To have or not to have…

Recently, I have been thinking about the purpose of my life. Naturally, it’s a topic that everyone will certainly ponder about in some stage of their life. There have been two views presented regarding this topic. 1) There is absolutely no purpose in life and that people just live for the sake of surviving everyday obstacles. It’s not like we really had any choice of being born on this planet. This is kind of a pessimistic approach to life, obviously speaking. 2) Your purpose in life is to serve others. This can be interpreted in any way.

These two views are what I have generally observed among most of the people I have met. Christians obviously believe in serving others. Nihilists are those who belong to group 1. If there are any views at all, I am still not aware of it/them.

So, why worry about our lives at all? Why do we have to think about a purpose for our life here, why bother at all? Why are there so many people around this world, going about finding a purpose for our lives, when maybe none might exist? Or why is it better to have some purpose rather than no purpose at all?

First of all, I believe that everyone should lead a life with a purpose. They might discover it later or earlier in their lives. But it is much better to have clear view of where your life is heading. Ayn Rand says,

“The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose — a productive purpose.”…”A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find.” (1964, Playboy Interview

A purpose in life, will direct you in your life. Of course, you can resort to flexibility. You don’t have to be focussed on just one purpose in your life. So, this is actually a subjective topic. But I completely disagree with people, who believe that “you live life as it comes by”. Or something like, “you should learn to accept and live with what you get, rather than dream about what you might want to get”. I do not tolerate such views. I believe that everybody has an unconscious purpose in life. I believe that everybody has an unconscious affinity towards a certain area of interest.I cannot name the reasons behind such beliefs clearly. I don’t know more about them yet and wish to learn more. But this is certainly what I believe.

Now, coming to the topic on whether the ultimate purpose of our life should be to serve others. As I said earlier, this could be interpretted i many ways by different persons. You can say “making others happy” or you can also, like Christians say “serving others”. But for me, I do not consider it to be my ultimate purpose in life. I am not born to serve others, I am born to serve myself. I strive to keep myself happy, and to do this, I will keep my friends happy. Because seeing them happy, makes me happy. So the basis/motive is the difference here.

One might strive to serve others on the basis of ‘duty’ and ‘God’. My basis is my own happiness. Every act I carry in my life, has my own selfishness in it. Even love, I believe is a very selfish act. Ayn Rand puts it very clearly,

“When you are in love, it means that the person you love is of great personal, selfish importance to you and to your life. If you were selfless, it would have to mean that you derive no personal pleasure or happiness from the company and the existence of the person you love, and that you are motivated only by self-sacrificial pity for that person’s need of you. I don’t have to point out to you that no one would be flattered by, nor would accept, a concept of that kind. Love is not self-sacrifice, but the most profound assertion of your own needs and values. It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person.” (1964, Playboy Interview)

So therefore, we need to define a purpose in our life. But we haven’t come to the part where we have to think about why bother at all with a purpose in life? Do you believe that you are already assigned a purpose by some omnipotent being? This is the one topic that is running on my mind right now. Maybe you readers can help me…

Why Am I An Atheist?

One of my friends asked these two questions to me: “What is the meaning of atheism, in your sense?” and “Why are you an atheist?” Well, he feels it quite strange that I’ve put my religion as ‘Atheist’ in my Orkut profile. It’s true that atheism is not a religion. In fact, atheists are mostly opposed to religion. But I seriously don’t know what to put in my profile under the ‘Religion’ heading. I don’t want to put ‘Hindu’ and give my friends a wrong message. Because hinduism is a religion and is always associated with belief in a God or several Gods. So I chose Atheist. Maybe I should consider putting ‘None’ in there now.

Atheism, in my sense, is the belief that God does not exist. Be it any kind of God; the supernatural, theist, diest, pantheist. Atleast, I can accept the pantheistic notions of God as of being somewhat “rational”. But certainly not the other versions. I still don’t know why we even have to accept those pantheistic beliefs. For me, atheism means freedom from relying on an external entity, which doesn’t really exist at all since there is no convincing evidence of it’s existence, and relying entirely on yourself. The first thing you experience when you come out of that glass ceiling, is that you are free to make entirely rational decisions and that you don’t have to rely on anything or anyone else.

But there was this dark feeling when I first came into that realisation. I was feeling alone, nothing to hold onto for support, no one but me to blame for whatever wrong/mistakes I do. My old habits of praying and seeking forgiveness kept coming up. I didn’t realize that it was so ingrained in my mind. But it’s all gone now. I don’t pray, I don’t go to temples, and I don’t keep mentioning “Muruga!” All of that is completely erased out of my mind and it took me quite a bit of effort for that. Not to mention, the time it took me to arrive at this stage, almost a year!

One I am an atheist because I have hope and I’m also certain that philosophical questions like “Who we are?” and “Why are we here?” can all be answered by Science. In fact, it has already provided those answers. Evolution by natural selection is not a theory anymore, it is now a proven fact. While simple explanations can be offered by science, why go looking for mythical and illogical explanations? The one thing I don’t advocate is blind faith. You say that God is a simple explanation? While it seems so on the surface, look deeper into it. God must have been a very complex being or some unknown entity to create such a complex life systems on the planet. I have already said this many times in my other post in my other blog. So I’m not going to put forth the same arguments again.

I’m sure people are also really fascinated with why the constants of the earth are so exact that any slight change to any of them, would not have made it possible for earth to survive. This will induce them to think of a creator in work. For more inormation on such arguments against atheism, go and grab yourself “The God Delusion” book from your nearby library shelves or book stores. It’s written by Richard Dawkins, who specialises in evolution. All the explanations given in that book are rational.

One If I am so strong an advocate of atheism, then why do I still call myself a Hindu? Because I believe that hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life. I believe that you can be both an atheist and hindu. As I said in a post before, I view the hindu scriptures and temples in a purely metaphorical and aesthetic perspective. So there, I hope I have answered those questions fully as my friend intended.

On the “Neeya Naana” sequel…

I was just reading this blog post a while ago. I was also watching the two-part series of that program “Neeya Naana” conducted by the controversial figure Srikanth as the author in this post talks about. The program was about what a complete man and complete woman should be like. According to me, I think the program did not really finish off the debate. The girls crowd and the guys crowd also do not represent the whole Tamil Nadu population. But the views they expressed are widespread and can be agreed by most of them.

The most controversial part of the talk show was when the girls quoted the economic status of the complete man according to their views. The author quotes the following in his quote:

“…the group of women had the following commandments to identify the male’s fitness to marry them.

– Rs. 50,000 salary per month (mostly everybody agreed on it)

– A double bedroom flat with centralised AC

– Car and other accessories

I was really amazed, as to how, not even a single women wanted to affirm that they wanted a self-confident dude or a person who is aiming for a success in his career.” 

Well, what is wron with that? I don’t see why the author expects the women to be hypocrites. It’s easy to say that I want such and such confident man and all that, it’s true. But a man’s wealth proves much beyond that. It shows that he is really confident, that he is hardworking, that he is intellectual and a lot more. Those women ask such salaries because they themselves are earning very well. Hard facts and truth are what the show demands of the participants and what the show presents to us. so that is what we will get.

I agree to the author, however, when he says that, “When we were are in a framework where women are fighting for equal status, why is there a disparity in seeking a partner with higher income. Are they treating themselves as unequal or inferior, have they lost the battle before it has begun, I never thought they were masters in meeky submission.”

The girls in the show were actually saying that men should be earning more than them. That is BS! If the girls in the show are like that, then the author should not base his judgement through their views, because their views don’t represent all the women. I certainly wouldn’t care if my “complete” man had a higher salary than me or not. Why should the women in India, or more specifically in Tamil Nadu degrade themselves in such a way? And they say it like as if they are giving in to the guys with great hearts. That’s the most ridiculous part of it. But rest assured guys, girls are changing.

The show is incomplete, I say. The host didn’t ask the same questions to the guys, that which he asked to the girls. Like for example, he didn’t ask the guys what are the five most important things they expect from their complete woman. I tell you, even if the host had asked such a question, the guys would not have quoted any salary, house, possesion of a car or accessories. Our society is still narrow-minded and stereotyped. If the men and women have really achieved equality, the show would not have progressed in such a way.

There was this guy sitting in the front row, who said that he wouldn’t mind having a woman as his wife even if she consumes alcohol or smokes. Well, that’s BS too! What a hypocrite! Tell me this guys, would you honestly accept a woman who drinks, even if it is only occasionally? Or for that matter, someone who smokes? Most of the girls themselves do not accept guys who drink or smoke. They consider it irresponsible behaviour, not fit for family life. How would guys? Unless he is from the US or something, he might. But Tamil Nadu guys are conservative. They expect a family type girl when it comes to marriage and becoming wife. They expect a “chick” girl when it comes to dating and having fun. That’s the summary of guys. Period.

It is true as the author says that “it is a myth that economic prosperity beyond a level leads to happiness”. Wealth is just a means to achieve the end, but is not the end in itself. The end here being our own happiness. So therefore, what the author says is true. Wealth does not give happiness. Whatever you achieve through wealth gives you happiness.

According to me, my complete man should have the following: 1) Must be atleast 2 to 4 years elder than me. If younger, max is 1 year. 2) Must be a businessman. 3) Must be independent, living on his own salary. 4) Must have views similar to mine, like he must also be an objectivist, atheist and a feminist. Both of our visions for the future must be the same. Not listed in any order. But the most important one must be no.4. If he meets no.4, he is automatically no.3. No.2 is not mandatory. No.1 is my ideal but not necessary.   

Bursting Out Of The Circle

Have you ever looked at what a typical lifestyle of a person living in India is like? It seems like he never thinks but just follows the crowd. Observe him carefully. Because that is not what you want to live like. You, who are the thinkers, would not want to live this way.

At 10 years of age, he wakes up in the morning and goes to school at 9, comes back in the evening and goes to tuition and comes back from tuition, studies more and then goes to sleep.

At 20 years of age, he does the same, but goes to college instead. You don’t even have to ask what degree he has taken. It would always be engineering, if he cannot have MBBS.

At 30, 40 and 50 years of age, he does the same, but goes to office instead. 35 years or more of his life will be dedicated to the same workplace.

At 60 years of age, he retires and that’s the end of his life according to him. No other duty exists for him to perform. He would have performed all of them by this age.

For a woman it’s different. While at 10 she studies, harder than boys, she is married off at 20. She has children soon and that’s the end of her life. If her husband meets a tragic accident and dies, that’s the end of her life too. She has no more earthly pleasures to pursue.

Why does it seem like only the Indians have such short period of life compared to he rest of them in the world? I am not just generalizing here. I am stating the fact of what is happening to most of the people in India. Their attitude towards life is appalling! They live a life of emotional and cultural drudgery, struggling throughout their life trying to live for their family and for the others.

But things are approaching a change right now. The youngsters nowadays are changing and are more drawn to Western life. They are individualistic, open-minded and all-around type of people. This is mostly brought about by the developments of the city life and developments in technology available in India. Still, India has a long to go.

But do Indians like Western lifestyle? A lot of them hold dear to their heroic “Indian Culture” when it comes to this issue. The culture, they say, has enabled them to live peacefully and prosperously until the westerners came. Like the dialogue they speak in the hindi movie Swades, these people hold their culture dear to their hearts. They blame the youngsters for eroding “Indian Culture”.

Okay, enough of digression. Coming back to the topic at hand. Like I said, India has still a long way to go before all of them open their eyes to the world outside. Seriously, people live within a small circle and refuse to come out of it. Believe me, I know such people. They are above 50 or 60 years of age and it’s a bit too late to tell them to come out of the circle and look around them. They are financially well ridden. That is not a problem for them at all. But they refuse to do so. To know that they have spent half or more of their lives in the same place on earth gives me a disastrous feeling. Like they have wasted the whole of their lives. They have a lot more to see and they are missing it all.

Notice what happens to people who come out of this circle. Their first reaction will be to question those around them and wonder why people live like that. They will start to defy all conventions. They will start to think for themselves. They grow much matured than their parents and elders because they have come out of this circle. They will start to see life as they should rightfully see.

But what is the reaction of the majority living inside the circle to this outburst of knowledge? They brand them as being “selfish”, “talking too much”, “impatient”, “irresponsible” and “not being respectful”.

Such is what happened to me and to my parents. They broke out of the circle first, when they left their relatives behind in India and came to Singapore. It happened to me next. I have broken out of the circle too. I don’t want to live a life of a typical Indian girl. I want to live a life that I want.

What kind of life I want? I want to live only for myself, not relying on others and not letting others relying on me for anything. For now, I have to rely on my parents to educate me. That is their duty. But once I have completed my formal education, I will be left on my own. I want to take life decisions on my own, not seeking anybody’s help. I will not sacrifice my life, my interests, and my wishes for anything not under my concern or responsibility. If I did take any wrong decisions, it will be me and only me who will bear the consequences for that. Having said that, I will not bear the consequences of anybody else’s wrong decisions, be it my parents or my dear friends. All of this is my right, as it is everybody’s, and nobody can stop me from achieving it except myself.

“I swear by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.” ~ John Galt’s Oath. It’s mine too, from now on.

How I came upon objectivism…

 

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. At least, as the saying goes. But it is not enough as to the reason why I read a lot. My friends think I am such a bookworm. One of them even went to the extent and said that I would probably never stop reading till my grave!

Reading is not an exercise to the mind. It is an exercise for the reasoning mind. I learned a lot from reading. People seek knowledge while reading books that convey vital information. But not all books are of such kind. You have to search for books that interest you. You have to be intelligent enough to look out for credible authors, being able to give you the correct information without any bias, or bad logic.  

Non-fiction books have much to offer to the knowledge bank compared to fiction. If you want a good entertainment for your mind, go for fiction of any kind, romanticism, horror, comedy, suspense, thriller and mystery. If you want to experience some growth of your knowledge bank, go for non-fiction. But whatever it is, reading is a very good way of conditioning your mind. 

As humans, we are very capable of thinking for ourselves. We don’t always have to rely on others and follow the crowd. Instead, we can devise our lives for ourselves. Such individualistic streak can be obtained from reading books critically. That’s because reading requires us to think about the issue or subject written on our own.  Reading is also an endless journey. After reading one book, the book itself will direct you to another similar or entirely different book. Or you may want to pursue similar topics in a different viewpoint. Reading widely, now that’s very important. You will gain more confidence about your intelligence by reading widely. 

That is when I encountered Ayn Rand. When reading was a very important part of my life. My friend directed me to it. I read her fictitious novel, The Fountainhead, and immediately fell in love with her philosophy. It was whatever I had in my mind but didn’t know how to express it. I was only aware that I didn’t agree with what most of the people lived with. The notion that we are born to serve others. I started this blog so as to experience my revelation upon entering this new world of objectivism. I want to live my life for myself from now on. Nothing is wrong with my notion of life until I discovered Rand and her philosophy. I’ll try to post regularly, but that’s not a promise.