Notes on “I think, therefore I am”

Original statement: The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in Discourse on the Method by René Descartes.

Latin translation: Cogito, ergo sum. It appeared in Latin in his later Principles of Philosophy

From Wikipedia: Later translated into English as “I think, therefore I am” , so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed.

As Descartes explained it, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.”

A fuller version, articulated by Antoine Léonard Thomas, aptly captures Descartes’s intent: dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”)

Descartes’s statement became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it purported to provide a certain foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception, or mistake, Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.

One common critique of the dictum is that it presupposes that there is an “I” which must be doing the thinking. According to this line of criticism, the most that Descartes was entitled to say was that “thinking is occurring”, not that “I am thinking”.

View 1:
Essentially, thought cannot end up being the sole provable thing in existence since it has requirements for its own existence.

View 2:
St. Augustine was one of the early proponents of similar thinking. Parmenides 5th Century BC also said something similar.

View 3:
Saiva Siddhantha identifies mind and thoughts as perishing with the body and hence these cannot be associated with the identity of I. The soul is believed to be more subtle than the mind. While energies associated with mental activity can be measured, the soul itself cannot be traced by outside methods.

Hell is Other People

Possible meanings for the phrase “Hell is Other People”

“Hell Is Other People”

Author: Jean Paul Sartre
Novel: No Exit

Common interpretation:
The quote has been hailed as the slogan for introverts and a way to explain any dissatisfaction we encounter with family members, strangers on public transport and our time-stealing co-workers.

However, it cannot be literally true that other people are hellish. Alternate explanations exist based on the context of the novel which has three characters trapped in a room together. Each character wants to escape the watchful gaze of the others. But none can escape because because they’re dead and the room is hell.

Thus, being unable to escape from the gaze of other people who can potentially judge you and assign tags can be a hellish experience.

Alternate Explanation 1:

Without others, I was someone free.
When someone comes along, the new person restricts me with their own idea of what I am.

Alternate Explanation 2:

Once we die, we’re permanently trapped in other people’s interpretations of us.
See also: “Death makes angels of us”

When we are alive we can still do somethings to fix. But once we’re dead, we can no longer speak for our actions.
See also: “History is written by victors”

What if you didn’t have to do anything about anything at all?

So my challenge to you is what if you didn’t have to do anything about anything, at all? Nothing at all to do, nothing at all to do about anything. Yes, make a cup of tea, because that doesn’t give you any trouble; whatever it is you have to do…, but it’s not accompanied by this idea that ‘There is something I need to do to be stable in the Awareness’ …because I tell you, that is a trap! Forget about it. If you touch this idea, you believe it instantly into existence; and then you have to believe another idea to remove it. So why not drop both ideas in the first place, and stay where You Are? You are simply Here in which all that arises for You, including the sense of spirituality…, forget about spirituality then. Forget about enlightenment. And forget about ‘you’ also. And what remains here? That which cannot be gotten rid of remains. It’s just that. Simpler than simple.

Mooji

Be yourself

Be yourself and go back to your roots. Accept what you are. Because if I’m a monkey, if I know I’m a monkey and I accept that I am a monkey, I have no stress at all. But most of us, we know we are monkeys, but we want to show to the world we are tigers. Here is stress. Because every second you have to act like a tiger. Because if something slips, your “monkeyness” will be seen by the society. So the biggest stress is : “You don’t know who you are”

Professor BM Hegde

A student once asked master Bassui ‘Are you…

A student once asked master Bassui, ‘Are you saying that someone who sees his own nature and is free from delusion is innocent of error, even if he does something which breaks the Buddhist precepts?’ He replied, ‘If someone’s actions come from their essential nature, how could they be breaking the precepts?’

Look closely Know yourself Question your genius Do…

Look closely. Know yourself. Question your genius. Do nothing without God, whether He teaches you by making you great or greatly plaguing you. This is the philosopher’s way; to be flogged like an ass and to love those who beat him, to be the father and brother of all humility.

Epictetus

The true knowledge of the self is not…

The true knowledge of the self is not a knowledge. It is not something that you find by searching, by looking everywhere. It is not to be found in space and time. Knowledge is but a memory, a pattern of thought, a mental habit. All these are motivated by pleasure and pain. It is because you are goaded by pleasure and pain that you are in search of knowledge. Being oneself is completely beyond all motivation. You cannot be yourself for some reason. You are yourself and no reason is needed.

-Nisargadatta Maharaj

Lyrics to Veedu Varai Uravu : வீடு வரை உறவு

பாடல்: வீடு வரை உறவு
திரைப்படம்: பாதகாணிக்கை
இயற்றியவர்: கவிஞர் கண்ணதாசன்

ஆடிய ஆட்டம் என்ன பேசிய வார்த்தை என்ன?
தேடிய செல்வம் என்ன திரண்டதோர் சுற்றம் என்ன?
கூடு விட்டு ஆவி போனால் கூடவே வருவதென்ன?

வீடு வரை உறவு வீதி வரை மனைவி
காடு வரை பிள்ளை கடைசி வரை யாரோ?
வீடு வரை உறவு வீதி வரை மனைவி
காடு வரை பிள்ளை கடைசி வரை யாரோ?

ஆடும் வரை ஆட்டம் ஆயிரத்தில் நாட்டம்
ஆடும் வரை ஆட்டம் ஆயிரத்தில் நாட்டம்
கூடி வரும் கூட்டம் கொள்ளி வரை வருமா?

வீடு வரை உறவு வீதி வரை மனைவி
காடு வரை பிள்ளை கடைசி வரை யாரோ?
கடைசி வரை யாரோ?

உ..உ ஆயி ஆரிரோ உ..உ ஆயி ஆரிரோ
ஆரிரோ ஆரிரோ ஆரிரோ ஆரிரோ
ஆரிரோ ஆரிரோ ஆரிரோ

தொட்டிலுக்கு அன்னை கட்டிலுக்குக் கன்னி
தொட்டிலுக்கு அன்னை கட்டிலுக்குக் கன்னி
பட்டினிக்குத் தீனி கெட்ட பின்பு ஞானி

வீடு வரை உறவு வீதி வரை மனைவி
காடு வரை பிள்ளை கடைசி வரை யாரோ?
கடைசி வரை யாரோ?

சென்றவனைக் கேட்டால் வந்துவிடு என்பான்
வந்தவனைக் கேட்டால் சென்று விடு என்பான்
சென்றவனைக் கேட்டால் வந்துவிடு என்பான்
வந்தவனைக் கேட்டால் சென்று விடு என்பான்
சென்று விடு என்பான்

வீடு வரை உறவு வீதி வரை மனைவி
காடு வரை பிள்ளை கடைசி வரை யாரோ?
கடைசி வரை யாரோ?

விட்டு விடும் ஆவி பட்டு விடும் மேனி
சுட்டு விடும் நெருப்பு சூனியத்தில் நிலைப்பு
சூனியத்தில் நிலைப்பு

வீடு வரை உறவு வீதி வரை மனைவி
காடு வரை பிள்ளை கடைசி வரை யாரோ?
கடைசி வரை யாரோ?

You have learnt so much and read a…

You have learnt so much, and read a thousand books.
Have you ever read your self?
You have gone to mosque and temple.
Have you ever visited your soul?
You are busy fighting Satan.
Have you ever fought your ill intentions?
You have reached into the skies,
But have you reached what’s in your heart?

-Bulle Shah

Janaka and Ashtavakra

In ancient India there was a King called Janaka, who was also a sage. One day Janaka was taking a nap
on his flower-strewn bed with his servants fanning him and his soldiers standing guard outside his door.
As he dozed off, he had a dream in which a neighboring King defeated him in battle, took him prisoner,
and had him tortured. As soon as the torture began, Janaka woke with a start to find himself lying on his
flower-strewn bed with his servants fanning him and his soldiers on guard.

Once again he dozed off and had the same dream. And once again he woke up to find himself safe and
comfortable in his palace.

Now Janaka began to be disturbed by several thoughts: While he was asleep, the world of his dreams
had seemed so real. Now that he was awake, the world of the senses seemed real. Which of these two
worlds is the real one, he wanted to know.

None of the philosophers, scholars, and seers he consulted could give him an answer. And for many
years he searched in vain, till one day a man called Ashtavakra knocked at the door of the palace. Now,
Ashtavakra means “entirely deformed or crooked,” and he got that name because that is exactly what his
body had been from birth.

At first the King was not disposed to take this man seriously. “How can a misshapen man like you be the
carrier of a wisdom denied to my seers and scholars?” he asked.

“Right from my childhood, all avenues have been closed to me – so I avidly pursued the path of wisdom,”
was Ashtavakra’s reply.

“Speak, then,” said the King.

So this is what Ashtavakra said: “O King, neither the waking state nor the dream state is real. When you
are awake, the world of dreams does not exist and when you dream the world of the senses does not
exist. Therefore, neither is real.”

“If both the waking and the dream states are unreal, then what is real?” asked the King.

“There is a state beyond these two. Discover that. It alone is real.”

How do I know who am I

When I first saw Rabbi Shergill’s video for the song Bulla ki jaana main kaun, I knew instantly that I would be spending more time on it.

After researching the lyrics for 8 hours and listening to it several times to firm up the lyrics, I found my own translation to be the most convincing. Come on folks, I’m not even Punjabi. I even found the guitar tabs here

Baba Bulleh Shah (1680-1758), has surely been an excellent writer of songs. No other song in an unknown langauage would have impressed me more. Though he lived during the time before the printing press, most of what we know about him has come to us through unreliable anecdotes and folklore. The limited authentic historical record, based on sporadic references to events of his life in his poetry and in the writings of his contemporaries, is barely enough for a brief sketch of his life.

I’ll read more – if only I find time. Anyways, here is my translation of the song:

Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I

Na main moman vich maseetan 	Neither am I believer in a Mosque
Na main vich kufar dian reetan 	Nor a pagan practising false rites
Na main pakan vich paleetan 	Nor am I the Pure amongst impure

Na main andar bed kitaban 	Neither am I in any Holy Books (Vedas)
Na main rehnda phaang sharaban 	Nor high on any drugs or alochol
Na main rehnda mast kharaban	Nor am I an idle delinquent

Na main shadi na ghamnaki 	I am neither happy union nor lonely misery
Na main vich paleetan pakeen 	Nor am I pure or impure
Na main aaabi na main khaki	Nor am I water or earth
Na main aatish na main paun	Nor am I fire or air

Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I

Na main arabi na lahori	        I am neither an Arab or a Lahori (Pakistani)
Na main hindi shehar Nagauri	Nor am I from the (Indian) town of Nagaur
Na hindu na turk pashauri	Nor am I a Hindu or a Peshawari Turk

Na main bhet mazhab de paya	I did not create any differences in faiths
Na main aadam hawwa jaya	Nor do I know of any Adam or Eve
Na koi apna naam dharaya	I did not name myself

Avval aakhar aap nu jana 	I know only of the Self
Na koi dooja hor pacchana 	and recognise no Other
Mai ton na koi hor syana	There is nobody wiser than I

Bulle shah kharha hai kaun?	Bulleshah, who is standing (in your place)?

Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I

Na main moosa na pharaoh	Neither am I Moses nor the Pharoah
Na main jagan na vich saun	Neither am I awake nor asleep
Na main aatish na main paun	Neither am I am fire nor wind
Na main rahnda vich Nadaun	Nor do I live in Nadaun
Na main baitthan na vich bhaun	Neither am I at rest nor in a storm

Bulle shah kharha hai kaun?	Bulleshah, who is standing (in your place)?

Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I

Oh! Oh! Oh!  Oh! Oh! Oh!

Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I
Bulla ki jaana main kaun 	Bulla, how do I know who am I