Some thoughts on Love and its variety


[Thoughts provoked by someone who talked about Unconditional Love.]

Like many words in the language the oft-used term Love has many connotations. Its use and meaning may even vary from person to person.
To me, Love is an intense emotional attachment to some entity or person. In this sense I love many entities and a few people.

The entities include mathematics, music, poetry and physics,

The people include my wife of more than fifty years, our children and their families, my siblings, as well as a few very close friends. The love I have for them is not unconditional (whatever that may mean), but unfailing. My love for them has always been there, irrespective of circumstances.
But I distinguish love from liking – a verbal distinction one can make more easily in English than in most European languages.

Love includes pain at separation, while liking only gives pleasure in company. Thus, I like all [most? :-)] people, most Democrats, many Republicans, most of the books I chose to read, and good chocolates, as also a few politicians, conservatives, humorists, and movie stars.
As to Nature, I care for it, I admire it, and I am grateful to it for enabling me to live on this planet, but I can’t say I love it. I will do what little I can for Nature’s sustenance and non-violation. I am hesitant to use the term love for trees and lakes, meadows and mountain tops, and not for toads and termites.
I respect people generally, of whatever race or religion, nationality or political persuasion all long as they don’t step on my toes or negatively provoke me by their hurtful attitudes.

n spite of the wise injunctions sages, I cannot in honesty say that I love all people on our planet: I am unable to even understand what that could mean.Though this may sound somewhat un-Christian, I will confess that though I have liked most of my neighbors I have not exactly loved them.

As to loving God, I really don’t know what that implies either, though I know that mystics and inspired religionists have claimed that they do just that. My translation of the phrase loving God would that one should treat with care and respect all of God’s healthy creations: that excludes many viruses and bacteria from my very anthropocentric perspective.

August 27, 2015

On Order, Disorder, and Randomness


It is important to distinguish between order, disorder, randomness, and meaning.
Order refers to a discernible patterns.
Disorder refers to absence of any discernible pattern.
Randomness is the generation of entities with no apparent order.
But randomness can be both meaningless and meaningful.
Given that meaning always implies a conscious entity, what may seem random in the absence of consciousness may be meaningful to a conscious mind.

Thus the number
314159265358979323846 may see random to some, but as the 20 + digits of pi to an informed conscious mind.
Likewise, letters
e n a k k u i d u k o c h a m k o o d a i n d a b a s h a i p u r i y a a d u
may seem a random sprinkling of letters to some but quite meaningful to someone who knows the Tamil language.

New Books


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V. V. Raman

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Bhagavad Gita: Non-traditional and cross-cultural Reflections

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History of Science in Rhymes

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On the News item: Godless’ children turn out just fine.


The fact that people did research on this matter, and are arguing about the result, reveals the colossal misunderstanding (and the consequent atrocities, absurdities, and debates) relating to Religion. It is true that in the past, and even now for many practitioners of traditional religions, good behavior was/is inspired by hopes of postmortem goodies and bad behavior was/ is avoided out of fear of being sent of to super-hot regions up there somewhere. But in the twenty-first century it is difficult to persuade too many people of this in the scientifically awakened world. People with moral light in them seldom strive to be truthful, honest, kind, smiling, etc. in order to get a pat on the back by Someone Upstairs. Most godless adults are ethical because it adds much enrichment to their own lives and to others.
“Then what is the purpose of religion for an enlightened heart and mind?” one might ask. In answer, one could say that there is ample frosting on the traditional religious cake that one can still savor: Belonging to a community; periodic gatherings to reflect on life, values, meanings, and on the human condition; participating in projects to serve community and humanity; deriving uplifting joys from chant and music; sharing in collective hopes in moments of grave threats and pains; feeling the impulse to be charitable to the less fortunate, caring and tearful embraces in times of bereavement recognizing our temporal finiteness, etc. These heart-felt enrichments are possible in the framework of traditional religions along with periodic meditation on the unfathomable Mystery of Existence. All this can give meaning to traditionalists.
What matters, or should matter, is not whether religion is good or bad, necessary or not, but what kind of religion offering this fruits would be most appropriate in the world in which we live. Those who find value in traditional religious beliefs and practices should be respected by those who don’t find much use for religions, as long as practitioners don’t enforce their belief-system on others, no matter how fulfilling and meaningful it may be to them.
If one were to conduct other polls and surveys one will surely find that most decent people can and do lead good lives without knowing the basics of physics, astronomy, chemistry and biology. This does not invalidate these sciences, but only prove that scientific knowledge is not essential for leading a worthy life. But those who keep away from the sciences gravely lose dimensions of intellectual fulfillment that Science alone can offer.
Likewise, there is a poetry in religious belief which is unavailable to the skeptical and the faithless. Leaving aside the mindless, the deranged, the bigoted and the hateful, the spiritual poetry of religions does add enormously to the lived life of billions who are affiliated to enlightened religious modes. The glory and appeal of religions lie in these relevant offerings of religion, , and not in their views of cosmogenesis, and less in their threats and promises to control human (and children’s) behavior. This point missed by the pollsters, thus leading to irrelevant conclusions about religion.

February 5, 2005

13. What is Blasphemy?


The word blasphemy literally means speaking ill (of someone or something).
In Abrahamic scriptures (Old Testament, New Testament, Holy Qur’an) it refers to any disrespectful or disbelieving word or act against the God of the religion.
In the practice of those religions anybody who engages in any word or statement or act that is deemed by the religious authority to be blasphemy against God, saint, prophet, holy book, symbol of worship, etc. is deserving of severe punishment.
 Blasphemy laws have been abolished in all secular democratic countries. In the twenty-first centuries only Islamic states enforce blasphemy laws in varying degrees of strictness.
In Confucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism there are no blasphemy laws, although there too the majority may not approve of desecrating or disrespecting their sacred names and symbols.
We may consider three kinds of blasphemy:
(a) Internal blasphemy: In former times only members of a given faith community were subject to blasphemy laws, largely because any nation or community consisted primarily of only members of a given religion. Thus, for example, Muslims would not be subject to Christian blasphemy laws and vice versa.
(b) Intrusive blasphemy: Since the closing decades of the twentieth century, blasphemy laws have come to be applied to people not of the (Islamic) faith. This gives rise to serious conflicts in nations which are governed by freedom-of speech laws.
(c) Secular blasphemy: In some nations which are secular (i.e. whose citizens are not subject to scriptures, holy men, and religious institutions), there are laws against insulting national institutions. In particular, one cannot disrespect the constitution, desecrate the national flag or national monuments, the king or queen, etc.. One cannot engage in hate speech about the ethnic, religious, or immigrant minorities. Conflicts sometimes arise because these limit the individual’s freedom to a degree. We may refer to such acts as secular blasphemy.
Thus when people of one country burn the flag of another they are desecrating the sacred symbol of another nation, and are thus committing secular blasphemy against another nation.
Blasphemy laws serve(d) the important purpose of keeping the members of a faith respectful towards its framework and institutions. One of the features of modernity in societies and civilizations is to regard blasphemy laws as anachronistic and disrespectful of individual liberty.

January 22, 2015

13. I want to know, if we do really plan our lives before we are born. Is this a myth or for real? (Vidya)


A. . All the knowledge we get on any subject is through our sense perceptions: from what we see and hear, smell and taste and touch. And also from reflecting on and analyzing whatever inputs we get from these sources which include what we read and are told by reliable parties.
B. Now imagine you have a line drawn on a piece of paper. If this line corresponds to all the knowledge we acquire during our life time from these sources, everything beyond the end-points of that line will be knowledge of the AN and the PM states. AN stands for Ante Nationem (before birth) and PM stands for Post Mortem (after death).
C. From time immemorial people have been wondering about these two states which are Mysteries. Here, Mystery refers to a great question for which there is absolutely no reliable, trustworthy, or empirically verifiable answer.
D. This does not mean that people have not been giving interesting, silly, or profound answers to these Mysteries. Definitive answers to Mysteries constitute the doctrines of the religions of humanity. Depending on which religion you choose you will get a different answer for every Mystery.
E. If anyone tells you things about AN and PM states, just give a friendly smile and turn to something interesting or useful. Don’t ask the person how he or she knows it. You may not get anything more than a quote from a sacred book. If this is satisfactory to you, you may go to sleep peacefully. If not, forget it and turn your attention to the hundred other interesting, important, and enriching matters/subjects that are available.
F. Some people, like myself, are content to have all the reliable knowledge we can get from Science and other reliable sources, even if this is not 100% certain. I call this epistemic humility: A humility which makes me recognize that my knowledge is limited. I use Mysteries to just wonder about things and be thrilled by the knowledge of our finite minds. I do this especially when I am not doing anything worthwhile. So, honestly I have absolutely no idea of my or anybody’s ante nationem and post mortem states. I am quite happy with this ignorance.

12  January 2015