For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more
intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York,
wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the
water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that
they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I couldn't help write this post. I realise that this is a controversial topic but it seems that the basic issue is ridden with hypocrisy. Let me start with the age old debate about whether we are animals or are we more special on this earth.
While in Hyderabad, I recall seeing a dead dog on the road and most vehicles whizzing past the carcass without bothering to stop. I did and realised that I didn't have the necessary protection to handle a carcass and hence called the Municipal Corporation and the Blue Cross. When I spoke to some people around the general tone was "It's just a dog!". I wonder if the cars would have whizzed past if it was some lady dead in the middle of the road (I would have still been concerned about my lack of protective gear). Often when there have been accidents I have observed people more interested in raking a fight and a controversy rather than in tending to the victims. Bangalore has served me with a couple of situations where I got to take the victims to the hospital while other passers-by were busy fighting.
This brings me to an oft recurring question: How animal are we (I am sure a cow also ignored the dead dog. So are we any different from a cow or a grasshopper?)? How much unlike the average animal are we?
People who love to think themselves greater call upon the wonderful mind and the advances in science, technology, medicine and other stuff that no other animal has done. I can't help but recall this wonderful quote:
I personally believe that we are no different from animals and it has been society, organisations, civilisations and peer pressure that has kept us from being what we truly are. I do not question the ability of our brains (though one could after reading this) or our powers to associate knowledge and develop it into something which is capable of forming the substrate for more associations. What I do question is our innate want to be considered non-animal.
Let us take sex (before it takes us!). According to several surveys, 95% of the Americans have had pre-marital sex. It is not a matter of whether it is good or not but surely a matter of whether it is animal or not. Sex is a purely animal want, like food and rest. To think that Americans (though not necessarily representing the whole of humanity) who take a virginity-pledge (and I wonder when Americans will get over their repulsive want for fame and making things public) are able to abstain for as much as 18 months before they become "sexually active". Most Americans don't even consider that abstinence is a part of their value system (which is being rather honest) but they seem to be rather flustered when compared to an animal (try telling someone "You are such an animal"). Most of the advt. that I get to see on TV seem utterly pointless in that I always try to figure out (based on the scenes) as to what the advt. is all about and often fail. Most of the time there would be some interesting looking babe who is absolutely irrelevant to the product being advertised. Sex sells, because it feeds directly into the animal nature that is still the strongest side of us.
Man would kill for food and land and women. He has waged wars for gold and silk. He has looted nations for something as trivial as indigo and tobacco. He has destroyed countries to satiate his ego and to gain a measure of his prowess as well as to demonstrate it. He has ruined vast lands in order to rape the Earth of her resources and build things of convenience for himself. Man can never be satiated because he thinks that being satiated is stagnation, is being trivial, is being an animal. And in order to establish that he is not a mere animal, he will go to any extent and do things that even he never would have wanted - all for an idea. It is an idea that kills man by making him think that he has achieved what others haven't, what animals can't.
I am not being a prude here and denouncing sex (why would I?). I am also not saying that we should look down at our toes and only think of math and economics (why would I after having seen and relished this absolutely perfectly proportioned lady in a green salwar kameez, and the most flattering accessories, in the bus yesterday?). What I wish to understand is why are we so anti-animals and why is it that we don't rise above our animal states after having recognised that in us. There are a couple of aspects to this pondering.
One, I would like to see people realising that they really aren't as human as they like to believe. We are still driven by the basic instincts that are common to both man and non-man. A lot of what we consider unacceptable would cease to be so once we recognise our motivation behind them. That doesn't mean we accept them, but just understand them better and see it as it is. Once we know the root of discordant behaviour or practices, we can sort them out better and that is what (if at all anything) makes us "human". Simply forming a set of rules gets us nowhere and more than rules, creating a bunch of myths and preconceived notions about the human race, is detrimental to our inner growth.
Two, I would like people to realise that growing out of our animal selves is vital to a richer development of society. This cannot be achieved by denouncing our lower self (which we call the animal self) but by transforming it into a nature that is aware of the origins of the animal instincts and has surmounted it (which is the symbolism that is adopted in the Vedic tradition of a god or goddess mounted on an animal vehicle or vahana) by eliminating all possibility of its resurrection. Why do we need that? Because man is the most viral, most wide spread destroyer of things on this Earth. Whatever man touches he touches with the scale and power of plenty which only creates far reaching and often irreversible consequences. Man is the pinnacle of all that is animal and it is vital for him to eradicate it. Other animals have just the required animal instinct in them to see them through their lives without disturbing another's. Nature in all her power can seamlessly manage all other animals since none of them try to manipulate her. They accept her. Man doesn't accept anything and feels that it is wrong and demeaning to do so. Hence, he manipulates Nature and the world around him in order to suit his needs (which are transitionary unlike an animal's need). His greed and his want to be more than other animals including his kind push him to be more destructive (sometimes by being seemingly constructive from another perspective).
The trouble here (in kaliyuga) is that man has become deviant enough to classify things as acceptable and some others as unacceptable. To be greedy is animal like but to want to establish a global conglomerate is ambitious and powerful. To want to bed as many fellow human beings is considered cool, but to do so after marriage is condemnable. To wage wars is manly and ordained, but to discriminate on grounds of race or sex is paltry. What was once a virtue is now a weakness. The trouble is, man has become too heavily dependant on his intellect and considers anything out of its scope as silly and only for lotus-eaters (lotophagi). Ayn Rand added to this.
Man's intellect is not the problem - depending on it entirely, is. Man's mind is not a problem - being driven entirely by it, is. Man has not put in the extra effort required to transform the power of the mind into self-sustained rightness. What the mind can achieve, it should and then move further to achieve what it is capable of. By stopping at the easily achievable, there is a lot of stagnation and hence, conflict. With more men wanting more gold, people worked out ways to get it, and the race is still on. Those who can transcend that into a state where the true worth and purpose of gold is realised, are a lot more peaceful and animal-like. So be it with anything else.
I realise that there is too much talk about transformation and transcending and very little about the hard realities of this world. Actually, there has been very little talk about sex (given the post's title).
I feel education (which is stuff that happens in school and beyond and forever) should contribute to a personal understanding of things in this world, without and within. To spend time with a child and educate them about how bodily changes create urges which are just that, to let them know that there are consequences to be hasty, to help them realise that there is a time and place for everything and sex is not really something that you get over and done with in a few minutes but is something that should form the toppings on a foundation of deep emotional and psychological clarity, to help them realise that it is the emptiness in one's life that creates a want for entertainment and getting absorbed in them only creates a craving for more thereby disallowing a sense of completeness from developing as one only seeks instant gratification at the cost of more involved and deep endeavours - to let a child realise that (after having realised that ourselves) is vital. To help a child realise that the animal instincts are not wrong or dirty but are essential in a sense, and that we need to work with them in order to not make them overwhelm our capabilities, is the purpose of an integral education. To justify sex or wars or hoarding or drugs or murder or greed or jealousy or ambition will not help beyond ensuring an eventual and rapid destruction of this world and the human fabric.
We are eager to wage debates about whether pre-marital sex is fine or not, but never the question as to whether sex is just an act and are we prepared for it. Marriage was an old ploy in channelising it into creating families and manageable societies. Why do we see more confusion today versus 100 years ago? Why is teen pregnancy an issue now when it was hardly ever heard of few decades ago? Why are there child psychologists in plenty now when they were hardly ever required a few decades ago? Why are rape cases increasing every year? Why is the respect that was given to the institution of a family decreasing every year? Why is all the Independence and freedom of choice that we are granted today not making us a 100 times more happy than what was a few decades ago?
It is very easy to take the effortless path and justify everything as being "natural" and answer all our calls for titillation. It is vital to realise what this drives us to be and look at the world and Nature as a whole. It is vital to give up our myopic outlook of this world (a dead dog on the road also deserves the respect that a dead man receives) and not concern ourselves selfishly only for the next 60-80 years which is of immediate relevance to us. It is important to recognise the animal self in us and then grow from that into something devoid of it. While clinging to it might give us satisfaction now, it doesn't do so in the long run as maintaining an animal self is very tedious and it needs to be fed regularly because the animal self as such is not an issue, but coupling the animal self with the human mind is a recipe for disaster. The mind will automatically find ways in justifying actions and will strengthen the animal self into becoming something quite human and destructive. One without the other is peaceful and in accordance with Nature's breath.
Labels: contemplating life