(A fiction by Sidharth Vardhan.
Please note that I started it as a fiction project that would use the disgusting ugliness to create some sort of literature. It was too close to reality to be worthwhile for anyone. If you are depressed or suicidal or are suspect-able, please avoid reading this diary. Those problems must be fought with all you have and the darkness contained in here can make your problems worse. Its only use can be found in the study of a very unhealthy and disgusting mind who has dumped his failures to find a value for his life in a dairy and ended up painting the whole world in black of his self-piety. The arguments he presents are all highly subjective and debatable and thus should not be considered wise at all. They prove nothing except the fact that he is a pathetic loser. You, whoever, are reading this, are a far superior person and should ask for help which is your birth-right as a human being and should ask for it and know that your life will be beautiful again. Yet I won’t take it offline as that seems to be cowardly. If you are curious, you can find all parts of ‘Diary of a Cynical Suicide’ here. )
Of God and the meaning of things
There are two types of answers to questions that ask ‘why’ about something. There is the ‘why’ that is answered in the cause of things; the cause and effect science studies. Ask a scientist why something happens and he or she will tell you the cause.
And there is a second type of ‘why’ which wonders about the ‘purpose’ of the thing. Why me? Why live? These two must not be confused though they are easy to be confused because of words ‘why’ and ‘because’ in questions and answers of both kinds. But why of cause is different from why of purpose. Looking for a cause is looking back (past). We look for purpose to define our way forward (future).
To say that human life is caused by evolution tells nothing of its purpose. If it was so, then it wouldn’t have made for most people a difference when Darwin first discovered evolution. Except for scientists and a few other curious souls, no one is so much interested in the cause of things. We do not want to know where we came from, only where we are headed. How many people love history? How many of them are interested in their future? History teachers have never yet been as popular as fortune-tellers.
It is the ‘why’ of purpose that is really important to most of us. The atheist scientists who fight religion with weapons of cause and effect justifications are really fighting at surface levels. The belief in God though strengthened by gaps in our scientific knowledge (gaps that are fortunately reducing) really has its roots in the ‘why’ of purpose. A territory where science can’t enter from its nature (just as a person of pure virtue can’t enter the mind of the purely evil soul). It is this second ‘why’ which turns even those raised without any religious brainwashing turn to religion. And if you were to study these converts, it will be discovered many of these conversions were out of a need of having answers to why of purpose rather than why of course. And as to religious people, to try to tell them scientific explanations of things is as useful as telling a drug addict about the harmful effects of drugs. Religious cling to religion not because it explains the cause of things but because it gives their own life a purpose.
This second type of question, the ‘why’ of purpose seems to me an affliction; an absurd disaster that nature left to itself would never have created. This affliction where we wonder about the purpose of our own existence or human existence; that sometimes also shows in questions phrased otherwise (the question ‘who am I?’ when posed to oneself is really wondering ‘why am I?’ most of the times); it is something born of the human environment. Nature doesn’t create such a tendency in other animals. Nature also doesn’t supply answers to whys of purpose as it does with why of why of cause
I have three theories to explain its origin – that of curiosity about the cause of things. The first two theories is about its origins for the whole of the human race, the second is about its origins for an individual.
Theory 1 – how did humanity develop sickness of ‘why’ of purpose in the first place?
I think humanity first invented Gods to give an explanation to why of things. But having created gods we forgot all about our very act of having created them (some African communities still very consciously create and exile gods; not having forgotten human power over gods).
Gods once so imagined into creation as the almighty creators of all things in the universe, including humans, went on to also tell humans how to behave (through the mouths of human priests who coincidentally stood to gain most from the suggested behavior). And gods could tell humans what to do on authority that they were the creators of everything including humans and thus were only ones who knew the purpose of your existence (and they could punish you if you fail to serve the purpose).
This need for purpose is further strengthened by tricks used by religious institutions who have long have had humanity believe, through the words of God, that we are center of the universe. Not only we were the center of the Universe physically but in terms of the purpose of things too; the whole universe revolved around humanity.
And why not? We were after all God’s best invention, half of us created in His own image (not exactly put in those words, but Gods and humans of Hindus, ancient Greek and Romans too were human-like; in Islam God is shown to be sitting on a throne, very human-like). The puny achievements in our ant-like wars are celebrated; the shooting stars supposedly happen to announce the birth and death of our greatest leaders. The very fact that God shows up among us or sends a clue or an angel to convey his message to us, to make us believe in him – the very idea of a miracle done by God to prove his existence to us; is supposed to show how much he values us. Obviously we are the center of the universe.
And it was important that we should be so. When we were no longer under the mercy of rules of the jingle, when we, or some of us, could be more or less sure of our existence (as in case of monks in India and ancient Greek philosophers) we started thinking about the smallness of our own existence. Job points out tragedies too – small life, beset by the need to do earn one’s living and other tragedies; what is the point? Don’t we ourselves care so little about the lives of ants and insects? It was imperative that God should make us the center of the universe. Only that could offer some kind of justification – small in vast Universe yet at the center of it.
Unlike the temporary belief in the existence of characters of a mathematical problem we are read about (those school problems remember when X bought 20 watermelons?); the belief of believers in God is so much strong that it appears to them as if it comes from outside, even if only imaginary, object…. Or rather more correctly a mirage. The characters in those math problems would never be that strong to us as these characters existed in our own minds. Despite what Rowling said, it is really hard to believe in a thing that is only in your mind.
You ask me if God is imaginary why is not belief in it as week as the characters in those math problems. I answer because God was given to us in stories that were more interesting to us than math problems. And God is not only imaginary creation which seems to have belief in it coming from an outside mirage.
it seems to me that such ‘outsider’ force is assumed by some of the fictional characters – both ones I have read about in novels (though never those of math problems) or watched on-screen or ones I have written. Some of these are just as real to the inside of my mind as real-life people I know. In fact, I talk of them to others as I would of real people. God, even when I was a half-believer in him never encouraged that sort of strong belief. This despite the fact God has so many writings, stories, paintings, songs, prayers, etc spread over different religions to substantiate its existence. If it was not for those things, I won’t even have been able to stand the absurdity of belief in such a creature.
But we are not the center of the universe. We are no more at the center of the universe than Pluto is. If there is a God, he probably feels no more feels compelled to earn our devotion than that of rats. Worse still there is no god. And all in all no purpose for our existence.
Humanity over thousands of years of serving purposes given by gods came to get addicted to this slavery. And when those of like of Darwin or Kepler did finally freed us from illusion; we felt the freedom in all its brutality. Many of us thus continue to want to return to shackles of illusionary religion by reviving our dead God.
We have so long believed that God(s) created human beings out of their image. But now we know that it is reverse – it was we who created God in our image. This gives the creation of God a purpose – of being an assumption that helped us explain things that weren’t explainable otherwise (thus do many atheists turn to religion). A creation always has a purpose – no matter how subtle, or creator won’t create it. Creator, who are not themselves created, are on other hand orphaned and devoid of purpose. God, turned from creator to creation, now has a purpose. Humanity, suddenly turned from creation to creator – is now without purpose, orphaned out of a creator, it searches for a meaning of life. I wonder if God of the Old Testament if he was to be real, would have suffered the same existential crisis as we do now – feeling like an orphan amidst the chaos. Maybe that is why he created order – for a diversion.
Perhaps, some philosophers will argue, by creating humans, the imagined God of old times, was giving his own existence a meaning. Just as in reality, it was we who were giving our own existence a meaning by creating Gods and telling ourselves that those gods created ourselves
(Theory 2 – freed consciousness)
Or perhaps I overrate the importance of religious whose only fault was to jump in with a made-believe solution to a problem that already existed. When we were are no longer living in jungle and expected to look for food and be afraid of being killed every single moment; once we stopped having to keep an eye out for dangers of jungle, it must have freed a big part of consciousness that was thus absorbed and thus felt a need for a purpose. That is where the curse of this form of curiosity overtook us (curiosity is normally a good thing but not in this case). And religion just a popular answer provider. It is only in philosophy we find alternatives and whoever reads philosophy?
That leisure or the free time has much to do with it is explained by the fact of philosophy’s age-old interest in it. No doubt, the first philosophers of the world were in Greece where people were free enough for such useless questions to be asked. Philosophy seems to be the granddaughter of leisure and daughter of human desire for a purpose to their life. Even where it talks of sciences, literature, metaphysics, morality, laws the perspective for such things that philosophers provide often come from the same perspective. Any pursuit of truth or wisdom is born of the same instinct, Socrates felt he was not wise because his desire for a purpose was not yet fulfilled (though perhaps he later managed to do it by sacrificing his life).
Indian philosophy is often confused with the Hindu religion. A tragedy I think but understandable because Hindu philosophers sought for purpose of their life according to whether or not there exist powers higher than us, what role they played, what they wanted from humans etc. Yet, it is absurd to consider many ancient Indian philosophies clearly going Hindu popular beliefs and at times practically or even explicitly atheist too, to be considered belonging to Hindu religion. Yet whether they are Hindu or not, all Indian philosophies are much more clearly determined on a need for purpose of life.
The philosophers’ originality also comes from their refusal to agree entirely with any religions or existing philosophy systems at their time – their own need for a purpose in life being left unsatisfied by prevailing systems. Philosophers have been at odds with religious fundamentalism before science had found its footing for this very reason. It seems natural that Socrates should have been targeted by them.
A philosophical system much like religion is most appealing to one to whom I give a sense of purpose. On the other hand, the philosophical system can be only as useful in as much as it is observant of the world and takes account of real facts rather than building fantasies on how the world should be according to an individual philosopher.
But perhaps I overemphasize the need for leisure to be able to ask those questions. I think we all, no matter how free or busy, ask these questions to ourselves. What sets those with lots of free time like me apart is that we have more time to worry ourselves sick about it.
Theory 3 -Why an individual is curious about ‘why’ of purpose even without religious education?
The assumption things must have a purpose is also born from seeing a world that gives the illusion of some kind of order to it. We get used to that sense of order and are anguished when we that there really is no order only chaos.
It is said in the Old Testament that it was God who created order out of chaos. Now we know that there is no good reason to believe in God, I at least do not believe in it. There is no god and so there is no order; only an illusion of it born out of our familiarity with it. And since there is no order, there is no purpose. Why go on living at all.
This need for a purpose grows stronger when we are going some heavy emotional stress. Suffering does make us conscious of our existence in the same way as bad parts of roads that make us more conscious of our journey than a smooth road or comfortable life ever will. That is why the happiest souls never stop to consider that they are happy. And the paradox of happiness – those who go seeking after happiness never find it. Happiness is the state of being unconscious, even ignorant. Where consciousness pops in, where one takes the bite at the fruit of knowledge, all the suffering of existence comes with a god-like power to being. The consciousness of a thing is the knowledge of suffering it can cause one. One only thinks of roads one walk on, when one hits his feet. And once your life brings you suffering, you search for a purpose that will make it worth going through the suffering.
This is also why it is only very young children that can truly be happy because they are still having a smooth life. Children living in mostly a familiar world have a sense of order arising out of familiarity of their little world. Take them out of that little world, away from their home or presence of the mother, and they chaos everywhere.
This need for a purpose is even now just as strong as a physical need for at least some of us. It is a sort of addiction. Like any strong addiction, it becomes a sort of need. Without a sense of purpose, we are likely to become dysfunctional both as individuals and as social animals. This is the reason why so many atheists fell back to the security of illusional purposes created by religion.
Here, too, having the leisure to muse about your crisis helps. In the worst case, it can turn you into depressive, anxiety-prone, self-harming, suicidal or even a philosopher.
Sartre would tell you to find your own meaning – in love, children, art or literature. But I wonder why I should go for trouble? The lack of meaning troubles me and derives me to kill myself but why should I prefer a search for a make-pretend meaning over killing myself?
Scratches from underworld
I thought at some point in my life I will get over this great grief in life, especially now that many of the reasons for depression are no longer existent. But no, I guess I have become a sort of Lazarus – you can’t be reborn without scratches from the underworld. Everyone who sees me perhaps feels more conscious of their grief – that must be why they are so quick to talk about their grieves.
I’m full of this darkness that I carry within myself. The darkness of old times, I died a long time ago and now am back from the underworld but you do not return from such a place unscratched. I still have inside me those hellish fires, fires that have black flames, that spread darkness instead of light, and that can burn one for centuries without ever killing or reducing one to ashes. I am Lazarus of Leonid Andreyev’s story that makes anyone who might come in contact with him conscious of their own darkness. Unable to contain those hellish fires I put them here and am slightly shocked to see the instruments I am used to write about them do not burn, do not turn pale, and thus learn yet again that never born is better than the living and the dead. But I’m afraid those hellish fires will rekindle themselves in heart of anyone who reads these notes. Like Satanic words murmured in the ears of Eve, they poke people with the thorn of curiosity and make them conscious of their orphaned existence. Thus, though not yet, I WILL one day destroy these notes – too dangerous to you, living souls, to survive.
I lie in my bed, haunted by the ghost of uncompleted conversations. I think people who mourn for the dead, people who stalk others, people who kill themselves, people who cry for no reason are all haunted by ghosts of uncompleted conversations. I complete them in my mind – I always get to say the cleverest lines, the other person is rendered speechless and guilty and is crying but I’m cruel in those imagined conversations. I don’t let myself feel sorry for them, I treat them most terribly without any conscience.
Copyright – Sidharth Vardhan