On 2015, January 23, we were about to board for the very flight which would change our entire life for the years to come. The sheer joy of new excitement and hard goodbyes to our families were still clouded while we were waiting for our flight.
We had our flight from Air Asia with 80 minutes transit in the airport of Malaysia. With all our fellow Nepalese brothers heading to gulf countries, we were the only one going to Australia. But none of us knew, even though the countries are different, we were about to fall into the same fate of labour.
There was a guy with his “Dillibazar Tailoring” as his backpack resting down at his feet. A pang of frustration had actually started in me already why remittance is the only major source of economy in my country.
After about two hours, right when air hostesses started checking boarding pass for the flight lunch, one of the Nepalese guys started acting strange. At first, he was talking with the air hostess, tapping his pants all over around. But soon he started checking all the hand carries rested at the top of the passengers. My husband said he could be that one of the agent bringing workers in overseas and he added he is faking to his companions as though he had boarding pass for the lunch. I gave my quick glance to the guy with that shopping bag and to that supposed agent guy.
Relying on the quick judgement of my husband, I noticed that guy with a golden ring and think chain around his neck and silver watch, indeed he was fairly dressed than other people on board. He frantically searched almost all the luggage of his clients for like fifteen minutes. Clearly, it seemed like he was just pretending it with a promise that he had had actually boarding pass for lunch to be served. Rest of the brothers were silent and were staring in each other doubting if they are getting it. Eventually, he gave up with the request of air-hostess to get back to the seat for trolleys to be run.
After 15minutes our meal arrived, and it made me partly awkward to be only passengers on a row with lunch being served especially when my fellow native brothers went on curious as air hostesses started dragging down the food trolleys.
It was almost 8:38 PM when we landed into the Malaysian Airport. We had barely 80 minutes of transit.Though there were no words of goodbyes among us, we parted our ways. We were anxiously queueing in the line when I noticed another fellow with all of his backpacks and luggage was standing after me. My husband casually told him, ” yo line Hami Australia janeharuko go, tapaiko yah bata hoina justo lagyo”
Shocked and terrified, we pointed the direction where his group headed where he quickly ran to catch them. And we ran through the corridor of Malaysian Airline for one last time to change the fate of our promised life after that flight…
The death of myths and the age of anxiety – the great existential dilemma
Author of this article is Mr. Atit Shanti Rijal. Mr. Atit holds a great interest in philosophy and is an avid reader and likes to share his knowledge and understanding and sometimes, his own philosophical ideas and thoughts through publishing platform like us.
Myths have remained an integral part of human history. We believe that we are being looked after and that we are loved unconditionally – by a “creator” and a “controller” force.
We believe that there is a meaning to life and that we have a central place in the cosmic existence. We have believed in myths for they have provided easy answers to our questions. We believe we have a duty to fulfill and that we expect others to fulfill theirs’.
We humans have found comfort in religious documents and in romantic literature. But, as we moved on in time, our natural tendency to question things gave rise to realism. Realistic views of the world has made several of us fearful of the huge void that is our existence. We now have varied answers to how and why we exist, we have varied philosophies dealing with human existence.
We do not know for a fact what existence actually means and, now find it harder to give meaning and purpose to life.
As answer-hungry beings, we suffer. We suffer, since we do not know why “we” exist in a rock that hangs on a vast nothingness.
We do not know the beginning and might never know the end.
Does a moral life lead to a smooth after-life? Does an immoral life continue the circle of birth and death? What is a moral life? How do we define a “normal” course of human action? Is life what a group of people (society) define it to be?
These questions are asked by many of us, but, find it hard to put forward because our society has made us to believe that life is in fact beautiful, that success is the ultimate goal, failure devalues life, that love can be easily found, and, that respect is gained through our taste in and choice of class. The “meaning” of life is pre-determined “for us” by those who were born before us.
We fear of being judged – judged of our sanity being questioned, since these are not normal topics for a normal societal person. How dare you rise above the general mass and ask questions that we do not seem to like? Existentialism bores us, do you not understand? Reality is what we have made it to be. This is existence. This right here is the reality.
We would rather believe that human civilization is “certain”.
We are afraid of changes.
And, thus, as we grow older, we slowly begin to “accept” the normality, that is society. We go to functions with the intention of showing our class to people – our class that has been defined by our societies. We have less intellectual discussions and try to stay away from topics that do not suit our liking. We confirm with the norms of the society no matter how hard some are to achieve, or, how meaningless and futile they are to perform.
We build our image as our society wants it to be. We find it extremely tiring to revolt against some of the childish illusions our society wants us to put up with.
But some have indeed started to question myths. They have started questioning the “existence and creation myth” that we are made to believe. From the 129th hymn Nasadiya Sukta to modern thinking and discourses, some of us have started to revolt.
Some of us have started to separate myths and the existence of consciousness.
We have started to question our being. Why are we here? What purpose are we to serve? We have stopped sticking to a singular idea of creation – we have started questioning all of them.
“To some this is a welcome release from the restraints of moral, social, and spiritual dogma. To others it is a dangerous and terrifying breach with reason and sanity, tending to plunge human life into hopeless chaos. To most, perhaps, the immediate sense of release has given a brief exhilaration, to be followed by the deepest anxiety.” (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Alan Watts)
Those of us who have now started revolting the old ideas are but faced with anxiety. We are very desperate to rid ourselves of this angst. We are anxious because we as humans have killed myths and now have no answers.
“For if all is relative, if life is a torrent without form or goal in whose flood absolutely nothing save change itself can last, it seems to be something in which there is “no future” and thus no hope.” (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Alan Watts)
One clearer thing is that we are not promised with an after-life, neither are we promised with God’s love and affection for maintaining our life as per our religious standards. We might have no purpose after all. We will study, work for the rest of our lives, retire and then die – quietly around a group of a few people and, then slowly and gradually be forgotten.
This knowledge, however, creates a dilemma – and the dilemma creates an existential crisis.
Many of us find liberation in being able to question the long known traditions of our family, our social life, of our government, the economy of our nation and of our religious belief. We begin to understand that only few things can be regarded to be true and fixed.
But many of us are anxious because we see these institutions fail and now have no rock to hold on to. We have been accustomed to believe that the pain and suffering of our life has some meaning and that we will be able to grab some surplus in the future. It is hard for some of us to believe that we as humans can however, fail.
We cannot accept that we as humans are insignificant in this cosmic reality because, we have, for much of our history, found comfort in myths – we have believed them to be true. But since myths are debunked, we find it hard to grant them positions in our consciousness.
We have abandoned gods and their mythical stories and have said frequently that our scientifically enlightened mind rejects something that has no basis in reality.
In the course of our scientific development, we forgot that myth while still alive had helped us with our existential questions. “Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are a good many who in other ages would not have been neurotic—that is, divided against themselves. If they had lived in a period… in which man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors…. they would have been spared this division within themselves.” (Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
Myths provided ready answers to our questions about the unknown, it helped us to construct a meaningful story about the existence of life. Nietzsche and Jung point out that myths and religions in a teleological manner provide meaning to life. “The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man in our own civilization who knows that he is (and will remain) nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life.” (Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols). “Considered from the standpoint of realism, the symbol is not of course an external truth, but it is psychologically true, for it was and is the bridge to all that is best in humanity.” (Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation)
We are now enlightened and have “killed” all the existing gods, and cannot go back to a debunked theory that we now know was never true. Carl Gustav Jung in his autobiography explains how we cannot go back now for we have been aware. But, Jung also saw the psychological problems of not having myths around and, how uncomfortable he was after having realized this fact.
“Man today, stripped of myth, stands famished among all his pasts and must dig frantically for roots…” (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy). Since the death of myths, we are unable to make sense of our existence and are desperately trying to run away from the existential angst. We are frantically looking for distractions, to avoid anxious thoughts of our insignificance in this universe.
Now, we have built a coping mechanism against the death of myths – we have found comfort in entertainment. We are pleasured by television programs, photos and stories in magazines, shiny vehicles, alcohol and pornographies. We want to find good looking partners, easy payments and, less disputes. We find comfort in the lives of celebrities and search for their stories in internet where we spend countless of daily hours without realizing how wasteful our search for pleasure actually is. We would rather scroll downwards to new Facebook and Instagram posts than getting things done that we have been promising ourselves to complete.
We have time and again realized that pleasures are addictive because they are short lived. But they have temporarily ridden us of our existential angst and, have thus become important aspects of our lives. We thus exceed our limits to attain them. We are irritated and angry at ourselves and others when we fail to receive pleasure.
We require distractions so much so that we will sub-consciously jerk our legs or bite our lips frequently to avoid thoughts when we have our eyes off our phone, television and computer screens. Though we have killed our myths, we are still frantically searching for the meaning of our existence and thus are in a dilemma because we do not know how to.
According to Nietzsche and Jung we have replaced myths with other collectivist ideologies like politics. These ideologies have made us believe that they are indeed contributing to something big. We worship certain ideologies like the communism and democracy or whatever form these ideologies take. But they have time and again proven inadequate. Through multiple failed revolutions we have chosen our rulers and we still are in agony.
We have found pleasures and comfort in identity politics, but have lost our individual being. We have forgotten cultural unity by tying them with political theories. We have encountered multiple examples of how political ideologies have failed to provide happiness to people but we still run after them with desperation to find meaning. Jung portrays state as a mere modern pretence, a shield, a make-belief, a concept. Politics fails to provide individual importance. Politics is thus another myth that we have used to replace the original one.
Now, that we realize that these myths are not true and that they have died, can we remain intact with our being? The real question is, do we succumb to a nihilistic attitude after finding out how our existence is meaningless or, that we are not as important as we think? Do we have a rather negative view on life or, our existence as a whole?
Jung and Nietzsche argue that a nihilistic attitude would certainly lead to a wasted life. But what are we to do about the anxieties that follow the existential angst?
Nietzsche points out that we are in dire need of organizing our “own” individual meaning to our individual life. We are not in an age of the death of god but are in an age of the hero. The hero as per Nietzsche is someone who has the strength of his/her willpower to control his/her inner chaos which has been built because of our attachment to myths. The hero takes the challenge and faces up to the existing “individual” chaos and discovers “individual” solutions. The hero does not negate the past myths, but acknowledges them as sources of knowledge to find solutions for existential burdens of our time.
In order to be this “hero”, Nietzsche thought that it is necessary to stop clinging to religious theories or, mass movements and, to start to look within oneself. Every single individual according to him has a seed of unrealized potential, and the purpose of life is to see that potential and work towards actualizing it.
Nietzsche thought that “…we are not humans from the start; we need to become human. Toward this end, we need the insight “that only we are responsible for ourselves, that accusations that we have missed our life’s calling can be directed only at us, not some higher powers”. We are in no need of the delusion of a supernatural world, because the very task of becoming human is the truly colossal achievement.” (Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography: Rudiger Safranski).
Though everyone has an inner desire to become their best self, the path to self-realization and self-improvement is hindered by fear and laziness, which according to Nietzsche are two universal human characteristics which prevent people from realizing their potential. These characteristics stop people from realizing their dreams and for most part of their life, people are disappointed and regret that they have missed several opportunities. A human’s life is thus filled with guilt and anxiety of not being able to achieve.
Nietzsche provided some solutions to these innate characteristics. He thought that humans need an “organizing idea”. He urged people to set an ultimate goal that they desired to achieve. The harder the goal, the greater one has to become to achieve it.
On the path towards the realization of such goals, the individual according to Nietzsche will find plenty of setbacks and pain. Nietzsche also thought that many individuals will run back to the comforts of ordinariness once they are faced with such difficulties and thus, leave their goals midway to their realization. These individuals are thus, ignorant regarding the value of such goals.
People are accustomed to believe that suffering is malevolent. The first reaction of people on suffering is to flee. We will again try and find sources of distractions to be temporarily released from these psychological pain. We do not wish to believe that our life can have sufferings.
Nietzsche on the other hand, saw value in suffering. He explained that “there is as much wisdom in pain as there is in pleasure…that it hurts is no argument against it but its essence.” (The Gay Science, Friedrich Nietzsche). This idea was also explained by Jung, who thought that anxieties and other forms of neuroses were not negative phenomenon. These neuroses may produce suffering, but they also inform us that our current way of living is concerning and that we are in need to improve it.
Nietzsche in his famous “the will to power” says “To those human beings who are of any concern to me, I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self contempt, the torture of self mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.” (The Will to Power, Friedrich Nietzsche).
Nietzsche thought that suffering could be the key to liberation, if one learns how to utilize it to his/her advantage. An individual is to acknowledge his/her suffering, willingly face it and see that there is an opportunity to grow and increase his/her wisdom.
Anxieties are an innate human characteristic. We as humans are troubled by everyday existential angst. But we need to understand that, that is the only true reality of life. We will experience births, illnesses and deaths of people around us and ultimately ours’ own. We will not be here forever, we will not see or experience everything since our lives are very short. We need to understand that our existence is nothing more important than a mere dandelion. This realization would lessen our ego and we would start seeing everyone and everything as having an equal existence. This awareness should liberate us from holding on to things that have become problematic.
We need to know and accept that life has no meaning, and that it would be foolish of us to find something that does not exist. We are here to not find meaning but experience our “personal” existence and create our “personal” meaning as we move towards the basic truth – the end.
Fractals: The beauty of order within the Chaos
From the veins of a single leaf to a whole of a rainforest, at first glance everything that’s around seemed random and chaotic. When scientists and mathematicians looked at it no one was particularly intrigued by this unexplainable chaos. This led to everyone curling back to the world they created and could explain. Circles, lines, triangles etc were simple, easy and something that we could easily put into mathematical words as equations. Our artificial world was built around it. But as we went into explaining the true shapes of nature, most of it won’t fit into this simple geometry.
Then in 1980 a mathematician named Benoit Mandelbrot, then working in IBM discovered the Mandelbrot set. His equation looked something like this:
z->z ² + c
The equation took an initial number and gave an output and again used the output as initial number. The equation was iterated millions of times. The result was plotted and the figure above is what he got from the plot.
This psychedelic looking image when zoomed in on, repeats itself and never ends. The randomness of the simple equation when first plotted with few numbers, after thousands of iteration repeats itself and produces such complex pattern. He named it the “Fractals”, as the geometry was fractured but the shape had order and can be produced by simple equations. This opened up a whole new world of natural mathematics.
From graphically designing mountains, flowing lava in movies to studying the natural phenomenon like weather patterns, building compacted antennas; Fractals geometry had numerous implication. When we search around our real natural world, the pattern of delta formed by rivers, the branching of trees, the inside of our lungs, the beating of our heart and most of the nature is found to be following this fractal geometry.
After watching the world around us through the fractals, this chaotic and random nature has a much simpler order and beauty within the seeming chaos. Pleasing to eyes and satisfying to the soul these fractal patterns, irrespective of naturally occurring or computer generated resonates perfectly with every human to some degree. This leads some to believe that maybe even our mind itself is a fractal, as infinite as it is and well compacted with a skull.
Lichtenberg figure is fractal and closely resembles the thunder-lightning.
The shell shows a fractal pattern
Veins in leaves are fractals
Introduction: Sapiens, a brief history of humankind
Since we are highly impressed by the book, we thought we would rewrite this book to share author’s point of views and understanding in our language and style so that people who lack fundamental understanding of natural science even could get the message easily.
It is a book by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian and a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where the author has tried to explain human history (or to be more precise, Homo Sapiens, i.e. modern humans) from past to modern time. His explanation is heavily based on framework provided by the natural sciences, particularly evolutionary biology, along with archeological and anthropological references and understanding that the author has built.
The book narrates the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on Homo sapiens.
This book is not a factual science book but rather an intellectual attempt of the author where he has tried to connect pieces of informations and understanding provided by science and then has interpreted them with best logical argument the author could come up with. Some scholars believe that though the book is highly impressive and commendable, the book is not free of carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism.
Regardless, we must say the book is a masterpiece, because the book gives a time-machine ride to its readers taking back and forth from stone age to modern time, explaining what is what and why is it so, in much convincing way. This book can be pretty handy to those with no prior knowledge or understanding of natural science and evolutionary biology. Even Bill Gates have ranked this book among his ten favourite books.
Since we are highly impressed by the book, we thought we would rewrite this book to share author’s point of views and understanding in our language and style so that people who lack fundamental understanding of natural science even could get the message easily. We are doing this because we strongly felt that the message and perspectives expressed in this book by the author must be spread to as many people as possible.
This book is written in four parts:
Part One: The Cognitive Revolution
Part Two: The Agricultural Revolution
Part Three: The Unification of Humankind
Part Four: The Scientific Revolution
Each part is broken down under several titles. We are publishing each title as an article, through this website. Take help of tags to navigate further in case you want to read each title and part through this website itself. However, we strongly recommend you to the get the book itself and read it on your own.
Articles here are like movies based on novels. There is always something missing. Movies will always miss out something from the book.
Nonetheless, after reading all our articles on the book, for sure, when you get the actual book, it will be much easy and fun for you to understand everything.
If you want to buy the book, you can SHOP HERE.
Thank you for trusting us. This is our first ever attempt of a kind. Hope, this gonna be fun. See you on next chapter.