Don’t Rush Me, Please

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How Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, father of the ‘Muslim bomb,’ escaped Mossad assassination – Israel News –

Abdul Qadeer Khan, who died this week in Islamabad, got Pakistan the bomb, stole and sold atomic secrets, profited from a shady global proliferation network, helped Iran go nuclear, aided Qaddafi’s reactor ambitions – and still passed away from natural causes, not at the hands of the Mossad
— Read on

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Book Review – Stages of Meditation by Dalai Lama XIV

Stages of MeditationStages of Meditation by Dalai Lama XIV
5 of 5 stars

This book records the commentary on Kamalashila’s Stages of Meditation” as rendered by His Holiness Dalai Lama to his close followers in Manali 1989. Acharya Kamalashila was a great scholar-saint of the ninth century and a disciple of the great abbot Shantarakshita. Kamalashila composed the text in three parts , initial, intermediate and last stages of meditation. In this book His Holiness Dalai Lama covers the intermediate stages of meditation.

The introduction to the book covers the reasons why everybody should pursue meditation. Compassion, altruistic thought, and the perfect view are the fundamentals and lifeblood of the path to highest enlightenment. In words of the Superior Nagarjuna

“If you wish to attain the unsurpassed enlightenment
For yourself and the world,
The root is generation of an altruistic thought
That is stable and firm like mountain,
As all-embracing compassion.
And a transcendent wisdom free of duality.”

One thing everybody should be very clear is that Dharma teachings have only one purpose: to discipline the mind. In the process of our spiritual practice, we must examine ourselves thoroughly and use Dharma as a mirror in which to see reflected the defects of our body, speech, and mind. When we are able to reduce the defects of the mind, its good qualities increase. We should pay attention to the fundamentals like the practice of the three trainings – renunciation, the awakening mind of bodhicitta, and the wisdom realizing emptiness. The first step is to cultivate within our minds those positive qualities taught by the Buddha. After properly discipling our own minds, then we may hope to help discipline other’s minds. Acharya Dharmakirti has taught this principle in very lucid terms:

“When the technique is obscure [to you]
Explanation is naturally difficult”

For a Dharma practitioner, one of the main challenges is to counter our disturbing emotions and finally free ourselves from them. The difficulty of this is due to the simple truth that disturbing emotions have from beginingless time caused us to suffer all kind of miseries. The whole purpose of meditation is to lessen the deluded afflictions of our mind and eventually eradicate them from their very roots. This constitutes the elimination of the three defects and cultivation of six favourable intentions.

The first of the three defects is listening in a way that is like an upside down container. So when someone is teaching, we’re in fact not listening at all. In such a case we have no interest in the teachings and do not hear anything that is taught. The second of the defects is to listen in a way that is like a container with holes, This mean though we’re listening to the teachings, we do not retain their contents due to lack of mindfulness. The third defect concerns the motivation, and is likened to a vessel containing poison. All Dharma practices must be done with a wholesome motivation and all deluded motives should be erased. These defects are obviously a great obstacle to learning, and we must eliminate these problem and attend to the teachings with keen interest.

Chapter One looks at Mind and Consciousness. There are two types of existent phenomenon: those that exist permanently and those that exist at some times but not at others. What is the implication of this second kind – existing at times but not existing at others? The implication is that temporary things depend on causes. The fact that certain things are produced at certain times proves the existence of causes. Causes are of different types, such as substantial cause, direct cause, indirect cause, cause of equal state, concomitant cause and so forth. Similarly, there are various types of conditions like objective condition, causal condition, immediate condition, and so forth. So those phenomenon that depend on causes and conditions change by nature; they do not abide in one place and they are not permanent. Conditioned phenomena in turn can be classed under three categories – form, consciousness, and neither of the two. Form consists of such aspects as shape, colour, and so forth, which can be sensed. Consciousness has neither shape nor colour and cannot be measured in any physical terms, but it exists in its nature in ability to feel and sense. Time, on the other hand, has neither form nor consciousness and belongs to the third category. The state of omniscience is the ultimate goal encompassing every perfection, and of the three categories of conditioned phenomenon, it belongs to the category of consciousness. Knowing or understanding is the function of consciousness. Consciousness vary in the scope of their knowledge and in their intensity or sharpness e.g. human consciousness is much bigger then animal’s. The consciousness of human beings also vary with education and experience – the more educated you are and the more experience you have, broader your consciousness. Knowledge and understanding develop on the basis of a consciousness that has the ability to perceive its objects. When necessary conditions are met, its ability to perceive increases, the scope of its objects of knowledge expands, and understanding deepens. In this way the mind can develop its full potential of Omniscience, which is the full consummation, or perfection, of the mind’s ability to perceive objects.

Chapter Two is about training the mind which entails a process of familiarization with worldly reality. In the Buddhist context, familiarization, or meditation, refers to the positive transformation of the mind, that is, to the elimination of its defective qualities and the improvement of its positive qualities. Through meditation we can train our minds in such a way that negative qualities are abandoned and positive qualities are generated and enhanced. In general we talk about two types of meditation: analytical and single-pointed. First, the object of meditation is put through a process of analysis in which one repeatedly attempts to gain familiarity with the subject matter. Second, when the practitioner has gained a good deal of certainty about the object of meditation, the mind is made to concentrate on it without further analysis. We must recognize the importance of training the mind, It arises from the fundamental fact that each and every one of us innately desires happiness and does not want misery. The basic purpose of education, for instance, is to gain happiness and avoid misery. Individuals struggle through the process of education so that they can enjoy a successful and meaningful life. We’ve looked at mind or consciousness and also at the importance of training the mind. The human mind does not have any existence independent of the human body. The consciousness that has particular relation to the human body is referred to as human consciousness. The human mind, or consciousness, actually consists of a vast number of minds, some subtle and some coarse. Many of the coarser types are connected to a sense organ like the eye, and many of them are definitely connected to the brain. It is obvious that these external bases, or factors, are essential for a consciousness to arise. But the main cause of any mind is the preceding moment of consciousness, whose nature is clarity and awareness. This is referred to as the immediate condition. The Four Hundred Verses of Aryadev mentions the logical requirement that a root cause of consciousness must have the potential to transform and have a nature of clarity and awareness. Otherwise, consciousness would either never be produced or it would be produced all the time.

Chapter Three, covers compassion which in Buddhist philosophy is the only root, or foundation of consciousness. The word “only” stresses that compassion is an essential cause of omniscience, but does not negate other causes and conditions. It is on basis of compassion that the awakening mind of bodhicitta is generated. In fact, individuals must rely primarily on logic and reasoning to gain faith and conviction in the philosophy. Objects of knowledge can be broadly classified as obvious phenomenon, partially concealed phenomenon, and completed concealed phenomenon. There is no reason to use logic to prove the existence of obvious phenomena. We can experience and understand then directly and thus ascertain their existence. Since partially concealed phenomena cannot be ascertained through direct experience, they need to be established by applying logic. The object of analysis is then understood by inferential cognition based on experience. Several lines of reasoning may be necessary to achieve the purpose.

Chapter Four, covers developing equanimity or how to meditate on compassion. Compassion is a mind that focusses on the sentient beings that are miserable and wishes them to be free from suffering. Compassion can be of three types, depending on the aspect of wisdom that accompanies it. These three are: compassion focussed on sentient beings, compassion focussed on phenomena, and compassion focussed on the unapprehendable. They are distinguished not in terms of their aspect, but in terms of their object of focus, because all three have the same aspect of wishing sentient beings to be separated from suffering. If we examine the state of our minds, we may see how they segregate sentient beings into three groups – those to whom we feel close, those for whom we feel aversion, and those to whom we are indifferent. Our compassion towards others is one sided and superficial, therefore, in order to generate true compassion for all beings, we must first develop an attitude of equanimity, an impartial thought that views all sentient beings equally. Broadly there are two major techniques for developing equanimity. According to the first, we think about the certainty of relationships, and about impermanence, and suffering, and come to see the futility of clinging to some people and hating others. According to second technique , seeing that all beings are the same in terms of wishing to gain happiness and to be free of suffering, we try to develop an impartial attitude toward all beings. Kamalashila puts this succinctly in his text

After the mind has developed equanimity toward all sentient beings, meditate on loving-kindness. Moisten the mental continuum with the water of loving-kindness and prepare it as you would a piece of fertile ground. When the seed of compassion is planted in such a mind, germination will be swift, proper, and complete. Once you have irrigated the mind stream with loving-kindness, meditate on compassion.

Chapter Five deals with identifying the nature of suffering, so that we can generate compassion and have equanimity towards all sentient beings. Kamalashila deals with the various types of miseries that torture all sentient beings. The three types of miseries are the misery of suffering, the misery of change , and pervasive misery. The misery of suffering refers to what we usually recognize as suffering, physical pain, sickness, and mental anxiety. What we usually recognise as happiness is characterized as the misery of change. Contaminated happiness is not perfect happiness, but rather the mere absence of the grosser kinds of suffering. Since contaminated happiness does not last , but is brought to an end by unpleasantness, it is characterised as misery of change. Pervasive misery refers to sentient being’s collection of mental and physical constituents , known as the contaminated aggregates, which result from past karma and disturbing emotions, and act as agent to generate further karma and more misery. Now how can we get the mental training to be free from such misery. In order to train the mind to be compassionate, you must maintain a practice that includes both formal meditation sessions and awareness during the period that follow. It is important to cultivate a practice that unites a calm abiding mind with special insight. Calm abiding is single-pointed meditation, whereas special insight refers to discriminative awareness. Through the union of these two, you will be able to engage in a fruitful practice of both method and wisdom. Buddha Shakyamuni taught these two practices, calm abiding and special insight, and they are the only methods which you can achieve all the levels of concentration. Kamalashila says in his text

“Yogis cannot eliminate mental obstructions merely by familiarizing themselves with calm abiding meditation alone. It will only suppress the disturbing emotions and delusions temporarily. Without the light of wisdom, the latent potential of the disturbing emotions cannot be thoroughly destroyed, and therefore their complete destruction is not possible.”

Chapter Six explains Wisdom. According to Buddhist tradition, the validity of a philosophical doctrine is determined by logical reasoning. Kamalashila says in his text that “wisdom helps you attain a pure pristine awareness”. Wisdom derived from meditation alone can enable us to eradicate the obscuration to liberation and to knowledge.

Chapter Seven deals with common prerequisites for meditating on calm abiding and special insight. According to the text by Kamalashila, “the prerequisites for the development of calm abiding meditation are: to live in a conducive environment, to limit your desires and practice contentment, not being involved in too many activities, maintaining pure moral ethics, and fully eliminating attachment and all other kinds of conceptual thoughts”. He further states that “a conducive environment should be known by these five characteristics: providing easy access to food and clothes, being free of evil beings and enemies, being free from disease, containing good friends who maintain moral ethics and who share similar views, and being visited by few people in the daytime and with little noise at night. Limiting you desires refer to not being excessively attached to many worldly goods. The practice of contentment means always being satisfied with any little things. Not being involved in many activities refers to giving up ordinary activities like business, avoiding too close association with householders and monks, and totally abandoning the practice of medicine and astrology.

Chapter Eight refers to the practice of calm abiding, which is “that mind which has overcome distraction to external objects, and which spontaneously and continuously turns toward the object of meditation with bliss and pliancy.” First develop the ability to engage in calm abiding meditation by developing mental pliancy and then physical pliancy, so that mind is conjoined with bliss. Calm abiding meditation is a single pointed mind. The object of meditation here is primarily ultimate truth, but conventional phenomena are not excluded. The concentration that generates physical and mental bliss by the force of analysing the object is special insight. Thereafter, a union of calm abiding and special insight is attained. In this context, the mode of meditation is to deliberately stop all kinds of thoughts and perceptions, followed by stopping the mind to reflect on sensory experiences like feelings of joy or misery. Focus the mind on its present and natural state without allowing it to become preoccupied with memories of the past or plans for the future. When mind is free from all kinds of thoughts and concepts, suddenly a form of vacuity will appear. If the mediator tries to gain familiarity with that vacuity, the clarity of the consciousness will naturally become more obvious. Throughout the process of practicing calm abiding meditation, we should be fully aware of the five defects and the eight antidotes. The five defects are laziness, forgetting the object of meditation, mental dullness and excitement, not applying the antidote when afflicted by mental dullness and finally unnecessary application of the antidotes. The eight antidotes are faith, interest, perseverance, pliancy, mindfulness, conscientiousness, application of the antidotes and discarding unnecessary antidotes.

Chapter 9 describes how to actualize special insight. Kamalashila says “after realizing calm abiding, meditate on special insight, thinking as follows: All the teaching of the Buddha are perfect teachings, and they directly or indirectly reveal and lead to suchness with utmost clarity. If you understand suchness, you will be free of all the nets of wrong views, just as darkness is dispelled when light appears”. In order to meditate on the special insight that realizes ultimate reality, we need to develop the wisdom that understands selflessness. Before we can do that, we must search for and identify the self that does not exist. We cannot be satisfied with merely believing in its absence. We must ascertain from the depths of our heart that there is no basis for such a self to exist. Selflessness is of two types: the selflessness of persons and the selflessness of phenomena and both need to be negated. To ordinary perception, a person appears in relation to the mental and physical aggregates as the ruler over the body and mind. This notion of a self-sufficient person, which we ordinarily cling to very strongly, it is the self to be negated. The selflessness of phenomenon refers to the perceived object’s lacking true existence and the perceiving mind’s lacking true existence. The perceived object’s lacking external existence, and the perceiver and the perceived object’s lacking separate identity or substance, constitute the grosser level of the selflessness of phenomena. The analysing wisdom must discern the self to be refuted, after refuting that self, its opposite selflessness will be actualised.

Last chapter looks at unifying method and wisdom. It explains the practice of the union of special insight and calm abiding meditation where practitioner is engaged in the practice of both single pointed meditation and analytical meditation. The practitioner should place equal emphasis on generosity and other practices during the post-meditation period. During the time, dependent origination and emptiness must be understood as interchangeable. Emptiness in this context means that things lack their own intrinsic self-identity; it does nor mean non-existence. Therefore it does not fall into the extreme of nihilism. The implication is that when you understand the philosophy of emptiness, there is no contradiction in presenting the law of cause and effect on the conventional level. Emptiness does not mean nothingness; it means that things are empty of intrinsic existence. The meditation should be continued, with the awareness that full coordination between the method and wisdom aspects is crucial. Through these practices, the meditator becomes fully absorbed in suchness, like water being poured into water, free from the stain of duality.

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I am nobody!


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Book Review – An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: with Hume's Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature and A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in EdinburghAn Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: with Hume’s Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature and A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh by David Hume
5 of 5 stars

David Hume is considered the greatest British philosopher and, through his influence on have been one of the major names in philosophy of the last 250 years. Kant famously said that Hume woke him from his “dogmatic slumber”. Though his first book, A Treatise of Human Nature, “fell dead-born from the press,” hardly noticed by anyone, it was a remarkable achievement, especially since it was written in his twenties. However, Hume’s views on religion saw him passed over for academic philosophy posts, and it was only his History of England and Political Discourses, published in his forties, that led to him becoming well known and well off.

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a mature version of the Treatise, and in its relatively easy, non-academic style is an excellent starting point for exploring Hume.

Hume start his enquiry by looking at the different species of philosophy. He brackets it into two species, one set of philosophers treat man as chiefly born for action and endeavour to cultivate his manners whereas another species consider man in the light of a reasonable rather than active being and instead endeavour to form his understanding. The members of the former species believe man to be influenced in his measures by taste and sentiment; pursuing one object, avoiding other, according to the value or virtue which these objects seems to possess. The other species regard human nature as a subject of speculation, and with a narrow scrutiny examine it, in order to find those principles, which regulate our understanding, excite our sentiments, and make us approve or blame any particular object, action of behaviour. Man being a reasonable being, receives from science proper food and nourishment for mind, but narrow bounds of science provides but little satisfaction. The author concedes that being an active man and from the various necessities of human life; he must submit to business and occupation. But the mind requires some relaxation, and cannot always support its bent to care and industry, so nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to human race. Indulge your passion for science, but let your science be human with direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches are prohibited in nature and would be punished by pensive melancholy and cold reception for those pretended discoveries. Be a philosopher; but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man. The author said that he would be happy, if we can unite the boundaries of the different species of philosophy, by reconciling profound enquiry with clearness, and truth with novelty.

Next the author outlays his theory of the origin of ideas. According to him the perceptions of the mind can again be divided into two species distinguished primarily by their different degrees of force and vivacity. A person can definitely feel the real pain of excessive heat, or the pleasure of moderate warmth. But when he afterwards recalls to his memory these sensations, or anticipates these by his imaginations, he never can entirely reach the force and vivacity of the original sentiment. Similarly when we reflect on our past sentiments and affections like fit of anger, our thought is a faithful mirror, and copies its object truly; but the colours which it employs are faint and dull in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed. The author denominates the less forcible and lively of the mind perceptions as THOUGHTS or IDEAS. For the other species he employs the term IMPRESSIONS. By the term impression author means all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are less lively perceptions, of which we’re conscious, when we reflect on any of these sensations.

The author further articulates that, at first view, nothing may seem more unbounded than the thought of man, which not only escapes all human power and authority, but is not even restrained within the limits of nature and reality. To form monsters, and join incongruous shapes and appearances, costs the imagination no more trouble than to conceive the most natural and familiar objects. And while the body is confined to one planet, along which it creeps with pain and difficulty; the thought can in an instant transport us into the most distant regions of the universe; or even beyond the universe, into the unbounded chaos, where nature is supposed to lie in total confusion. What never was seen, or heard of, may yet be conceived; nor is anything beyond the power of thought, except what implies an absolute contradiction. But though our thought seems to possess this unbounded liberty, upon a nearer examination, we find that all this creative power of the mind amounts to no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and experience. When we think of a golden mountain, we only join two consistent ideas, gold and mountain with which we were formerly acquainted. In short, all the material of thinking are derived either from our outward or inward sentiment: The mixture and composition of these belongs alone to the mind and will. For Hume, ancient and modern philosophers had all thought too highly of the powers of human reason. Great systems had been built to understand humans, God, and the universe, while forgetting that, ultimately, all we can know is what we observe directly through our five senses. Going completely against Descartes, Hume argued that there are no timeless, abstract ideas. Rather, all concepts are a second hand rendering of initial perceptions or impressions of things from our senses; we cannot have a notion of something until we have experienced it.

When we analyse our thoughts or ideas, however compounded or sublime we always find, that they resolve themselves into such simple ideas as were copied from a precedent feeling or sentiment. Even those ideas, which , at first view seem the most wide of this origin, are found, upon a nearer scrutiny, to be derived from it. The idea of God, as meaning an infinitely intelligent, wise, and good Being, arises from reflecting on the operations of our own mind, and augmenting, without limit, those qualities of goodness and wisdom. We may prosecute this enquiry to what length we please; where we shall always find, that every idea which we examine is copied from a similar impression. This is also proven from the fact that if from a defect of the organ, a man is not susceptible of any species of sensation, then he is also little susceptible of the corresponding ideas. A blind man can form no notion of colours; a deaf man of sounds. Restore them with that sense and you also open an inlet for the ideas; and they find no difficulty in conceiving these objects.

The author then propound his primary proposition that he believes can be used for any metaphysical reasonings. All ideas, especially abstract ones, are naturally faint and obscure: The mind has but a slender hold of them: They are apt to be confounded with other resembling ideas; and when we have often employed any term, though without a distinct meaning, we are apt to imagine it has a determinate idea, annexed to it. On the contrary, all impressions, that is, all sensations, either outward or inward, are strong and vivid: The limits between them are more exactly determined. When we entertain, therefore any suspicion, that a philosophical term is employed without any meaning or idea, we need to enquire, from what impression is that supposed idea derived?

Next Hume explores the principle of connexion between the different thoughts or ideas of the mind. To him, there appears to be only three principles of connexion among ideas, namely, Resemblance, Contiguity in time or place, and Cause and Effect. A picture naturally leads our thoughts to the original i.e. resemblance. The mention of one apartment in a building naturally introduces an enquiry or discourse concerning the others i.e. contiguity. And if we think of a wound, we can scarcely forbear reflecting on the pain which follows it i.e. cause and effect.

After the principles of connexion among ideas have been deduced, the author then tries to address sceptical doubts concerning the operations of the understanding. He suggests that all the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally de divided into two kinds, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short, every affirmation, which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the two sides, is a proposition, which expresses a relation between these figures. That three times five is equal to the half of thirty, expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of his kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe. Though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, these truths would for ever retain their certainty and evidence. Matters of fact, which are the second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor in our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever so con formable to reality. That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction, than the affirmation, that it will rise. We should in vain, therefore, attempt to demonstrate its falsehood. Were it demonstratively false, it would imply a contradiction, and could never be distinctly conceived by the mind.

The author further says that it may be a subject worthy of curiosity, to enquire what is the nature of evidence, which assures us of any real existence and matter of fact, beyond the present testimony of our senses, or the record of the memory. He suggests that all reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of Cause and Effect. By means of that alone we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses. There is always a connexion between the present fact and that which is inferred from it. Were there nothing to bind them together, the inference would be entirely precarious. Why? Because these are the effects of the human make and fabric, and closely connected with it. If we anatomize all the other reasonings of this nature, we shall find, that they are founded on the relation of cause and effect, and that this relation is either near or remote, direct or collateral. Heat and light are collateral effects of fire, and the one effect may justly be inferred from the other. If we would satisfy ourselves, therefore, concerning the nature of that evidence, which assures us of matters of fact, we must enquire how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect.

Here Hume venture to affirm, as a general proposition, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance, attained by reasonings a priori; but arises entirely from experience, when we find, that any particular objects are constantly conjoined with each other. Let an object be presented to a man of ever so strong natural reason and abilities; if that object be entirely new to him, he will not be able to discover any of its cause or effects. Our reason, unassisted by experience, would never ever draw any inference concerning real existence and matter of fact. Hume’s proposition, that causes and effect are discoverable, not by reason, but by experience, still begs a further question i.e. What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience? As to past Experience, it can be allowed to give direct and certain information of those precise objects only, and that precise period of time, which fell under its cognizance: But why this experience should be extended to future times, and to other objects, which for aught we know, may be only in appearance similar? needs further enquiry.

Suppose a person, though endowed with the strongest faculties of reason and reflection, to be brought on a sudden into this world; he would, indeed, immediately observe a continual succession of objects, and one event following another; but he would not be able to discover any thing farther. He would not, at first, by any reasoning, be able to reach the idea of cause and effect; since the particular powers, by which all-natural operations are performed, never appear to the senses; nor is it reasonable to conclude, merely because one event, in one instance, precedes another, that therefore one is the cause, the other the effect. Their conjunction may be arbitrary and casual. There may be no reason to infer the existence of one from the appearance of the other. And in a word, such a person, without more experience, could never conjecture or reasoning concerning any matter of fact, or be assured of anything beyond what was immediately present to his memory and senses. Suppose again, that he has acquired more experience, and has lived so long in the world as to have observed similar objects or events to be constantly conjoined together; what is the consequence of this experience? He immediately infers the existence of one object from the appearance of the other. Yet he has not, by all his experience, acquired an idea or knowledge of the secret power, by which the one object produces the other, for example why a tiny seed produces a huge tree in few years? What is this principle that determines him to form such conclusion?

According to Hume, this principle is CUSTOM or HABIT. For wherever the repletion of any particular act or operation produces a propensity to renew the same act or operation, without being impelled by any reasoning or process of the understanding; this propensity is the effect of Custom. This definitely is not the ultimate reason of such propensity but has to be accepted as only a principle of human nature. The author at this point acknowledges that perhaps we can push our enquiries no farther, but must rest contended with it as ultimate principle, which we can assign, of all our conclusions from experience. According to author, it is sufficient satisfaction, that we can go only so far, without repining at the narrowness of our faculties, but at least we here advance a very intelligible proposition at least that we are determined by custom alone to expect the one e.g. heats from the appearance of the other e.g. flame. Custom, then is the great guide of human life. It is that principle alone, which renders our experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for the future, a similar train of events with those which have appeared in the past.

This is the essence of the book, there are more chapters on miracles, animals and liberty but explanations are more or less based on the philosophical framework articulated above. The author concludes the book by giving an explicit call to readers for rigor in philosophy and for all metaphysical works to be taken with a grain of salt. If we take in hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, let us ask, does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. This focus on relation of ideas and matter of fact made Hume a patron saint of every kind of philosophical school that stands for empiricism and disavows metaphysical speculation.

Hume observed that “All sciences have a relation, greater or less, to human nature.” We fool ourselves if we think that the natural sciences are an objective realm of knowledge outside humankind. In fact, by knowing human nature, Hume believed that you could create “a complete system of the sciences.” He felt that questions of logic, morals, and politics should be at least at the same level as natural science, and if he had been alive today he would no doubt have been a great supporter of psychology and the social sciences, because, as he put it in the Treatise, “The science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences.”

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Book Review – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Love in the Time of CholeraLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This masterpiece from Gabriel García Márquez depicts in a most sensual way, how love transcends all boundaries of worldly existence. The book explores both the ecstasy and poignancy of love and shows how these two extremes are weaved together in separate thread-lines but merge on the broader fabric of infallible love depicting beautiful patterns to be relished for eternity. The story of a pitiable lover eternally waiting for his beloved proves once more that love is ‘the’ most important thing to strive for in this short life. Leaf after leaf in the book, the author reiterates that love is supreme, it knows no restraints. He has shown that stream of love would always run in full flow striving for perfection, always strong enough to break any shackles of societal norms and would stand tall against any wall of adversity as it is the purest thing after God.

Gabriel’s prose is pure magic with the power to bring to life, the characters and scenery as if reality has been grabbed from the canvas of life and then condensed within the pages of this novel. But then author’s genius lies in projecting a life long ordeal of love with such panache but still keeping it all together for the readers and weaving a story that starts with innocent teenage lovers and ends with their love consummated when they were grandparents. Yes, love has the power to transcend time and space but still it would need a remarkable story teller like Gabriel to document that divine power for eternity.

The story also describes in vivid detail how lust can overpower body but would ultimately come undone against a soul already touched by pure love. The queer ways of lovelorn protagonist is just a smokescreen deliberately created to ease the pain of long wait and when love finally shines that fog clears immediatelyand what remains is only the eternal glow of pure spirit.

Not everybody is lucky in this world to be touched by the magic of pure love but those who are graced by that grandeur of love would savour this love saga and others would get an idea of what they missed in this life!

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O Woman!

“O woman! lovely woman!
Nature made thee
To temper man: we had been brutes without you.
Angels are painted fair, to look like you:
There’s in you all that we believe of heaven,—
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.”

By Thomas Otway, “Venice Preserved” Act i. Sc. 1.

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‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ event an academic assault on Hinduism

Hinduism has long been under the assault by western academia since the dawn of the colonial era of European supremacism
— Read on

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Protected: Beautiful Indian Women

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Sense of Meaning…


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