Philosophy & Religion

Philosophy and religion are not one and the same. But, of what use is philosophy if it doesn’t touch religion? and of what use is religion if it has nothing to do with philosophy? Well, that is at least how my thinking works.

My favorite philosopher of the modern age is Bertrand Russell. I don’t understand or follow the philosophers of the past be it Aristotle, Plato or even for that matter the relatively modern greats like Nietzsche. What philosophers say sometimes seems to make sense only during their times and their personal perception of the past as seen during their lifetime. They don’t make much sense anymore. Bertrand Russell on the other hand stays on topic and doesn’t veer off into prose that betrays yours senses. To him and others that I will come across, I do feel inspired by what they have to say about the human mind and our social behaviors.

It is my personal belief that philosophers created God and politicians (kings) created religion. It can also be assumed that only kings listened to philosophers. Hence, who patronized whom and when God and religion became one is difficult to comprehend.

I was deeply religious as a kid. Everything was about God. My success was because of God. My failure was because of God. Luckily, in the Hindu religion, I could chose from thousands of Gods. So, it wasn’t as depressing as locking yourself to one person and that too a man! Women are more comforting and better as Gods. Of course, who my favorite God was kept changing with time. One day, I wondered why so? It didn’t seem to make sense. Something was flawed. I also realized that each one of us have a certain interpretation of God and religion that doesn’t match with any other person’s belief. Even if it was the same God, the same religion or even if it was your parents and siblings. That didn’t make sense either! Something seemed tricky about this entire God business. Since then, I have been reading the works of strong anti-theists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Great and refreshing perspectives came from this side of the Godly business. However, I haven’t turned anti-God although I have been losing respect for religion of any kind as such.

Religion has a lot of good teachings and stories of the good life. For me, they are all philosophers and their works are of philosophy. Not religion. It cannot be stolen by any particular religion as its own. Sankaracharya to me was an Advaita philosopher. The religious identity comes from the fact that he was in Hindu India at that time. Of course, political patronage meant that this was eventually carried forward as a religious belief.

Inspired by one such thought was my interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu epic, as an actual work of religious philosophy. I stretched that thought further to write a book and self-publish it. I called it AHAM, the sanskrit word for “I”.

So much to enjoy learning from the greatest thinkers the world has produced. A never ending journey…A beautiful ride in the mind-bending realm of human existence in this universe….


Where are the Capitalists!?

There is a lot of talk in the World about two systems that drive the economy of a country – Capitalism and Communism. For the most part, Capitalism has been declared as the winner – a symbol of sanity, progress, wealth and power. The so called Communist world is allegedly smaller. The most common punch bags identified in economic journals, political speeches, Hollywood movies and the likes have been the U.S.S.R (Until it broke into a hundred pieces) , China, North Korea and Eastern Europe. Communists have largely been shown as people run by evil dictators and living in poverty. Capitalism on the other hand is all about people living in modernity and leading rich, happy lives.
Many countries in the “West” proudly claim to be capitalists showing to the world how an open market leads to prosperity for one and all. However, I personally feel there are no true capitalists in this world. Capitalism exists, but no country is a true capitalist. As one of my professors in Business school put it, there are only degrees of capitalism and communism. Countries fall in different places of the band between Capitalism and Communism.
Here is why I think no country qualifies to claim being a capitalist nation. Capitalism represents a unified entity. Capitalism has no face. It doesn’t identify anyone based on social norms. In Capitalism, there is no race, no religion, no discrimination. Capitalism is about progress for everyone. Capitalism is only about money. But it is about money for all. In effect, it would in effect mean money for none. In a true capitalist world, there wont be any distinction of rich and poor. They are all the same. There are either skyscrapers everywhere or nowhere. A person in Japan would be as happy and equally progressive as a person in Sudan. Charity would only be a novel word that has no place in the real world. Capitalism cannot be bound to a particular country or a society. It is in the open world. It is the open, united world. These are the glaring reasons why Capitalism cannot exist easily in this world. The world is already divided as it is run by humans, and human beings can be everything but the way Capitalism wants them to be like. Capitalism is by and far a myth, and it may remain so for years to come.
Human beings in their most stripped down version are animals. They act and behave like one. One of the most basic instincts of theirs is to discriminate themselves from the rest. They are always territorial and tend to share within their identified groups. So were formed nations, religions, races and the concept of a society. People always tend to remain happy in their own groups. As they became more and more enclosed in their own world, they became more closed to the rest of the world. Groups of people, or nations, were moulded this way. As people became more contained in their shells, they lost a grip of things outside it. Progressive nations in the past lost what they had because of this. In the modern world, a certain group of nations were able to rise in prosperity by opening their arms to so called “capitalism”. However, what they have done is merely take advantage of the arbitrage opportunity in an open world. This is in principle not a new concept. Nations (groups of people) that suffered in the past always were forced outside their territories. Circumstances forced them to come out of their shells and explore things outside. These nations ventured out into the open looking for ways to better their lives. Western European nations started building their lives by moving to the East, colonizing and building wealth. They looked out for the arbitrage opportunity in the progressive part of the world. They still look for that opportunity in the now poorer parts of the world. If you as a society had a controlled mechanism to identify your people and and share this opportunity, you made progress. Given the nature of human beings, this was only possible in a society that could identify itself for the most part as a homogeneous entity. Several Western nations grew rich through this societal arrangement. Diversity is rare in animals, and humans are no different. One thing that can be noticed in the world is as to how this cycle of distress and progress historically continues across the world. The new progressive nations in this world are now entering their closed shells. Several of these nations are indeed closer to capitalism than many others, but they all are working towards building their own hard shells. But, that is the essence of communism. Capitalism cannot be bound into a small cage of nations. It needs more freedom.
In practice, this is why almost all nations are communists, whether they wish to agree or not. Communism is no evil, it is just a reflection of what human beings are and what human beings want – Their own progress, their own society and their own territory. In the communist world, they all want to keep the benefits of their progress and not share it with anything outside their recognized shell. This society believes in the concept of a unified family, an arrangement where one takes care of the other. However, the biggest dent to communism again comes from who belong to that world- human beings. Humans are territorial, and unless threatened, they largely prefer comfort over anything else in life. In the communist world, it becomes easier for humans to realize this dream. Unfortunately, this builds a society where people no longer work towards building their society but tend to care for their own territories or families. It doesn’t provide incentives for people to work differently. Laziness easily creeps into their lives. This in turn leads to disintegration of the society as a nation. As can be realized, such a disparate group of people in the society cannot be controlled easily. This in turn, encourages a political system where opportunities and rules are forced but hardly or silently accepted by the people. Communism believes in a shell. It believes in building walls around itself as a society. It believes in the fact that people belong to distinct groups of society. It thrives in the concept of a closed group. It thrives in the fundamental principle that humans are after all animals.
Coming back to my argument of the absence of capitalism in this world, I believe our societies are all merely manifestations of a communist nation. After all, the band doesn’t stretch as far as Capitalism on any end. The band begins and ends with Communism.