As the perceptions of the society is changing in terms of its social, economic and spiritual arenas, it becomes our obligation to have a better understanding on Consecrated life. As the word literally demands, consecrated life is set apart for God and His divine service. And as members of the chosen race, it is a basic attitude towards God, for whom we live with trust and faith. We live in a scenario where vocations are decreasing on a per annum scale and is being widely criticized all over the world. But let’s consider the facts that in renouncing world from certain points of view, they gave up their whole life. And this speaks of the significance of consecration. For, it isn’t a superficial thing to give up one’s dreams, ambitions, the right to choose his ways and so on. But still there is a gain; a gain of deeper sense of life. There is a gain of love of God, above all desires and attractions of the world. This is where we find authenticity in God’s call. Authenticity is not an easy accomplishment, and to be perfectly authentic, require a good delicacy of discernment. We know that religious are among the principal social workers of any apostolic activity of the Church. But they could be too absorbed in their dynamism that they neglect what they are and what they should be as people of consecration. A deep contemplative spirituality shall help to overcome this danger. But I would never say that they should be confined within the wall of a room and just pray incessantly. They should reach out to the world as it cries out its needs. For the apostolate of he Church ultimately aims for the greater glory of the God and salvation of souls and its success is attained by the grace of ever-living Holy Spirit. Actually, the Consecrated life cannot be limited under a particular category. It is an overall reality comprising all spheres of life ranging from academics and spirituality to activity and leadership.
It won’t be an exaggeration if I say, consecrated life is a beauty; indeed, not found on the first day of ordination or profession. It is a beauty found in weariness, in despair, in the poor and in God. It is the beauty of cross, the highest eternal beauty that a soul can know. To conclude, let us look into the gospel lines that say he who loses everything will gain it; and of course, gain it for the ultimate union with Christ, his beloved. Blessed are the ones who are called by God to a complete sacrifice. Blessed are the ones who are called to a greater authenticity.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loneliness increased, it will never pass into nothingness”, says John Keats in one of his famous works, a thing of beauty. A much inherent quality found in a rational being such as man is his ability to appreciate, admire and possess beauty. The transcendental property of beauty has been valued, viewed, analysed and criticized from various angles. It is significant to note that definitions and arguments regarding the notion of beauty dates back to the year of ancient Greek philosophers from the western point of view and to the Vedas from the eyes of an Indian milieu. Over years and centuries, the aspects of beauty adopted various theories and postulates. An independent discipline of science called Aesthetics employ the duty of making a scientific evaluation of beauty. Focusing on the topic, we need to look at the connection between beauty and Truth.
1. The inseparable reality of Truth
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle defined Truth as, “To say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true”. The Mahabharata speaks in a similar tone, “The way it was heard, the way it was done, to represent it through speech without distortion is truth.”
Truth is a term that is often encountered in our daily life. But, seldom do we contemplate on the very aspect of truth. What is truth? Truth can be simply defined as the correspondence of a proposition to that of reality. Taking it in a stricter sense, we would be able to witness very few truths in our life. Why is that mind often tends to make mistakes even when it always wishes to be one with the reality? Often rash judgments, inadequate conditions of perceptions and failure of reconciliation between passion and reasons lead a normal being to make errors. These become the roots of misunderstandings. The most important fact is that, ‘all beings are true’ i.e. all beings can be known. Besides a philosophical dimension, in practical life, truth in speech becomes credible with truth in life. Quoting Hui Neng from ‘The Sutra of Hui Neng’, “Truth is to be lived, it is not merely pronounced with the mouth… there is really nothing to argue about”.
This may be the reason why great thinkers remained usually silent. Khalil Gibran says, “Truth chooses silence to convey her meaning to a loving soul”. Truth is not fully communicable in words or through medium of any language. Pythagoras proclaimed the significance of this silence when he said, “Be silent or let your words be worth more than silence.” Truth is an active performance rather than mere recitation of words.
2. Seeking Beauty
There is a natural inclination found in every common man to move towards anything that seems beautiful. Plato seems to find a mystical realm in beauty when he says, “The contemplation of beauty causes the soul to grow wings.” He also says, “The beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depends on simplicity”.
A commentary on Atharvasira Upanishad perceives beauty in a divine dimension. Whatever is striking in nature, whatever feeling or being is charming and joy-giving; in short, whatever object is beautiful, all are so many manifestations of God himself.” Beauty is being manifested in various forms and manner. But there are stark differences in its appreciation by the multitude of human beings. Some find things beautiful; few others feel apathetic and yet many feel indifferent. However, there is a real connection between beauty and love. Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” The fact to be remembered is that, ‘all beings are beautiful.’ There is a metaphysical beauty hidden in every differently abled person that equates them with those who hold great pride in their physical appearance. Within each individual, the reality is brought to a single unity. The innate attraction to beauty is what leads a person to the Ultimate Beauty that I call God.
3. Truth manifests Beauty
A blurred photograph is rejected by viewers; a dubious statement is a torture for the mind; an unclear vision renders nothing appreciable. All these point to the essence of clarity. Beauty is only valid when there is clarity and clarity is attained when truth comes into play. The noble laurate from India, Rabindranath Tagore quotes, “Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her face in a perfect mirror.” Truth since it corresponds to reality and reality is beautiful, it is evident that truth manifests beauty. And in return, beauty glorifies truth. Khalil Gibran gives immense value to both as he says, “Of life two chief prizes, beauty and truth, I found the first in a loving heart and second in a laborer’s hand. It is pathetic that we rarely do lift our eyes to enjoy the beauty around us; the beauty of our lives; the beauty of our pain and the beauty of love. George W. Russel truly said, “Our hearts are drunk with the beauty our eyes could never see.”
Our lives are often wasted in activities we never intend to do. The lush green trees wait for you; the flowing rivers need you. All you have to do is to admire them, and let this be the sign of freedom. The freedom that we all craved for ever since we took our existence. Jesus Christ had once said, “the truth shall set you free”. With this desire I conclude,
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4)
“I feel much more comfortable with the concept of God who is clever enough to devise the laws of physics that make the existence of our marvelous universe inevitable.” (James Trefil)
The cosmos we dwell is a mystery beyond much human comprehension till date. The more it is revealed, the more it becomes mysterious. Still, man, an insignificant creature compared to the immense grandeur of the universe, unraveled to its great secrets, extending from sub-atomic particles (quantum world) to galaxies and quasars within a short span of time. The impressive achievements of science have rendered knowledge of many previously inaccessible domains of nature. The latest milestone being the first photograph of black hole released by NASA on 10th April 2019.
For some people, science seems to be the only reliable path to knowledge. Much of humanity has turned their gaze to science-based technology as a source of fulfillment and hope. Often it has offered the power, control and prospects of overcoming our helplessness and dependency. Our generation is a witness to a new perspective of nature whereby many of its domains exhibit characteristics radically different from those assumed in past centuries. In view of possessing a minute knowledge of the nature, can we rely upon few theories and equations as the ultimate? Man, in his horizon of experiential knowledge, revolves around many unanswered problems of cosmology. Why is there this kind of a universe? How the universe came into being? Why there is a universe at all?
1. Finding a solution
Ever since scientific cosmology has pondered on the question of existence of the universe, many theories have emerged trying to answer this quest. These theories have ended up in a hope of formulating a basic theory that explains everything.
1.1. Anthropic principle
In the traditional argument from design, it was claimed that, both biological forms and the physical conditions favorable for life must be the products of an intelligent designer because it is inconceivably improbable that they would have occurred by chance. An interesting feature of the new cosmological theories opines that even a small variation in the physical constants would have rendered an uninhabitable universe. “If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller even by one part in a hundred thousand million million it would have collapsed before it reached its present size.”
Reflecting on the fine-tuned manner of the universe, cosmologists Dicke and Carter formulated the Anthropic Principle- “What we can expect to observe must be restricted by the conditions necessary for our presence as observers.” This principle was illustrated by Hawking as a possible answer for the question why only 4 dimensions (three dimensions of space and one time) are flat while other dimensions (string theory suggests 10 to 26 dimensions) are curled up in quantum space. Neither do 2D conditions support life nor does a condition with 5D or more.
Some physicists see the evidence of design in the early universe. Freeman Dyson says, “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that universe in some sense must have known we were coming.” There follows a religious implications too in considering the perfect design. This argument could be taken as a base for the existence of a Grand Designer, “perhaps God with an interest in conscious life.”
Let us suppose, there were billions of worlds with differing constants existing simultaneously. It would not be surprising then, that one of them, by chance happened to have constants that support our forms of life. It can be that Big Bang produced multiple domains with different constants or even differing laws that exists simultaneously. An even better hypothetical model succeeds this. Hugh Everett’s proposal of alternative quantum potentialities in an atom, resulting in several branches split from one universe, ends in a mind-boggling multiplicity of worlds. There are various theories that propose such a model. But in many cases, it seems to be inherently unverifiable since no communication could be established between the various worlds. These theories try to explain the combination of constants favorable to life as a chance occurrence among a set of worlds.
1.3. Towards unification: Grand Unification Theory (GUT)
Sidelining the proposals put forward from design and chance, a third possibility of necessity is considered. Perhaps a grounding principle proves that the constants can have only the values that they have. In simpler words, the cosmic conditions that present an ideal world for us are in fact directed by the most fundamental structures at its origin.
Often we look our past experiences, memories and even generations to quench our thirst for knowledge and insights. How about walking backward over 13.7 billion years to the point of Cosmo-genesis? The first nuclei of the light atoms (hydrogen and helium) were formed out of protons and neutrons in the first 3 seconds at a temperature of the scale 109 degrees. Further moving backward we find all the fundamental forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear forces) were united, before a time of 10-43 seconds after Big Bang.
Scientists of the 20th century held the view that in the initial moments of the universe, the temperature was immensely high that all the forces were in singularity and in super-symmetry. Soon this symmetry broke apart and formed the four fundamental forces of the nature. Based on this argument, scientists claim if such a condition is recreated, this unification could be brought. Abdus Salam from Pakistan, Stephen Weinberg from Harvard and Sheldon Glashow in an experiment conducted in 1967 successfully unified weak nuclear force and electromagnetic force. The theory, born from this, known as Electro-Weak theory, gained them Nobel Prize in 1979. European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva in a series of experiments confirmed this theory. With this the idea of uniting the four forces was more emphasized in the scientific circles. A hypothetical theory that embraces every minute detail of the cosmos, that arranges every phenomenon, events and actions, that unites everything into a single law, was thus aimed and hoped for. Stephen Hawking was the main person behind this search. And the prime motive of this search was to prove, “A creator is no longer necessary!”
2. Grand Unification Theory (GUT)
We already spoke of successful attempts of unifying weak nuclear and electromagnetic forces. The remaining strong nuclear forces have not yet successfully unified with the electro-weak force, in any experiment. Instead they seem to be described by a separate theory called Quantum Chromo-Dynamics (QCD). The electro-weak theory and the QCD together constitute the so called Standard model of particle physics.
A grand unified theory (GUT) is a model in particle physics in which at high energies the three forces are merged into a single force. Although this unified force has not directly observed, the many GUT models theorize its existence. The acronym GUT was first coined in 1978 by CERN researchers John Ellis, Andrzej Buras, Mary K. Gaillard and Dmitri Nanopoulos. If such a unification is possible, then it raises the possibility that there was a unified epoch in the infancy of universe when these forces were not distinct. Although, GUT models predict that at much higher energy, the three forces can be unified into a single electronuclear interaction, it still rules out the space for gravity.
3. Theory of Everything (TOE)
I took a great interest in this topic ever since I saw in 2016 the movie The Theory of Everything that narrated the biography of Stephen Hawking. In unifying gravity with electro nuclear interactions would provide a theory of everything rather than GUT. GUTs are often seen as an intermediate step towards the final goal of TOE. In the words of Hawking, “the real reason we are seeking a complete theory is that, we want to understand the universe, and fell we are not just the victims of dark mysterious forces. If we can understand the universe, then we control it, in a sense.” Such a theory successfully explains the time of infancy of our cosmos. And in a way gives an answer how and why the universe came to be.
4. Drawbacks and the end of a saga
Long years of hard work didn’t bear the expected fruit for the physicists. The standard model itself is unsatisfactory. Firstly, “the particles are grouped in an apparently arbitrary way, and the standard model depends on 24 numbers whose values cannot be deduced from first principles, but have to be chosen to fit the observations.” Secondly, it does not include gravity. Gravity has to be described by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and since his theory is not a quantum theory it would be inconsistent with other laws.
While electro-weak forces require energy of 100 GeV, the grand unified energy claims energy of a thousand million millionGeV. Such a gap may not be bridged in near future by laboratories. However the universe in its infancy might have exhibited an arena where such energies must have existed.
Goedel theorem says that any finite system of axioms is not sufficient to prove every result in mathematics. According to positivist philosophy of science, a physical theory is a mathematical model. So, mathematical results that are unproven results in physical problems that cannot be predicted. In this light, Stephen Hawking, the brilliant scientist, who hoped for a theory of everything and expressed its sure possibility in 1988 through his statement, “I think there is a good chance that the study of early universe and the requirements of mathematical consistency will lead us to a complete unified theory within the lifetime of some of us who are around today”, delivered a speech in 2004 at Cambridge. He said, “Maybe it is not possible to formulate the theory of the universe in a finite number of statements.” The great physicist who danced into the geometry that created universe in his wheelchair, died on 14th March 2018.
Even when such an all-embracing principle is formulated, the question, ‘why such a universe?’ remains unanswered. “Even if there is one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations…The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.”
The great scientists, who dreamed of a Theory of everything, have thus abandoned all hopes of having it. In spite of great inventions in the realm of science and technology, an all-embracing theory remains a mystery. Macrocosm and the microcosm are still subjects of great wonders for human intellect. Science still has a long distance to walk. Quoting Stephen Hawking, “our search for understanding will never come to an end, and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery. Without it, we would stagnate.” Will a successful TOE eliminate the concept of God from us? Will its failure of being established, prove the existence of God? Will such a future make our life more meaningful? There is still immensely long time to assume a grossly anthropocentric goal of creation. Before reaching that stage, let us focus on the challenges of our own present, to build a just and sustainable society of values. Our hope is based on the conviction that God is at work in this world and that we must participate in that work. A Jewish morning prayer which expresses gratitude for the world and the gift of life goes on like this,
“Praised are You, O lord our God, King of the universe.
You fix the cycles of light and darkness;
You ordain the order of all creation…”
Barbour, Ian G. Religion in an Age of Reason. London: SCM Press, 1990, 135.
Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time. New York: Bantam Books, 1989, 128.
Existentialism emerged in recent centuries as a solution to various metaphysical controversies and a counter argument for various anthropological statements. Metaphysics or ontology is a study of being with special attention towards what a thing or body is on the basis of studying its essence and existence whereas existentialism questions various aspects of one’s existence like “why am I here?”, “why am I so?”,”where is my place?” etc. Themes related to suffering, fate, facticity and authentic living holds important position when it comes to one’s existence.
Being, referring to the grammatical side, would mean an existing state. The word, be-ing is in the present continuous tense, thus beautifully describing the existing present condition. But this word is silent dealing with the potency of a thing. It doesn’t say anything about the future of anything, rather it is more focused ob permanence. What a thing can be is more understood in becoming.
Becoming, looks forward for a future. The word again is in present continuous, implying the permanence and present condition. But here it speaks about the consistency of changes. A being is always subject to changes thus having a new emergence.
The whole human life is a story of becoming. One can find it through his/ her experiences. Each day opens up new ways, each thoughts leads you to various roads. Here, the concept of person is significant. Person is a result of becoming. A human being born and died can’t be described as a person altogether. One, through his interpersonal relations, societal commitments, political responsibility, and self-esteemed dignity gains such a place. This is adorned with qualities of love, hope, subjectivity, justice, rationality, mercy, righteousness etc. Human being becomes a person in such a way. Though often unaware, one develops such qualities atleast partially to some degree thus, not abandoning the stage of being a person.
Implications of becoming
Physiologically, our body undergoes changes every moment. Cells change their positions, chemical compositions in microscopic levels exhibit changes, nervous organs collect and transfer various data though bio-chemicals. Cells multiply, they rip apart and so on. Each moment we find a new body being formed. The body I possess cannot be found the next moment in the same exact way it existed previous moment. Thus in a figurative way, it would be interesting to say that I die every moment and and am born every next moment.
Mentally, a great variety of thoughts pass by our minds. We rationalize and imagine lot of things. Though we may develop a capacity to concentrate on a particular topic, each moment our vivid thoughts bring new and wonderful ideas that are mostly different from the past few thoughts.
We also undergo various changes in our socio-political relations. These changes can vary from person to person and time to time. Spiritual orientations enlighten us with new insights. If there is anything that is permanent in this world, then can be nothing other than change and temporality.
Destiny of becoming
Becoming in itself may not have a fixed destiny. The aim of becoming can be random and multi-directional. But the meaning of becoming becomes authentic when the concept of Being is understood well. Being as we saw is unchanging, ever permanent with no room for improvement or degradation. Such a perfect, necessary and permanent existent is Being, or as I would call God. Every sort of becoming gains its authenticity when it directs towards this Being. Thus from a world of flux one looks towards a truth that remains constant and full. Teilhard de Chardin would opine on evolution, the whole universe marches towards the Omega point, Christ. God is ultimately the destiny where all becoming is focused. Man through his search within discovers his meaning in this path.
Now one may ask whether it would be possible to attain the status of Being. My answer would be no. But then why should we aim for that? It is because in this journey one looks towards a truth, a light. This light shall guide the person to attain his meaning of existing in this cosmos.
Becoming to Being
We started our discussion by understanding becoming more promising than being. And here we conclude by saying every becoming must be aimed towards Being. Thus, one in his journey towards the divine light, finds his hidden meaning being revealed as crystal clear. The One, True, Good and most loveable and loving beauty, Being or God shall enlighten this path.
O light, thy presence brings forth our ways…
Our eyes blinded by the darkness of ignorance and arrogance ….
Days of busy routine had kept me away from wtiting something good and inspiring. Even at times relaxed either the brain takes rest or the body refuses to do work. Alas i got an opportunity where i could say, “Isnt there anything to do?” Surely, the title must have answered your curiosity. It was when i had to go to hospital. Well dont worry; the patient is my friend. And hence the waiting duty has to be mine.
I always believed that any place, starting from your office desk to your toilet seat and now even a chair at the waiting section of the hospital could be transformed radically into an insight bank. Just you need to keep your eyes open and cast light to the ideas that flow.
You could see a wide variety of people around. Lets start from the reception. We have few beautiful girls with a load of make up and carefully dressed hair. Seriously, they are adorable in their uniform sarees. They smile so pleasingly to anyone who comes near. There can be no reason why they should smile genuinely to people they meet the 1st time. They are trained to carry a plastic smile on their face. Well they are good at that, and i appreciate that.
Then we have the patients of all sorts. Some have fever…they are casual visitors. Some like the hospital so much that they stay few days under the care of doctors and nurses. Then there are people who have no immediate purpose. They just come to check whether everything is moving well or not. They are people who give blood and urine in small glass bottles.
Now, we have some philanthropists who have lot of love for the humanity that they donate their red life giving fluid to others. Great job, blooddonors.
And we have doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacy staff who render their valuable service for your welfare. Well, of course good things are never free.
And there comes the last category. The billing counter… this is where i stopped to think the most. Health has become a matter of money; a commodity. And thats where i start to think whether a hospital works as a business group or not. No offence meant. But isnt it a reality these days. If the focus is moving away from the ethical mission of providing health care and supporting life…then its time u should think on it.
And alas there is one more thing. One more category never thought of. Its a question whether we should include them in a hospital scene… but they are inevitable too. The ones like me who patiently come with the patients and the by-standers. We spend our times with no work, no salary. Some get bored and some like me write a post after a long time. And thats how we made different wild insights from being sitting on an iron chair waiting for the doctor.
A recent rape attack on a child in a temple raised the question on the various concepts of God. The days that followed cursing the perpetrators and criticizing nationalism, were the days to attack on God. Among them a post by my friend in his social network caught my attention. The premises brought forward as possible conclusions were three;
There is no God.
God is helpless.
God is enjoying all these.
Reflecting on these, I added one more; God too is suffering with us.
A rape case is not an isolated case of suffering in this world. People participate in their own protest against the social evils in their own ways. Suffering is a phenomenon that has been witnessed in every phase of history irrespective of time and place. The case of syria highlights the aspect of suffering in our age. It must have been days or even years that they have slept a peaceful night. The events at concentration camps of Hitler, the World Wars and bombarded Hiroshima and Nagasaki aren’t unknown facts for us.
The problem of evil, described as one of the ever unsolved problems in philosophy, questions the existence of God in the circumstances of sufferings.
If God is benevolent and omnipotent, then why does suffering exist in this world
Thousands of arguments have been put forward throughout centuries and yet this remains a mystery.
Process theology demonstrates a God who is a great companion of all human experience. He takes the role of a fellow sufferer who understands the pain and problems of mankind. The holocausts at Auschwitz, persecutions at Iraq and Syria, world war etc. reveal one fact:
Either a lovable God who cares and shows compassion as a father doesn’t exist or such a God is not exempt from suffering.
If He really loves his creation, he must suffer; maybe more than any individual could ever endure. God has indeed more to suffer… he not only suffers for the victim but also for the perpetrator or the one who inflicts pain. The one who perpetrates a crime has indeed abused the free gift of intellect and will. This is like you give someone a book to real, but instead the person uses for some other purpose like burning the firewood for cooking. The significance of intellect and will has to be understood well for a better result.
Evolutionary science has been a starting point for various independent movements that lead to a concept of God who suffers with every creature of this earth. If each and every creature has to undergo certain pain in the whole process of evolution, then God can’t help himself to remain in the gallery and watch the show.
There needs to be a Reconciliation of divine power of God with that of human sufferings. A God who has a great desire to be with the people and suffer with them has a great importance in all religion. Thus, we have the daśāvatār (10 incarnations of lord Vishnu) in Hinduism. A striking aspect of Christianity is that they have a God who not only becomes word incarnate but also dies for the sins of the people. Here, God becomes an aspect of mockery and failure in front of mankind. But, at the same time, in reality He becomes the sacrificial lamb for the remissions of their sins.
The problem of today’s religion is that it pinpoints a God in the golden tabernacle and forgets that he is accompanying the beggar at the streets. I doubt how many churches still have Christ in them. It appears that He has left those treasuries long time ago. St. Lawrence realized this… and when he was asked to submit the wealth of the church he brought before the emperor all the poor and disabled and told ‘this is the wealth of the church.’ Sacred is seen even in the begging bowls…sacred are even the wounds of an injured… sacred are even the difficulties of common man.
Our discussions on the rape victim led to an anxiety from my friend; “I feel there is no God in a temple.””Should we continue our religious practices?” Instead of a direct answer, I would like to counter question; “Does God, who is the creator and sustainer of all this universe, and who is the owner of everything material and immaterial, need a building made of bricks and measures few square feets?”
Churches, temples and mosques are made for humans. They point to God, of course. But they too aren’t the untimate truth. Step down to the human realities; walk with the needs of the poor, be empathetic towards the victim. Without slightest doubt I would say you will meet God; the tortured, victim God. If you really declare your love to God, then its time to serve him; not in golden altars or high temples, rather in the suffering realities.