• There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Part 2: Exploratory Despair Is Better Than Bliss Borne Out Of Ignorance

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 13, 2012

Why do philosophers still exist? Why do people even bother to ask questions? What still motivates you and I to ponder over spiritual and metaphysical unknowns? Why does the “Spiritual Guru” producing mill never run out of business? The last four thousand years have given us the greatest minds possible; Buddha, Mahavira, Kautilya, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Spinoza, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Freud, Keynes, Friedman, Einstein et al. Yet this world is no closer to eternal prosperity, peace, harmony, oneness or individual bliss than it was when Adam and Eve left Eden. You would think that if these great guys couldn’t do it, then no one can. Pretty credible historical trends strongly suggest that the path to finding the universal truth leads to nowhere but despair. So should we just give up our arduous efforts to seek that elusive elixir? No. And there are two reason why.

Firstly, I strongly believe that setting your initial goal as seeking universal truth and changing the world is a mistake. The initial objective of reasoning should be to work on yourself and make yourself a model of what you would like to see the world as. The initial focus of exploration must begin from within and must address one’s own body, mind and soul.Only when you have achieved inner oneness and peace, should you venture without. The outcome of this approach is that when your attempt to change the world or conform it to your own views fails (it will), you will not be left in despair. You will recognize your new inner self as a good enough reward for your efforts. What if you couldn’t change the world, you changed yourself and at that moment, you will be the world unto yourself.

The second reason was laid out beautifully in this story that I posted in my earlier post.Β  Below is that post for you to read and enjoy. As always, comments welcomed!

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 “Part 2: Exploratory Despair Is Better Than Bliss Borne Out Of Ignorance”

  1. Or as John Stuart Mill famously said, β€œIt is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.”

  2. I love this post. It’s true. There is a tremendous burden for those who seek the truth, who study philosophy and attempt to unravel the riddles of the universe. The more you understand the heavier and more daunting the discourse becomes. Maybe, “Ignorance is bliss,” after all? πŸ™‚

    • Raunak said

      I am struggling with this quite a lot. There is conflict between actively pursuing happiness or just doing nothing and treating it like an illusion.

      While the first approach inspired this analytical essay on happiness,

      the latter throws it right out of the window.
      I guess its up to individuals to decide what approach they wish to adopt.

      I now feel that actively discovering happiness by self realization is the way human beings should progress. It is simpler and much more within our spiritual means.

      The ability to treat it as an illusion is too difficult for most to acquire.

  3. “The initial objective of reasoning should be to work on yourself and make yourself a model of what you would like to see the world as. The initial focus of exploration must begin from within and must address one’s own body, mind and soul.Only when you have achieved inner oneness and peace, should you venture without.”

    This is the most sound piece of wisdom ever shared! πŸ™‚ Like you, I strongly believe everything originates within before it can be manifested without, so that becoming what you desire the world to be is the first action toward world peace.

    • Raunak said

      and maybe when we change ourselves, the world looks like a whole new place to us. And it becomes easier for us to change this new world.

      Thanks again for adding value to the post πŸ™‚

  4. […] Part 2: Exploratory Despair Is Better Than Bliss Borne Out Of Ignorance ( 41.897547 -84.037165 Share this:TwitterPinterestLinkedInTumblrFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  5. eyeshaw said

    Thoughtful post.

  6. Grace said

    Wonderful post! In my own opinion, working on the self is THE most important thing. That’s the only thing we have control over anyway. And from experience, as you grow and evolve, somehow it encourages others to follow your example, and in the long run, many years from now,lol, perhaps the world will be different. I find life fascinating and the world fascinating , even with its seeming chaos. We tend to look at life and the world in the concept of “time and space”, but in reality there is no such thing. So what might not look like any “progress” to us here, might not be so in reality.
    One thing, we don’t pursue happiness; happiness is a result of finding “inner peace” or “acceptance”. In other words, it’s not a goal, but a result πŸ˜‰

    • Raunak said

      those are some really interesting thoughts…happiness is a result! that’s a fresh perspective! “no time and space”….that is an amazing idea to explore!

      thanks for sharing your really profound views and enriching this post! re appreciate it πŸ™‚

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