Our evenings can be as pleasant as mornings
We begin our day quietly. As the day progresses, there is intrusion of various kinds. There is noise. We can filter the noise by isolating ourselves from the world we inhabit.
The question is — Should we escape to the ‘jungle of delusion’ for achieving quiet? Should we abandon the desires of joy to become joyous? Should not we be part of the noisy world and strive to be happy?
One way to look at the happiness is that you are happy until the time you have faced grim realities of life. You become unhappy once you face all the painful aspects of life. But one can’t avoid grim realities of life, nor can one withdraw from the world, and seek the path to nirvana.
As Leszek Kołakowski writes, “We may suppose, then, that he was happy as long as the grim realities of life were unknown to him; and that at the end of his life, after a long and arduous journey, he attained the genuine happiness that lies beyond the earthly condition.”
Genuine happiness is so difficult to attain, as the abandonment of the self is not easy. I am not sure if it is necessary to abandon the self to attain happiness. Abandoning the self may seem absurd to many.
Kołakowski raises an important issue: Is a person in the state of nirvana aware of the world around him? When a person is completely detached from the world, can he be aware of the real world? Is it possible to be aware of evil and suffering and still be perfectly happy? I am not sure if one can ever be “perfectly happy”, but I am quite hopeful that one can be happy amidst evil and suffering. I think there is evil and suffering, and therefore there is happiness.
Happiness is something we can imagine. We have to imagine it even when things are not going that well for us. Even when we are not perfectly satisfied; we can never be perfectly satisfied. How we do it is our problem.
Happiness is as real as our pains and sufferings are. Happiness can be as real as our truthful imaginations are. It is good to be happy, but too consciously trying to achieve it is not good, as trying to achieve something too ‘consciously’ is a form of disease. We may not be able to control various noises around us, but we can certainly install noise reducers in and around us to make our evenings as pleasant as our mornings are.
Is god happy? Kołakowski thinks this question is not absurd. Happiness is immaterial to god if he is devoid of emotions. But if god has emotions, as we have, if he loves his creatures, how can he be away from happiness.
The question we should ask is — Does god love his creatures, and if so, is he happy the way his love is reciprocated by his creatures.
We all know some of us love him, while some don’t. If god has no emotions, he, perhaps, is indifferent to human suffering. If he is not indifferent, he must then be unhappy seeing the human suffering. In that case, god’s happiness depends upon our happiness. If we are happy, god is happy, and vice versa. Is it logical to think that god is like us? Is he also made up of senses and non-senses?
Can we say that a god unaffected of pain and suffering is no god? Can god attain nirvana? Can he abandon the self to get over unhappiness?
(The writer is a biotechnologist and ED, Birla Institute of Scientific Research, Jaipur)