Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Posts Tagged ‘values’

In Response to Values

Posted by Jerry on February 6, 2008

I sometimes get the desire to spend money on apparently cheap items only so that the people selling them to me continue to remain in business. Many times, I consciously feel the urge to buy something from a streetside vendor so that I can prolong his sense of hope and trust in the virtue of trade and production—particularly because I realize the sharp necessity of this hope in the face of what surrounds such people in India: abject poverty, beggars, homeless wanderers, alcoholics, marauders, looters, unscrupulous police officers, cheats, robbers, thugs, etc.

The other day, I was eating a vegetable sandwich at a roadside foodstall. In the short time that it took me to eat my sandwich, three different individuals–perhaps thugs, goons, or police officers in plain clothes–came up to the sandwich vendor at separate times: all three of these men didn’t say a word; they just came up to the stall and looked at the vendor knowingly. Then all three of them left with money that the vendor had given them. After the last of them had gone, the vendor just looked down at his table and muttered in Hindi: “Everyone wants money; if they take all my money away, what will I have left?”

I was shocked and disgusted by what had just happened! I knew that the vendor had just been extorted of money for the “privilege” of setting up his stall and running his food business on that street. Typically, such vendors have to pay not just the police officers patrolling the street but every other thug who has laid claim on a stretch of land only by the virtue of force for the privilege of being productive.

After I had finished eating, I paid the money I owed the man for my sandwich, and then gave him an extra 10 Rupees. It is a very small amount of money–both to him and to me; it was not intended for him to use it to survive the night or some such thing. I gave him the extra money to convey a sense of hope–my hope that he chooses to continue his business and be productive, instead of quitting and joining the thugs, or becoming a leech, or giving up on life entirely and stagnating.

I offered my money in response to his struggle to attain values and live life. I was proud of it.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, Personal, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

The Holy Order

Posted by Jerry on July 6, 2005

I have noticed this in me, a change; a very slow and deliberate journey that has changed the core of my identity.

In previous years, I was a very devout, religious Christian believer. My highest value was the knowledge of God and His intimate relation with me in my life. I will admit that there were many things I accepted on christian doctrinal faith, but there were also many more beliefs for which I pursued a rational and secular foundation. Nonetheless, my relationship with God had the quality of innocent acceptance and honest conversation. I called Him my father, my friend, my own. I walked with Him, I talked with Him, I joked with Him. God was like my own happy secret.

And yet, through all those years, I carried in me a very distinct feeling of worthlessness. In fact, I enjoyed my status as “unworthy” and “insignificant” — I thought I was practicing humility. In some strange way, I thought that the more I degraded my human spirit, the more I exalted the spirit of God — like He could only gain the affirmation of His highest spiritual ascension through my personal acknowledgment of self-descent. Before God, I thought, I am not even worthy of His pity, let alone His magnanimous love, which He offers me nonetheless.

God, I thought, loved me only because His nature was love, not because I was worthy of being loved by Him. I did not believe there was any inherent quality of goodness in me that made me lovable to God. It was He, in all His benevolence and mercy, that loved me, a poor, miserable, mortal sinner.

Ofcourse, the nature of this relationship with God can be seen as potentially very destructive to the human psyche; but that is the point.
The idea is in fact to invalidate the ego, reduce the identity of the self to the degree of such insignificance that there remains no shred of self-worth, self-esteem, or any definite concept of the self in one’s being.

Some might argue that this is not the goal of religious belief: to degrade the human spirit. However, I believe that recognizing the essence of the magnanimity of God invariably leads one to feel like how I felt: so utterly insignificant in this grand scheme of God’s awesome creation and His benevolence! Religion invariably makes you feel insignificant. Religious emphasis on the after-life and the soul invariably leads one to ignore or supress the experience of this material, real life, the personal concerns of this current world, the identity of the physical body, and the protection of one’s ego. This is what Kira Argounova in We The Living means when she says that anyone who believes in God does not value himself or life; he spits upon his own face.

The religious virtue of humility is best achieved not by making a pretense at being insignificant, but by truly and fully believing that one is not worthy and achieving complete emotional, psychological, social, and physical insignificance! Religious virtue is in honestly being able to say: I am nothing. I can do nothing. I am merely an instrument for God to do His works through me. I have no desires but to fulfill the desires of God. I am empty vessel; I am a blind and obedient servant. I do not deserve anything except that which God deems me worthy of having in His great mercy and pity. I do not even have the right to my life or my body, because I am only a channel for His will on earth and in my life.

It is a religious virtue to find your tongue licking the dirt of the ground… reducing yourself to dust, for that is what religion wants you to believe: You are nothing but dirt, and to dirt you shall return.

Posted in Atheism, General Work/Life, Personal, Philosophy, Religion, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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