The Owl of Minerva in India

Dedicated to my colleague, Dr. Tracey Nicholls

In the midst of buying some yoga pants and having the storekeeper demonstrate how they are tied, nearly having a book eaten by a cow as I sat on a park bench, and dropping off my laundry (they charge by the piece), I turn my attention back to the famous statement of Hegel:

The owl of Minerva flies at night.

Hegel tells us when the owl of Minerva (wisdom) takes off (presumably after a long meditative process), but not where the owl of Minerva is.

In India, I find the wisdom everywhere. Wisdom is a big deal here. It is much front and center as McDonalds or Starbucks are in the United States. Th biggest indication of this is in the streets. Right now, I am up in my room and hear people chanting in the streets and that is a common, not a rare, occurrence. Cows roam the streets because they are considered holy. Ashrams are prevalent, as is conspicuous signage for yoga and meditation retreats. Yoga is not to be misunderstood as exercise, but as means of transcending egoistic conventions and finding the divine.

This underscores the difference between wisdom as a way of life and wisdom as wisdom as a diversion.

Right now, wisdom is a diversion to me. Will it become a way of life, more than a classroom exercise? Let’s see how I answer that question when December comes.



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