June 7, 2007

Reason, or lack of it

Human being is a strange animal. Since time immemorial philosophers, poets, writers, etc. have tried to pen down rules and basic tenets that could predict human reactions to situations. Lately, even science has added subjects like psychology, anthropology, etc. to try and find out patterns in human behavior.

But despite all that has been done, human irrationality has beaten them all and when they think they have it all worked out something happens that results in the old theories being discarded and new ones taking their place, to be discarded in due time. What can one say but that humans are a remarkable species indeed.

Reason is one of the characteristics that is unique to us humans, and yet, I feel, this is one of the first things we lose sight of when we are taking a decision. Also, sometimes, either on purpose or without realizing it, we let what others tell us over ride all reason and all knowledge that we might have gained over the years.

Here is an example that proves what I said in the previous paragraphs. In the past couple of years, a yoga instructor ( I am withholding the name on purpose, but anyone living in India will know who I am talking about) has gained immense popularity in India. From a no-body, he has become a celebrity of the highest proportions. Yoga as an exercise and as a healer has a great value and this man is a great teacher of the art and in that respect I truly admire the man.

But as he has gained popularity he has decided on becoming a preacher too. Nothing wrong with that either. We all know how badly our society needs someone who can constantly remind us to focus a little less on the material things around us. What is wrong is that more than once he has said things that are factually wrong, and what is worse is that people have believed him.

For example, he has compared the Cola drinks like Pepsi and Coke with toilet cleaner just because they have the same pH value. The pH value of a substance is a measure that tells us about its acidic or basic nature. Going by this logic our stomachs, which make use of acids to digest the food, are always full of toilet cleaner. I don’t know what the great teacher wants us to do about that.

What is even more incomprehensible is that many people, educated and the illiterate alike, have begun to see the aerated drinks as toilet cleaner. While there are harmful effects of aerated drinks on our body, yet it does not seem right to me that one uses wrong means to achieve a right end.

Also, what is worrisome is the tendency of people to believe anything that they are told, especially by someone who is standing on a pulpit. It just gives a lot of power to that person and if that power falls into the wrong hands, no one can say what might happen.


billy jacks said...

Educated unfortunately doesn't mean sensible.

Secret Simon said...

I think that even great teachers who are divinely inspired can say misleading things from time to time. They may have great wisdom but they also read the popular press and may make the mistake of believing what they read. I love the Conversations With God books by Neale Donald Walsch and would recommend them to anyone. Walsch really does, in my opinion, have a hotline to divine wisdom. But in the first book he extolls the virtues of cannabis. Subsequent research has shown that cannabis is not (unfortunately) as harmless as Walsch suggests in the book. In this case, it seems likely that we were not getting the words of God so much as Walsch's own wishful thinking.

In fairness to Walsch, he freely admits that the books are filtered through his own mind and he doesn't claim any divine infallibility. And like I say, I think they're generally fine, inspiring books. But this does support the point you are making. Even when we find a teacher who really resonates with us, we still have to measure everything that he or she says against our knowledge and instinctive wisdom, rather than blindly following the teacher.

As for coke, I'm not convinced either way, though I do get sick of people saying how bad it is for me. I don't use it as a health drink or because I like the taste - it just helps me stay awake.

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