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What You See Is What You Get. This is a journal blog, an explore-blog, a bit of this and that blog. Sharing where the mood takes me. Perhaps it will take you too.

Menolibrikul; E-Books Reviews, Part Two

Tomichan Matheikal: LIFE - 24 ESSAYS

Allow me to begin by declaring I am a philosopher. Not simply by nature but also by scholarly pursuit. Thus, although the author here states that his essays are not intended for scholars, it was pretty much impossible for me to switch off that side of myself. Mainly because the subject matter demands that one be involved. To read this book without any depth of attention would be to do it a disservice – but it also means that one must find oneself wanting to respond. There builds a desire to be in conversation with the writer. 

Certainly for me this emerged right from the start. Within the preface itself I found myself picking up on the statement highlighted in this screenshot. What becomes clear very quickly when going into the chapters is that TM is widely read. How is it then that he has not come to understand that all philosophies of any worth actually come down to the same basic conclusions about living life to the best of our ability? Methodologies given for attaining the goal may vary, this is true, but the goal itself has been determined by all to be exactly one thing; happiness and the pursuit of that. 

The author clearly has an axe to grind against ‘religion’.** In many respects I do also. It is what sent me on my own Quest (see chapter 13), for there had to be more to being Spiritual (chapter 17) than following doctrinal injunction without questioning or indulging in superstitious nonsense. 

Thus, there is much with which to agree in each of these essays. But it was difficult to brush away the concern that there is a prejudice that spills out even as the author is trying to dispel that very same thing. There is some quite heavily worded religion bashing in places. 

The reason that religions persist is that there are substantial numbers of individuals who – for many and varied reasons – cannot or will not do their own thinking on the subject of life. They wish to be told how, and then just go off and do it. (See chapter three – the Bandwagon Effect.) Mostly this is pretty harmless and, on the whole, successful. Sadly, this has also left the avenue open for big misuse of power and resulted in wars, holy or otherwise. 

Most religions do adhere to a concept of God in some form – and that is notable – that there is a ‘form’… However, if one wishes to reject theism, there existed the Charvakas (“eat, drink and be merry” - a movement that died out, but which is very much still alive, if one looks at the state of society at the moment…), Buddhism, and now, Humanism, the ‘religion’ most atheists turn to – because what becomes clear is that to live without a philosophy upon which to hang one’s essential spirit leaves one bereft. The argument is that of  the tenet of scientific approach to philosophy and, therefore, life; that there are some basic values of life to which we can all adhere. Yet this is a restatement of a pre-existing philosophy. Advaita Vedanta – the most ancient philosophy arising from the greatest and deepest thinkers of ancient India,– is absolutely based upon “science, art and compassion.” (See chapter 18 – Tattvam asi.) It is the humanism that existed before Humanism. 

It is not the philosophy that we choose to adhere to as our baseline that matters – it is how well and accurately we apply the tenets to our daily practice of living and bring it into our ‘Sisyphean’ (Naranathan) existence. The very first chapter highlights the repetitive role of moving through life. Doing this to the very best of our abilities can – sometimes and if the times demand – result in us looking like rebels (chapter two). 

Such rebellion is engendered, probably, from a moral imperative to become the change that is wished to be seen. (Yes, I had written upon that only yesterday itself – before reading this book!) Ultimately, no matter the interconnectedness of us all, change can only truly take place where we each take full and proper responsibility for who we are, how we act and what we say (chapter four – Chiquitita’s Sorrow, and chapter 16 – Paradigm Shift). Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is possible if every individual were to make the shift within themselves. This, however, is as utopian and hubristic as any of the religious dogma that TM seeks to wield his axe upon. History demonstrates the ebb and flow of knowledge and how it is that every second or third generation is doomed to re-learn the lessons. Utopia itself is a Delusion (chapter five). 

Then we get to the subject of the actual possibility of Utopia (chapter 20). Something as esoteric as any construct of vyahRti lokas, or heaven. This author points to the fact that such a place must handle the nature of humans to have differing points of view – that there needs to be accommodation for this. He says, “… a utopia should never aim at imposing on its citizens a single truth in the form of religion or culture or anything at all. Instead, a utopia should give freedom to its citizens to explore truth in their own ways.” Well – goodness gracious me – is that not the world we live in now?  We absolutely do have this freedom. It is precisely this which has permitted the author to explore all the avenues he does in these 24 chapters. This chapter continues by pointing out that if people are doing these researches well, their contribution to society will be more integrative and compassionate. That we are interdependent and the better for it… Yes, and? …  If there was to be a global government that was finally able to instil in us all the fullest understanding of freedom, equality and fairness how would it look? Big brother at work? This is the conundrum. There is the inevitability of oppression, or at least restriction, even here.

This has become long! You see that I have been engaged and just on occasion, dare I say, enraged by this rather excellent publication, created out of a disparate collection of blog posts done for the A-Z challenge. I love that rubbing of the brain cells and the raising of questions. I do find myself left a little bit befuddled at where the author actually falls on the matter of philosophy. There’s a sense of his having dipped a toe in lots of puddles, but not taken a full dive in any main pool. Or is it the position of ‘devil’s advocate’? It doesn’t affect the enjoyment of reading this work. Indeed, it would perhaps pay to read only one chapter at a time and think it through as thoroughly as one might – and then also to return at a later date to see what one thinks at that later point. 

…and this is the very essence of any philosophy. That it be visited, revisited, chewed over, ruminated, digested…burped… this is the thinker’s Utopia! 


You can obtain a copy of Life-25 Essays from the link at top – or if you prefer not to engage with Blogchatter, then request the PDF from me. These are free publications – but if you wish to support the author financially, you may like his memoir, available HERE. The writing style is lucid and direct – something I can fully identify with! 

** I had written two posts for Aatmaavrajanam ahead of reading this book and was surprised at how close (though in some respects, far) was the thinking process to Tomichan's. I was so interested in what this threw up for me that I have now also entered a third article, arising directly out of some response here. It will appear on Saturday over on AVbloggy.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for this deep look at my book.

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  2. interesting... and worth to ponder about and to reflect what counts for me too ;O)

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  3. i read only for pleasure and to get lost in a story that takes me away from my daily life, I started escapeing into books at age 5 and still use that as an escape at 76. my personality doesn't do well when I read something that makes me want to talk back, which is why i don't do facebook, others opinions on things bring out the fight back in me.

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  4. You are such an interesting woman! xx

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  5. When I was young my mama and I went to the library every Saturday. At the time, I thought everyone did this too. As I grew up I realized what a gift she gave my by introducing me to the joy of reading early in life.
    Hugs Cecilia

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  6. You think a lot deeper than so many of us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspectives. namaste, janice xx

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