The Insufficient Self-Sufficient

| March 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is a guest post by Yash Kothari. To write your own guest post for BU Culture Shock, see this page.

“I want to be self-sufficient in life. Hence, I have decided to go up on a mountain and stay there with me and myself, with no dependence on anyone or anything,” said I when talking to a fellow student while walking back to our dorm situated on Commonwealth Avenue here in Boston. I was feeling emphatic, and I still do. However, between that day and today, certain ideas have percolated into my mind’s eye, causing me to drastically transform my ideal on self-sufficiency.

photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

At first glance, the idea of self-sufficiency seems to be the utopian ideal that “one ought to strive for and live by” at least for most of their lives, if not all of it. At least, that’s how I saw it. It is not too difficult to imagine an utterly different view on self-sufficiency – that’s what makes it interesting, I believe. Quite a lot of us have been raised and grown with the views that we have to be independent and we have to strive for our own lives or that the world is very selfish. These views are generally imparted to us by our “their holiness” – that is, our parents, and it is passed onto them by their parents, and so on and so forth. These views may either resonate with you or not. However, that is not the point. So, what is the point? Well, there is not a point, but many points and none at all as well. “How blasphemous,” one might say. Not quite. I invite you on this journey to understand this particular superposition of opposites.

The views mentioned above are not uncommon amongst families of any social structure. My mother still reminds me of those notions, to no avail. I contend that the idea of self-sufficiency came out of such views; the idea came out in order to have a permanently viable solution, no matter how much the universe transforms. This exactly is where the notion of self-sufficiency completely falls out in my perspective—it’s akin to a topological space that has no non-empty sets. And hence, it’s not a topological space.

Are you ready? Here’s why.

These notions about the world at large are based on people’s solitary experiences, a handful out of the millions and billions and trillions of experiences that they have over the course of their lifetime (and beyond?). However, because it renders them feeling disheartened, sad, lonely, or betrayed, or any other negative emotion, the experience seems to have a magnifying effect that causes people to perceive this particular experience as “be all, end all” of everything, at least for a few hours, days or weeks. By that time, they have constantly repeated to themselves about how “cruel” or “selfish” the world is, and how one has to be independent in order to live a good life. This is passed on to their offspring in the hope that they will not have to suffer the same as their parents, but rather just accept the experiential teaching. Unfortunately, humans are not designed in the same way as coffee machines (or so I am fooled into thinking!)— We do not accept any teachings or guidance about our life until and unless we have tested it.

photo credit: notanartist via photopin cc

photo credit: notanartist via photopin cc

Now that I have given you a “holistic” picture about the thought process behind self-sufficiency, it’s time to really dig into the real deal. The real deal is that one can never be self-sufficient.

To illustrate this idea, here’s a basic example: think about any piece of clothing that you are currently wearing. There is a tailor somewhere out there who’s stitched it, a farmer who grew the material plant, a merchant who sold it to a retailer, the earth that provided the soil and minerals for the growth of the material plant, the sun that helped the plant grow, etc. There are so many factors involved in making even the smallest piece of cloth that it is absurd to even think about self-sufficiency. It’s a complex dynamical system, but beautifully structured, and not complicated at all (unless we make it so!).

In the end, we have to come to recognize the fact that everyone and everything is interconnected. There is no “individual me” or “individual you.” All of us are the linked by a web of thoughts, intentions, emotions, feelings, and actions. We are, in essence, the Universe!

Born and raised in a massive household that included cows, horses, dogs, deers, life for Yash has never been dull and boring – massive white lie. Occasionally dullness and boredom does pop in, like thirty minutes of a day, once every two weeks or so. While he’s not working on mathematics, he’s generally out on the sports field, or reading books on great men and women as well as spirituality, working on new ideas, and giving his best to work towards making this world a better place for all!

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Category: featured, Philosophy and Religion

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