Cognitive Disorders – Illusions, Hallucinations, Delusions

Literally, human mind is a storehouse of complexity. Major stake-holders of the complexity are the First Signal System and the Second Signal System both of which together or separately are available only to human brain. Other living organisms have the skill of only the First Signal System. Whether First or Second, the system represents means of communication between and or among the living entities.

Sensory centres in the human brain interact with stimuli emanating from the environs with the aid of sense organs. Cognitive ability of the human brain depends upon the interaction of the sensory centres.  There are situations where cognition gets refracted and become disorderly due to malfunctioning or improper functioning of the sensory centres.

Brain activity that reflects the objective reality of the outside world begins with Sensations. Brain does not react directly with the outside objects but it acts through receptors called sense organs. Sensation is the primary mental activity and it is the initial stage of cognitive process. The process of reflection of objective reality does not stop at the initial stage. A person gets not only the individual qualities of an object but the object itself as a whole. The mental activity by or through which the entire object is reflected, involving unity and judgment, not only individual properties but the object in its entirety, is known as Perception.

Everything one sees, hears or feels is reflected through Perception.  The cognitive ability up to the stage of perception is common for animals as well as humans but the cognitive capability of humans is at a higher level due to the complexity of brain development. The distinction is attributable to Conception. Conception belongs to Second Signal System that is the means of communication through words. It is specifically separate from the First Signal System which is the means of communication of Signs and Symbols.

The transformation of cognitive function of the brain through sensations and perceptions supplemented by Conceptions pass through Evaluation and Judgment which finally ends up in the form of Memory. Memory is human ability to retain traces of past perceptions and sensations and to reproduce them as concepts. This is where the cognitive activities of central nervous system of humans sustain its generality for normal existence. However there arise situations which affect cognitive functions and end up in deflected experiences for the individuals. Such deflections generate experiences which are outside generality. What is commonly known as Illusions, Hallucinations and Delusions belongs to the deflected experiences.

Illusion is a distorted or a false perception of an existing thing or matter. The experience of illusion is deceptive but it need not necessarily be serious derangement. For example, in hot summer season, highway vehicle drivers see a mirage which is an illusion but not a serious one.

Persons who are in affective state of sensory function due to extreme beliefs, fear and anxiety become victims of deranged consciousness.  They experience very deep visual, auditory, olfactory or other illusions which are serious in nature.  Take the case of mental patients: Cracks on walls, shadows on ceilings, wandering clouds in far away skies may appear to them as monsters, characters in mythology or denizens of heaven. Their experiences are illusions that belong to the serious category. Illusions occur to healthy individuals as well as mentally retarded persons when their cerebral hemispheres and its working are obliterated or reduced due to partial inactivity or inhibition of the sensory centres in their cortex.

Hallucination is an imaginary perception: Complete absence of objects of perception is its peculiarity. The false perception appears as real to the perceiver with external projection.  The perception occupies the same position in space as that of real objects and it becomes so certain to the perceiver that the authenticity of what is perceived is never doubted by the perceiver.

Hallucinations take place as a result of disorder or derangement of mind. The disorder or the derangement can be either of elementary nature or it can be complex with high intensity. Elementary hallucination is less serious compared to complex ones. Seeing sparks of light and hearing cracking sounds in the absence of real object of vision or any source of the sound can be cited as examples for elementary hallucination. These experiences take place even while the perceiver is in total wakeful state with normal sensibility. On the other side, complex hallucinations are serious in intensity and nature:  Most hallucinations belong to auditory, visual, olfactory and gustatory sensory centres. A serious mental patient may hear voices that command him to do something or not to do something. The command could be that the patient shall kill himself or he shall go out and preach the gospel of god. In other situations, the patient would be seeing landscapes, angels roaming the heavens, god appearing before him to bless, demons chasing to devour him; all according to deep rooted beliefs.

Delusions are false opinions and beliefs which do not correspond with the true position of things and matters in the environs. They have morbid basis and are distorted and perverted reflection of objective reality.  Delusions and hallucinations are not of the same stature. Hallucinations are experiences while delusions are false opinions got deep rooted in the memory. Delusions do not correspond with reality. They are always at variance with reality and are not subject to criticism and correction. Delusion is a symptom of serious mental derangement.  It is difficult for the sufferers to free themselves out of the influence of delusions.

Illusions and Hallucinations take place when the cerebral cortex is in the transitory state of hypnotic phase. Delusions too belong to this transitory state but the bases of its arousal being strong conditioned nerve connections, the intensity of delusions remain unalterable.

It is necessary in this context to have a general understanding of natural sleep and hypnosis which is induced by idealistic practices.

While awake, the sensory centres in the cerebral hemispheres interact with stimuli from the environs and consequently the nerve cells lose energy due to the process of excitation. Then the cells pass on to restful, inactive state of inhibition. Such inhibitory state of the cells is what is commonly known as natural sleep. The very basis for the reach of the restful, inactive state of inhibition is continuous excitation.

Except for the natural environs, humans have created several other environs by way of beliefs, faiths, rituals, pursuits, societal norms, codes of conduct, behaviour, concepts of rights and wrongs, authority and abeyance and so many other conditions. The man made environs too lead to cerebral inhibition due to excitation provided by the artificial environs. The persons, who are extreme adherents to the man made environs, pass through the artificial inhibition akin to hypnosis in their cerebral hemispheres. They are the ones who become prey to the abnormal cognitive experiences. The partial sleep of hypnosis during its paradoxical phase brings in experiences of illusions and hallucinations. Delusions of patients suffering from serious mental disorders arise either in paradoxical hypnotic phase or in transition of paradoxical and ultra paradoxical hypnotic phases separately or intermittently.

Human mind is complex: The complexity has no idealistic basis. Mind is materialistic and it is the product of brain activity. Brain activity manifests desires and striving to make changes by way of acts and deeds. The manifestations are known as Volitional processes involving active attention.  Volitional processes are facilitated by Cognition. Illusions, hallucinations and delusions debilitate cognition: Persons who are victims of cognitive disorders are disgrace for those who are sound and well-set.

Occultism – The Clandestine Benevolence of the Yore

Occultism is one of the most nefarious and ill conceived beliefs of ignorance Occult Practices are widely prevalent, the world over.  Attributes of occultism poured out by the occult practitioners are awesome; they are pain-filled attraction to the ill-intent believers.

Awe and wonder are there in all paranormal experiences, but the experience that is bestowed by and through occultism is fearsome for one thing and destructive for the other; both are too relevant that it cannot be ignored.

Occultism is the knowledge of the Supernatural powers; occultism surpasses all the powers of the Nature including that of the Humans. Occultism is no Ordinary knowledge but it can be acquired and disclosed only by the Initiated ones among the humans.

Thus goes the twisty explanations attributed to occultism. The way to the abode of occultism is misty and it is impenetrable by common sense.

The word ‘Occult’ owes its origin to ‘Occultus’ of Latin linguafranca: Occultus refers to something which is secret and clandestine. The clandestine knowledge of Occultism is secret: The secret knowledge is the propriety of the ones who are the Initiated humans: Initiated humans are the ones who are introduced to the hidden, secret and clandestine knowledge of the supernatural powers.

The aim and purpose of the hidden, secret, paranormal and out of the natural phenomena of Occultism focus on mischievous and clandestine dealings: The dealings are handled by section of the humans who are the Initiated ones.

There are innumerable number of members in the Occult family: Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Alchemy, Astrology, Palmistry, Parrotstrology, Ouija, Tarot, Sorcery, Tantra, Sex magic, Transcendental meditation, Yogic trance, Nudism, Subconscious mind, Super conscious mind and similar other concepts and practices live well within the Occult Family. Of these, the most acclaimed occult members are Telepathy and Clairvoyance. All the occult practices owe their parentage to the so-called paranormal, supernatural and out of the world entities.

Beginning of occult practices can be traced to the origin of Beliefs: Long before Homo sapiens reached the stage of civil society, what the wandering prehistoric humans, wandering for food and shelter in the dangerous terrain on the surface of earth, feared the most were wild animals, thunder, lightning, rains and floods. They started believing that these calamitous agents are the creation of unknown powers and that pleasing of the unknown, supernatural powers would help them defeat the odds of the nature. Thus was the beginning of Belief in supernatural powers; belief that was born out of fear. The belief thus evolved started traversing in two distinct directions through an extraneous sense which is described as the ‘Sixth Sense’.

All humans and almost all higher animals have five senses. They represent the faculties of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. These sensory experiences are produced by the processes of excitation and inhibition of the five sensory centres like, visual centre, auditory centre, olfactory centre and motor centre situated in the cerebral cortex of the brain. In the absence of the existing five sense organs and the sensory centres, no one including the people of extreme religious faiths and the persons of the deepest spiritual achievements, can ever have any sensory experiences. Scientists have proved that persons whose cortex had been damaged did not have sensory experiences. Therefore the story of existence of sixth sense other than the established five senses is a fallacy. That is proof enough to establish that occultism is just another trickery to malign the innocence of believers.

Experiences relating to things and matters which have objective reality in the physical plane are generated by brain activity. However, experiences relating to things and matters which do not have objective reality in the physical plane can also take place: Such experiences too are the working results of the nervous system. The experiences of the latter category can be traced to abnormal working of the nervous system of the beholders. Neuroscience has proved that these subjective experiences are delusion centric illusions and hallucinations. They stand real for the ones who experience because of their deranged mental conditions.

Occultism is one among the several mystic concerns of the antique philosophies: Perhaps, in the absence of science and scientific methods of evaluation, the thinkers of the past had no other way available before them to codify subjective experiences. The only route in front of them was the path of mysticism: They channelized all the then inexplicable experiences through extra-sensory and supernatural entities. Thus was the emergence of Occultism which stands out today as the store house of obscurantism before the light of Science and Technology. Occultism will remain and continue to remain as long as human race continues to remain steeped in gullibility and superstitious beliefs. Science has saved many from the clutches of obscurantism; let science do what science need to do and save many more from the strangle-hold of Occultism.

  1. One path followed rituals and practices for propitiating god for the good of a group of humans which later became religion. The other path resorted to propitiating the supernatural for maleficent objectives. The latter category of pursuits resulted in the formation of Occultism and Occult practices. All the religions, including the antique and the modern, stoutly follow occultism as the negative path of religious benevolence.

Occultism is closely linked to religion and religious beliefs. Religious Texts teach that there is a malicious power which is almost equal but opposite to the divine powers of the almighty god. By propitiating this satanic power, the Initiated ones can create secret experiences which are beyond or outside the scope of science and scientific inquiry. Such experiences belong to the Occult Family.

Sleep and the Dream-Mate

Scientists had propounded many theories and hypotheses about the cause and effect of sleep and dreams: Most of the theories were schematic and one-sided. But some of the theories contained interesting arguments which are even today considered as valid. They include vascular theory, chemical theory and sub-cortical theory.

According to the vascular theory, sleep is evoked by gradual decrease in the inflow of blood to the brain. Here too there were different opinions: A section of the proponents of the vascular theory stressed that it was not decrease in blood circulation in the brain but increase of blood flow into the brain that induces sleep. Both these theories were found baseless because natural sleep is different from sleep-like states of stupor, coma or shock that takes place either due to lack of blood circulation or excess inflow of blood into the brain.

Chemical theory says that various toxic products of metabolism accumulated in the body during waking hours cause sleep. The chemical theory of sleep was found unsubstantiated in the context of the very nature of natural sleep. Accumulation of chemical substances in the body during wakeful hours is a slow process and in that case sleep ought to have to set in slowly, but the fact is otherwise: Both sleep and waking up take place almost suddenly. Had toxicity been the reason for sleep, both the said processes were to be slow extending for hours. Another contradiction of chemical theory is the well-known fact that it is enough for some persons to sleep for only a few minutes to get back refreshed and active. That apart, tests conducted on conjoined twins who had separate nervous systems and common blood circulation, totally disproved the chemical theory. In those tests, when one of the twins was asleep, the other one was found awake and playing with its toys: If chemicals in the blood caused sleep, both the twins ought to have fallen asleep at the same time and on the same spot. That did not happen in repeated experiments on the twins.

Sub-cortical theory says that there is a specific centre in the central nervous system in the sub cortical area which controls sleep. The proponents of this theory argue that since sleep is a vital activity of the physic, there must be a special centre for sleep in the brain as in the case of all other important bodily functions like digestion and respiration. Sub cortical area of the brain contains special nerve formations through which stimuli from environs reach cerebral cortex and excitation of sensory centres takes place. The excitation leads to inhibition: To that extent sub cortical area helps induction of sleep. But it is only a contributory factor of sleep and the claim of scientists that there is a sleep centre in the cortex is baseless.

The Vascular theory, Chemical theory and Sub Cortical theory are unscientific and biased. A theory can be called scientific when it is not limited to a simple description and when it is not limited to a listing of favorable and unfavorable factors. Theory stands scientific only when it divulges the nature of the phenomena.

The living organism including humans is always engaged in some activities or the other during wakeful hours. The organism may be sitting idle or may be engaged in doing something or the other. Whatever be the case, the central nervous system of the living body would be constantly reacting to various stimuli from both the internal and external environments. These reactions would include seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and motor activities. As a result of the continuous reaction, the nerve cells in the central nervous system would start losing its vital energy over a period of time: Then the nervous system would stop responding to the stimuli to save the nerve cells from wear, tear and possible destruction. This is an automatic reaction of the brain produced by inborn reflex actions. The reflex action creates a state of inactivity or inhibition across the nervous system. The inhibition would gradually spread to the body as a whole. The state of inactivity or inhibition provides rest to the cells and the energy lost during wakeful hours would thus be recouped. The state of restful inactivity called inhibition is what we call Natural Sleep.

Even during the inhibitory state of sleep, there arise situations that work as stimuli from environs. These stimuli frequently disturb the ongoing state of natural sleep. The situations that provide stimuli for disturbance may be body pains, heat, cold, insects, uncomfortable sleeping places and various types of mental agonies. They would reach out to the nervous system through different sensory centres. This may cause sudden waking up from sleep. Such an abrupt waking up is injurious to nervous system and it is non-conducive for recuperation of the lost energy in the nerve cells. A nervous action in the form of unconditioned reflex action would in such situations bring in certain dramatization of things, matters, events and experiences in the form of Dreams. That is the background of dreams which take place during disturbed sleep in the day to day life of living organisms.

Dreams prevent sudden waking up from sleep, even if it is for a few seconds or a fraction of a second. That short period of time will be enough for the body to prepare itself for waking up without causing harm to the central nervous system.

Dreams have no specific themes, story lines and agenda. The claim of believers that dreams reflect what is going to happen in future have no proof of evidence. Similarly the claims that dreams are indicative of the thoughts and actions of the dreamer are also baseless.

Sleep and Dreams are closely related. It is dreams that help sleep to continue its duty without sudden interruption that might badly affect good health. Dreams can rightly be called as “Close Friend and Supporter” of Sleep.

Dreams, whether good or bad, are essential part of maintaining good nervous system and healthy living. Uninterrupted sleep without frequent waking ups is the essential physiological requirement of every living organism. Dreams act as coordinator of this vital requirement of Sleep.

 

Spiritualism – It’s Null, No Good

Meaning of spiritualism is simple and straightforward: Dictionary says that, Spiritualism is a belief: According to the particular belief, spirits of the dead persons communicate with persons who are alive, either directly or through mediums.

A close look at the meaning reveals that spiritualism might have emerged out of a metaphysical belief that the world is made up of two substances called matter and spirit: Humans belong to matter which is essential for spirit to inhabit as soul and then to escape into spirit world. Spiritualism is based on the concept of the Spirit World.

Over the years spiritualism became a creed which believes that there are human beings who are capable of communicating with spirits: Spirit is soul of dead persons which after escaping from the living body, wanders in the spirit world. It is believed that some living persons can communicate with the spirit world. That ability to communicate with the spirit is said to be paranormal skill of the living humans. The paranormal ability helps humans to create occult powers, to make magic potions, to perform sorcery, to practice witchcraft, to believe in supernatural powers, to create ideas about god, to worship and to work as priests, godmen, godwomen, sanyasis, sadhus and innumerable other divine entrepreneurs.

Spiritualism comprises many things for many people. Since spiritualism has evil designs as well as divine benefits some people use spiritualism for harming other people and some people follow spiritualism for infusing divinity for self and others. Sorcery, kill-mantra; – the most followed ritual in the Indian subcontinent relating to sacrifices of animals and occult practices, are examples for harming others. Here the spirit of dead persons which do not get entry into heaven but wander in the spirit world as ghosts, go on haunting the living humans and animals: That helps the ghost-hunting spiritualists to employ their hidden tantrums to tie down the ghosts.

On the other side of the spectrum lie religious propagandists like priests, evangelists, sanyasis, godmen and godwomen who use the omniscient power of the spirit world to inculcate divinity, love and compassion and also hatred among their followers. Since religion is involved in the practices, the path of love and compassion for others become route for destruction of one system of belief by another system of belief. That apart, acute dedication to spiritual pursuits make the followers of spiritualism idle and unproductive as a result of which the spiritualists have to depend on materialist pursuers for their sustenance in the physical world.

The concepts attributed to spirit world that embrace the empire of spiritualism have no limits in so far as the subjective thoughts and imaginations of human mind are concerned.

There are convincing evidences to prove that spiritualism originated in Ancient Indian subcontinent known as Bharat. It all started with the Aryan invasion which took place around 1000BC. There was a flourishing civilization existing in Bharat before the arrival of Aryans from the Persian subcontinent. That was cantered around the Sindhu river belt in the northern part of the subcontinent. That civil society was of atheists who were called Charvakas. The Aryans brought their culture based on obscurantism of spiritualism and occupied the land of atheism after driving away the Charvakas to the South. Practice of Chatur Varna Vyavastha headed by Brahmins was the major part of spiritualism of the Aryans. Brahmins ruled the whole social set up and cultivated spiritualism in every area of existence of the people under the Chatur Varna Vyavastha which categorized the people into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras  at the helm of the system. Slowly and steadily the Varna Vyavastha and spiritualism associated with it spread across the entire subcontinent. Spiritualism continues its pervasive stranglehold in India and today, with added vigour and might spiritualism controls the whole of social, cultural and political scenario of the country.

Apart from Bharat, spiritualism was wide spread in China, Japan, Pacific Islands and other parts of the world as part of ancient beliefs and related cultural pursuits of the inhabitants of those places.

The most popular western version of spiritualism is said to be devoid of belief in rebirth and past life concepts and is different from its original postulations as reflected in the practice of spiritualism in India. It is said that the practice began its spread in the West sometime in early eighteen forties of Christian era with the magic of an illicit female who created stories about knocking at doors and windows and flying of furniture across rooms and roofs by the spirit of a certain dead person. Today across the western countries several Christian churches and Groups of believers have thousands of Spiritualists practicing spiritualism in United Kingdom alone.

Practice of spiritualism in the west is centred mainly on mediums which with the help of spirits carry out unnatural events and occurrences like occult practices of Ouija. Spiritualism followed in the West is different from divine postulations of Christianity or Islam which stand for love, compassion and formed centres of spiritualism. It is said that in late 1920s and early 1930s there were other religiously occupied precepts of the spirit world.

Spiritualism is a mirage: Spiritualism cannot feed the empty stomachs of people including the spiritualists. Had there been no materialism and materialistic pursuits there would not have been any production to sustain the life of humans. Such a situation would have made the Earth-World a lonely Spirit World devoid of Humans to imagine anything including the idea of spirits and spirit-world.

 

Envy, Enmity and Jealousy

Envy is a sense of discontent arising out of jealousy of a person about the advantages, possessions, fame and glory of others. On similar lines, Jealousy is a type of resentful longing of a person aroused by possessions and qualities of another person or group of persons.

According to Charles Darwin envy is part of evolution: Envy enabled species to survive; envy helped prevent catastrophic mass destruction of species. Darwin’s theory tells that humans behave in such a way as to help one individual to overtake another in the survival track of existence. The theory targets biological drives of humans which include the urge for procreation.

Even though envy involves jealousy, in essence, envy is not jealousy but it is the feeling of acute resentment inflicted by the possessions of others that the afflicted one does not possess or could not afford to acquire. In contrast, jealousy is an insatiable thirst of a person ignited by someone or something that the person is somehow or somewhere attached to.

‘Envy’ has so many other explanations, too: A person who enjoys pleasure out of another one’s misfortune is envy. Similarly, an urge to outdo or to undo the advantages enjoyed by rivals is envy. It is not rare where some people feel overwhelmingly driven by envy when they come across someone else owning desirable items including properties that the envious do not have. For example, think of a person whose neighbour bought a costly new brand car which the person concerned couldn’t afford to buy. Here the feelings of envy make the person lose self-esteem and he becomes a worried person. In similar situations envy brings in frantic sense of emptiness inside oneself. In substance, as Aristotle put it straight, envy is “the pain caused by the good fortune of others”.

The root cause of envy could be the reluctance or inability to realize one’s own well-being instead of comparing it with others’ well-being or possessions. Envy is a widespread, evil-filled phenomenon that pervades the minds of ill-groomed persons among the human chain.

A group of Researchers has come up with a theory that envy and jealousy are inborn traits having their roots in genealogy. But this theory does not contain proven scientific evidence. It is abundantly clear that the parental trajectory of a person has nothing to do with his or her emotional feelings of envy and jealousy. There are innumerable cases where the fathers and the mothers or even the great grant parents of envy-ridden people were gracious with full of love and compassion for fellow humans including neighbors and relatives despite the fellow humans being in more advantageous situations and possessions. It is doubtful, therefore, whether genes which are the blueprint for life are related to envy. Genes only determine physical traits like what to look like and what to inherit from paternal routes. In the same context, some physiologists in the West have propounded that envy and jealousy are the working results of the frontal cortex of the brain. The theory appears to be reliable because all feelings, emotions and thoughts are produced by excitation and inhibitions that take place in the sensory centres in the cerebral cortex of human brain. But the scientists, it seems, have failed to put forward the factors that cause excitation of brain center concerned for building up the emotive mental attitudes of envy and jealousy.

There comes the significance of the discoveries made by the Russian Physiologist Dr. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov on reflex action of the central nervous system. Pavlov through his extensive researches had proved that various stimuli emanating from internal and external sources which he named the “environs” excite the sensory centres in the cerebral cortex. Repeat excitation creates nerve to nerve communication-channels, namely the reflexes. The nerve to nerve communication of reflexes is necessary for the reach of stimuli from various environs to excite the sensory centres for feelings and emotions. Depending upon the nature of input from the environs and the human type, sensory experiences vary from person to person. Children brought up in surroundings which have ambiance of love and compassion, mutual respect and honesty, affection and happiness for everything in the vicinity grow up into adulthood as nascent citizenry devoid of harmful thoughts of envy and jealousy. This is the working of the conditioned reflexes formed in the nervous system by the influence of the surrounding environs. On the other hand, there are isolated cases where the family atmosphere is altogether in a reverse trajectory: The parents, especially male bastions in such families fight throughout their life for quenching their insatiable thirst to acquire and possess properties and valuables, fame and heritages of others by hook or crook. Alongside, they nurture the illicit feeling of envy over what others have. They cannot tolerate any one else owning more than or equal to what they possess or what they are. They look at others not with love and compassion but with jealousy. With the pull of conditioned reflexes, the children of such families when they grow up into adulthood, no doubt, will turn out to be envious of others; envious of the possessions of others.

The analysis thus brings out the truth that the basic reason for envy and jealousy of a person is nothing other than the environs that surround the individual. Surrounding environs comprise family, neighbourhood, schools, colleges, friends and the workplace. Persons infected by envy have mistaken or wrong notion about how to achieve real happiness through possessions. This is because of the influence of the environs where the persons are brought up. What is needed in such situations is to bring in a change in the environs whereby the afflicted are guided to find satisfaction in what they possess and reinvent their own abilities and acumen to achieve goals instead of envying on others.

Evaluation of envy cannot be completed unless its co-brother enmity is elucidated: Enmity is that state of mind which nurtures active hostility of hate, bitterness, friction, malice, animosity, aversion, antagonism, acrimony and ill will towards outside agencies such as individuals, groups or nations. Envy and Enmity have common links: Quite often envy incites enmity.  There is a saying that “the enemy of my friend is my enemy; the friend of my enemy is my enemy and the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

No wonder, there is hardly any place for enmity without the company of envy. Throughout the history, enmity has worked its way ahead through clashes and fights among families, clans, tribes, religions and nations all of which had envy as its booster. Human evolution itself is an example for envy and enmity. Envy can be regarded as positive attitude so long as it limits itself in achievements and progress of the individuals concerned without the interference of jealousy and anguish against others. Overwhelming envy gives birth to enmity: All the destructive trends that prevail across the world can be rightly attributed to enmity born out of envy-jealousy paternity.

 

Materialism – Its All for all

Materialism is that process of thought and action which upholds that everything in the universe, including all what is attributed to mind, including even the so-called miracles, is either the product of matter or is dependent on matter. Materialism rejects the beliefs of soul, spirit, supernatural powers and extra-sensory experiences of the so-called sixth sense:

Materialism as a system of philosophical thought came out during the early part of the Seventeenth Century. End of the sixteenth Century paved the way for the emergence of science and technology: The emergence led light rays to penetrate into the darkness of subjective imaginations of the human race.

Science and scientific quest for unraveling the unknown mysteries of Universe became tool at the hands of sections among the science-savvy pursuers of the yore. Among them were the thinkers like Galileo, Bacon, Descartes and others of the ilk. They expounded the basics of materialism through the route of rationalism in thoughts and action. It was a path breaking trend; materialism so developed was a revolution in itself in the field of natural science, social science, means of production, discoveries and inventions. Dialectical Materialism as expounded by Karl Marx forms a part of Materialism which is directed at social science, means of production, discoveries and inventions.

The Universe originated as a result of a Big Bang that took place some fifteen billion years ago. The theory is widely accepted by  scientific community as well as the general public who refuse to accept the Creationist-belief that universe was created by the Almighty God. Big Bang was the explosion of an unimaginably tiny but dense and hot piece of object; the explosion disbursed matter in the form of galaxies, stars, planets, black holes and countless other particles in Space. Evolution that followed the Big Bang saw the emergence of innumerable species including the Homo sapiens in the form of humans placed at the top of the ladder.

The Big Bang was a terrific phenomenon based on matter; all the species which came into existence are the product of matter. There are nothing in space other than matter and phenomena attributable to matter. The tenets of materialism are therefore firm and irrevocable. Beliefs are imaginations of human brain: Materialism could unravel the falsity of soul, spirit, supernatural powers and extra-sensory experiences. Materialism established that there is no soul or spirit that sustains life; materialism detected that ‘power’ in whatever way it pervades the Universe is natural and that therefore there is no supernatural power anywhere in the universe; materialism proved that there is no extra sense in human brain other than the existing five senses and without the presence of the existing senses, there could be no extra-sensory experience of sixth sense ever possible.

Materialists are supposed to accept and adhere to the principles of materialism. However, some people who pretend themselves as materialists argue that matter is primary thing having physical properties like size, shape, color, magnetic charge and location: As per their views, there are things which do not have these attributes of matter and therefore everything in the universe cannot be taken for granted as matter. The so-called materialists do not appear to understand what matter is? According to science, matter is something which occupies space, which exists in space. The existence does not need size, shape, color, charge or specific location. The arguers, for sure, stand aloof outside materialism; at best such materialists are fence-sitters like skeptics.

There are also critiques of materialism who direct their finger towards ‘mind’ saying that mind is not matter and therefore materialism does not apply to mind. Their arguments are baseless for, mind is property of matter; phenomena of mind depend on matter; without matter the phenomenon is nothing. The entire thought processes of mind including what is termed as consciousness, is product of matter, is dependent on matter: Humans are the inhabitants of planet Earth in the Universe. Earth is matter and the inhabitants of the Earth comprising humans are the product of matter. Humans are made up of matter; human brain is a part of human body and hence brain which houses the nervous system comprising countless nerve cells is also matter. Feelings and emotions are felt as a result of excitation of the nerve cells. Excitation takes place when stimuli from the environs react with the nerve cells. The stimuli from environs reach central nervous system through various nerve connections in the sensory centers that represent vision, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. These sensory nerve centers are there in the body at the time of birth. The mental activity that enables cardiac pulsations, blood circulation, breathing and ingestion are ingrained in the nervous system at the time of birth and are made possible through permanent nerve connections controlled by unconditioned reflex actions. The mental activity governed by unconditioned reflex action keeps the organism to meet basic subsistence needs of the body. These bare needs are supplemented by countless nerve connections which are formed after the organism is born. Such after-born nerve connections are activated and controlled by conditioned reflex actions. Human mind represents the combination of both the unconditioned and conditioned reflex actions that take place in the central nervous system. The organism survives in the environment; the organism grows and fulfills its biological calls through the nervous actions which are guided, controlled and executed by the unconditioned and the conditioned reflex actions. These then are supported and supplemented by inherent biochemical formulations of congenital origin. The entire process taken together is what constitutes ‘Mind’. Mind is phenomena generated by matter. Mind cannot and does not stand outside materialism. Mind has nothing to do with spirit world developed in the imagery of ignorant philosophers.

Matter is the only reality in the Universe: Materialism is all that is of reality: Everything including thoughts and actions is of reality; everything relating to cognition is of reality: Materialism covers everything which is of reality. Even for physical wellness and worldly-possessions which humans value the most, materialism is the pathway for fulfillment.

Nostalgia – The Bitter-Sweet Emotion

Human brain is so complex that no one can foresee where and how far human it traverses and how diverse conclusions it makes. Nostalgia is a subject which has fallen prey to diverse conclusions. As in the case of any other phenomena, nostalgia too has undergone many evaluations and judgments.

Right from common man to intellectuals, the meanings and explanations received by the word nostalgia are so many. The general opinion of the folks is that Nostalgia is a type of longing for pleasure connected with places, persons, experiences and events of the Past. But in specific terms the connotations of the word are divergent: For some, intense homesickness is nostalgia, for yet another lot, obsolete things are nostalgic monuments. For a few others romantic experiences are real nostalgia but in the field of Medicare zone, nostalgia is a melancholic condition.

In whichever way it passes by, nostalgia is an emotional  feeling  connected with personal experiences of the past. Those experiences may be of places, scenes or social and cultural situations.

In essence, nostalgia refers to a general interest of the past; nostalgia dwells in the past in terms of personalities, places and or events. In common parlance of common man, nostalgia is reminiscences of the “good old days”.

Nostalgia can rightly be classified as an precious human possession even if it would be unreasonable and or unscientific to claim that animals and birds are outside the net of nostalgic experiences relating to the past. Of course , there is no denying the fact that advanced animals like elephants, monkeys and dogs do undergo dreamlike states where flashes of imagery of the food they ate, mating they enjoyed, attacks they faced et al might be taking place as nostalgic experiences. But such experiences of the past for animals and birds cannot be as deep, continuous, frequent and frustrating as those human beings undergo. There is therefore, nothing wrong in the premise that nostalgia is  an experience of human thoughts and actions which constitute crucial existential potential of the homo-sapiens species.

Psychologists who reportedly conducted in-depth studies on nostalgia have come up with very many interesting revelations. They claim that the intensity of nostalgic experiences goes on changing in accordance with aging. Among the adult youth nostalgic experiences are at very high level compared to the middle-aged ones who face nostalgia significantly at very low rates. On the other hand, as people grow older and older they become prone to increased levels of persistent nostalgia, mainly nostalgia pertaining to the incidents and encounters they shared during their bygone past.

Recent scientific investigations have confirmed that nostalgia is not an unhealthy mental transgression but it has very many good postulations on personality development of the people. It impacts beneficially on human behaviour; it improves moods, self respect and it helps develop good social interactions. Nostalgia counter acts loneliness, reduces boredom and brings down anxiety. Nostalgia helps people to feel better about themselves with self-esteem and meaning in life. On many occasions, reminiscences of the past help people to become tolerant and to keep pleasant mood even in unfamiliar situations.

Memory is the basic structure based on which nostalgia springs up. Without the faculty of memory there cannot arise any nostalgia for anyone, anywhere. As for memory it is the product of sensory interactions to stimuli emanating from the environs, mostly the stimuli emanating from the external environs. The stimuli excite the sensory centers which then lead to arousal of Sensations, Perceptions and Conceptions and then on clearing the process of judgement the whole process end up in memory.

Traces of various sensory experiences of places, people, incidents, sceneries, occasions and socio-cultural encounters which individuals face or come across during their existential pursuits get posted in memory. As years pass by and changes in age and environs take place, during idle moments brain cells engage in tracing back the past experiences of various encounters stored in memory. That process is what is called nostalgia. The process of trekking the past is carried out by the pull of cell to cell nerve-connections nick-named as conditioned reflexes which excite the sensory centres in the cortex of the brain providing nostalgic experiences of the past.

Human existence is not a story of success in every step forward in the journey but it is intermingled with full of hardships and miseries and also with isolated cases of happenings involving happiness and joy. Probably therefore, nostalgia is a mechanism developed as part of evolution to ensure adaptability to the changing environs and thereby to sustain meaning and excitement in life.

Nostalgia is a complex phenomenon and the phenomenon is very often fascinating as well. Nostalgia need not and does not always be pleasant recollection of the past. Nostalgia is a bitter-sweet emotion but the end result of which turns life worthy and meaningful irrespective of whether it involves sweet remembrances or pain-filled thoughts.

 

Divine Miracles – How Best To Expose

Miracle is an event that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is  ascribed to divine or supernatural cause. That is how dictionaries define the word ‘miracle’. The dictionary meaning emphasizes two important requirements to help determine whether an event is a miracle or not.

Firstly, a miracle should have to be an event which surpasses human and natural powers; secondly, miracle should have to be an event ascribed to divine or supernatural causes.

Religious texts and Holy Scriptures are full of stories about divine miracles: Scriptures of Hinduism tell that divine entities could shut the mouth of wild animals, ride on tigers, dance with cobras, fly across the world incognito, and walk on water, live in fire, produce materials from nowhere and so on.

While on the other side, according to narratives in Islamic texts, the Prophet flew to heaven on a flying donkey; water sprinkled from the Prophet’s hands; dead girl was made alive; Allah turned many people into monkeys; Stone ran away robbing Moses’ clothes et al.

Religious texts of Christian faith are no exception: Prominent among the list of miracles is the birth of Jesus out of Virgin Mary without the help of a male partner. Another is the story of Abraham who kills birds, cuts them into pieces and makes them alive again.

In short, anything and everything can turn out to be a miracle provided it is an event which is beyond the range of human or natural powers and that the event itself is for the cause of divinity and supernatural powers. Based on the premise, it appears that there exist no rules, regulations and parameters for a miracle to happen. It premises that Miracle is an event or occurrence beyond the level of being objectively understood or deciphered by an individual or a group of individuals, at a given time or situation. That scenario was well-used by mischievous human elements among societies who wanted to shine in supernatural glow over living and non-living objects on the earth. Religious propagandists across the world, godmen, god women, spiritualists, priests, sadhus and sanyasis in the subcontinent of India had exploited the human society and they continue to exploit the gullible human beings through Miracles for material gains and supremacy over others.

Divine Miracles at the hands of nefarious elements under  different shades have destroyed the nascence of believers across India over the years. The innocent religious followers have become idlers, they have lost means of livelihood; the Country has seen drastic go-slow in economic growth due to loss of interest in production. Lack of creative engagement has become the order of the Nation-building Scene of India. Majority of commoners including the labor class with their family and neighbors go after various shrines, spiritualists and sanyasis, attracted by miracles. But benevolence of Divine Miracles never reach them, blessings of the divine entities never help them:  They remain lost in every area of material benefits subjugated in the misty clouds of subjective imaginations. What the Country needs today to lift the gullible believers out of the tragic situation is to educate them about the senseless exploitation by the spiritualists and to inculcate in them the scientific truth about divine miracles.

The best way to educate the believers about the exploitation is to organize campaigns across the length and breadth of the Country: The campaign programs should have to be ideal, attractive and interesting for the public so that the people at large will tend to absorb the principles of truth in their day to day life and free themselves from the clutches of obscurantism.

During 1970s, the Indian Rationalists Association set an example for successful conduct of a series of Divine Miracle Exposure Campaigns in various parts of the Country. Experience of miracles arises out of mental trauma caused by illusions and hallucinations. The IRA devised the divine miracle exposure programs based on the said mental transformation on the participating members from the audience. In this context, a review of the IRA program seems to be worthwhile for modelling such programs:

On the conclusion of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Rationalist Association which was held in December, 1974 at Madras (the present, Chennai of Tamil Nadu, South India) , the Executive Working Committee decided to conduct a tour for miracle exposure by engaging the services of an expert magician to perform magic tricks of the miracle makers, a competent Hypnotist to conduct lecture cum demonstration of illusions and hallucination on subjects from the audience and a well-learnt Speaker of outstanding expertise to explain the nullity of divine miracles. Accordingly the Committee selected the renowned rationalist and retired lecturer of Thurston College, Prof. A T Kovoor of Sree Lanka (Ceylon), Magician Swaminathan of Tamil Nadu and well-known scientific hypnotist P K Narayanan of Nagpur in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra State to conduct the proposed Divine Miracle Exposure Campaign. The Executive Working Committee thereupon passed the following resolutions in that connection:

1. The programs shall be conducted under the banner of Devine Miracle Exposure Campaign short named as DMEC of Indian Rationalist Association.

2. The program shall include lecture and question answer by AT Kovoor for one to one and a half hours; Magic show of Miracle Busting by Swaminathan for thirty to forty five minutes and lecture-cum-demonstration of mass hypnotism by P K Narayanan for two to two and a half hours. It was further decided that for news and publicity, name of P K Narayanan shall be changed as Prof. Hypno and the hypnotic show shall be called Hypnorema.

3. The local Rationalist Organizations/Cultural and Social forums shall have to pay Rs.600 for each program to meet the travel expenses of the touring party; local transportation for the troupe shall be arranged by local organizers; the local organizing bodies may charge the public a minimum entry fee (ticket) in order to meet organizational expenses.

All the affiliated State Rationalist Associations, Atheist-Humanist Associations and Various Cultural Forums were informed about DMEC Program being organized by IRA. The first tour was scheduled to cover Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The second, third and fourth campaigns to cover the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The IRA organized four consecutive campaigns beginning the first program at Tanjore (Thanjavoor) in Tamil Nadu on the fifteenth of March 1975.

The DMEC program of IRA was the first of its kind in the history of rationalist movement not only in India but elsewhere in the World. The campaign gave strong boost for the growth of Rationalist movement in different parts of the Country: Many new associations came up for the crusade against superstitions.

In the interest of the Country and in the interest of the society as a whole, miracle exposures are the need of the hour. Divine Miracle Exposure Campaigns are the best education program to uplift the people from the abyss of decadent beliefs and practices.

 

Sympathy – The Benefactor

‘Sympathy’ is defined as ‘ability of a person to share the feelings of another especially in sorrows and troubles.  In another context, sympathy is described as a relationship between persons and things where whatever affects one person, affects the other person, as well’. In essence, Sympathy is a specific mental attitude of agreement in feelings and emotions on the part of an individual with respect to those of another.

Sympathy in a person arises out of the capability of that person to understand another person’s surrounding situations, circumstances, point of views, thoughts and feelings, the state of mind of which is commonly known as empathy. Empathy and sympathy are closely linked with each other and both follow the same path.

Depending upon contexts, Sympathy has been interpreted in many ways: As per these interpretations, sympathy is sharing of emotions and sorrows of another person; sympathy is harmony of feelings between person and person; sympathy is mutual affection arising out of congeniality; sympathy is a condition of behaviour similar to that of another person’s behaviour; sympathy is feeling of loyalty and support for a cause or an idea. There is yet another context which relates to physiology where sympathy is mutual relationship between two organs.

The word ‘sympathy’ is said to have its origin in the Latin word ‘sympathia’ and the Greek word ‘sumpatheia’: These words stand for the mental approach of one human being to understand the distress of another human being and then to react to the distress of the other with a helping hand. The understanding and the reaction of the person emerge out of concern for the well-being of the other person which is well connected with the past or present experiences which the sympathizer has undergone.

Sympathy extends to other emotional states also where distresses and pains may not necessarily be the prime concerns. As for example, take the case of parents: They give total attention and care for the wellness of their children. However, the maternal-paternal sympathy for their off springs may have to be viewed as instinctive. Such instinctive sympathetic behaviour prevails even among animals and birds in the initial stages of birth and growth of their off springs. However, the so-called sympathy of animals, birds and even humans slowly disappears as the off springs grow up in passage of time.  No doubt, in a larger sense, the parental care and concerns may be termed as sympathy, but in precise terms, it is inborn behaviour trait which is not akin to sympathy felt in distresses and pains of others because sympathy is an acquired emotional behaviour, acquired after the birth of the living organism.

Sympathy develops in human brain through temporary nerve connections called conditioned reflexes. Neuroscience explains that a conditioned reflex is formed as a result of repetitive interactions of the sensory centres with stimuli emanating from environs. There are situations which make an individual to undergo experiences: These can be diseases, accidents, painful situations at home or in the neighborhood and turbulence of various nature. These conditions stimulate the sensory centres of the individual and repeat occurrence of the conditions ends in formulation of reflexes in the brain connected with the sensory centre in the brain. A person who himself has undergone severe pains when comes in contact with another who is in acute distress of pains will get moved deeply by the incident. That feeling of the individual for the other suffering person is a critical evidence of sympathy of the person concerned. The sympathy may force the person to do whatever is possible to help and thereby to alleviate the distress of the other person. Sympathy may even reach out to philanthropic movements, institutions and hospitals which devote their services for the cause of the distressed.

Crucial ingredient involved in the development of the conditioned reflex of sympathetic attitude is attention to the needs of others which may be either individuals or group of individuals. Unless a person diverts attention to the surroundings the individual cannot have even an element of sympathy in his behavioral attitude. Persons who are selfish and inward looking and do not give any attention to what is happening to others, to what is going on in the neighborhood and the society and do not recognize the needs of victims, can never feel sympathy for anything and anybody. It is because distractions limit sensory experience related to the situations as a result of which brain fails to build conditioned nerve connections for effective reactions. That is why attention becomes crucial for the development of sympathy. The attention to the needs of others enables individuals to experience the feelings of the sufferers and thereby it helps building up sympathy.

There is another area of sympathy which relate to the powerful helping the vulnerable. Discarded children, elderly who are disowned by their family and relatives and abandoned sick persons are examples of this category where those who can afford extend helping hand to the needy. Similarly, geographic proximity like neighborhood, citizenship of the country, racial and religious considerations generate feeling of sympathy. Such sympathy is based on the belief that people within the same group are inter-related and inter-connected with each other.

Sincere sympathy of a person or group of persons always follows action aimed at extending solace to the needy. In addition to the action, communicating the feeling of sympathy to others who are in dire need of the help is as important as the action itself. Sharing the sorrows by expression of soothing words, by facial expressions, by touch and occasional visits to inquire about the condition of the sufferer will lend enormous relief to the sufferers. That is where the first system of communication through signs and symbols and the second system of communication by spoken or written words become crucial and relevant in matters of sympathy and sympathetic behaviour.

Researchers are reported to have found that canines and other lower animals too feel and express sympathy. The findings appear to be of false premise. It is  common experience that when hungry stray dogs happen to pass by the vicinity of domestic pet dog’s habitat, the pet dog violently reacts to the presence of the stray dog with loud screams. It jumps over the stray dog, bites and drives the stray dog away from the vicinity. Similar is the behaviour even among the stray dogs when they face their physical and biological needs. Had there been a little bit of sympathy, the pet dog might have behaved in a better way and tried to help out the stray dog with love and compassion. The reported findings of the researchers seem to be untrue: It is basically wrong to conclude that the nerve cells of lower animals like canines are capable of building the reflexes for sympathetic behaviour.

Among the modern political and social scenario, many a time, vested interests utilize fake sympathy for the cause of popularity, influence and malicious gains. Even in such situations, the individuals or group of individuals who get help and solace for their distress remain beneficiaries of sympathy irrespective of whether the benefactors or the helpers are fakes or not.

Humanity the world over today faces enormous magnitude of turbulence and destruction. Religions, races, castes, communities, faiths, beliefs, rituals and related practices have divided the human race: Mutual distrusts and enmity have become the order of the day. Despite all these, the mankind survives and go ahead with tremendous achievements and progress in every area of existence. The major chunk of contribution for the survival and existence of humanity is Sympathy. But for sympathy, human race would have met the dooms-day cataclysm long before the dawn of civilization.

 

Animists – The Curse of Nations

Animists are set of humans whose behaviour is clouded in Animism. Animism is an acquired behavioral disorder which negates human values and culture. Animists are curse to the society; they viciously keep away from science and secular trends; they are idlers exploiting nation-country resources for their selfish motives.

Word ‘Animism’ owes its origin to Latin word ‘anima’. Anima means breath or soul both of which are believed to possess consciousness. Animism covers almost all religions because religions believe that it is soul that sustains life. According to the belief, humans sustain life because of soul and without soul survival of humans is impossible. Since ‘anima’ also means breath, it has to be assumed that animism pertains to living organisms which breathe air as its basic life sustaining mechanism. The concepts of soul, spirit and supernatural powers dwell in human mind: The concepts have no place outside human thoughts.

Since the concepts of the spirit world and supernatural powers have no objective reality in the physical realms of universe, they are subjective imaginations: All subjective imaginations can be classified as beliefs. Therefore animism and its attributes confine itself within the boundaries of beliefs.

As animism dwells in beliefs, the origin of belief needs a go through. Except for humans, animals and other living organisms have no ability to believe anything. Their brain cells are not capable of that activity. They have, therefore, no idea of god, spirits and other supernatural entities and therefore they are outside the periphery of animism.

The case of humans is different: Long before homo sapiens paved their way to reach the stage of civil society, what the wandering prehistoric humans, wandering for food and shelter in the dangerous terrain on the surface of the earth, feared the most was wild animals, thunder, lightning, rains and floods.  Illnesses, hunger and thirst supplemented their fears. Fear of death haunted their thoughts: Consequently, the prehistoric humans started believing that all the painful occurrences were the creation of unknown powers: The humans thereupon, started their search for identifying the unknown powers. The search moulded beliefs of soul, spirit and supernatural powers. The beliefs were born out of fear: Animism is therefore a part of the belief system. When modern religion evolved as a system of beliefs in supernatural entities, the religions and its followers became the thresholds of animism.

According to belief, spirit world belongs to different categories of spirits: A section of the spirits are the souls of the diseased, others are inherent in nature. The nature-inherent spirits are intermediaries between humans and the omnipotent god who is the supreme hero of the spirit world. Followers of different religions then devised system of prayers to seek the help of the intermediaries for benevolence of the spirit world: Their prayer-formulations were set in different directions according to the scopes and aims of benevolence from the spirit world in matters of human needs and for help on occasions of illnesses, natural furies, wars, harvests, childbirths, marriages, studies, jobs and other conditions where human efforts are believed to be beyond its reach and where interference of the spirit world is unavoidable. Alongside, sections of believers went after the disembodied soul of the diseased to get their whims satisfied by invoking the ghostly spirit world. For the purpose, they created rituals and sorceries including sacrifices as a part of their belief system to satiate the hungry ghosts.

Animism has undergone significant changes as time passed on: One of the changes that took place was removal of the concept of soul, spirit and the spirit world from animism. For the modernists animism is associated with extraordinary preoccupation with physical appetites and body-needs rather than spirits and souls. Animists today are the naughty ones who exploit others for satisfying their needs, for filling their stomach and for amassing wealth by resorting to all available tactics which include dubious propaganda and annihilation of the opponents. Spiritualists, spiritual gurus, religions, religious followers, sorcerers, ritualists and organizations working for the cause of spirits, souls, ghosts and other supernatural powers  in some way or the other are epicenter of animism.

All believers are therefore animists. Similarly all humans who are addicted with excessive thirst for amassing resources for physical needs are animists.  Animists are shame to society.  Animists are exploiters of national wealth. Animists are enemies of secular social order: Animists are factually the curse of Nations.