I came across this very interesting Limerick and just had to share it here.

There was a young man who said “God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there’s no one about in the quad.”

[Here ‘the quad’ means a courtyard or square enclosure]

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This limerick was written by Reverend Monsignor Ronald Knox, and refers to a theory by Bishop George Berkeley  which he called “Immaterialism”.

This theory contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers. They have no material substance and so cannot exist without being observed.

Hence this opinion expressed by the young man mentioned in the above limerick that it was odd- and presumably even God would find it so-  that the tree should continue to exist in the courtyard when there was no one to perceive it.

But apparently there another limerick in answer to the above one and it goes as follows-

“Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that’s why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”

This echoes Bishop George Berkeley’s view that the tree continues to exist in the quadrangle when “nobody” is there, simply because God is the ‘Ultimate Perceiver’ who constantly perceives all.

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Some of us believe in the existence of God. Some of us do not.

Some believe in Nature, or the Universe.

Some perhaps believe in the little voice inside one’s head called a conscience.

Personally, I find the thought of an all-seeing  Parameshwar quite comforting.

Not one who keeps a watch on your behaviour- as Santa Clause is said to do- and omits to bring you Christmas gifts if “you’ve been bad“.

But rather a benevolent one who nudges us in the right direction when we are undecided. Or who gives us encouragement to resist weakness.

One who appears before us in the form of a friend, or parent or sibling- giving us moral support just when we need it.

Or in the form of maybe even a total stranger whose unexpected act of kindness astonishes us.

And who perhaps sets off a sort of chain-reaction,  encouraging us to “pass on” the kindness or support we have received, to someone else who needs it!

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A Very Happy New Year to my Blog-friends!🙂

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