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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Musings: Hail the frailty


We are conditioned and brought up in a world which eulogizes qualities like strength, hardness, manliness, power and mightiness. There is a very small section of people who recognize softness, womanhood, frailty and yielding can overcome the qualities of hardness and brutal force. This blog is an attempt to highlight that softness which is apparently a weak, meek and frail nature of things is superior to its manly counterpart on the following accounts:

  1. In the process of evolution the more evolved things / beings are softer / weaker / meeker / more frail. That is harder and so called manliness are less evolved…. in the scheme of nature.
  2. We can also see that the higher the complexity and criticality the softer the beings / things are. The same is true that the essence and quality of softer things / beings is higher and better than the hard / grosser items.

While it is true that manliness (Yang) and womanliness (Yin) are two sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other, but it is important to highlight that while celebrating the “Yang”ness we seem to belittle or condemn the “Yin”ness in anything.

So without ignoring the importance of Yin-yang balance, i am going to bat for the “Yin”ness and encourage you all to “Hail the frailty”, “Celebrate the meekness” and “Be proud of your weakness”.

First lets look at the nature’s scheme of evolution:

  • In the plant life, the roots are the strongest part and the roots are stronger than the stem. The stem is stronger than the branches. The leaves, flowers and fruits are progressively softer / weaker than the earlier one. The seed which evolves from the fruits are the softest, weakest and most frail thing in the plant life. So what we see is essentially that as the evolution progresses the nature of things becomes more frail. The gross becomes subtle, and the hard evolves into soft.

The duty of the root is in taking but the duty (beauty) of the fruit is in giving”… Isn’t giving is more evolved than taking?

Next lets look at the composition of human body:

  • I am going to quote some concepts from TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for it to be little more authoritative but if you ignore the framework of TCM and just logically look at this argument still this will hold good.
    • There are 12 major organs in the body and these organs are classified as Yang organs and Yin organs. You can Google about Yin and Yang but broadly they refer to the bipolar nature of things viz. Yang / Yin represents - light / dark, hard /soft, man/woman, Heat / Cold etc in that order.
    • The 6 Yang (male / hard) organs which are Gall bladder, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Stomach, Urinary bladder and Triple warmer.
    • The 6 Yin Organs are heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidney, Spleen and Pericardium.
  • Needless to explain that as the internal body organs evolve the more critical the functions are the softer / weaker / more frail the organs.

Next lets look at the Yogic way of explanation on nature of bodies:

  • Every living organism is made of multiple bodies primarily ranging from 3 to 5.
  • They are Annamaya Kosha (Physical Body), Pranamaya Kosha (Etheric Body), Manonmaya Kosha (Astral Body), Vignanamaya Kosha (Mental Body) and the Anandamaya Kosha (Causal Body). Kosha actually means ‘Sheath” and not body. So it can be considered as layers.
  • It is told that organisms like plants have the first 3 sheaths / bodies / layers and human beings and animals have 5. But irrespective of how many we have each one is more subtle than the previous one and causal body is the most subtle of them all.
  • The point i am trying to make is not that one is superior to another since all the 5 form one organic entity but certainly in the scheme of nature the more a component / organism evolves the more subtle / frail / softer it becomes.

Let me also quote the words of our friend, Lao Tzu, highlights the importance of being soft, yielding etc. Generally Taoists say that we should be like water, very soft, very yielding, takes the shape of the container yet it can exert the greatest force and can overcome the hardest things like steel and rocks. In Tai Chi and other internal arts the brutal force of the opponent is not countered with an equally / more brutal force but with a soft / yielding force.

  • Yield and Overcome”…
  • Soft and weak overcome the hard and strong”… The softest thing in the universe overcomes the hardest thing.
  • Returning is the motion of Tao.
  • Yielding is the way of Tao”
  • "To bend like a reed in the wind, that is real strength" - Taoist philosophy

We can stack more and more examples that highlight this phenomenon. So, let me summarize the argument:

  • The secret of the nature and nature of the secrets are in Subtlety and are frail. At the primordial source the subtleness merges into / as formless. In other words the source has devolved into more gross things in nature and our evolution is in moving towards the source.
  • If we claim woman to be more frail / weak than men, then does it not mean that they are more evolved than us.
    • As one wise man said “Women when made equal to man, is superior to him”. That’s the reason in many cultures / races it is designed as a male dominated society.
    • No wonder women, being more subtle, they are tuned to finer things. They can see 15 odd shades between any 2 colors segments to pick up a matching dress but most men cant see anything more than 7 colors… all hues and tints put together. It applies to other aspects also.
    • Isn’t rather unfortunate that we see a “Yang” driven world where woman having ignored their “Yin”/ feminine qualities want to live and behave like a man? Isn’t this a downward spiral movement?
  • If this is applicable from every organism to macro universe then why is that we shun and belittle the subtler, frail and weaker scheme of things within us. Why is weakness abhorred? Why should it be strengthened?
  • By this logic, is it not the weakness  and frailty in us the most evolved aspect or part of us? Should we not recognize this and celebrate this instead of shunning / belittling this?
  • Isn’t love forgiveness and divinity are the most subtle aspects of human life?

The pendulum of nature has swung too much to the Yang side and the desire is to see the pendulum swing back before it balances itself close to the median.

“Might is right only if we are in a fight". If we consider life is a journey and not a race then lets celebrate our meekness, be proud of our weakness and Hail the frailty.


Yours frailly

Happy Reading !

1 comment:

  1. You may also want to ponder upon the puruSha-prakRiti model of Indian thought, that actually predates the similar concept of Yin-Yang.

    The problem comes when we start comparing which is better rather than understanding how everything fits in. Taking the example of the body, which organ is more important? All are, for they all have a critical function to perform.

    It is the un-holistic thought which throws around the supremacy theory between the genders. Ardha-nArIshvara image of shiva makes the concept so clear, that we fulfill each other.