Tuesday, 1 November 2011

On Being Rational - An Introspection


P L Rao  
   

Image Courtesy: creations.blogspot.com
“Why I am a rationalist?”  Each time someone asks me this question, it sets me thinking: "Is it a right question?"  As human beings, we are gifted with a brain largest among all species, which has been tremendously researched upon and according to this, the left side of the brain takes care of academic capability as reading, writing, language, mathematics etc and the right side controls skills such as art, crafts, music, dance creativity, inter personnel relationship, management etc. This consequently places man at a higher pedestal over the rest of the species as a “biped animal capable of thinking”. My utilizing the brain to its assigned function of reasoning and inquiry does not warrant titling me as a Rationalist. 

Many of us believe that all rationalists necessarily are non believers. But, at same time, no theist will admit to being irrational. It is like every national, whether it is Indian or European, considering himself to be superior to all others. The truth however lies elsewhere. The term rationality encompasses all facets of life of which spirituality is only one element. Again, one’s choice in life of being a believer, pagan or agnostic etc is a subjective matter dictated by the individual’s understanding of the subject. In my case, I have drawn the boundary of inquiry to only the fields within my grasp, as this cannot operate in areas yet to be explored by science and the unknowable. However, I can vouch that all religious scriptures misfit with our times as they are merely the collective works of imagination of the people  in earlier eras. Yet, I desist from branding myself as atheist, which implies shutting the doors on any further inquiry.   

The term “Rationality”, when applied to spiritual field, invokes hard reactions as it demands from its followers adherence to certain codes and rituals, which then is called religion. When someone asserts that he is a believer, I try to gauge the sincerity behind the statement and its depth. Invariably, this has turned out to be just a shallow lip statement and I am yet to encounter a real believer. Attachment of every believer today is to the world proper and the rituals accompanying it. When one deliberately limits his thinking to one specific field of life and goes by others’ dictates, his action cannot be termed rational.         

My choice of skepticism has paid many dividends. Convinced that one can not transform others by preaching, argument or pressure, I practice the policy of “live and let live” and if one is influenced, is welcome to follow. Living amidst people of different ideologies does not obstruct my plan of working energetically for the welfare of the animate and inanimate beings of creation. This practice also saves valuable physical and mental energy, which then is utilized for productive causes. Main benefit: Additional relationship problems are not created.    

This approach does not mean attitude of passivity, because inertness is death. The very existence in life means tackling relationship problems by meaningful mutual interaction. Passing on any role to Unknown or unknowable powers is escapism from responsibilities. When you once became part of the society, you have to manage life to the best of your abilities. There is no use of blaming others for not changing to your point of view. Because your role is limited to changing your responses to situation around, you need to ensure that your deeds cause the least suffering to others. Each species has an equal right of existence.

In this complex web of relationship, what one leaves behind at the end of one’s life is not wealth, fame, physical assets or sweet memoirs. It is just his consciousness. This is a measure of what one left over that will be remembered till posterity. If Buddha, Christ or Gandhi still continues to be remembered and influences the lives of mankind even today, it is because their concept of individual uplift and peace was utterly sincere and embraced the entire community.

Ultimately, the world has shrunk with much rapidity in last 30 years as a result of globalization, advancement of technology and communication than ever in the past. Today no nation can exist in isolation. Financial or physical diseases may spread from one corner of earth to the other within days; Enormous damage is being caused to the eco system; Ethical standards have reached the lowest ebb and deadly nuclear arsenal are within the easy reach of hardcore militants. In this background, real salvation lies in striving for universal betterment irrespective of caste, religion or nation. That is what propels a Rationalist to action.

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