Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bus rides, the mind, rationality and sustainability

Here is a thread about sustainability from an email conversation.
Although some of it is a re-write of earlier posts, in retrospect, I find it to be a good summary.

On Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 3:04 AM, Aalhad Saraf wrote:
Dear G. san,

Here are some thoughts on the sustainability thread -

Words are vehicles. So is rationality. So is thought. It is possible to never see the map but just keep going from one place to another. It is possible to never know where to board and where to get off. Skill is needed. (just what this skill means is another big discussion)

A few years ago - when I first hit upon the concept of un-sustainability while trying to define wealth I happened to meet a 90 year old ayurvedacarya from the varkari sampradaaya, in a RSS meeting that I was invited to - and we were discussing careers that kids should' pursue. I talked about the story of the one rupee coin then ... and the 90 year old was infuriated at my casual view of 'economics' - (which did not surprise me, I have often found RSS people to have an unusual fondness for picking fights and being angered by things.) However, his last remark stayed with me for some time - he said 'You are clever, and you have interesting ideas ... I quite like them ... however, almost everything you know, you will discover ... is wrong.'

The next year showed me just how far the vehicle of thought and rationality and words can take us ... and the magnitude to which I was mistaken when I was thinking about sustainability, wealth and the world in general. Think cosmic makeover :)

Most of what we can comprehend / see using the senses/rationality cannot be really verified 'objectively'. (we are a bit like sprites in Doom II not being able to get the architecture of processor or the OS.)

The earth as we see it, 'is not'. It is a principle. sookshma. what we see is a sthoola roopa.

I remember the RSS ayurvedacarya saying - 'You overestimate human role without understanding the architecture of what is'. I have since gradually come to comprehend what that might mean. Another thing he said was 'What do you know of the power of mother earth, beyond what your books have taught you ... and you know not where they come from ... or from what your senses tell you ... She has the power to nurture you infinitely, no matter what you do ... 'you' - if such a thing is there, are inconsequential, yet this you cannot comprehend. If you 'think' you are 'hurting' her, you are 'hurting' your'self' ... and make no mistake, you will cause pain ... but please do not talk confidently about what you do not understand.'

God as we 'know' or 'talk' or write about ... even in the sacred scriptures 'is not'. The Yoga Vasishtha (which is perhaps the last book I studied seriously before I hit the end of 'words') also has an incident where Vasistha tells Rama ... 'What are the Gods that you talk about but a mental construct ... ' (I highly recommend this to you if you haven't read it yet - you will even come across discussions about the non-linearity of time) This is one version I found on amazon -

My model of the mind was radically altered in the months that followed.
I am perhaps like a ripple in a field. Without any individual existence. (many scriptures mention this - but I had no experience, nor any concrete context) Like a node of a massively parallel machine (that is how you and I can see the same things in the same room) or perhaps even just the bits of code running on the node (DNA, other less 'sustainable' memes...) or perhaps not even that.

This is a snippet from a mail I sent to aai, dada and some close friends ...
I have seen the Mind.
Imagine an ocean ... massive, without end, on a dark night with a full moon.
The wind still. The silence perfect.
Now see the entire ocean turning up, vertical, into a massive wall ...
like a tsunami ...
you are surfing a foot away from this wall, and the wall stretches out up to infinity.
dark roaring water. massive.
And this is only an approximation of what it feels like.
It is this force that creates everything you see around you now.

The sun. The moon. Your Gods.

The very screen you are now reading this on.

If I die soon, I will have died after seeing the greatest spectacle possible on earth. The mind. There is nothing else left for me to see ... even if I climb on top of Mount Everest, I will be unstirred. Everything ordinary around me IS the freakin miracle.

Okay ... now, again, about sustainability ... it is one of those dual-memes.

Everything has a time-stamp. A yogi can see it - and perhaps alter it.
(A good engineer is a yogi to some extent that he creates some memes that sustain for a certain amount of time.)

Some provocations - why do you want things to be sustainable? Isn't unsustainability a natural phenomenon? Everything perishes, right? So, just why did our race become enamored with this particular dual-meme? Why not enjoy the unsustainability? (it is easy to see beyond these questions) What is the DESIRE that drives the NECESSITY of sustainability? and where the hell does that DESIRE come from?

Dual-memes are interesting ... all religions are based upon strong dual memes. Right-wrong, pure-impure ... and so on. religion = thing that holds together. A study of the principles of religion-creation is very relevant to having a deep understanding of sustainability. For sustainability is a side-effect of religion.

Deep exploration of any meme associated closely with religion is likely to yield significant insights into sustainability. Take desire for instance. In 2004 or so, I found myself asking myself - what is the point in studying electronics or math ... some other fancy models of reality ... if one were to study Desire Engineering ... learn to focus desire to a laser sharp point in oneself and later in others, it would be possible to achieve ANYTHING (or even otherwise, that it is much more 'important' than physics or algo analysis ... I noticed this once again in 2006 during a thought-session, when I was given the responsibility for maintaining the 'technical vitality' of a group of people in IBM, i.e. ensuring that they maintain a state where they file patents and write papers ... and again in 2007 when I saw that everything visible... every single thing is a manifestation
of a desire. There is nothing necessary. NOTHING IS NECESSARY. Necessity is ALWAYS predicated upon desire. (I tried some experiments with minimal living in 2004 to try and figure out just what is the minimum 'necessity' for existence - independent of desire. outcome - existence itself is based on desire, the desire to exist. (who has that desire, or where it comes from - is next step in the architecture series :-D but that is not very easily expressible in words or thought - for these tools are then useless.)

Now - dual-memes are necessary for motion, or for anything to happen at all. (+ -)

Un-sustainability is one side of a dual-meme.
To create sustainability - one must transcend this dual-meme.
People who are bothered by sustainability (rajas-tamas?) or are ignorant of it (tamas) will perhaps not be able to effect such/much change.(even if they want to/is 'necessary')

(This brings to mind something I read somewhere - an advert. for a class on yoga by an Indian teacher in the US - had a picture of a jaTaa-dhaari orange-clad hermit standing in a one-legged pose on a surfboard in the sea. The caption read - we can't stop the waves, but we can sure teach you to surf!)

This is where yoga comes in - and the reason why I urged you to read the Sutras. (Even the Yoga-sutras, their outermost form being clad in words, have their limits, but the words are where I had to begin.)

PaanDitya or the pursuit of knowledge has a limit, easily reached.It is not very effective. It seems easier for a yogi to do something about sustainability than a pandit.

Standard disclaimer applies:
Caveat Lector. All Words are Lies to some extent of the other on the
Index of Reality.

Mail reply from G. san,
Interesting what happens when you cross the boundaries of reason and logic and get into the domain of faith?? Are our senses limiting us in the number of dimensions we can perceive around us? Is the method of reason and logic self limiting? Interesting proposition by going to take time, if ever to sift through...
The eternal conundrum.... Great job...
I am sure Laurie the acerbic lawyer has a lot to say on this...
That the method of reason and logic limits many a mind from going beyond .. Or is it the argument of those who cannot cast their thoughts in the logical framework.. The eternal conundrum...

Cheers G.

On Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 5:06 AM, Aalhad Saraf wrote:
Dear G. san,
thanks for the reply.

no no ... no faith required ;)
is reason and logic self-limiting ... :-P the moment you 'define' something, you have laid down the limits to what it is 'not'.

see ... words are perhaps fairly useless (or useful (same thing!) - i.e. they may be used towards achieving an end - given an end). they may be used to do anything you want - like a tool. but they are inefficient at modeling reality. (the mind has tried in other parts to create other languages like math - but that again is a model.) A model has limits. Because it is 'defined'.

What I have experienced is that 'argument' is a fairly inefficient method for the discovery of reality or truth. (what those methods are ... is another long story :) )

Words are like a fairly utilitarian tool. Great for altering mental data structures - but even then deeper levels of language exist -

Do not blindly have FAITH in the methods of reason or the church of Words, test them. ;) but you cannot test them - for your methods for testing them are defined by the beliefs and systems themselves. Modeling reality - rather modeling reality completely is a wicked problem to crack.

The logical framework (THE logical framework?) (the language guys... the pandits ... 'philosophy'... the upanishads...) is a vehicle. A tool. A yogi will have the skill to know where to get on and get off each vehicle - for otherwise - the 'conundrum' is eternal - hell, you have designed it to be so. The 'Why' has no final answer - it's a language feature very well suited for showing you the limits of the tool :-D

A body of thought that talks about 'knowability' must also perhaps define these entry and exit points - without which you are being taken for a ride - without knowing where to, for an unknown fee ;) And maybe you could pick a quarrel or get into all kinds of trouble for insisting that your ticket IS not a ticket, not the map, but the design document for this world. ;)

So would the 'conundrum' between logic-faith seem to be a 'conundrum' only to the people who are confusing their tickets for the design documents of the World(TM).

Philosophy as expressed through words has easily visible limits - axioms, and the methods for defining those axioms. I mean, come on - if you define the limits of what is knowable and how you add to your 'body of knowledge' ... there is 'limit' written all over the place :)

So even if modelng reality is a wicked problem - meanwhile, we humble humans have several utilitarian models and modeling strategies and vehicles ... the entry and exit points if known, one may skilfully travel towards addressing and then transcending a given dual-meme (rich-poor, terrorism-peace, sustainable-unsustainable). IMHO ... yoga is the most pragmatic vehicle I have seen so far. Wherever I see sustainability, I also see a yogi. (no faith required.)


Transcending Reality said...

Your posts are a treasure to read. Why are they so few and so infrequent ? :)


mojibake (previously kilocoder) said...

Hey Asterix!

Thanks - I'm glad that you like reading them!

I found myself going away from words and the desire to express myself over the last year (that I spent mostly in meditation in South Japan.)

Lots of my paper blog (journal) needs to be synced up to this space ...

Am online frequently these days, let's catch up on IM sometime :-D

Transcending Reality said...

Yes. We should. We should. Has been ages since I spoke to you.

Take care.