A remark made three or so weeks ago by Jairaj Singh on Twitter gave me pause. Singh commented on a tweet from Kunal Kamra: “The Sadhguruisation of Kunal Kamra on full swing.” Singh was not a fan of Kamra’s observation about the phenomenon of relationship insecurity. And, he showed his disdain by comparing it to Sadhguru's homilies. It left me disturbed, this equation of a Modi-CAA supporting pseudoguru with an anti-establishment stand-up comedian. It seemed to echo a tradition of intellectualism in postcolonial India that considers anything less than rationality to be an excessive, unreliable intervention in the public sphere.
My objection is that such an intellectualism—perhaps rightly suspicious of possible manipulation by what Eva Illouz calls “a public emotional self”—ends up censoring any process that does not regurgitate parameters familiar to it. That, perhaps, idealizing rational expression in political and social actors too quickly becomes a shaming if these actors share their own inquiry process beyond the pale of the secular, rational ego.
Inquiry is a precursor to arriving at insight and wisdom. Sometimes, we mistake the process for the conclusion. A.H. Almaas writes, “The aim of inquiry . . . is not to arrive at conclusions but to enjoy the exploration and thrill of discovery.” I do not myself agree with Kamra’s conclusion around insecurity in relationships. And yet, he has the right to his investigation, and to be fallible in the process.
It is my contention that the very ceding away of the process of inner investigation by rationalist secularists in India may have allowed religious nationalists to co-opt it towards their insidious, insular purposes. The language of insight and wisdom is being weaponized by pseudogurus and spiritual narcissists to manipulate and deceive. Instead of letting them have it, we need to retrieve our access to the rich inner ground of meaning that gives rise to interconnected visions of humanity.
There is a difference between the performance of wisdom and the innate discrimination of wisdom. Wisdom emerges through the process of questioning of our selves and worlds, and trusting what we are apprehending through our subjugated faculties. This metaphysic of the unfolding truth of experience, of a situation, scares those for whom dogma provides the bastion of certainty upon which they rest their fortresses of intolerance. This is precisely why wisdom practices are essential today.
By instituting rites of belonging that privilege a narrow band of rationalism over other onto-epistemologies, progressives merely replicate the binaries that Hindutva nationalists want us to buy us into. Instead, let us create borderlands of belonging, and invite each other into allowance and solidarity. It is all interconnected—relationships we create between self and other, with the world we find ourselves in.