'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general page reviewing the week so far…
Well… last week the arrival of a new BBC programme was touched upon within the context of comparative philosophy. It was alluded to that there were limitations to the philosophical thinking, given the lack of exposure to the Upanishads. Without in any way wishing to appear as if this is becoming critique column, it has to be said that, given it must certainly be getting a lot of folk to think a little more in this direction, a level of frustration still arose for this watcher. Prof Cox was this time in India and was at least looking at Sanskrit teachings; but he limited it to the picture that almost everyone has of India, even falling into the trap of referring to 'multiple gods'… Hindus worship only One through the many faces manifested. Each 'God' represents an aspect of our nature and the legends attached to them demonstrate the skills and attitudes to be developed for successful living. It is appreciated that an effort is being made to tie things into physics, however there were glaring risks of misleading interpretation.
There was specific reference to the hymn of creation (Rig Veda 10:129), but one paada only was taken to support the argument for 'no God'. The reference in and of itself was pertinent enough but limited the potential of learning. Had the text been taken in its entirety then the exposition of creation along the lines of current scientific thinking would have been revealed not just to the presenter, but more correctly to the audience.
There is an inherent intellectual danger when utilising scriptural items of a culture with which one has no background, to leap to conclusions based on one's own frame of reference. It might be argued that, in this case, to have explored the totality of the hymn might have resulted in an 'inconvenient truth'.
It is fascinating the show was made; it is, however, a bit of a 'pop culture' take on this big question. What was interesting was that some of the points which were raised here last Friday were, minimally, addressed. It begs the question of whether there will now be more and deeper exploration in the subsequent episodes tying philosophy and science together; perhaps going where it didn't this week. If anyone could now, within the medium of television, do for science and philosophy what David Attenborough has done for botanics and zoology, perhaps Brian Cox is the person.
It is important. The world, one senses, is heading into another of its great changes and as many folk as possible must find their 'safe harbour' within themselves. Beacons are required for this. In the modern age, we have let go, somewhat, of the traditional 'beacons' of the saints and sages. Those very same sadhus, though, were men and women as human as ourselves, trying just that bit harder than the average to find answers. By following their example we become as them. Now there is a tendency to place our trust in those with high public profile; idol worship!!! This is not a flippant reference. It is exactly what has happened.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
(T S Eliot)
To embark on genuine search, via any philosophy, and applying the principles to our own selves, taken to the fullest height of contemplation, will bring one to a place already discovered by the Rsis and the truly great thinkers of Western Philosophy… or indeed the poets who have dared to chart the waters of spirit.
If the spiritually disillusioned again have the spark of enquiry struck by such programs as the one discussed above, if in some small way such films answer a need, then may there be many more of them.
|(c) Yamini Ali MacLean|