I think its time ET renamed its “Cosmic Uplink” column “Thoughts for the crapper.” I haven’t read today’s paper yet, but the column it carried the day before was outrageous to say the least. And this is not the first time Mr. Prime Crane Sri Always Joyous has written such “spiritual” stuff. He writes-
Four hundred years ago Rene Descartes, the French philosopher declared, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ He was right, and at the same time, he was wrong. This declaration has formed the basis of modern thinking. Billions of people in this world have followed Descartes for generations believing that unless each one outthinks the other they cannot succeed in this world.
He was right in that the human system does not know how to live without its mind, without thinking. As a result human beings have become slaves to their minds. They live in bondage. He was wrong in that it is possible to live without the mind!
First, a statement cannot be right and wrong at the same time – “you” can “interpret” it in two (or gazillion) different ways. When Descartes said “cogito, ergo sum” – this is one of the most famous statements in the history of philosophy – he meant that the only way he “knew” that he “existed” was because he “thought.” From the Wikipedia: “The simple meaning of the phrase is that if one is skeptical of existence, that is in and of itself proof that he does exist.” But Doubting Descartes, as always, doubts too much (and he says there is vacuum in Blaise Pascal’s head). His statement takes a swipe at metaphysics and epistemology in one go. I don’t have the reference at hand, but I think (I may be wrong here) he said that that piece of knowledge is the only thing that he is sure of – that he exists and he thinks. Rand said it best – “I am, therefore I think.” If you don’t exist, you cannot think – existence before consciousness.
The more outrageous claim of Prime Crane is “it is possible to live without the mind!” Are you kidding me? For such people, philosophy is a joke. Will you undergo a heart operation by a surgeon who thinks that “it is possible to live without the mind?” Or sign a contract with an architect/ engineer who says that he can build a skyscraper without using his mind? Or marry off your daughter to someone who believes that? Or write in an application for some job-
Mr. Crane states that it is possible to live without the mind. I believe him. It then stands to reason (its just a meaningless idiom; reason, of course, is irrelevant) that it is possible to work without the mind. So I didn’t find it necessary to gain the necessary knowledge and qualifications. I believe that the “higher consciousness” will take care of it, automatically…
Philosophy is not something that you think about in the toilet, or something that you write about because you have nothing else to do, or talk about to impress friends and girl friends. You can do all that, but that is not its “primary purpose.” Philosophy is a guide to life. It is not a joke.
Then comes more traditional stuff – idealism Vedanta style-
Many centuries before Descartes, a Vedic sage declared that man does not begin to exist till he stops thinking. Adi Shankara, the boy sage from ancient India, at the age of eight, faced his future master across the waters of the holy Tungabhadra river. The master asked him, ‘Who are you?’ In response Adi Shankara said, ‘I am not the mind, I am not the intellect, I am not the ego and I am not the senses. I am beyond all that. I am pure consciousness.’
“I am pure consciousness.” What does that mean? Take a shot. Does this “pure consciousness” need to eat, drink, pee, take a dump, sleep, earn, read? Or can it survive without all this?
Then comes his moral relativism, that practiced by, as Blanshard referred to them, emotivists-
Nothing is inherently good or bad except what we judge them to be…Drop your judgement about yourself, about people around you and about situations.
Hitler killed 6 million jews – there is nothing “inherently good or bad” in that act? Nathuram Godse murdered Gandhi. Isn’t it bad? What about murderers, rapists etc etc etc. They are not “inherently good or bad?” We should stop judging them, stop punishing them and let them kill, rape and pillage?
This is what happens when philosophy and spirituality is considered to be something that is “special,” some skill that is to be practiced by “enlightened” people, “intellectuals” and other jerks. The mind – intellect – is the “only” barrier against nonsense. And the only way people can purvey absolute crap – “profound” knowledge – is by destroying the mind. No wonder philosophers and gurus keep saying the mind doesn’t exist, and neither do you, and that you need to aim for a “higher consciousness”. The fact that they have an audience – people gape, in awe, at such “profundity” – speaks volumes about the intellectual caliber of the general populace.
There is a companion piece, a bigger one, by spiritual “guru” Deepak Chopra that is just as inane-
The economic meltdown being global is pointing out to one essential fact that there is no regional or national solution to any problem. These problems include extreme poverty, economic disparities, social injustice in all its forms, war, terrorism and climate chaos.
All these problems are the result of a collective consciousness that is based on the idea of the separate self. Now we are being forced to realise that we are not only one economy and one eco-system, we are one humanity. To create the new paradigm we do not need to resuscitate a dying patient, we need to let the patient die and reincarnate ourselves as a new humanity.
He then goes on to provide a plan to hand over the civilized world to barbarians – through disarmament. He also wants to “initiate a global voluntary programme of personal transformation, relationship building, creative problem-solving and service.” If people are so interested in all that crap, they will do it themselves. Its only necessary to “initiate” it if they don’t want to do it “voluntarily.”
Beyond such mind-numbing spirituality lies evil, far worse than the evil that Hannah Arendt termed ‘banal’. That is why I think Rand called Immanuel Kant – some one the world recognizes as the most important philosopher since Aristotle, a man who didn’t “hurt” a single soul – “the most evil man in mankind’s history.” It was his philosophy which laid the groundwork for Nazi Germany, for Soviet Russia, for Communist China, a philosophy that left the mind defenseless against the machinations of “leaders” and “statesman” – he denied reason. “The man who . . . closed the door of philosophy to reason, was Immanuel Kant . . . .”