Cosmos

(The following is an excerpt from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a 1980 TV series. This excerpt is form episode 10, “The Edge of Forever.”)
If the general picture, however, of a Big Bang followed by an expanding universe is correct – what happened before that? Was the universe devoid of all matter and then the matter suddenly somehow created? How did that happen?
In many cultures, a customary answer is that a “God” or “Gods” created the universe out of nothing, but if we wish to pursue this question courageously we must, of course, ask the next question – where did God come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or if we say that God always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe always existed?
There’s no need for a creation, it was always here. These are not easy questions. Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries, with questions that were once treated only in religion and myth.
“Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it? Whence was it born? Whence came creation? The Gods are later than this world’s formation. Who then can know the origins of the world? None knows whence creation arose or whether he has or has not made it – he who surveys it from the highest regions. Only he knows, or perhaps he knows not.”

Continue reading

What is Success?

Alt text
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The good life has to be a happy life. I am much in favor of Bertrand Russell’s view on the good life: “The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.” The good life also has to be the successful life. But what is a successful life? The definition must vary from person to person. I like the simplicity of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s operational definition:  Continue reading

Yoga has no Religion

My immediate response to the assertion that “Yoga has no religion” is a flat denial. Because I know Yoga, Yoga is a friend of mine and I can truthfully attest to the fact that Yoga does indeed have a religion. He’s a Hindu. Therefore anyone making the claim that Yoga has no religion is either ignorant or is a liar (maybe both) since it is categorically and emphatically false. Do I make myself clear?

Oh, they mean the practice of yoga, the set of physical and mental exercises that originated in India and is widely used across the world for improving physical and spiritual well-being? Well, well, then let me address that “Yoga has no religion” claim. Spoiler alert: it is a stupid, meaningless statement made by the congenitally ignorant demonstrating a mentally disabling but well-deserved inferiority complex.
Continue reading

Thoughts on the Passing of Shri Balasaheb Thackeray

Balasaheb Thackeray
Balasaheb Thackeray

Shri Balasaheb Thackeray passed away today (Saturday afternoon India time) in Mumbai. Much of what I know about current events, I learn from the handful of people I follow on twitter. So I got to know of Balasaheb’s death through twitter. I noticed quite a few “RIP” messages. That prompted me to write a few tweets myself.
Continue reading

Debate on Huffington Post: Is Yoga a Hindu Practice?

Yoga is a friend of mine whose full name is Yoganand. He’s a Hindu and I have yet to meet a non-Hindu named Yoganand, or even Yoga or Anand. Not conclusive proof that Yoga is a Hindu practice but it does lend some support to the claim that yoga is a Hindu (and the religions related to it, Buddhism and Jainism) practice. Yoga is a Sanskrit word which shares the same root as the English verb “yoke” — to join. Yoga aims to join a consciousness with the Consciousness. Anyway, go check out the debate on Huffington Post. You will first have to vote on what you position is on the question, then read the debate and cast your vote again. They want to see how many minds are changed as a result of the debate. (Note that the “before” and “after” numbers don’t really tell you how many people actually changed their minds. See below.)
Continue reading