Our pale blue dot

It’s the twentieth anniversary of the famous “pale blue dot” photo – Earth as seen from Voyager 1 while on the edge of our solar system (approximately 3,762,136,324 miles from home). Sagan’s words are always worth remembering:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

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Is there emotional suffering just like physical suffering?

Emotional suffering does take place when there is a hurt to your self-esteem ,which is a result of something external like for example your boss berating your performance and causing hurt to you.You may choose to reduce or alleviate the suffering completely if you consciously ignore the taunts of the boss treating him as not worthy of attention.It is important to ensure that your elf-esteem is not affected .This way we can say that the suffering is both internally generated and caused by purely external factors and sometimes by a combination of both.

As a strategy to combat bouts of low self-esteem caused by external factors like somebody berating you we may consider boosting our own self-esteem by being fully confident of our own abilities irrespective of the outsider’s assessment of them.But in reality this may not work out all the time because the boss is not merely berating your performance but at the same time following it up with a bad appraisal with the consequence of loss of promotion,raise,etc.,the possibility of which will cause further low-esteem. In such a situation your own assessment of your abilities does not matter.Emotional suffering cannot therefore be avoided in all cases .It can only be controlled by cultivating self-confidence and the ability to work your way up notwithstanding the obstacles with clear focus.

Can a fact occur without the human mind?

I think there is a difference between reality and a fact. Reality exists independent of somebody, i.e.some human verifying its existence.A fact arises only if somebody wants to know if it is so.A fact cannot exist without the human minds. Somebody should be wanting to know the reality or otherwise and only then does the talk of a fact arise.

The problem of other minds

Talking of conscious minds ,is there anything that happens between two conscious minds? For example ,how do we make an eye contact with an anonymous somebody in a crowd when almost simultaneously we become conscious of each other ?I have often observed this when we pass by perfect strangers on the road when the process of “meeting the eyes” becomes almost simultaneous ,as though the other person is already aware of my existence in his line of vision.

I believe there is somewhere a process of sharing consciousness when in a mutual space ,which keeps happening all the time as though the plane of existence in which the other person lives intersects briefly my own through the process of eye contact.

How do we view different lengths of time against infinity?

When time is viewed as eternity,a second or a day or a decade will look like meaningless .But in realty we do not view time as eternity but as short or medium span of time measured in terms of our own present activities or those we will perform in the next week or month or year.For example we rarely look beyond a year when we are students pursuing college degree or beyond a month when we are likely to travel to another place in a month’s time. Our view of time as reference is therefore purely tied up with our present activities or activities which we have scheduled during the near future.

The second noteworthy thing is that we do not have one single referential time but three or four frames of reference ,the shorter ones merging into the longer ones at any point of time.This depends upon the multiple activities being performed by us in varying time frames.

How do we realize we are mortals ?

How do we realize we are mortals ?

Suppose it is both an observation from our experience of the world and also socially influenced. Freud suggests that we cannot really think of ourselves as
dead; even when we imagine our funeral taking place, we are still sort of there
watching, and so alive and conscious

(Ask Philosophers)

How do we realize we are mortal ? The question is focused on realizing.If it is otherwise,consciousness of mortality is merely a socially acquired knowledge or is based upon own observation but that is not realization.Strictly speaking one realizes one is mortal only at the time of death and unfortunately the moment you are dead you can no longer realize anything .

Talking of realizing ,one always carries the feeling of transience all the while as though it is a small little umbrella which comes with you wherever you go in rain. The umbrella protects you from the harshness of the realities because if you are aware of the impermanence inherent in the scheme of things ,you do not take a stand in life- a fixity of purpose which is not warranted. If you are a mere bird of passage , of what use is a stance ,a fixity of mind ?

Photography is about noticing things around you and organising them with concern for humanity and the human comedy

It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.

Elliott Erwitt’s photographs are examples of how proximate photography can be to poetry.The technique of highlighting a single aspect by blurring the several other aspects or by obliterating the spacial and temporal contexts in order to focus on a single issue -some times called minimalism has been successfully employed in several of his photographs. The human comedy that he talks about in the above quote is used not merely to underscore the underlying absurdity of human endeavors but to bring out the ironic possibilities of all that we do in our struggle for existence.