Cost of Progress and Hallucination of Nirvana

Last updated on Jul 27, 2010

Posted on Jul 27, 2010

I was having a long debate about Science and Spirituality on Facebook.  Till it came to a point of looking at the benefits of Science and if what modern Science offer is really progress after all.  Yes, Science has helped the humanity, but was the way Science – from its genesis onwards – progressed and took shape the ONLY way to do it?  I argue not.  This conversation was with someone whom we will call “AS”.  Then there was a side conversation with another atheist, who asserted ‘Nirvana is hallucination”.  Let’s call this person “KS”.  Now, here are my thoughts on the subject.  Not that these thoughts are conclusive or correct, but wanted to put them here so it can be refered to by me or used against me 🙂  Just a point of reference – AS is an environmentalist by profession.

AS, you will realize that none of these things come without a cost to the environment.  Specially at a global scale.  You cannot create anything at a global scale (not talking of “boutique” adoption) but something that is available to the entire mankind – without messing the planet up.

If you look deeper, AS, you will realize that there is NO such thing as Science or Art etc.  In fact there is no other dimension of human existence that asserts itself other than the human mind.  This world is nothing but a collection of mindsets.  The collective and individual mind, like anything else, tends towards entropy or freedom and liberation.  Science is nothing more than an exploration of what could be beyond the obvious.

The problem with Modern Science is inherent in its genesis and assumption.  No matter what you do, it will never be holistic or balancing.  It will never be able to take you, an environmentalist to a point where you can be truly and honestly content with what you have left behind.

When you come to the evening of your life as an environmentalist, you will realize it was not about Oil/Gas/Nuclear/Coal/Plastic/lead/Asbestos/Aluminium/Chopping of Wood/Synthetics and all the rest of it.. it was about our mind.  How we approached the concept of “progress”  using exploration called Science as a tool.

You and I can argue and feel great at making counter point after counter point, but if you are honest to yourself as an environmentalist – someone who is not doing it all for paycheck but because he truly believes that earth should be left behind for eternity of generations to come, then you will one day ask the most fundamental question that many have asked – “Was it all really WORTH it?”  TB, Smallpox, etc. had to be solved, but was this mindset the ONLY way to do it?  Was mixing of chemicals – creating of pollution that most pharma companies produce at a large scale – the ONLY way to conquer our ills?  So, i may live happily such that my succeeding generations may have no earth to live on!?

And KS, that brings me to your point.  Maybe you are right that Nirvana is a hallucination.  But what is “nirvana”?  You will not be able to deny that you are a slave of your mind and its limitations.  Growing up you “learnt” that something was bad.  So, now its a response that you are governed by.  You will not do it, not because at the moment it is bad, but because your mind is convinced it is bad, because it WAS bad.

No matter how “liberated” we may say we are by rejecting one ideology for another – we are, in the end, a prisoner of our mind as we are limited to what we feel our body can do.  Most cancer sufferers won’t move out of their house or feel the pain and not do anything productive, but then a Lance Armstrong comes and transcends the limitation of body and mind and starts the most illustrious bicycling career EVER.

Living within the confines of our mind and body is easy.  That’s what the ENTIRE mankind does with great aplomb.  No one is even bothered or desirous of going BEYOND the mind and body.  Those who are slaves and prisoners of mind and body say – and very convincingly argue – that to go beyond body’s and mind’s “obvious” limitation is “hallucination”.

The athletes before Roger Bannister argued fairly well on how humans could not break the 4 min mile barrier.  As soon as Bannister broke it, the MIND of humanity was set free!!  Sports are an evidence that mind and body constantly try to break new limits.  What was IMPOSSIBLE a decade ago in athletics is now an Olympic qualifying benchmark!  Is that remarkable?

Now, despite all that, in Sports we are still talking of “incremental” breaking of barriers.  What if someone came along and said that there is a state where there is no barrier of mind at all!  That there is a state which is BEYOND ANY .. ABSOLUTELY ANY baggage of mind!

That, it is possible to live WITHOUT any baggage or limitation of the past.  For mind, at its basic sense, is nothing but the accumulation of all that you have gathered in your lifetime – through your teachers, your parents, your culture, your religion, your friends, your observation – is that anything that you call mind, beyond accumulated concepts?  Is there really?

What if you kept those accumulated concepts on the side?  And said, today I will live each moment without the help of moral edicts, guidance from so and so, conclusions of my past actions and their results.. or what the world thinks is right or wrong.  I will do what is REQUIRED in any given situation.  WHATEVER that may be.

Such that, no matter what I do, it leaves NO RESIDUE of another concept with me.  Which means, I don’t feel bad or good, guilty or redeemed, depressed or excited… but with just equanimity that what was to be done was done.

For if I am left with a feeling of depression or achievement – it has left in my mind a relationship with the note that a certain action done in a certain way (and ONLY in a certain way) leads to a certain result.  Now, I am back to square one!  I am now dictated by this new concept.

When you realize that every moment, in itself, has a fresh life and past action-result relationships have no meaning now – as Armstrong or Bannister or several athletes told themselves – then you will live a new life without remorse without feeling bad and with a freedom.  This freedom will not be because of intoxication – where people forget and numb their senses to move out of the mind limitation and do things without any regard to “what will people say” or ‘what will happen”… but because they FEEL LIKE IT.

When that state of freedom is achieved NOT because of intoxication, but because of VOLITION, then, my friend KS, that is Nirvana!

It is NOT a state where you walk on water, or bring pigeons out of your head or start flying and all of that nonsense.  But a state where you are NOT a prisoner of your own making.  Sort of doing a Roger Bannister or Lance Armstrong for EVERY aspect and EVERY moment of your life!!

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