Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Good Brahmin

Voltaire tells the story of "The Good Brahmin", who says, I wish I had never been born!" It is related in The Story ofPhilosophy:
"Why so?" said I.
"Because," he replied, "I have been studying these forty years, and I find that it has been so much time lost...I believe that I am composed of matter, but I have never been able to satisfy myself what it is that produces thought. I am even ignorant whether my  understanding is a simple faculty like that of walking or digesting, or if I  think with my head in the same manner as I take hold of a thing with my hands...I talk a great deal, and when I have done speaking I remain confounded and ashamed of what I have said."
The same day I had a conversation with an old woman, his neighbour. I asked her if she had ever been unhappy for not understanding how her soul was made? She did not even comprehend my question. She had not, for the briefest moment in her life, had a thought about these subjects with which the good  Brahmin had so tormented himself.She believed in the bottom of her heart in the metamorphosis of Vishnu, and provided she could get some of the sacred water  of the Ganges in which to make her ablutions, she thought herself the happiest of women.Struck with the happiness of this poor creature, I returned to my philosopher, whom I addressed thus: 
"Are you not ashamed to be thus miserable when, not fifty yards from you, there is an old automaton who thinks of nothing and lives contented?"
`"You are right," he replied. "I have said to myself a thousand times that I should be happy if I were as ignorant as my old neighbour and yet it is a happiness which I do not desire."
This reply of the Brahmin made a greater impression on me than anything that had  passed.
Count me as being on the same page as Voltaire. Here is a video showing the views of many people from various perspectives about The Nature of Existence. 

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