Death and Objectivity
|Rajesh Kasturirangan||Nov 30, 2005|
The world is like an impression left by a story says the Yoga Vasistha. This world of ours is deeply impermanent. It is less of a ground than we think — one can try to play the scientific trick of trying to recover an objective world from the fleeting impressions obtained by our senses, but we know that tactic is not going to work. None of these eternal scientific laws are going to help; in the long run we are all dead.
More importantly: why cling to this life? Is there something special about this existence that makes one want to continue this for ever and ever? There is no percentage in banking on this world. Here is a thought — we normally think of the fear of death as an affect or emotion, almost instinctual. But, is it not a cognitive attitude as well? Is it not an admission of ignorance, about the true nature of our finiteness?
I have been born in a human form: not a dog, not a deva, it is human this time, independent of any beliefs in reincarnation. What is one to make of that? It is not as if I can just change that whenever I feel like it, can I? It is not as if I can shift my shape or become a rock or something.
There is something non-arbitrary about our current shape and form, but why should that make one conclude that Samsara is the ultimate ground of existence? Where do we get the inference “The world is non-arbitrary → the world is real”? I just do not see that inference.
The quest for objective truth is the cognitive version of the desire for immortality and objectivity is as false a norm as immortality. I am not saying that science will not make it possible for us to live a thousand years — all I am saying is that the human form requires death in order to fully comprehend its finite condition — otherwise you are reifying something that is incomplete.