Are we deceiving ourselves?

Are we deceiving ourselves? This was the question which I have been asking myself for the past couple of days. If for a moment we put away our ideas of soul, atman, karma and sin then what are we left with. We would just live each and every day in own merit.

So does karma or sin really make sense? A human being is nothing more than a slightly glorified version of an animal. We probably have a much more evolved sense of ourselves, have developed a language to communicate and would like to think that we have choice. As human beings we really pride ourselves with having the ability to be self-aware besides also having the freedom of choice.

This choice that we pride ourselves in is nothing more than a slightly evolved animal ability. I have seen a dog smell a piece of bread on occasions and quietly turn away. Is it not exercising choice then?

Then we delude ourselves into thinking that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is really only true to human beings who are conscious of their acts. There are many people in the world who simply rationalize their acts and sleep with an easy conscience for the rest of their lives.

When a lion slaughters a deer and eats it does it acquire bad karma? No. However if subsequently a hunter comes and shoots it down would the animal world deceive itself that it was the lion’s karma to get killed?

This brings us to the Greek ethical question that plagued the Greek philosophers’ many thousand years ago. “Is it better to be strong or is it better to be good?” They concluded it is better to be strong.

That is reality. In many ways we live in a world of “matsya nyaya” or might is right. However there are sensible people in the world who do good to others simply because they believe “in doing unto others what they would like have done unto them”.

What are your thoughts on this?

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7 thoughts on “Are we deceiving ourselves?

  1. notwhatwethought February 15, 2012 at 5:17 am Reply

    Someone like E. M. Adams would say that our ability to be part of something greater than ourselves separates us from the animals – however, aren’t individual animals part of something greater than their own beings as well?

    I think you have a valid point. We justify our existence having any form of meaning through concepts that we believe are only applicable to human life. Math for instance, while a higher study than any animal could accomplish (sans chimpanzees), can be boiled down to basic problem-solving. One could then argue that animals solve problems daily.

    That is one of the many things that in turn makes life absurd. We are serious about our existence, no matter how punitive it is, or its grandiosity. We live each day doubting our capabilities as humans (though we have here reduced them to that of an animal), even doubting our skills in walking or running from point A to point B. It’s all pointless.

    Without approaching circular logic and meaning, I’d say you could definitely charge that we are deceiving ourselves. Great topic!

    – Justin, notwhatwethought

  2. vasuerfolg June 16, 2015 at 11:31 am Reply

    First of all, there are too many points mixed up in this post. A lion does not acquire any Karma by killing its prey. The concept of Karma comes into play ONLY where there is a freewill at work. In this sense, it is HUMANS who acquire Karma through their actions. All other Lokas (there are 14 Lokas or worlds including the EARTH) are there only to EXHAUST one’s Karma and in those worlds,one can not acquire fresh Karma.

    Also, the Law of Karma should not be misunderstood as the Law of Fatalism. The law of Karma simply states that (1) ALL of our ACTIONS have visible (actions fructifying in the short and medium terms of time-frame, within the same life-time) as well as invisible consequences (actions fructifying in the long and very long terms of time-frame, NOT within the same life-time but in several future life-times) and (2) the performer of an action will experience – meaning enjoy or suffer – ALL the consequences arising out of ALL his actions – as long as these consequences or effects keep arising.

    The consequences are like waves that one produce on the surface of water when one throws a pebble into water. Thus, there can be an endless sequence of consequences which one has to suffer / experience.

    The Karma bundle that we accumulate, comes to fruition in “packages” and each subsequent “package” results in a particular life-time characterized by a particular body, world, circumstances etc.

    So, the purpose of living a GOOD & ETHICAL life (as described in the Scriptures) is to ensure that we avoid adverse Karma that will create adverse circumstances for oneself and for others and thereby come to a point where we learn how to completely avoid Karma altogether. With this Knowledge, one finally exits this endless cycle of birth and death

    • Tinniam V Ganesh June 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm Reply

      The question of free will is very debatable. Murderers, rapists and tyrants go scot free. The question of ripples in the waters of time is a convenient example but not true. The theory of Karma has its utility in keeping people at check but has no real proof or validaity. We either believe it or don’t . Personally I don’t.

  3. vasuerfolg June 16, 2015 at 11:39 am Reply

    This LIFE is actually like a MAZE, a three-dimensional maze (or a four-dimensional space-time maze) in which we are all trapped and the “higher purpose” that we have been enjoined to achieve is to get out of this maze. This can be done, among the living creatures we find on this earth, only by the humans. And this can be achieved ONLY by acquiring KNOWLEDGE. KNOWLEDGE about the true nature of this MAZE and the techniques that are available at our disposal to achieve this end.

    • Tinniam V Ganesh June 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm Reply

      Agree. We need knowledge and values. We don’t need a crutch like karma to maintain a truly principled life.

  4. vasuerfolg June 16, 2015 at 2:49 pm Reply

    Theory of Karma can not be proven by mere logic. It requires a scriptural belief and faith. I am of the view that Science has its limitations and not everything can be proven by scientific research. For those things that lie in the domain beyond science, scriptural (Vedic / Vedantic) support is a MUST. If you choose not to believe, then I have nothing more to say

    • Tinniam V Ganesh June 16, 2015 at 3:07 pm Reply

      What is faith but accepting what is given to us instead of using one’s reason. Swarg/Narag, Heaven/Hell, rebirth don’t make so much sense these days. There many things that we still don’t know but that to me is the purpose of life, to find out.

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