June 2, 2011

Is Hope a good thing?

A few days back I was trying to think what could be a good parallel or simile for the hope which average stammerer (I included) carries in his heart, that one day he will be okay, he will speak like a “normal” person, he will be fully cured..

I suddenly came up with an idea: the only other example of such a phenomena is our faith in afterlife, in our indestructibility. The creation may end, but we are very much there, watching it as it ends.. We can not imagine a time when we will NOT BE. This faith in persistence of life after DEATH, is pernicious and found in almost every culture and faith. This hope in eternal life is at the core of all major religions. But it is problematic too, when not guided by “knowledge”, as Vivekanand discovered, when he went to America.

He met a lady who was a medium (medium between our world and spirit world). He was invited to a seance and there he saw how this eternal hope and faith in afterlife is used by charlatans to fool simple people in America. A young man was shown his dead mother (now, ofcourse much changed) and very gullibly he reacts- Mother! how beautiful you have grown in the spirit land! Vivekanand was amused and felt that people needed to be more objective even in religious matters.

Here is the incidence:

“There was one of those ladies who bring the departed spirits down to us — a medium. She was very large, yet she was called medium. Very good! This lady liked me very much and invited me to come. The spirits were all very polite to me. I had a very peculiar experience. You understand, it was a [seance], midnight. The medium said, ". . . I see a ghost standing here. The ghost tells me that there is a Hindu gentleman on that bench." I stood up and said, "It required no ghost to tell you that."

There was a young man present who was married, intelligent, and well educated. He was there to see his mother. The medium said, "So-and-so's mother is here." This young man had been telling me about his mother. She was very thin when she died, but the mother that came out of the screen! You ought to have seen her! I wanted to see what this young man would do. To my surprise he jumped up and embraced this spirit and said. "Oh mother, how beautiful you have grown in the spirit land!" I said, "I am blessed that I am here. It gives me an insight into human nature!" (from Complete works of Sw Vivekanand)

Now, going back to where I started from: Could it be that similar “mediums” are taking us for a ride, just because we have this irresistible faith in CURE? An IPWS has spent over Rs 20,000 and still does not know whether stammering can be cured or not (link 1, link 2) . The people who assured him of this cure, refuse to respond to his questions. Others say- such 'therapists' may not know technical stuff but their therapy has done 'some' good to 'some' people. Do people who charge fee for their services, should not be updating their knowledge and sharing it with their clients? At least on the important issue of CURE? Should they not discuss at the very outset with the client, what is possible and what is not? Can we use questionable means to honourable ends?

It is time that we realize that our faith in cure is hurting us. It has given rise to an industry selling us "Cure" through crash courses, pdf files (for 39 dollars), DAF machines (Rs 5 lacs in India), computer based programs etc etc. Yes, amid all this hectic "business", there is hope: self help and self help groups are available, Vipassana, Brahma Vidya, Yoga etc are there. Communication workshops run by others and TISA too are there. Hope is there but not a dreamy one- a hope based on facts and realities.


Anonymous said...

Okay- but- dont you think there is a difference in that hope and this hope? People do get fully cured, dont they? aren't there such cases?

sachin said...

well- if you have never stammered, the comparison might seem a little bit strange. But ask a young PWS: He has more faith in "one day I will be cured"- than in God or Heaven!
And this is why he keeps running away from 'Acceptance' and keeps on trying this, that or the other technique, therapy, course, drug, gadget.. I have an email from an IPWS in late fifties, detailing his therapy history: he had had more than 15 therapies over the years- and he was still looking for an answer! Everyone promised him CURE but never cared to discuss the neuro-biological basis for stammering, the brain scan, gene studies etc. He of course would not care to come out publicly against these "therapies". And this is how "merry go round" of cure carries on..
Yes, it needs courage to question.. to carry the "bad news"; because most "emperors" would behead the carrier of bad news..So, why take risk. :-((