Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
-
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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TAMIL NATION LIBRARY:  Unfolding Consciousness

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[see also From Matter to Life to Mind: An Unfolding Consciousness ]

"...In modern times there is no lack of understanding of the fact man is a social being and that 'No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe' (John Dunne, 1571-1631). Hence there is no lack of exhortation that he should love his neighbour - or at least not to be nasty to him - and should treat him with tolerance, compassion and understanding. At the same time, however, the cultivation of self knowledge has fallen into virtually total neglect, except, that is, where it is the object of active suppression.  That you cannot love your neighbour, unless you love yourself; that you cannot understand your neighbour unless you understand yourself; that there can be no knowledge of the 'invisible person' who is your neighbour except on the basis of self knowledge - these fundamental truths have been forgotten even by many of the professionals in the established religions.  Exhortations, consequently, cannot possibly have any effect; genuine understanding of one's neighbour is replaced by sentimentality, which ofcourse crumbles into nothingness as soon as self interest is aroused... Anyone who goes openly on a journey into the interior, who withdraws from the ceaseless agitation of everyday life and pursues the kind of training - satipatthana, yoga, Jesus Prayer, or something similar - without which genuine self knowledge cannot be obtained, is accused of selfishness and of turning his back on social duties.  Meanwhile, world crisis multiply and everybody deplores the shortage, or even total lack, of 'wise' men or women, unselfish leaders, trustworthy counselors etc. It is hardly rational to expect such high qualities from people who have never done any inner work and would not even understand what was meant by the words..."

Excerpted from A Guide for the Perplexed by E. F. Schumacher. Copyright 1978. All rights reserved

Chapter One

On a visit to Leningrad some years ago. I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. From where I stood, I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on my map. When finally an interpreter came to help me, he said: "We don't show churches on our maps." Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. "That is a museum," he said, "not what we call a 'living church.' It is only the 'living churches' we don't show.

It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map which failed to show many things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the, soundness of the maps.

The maps I was given advised me that virtually all my ancestors, until quite recently, had been rather pathetic illusionists who conducted their lives on the basis of irrational beliefs and absurd superstitions. Even illustrious scientists, like Johannes Kepler or Isaac, Newton, apparently spent most of their time and energy on nonsensical studies of non existing things. Enormous amounts of hard-earned wealth had been squandered throughout history to the honor and glory of imaginary deities, not only by my European forebears, but by all peoples, in all parts of the world, at all times. Everywhere thousands of seemingly healthy men and women had subjected themselves to utterly meaningless restrictions, like voluntary fasting; tormented themselves by celibacy; wasted their time on pilgrimages, fantastic rituals, reiterated prayers, and so forth; turning their backs on reality-and some do it even in this enlightened age-all for nothing, out of ignorance and stupidity; none ofit to be taken seriously today, except of course as museum pieces. From what a history of error we had emerged! What a history of taking for real what every modern child knew to be totally unreal and imaginary! Our entire past, until quite recently, was today fit only for museums, where people could satisfy their curiosity about the oddity and incompetence of earlier generations. What our ancestors had written, also, was in the main fit only for storage in libraries, where historians and other specialists could " study these relics and write books about them, the knowledge of the past being considered interesting and occasionally thrilling but of no particular value for learning to cope with the problems of the present.

All, this and many other similar things I was taught at school and university, although not in so many words, not plainly and frankly. It would not do to call a spade a spade. Ancestors had to be treated with respect: they could not help their backwardness; they tried hard and sometimes even got quite near the truth in a haphazard sort of way. Their preoccupation with religion was just one of their many signs of underdevelopment, not surprising, in people who had not yet come of age. Even today, of course, there remained some interest in religion, which legitimized that of earlier times. It was still permissible, on suitable occasions, to refer to God the Creator, although every educated person knew that there was not really a God, certainly not one capable of creating anything, and that the things around us had come into existence by a process of mindless evolution, that is, by chance and natural selection. Our ancestors, unfortunately, did not know about evolution, and so they invented all these fanciful myths.

The maps of real knowledge, designed for real life, showed nothing except things which allegedly could be proved to exist. The first principle of the philosophical mapmakers seemed to be "If in doubt, leave it out," or put it into a museum. It occurred to me, however, that the question of what constitutes proof was a very subtle and difficult one. Would it not be wiser to turn the principle into its opposite and say: "If in doubt, show it prominently"? After all, matters that are beyond doubt are, in a sense, dead; they constitute no challenge to the living.

To accept anything as true means to incur the risk of error. If I limit myself to knowledge that I consider true beyond doubt, I minimize the risk of error, but at the same time I maximize the risk of missing out on what may be the subtlest, most important, and most rewarding things in life. Saint Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, taught that "The slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things. "Slender" knowledge is here put in opposition to "certain" knowledge, and indicates uncertainty. Maybe it is necessarily so that the higher things cannot be known with the same degree of certainty as can the lesser things, in which case it would be a very great loss indeed if knowledge were limited to things beyond the possibility of doubt.

The philosophical maps with which I was supplied at school and university did not merely, like the map of Leningrad, fail to show "living churches"; they also failed to show large unorthodox" sections of both. theory and practice in medicine, agriculture, psychology, and the social and political sciences, not to mention art and so-called occult or paranormal phenomena, the mere mention of which was considered to be a sign of mental deficiency."
 

 

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