In our society, especially Indian society, the process of thinking is ridiculed. It is considered a useless activity.
And writing is something people do after they ‘think’. Some speak, some paint, some sing and other forms of art. Some even do mathematics. To each his own.
Once you are done you are faced with questions like this, “What did you gain by writing that?” I never have an answer to such a question as there was nothing to gain in the first place.
Unless and until your thoughts don’t provide anything physical in nature they are rendered as an activity that one can do without.
Take an example – if someone has a constructive criticism towards the government and writes or speaks or sings about it they are usually shunned down by saying, “Go and stand for elections. If you are not gonna do that then don’t talk.”
Somehow my thoughts are to be judged only if they end with some form of physical solution. If they don’t I am not allowed to think. I should just stay quiet and follow the herd.
So much flack from a society whose religion is based on bizzare metaphysical things.
They see themselves as rational beings when they shun down anything that is metaphysical in the present. “Singing as a career? Who will that help?” Or “Writing as a career? Go write a bank exam instead.”
I am not generalising. But in general (lol) most of Indian society reacts to thoughts as a foolish activity.
If you indulge in the thinking activity for too long you are told to be overthinking.
Overthinking is such a strong word. They speak as if it is a bad thing. I’d recommend you to overthink everything! Until and unless it does not effect your mental/physical health you must overthink all the time. Think why did the bird poop on your shoulder when there was clearly no tree in sight. Was it on purpose? Is this a bird I know about and have some beef with?
Think why are you paying a tax on a government scheme that is supposed to be funded by the government itself in the first place. It is like your child saying it plans to set up a lemonade stand. And wants you to pay for all the ingredients and also for the awful tasting lemonade that came out of it. Why?
In India anything that even goes close to metaphysical thinking today is just considered as unnecessary. “Why would you wonder so much?”
Now when those who occasionally engage in the activity of thinking come and question these ‘rational’ beings on their beliefs in the metaphysical. Like, “Did your God really have a disc around his finger? How is that possible? I mean even if he was God. And what about those endless hands and heads? Mutation?”
They will tell you that you must not question such things and bow down their heads immediately in front of God asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness for the nimble mind who dares to question instead of working for a corporation like a lifeless robot and earning a decent living.
In the society where thought is considered useless, we have the west where thoughts are considered priceless. An activity of leisure. Leisure which only the privileged can enjoy. Such stark differences.
To be able to sit in a corner and wonder and then be able to create thoughts on its own is beautiful thing. An idle mind is not a devil’s workshop. An idle mind is just the one that has decided to remove itself from the system and think about its surroundings.
Those who believe in the ‘devil’s workshop’ quote have fallen into the trap. A systemic trap to never leave you idle. To keep you constantly preoccupied while you don’t notice the wrongs around you. So that you don’t realise the simple joy of being instead you are diverted and asked to be hungry for more and more. Even the idea of being is ridiculed. “Arrey you want to be a sadhu or what? What ya… this is not how you become successful ya.” No this is how you know when it is enough. By being you needn’t necessarily give up on everything material. But by being you don’t let your self get swayed constantly trivial issues.
I heard a podcast today by George Steiner. He spoke of the Greek explosion of thoughts where he mentioned how the country had an era of endless number of theorems and theories arising from Plato, Socrates, Archimedes etc. An act of the privileged. To be able to think and discover more about the universe.
But these activities were only possible because all the other mundane activities were taken care of by slaves. Also because of the subordination of women. Even Louis CK said how inventions were made by those who owned slaves.
You can link this up in Indian context too. The great epic of Mahabharata and the story of Ramayana was all initially written in Sanskrit. Sanskrit was the language only known to the privileged caste – Brahmin men. This caste never had to work a day in their life and instead had to just ask for food and will be given. At times kings would feed the Brahmins just to please the ‘Gods‘. Therefore ultimately they became great philosophers as they did not have to live through mundane activities of life. Those tasks were given to their subordinates. The privileged class in all the above cases considered mundane activities to be beneath them.
Now is any discovery, invention or art achieved in the above mentioned form moral? Do we always have to put down a part of society to be able to achieve great thoughts that will carry more meaning to our lives? Also if you are about to mention Einstein, let me ask you to Google on how he treated his first wife and asking her to simply bring his meals to her three times a day without having any form of contact. Their marital relationship had deteriorated. But he achieved some spectacular levels of understanding of the universe.
This reflects a giant weakness within the human system. One part of the society thinks thoughts are useless and not productive unless they are about making a good decent living. Other part thinks that thoughts are just for the privileged who do not have to worry about their basic necessities and are high up on Maslow’s pyramid.
Maybe we need a section that thinks metaphysical thoughts are intrinsically a part of human nature and should be exercised or indulged into every now and then. It is idealistic but maybe this section of human society will arrive sooner or later.
For now I just recommend the podcast to gain a fresher perspective.