Life is full of uncertainties and hazards and poignant small ignoble things; but through them all the conscious Little One feels the force, though not aware of the invisible hands that give the push there is the unwitting movement forward. These puppets and marionettes, themselves powerless, are ignorant of the source from where comes their effectiveness, their action, their voiceless song. The sonnet gives in the couplet a clinching account:
Ignorant themselves of their own fount of strength
They play their part in the enormous Whole.
This is the ephemeral creature’s every day life but, in the final analysis, they all serve even if unwillingly, unpleasantly, a mightier Power. It looks as though there is nothing in vain in the creation, Nature with far aim in view labouring to work out every detail.
There is a concept in philosophy known as Occam’s Razor which holds, essentially, that if all other things are equal, the simplest explanation is likely to be the correct one. This concept helps cut through the layers of complexity that confront us when we try to understand the world around us and the role we play in it. There are benefits to this concept when it helps us avoid complexity that is simply developed by the human mind for the sake of apparent profundity, or for the purpose of baffling and misleading others.
At the same time, if we gaze with a clear vision at the world around us, we find that the “simplest” is frequently not fully able to address the reality of the universe.
Humans prefer simple explanations and thus, favor responses that are “black and white” rather than those that have subtlety and complexity of interactive and inter-related parts.
Nevertheless, the real world is not as simple as we may choose to view it. Whether we view the structure of the material universe and the action of subatomic particles, the inter-relationships of the innumerable forms of living beings in a symbiotic living web, or we view the human body with its numerous interactive organ systems and physiological functions that involve very finely tuned biochemical reactions, we find complexity everywhere. To truly understand the world and our lives, we therefore must be prepared to develop our understanding to both encompass simplicity to cut through verbal convoluted structures, and complexity when viewing the refined intelligence of the organisation of the universe.
Sri Aurobindo prefaces the new chapter with some thoughts on this issue: “But after all perhaps when we come to think more at large about the matter, we may find that Nature and Existence are not of the same mind as man in this respect, that there is here a great complexity which we must follow with patience and that those ways of thinking have most chance of a fruitful truth-yielding, which like the inspired thinking of the Upanishads take in many sides at once and reconcile many conflicting conclusions.”
As we move from a world-view that is both anthropocentric and earth-centric, to one that recognizes the much larger eco-sphere, bio-sphere and universe, we find that a global or even a universal view vastly expands our vision and understanding as we recognise and embrace more aspects of the universal creation.
By the way, the beauty of Meghadutam was one of the triggers for my getting interested in Sanskrit. The beauty is in the description of nature. As a story, there is nothing else. As the cloud proceeds, Kalidasa makes the cloud stop and pause, so that he can describe nature and the geography.
Informed by the analytical approaches of environmental historians, animal geographers, art historians, and ecological anthropologists, this book demonstrates that no strict divisions existed between human and animal realms in princely
Sovereigns, wild animals, and environments were interactive participants in the
construction of territory, identity, and history.
First, he gives us a clue that he has read the book “Irreducible Mind” which he quoted in the opening of his post. (Maybe that’s one reason why Sam Harris is open to the mystery of consciousness and not a staunch materialist, or so he says.) Second, he referred to the classic NDE case of Pam Reynolds. And third, he narrated a seemingly *psi* experience he had in a dream with Tibetan Vajrayana Master Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche. If you haven’t read it yet I recommend reading Harris’s post in its entirety first and then come back here when you’re done. […]
That said, I think Harris and Kastrup might at least have some similarities with their views on mysticism, philosophy, and the mystery of consciousness. Harris is no stranger to Buddhist and nondual philosophy. Kastrup is no stranger to Eastern and nondual philosophy either. But the two seem to have a chasm on their approach to the mystery of consciousness. So as much as I’d like to see a debate between Harris and Alexander, I’d also like to see a debate between Harris and Kastrup. Heck, if Sam Harris can take the time to debate Dinesh D’Souza surely (I hope) he’ll consider debating a more formidable thinker like Kastrup (unless of course, Harris’s policy is only to debate best-selling authors.)
On the freedom of the concepts of religion and belief from The Immanent Frame by Yvonne Sherwood
Modernity is the time when the mystery goes inside—to the inner sanctum, the core of the person. It is the time when the holy is privatized as “her belief.” If “belief” is the leftover space to describe that which is not of Truth or Reason or Philosophy, then it is potentially ubiquitous—and rampant. Outside the ritualized, determined, self-estranging gestures of Philosophy, all is belief. But then—as if sensing the danger—belief is penned inside the category Theology (or Religion). In the neat segregations of modernity, Theology (and her grand-daughters, the religions) become the special foci and repository for the maverick force of belief.