December 9th, 2019
I have a vague recollection of how it all started, the most important transformation in my life. The most important transformation that there is in anybody's life. In my early years in the US, I came across a book titled Mind is a Myth by an Indian philosopher U G Krishnamurty. I am sure that he would have scoffed at being called a philosopher with all the contempt that one reserves for someone who does not know what they are talking about. Nevertheless, I saw him as a philosopher and his book (which he may not even have written himself) did fatal damage to my my world view which was, at that time, still deeply rooted in the Hindu religion. As the first order of business, it utterly shattered my belief in a God but perhaps I should not put too much of a blame at UG's feet since I was perhaps primed for that transformation anyway. UG would not care in any case. The destruction of my religious worldview was, however, only half the story. Perhaps the more pernicious effect of that book was the relentlessness with which it attacked the possibility of any alternative system which might give hope and meaning to a human life in the absence of religious grounding. UG himself seemed perfectly at ease and he seemed not to care about the philosophical violence with which his words were replete. He seemed not to care about the struggles of others and to me it was deeply seductive for some reason. Perhaps it was his brutal honesty which was so refreshing. He wasn't trying to sell anything and it seemed as if he did not want anything from the world, not even its admiration.
It has been a little more than 10 years since those fateful days sitting in cafe Roma in UCSD reading UG. I have a lot more gray hair now and perhaps a little more wisdom. What began as a revolt against religion in my young heart has stabilized and mellowed into a gentle respect for it. And also a certain kind of envy directed at those who find it so easy to believe. What has not changed is that irrelegious transformation which was set in motion by that book and I think that transformation will be a permanent pillar of my life. It does set up the problem of absurdity though - the problem of finding meaning in a meaningless and arbitrary universe. A realization of absurdity not in the abstract but as a constant and weighty presence all around, engulfing in its cold embrace all life and all of life's pursuits. After all, what's a life, a generation, an age, even a thousand years in the face of silent eternity? What's the value of hopes, ambitions, and achievements of one individual in an unending and unsympathetic universe?