“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet
Riches to men of understanding, or yet favor to men of skill; but
Time and chance happeneth to them all.”
William James said that religious belief is “the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.”
Why am I suddenly writing about this subject? Let me give you some background.
Since my post on ‘Ambition’ was published, a dear atheist friend of mine, who has known me only the past few years, has been arguing with me about atheism and theism; Natural Selection and Spirituality, and as atheists are wont to, has been trying to convince me to convert to atheism. As I had posted in my later post, we Indians are very argumentative and this topic is as good as any to get two good friends to argue about.
Indian Shastras (Sanskrit Scriptures) say, that in order to be successful, six qualities are required – udyama, proper effort; saahasa, perseverance; dhairya, courage; buddhi, knowledge; shakti, skill and resources; and paraakramaa, the capacity to overcome obstacles. The absence of any of these qualities can stymie our efforts and produce unexpected outcomes. And, it is a very big ‘And’, there is no guarantee that even if you have all the six qualities and take action, the outcome will be as per your expectation.
That brings us to the stage of taking action to succeed. When we take any kind of action, we expect an outcome to that action. That outcome can be exactly what we expected; less than what we expected; more than what we expected; or completely different to what we had expected, perhaps even opposite of what we expected. We can never know before taking that action as to how the outcome will turn out to be.
It has therefore been taught to those who are willing to learn, that when you consider the two paragraphs immediately above this one, there is something working behind the scenes that influences the outcome. You do not have to be a religious person, or a spiritualist to accept this reality. This can be proved by simple observation of all that we do.
When I pointed out the contents of the two paragraphs to him, his reasoned reply was that ‘chance’ has nothing to do with the outcome, but the outcome being different from what was expected is due to one or more of the six qualities listed in the first paragraph, not being present in adequate measure. My response to that is; why does it happen that what is lacking is lacking? His response is that it is because of inadequate preparation or overconfidence. This answer too can be taken to the next level and the next level ad infinitum.
Since writing the post, I ‘chanced’ on Looney’s post which is poignant. Please do read before you comment on this post.
Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, when a reader confronted him on why he defined the word ‘pastern’ as “the knee of an horse” (instead of the part between the fetlock and the hoof) his reply was, “Ignorance Madam, pure ignorance.”
Who is ignorant? What is your answer to this conundrum?