Random Thoughts

These are some random thoughts penned down while trying to understand What is the meaning of Friendship? This led me to examine various questions on the nature of feelings and reasons behind various emotions. Then, I tried to answer if one tries to get rid of all forms of Raga and Dvesha(attachments and aversions), should we get rid of all forms of emotions.

I think friendship is a relation between two human beings which is primarily the outcome of our nature as social animals. As our survival and wellbeing (physical, social and psychological) require association and cooperation of Individuals, humans enter into various kinds of relations. They may be guided by feelings of mutual care, shared activity or some form of social connection.

Friendships generally develop in an environment of shared activity as it allows the development of the bond of trust as one develops mutual interests.

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy defines friendship as a form of personal relationship characterised by ‘openness’ of each to the other and it can be seen as an enlargement of the self.

Aristotle writes that ‘the excellent person is related to his friend in the same way as he is related to himself since a friend is another self; and therefore, just as his being is a choice worthy for him, the friend’s being is choice-worthy for him in the same or a similar way.’ Friendship, therefore, opens the door to an escape from egoism or belief that the rational course of action is always to pursue one’s self-interest.

Kant argues that it is a purely personal matter, requiring virtue, yet which runs counter to the universalistic requirement of impartial treatment of all, for a friend is someone who is treated differently from others. One problem is to reconcile these conflicting requirements.

I think to resolve these conflicting requirements and to get rid of attachment and aversion to all forms of material and immaterial objects, one can develop a form of emotional awareness that is characterised by Mindfulness as taught by the Vipassana practices.

I think every emotion that a human develops is an outcome of the influence of external inputs from the environment and internal mechanisms within the body. The emotional experience that is triggered includes subjective feelings and physical sensations. Thus, I think the feelings of love, empathy, anger, fear, disgust, enjoyment etc have an evolutionary and biological basis. This has been highlighted by the works of Paul Ekman who highlighted the similarities of facial expressions of emotions across the cultures. Sometimes we may even construct some emotions by just perceiving external stimuli, such as the emotion of fear when we anticipate some danger. This is critical for our survival as the flight and fight responses of humans are pivotal to overcome potential dangers.

In the current times, as technologies advanced, the humans no longer have to face physical challenges that directly challenge their survivability. But we have been seeing the increasing rise in the problems of emotional health.

That is the reason why Buddha asked us to think in objective terms and see things as they are as he tried to find the path that will reduce the human sufferings. I think getting rid of Raga and Dvesha(The ultimate goals of human life as per Jainism, to get rid of all forms of attachments and aversions, will require us to see every individual with the same respect and care.)

रागस्स दोसस्स य संखएणं
एगंतसोक्खं समुवेइ मोक्खं

With the annihilation of attachment and aversion, living beings attain total happiness

I think working for the greater good will require us to avoid feelings that are limited to particular individuals and communities. This will require us to develop a culture that will consider the universality of human societies. I think the scientific understanding of Big history can play an important basis for developing such a culture.

To conclude, I think emotions are kind of strings that lead to the development of attachments and aversion in this world. Hence, by following the mindfulness, we can even realise that emotions are just tied to our habitual reactions to things around us. We need not judge them and react based upon them. Thus by developing emotional awareness, we can avoid destructive emotions and cultivate constructive emotions which can make this world a happier and peaceful place. Thus, we should strive to imbibe within us a form of universal love towards all living organisms through careful reasoning. This, in turn, may even reduce the cultural enmities that societies develop due to conflicting ideas and values. This ideal was not possible in the medieval ages or pre-globalisation era when it was tough to conceptualise humans as a global whole. But it is possible now when we can conceptualise and cultivate a form of global culture that has its roots in the scientific understanding of big history which can create a universal space for cultivating the emotions of love-kindness, compassion, and happiness that are not just restricted to homo sapiens but which encompasses the entire life forms.

It may not be possible for every human being to get rid of all forms of emotions. Thus, we must strive to increase the universality of constructive emotions as a foundation for a happier society.

(Note: I didn’t find an answer to the meaning of friendship that will be true to all the cases. The idea of being open to others and empathising with others is too narrow in its scope.)

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Susapien

Susapien

I am a student of Politics but curious about every human activity and enterprise. Here I try to analyse social, political and economic issues around us.