Wisdom, and the Dalai Lama?

I saw some of the interview of the current Dalai Lama on NDTV. I’m always peeved when some of these people, the Dalai Lamas, the Sankaracharyas, and their ilk are fawned over and deferred to.

To be sure, I’m not talking about Imams who can’t wait to issue their next fatwa, or evangelists who can’t wait to fleece their next victim. What one feels about them is not so much vexation as it is outright contempt. I’m talking about the people who are ‘bestowed’ with wisdom that is somehow assumed to be inaccessible to the rest of us, wisdom which they conveniently can’t explain to the rest of us lucidly because any attempt to put it in simple words destroys the wisdom itself. Some of these people actually claim wisdom or authority, like the Dalai Lama or any of the Shankaracharyas, and some others can’t be bothered about any of this, but that is itself taken as a sign of wisdom by people around them, as in the case of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Ramana Maharshi.

Peter Walker is attributed with saying:

“The supreme arrogance of religious thinking: that a carbon-based bag of mostly water on a spec of iron-silicate dust around a boring dwarf star … would look up at the sky and declare, ‘It was all made so that I could exist!'”

The claim is invariably that these people found their wisdom by, essentially, thinking really hard. I think this is what bothers me most about these people. That a bundle of goo on a speck of dust around a tiny spark of fire in the middle of eternities in space and time (atleast relatively) presumes to understand the universe and to claim wisdom is completely baffling to me. And this is to say nothing of people giving away their money to idiots who claim far less.