On Truths, Absolute Truths, and Reality

A. With our sensory perceptions we become aware of a dimension of reality which may be called Perceived Reality.
Through the limitations of our body and brain, this is as far as we can get.
Through these channels (when they are functioning normally) we become aware of what we call Facts.
Through the capacity of the mind (emerging from the brain) we do two things:
(a) Interpret the Facts.
Interpretation of Facts is what we call Truths.
These Truths (interpretations) are of two kinds.
(i) Interpretations with which we can manipulate the world, create gadgets, and even make predictions about phenomena. Such Truths are Exopotent Truths. Most scientific truths belong to this category.
(ii) Interpretations that are soothing, emotionally satisfying, spiritually uplifting. These are Endopotent Truths. We encounter such Truths in literature, (sometimes in) history, politics, and religion. They are no less important for human beings as cultural entities than Exopotent Truths. Endopotent Truths are invariably culture-dependent, religion-dependent, upbringing-dependent, taste-dependent, etc. It is impossible get cross-cultural, cross-religious, cross-national, cross-ethnic consensus of many Endopotent Truths.
(b) Create realities in the world of ideas.
These constitute the realm of imagination, art, literature, fantasy, etc. B. Absolute Truths are generally Endopotent Truths which are claimed to be Exopotent Truths.
Such claims are quite common among the devoutly and doctrinally religions people of all traditions.
People who claim to have Absolute Truths are more likely to engage in conflicts and wars and mutual recriminations than those who recognize the difference between Exopotent and Endopotent Truths.
C. Reality was DEFINED by some Hindu thinkers as that which does not change with time.
This is an insightful perspective in that things we regard or regarded as Real tend to vanish with time.
It must be realized that this is true of all phenomena which are ephemeral by nature.
A phenomenon essentially involves transformation of energy (or matter) from one kind to another.
D. It is important not to confuse Truths (which are interpretations of Facts) with Reality which presumably has an objective existence.
August 24, 2012


Sanford, A. Whitney: Growing stories from India: religion and the fate of agriculture.

When small farm agriculture became big industrial it was thought that the transformation would solve all problems, and humanity would soon have plenty of grains to feed its growing numbers. But, as with all technology, far from solving our problems, industrial agriculture had led to other major problems. Books and articles have been written on this sad situation. In this book the author explores the related issues in an unusually original way: Now there is an ancient Hindu narrative on the epic hero Balaram who pursued the River Goddess Yamuna. On being rejected he Balaram used the plow to pull her in his direction. Using this as symbolic of human intrusion into nature for self-serving purposes, the author examines the consequences of human behavior, and suggests ecologically more sound approaches, based on reciprocity and responsibilities. The reader comes to know about a time-honored story from sacred history, is made aware of deeper meanings in ancient tales, and of the joyous Hindu festival of holy: All this while being informed of ominous aspects of modern agriculture of which one may not know much. Whether the formulation of the problems through this  metaphor will help change the mindset of the managers or solve the problems, one can’t be sure. But the book is certainly interesting and illuminating in this context.

March 12, 2012

Ferguson, Kitty: Stephen Hawking: an unfettered mind.

Stephen Hawking is a celebrity-physicist, known to physicists for his ground-breaking work on black holes, cosmology, imaginary time and such. To the general public he is an unusual genius: In spite of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he has been a prolific scientist, and a master-communicator of esoteric science. He became the occupant of a prestigious chair in Cambridge, has traveled far and wide, and has received countless honors and awards. As a cosmologist, he was drawn to the question of a Creator, and concluded there was no role for one in  the universe, that heaven and afterlife are “fairy tales for people afraid of the dark.” Other scientists might agree, but when Hawking uttered that perspective it became newspaper headlines. Kitty Ferguson’s biography of this remarkable man on his seventieth year is based on personal interviews and on sound understanding of the physics behind Hawking’s ideas. She presents it all  with clarity, and diagrams rather than formulas. This is a delightful book, especially for readers with a background in physics and those who have read A Brief History of Time.

August 22, 2012

Obama asks India not to curtail Internet freedom

Will Washington ever understand that this kind of unsolicited advice only irritates other nations without accomplishing anything?

Do they have any inkling of what is prompting the Indian government to alert internet abusers?

“Who the hell are you to tell us how we should manage our affairs? ” is what most Indians in India are asking, and rightly so.

When the U.S. is facing so many internal problems and is accused of so many terrible things beyond its borders, why should Obama or anybody in the administration poke their nose into other peoples’ problems, and preach to them about freedom and democracy?

Is it so difficult to understand this simple matter, and just mind one’s own business?

It is hard to imagine there are such simple-minded people in the State Department who have learned nothing from decades of irritated responses to their self-righteous pronouncements which no one takes seriously any more.

The world is laughing at the U.S. and Washington doesn’t seem to get it!

What a shame!

22 August

Obama administration draws bright red line, warns Syria against using, moving WMDs

When will the United states free itself from the Moral Policeman Mindset (MPM) and stop warning and advising other nations what they should and should not be doing?

This warning to Syria is appropriate and needed, but why doesn’t it come from China, India, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Australia, or better still, from the United Nations?

Why should the U.S. assume it is the only guardian of international morality and peace?

Its MPM often strikes others as a Meddling Power Maniac.

Don’t the U.S. Embassies all over the world relay this image of the U.S. to Washington and urge the President and other spokespeople to keep their mouths shut when it comes to the internal affairs of other countries?

Then again, if China threatens to use biological weapons against its own people will the U.S. preach to or warn China? And to what effect?

August 20 2012

On Patterns in Religions

In every religious tradition, the rebels (unorthodox/progressive thinkers) define their own version of the original doctrines, selectively accepting what they feel are nice and good and appropriate, and rejecting whatever they feel are inconvenient, irrelevant, or plain wrong.
They are like people who want to eat the cake and still have it: they want to hang on to the religion of their tradition (probably because of the emotional/psychological comfort which affiliation to their cultural/traditional religion brings) without embracing it in toto.
The traditionalists decry, condemn or throw out (excommunicate) such irreverent  mutineers. If and when possible (this used to be more common in the West in more ancient times, and now only in certain societies), more severe treatment would be meted out to the “heretics.”
At this point, the rebels form their own sects under an appropriate new leader, proclaiming they are the ones who have the Light, and that the oldies are muddle-headed ultra-conservatives who deserve to be laughed at, locked up, or just ignored.
Now starts a passionate debate on who exactly represent the original religion, and who therefore have the right to be called  Christian or  Muslim or Jew or  Hindu or whatever.
There are two types of religions, though: those in which there is an authority in which power is vested. This authority can give, refuse, or take away membership in the fold. In some instances, it can demand your head if you speak or write against its Holy Book. And then there are some (like Hinduism) in which there is no central authority.

Once a person is  born a Hindu, no power on earth can take away the person’s  membership in the religion, no matter what a he/she says or writes or believes in, because the basic thesis is that when it comes to spiritual experience (communion with God or whatever), it is between the individual and Whatever is out there. [Not unlike what Martin Luther preached].

That is why there are atheist Hindus who poke fun at some of the traditional beliefs of their co-religionists, but are not denied on this score entry into temples, or refused participation in sacraments or festivals of they choose to be part of these.

August 15, 2012

Stephen Jay Gould: “We can unite the patches built by our separate magisteria (of Science and Religion) into a beautiful and coherent quilt called wisdom.

But why?

Why should we regard these as two patches which should be united into a beautiful and coherent quilt?

Should the Super bowl excitement be united with string theory to see beauty and coherence in each?

Should Bach be united with Bohr to see beauty in music and in physics?

Should multiculturaliism become a messy mélange of countless cultures for different languages and races and religions to be respected and regarded by awakened humanity?

Why try to replicate the physicist’s obsession for a unified field theory into every aspect of sane and robust life?

Is this a relic of the monotheistic conviction that there can be only one God, or the articulation of the fantasy that only mono is meaningful?

Can’t we celebrate multiplicity in the marvelous world of human thought, experience, and pursuit?

Do we need a unified field theory to enjoy the rainbow, study the K-meson, or appreciate Shakespeare and Shankara?

August 14, 2012