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Exploratory Despair Is Better Than Bliss Borne Out Of Ignorance

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 31, 2012

Voltaire fought intolerance and fanaticism, an...

Very few people are gifted with an inquisitive mind, a disposition to question the origin of every matter or thought. And if such an individual is bestowed with an add-on feature called Intelligence,then life can be quite a catastrophe. Such lucky unfortunates maybe called the Philosophers of the World.

While some of these wise men pursue there voyages in the realm of research and sciences, a lot more have to live with it while they make a living off the “regular”, more worldly sources of income. For this latter group, the gift of a cerebral window is nothing less than a curse. And soon enough they start wishing that they were not God’s Chosen Ones,but, the Ignorant Ones!

So for all those who feel that way, here is an extract from Voltaire’s story

The Good Brahmin

“I wish,” said the Brahmin to me one day, “I had never been born!”

“Why so?” said I.

“Because,” replied he, “I have been studying these forty years, and I find it has been so much time lost. While I teach others I know nothing myself. The sense of my condition is so humiliating, it makes all things so distasteful to me, that life has become a burden. I have been born, and I exist in time, without knowing what time is. I am placed, as our wise men say, in the confines between two eternities, and yet I have no idea of eternity. I am composed of matter, I think, but have never been able to satisfy myself what it is that produces thought. I even am ignorant whether my understanding is a simple faculty I possess, like that of walking and digesting, or if I think with my head in the same manner as I take hold of a thing with my hands…. I talk a great deal, and when I have done speaking remain confounded and ashamed of what I have said.”……
…..The same day I had a conversation with the old woman, his neighbor. I asked her if she had ever been unhappy for not understanding how her soul was made? She did not even comprehend my question. She had not, for the briefest moment in her life, had a thought about these subjects with which the good Brahmin had so tormented himself. She believed from the bottom of her heart in the metamorphoses of her god Vishnu, and, provided she could get some of the sacred water of the Ganges in which to make her ablutions, she thought herself the happiest of women.

Struck with the happiness of this poor creature, I returned to my philosopher, whom I thus addressed:

“Are you not ashamed to be thus miserable when, not fifty yards from you, there is an old automaton who thinks of nothing and lives contented?”

“You are right,” he replied. “I have said to myself a thousand times that I should be happy if I were but as ignorant as my old neighbor, and yet it is a happiness I do not desire.”


As quoted in “The Story of Philosophy” by Will Durant: “Even if Philosophy should end in total doubt…it is man’s greatest adventure, and his noblest.”





13 Responses to “Exploratory Despair Is Better Than Bliss Borne Out Of Ignorance”

  1. […] Exploratory Despair Is Better Than Bliss Borne Out Of Ignorance ( […]

  2. Good dialogue with the Brahmin. Philosophy is great. The soul, a question that has been debated for a long time. In ancient Greek philosophy, the soul and mind often overlap. Nice, stuff!

    • Raunak said

      I wish there was internet and blogging in 5th BCE…imagine reading posts by Confucius, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Gautam Buddha. Wonder who was following who’s posts…and their comments on each others thoughts.Would be hilarious đŸ™‚


    A really great article you have written here my friend. Thank you for sharing it. With your permission I will share it with my readers. Some articles need more attention than they would normally get and you my friend have written such an article. My post today deals with thought and your article also deals with the same thing. I appreciate what you have shared here.


    Reblogged this on Vine and Branch World

  5. Your work is so phiolosophically profound

  6. Pat Cegan said

    The idea that many people do not question their existence always amazes me as delving into the mysteries of life seems more real than what I am told is reality. The down side is that at almost sixty nine, I understand more and more how little I know. And nothing that I was taught by my religion, family, community, country, etc. is based on truth but rather on self interest, greed, power, or just plain willingness to accept what has been proclaimed as truth without ever questioning it. That being said, I remain the optimist, figuring that either the good guys win, or else there is no duality and everyone will eventually be the good guys. I like your writing. hugs, pat

    • Raunak said

      since I consider myself a relatively “good” guy, I sincerely hope that Karma exists.
      I think Karma is the principle that ensures that the good guys win. However Karma does not ensure that the good in the world will outnumber the bad. It only punishes or rewards people according to their acts. It does not prevent bad acts. More like death sentencing has not brought down murder rates.
      So what is the guiding force that balances the good and evil in this world?What is that one thing that saves the world and has been doing so for centuries?

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