Monday, December 14, 2009

Question from No Impact Man

No Impact Man, the dude from New York, has this question in his blog

When you look at the climate problem and the difficulties we have dealing with it and you combine that with a consumer culture that doesn't seem to be making people happy, you'd think we'd be able to find a solution. You'd think we'd be able to do better by ourselves.

But things are moving so slowly. What I want to know is why? What is the fundamental human flaw? What is the single underlying assumption about how we live or what we do that is causing us to damage ourselves and the habitat we depend upon for our health, happiness and security?

What is the underlying problem with everything? What is it about us that, if we could work on it, would solve our difficulties? In short, what is your unifying theory of all our problems?

Many people have posted their answers as comments. I reproduce my comment here. If you have thought about this, please provide your thoughts as comments in the above post.
All of spirituality has been at this problem for a long time - from the Buddha to Christ to the many other mystics / yogis of the world.

Fundamentally, each of us think that we have an individual psychological existence that is trying to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Hence, we are constantly at war with others who come in the way of this objective. This results in we constantly living in either the past (remembering painful events) or the future (hoping for wonderful events). But, when one stills ones own mind and carefully trains it, we realize the falseness of this concept of an individual. Varying religions refer to this differently as maya (hinduism) or the original sin (christianity) or dukkha (buddhism). This is the root cause of all trouble.

The human society and all of its constructs is primarily for the human mind, of the human mind and by the human mind. Given that the human mind is dysfunctional (that it cannot be still for even a brief while, the individual seldom has control over many of thoughts in it like fear, anger etc), no change in any construct is gonna result in any significant change in the way our society functions. Only a total revolt of the individual where the individual transforms himself / herself totally to let go of all conditionings and psychological fears and desires can heal the dysfunction of the mind. And only when the society that has a good number of such people, can all the violence in it start to heal.


Dushti said...

Such intriguing posts these days....what you upto ? :-)

Sriramkrishnan said...

Setting everything else aside for a moment we should not forget that the nature of the universe and everything in it is that entropy increases. Decay and destruction as we perceive it, are the creative processes of the universe.

There is an illusion of order in our world (and in our existence)which we accept as reality and we try desperately to preserve this illusion.

Is it possible that our "destructive nature" is merely the universe being as it is - driving the world and the universe to more and more randomness?

If this were true then everything makes sense, doesn't it :) In a sense there is no "problem". Things are as they are.

>>What is the underlying problem with everything?

Partha said...

@Dushti - me right now vetti officer :D.. hehe.. you can say I am working on myself! :)
how about you? howz married life?

@Sriram - illa da... i dont think all this justifies the violence.. all the laws of physics do not apply to the truths that have emerged from it.. :) and also, all these descriptions are usually not useful when violence comes home in some form or the other! :(

while it is idiotic to argue with the state of the world, there is nothing wrong in trying to improve it :)

Saravanan Mathialagan said...

definitely one man's purity matters a lot.

Karthik said...


Scientific understanding of the world (as in objective) has to necessarily step outside the human experience (as much as possible) but much of that is not useful to human experience. Humans interested in dealing with their experience, have to look "elsewhere", in this case, the mind. The mind (& its ilk) is an emergent creative process different from the "decay" and "destruction" processes you refer to.

Putting everything on the universe (& only on its decay and destruction processes) is not just anti-humanistic for the sake of it, it also takes away personal responsibility from the individual. "Well, the universe did it, I did not. There is no problem. Its only in your mind." Such kind of arguments are the ones that don't connect with reality. Human perception of reality is of huge importance for their dealing with it (Duh!). And speaking from distilled wisdom, human reality is atleast to be dealt with, at most, welcomed. Not to be shunned & as-they-are-ed.

Karthik said...

Want to add a quick "summary" point to the above - Human experience operates at different levels/scales (time, space etc etc) to the levels/scales of the processes that you are talking about and while not entirely independent of them, is not only "real" in its own right, but also the most relevant & deserves to be treated that way.