When philosophy seems pessimistic …

Philosophy centers on asking big questions: such as where we came from, where we are meant to go (if anywhere) and how best we can get there. 

As such questions don’t have any easy answers and as they force us to face one of life’s most unpalatable realities: death, many people either dodge philosophy or deem it pessimistic. And yes, if we were simply contemplating questions that seem unanswerable or problems that seem inescapable, we too would naturally end up feeling pessimistic, even hopeless. 

Significantly, the Bhagavad-gita does acknowledge that the contemplation on life’s unpalatable truths such as death is an integral element of cultivation of knowledge (13.09), which culminates in philosophical knowledge (13.12).

Thankfully, Gita wisdom recommends such contemplation as only the initial impetus for contemplating on positive reality, especially the ultimate positive reality, the all-attractive Divinity, Krishna. And the Gita provides various processes of yoga, culminating in bhakti-yoga, which centers on remembering Krishna. 

When philosophical contemplation on life’s bigger truths is complemented by tangible practices for contemplating joyous positive realities, then we will discover that philosophical study can inspire us toward joyous contemplation and absorption. 

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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