Anatomy of our experiences: Objectivity – the end result

This is the sixth essay on this topic: Anatomy of our experience

 Through the past five essays, the reader would have concluded the following:

  • Each of us is a part and parcel of the universe at large, governed by the visible and invisible laws of nature at play. Our “Experiences” are not irrational or random occurrences. Instead, they are a logical outcome of the role of the three connectors. “I” am related to each experience through the three co-existing connectors – Knowledge, Bias (Partial Knowledge) and Ignorance (lack of knowledge) of the laws of nature at play – and the dominant role of one connector over the other two. These three connectors are recognized through their effects such as Tranquility, Turbulence and Inertia. These are three “Gunas”, that bind the “I” – the Consciousness to everything “Cognitive”.
  • We can live our life as any another species in the universe, under the involuntary influence of the laws of nature at play. This is the “existential” nature of living. In such manner of living “I am the product of my experiences (Vasana)”. We can also live our life as a means to explore the laws of nature at work. In this journey of constant exploration, all “experiences” of life are discrete events. In such manner of living “I am Consciousness” or I am the sum total of all laws of nature at play – visible and comprehensible as well as invisible and beyond comprehension.–-the-source/

This capacity for separation of “I” or the self from everything external to it, by stepping back, through reflection, analysis and contemplation, would appear to be unique to the human species (as far as we know)! When this reflection leads to a better understanding of the role of the connectors and the role of the laws nature at play, we become a better human being. At that stage, we are no longer a mere extension of the animal kingdom. Instead, we are simultaneously a blend of physical species governed by the laws of physiology at work and a reasoning intellectual species, with a constant desire to explore the connectors and the laws of nature at work. When we live with these two parallel capabilities at play any time and all the time, we do indeed live like a lotus leaf, which remains untainted by the body of water in which it lives and thrives! It is living like a breeze, which by its mere existence spreads the fragrance for all to enjoy, with out itself being aware of the fragrance, spreading of such fragrance or the joy it creates to all those who enjoy the sweet smell of fragrance.–-understanding-the-source/

Objectivity – in action:

The relative proportion of the three co-existing connectors – Knowledge, Bias and Ignorance – and the dominance of one, is not always easy to identify and separate out. If we observe carefully, we find that our “education” of every kind is intended to facilitate our skills to identify these three connectors, their relative proportions and how to sort them out! One who is good at this skill (to identify these connectors in any given field) becomes “expert” in that field of study. It is not a mere coincidence that the highest degree awarded in any field of study is called “Doctor of Philosophy”. The best researcher in any field has the best knowledge of the laws of nature at play in that field, the limitations (ignorance) of such knowledge and possible wrong interpretations (bias) of the same! The same can be said of the best doctor, surgeon, musician, carpenter, etc. The process of understanding the connectors, when it is explicit and analytical and quantitative, we call the process as “scientific”. The more intuitive, inferential the process, we call it as “Common sense”.

If we observe carefully, leaders in any activity are those who can see these three connectors at play distinctly and clearly. The leader will not always be the one with the highest level of knowledge or the scholar. In many situations it may be the one who can see the evidences of “bias” distinctly. In some other situations it may be the one who recognizes “ignorance” and willing or daring to speak about it! Remember the story of the child calling out “the emperor has no clothes”? Recall also the common phrase “Common sense is often the most un-common”?

This process of search for the three connectors and their relative proportions can be precise, only when there is equal weigh placed on all three connectors! Consideration of all evidences with equal weight and emphasis on all three connectors – knowledge, bias and ignorance – is called “Objectivity”.

An objective person is not swayed by his knowledge nor tends to understate or diminish the evidences pertaining to bias and ignorance. An objective frame of mind treats all three connectors with equal weight or merit. The Sanskrit word for this is “Sa- gunathvam”. Such a person of objective nature is regarded as the “enlightened person”.

Objectivity is evident when a person – through intense reflection and analysis – ultimately relies on his/her own “self”.  He/she has a firm and balanced frame of mind, where opposites such as happiness and sorrow, dear and not so dear, praise and blame are equal in effect.  He/she has a value system, where a piece of clay, a stone and a piece of gold are of equal merit.             B.G. 14. 24.

Objectivity is evident when a person (who has transformed or moved beyond the three connectors of Knowledge, Bias and Ignorance) perceives honor and dishonor, friendship and enmity as equal in merit. Such a person has a frame of mind that sees “self” as separate and distinct from everything external to it. Hence such a person does not initiate any actions based on personal or self driven needs.                      B.G. 14. 25.

Such objectivity is easier stated and difficult to exercise. It will invariably require a frame of mind with a balanced out look at all evidences. It is akin to the perspective of a judge, for whom every evidence presented in the case has equal merit, in his/her constant search for truth. It is this objectivity which is the foundation of our jury system, where a group of fellow citizens, totally unconnected with the case, look at the evidence and render judgment. It is the fundamental basis of the justice system, that the truth – or the judgment as a result – as seen by these jurors would also be found to be the case, even when scores of other impartial observers analyze the same evidences. The objectivity described here is the basis of our modern civilized society!

The natural questions that would arise are: Should we not seek to be more knowledgeable all the time? Isn’t bias bad? How can ignorance be of same weight as knowledge? Recognition of the existence of bias and ignorance is not the same as cultivating them! It is by avoiding to recognize them when they exist, that we foster more ignorance and greater bias! Besides that, in a self analysis, by ignoring these valid evidences one inadvertently and unknowingly hurts oneself! Hence to be objective – with equal weight for Knowledge, Bias and Ignorance – as stated above is not a punishment or error. Instead it is the pathway to the reward we seek (i.e) true knowledge on the subject matter.

Any suggestion that evidences of knowledge will be preferred apriori also results in a bias or attachment of some sort. The goal should be that the knowledge and tranquility as a result should evolve as a natural outcome of our objective analysis of all the evidences.  It is stated that true and comprehensive knowledge is perceived on any subject matter, only when we see evidences pertaining to that in every avenue of the body! In such situations, the person becomes an embodiment of knowledge in every aspect of his/her life, pertaining to the subject matter on hand. Following may be a good example to illustrate the point, with reference to non-violence as a good quality to emulate in life.

What is the true knowledge pertaining to non-violence?

“Non-violence” – Ahimsa – as seen by Mahathma Gandhi was not merely avoiding injury to animals or living with vegetarian diet. Instead, to him non-violence implied no violence of any kind in thought, actions, desires, and intents. He describes the blind allegiance to limited forms of “non-violence” and the bias it creates as follows:

The trouble with our votaries of Ahimsa is that they have made it a blind fetish and put the greatest obstacles in the way of the spread of true non-violence in our midst. The current and in my opinion, mistaken view of non-violence has drugged our conscience and rendered us insensible to a host of other and more insidious forms of violence like harsh words, harsh judgments, ill will, anger, spite and lust or cruelty; it has made us forget that there may be far more violence in the slow torture of men and animals, the starvation and exploitation to which they are subjected to out of selfish greed, the wanton oppression and humiliation of the weak and the killing of their self respect that we witness today than in mere taking of life”.

Any individual with such objectivity on any subject matter becomes recognized as the anvil or frame of reference, against which all others shape and mold their knowledge. All of us need not become “Mahathma Gandhi” nor is it our goal. But, any one can develop skills with respect to any subject matter, to exercise true objectivity through equal regard for all evidences perceived through all three connectors. Such objectivity elevates the person to the highest levels of performance with respect to that subject matter.

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