On February 26, 2023, a surprise fight broke out on my street. It involved my neighbor, who is a friend of mine, and some drug-addicted kids from a nearby slum. These kids had illegal homemade guns.
The reason for the fight was that my friend asked them to stop using bad language in our residential area while he was washing his car.
The drug-addicted kids started attacking my friend. A little girl noticed and came to tell me. I hurried downstairs and saw a crowd had gathered. They managed to catch two of the young troublemakers, but one with a makeshift gun escaped along with a few others.
Two days before this incident, some neighbors had approached my dad with concerns about these young kids taking drugs and engaging in inappropriate behavior near their homes. They reached out to my dad because he held the position of Additional District Magistrate in Patna, responsible for maintaining law and order across the district, including our neighborhood.
My dad acted swiftly and contacted the City Deputy Superintendent of Police. He instructed them to involve the local police inspector to investigate the issue.
However, the very next day, my dad had to travel to Delhi, so he wasn’t in Patna when the fight occurred.
Returning to the incident: As I descended, I encountered my friends. I raised my voice at the youngsters, and the residents in our area were already furious. I dialed my dad and recounted what had happened. He then relayed the details to the Senior Superintendent of Police. The people in our neighborhood were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the police.
On that very day, the Local police station was engaged in significant raids, which caused a delay in their response. Instead, patrolling police were on their way. However, before they could arrive, a large group from the nearby slum entered our area. This group was armed with bricks, guns, and improvised grenades. They managed to help the young individuals escape. Additionally, some women from the slum joined them, hurling offensive language and threats.
I remained downstairs, attempting to engage with the slum group and clarify that their children were using drugs and behaving inappropriately on our street. Amidst this, one of the women began to verbally attack me. In response, I questioned why she was defending her kids instead of admonishing them. Before I could finish speaking, a hefty man from the crowd grabbed my neck. Swiftly, others intervened and rescued me from his grip. However, this incident raised a new worry: If the child of the Additional District Magistrate is at risk, then who can feel safe?
The police arrived after the crowd dispersed.
The following day, my dad returned to Patna. During his official meeting with police and administrative authorities, he emphasized the risks associated with drug abuse and the disruptive behavior, including looting and theft, carried out by jobless, drug-addicted juvenile offenders. There was a significant likelihood of a potential raid in the slum area, leading to potential arrests.
It’s worth noting that a comparable incident occurred in 2020, resulting in the deployment of over 200 paramilitary personnel following a single call for assistance.
I had a minor investment in a local garage, and the owner of the garage, who had strong ties in the slum, learned about the incident. He quickly came to my house, accompanied by another individual from the slum who was responsible for cleaning our water tank. Both of them knew us and seemed to foresee the potential legal repercussions that the troublemakers from the slum might have to confront.
Dealing with criminals had become a regular part of my dad’s responsibilities, and these individuals initially seemed manageable, but we were in for a surprise. The garage owner and the water tank cleaner began sharing insights about life in the slum that completely astonished me.
They were far beyond just criminals. The individuals in the slums were actually psychopaths heavily dependent on daily doses of cocaine and morphine. Many of them were so ensnared by these synthetic opioids that some had turned into contract killers, chain snatchers, and more. Shockingly, they were willing to commit murder for as little as INR 5 thousand. Adding to the complexity, those who held power in the slum had significant political support and their own legal representation. They had lawyers with them since they needed them after committing crime!
Were they afraid of going to jail? No.
Did they think twice about killing someone? No. Actually, one of the guys caught had a father who had even killed his own brother before.
Were they scared of dying? No. They saw their friends dying from drug overdoses often, but it didn’t bother them. They knew they might die too, but it didn’t frighten them.
They were like zombies, almost like living dead.
Most of the residents in the slum resorted to theft, murder, drug trafficking, and similar activities to survive. Some powerful political figures even hired them to permanently remove certain individuals. They were fearless, having little to lose, and could be described as psychopaths.
Given my involvement in creating a mental health platform, I was well aware of the adverse effects of opioids and synthetic opioids. Overconsumption of these substances leads to the development of psychotic tendencies. These individuals become more aggressive, lose touch with reality, and experience reduced sensitivity to physical and emotional pain. This issue was prevalent among many in the slum, particularly the younger ones.
Additionally, Bihar being a dry state meant that due to the alcohol ban, a significant number of people turned to drugs. The drug trade in my city, Patna, was deeply hidden and clandestine.
My dad took some time to consider the appropriate course of action. Dealing with psychopaths proved to be much more challenging than dealing with regular criminals. As a result, the original plan was abandoned. Instead, certain influential individuals from the slum approached my dad, held a meeting, and promised that such incidents would not recur.
The whole situation left me feeling deeply anxious.
The source of my anxiety mainly stemmed from my personal philosophical outlook, particularly my alignment with absurdism. According to this viewpoint, life lacks inherent meaning, and individuals must forge their own purpose. This philosophy took root after I lost interest in activities I once cherished and excelled in. Pursuing worldly matters began to feel hollow to me. I was building a mental health platform after I lost interest in cars. Apart from this, to reignite my passion for cars, I attempted an investment in a local car garage. I wanted to build a startup around it. Maybe a tech-first preowned car business would be a thing to work on. By doing so, I was trying to re-ignite my interest in cars by investing in a local garage but it didn’t work that much. I also had an automotive blog, 7Motorsnews but didn’t feel excited about it.
I came to realize that life’s meaning can be questioned because even the most trivial occurrence, like a fan falling, could lead to instant death. All the academic accomplishments and possessions would become inconsequential. Moreover, Neither praise nor criticism from others would matter if I couldn’t perceive them if I was deaf, blind, or devoid of senses.
It became evident to me that we don’t understand the world; instead, we perceive it subjectively. This was the concept of transcendental idealism given by Immanuel Kant. I was heavily inspired by this philosophy. Besides this, I am also a stoic.
In this state of adopting stoicism within the context of an absurdist perspective, my attraction to materialism and worldly pleasures waned. The compulsion to validate myself to others and participate in societal pursuits lessened. I came to accept the undeniable truth that anyone’s life could end abruptly and unexpectedly, anywhere and anytime. This realization led me to view the idea of treating life with utmost seriousness as devoid of substantial significance.
The kids from the slum surprisingly shared a similar way of thinking.
Just like me, they believed that life’s uncertainty made it not very sensible to take things too seriously. Even though they faced risks and lost friends due to drug use, they didn’t seem to care much.
I had become less interested in material things, so material wealth and losses didn’t bother me as they once did. I felt like I didn’t have much to lose. These kids felt the same way.
Religion stopped guiding me, as I felt I didn’t need a structured belief system anymore. I thought religions were there to bring order, but I didn’t feel the need to follow them. I still believed in a higher power, but these kids, like me, had moved past organized religion and societal norms.
These thoughts overwhelmed me, so I started writing a book to help with my anxiety. Back then, ChatGPT was a new tool, and I used it to proofread and organize my book. In just 19 days, I finished it, capturing my insights into human psychology from the last 10 years. I was into psychology and philosophy from 2013, and ended up reading Jung, Freud, Camus, Nietzsche and many more. Deep down, I wanted to explore new ways of looking at absurdism.
Questions popped up: Should I give up on building startups and businesses in favor of a life of drugs? Instead of dealing with business complexities, I could just stay intoxicated and euphoric. After all, both they and I understood that life is short, and we didn’t care much about what others thought.
Absolutely, I wouldn’t actually take that path, but I found myself wondering: whose life was better? Theirs or mine? They seemed carefree, living in a constant state of euphoria induced by these sedative drugs. We all experience the world within our minds, and they were perpetually in a state of bliss, whereas I had to manage a barrage of tasks daily.
They, like me, exist on this small planet in the vast universe, and their existence, just as fragile as mine, felt remarkably parallel. What’s the use in drawing a clear line between who’s right and who’s wrong? If I don’t bother about the government’s actions that harm citizens, why should I care about them engaging in chain snatchings, shoplifting, etc.? If I don’t give a second thought to people dying due to fast food consumption, why should I be concerned about them being involved in contract killings?
My state of absurd existence faced a challenge!
As I write this six months later, I’ve come to realize that despite my skepticism, religion served a significant purpose in the past. It not only united people individually and collectively with spiritual and religious objectives but also shielded them from going into the darker corners of human thoughts where concepts like nihilism and absurdism take root. Religion held a stance against anything that led to overanalysis. It prevents people from plunging into a state that fosters these ideologies. It encouraged people to embrace stoicism over fleeting pleasures.
Religion, as a collective framework for existence, discouraged hedonism, knowing it could sow seeds of chaos. If religious influence had been stronger, those drug-addicted youth might have believed in moral values, ethics, and a purposeful life. If they had been to secular schools then also they would get substantial positive conditioning. Unfortunately, both religion and secularism failed to connect with them. They didn’t choose to be born in such poverty where life was worse than death. To cope with their agony and social isolation, they turned to drugs. In a way, religion, when taken in moderation, serves as a more potent remedy than opium. Staying Secular is more difficult than staying religious so I did not expected them to have the secular temperament. Usually, such a tribe of society practices a cult without following spirituality.
When Nietzsche wrote “God is Dead”, he was right about the fact that religion became weak in controlling the lives of people after the advent of the industrial revolution. People started relying more on collective intellectual strides that led to urbanization and modernization. They also realized that instead of praying to God in times of drought, they could prevent the grains from getting rotten by building granaries.
People found the cure for T.B and various other deadly illness that once were were seen as the wrath of God. Industrial Revolution and scientific temperament gave people new aims: Chasing intellectual achievements. People with intellect were deemed to be more superior than people who were mere religious. The marriage of reasoing to spirituality gave metaphysics a new room for debates. People started comprehending the concept of God from a more scientific approach. They discussed God as an entity beyond the existence of space and time.
Some of us realized that we’re like tiny dots on Earth, which itself is a dot in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is just a dot in the vast universe. So, we saw no reason to overly chase material success, unlike those who had big egos or felt superior.
Even though I followed absurdism, I found meaning in my life without being too attached to it. But my encounter with those drug-addicted kids unintentionally uncovered the power of Artificial Intelligence. I used ChatGPT a lot to write a book and deal with my anxiety. When people heard that I finished a book in only 19 days, they thought it was impossible. I explained how AI helped with editing and structuring sentences, saving me a lot of time. This journey also led me to create a 114-page mental health workbook in just 7 days, which was pretty amazing. After that, for 3-4 months, I was exploring AI tools extensively.
My extensive engagement with AI tools also brought another realization: AI is going to alleviate the mental burden on humans. This reminded me of Nietzsche’s statement “God is dead,” which symbolized the decline of religious authority after the Industrial Revolution. In the future, we might face a similar new dilemma where human intellectual importance, like religion, becomes less relevant, potentially driving many towards a nihilistic outlook on life.
People often tie their self-worth to their intellectual prowess, leading them to choose professions that match their cognitive abilities. This is how people identify themselves. They identify themselves as Engineers, Doctors blah blah blah. However, when AI takes over these roles, what will they find purpose in?
It raises a significant question about identity and meaning in a world where intellectual strides might not hold the same importance.
In the event of the implementation of Universal Basic Income or comparable policies, is there a potential for individuals to adopt nihilistic or absurdist perspectives? What about those who already embraced absurdism? As for myself, what sort of fresh purpose should I endeavor to establish in my life? Is there a necessity for me to create meaning when AI has the capability to manage this on my behalf? How wide is the scope of absurdism? To what extent can I dive into it? Does there exist something beyond the realm of absurdism, or does it lead to an endless cycle of seeking and dismantling significance in one’s existence?
During these past 6 months, I found myself entangled in similar questions until an unexpected visitor sought refuge in my home: a young kitten. Out of nowhere, she appeared, innocently meowing, perhaps asking for food. While I wasn’t keen on having pets, providing for her a few times ignited a spark of affection within me. Gradually, I started feeding her daily, and in response, she began attempting to cuddle up to my feet. Her enthusiastic approach whenever she came to me uplifted my spirits. This experience wasn’t a sign that I lacked the capacity to care for humans. I indeed cherish my friends and family, yet forming connections with new people had become notably challenging, particularly after 2019. The close-knit social circle couldn’t be readily expanded to include just anyone. Remarkably, this kitten managed to carve a space for herself within that inner circle.
I’m aware that one day, this kitten may also leave, causing a tinge of emotional ache for a while. Alternatively, I might end up departing from her. Nevertheless, living with and caring for this cat, without expecting her permanence, illuminated a deeper insight: beyond absurdism lies the realm of unconditional love that ignites within one’s heart.
My intellectual capabilities extend to writing philosophical blogs, designing digital or physical products, and venturing into business endeavors. Even though everything might seem devoid of concrete meaning, this experience has shown me that beyond absurdism lies the capacity for unconditional love. I’ve experienced it with this small kitten who turns me into a child in her presence. I communicate with her through sign language, and I find myself searching frantically when she’s not around for a day.
I’m convinced that as AI lightens our intellectual burdens and prompts many to question their existence, it will also lead people to realize that the essence of being is rooted in unconditional love and not into intellectual strides.
After 2019, I had ceased forming deep emotional connections with people. Social relationships invariably involve calculation. I didn’t hesitate to end these connections, nor did I feel hurt when someone departed abruptly. It was pragmatic and devoid of purity, often linked to mutual benefit. While I used to be disappointed by those who took advantage or deceived me, I treated these experiences as lessons. I encountered deceit while building startups multiple times, yet these encounters didn’t affect me much. People, experiences, and material gains failed to make any sense. I was doing things because I had to do something.
Spending time with this kitten, however, made me realize that unconditional love is something we all need.
I believe that beyond absurdism lies a state of existence brimming with blissful love, where ego, intellect, and accomplishments fall short. The pain felt upon separation and the joy experienced upon reuniting serve as reminders that our existence finds more enduring significance when centered around unconditional love.
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