Saturday, July 23, 2005

Religion, Spirituality and fate.

Part II : Is Partial Virtuousness enough for men to coexist in progressive societies?

When I discussed the purpose of religion and the reason why the things the way they are, and when I placed my line of arguments to many forums and many others in person, I was amazed to find almost all of them were towing the line that partial virtuousness of man is enough to be a part of any society and religion’s purpose is to inculcate just about all virtues partially in men, so that a society of intelligent human beings can exist in substance and form. Surprisingly, some of them proposed that religion and spirituality has many uses and placed a counter question that once a man becomes virtuous, then what use is of religion to him?

Let me place my views to take on these arguments piece meal. Firstly, can man ever become completely virtuous at any point of time in his life in this kind of society as we see today? So much so that one does not need spirituality anymore for that purpose of making him virtuous? Is it possible to be without any vice at all in today’s society? I feel it’s a preposterous assumption. Even that great Rama, after all those years, suspected Sita and that too in an ideal world!!! Is it any virtue?? I feel that in today’s society, being good and Virtuous is a journey, not a destination. Spirituality and religion are navigation tools and not modes of transport!!! One needs them life long to steer him in the correct path through out his life. So I beg to disagree with this line of argument that once becoming virtuous then what use does spirituality have and therefore spirituality has many more uses, because the assumption of becoming completely virtuous is impossible for a normal human being and hence use of spirituality is complete until end. It never crosses this condition that’s laid in this argument.

Having said this, I do not conclude that since it is impossible to be completely virtuous, it’s enough to be partially virtuous to be a part of any society. Unfortunately, this fundamental assumption of partial virtuousness being enough has been ingrained so much in our minds that I feel this belief has singularly caused all the chaos in the society. This phenomenon of lack of complete virtuousness in humans and impossibility of complete virtuousness is itself a direct consequence of this assumption that partial virtuousness is enough to be a part of any human society and it is not the other way around!!

Before we proceed any further, it is imperative to clarify what I understand by a society and what did man intend to achieve by forming a society in the first place. A society is a large group of people who live together in an organized way, making decisions about how to do things and sharing the work that needs to be done. This was formed by a singular intention to protect himself from external dangers, make him more productive and last but not the least to make his life happier by peaceful coexistence. Has advanced societies made man happier than the primitive ones? We cannot assume this even when compared to a society that existed two generations before. Day after day we see the law of entropy only proved more assertively. The entropy or disorder of the world is increasing every moment. There is chaos; it is definitely not a safer world than before. There is large-scale dissatisfaction and soul searching.

Is it any sane to think that man intended this when he formed a society? That religion and spirituality aimed at this state, when they were conceptualised? When you form a concept or invent a machine, is it logical to state that it is enough for it to work partially or achieve its aim when it demands that you need to aim for the highest? Aren’t partially virtuous people including us, the curse of the society? Don’t you feel that the “chalta hai” or “parava illai” (meaning that its ok to be what it is) attitude isn’t doing any good to mankind and infact wrecking man’s happiness?

I feel there is ultimate chaos in the society because of partially virtuous people and that includes you and me. We have our vices and add to chaos in the society in our ways. Each one of us does it. And it is also true that each one is tolerant to other's vices/partial virtuous nature. Even a terrorist has some virtues. Does that mean he is good enough for the society? And if I had to point out one single vice of mankind that we haven’t learnt even after thousands of years of organized living, it is intolerance; Intolerance to other’s opinions and existence itself in many cases. Wars have been fought over ideologies and religion in some form or the other. If it was Jews who faced the wrath in the second world war, it’s the Islamist Jehadis who are wrecking havoc in today’s scenario.

It all depends on what level you accept the society to be a society. If we are ready to accept substandard ideals from our own self, then there can be no greater curse to mankind. If we feel partial virtuousness is enough to be a part of a society, we infact, are giving a self certificate to our misguided beliefs, a self acceptance to our own self that it is enough for "me" to be partially virtuous to exist in this world and in fact it is no vice to have some or many vices! And as long as each one of us believes so from deep within and continues to aim at just partial virtuousness, there is no question of any happiness in the society. All actions thus flowing from this basic ideology of partial virtuousness being enough to live in a society are going to be myopic and parochial leading to more chaos and it is all just a compromise at the end of the day, nowhere near the terminal objective of making man happier.

Is this correct? Don’t we have to aim, set target and believe that complete virtuousness is essential and must be achieved? Don’t we have to set that target to ourselves, start self-improvement and get rid of this settling for substandard aims of partial virtuousness? Must not religion/spirituality help us in that direction?


Barath said...

Great one! Agree each and every bit of it!....

Well I call complete vituousness as ideality...Its unreachable. Knowing that is unreachable is itself an excercise with complications of nth order! one form... at the end of your life...your closeness to ideality defines the quality of life you had lived!..

On the other hand, setting limits is important...everything in the world is time constrained...if you trying to be prefectly prefect in ething to do, it wil have to be done at the expense of time and setting reasonable standards is important. The problem that we have at this point is the handle that we have on setting this reasonable standards. Sometimes its on the lowers side of the curve..closer to the non-ideal regime ...and hence results in chaos!

But somehow I feel that the connection between the path towards ideality and religion/spirtuality is not established yet in the article..or may be I missed it!!

The Soul Doctor said...

Hi barath,

firstly, my entire call on the religion and spirituality is that it exists in the first place to make man happy ideal and completely virtuous and nothing always keep my proposition as enunciated in part I in mind while reading the rest of blog.

nevertheless i do confess that i am amatuer writer and am struggling to be concise yet candid . In my attempts to bridge brevity with conceptualisation of my thought process, i find myself wanting in many i agree that i am unable to put accross what i want to say from the readers point of please bear with me. one form... at the end of your life...your closeness to ideality defines the quality of life you had lived!..

Very true and Very clearly brought out.If each of us aim for the best and ideal, irrespective of whether it is achieved, may be there will be harmony.

How many of us even interested?

Barath said...

Well I wudnt say its an amatuer material...its quite a bit of writing and I approve agree appreciate aknolwedge admire every bit of it!

Well, everyone is intersted in reaching ideality... without their knowledge...the problem is that people tend to expect a lot from the ideal state...which itself is non-ideal...! So once they fall short of expectations, they tend to stay low on their limits and try again....and henceforth the ideal limits of themselves and the people around is reduced ...which is directly connected to the so called "chaos"!!

Nyways nice post!

jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn said...

Virtue is an almost thing to define, because there are always the benefits to two things at work in everyday life - there is personal benefit and there is benefit to everything else. Indeed, intelligent beings are those who act in a way as to secure advantage to both themselves and others. In light of this, and in light of the fact that we are epistemically bound so that we may percieve the world only through our eyes, it is perhaps justified for one to be "partially" virtuous. When one doesn't know the state of afairs either through miseducation or through imperception, burdening that being with a moral cause like this one is not fruitful, because it cannot solve the problem of hypocrisy.

If you do find a solution or a potential solution, do let me know. This will make a good discussion.:-)


jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn said...

correction: "virtue is an almost *impossible thing to define..."



The Soul Doctor said...

@ rajesh

Seeing as things are from the platform of a partially virtuous world, what you said makes sense. And thats why we are all just partially virtuous.

But religion and spirituality were concoted so much in its course, so much so that it started serving as man's refuge to anything and everything he percieved to be difficult and unattainable. God became bigger than his teachings.thats where the problem lies and thats where every man quietly consoles himself that even his state of partial virtuousness is itself a will of god.

Nt all like that but since there is an overwhelming majority exists, even those who would otherwise resist the temptation are finding the easier way out like water finding the easiest path.

Does all virtues "benefit" self? what about the virtue of sacrifice and tolerance? They not only provide the benefit of happiness to both self and society, but also serve a great cause towards complete virtuousness.If each one us in our naked honesty mix an equal proportion of self benefits and the derived benefits to the soceity from one's particular action, i think there would be a solution to it.

The Ignoramus said...

The problem the world is seeing today is not because of partially virtuous people, but because of people with very little virtue, and who give a damn about virtues and vices. If each of the 6 billion plus people of the world try...yes, just try to become virtuous, you would see an overnight change in the world. The moment you try to become virtuous, you avoid vice, and thus you become virtuous.

And what is this complete virtue? Perhaps we could take Yudhishtira as a standard. Is there any reason for you to believe that one cannot be totally virtuous?

Before commenting on the whole article, I wanted to raise these questions...

The Soul Doctor said...


I dont have any reasons neither am arguing that we cant be totally virtuous. I have said exactly what you commented in my blog.

partially virtuous humans which i mentioned and humans with very little virtue which u mentioned are one and the same!! I am infact saying that we, the partially virtuous people are responsible for the state of society...both good and bad:)

a learned soul said...

well well just what is this thing called virtue and who actually has it are those partially virtuous people really responsible for the state of society.. because they see themselves as semi vice free whilst the rest of society with all its vices and lack virtue are creating the total chaos in the world.. no matter what vices or can we phrase vices as things u do that bring u pleasure or happiness... to me thats a vice so long as one mans vices are enjoyed by hmself and no crime has been commited to fund that vice or another person has not been made to suffer for or thrugh a man persuing his vice then why should this be an issue for any one vices come in many forms...smoking drinking drug all these things bring alot of people alot of pleasure yet these people still manage to hold responsible positions in society hold down good jobs and raise families.. where children grow up perfectly well adjusted adults why ever would a person wish to deprive themselves of their little vices(or basic human pleasures)we need them to relax to give our soul a fresh charge of happiness a release of steam what ever it is each person benefits from his vice is his and his benefit alone..without doing something for your self and trying to deny your self happiness and pleasure or worse still have someone tell you what your doing is bad or wrong u must try to give it up... that is trying to interfere with a persons free will and choice to make themselves happy thus creating animosity toward the person telling u give up your vice its worse to deny ones self a pleasure because u cannot escape ur self therefore ur hard on ur self for taking ur own pleasure away..some cases of depriving ur self ur own happiness can lead to total misery and desire for that happiness can cause a person to snap and perhaps do something they normally wouldn`t so live and let live don`t diss it until u try it once u do u never know u could love it if not at least u tried it and can do what most others who preach dont and thats form ur own opinion from actually tryin it out instead of jumping on the band waggon an sayin its bad cos its somethin we don`t do the church is the worst of all for very rarely practicin what it preaches.... but hey you dont wanna get me started on religion..

The Soul Doctor said...

A Learned Soul

Firstly, is there anything called freewill in a society?? This itself is debatable. I feel, when man started living toghether, he sacrificed a part of his freewill for the collective happiness of the society.

Drinking and drugs is not a vice in the first place.But what follows after that ie to say, how a man behaves after drinking or taking drugs, if it is prejudicial to the peacefull coexistence of the society then it is discouraged by others!! Thats why you have people who advice and prevent you from these habits, which are bad not because of its own but what would normally follow afterwards!!

So live and let live is a skewed concept. One man's meat is another man's poison.....partial virtuosness cant make this society peacefull, atleast not more peaceful than what it is now!