The story of the Good Brahmin

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The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:21 pm

Food for thought.

Travelling through India, I met an old gentleman of the highest caste, a Brahmin, a very wise man, witty and learned. On top of that, he was rich, and consequently even wiser; for, lacking nothing, he had no need to deceive anyone. His family was well governed by three gorgeous wives who religiously studied the art of pleasing him. When he was not busy amusing himself with his wives, he philosophized.

His house had charm and beauty, was well decorated, and was surrounded by colorful and fruitful gardens. Nearby lived an old Indian woman, bigoted, stupid, and quite poor.

The Brahmin jolted me one day with this: “I wish I had never been born.” I asked him why, and he answered me:

“I have been studying for forty years...and that is forty years wasted. I teach others, but actually I know nothing. This situation makes me feel so much humiliation and disgust with myself that life is unbearable to me.

“I was born, I live in time, and I do not know what time is. I find myself at a point between two eternities, as our sages say, and I have no idea of what eternity means. I am made of matter, and I am able to think, yet I have never been able to find out how thought is caused. I do not know...Is my ability to think a simple faculty in me like that of walking, or digesting food? Do I think with my head, as I take with my hands? Not only is the explanation of my thinking unknown to me, but how I am able to move my body is also a great mystery.

“I don't know why I exist. Every day people ask me questions on all these points. I have to answer, but I have nothing worthwhile to say. I talk, talk, talk, and then I am bewildered and ashamed of myself after all that hot air.

“It is even worse when they ask me whether Brahma was produced by Vishnu or whether they are both eternal. Well, I don’t know a thing about it, and that's obvious in my pathetic answers. ‘Reverend Father,’ they say to me, ‘explain to us why evil floods the whole world.’

“I am in as much of a fog as those who ask the question. Sometimes I tell them that everything happens for the best, but those who have been destroyed and mutilated by war don't believe that for a second, and neither do I.

“So I retreat to my house overwhelmed with my curiosity and my ignorance. I read our ancient books, and they make the darkness even darker. I talk with my friends. Some tell me that we should just enjoy life and laugh at mankind. Others think they know a little something, and promptly get lost in ridiculous, pompous, empty ideas. Everything increases my feelings of doubt and misery. I am sometimes ready to fall into despair, when I think that after all my dedication and seeking I know neither where I come from, nor what I am, nor where I am going, nor what shall become of me when this life is over.”

I was greatly distressed by the mental condition of this good man. It seemed that no one was any more reasonable or honest than he. I could see that the more he came to understand, the more he came to feel, and consequently the more unhappy he was.

That same day I saw the old woman who lived near him. I asked her if she had ever been confused and upset not to know how her soul was created. She didn't even understand my question! She had never pondered for a single moment of her life over a single one of the points that tormented the Brahmin. She believed with all her heart in the changing forms of the Lord Vishnu, and, provided she could occasionally have some water from the Ganges to wash in, she considered herself the happiest of all women.

I was so amazed by the happiness and contentment of this impoverished creature, that I returned to my Brahmin philosopher and said to him:

“Aren't you ashamed to be unhappy when right at your door there is an old puppet who never bothers with thinking and who lives quite happily?”

“You are right,” he said; “I have told myself a hundred times that I would be happy if I were as stupid as my neighbour, and yet I would want no part of that kind of happiness.”

So my question is, who would rather be content and ignorant, or confused and always searching for the answers, given the choice?
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by TexasBlue on Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:25 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:So my question is, who would rather be content and ignorant, or confused and always searching for the answers, given the choice?

I prefer to have a belief in a higher power. I just choose not to read things into it that aren't there. I also prefer to have that belief and not pay for it if it isn't true. If i choose not to believe and then find i was wrong... man, there's going to be Hell to pay in the afterlife.
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:47 pm

You miss the point of the question, would you rather accept blindly what you are told to think and be content in being a robot, or would you rather always be looking for your own answers, and experience the frustration and sometime misery that goes with always striving to work it out for yourself?

When you are talking about "what is there to lose?" you have double jeopardy though. If you choose a Christian life, and the Muslims are right then you will suffer exactly the same fate as I will, if not worse because of what the Koran says will happen to Christians.
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:52 pm

At the risk of sounding conceited by implying that I'm not ignorent, I'd rather be the one who's searching for answers. A bunch of cliches come to mind here, but I guess it's best summed up by saying that it's the journey, not the destination, that matters. In the epic tales of the quest for the grail it's the quest itself, not ultimately finding the grail, that leads to enlightenment and purification of the soul of the seeker. To use another anology... if you're travelling by car from New York to Los Angeles and the whole time focusing on when you'll arrive in LA, you're going to miss a lot along the way. So, if you let your frustration at not finding the answers to life after many hours of prayer or meditation overwhelm you, then you're going to miss out on the rewards that life itself has to offer, and in them may lie the answers you're in search of. Sometimes we over-complicate things. Other times, what we're looking for is under our nose and we're too busy searching elsewhere.

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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:05 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:You miss the point of the question, would you rather accept blindly what you are told to think and be content in being a robot, or would you rather always be looking for your own answers, and experience the frustration and sometime misery that goes with always striving to work it out for yourself?

I never took that to be the question, but you bring up an interesting point. I'd posit that the nature of mankind is to be free. Animals can be tamed and not long for freedom, but even those humans living under slavery of one kind or another will always long for their freedom. This has no bearing on intelligence or anything spiritual within them. I think that your question is based on faulty logic. Humans will never knowingly, willingly accept what they're told and be content as a robot. We can be duped into believing things, but that's a different thing. We can pretend to comply for our own best interest or survival, but that doesn't mean we do it cheerfully.

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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:07 pm

alland that was a great answer. I agree, I would rather spend a lifetime searching. I have my answers but that doesn't mean I wouldn't listen to what somebody else has to say.

And you are right about ignorance. One of my favourite quotes by science philosopher Karl Popper is True ignorance is not the lack of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it. Well, he's right. You can not know much but still give a lot of thought to the mysteries of the universe. It is the lack of consideration (and where religion is concerned, the succumbing to emotional blackmail) or even suppressing your thoughts that is the true definition of ignorance.
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:18 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:alland that was a great answer. I agree, I would rather spend a lifetime searching. I have my answers but that doesn't mean I wouldn't listen to what somebody else has to say.

And you are right about ignorance. One of my favourite quotes by science philosopher Karl Popper is True ignorance is not the lack of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it. Well, he's right. You can not know much but still give a lot of thought to the mysteries of the universe. It is the lack of consideration (and where religion is concerned, the succumbing to emotional blackmail) or even suppressing your thoughts that is the true definition of ignorance.

One of my best friends turns 83 tomorrow. He joined the army when he was 15 (and was a sgt. major by the time he was 18 and could legally enlist), and after WWII he ran a gas station till he retired. He's what I call a 'blue collar mystic'. The other day he told me that when a person believes that he has learned everything there is to know, that is when he's truly ignorent. He also said that if he lives to be 1000 he could still never know all there is to know. I consider someone like him enlightened.

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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:48 pm

I agree and I realise that the more I learn, the less I truly know.
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by TexasBlue on Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:30 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:You miss the point of the question, would you rather accept blindly what you are told to think and be content in being a robot, or would you rather always be looking for your own answers, and experience the frustration and sometime misery that goes with always striving to work it out for yourself?

I'm always missing the point. ROFL Actually, i got the point. I just had to elaborate further. And no, i won't blindly follow anybody or an organization, religious or otherwise.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:When you are talking about "what is there to lose?" you have double jeopardy though. If you choose a Christian life, and the Muslims are right then you will suffer exactly the same fate as I will, if not worse because of what the Koran says will happen to Christians.

Let me simplify it.

If i choose to just believe in a higher power (as i do) but not practice religion at the same time and i'm wrong about it, then i haven't lost anything. You see? I don't practice religion but believe in God and his Son. But if i choose to be agnostic (like Dbl is) or an atheist (like you are) and i turn out to be wrong and there is a God, then you might be f*cked. Very Happy

But if Islam is right and we here are all wrong, i'll be having hot chocolate in Hell with all of you... and talking politics for eternity. affraid
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by TexasBlue on Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:06 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:I agree and I realise that the more I learn, the less I truly know.

Except when you listen to me. Very Happy
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:36 pm

TexasBlue wrote:
But if Islam is right and we here are all wrong, i'll be having hot chocolate in Hell with all of you... and talking politics for eternity. affraid

There's a belief within Islam (although I don't know if all Muslims adhere to it) that if you're not Muslim, after you die a djinn will sit on your grave and scream insults at you for the rest of eternity. Slap

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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by TexasBlue on Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:26 pm

alland wrote:
TexasBlue wrote:
But if Islam is right and we here are all wrong, i'll be having hot chocolate in Hell with all of you... and talking politics for eternity. affraid

There's a belief within Islam (although I don't know if all Muslims adhere to it) that if you're not Muslim, after you die a djinn will sit on your grave and scream insults at you for the rest of eternity. Slap

Heck, that'll be easy. I deal with that all the time debating politics. ROFL
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:03 pm

TexasBlue wrote:If i choose to just believe in a higher power (as i do) but not practice religion at the same time and i'm wrong about it, then i haven't lost anything. You see? I don't practice religion but believe in God and his Son. But if i choose to be agnostic (like Dbl is) or an atheist (like you are) and i turn out to be wrong and there is a God, then you might be f*cked. Very Happy
Or it could be that any god might not look too kindly on hedging your bets like that, not having courage in your convictions. Or if there are many gods, they won't look too kindly on you only believing in one of them.

Fancy being the sexual plaything of a thousand Viking warriors in the Great Mead Hall for denying the existence of Thor? ROFL
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:05 pm

alland wrote:
TexasBlue wrote:
But if Islam is right and we here are all wrong, i'll be having hot chocolate in Hell with all of you... and talking politics for eternity. affraid

There's a belief within Islam (although I don't know if all Muslims adhere to it) that if you're not Muslim, after you die a djinn will sit on your grave and scream insults at you for the rest of eternity. Slap
That actually sounds fun!
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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by Guest on Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:45 pm

Even though I suppose ignorance could be considered bliss, that never could or would be the case with me. From a very early age, the questions of eternity have haunted me, and have caused both stress and joy. So I am forced to pick being confused and always searching for answers, because I really can't imagine living any other way.

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Re: The story of the Good Brahmin

Post by TexasBlue on Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:56 pm

MDanel93 wrote:Even though I suppose ignorance could be considered bliss, that never could or would be the case with me. From a very early age, the questions of eternity have haunted me, and have caused both stress and joy. So I am forced to pick being confused and always searching for answers, because I really can't imagine living any other way.

I'd rather just wait and see what's what when i croak.
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