Question on Love

<I take it you are aware of M. Scott Peck, he had a good definition of love: wanting what is best for the other, even if it costs you a great deal. Your thoughts on this?>

It is important to distinguish between generic love and interpersonal love.

I agree with Peck’s comment which is a good description, if not a definition of love.

One can love one’s family, community, nation, and humanity as per this definition.

This would be applicable in these cases also.

In interpersonal love, in addition,  there is also joy in the company of the other person, pain and longing when the other person is away, and an intense emotional bond that is strong and growing most often, but that, alas, may waver sometimes, and even be erased if it is not continually nurtured.

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

In case you are interested in reading some more of my writings I would refer you to Kindle

and type

V. V. Raman


Varadaraja V. Raman

A number of my books are now available on Kindle.

In particular:

Bhagavad Gita: Non-traditional and cross-cultural Reflections

Voyage Through Indic Culture

History of Science in Rhymes

and a few more.

Please spread the word.


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