Spring 2013. SAP acquires SmartOps.
Living on Skating Pond (in Weston) at that time, I drove to nearby Walden Pond, to reflect on Artha, the meaning (or purpose) of life, which, at a practical individual context also refers to:
wealth, career, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity.
The proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism, with the goal of Moksha (Liberation) by leading a life of Dharma (virtue), and at some point, by renouncing Kama (material desire) and entering the fourth ashrama (stage) of life, Sannyasa, and enjoying Tapas (meditation, not Spanish small plates 😏).
I was still in the middle of Grihastha (householder, second stage), having graduated from Brahmacharya (first stage, bachelor) about two deacdes earlier, and Vanaprastha (forest dweller, third stage, denoting retirement) seemed a bit premature.
What should be my carana (conduct of behavior) in the Lila (divine play)? I could not find any Shastra (manual, treatise) with Tantras (systematic system for practice) that were to my liking.
I recalled Atharva Veda, especially the Mundaka Upanishad – with 64 verses, in the form of mantras, hence an example of Mantra-Upanishad, divided into three khandas (parts) – which had first introduced me to “blind men led by the blind” sutra (aphorism), from this mantra from the second khanda:
But frail, in truth, are those boats, the sacrifices, in which these ceremonies have been told,
Fools who praise this as the highest good, are subject again and again to old age and death.
Fools dwelling in darkness, wise in their own conceit, and puffed up with vain knowledge,
go round and round, staggering to and fro, like blind men led by the blind.
Beyond ridiculing the ritualistic approach to Moksha, and also (in a different mantra) clearly stating that understanding will not occur just through chanting of the Vedas, Mundaka Upanishad instead suggests self-reflection, introspection and continuous pursuit of Satya (truthfulness).
Where I depart from Mundaka is I am not willing to, any time soon at least, renounce Kama, material delights. I needed, therefore, to create my own Purusartha (Object of Human Pursuit).
Since Lila is a Samhita (collection) of His pastimes, I figured that I could pass time like Thoreau said:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation…There is no play in them. A man who has at length found something to do will not need a new suit to do it in. I am convinced that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime.
That is, find something to do. As we used to say in college as to why we were doing something:
Now, I needed to come up with my own Tantra for:
Time Pass with Artha.
After a short visit to Thoreau’s cabin, I drove to Jake & Joe’s in Waltham – close to home, easy parking, outdoor patio seating that that is covered – with a bartender who could make a stiff Dirty Martini – shaken, not stirred, vodka not gin, to continue self-reflection and introspection. 😊
I don’t think Einstein was talking about martinis when he said:
Great spirits have encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
I have found, repeatedly, that after one Martini, I transcend to a higher state of understanding 😏, and so I have not fought it, and instead, followed my maximally inverse strategy:
Mediocre minds should be in violent agreement with great spirits.
Indeed, it was this strategy, four years later, in 2017, also at Jake & Joe’s, that led me to conceive the field of Quantum Integer Programming.🤷🏽♂️
Back to 2013. It is usually the case that when I am out alone, I have a book with me. This time, it was:
The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1790
written in 1821, opening with:
At the age of 77, I begin to make some memoranda and state some recollections of dates & facts concerning myself, for my own more ready reference & for the information of my family. The tradition in my father’s family was that their ancestor ….
So, as I savored the Martini, that came with three olives on the stick (per my usual request), I chewed on the first olive:
At the age of 47, I begin to make some reflections concerning myself…
Just 32 pages later, the Declaration of Independence (highlighted by Thomas Jefferson in his autobiography) that always gives me goose bumps:
When in the course of human events…..that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty & pursuit of happiness…
I recalled Thoreau again as I finished my bite into the second olive:
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you fresh prospect every hour. Every nail driven should be as another rivet in the machine of the universe, you carrying on the work. There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world.
I knew what my mantra was going to be! I chewed on my third olive:
Leisure, Luxury and Pursuit of Newness.
Why write this post – about the origins of reflections seeking my Moksha – on Juneteenth, and not on July 4th?
Because until June 19th, 1865 “all men are created equal” was not legally adopted everywhere in the US, and I recently finished reading a wonderful book by Ronald C. White:
Lincoln in Private.
Chapter 3, The Fiery Lincoln: Slavery and a Reentry to Politics, discusses Lincoln’s longest speech, made in Peoria, remembered for its authoritative and eloquent appeal:
Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us repurify it. Let us turn slavery from its claims of “moral right,” back upon its existing legal rights and its arguments of “necessity.” Let us return it to the position our fathers gave it, and there let it rest in peace. Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it.
Let me close with:
Chanakya: Artha-Shastra == Sridhara: Navatva-Shastra. 😏
Nicely written. By the way, being a Jain, I am an atheist from the very beginning. As for the goosebumps, I would get those from Jefferson’s hypocrisy who owned slaves but penned those immortal words! Cheers.
I read somewhere that TJ made an attempt to repeal slavery, but for financial reasons rather than for moral correctness, and was not successful.