December 2002 Archives
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December 16, 2002

On religion

I have been having discussions with one of my friends regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict. That discussions caused me to investigate the issue and spend hours reading articles of the history of the issue. After reading many perspectives I found that it is *not* easy to find a solution.

The basic problem seems to stem from the *hatred* between the two religious groups - Palestinian(Arabs) and Jews.

The cause of hatred is *religion* which is manifested in different viewpoints about God - different cultures - different ways of doing things.

The religion has gone so deep into their life that they give more importance to religion than anything else.

Their rationality is completely subdued by their belief in religion.

This is just one of several religious conflicts - terrorism, India-Pakistan conflict, etc

Religion has been the murderer of millions and millions of lives throughout the history of man.

I think that such religious wars will continue to happen in the world for eternity unless something is done abt it.

All this when it is plainly true that there is no God, and that these religions were invented when people had very limited knowledge about the world and the way it works.

I would say that religions such as Hindu religion might be okay since they propose more tolerance, but in practice, it has been found that even then the tolerance cannot be taken for granted for all followers.

I propose abolishment of or reduction in importance of Religion - come on, now we know enough abt the world to understand the meaning behind most things.

One of my friend Vijay thinks that the root of this and such problems is basically the collectivist identity problem. You can see his pasted mail in my December 03 Post below.


December 11, 2002

Yoga and other ancient beliefs

See what this computer science professor has to say about Yoga

See over 500 research papers on the effects on Meditation

I have now begun to feel that ancient Indians were smart people. Their thoughts, techniques, religion, culture are quite remarkably developed.

Only thing is that their knowledge and understanding of the natural world was quite limited, and hence they incorrectly tried to give purpose and meaning to this meaningless universe (more in a later post) by imagining a God who created this world for a purpose and has control/influence over all this. Then they made temples to worship the Gods, the concept that I just cannot stop laughing at.

Our knowledge about the world has certainly changed but our body hasnt.

Hence their thoughts on mind and body are still valid - like meditation and Yoga.

Anyway, maybe the concept of God, faith, and worship was invented just for people to be emotionally stronger and be more moral - after all they empirically knew how the human mind behaves.

But I am of the opinion that they came out with the concept of God out of their curiousness and when they saw their belief in God resulting in the positive effects of morality and psychological strength, that concept just got ingrained stronger in their minds.


December 3, 2002

Individualism and Collectivism

Now I understand why I have failed to submit homeworks, study for exams, submit projects for the classes, even though I would have been able to do them if I wanted to. Basically, I have not followed people around. This may be a repeat from an earlier post, but, really, doing all this means you are following the people around you. You are not doing what you want - you are doing what other people do. And ironically, even they are exactly doing the same thing - they are following what people are doing around them.

Anyway, this is what society is - this is a demonstration of to what extent have humans learned to communicate thoughts, opinions and behavior to other people.

This tendency of the society, however, means that the society will change slowly - which may be good or bad depending on the particular situation.

Following other people in the society can be called as a collectivist tendency. Trying to think on your own by way of reason instead of blindly following the people around can be called as an individualist tendency. India is more collectivist than the US.

More knowledgeable opinion regarding individualistic and collectivistic behavior can be found below - I am pasting a mail sent by a friend Vijay Tippareddy, which is quite insightful.

Philosophically speaking, the people in this world can be broadly divided into two philosophical sects based on love i.e., individualism and collectivism. In the former individual is more powerful than the community or state he lives in and can influence it by his reason. In this he can raise above the constraints imposed by questioning them rationally and can affect them. Reason and thereby objectivity is his only aid in such contexts. Self-love is acknowledged and subject to objectivity thereby creating a dynamic feedback loop. Love of others is always lesser than the self-love preserving the uniqueness and personality of the individual. In collectivism individual belongs to a broader group or faction and is not an entity by himself. Here faith and emotion supplant the reason. Devotion or love towards a faith binding the persons in the group is stronger and more tenacious than the self-love. In fact self-love is never recognized and is seen as a vice. The collectivists always assert themselves by a positive feedback loop without ever questioning their faith and self-content as a group. This homeostasis leads to religious fanatism, national fanatism etc. It is a virulent malady and is the cause of many evils in the past and the current society.

The religious dogma driving india is collectivism to the core. The nationalism of Nazi's and et. al belongs to the same. These groups are driven by irrational passion and uncritical devotion to their faith.

Psychologically speaking, people with strong love lack a personal identity. These people have a group identity or sometimes vicarious identity (explain later). They dont consider themselves as people of strong character adhering to principles but as flexible agents to be casted in a bigger faith or personality. In group identity herd mentality is very common and the group moves haphazardly with indirection. In vicarious identity the person's identity is a parasite dwelling in some superhuman or superhero or some person. The higher cognitive functions are pushed aside or ignored with inordinate passion taking over. This leads to entropy without times arrow. Such groups or individuals are a threat to the society and themselves.

Biologically speaking, strong love can be justified as a way to preserve one's genes. When the individual takes to agression like the riots and wars he is trying to preserve the gene's of his family or the common (more or less ) genes prevalent in his culture. Since in countries like india the society isnt well protected by the respective institutions people are always on the edge to fend off the enemies by agression, avenge etc. Even the 2 nd world war can be seen as self-preservation by a race with paranoidal fears of threat or backstabbing. As there is no organization to ensure them the peace and security they opted to preemptive strike with the ulterior motive of self-preservation.


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