Here in the next paragraph are snatches from the textbook ‘Philosophy’ authored by Bryan Greetham that I picked up and read almost a decade ago.
Philosophy teaches us to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by the hesitation. It asks us to accept doubts and uncertainty and search beyond the narrow confines of accepted opinions. Accepting nothing on trust, the philosopher asks what makes our assumptions rationally defensible. Even though we may think there is no need to question them and even though our conclusions make us uncomfortable, there is this unyielding quest to go beyond what we know and take for granted. Socrates said “unexamined life is not worth living”. Thinking, feeling, intending, believing are all part of our everyday experiences. But do we understand these mental processes? We all search for order, meaning and value in our lives. In these days, we also throw a tighter personal cordon around ourselves, within the confines of the four walls and assisted by television and other gadgets.
All these statements are copied from the textbook I mentioned above. I want to relate these to our own lives. Philosophy referred here is epistemology, one dealing with existence of knowledge, and not the metaphysics dealing with questions around God. I found these statements to be too invaluable not to share with the wider family. All of us like certainty, stability, comfort zones and a personal cordon, in varying degrees. And there was an era when all of the above could easily be experienced. In today’s world, these isolate us from the rest and we get unofficially excommunicated.
Uncertainty and instability are realities of today’s world. We try to shield ourselves by building a tighter personal cordon and create our own comfort zones. There is where the first statement of Philosophy is extremely important. Interpreting it to our current world, I believe dealing with uncertainty without being stressed out is the way forward for all of us. First, we get out of our comfort zones ourselves, without someone else doing it to us. That means to do something that appears different, difficult. That means we face uncertainty and instability. Learn to deal with it. One of the reasons that we feel uncertainty is when we believe that we have limitations e.g. I am not intelligent, I get tired quickly, I am physically weak, I do not have time, I am too busy.
Question those limits. Are these really true? Have you ever tested these limits? One way of getting answers is to start believing that we have infinite energy and time. Next is put ourselves to test. Anyone who does this will probably survive; and if so, repeat it. We will realise that one can do many things at the same time, without getting tired, exhausted and still having all energy and enthusiasm to do everything smiling without feeling burdened. The book ‘Present’ by Spensor Johnson talks about living for this moment and same is what Sri Sri Ravishankar says.
Another important aspect is self-reflection. Go for a walk, for a hike, be seated undisturbed somewhere, may be standing in a crowded train, be with yourself. Think of what is happening with you. Generate thoughts, ideas, concepts. It’s important to be with yourself at least a few minutes every day and at least an hour over weekends. This will add huge value, we will know what to do next. Something like Sudarshan Kriya is a source of infinite energy and enthusiasm. We may find something else. The means and tools are not important, what’s important is to get into that flow.
In essence, to rise above everything else is to rise above yourself.