not difficult to comprehend: we invented Time only for our part of the Universe, ie, one rotation of the Earth around the Sun would be 24 hours and during the revolution of the Earth in an orbit around the Sun seasons would be there depending upon if the Earth is closer to the Sun (Summer) in its elliptical orbit, or away (Winter). Living in a society on Earth, Time and Seasons help us to convert a Relative Phenomenon (Time is dependent upon the velocity of light) into an Absolute one; so much so that we tick off people who are late for work by a few minutes; or, call it a New Year at the stroke of midnight, wherever we are.
The Philosophy of Hindu Religion is that God is beyond all emotions, biases and Time; and that if we are to be one with God, we have to detach ourselves from all worldly feelings, possessions, time and even thoughts. Finding Paramatama, therefore, calls for rising above – what we call as – worldly feelings and thoughts, needs and desires. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib this condition is called ‘Jeevatya marna’ (to kill (all worldly thoughts whilst living one’s life). Total abnegation of all worldly things and total surrender to the will of God is the biggest philosophy of convenience that we have derived for ourselves. Let us examine the lines in Sri Guru Granth Sahib:
It says, in simple words, with the blessing of the Guru, the person who realises and keeps himself away from worldly feelings and things, understands the Creation, and becomes one with his/her Creator just as Water merges with Water.
When we examine the Truth of this advice we realise that being beyond lust, anger, greed, belongingness, sorrow, grief, shame and pride brings us closer to our inner self and hence to God. Lets say because of one’s lust a son is born and one feels a sense of fulfillment and pride in having an intelligent son; one gets angry or ashamed when he does something wrong and one is full of greed for him to do well in life. However, he is killed in an accident and one is full of intense and indescribable grief and helplessness and even frustration with God for being unnatural in recalling the son before the father. That’s the time when the wise and the saintly, through collective and generational philosophy of convenience tell you the following:
- He was never yours (Only God owns everything and everybody) so why are you sorrowful?
- God’s creation never dies and hence your son is reborn as someone else’s son now.
- Grief and sorrow, just like happiness and pride are worldly feelings and God keeps giving us periodic hints to rise above these.
- Look at the entire srishti (Creation or Universe) as your own and you will realise that you neither gained anything when you had him nor lost anything when he went away.
- God loves us all and will never do anything to sadden us; it is just that understanding of His ways is beyond us all.
Various rituals were and are born out of this philosophy of convenience. In my village in Punjab, women from neighbouring houses and families used to congregate at the house of a family whereat someone had died and they would beat their chests and do maatam (mourning) so as to help the bereaved to take out intense feelings of grief at their loss. Death is not seen as the final “end”, but is seen as a turning point in the seemingly endless journey of the indestructible “atman” or soul through innumerable bodies of animals and people. Hence, Hinduism prohibits excessive mourning or lamentation upon death, as this can hinder the passage of the departed soul towards its journey ahead: “As mourners will not help the dead in this world, therefore (the relatives) should not weep, but perform the obsequies to the best of their power.” The period of mourning, therefore, last until 13 days and has various stages such as Uthala (Rising), and Chautha (fourth day).
Now what if we have all got it wrong? What if God had given us various feelings and thoughts to face them and not to run away from them? A strangely rebellious thought? No, on the other hand, it is realisation of the fact that nothing can be created by anyone other than by God, if there is one. If He is the all-powerful and the only Creator than He alone made all worldly things, feelings and thoughts. Lets say, over a period of Time (our own invention; else, it doesn’t exist), since the beginning of the Earth, we, human beings, intensified these feelings a hundred times and brought newer thoughts and biases to these. However, nothing can be created out of nothingness; sometime or the other, however weak, these feelings originated and would have been given to us by God. We worship Earth, Sky, Water, Fire etc because these are God’s creations. However, why does our philosophy of convenience goads us to run away from emotions, feelings, thoughts etc in order to discover Him? Did God create these as obstacles so that we’d cross these and then find Him; a sort of cosmic Hide and Seek?
And who are we trying to please by abnegating these God’s creations? Our God, and for the good of our soul. I think the dichotomy lies in the fact that the world has evolved as a society or community whereas such abnegation makes us do something only for one person or one soul that is our own. Where do you want to stay; as an ascetic in the hills and caves or as a social being in the world?
Don’t seek God, therefore, for yourself and for the peace of your soul. It is a downright selfish and un-godly feeling. Seek kindness, and goodness for another person, another soul and leave the rest to God to give your just reward or punishment.
Let alone run away from feelings, thoughts and emotions; I am suggesting that you own someone’s loss, feel his or her grief, face his anger, pride and greed and be kind to him or her rather than at all times being worried about obtaining Paramatama for yourself.
Three years back, Mr. NR Narayana Murthy, the founder chairman of Infosys gave a speech at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, on 09 Oc 2009. The speech was titled ‘Learning From The West’. It is worth reading this speech and I have given you the link. See what a shift of philosophy from the individual to the society can do for us Hindus. It is the need of the hour; we need it more than at any time in our history.
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