Part 3 – The Second Principle

Indram Vardhanto Apturah
May we enhance our strength and progress!

This brings us to the second fundamental principle of Vedic philosophy – Life means growth. So far we are growing, we are working in sync with life forces. The moment we cease to grow, we are in hands of forces of death. Now this principle coupled with the first principle implies that bliss can be maximized by maximizing our growth. The moment we limit our knowledge or understanding of truth, we limit our level of bliss. We abandon the opportunity for further bliss.  We enjoy illusion and ignorance, because we consider them as truth, and hence acquire limited bliss from them. But if we have to increase our bliss further, we need to enhance our knowledge further, break the shackles of illusion and ignorance, and extract more bliss. This is an ongoing journey in life, and the only natural way to live – healthy and blissfully.

The moment we stagnate, the moment we stop this process of knowledge enhancement, or try to put limits to it, or try to reverse it, we are working against our basic nature. To put metaphorically, we are digging our own graves. In pursuit of momentary bliss, we are forcing ourselves into the dark pit of frustration, tension, sorrow and grief. It is impossible to restrict the nature. So this urge for growth channelizes into all sorts of areas – some very undesirable, some less undesirable and some simply self-defeating. Thus we see so much of terrorism, warfare, drugs abuse, pornography, wasteful living, addictions, psychopathy all around. These are nothing but manifestations of attempts made by soul to cope up with this force to nature that demands us to grow, progress and come closer to truth.

An average soul spends bulk of its life tackling this urge for growth, without understanding the source of problem, and keeps fighting throughout the life in a variety of forms. Sometimes it will drown itself into various variants of ignorance and bliss, sometimes it will try to express itself through regressive means, sometimes it will indulge into sensual pleasures that numb the senses, sometimes it will tend to progress further and then again reverse the direction due to other compulsions. And finally when mortal death takes over, the story is over.

Normally, we tend to believe that phase of growth ends with completion of our physiological growth (growth of body). It is approximately then that our education also ends. And we continue living in illusion that phase of growth is over. However, if you have studied a bit about the human brain, you would realize that it is the most complex system known to us in the entire universe. We hardly know anything about human brain and how it works. But from whatever we know, the potential of human brain to learn, acquire skills, and gain knowledge is virtually limitless. And we also know that brain is like other muscles. The more you use it, stronger it becomes. Stop using it, and you are leading yourself towards dementia. This provides the greatest clue towards purpose of our life..or direction of our life – to grow further, know further and reach closer to truth.

5 – Summary was clear

The bout was gone, but summary was clear – Everything that I know till date is merely an inconsequential hoax. A sham or a sheer useless object when it comes to solving the most fundamental mystery – of life and death. Everything around that I knew so far seemed like mere illusions of castles in empty air – having no foundation, no base whatsoever. They offer you everything except what you actually want.

They all are so temporary and want you to keep busy for today alone. The religions of the worlds would say, “Just follow what our holy books or gurus or prophets say, and leave the worry of after-death era to us. We will take care of that. You merely concentrate on what you need to do today.”

The commercial mafia would say, “Hey, have this product or that service. Enjoy the present. Nothing else needs to be even thought of.”

The political mafia would say, “Just vote for us, we will give you food, water, reservation, facilities etc. We will make your life a heaven.”

The social-service mafia would say, ” Give us donation, Help this poor, Protest this act of government, Join our seminar, Do good for society the way we say, and that will give you inner happiness.”

In the end, all turn out to be sheer marketers trying to sell the offerings that they have and get what they perceive to be valuable in return. But their domain of offering and receiving is only limited to next few years that you will exist on this planet earth. The religion mafia will try to address the after-life problem though. But only through hollow promise and fraudulent logic – “Leave logic aside in domain of religion. Just believe what we say or be cursed!”

Thus, the bouts will continue to come and the only solution seems to be fooled by any of the mafia and live like an ostrich that digs its head into the ground to escape the coming danger. It’s a different matter that even these mafias are fooling themselves like the ostrich.

I tried to take my fear heads-on. But my dismal failures ensured that the ostrich would soon return. But then these bouts forced my head out of the ground and brought me face to face with that which just cannot be avoided in any circumstance.

My study of religions and philosophy only made matters difficult for me. Modern science had the advantage of things being presented with plenty of evidences and analysis. But this was a different domain all together. Here you need to simply believe certain words without any arguments. Typically all religious books had same pattern – lots of stories, lots of description of sins and righteousness, lots of description of super powers of their guru or prophet, lots of description of afterlife advantages and disadvantages of following or not following their cult and then same usual stuff of keeping logic aside in matters of faith. There were variations though but the fundamental question was very tactfully sidelined in every one of them. They would talk great things and tactfully mix their own agenda somewhere in between without giving any reason or logic whatsoever.



4 – What do I do

Once again, I found all the habitual enjoyments and everything I am doing or plan to do in near term as completely inconsequential.

I am blank again. I do not know what is right and what is wrong. I feel suffocating. I do not know what to do. My mind is no more working. O God, save me from this death. I do not want to die. God, help me. But does God actually exist? Whom am I praying to? I am all alone?

Where have I got trapped? If death was so certain, why the hell did I take birth in first place? Where was I before by date of birth or nine months before that? Everything is so fraudulent! Every theory is full of only loopholes! All religions are hoax! They claim solution to this problem and fool people. But how can they be true? If Quran is true, Bible and Geeta cannot be true. If Geeta is true, Purans and Quran and Bible cannot be true. If God exists, modern science cannot be true. If earth is round, Bible and Quran have to be false. But earth is proven to be round. All of Bible, Quran, Purans have glaring contradictions within themselves and between themselves. Many of their theories have been proven wrong. How can I believe them then?

But even modern science is fraud.  If modern science has to be true, it should tell me who is feeling this blankness right now and having this confusion? And if it is indeed true, then also there is no solution. I am bound for a miserable end into zero.

Everything is a hoax, I am trapped, I do not know what to do. But I do not want to die. I have to escape death. But how do I do it? Everyone seems to be fooling me by making tall promises of what will happen after I die. No one is able to give any evidence or logic for today. They tell me to believe and not question. If that be so, why mind has the capacity to analyse? Everyone seems to be fooling everyone else. But that’s least of my concern. I just want to escape this brutal death.

Even if I escape it for some years, it will still come. Even if I live for thousands of year, still time of death will come. In few million years, even sun and earth will be destroyed. So I have to die then for sure, even if I escape death now somehow. There is only a solution, if at all, to postpone it. But there is no permanent solution to get completely rid of it. Nothing except that permanent solution will help me. Or else I will be blank forever..dead forever. No more sensations, feelings, consciousness, thinking, imagination going in the mind. No more memories, no more will I know what is happening. And that will continue forever. For billions of years..trillions of years.. and even more…I shall never live again, feel again, think again ever.

This is killing me. I want to get rid of this fear. What do I do? Let me distract myself.

I went out of the room, came down on the street, roamed about and came back. Then I opened a book. I felt better. Now that desperate suffocating feeling was no more. I still had memories of the bout, but I was now more in tune with my immediate world and feeling comfortable. The feeling of suffocation was no more. But I knew, this was only a postponement and not a solution. The bout will come back sooner or later.

I realized how the entire world is in a way busy in all sorts of things to either pre-empt or distract themselves from this bout. Just as I took a stroll, or read a book, someone would immerse in loud music, or pornography, or socializing, or depression, or anything and everything. No one knows what the purpose of their actions and passions are. Its merely an avoidance reaction to this bout. That’s how the whole world is running. Some get so used to pre-empting it that they perhaps never have the bout. They equip themselves in multifarious activities, but ask them why they do what they do, and they will have no clear answer. We are living in a world of utter confusion, even the most intelligent do not know why they are doing what they do, why they are living, what life is all about. Suddenly all the intelligence of the world also appeared as completely phony and hollow to me.



3 – Optimal solution

The only other hope for me was the domain of spiritualism. What modern science cannot observe through its meters and scopes, a spiritual person can decipher through introspection and spiritual knowledge. Very closely associated was the concept of religion.

I was born in Kolkata, the den of communism in India and was exposed to two sharply contradicting theories – “religion is opium, science is truth” and “all religions are equal”. The first one was the basic mantra of communism, and second was the political agenda of Left Front. And thus both these themes continued in my life for most of the time. They both provided me with swords to cut each other. Ultimately I found that both ripped off each other so much that both turned out to be hoaxes in the sense popularly or commonly understood. What I mean is that both failed to give me a satisfactory solution which is scientific, rational, logical and intuitive to this problem of death.

That was why I found myself having more and more of such bouts. More I dwelled into the prevailing solutions for this fundamental problem, more I could observe their loopholes, and more skeptic I became to everything in life.

I went behind all the major spiritual schools of thoughts and religions. Be it Advait of Shankaracharya, Vedanta of Vivekananda, the Puranas, the Geeta, the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, the Upanishads, the Quran, the Bible, and so many other religious texts, I hardly left any to dig out the solution to my problem.

My life became story of the eternally confused. Should I go for high moral character? Or should I become a lecher? The first guarantees spiritual success and hence freedom from death. The second provides me immediate gratification assuming that in end everything is going to end in big zero for everyone. But then, what is the sense in going for temporal enjoyments when it is so fleeting. And then, what makes an enjoyment, an enjoyment is merely the way my mind works. So in any case, it is better to change the way my mind function than run here and there pointlessly for sake of enjoyment.

As a student of science, at least the following was now clear in my mind:

a.       Either life exists after death or it does not exist.

b.      If it does exist, it is better to be spiritual. That will ensure trouble-free afterlife.

c.       If it does not exist, everything is pointless. So whatever you do is fine.

d.      Since I am in doubt, I should do what maximizes my profit in both cases. Thus I should better be spiritual. In case life exists, I shall be a winner. If it does not, still it is same for everyone, so there is nothing to lose.

e.      Now the question of enjoyment comes. If I run after worldly fun, I will have lots of fun as everyone is having. So on surface it appears that it is better to seek temporal enjoyments.

f.        However, happiness is a state of mind. Spiritualists and modern scientists both regard mind as inanimate object. This means the way I control my mind will define my happiness. Thus it is more efficient to change the way my mind works as per my will, rather than run like a monkey here and there to gather petty bananas thrown by master (nature).

g.       In conclusion, let me continue exploring the mystery of life and death. But meanwhile the most optimal solution would be to control the mind and live like a spiritualist. That may also help me get the solution more easily, if at all it exists.

This conclusion gradually firmed up in my mind and I found myself detached from most worldly pleasures. Not because I avoided them as source of sin. But because of two reasons:

a.       I found them so temporary and fleeting

b.      I wanted to control my mind further

Soon I observed that most of the so-called worldly enjoyments are sheer hoaxes propagated over a period of time but having no logical basis. Even temporal enjoyment was much more in those things which conformed to the spiritual practices.

Of course, there were many of them that I found myself hooked to more as a habit than anything else. Once into them, I would lose sight of my goal of finding answer to that fundamental problem of my life and be immersed in fun and enjoyments. They provide convenient escapades and pre-empt my bouts. But then, suddenly, the question would knock me loudly for answer the way it is knocking today in middle of the night!



2 – Modern Science

EvolutionBeing from science background, I had turned pages after pages of modern theories of science and psychology in this regard. I recollected the hordes of information produced by scientists to prove that life is nothing but a chemical reaction, and with death the consciousness ends just like any other chemical reaction. But there were glaring loopholes even in this theory.

I could never get a satisfactory answer to what the source of this consciousness is. If I fear death, feel pain and pleasure, who is this I actually? Agreed, it is all a game of chemical reactions. But which particular cell or atom or subatomic particle feels it all? I browsed through the literature and found that the seat of consciousness is yet undiscovered. Modern science has vague answers to how physiochemical reactions happen and where they happen to give us various feelings. But they are at dismal loss to answer “Who ultimately feels these feelings?”

I could well appreciate the efforts put by modern scientists and the reasons for their dismal failure to answer the fundamental question which would give me a clue to seek solution to this problem of death. After all the tools and apparatus used by modern science are equipped to observe only physical manifestations. Anything that is not measurable under their telescope or microscope or meters etc does not exist for them. They do not have any conclusive logic to justify how they are so certain that no world apart from what can be measured by their scopes and meters can at all exist. Their situation is no different from the popes of middle-ages who used to believe that earth is flat because the tools and technology they had then, and the books they used to follow could no way prove that the earth is round.

Modern science, which evolved as a sharp reaction to biblical dogmas of late middle ages, is today no more than yet another dogma or cult. It has its own set of beliefs or assumptions which it refuses to even question. Even if it does not have satisfactory answers to several questions, it would refuse to question these assumptions. Instead it would either refuse to accept existence of such questions or phenomena, or try to confuse through jargons and equations. It has eyes of a cockroach. It sees too many things at the same time but its scope of vision hopelessly limited.

Just like any other cult, it has its own bigoted mindset and agenda. Thus, while it will resort to craziest of extrapolations to prove we descended from apes or conclude that there was a big-bang, it will chide away more fundamental questions like “And what was there before big-bang?”, “Who guided atoms to become humans?”, “Why not slightest of evolution take place in documented history?”, “Why no dead body could me made alive again?” No wonder, modern science has been unable to make any significant new discovery or theory in the last 50 years at the least.

The theory of chemical reaction as propounded by modern science had a few more glaring contradictions.

By its own admission, life is nothing but a chemical reaction, which started as a process after the big band that happened some 14 billion years ago. Thus, all those who are analyzing the theory of life or universe are also nothing more than chemical reaction. And the ones whom they are teaching the same are also chemical reactions. So it is one set of chemical reaction interacting with another. And mind you, how these chemicals will behave was decided long ago during the big-bang. Thus there is no separate “doer” or “analyzer” apart from the reaction itself, and its fate was decided in the first nanosecond of big-bang or even less. So what these modern scientists want to teach as the true explanation of everything is also nothing but a fatalistic chemical reaction. They are just repeating what they should be after 14 billion years x days y hours as pre-decided in the first moment of big-bang. There is thus no concept of right or wrong here.

Also, if life is actually a lifeless chemical reaction, then all concepts of right, wrong, good, bad, civil, criminal, compassion, love, support etc fall flat as sheer nonsense. Life is nothing more than what happens in a test-tube when two acids interact.  A reaction is just a reaction, nothing good or bad, kind or rude about it. Just as water never shouts back, “Hey pour me slowly, you are being rude.”, similarly no one is actually expressing any feeling in the world. What we observe as a feeling of pleasure or pain, is merely manifestation of a lifeless chemical reaction. Put simply, if there is no life, there is no feeling, no right, and no wrong. Thus, even the arguments of modern science are sheer nonsense by their own logic. After all it is only a chemical reaction happening in a test-tube and there is no observer of the same. Whom we call observers are yet another set of reactions happening. Thus the world is only pre-decided chemical reactions happening, without any observer or doer. Even you reading this or I writing this is only some chemical reaction happening. In reality, you or I simply do not exist!

All these conclusions of my expedition so far filled my head. In brief, I was even more confused after my exploration of modern science than I was before start of the journey.



1 – The Bouts


This series features my frank confessions of life. An ostrich digs its face in ground when it faces a danger. I find myself no different from an ostrich who tended to ignore the daring question that life raised again and again from time to time. I tried my best to sustain the ostrich within me whenever I faced one of those bouts. But the few glimpses that I caught out of curiosity were sufficient to change the entire direction of my life. Read on the Confessions of an Ostrich…

Part 1

I woke up in the night and found myself sweating profusely. I felt like being choked. My mind felt all blank in fear. It was again one of those bouts I recall having since my early childhood. The same fundamental question engulfed my mind – Is this all going to end?

So I shall die one day. My parents, my relatives, my friends all are going to die. And when I die, it will all be blank. Even the peace I have during a deep sleep will not be there. Because, I shall no more wake up to discover whether the sleep was peaceful or not.

The oldest person I have ever heard of is around 156 years old. Even if I assume mythologies to be true, I could be several thousand years old but still I have to die. And if I live that long, it would mean, all my dearest ones will leave me forever much before. So either ways I am cursed.

All the rest of my plans and their accomplishments are uncertain. The only certain thing is death. No one ever escaped it and I cannot be an exception. Suddenly I felt as if everything and everyone around me is already dead. It’s all so meaningless. The whole concept of life and living is so meaningless. Regardless of every success and failure I have in life, regardless of the number of friends and enemies I make, regardless of the amount of fame or disgrace I acquire, it’s all going to end in the same manner as it will end and as it has ended for all others.

Nothing else matters. Be a success, be a failure – it’s all very temporary. Scientists say that the universe is 14 billion years old. Sun is a middle-aged star. And yet it is 4.5 billion years old. Earth is almost as old. A human life of 100 years is insignificant compared to that. If we assume the entire universe to be as big earth, the size of earth is no more than a pencil dot. That defines the magnitude of domain of human influence.

Thus in the entire scheme of things, I am no more important than one of the tiny microbes on entire planet. Nothing is in my control – I had no choice over my birth and I will have no choice whatsoever over my cold fast-approaching death. Emotions, feelings, memories – nothing matters at all. They all would evaporate into nothing, as and when I evaporate into nothing under the grip of death. Nothing is more certain than this.

I recalled a faint childhood memory. I was around four or five years old. In the night, while I was sleeping with my mother, I asked her, “Mummy, will I die one day?” She had no clear reply. She said, “No, nothing will happen to you. Go to sleep now. You have school tomorrow.” I again asked, “Does everyone who takes birth die? Will grandma, grandfather, you, papa also die?” She said, “You should not talk like this about your elders. You should respect them. Now go to sleep.”

I did not ask anything more. But I was far from satisfied. This was my first experience of this bout that I can recollect. Next day, I asked papa, “Papa, how long will I live. Please see my hand.” He smiled and brought my palm closer. He pretended to analyze it carefully and replied, “You will live for 102 years. Don’t worry!” I shot back, “That means I will die after 102 years. And will you, mummy, grandma, grandpa also live with me for 102 years?” He tried to deviate from the topic, “You should currently focus on your studies. This is your immediate priority. 102 years is very far off.” I was not convinced, “But that time will also necessarily come na. And then I will die.” He said, “If you study hard, you will never die.”

I almost forget that incident soon after. But it did make me a bright student though. After all, I had no other alternative to escape the brutal grip of death. Soon, I even forgot the reason, but got addiction of studying.

But now, I was having a much clear recall of this forgotten incident. I recalled that this is one question for which no satisfactory answer has yet been deciphered by me. And even if that reply of father made me a good student, it hardly matters. Because with death, everything and everyone shall end forever – including what I studied and learnt.

In a snapshot, my entire life came before me. The theme was my frantic search for solution to this most fundamental problem of escaping death. I recalled how this recurrent bout will suddenly open my eyes each time to a reality that I could not face or understand. And how it would make me even more frantic. (Cont…)