Category Archives: Write-Ups

Your equal and opposite philosopher

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Painting by Salvador Dali

For ages, the glory of a period has been interpreted in terms of its growth in art and literature. However now, we could see the glory and prosperity is all about the technological advancements.That we tend to incline towards strategical solutions, creativity or innovation is no more a leap. In my previous post, ‘God, the magic word’I wrote up that ‘There is an unfathomable magic associated with the leap in faith and the logic would take away this magic from it‘. This to be looked up more from an emotional standpoint, the magic lies in leap, the mystery, the unknown, is like the inexplicable emotion that lies in the yen for the un-uttered words of love. For a logical argument, there would be a satisfaction out of it, but would take away the innocence and mystery with it. Logic is sort of bound by the inadequacies of our brain, imposes a limit to our purview, does not let our imagination run wild. The more we reason, the more we know, our thoughts are confined, narrowed and no more freedom from the known. Reasoning may help us jump puddles yet we need belief when we have oceans to leap.

A couple of days ago, I was surfing the net and ran into this – ‘For every philosopher there is always an equal and opposite philosopher’,  first law of philosophy, very much alike Newton’s third law of motion. The site had many contradictory yet equally satisfying views of illustrious philosophers from different ages, from Plato to Rene Descartes and their arguments on body and soul. Later that day, I was sitting on the terrace, trying to cerebrate a bit and my thoughts went diving into the deep blue, as some beautiful fireworks colored the night sky. We do know the science behind the fireworks, don’t we? Yet our heart leaps high with it, our eyes reflect their twinkle, our mood drifts back to our childhood fantasies. I could sense the equal and opposite argument dawning in me, I could sense my fascination for the fireworks overtaking the science and logic behind it, contradicting my former thoughts.

I particularly didn’t like the idea of having an antithesis on my own thoughts, especially after I broadly wrote them down on my blog, yet couldn’t push this off altogether. The very next morning, another random surf, and Salvador Dali’s painting was staring at me, nailing in the answer. Two opposite propositions could be true at a time given the difference in perception! It’s not the science or the logic that takes away the magic, but our perception does!

‘Perception’ is quite a mystic word, that it could easily take us for a ride. The intersting part is that the perception and belief are so tangled, that we do not know where its causal efficacy lies. It’s is tangled as in, We perceive what we believe and we believe in what we perceive. We would get stuck if we try to see from within, we need to step out, transcend, to get the true picture, to appreciate the beauty of the tangle.

There is always this equal and opposite philosopher inside each of us, just that we don’t like to end up contradicting ourselves, that we mentally deny and kill one of our inner philosophers. We need both of them, every bit, to let us grow, to lift us to a vantage point, to let us see the whole dimension of the context. It’s absolutely fine to end up in a paradox, for that is how the world is.

Well, I wish to have some answers, some logically reasonable answers, out of my life, that said, I believe in fostering fantasies too, love to get lost in my wonderland, believe those wondrous sparkles, embosom and preserve the mirth of life, and so it does..

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God, the magic word!

GOD, is an interesting word, with myriad meanings and attributes, could be quoted with intriguing adjectives and metaphors. One word about which we disagree yet agree. This reminds me of the Blind-men & an Elephant parable, wonderful analogy that implies – despite our disagreements, the truth is that, we all are along the right lines. There is another intriguing concept – the evolution, yes! If we watch the history carefully we could observe that the concept of God has also evolved with us. It started as the expression of man’s gratitude towards whatever he appreciates but could not reason out at that time, subsequently formulated, documented along with the habits/practices of that period, which we call religion and the hence the very concept has got irrevocable tangled with the religion. This evolution is also one among the aspects that cause disagreements because evolution has happened, outside the religions, even across the religions but not within! Nowadays we quite often run into posts that furnish logical reasons and  scientific explanations for many of our archived religious practices. We like to know reasons because that gives us a sense of satisfaction and purpose in life, at the same time, we need a clasp when there are gaps. This, I believe is the motive behind the works of many illustrious thinkers to bring science and God under one roof.

Well we know, there are believers and non- believers. Let’s start with atheists, the non believers – I see there are various reasons for one turning out to be an atheist, a typical argument would be ‘You cannot say God exists because you cannot reason out the orgin/existence the universe, for you cannot give a tangible proof for the existence of God as well’, while there are also other reasons like frustration, of people doing incredibly ridiculous things under the veil of religion, tired of the hypocrisy, that now they seek solace in science, trying to reason out their lives. On the other hand, the theists, the believers, tend to fall into one or more of the below categories. One – those who believe there is God because, like I said before, there are things in this world that goes beyond explanation, which they would like to put broadly under the tagline ‘the supreme/ultimate power’. Two – those who like to call themselves theist because they believe virtuousness comes with the package. Three –  those who believe because the holy scriptures says so, the fundamentalists.

I’m sure enough, we all are, follow the extracts of any holy book that is out there, despite their differences in period, you will find them, all good and wise, for they all share one common proposition  – to bring in peace and balance in the society. They all have tried to inscribe this very concept of peace and balance onto our subconscious, that we very well know when we deviate from it. Yet, religion by itself is not God, religion is more a way of life!

God has become the much needed clasp for life to go on. He fills the gaps in our inference of the existence of the universe and ourselves. We can’t afford to have these gaps because these are not just gaps in our understanding, these in fact are gaps in the purpose of our life. That’s why despite the differences in our ideology, we find the very idea of God is inevitable for us.I guess most of us, have even noticed some atheists, look up to the supreme power at the crucial hour. I have been through this phase too, I have been grown up as a blind follower, then I wanted to connect and correlate the science and religion, then I had been an atheist for quite sometime, though was not bold enough to reveal, especially thinking of the bizarre looks I would get for being unorthodox and now, my opinion is a mixture of all these phases yet different altogether.

Well, how many of you have felt a strange over pouring emotion when you listen to your favorite devotional song, how many of you wish to live with the feel that someone with the ultimate power is there to take care of you?

Then comes our big questions – Who am I ? How this universe came into existence?..and we always try to establish a connection between the answers to these questions and God. We tend to think, if we could figure out that God has created the universe, God exists! And the day we end up scientifically proving the dawn of universe, science wins!

For argument sake, let’s say the universe and the entire Cosmo is an end product of causality, still I would take God away from this and put Him up differently. I would say – God, is the output or the end product of the reaction between – our emotion, which we call the devotion and the Cosmo – which is the belief in its purest form! You may say the power of God is directly proportional to the intensity of this emotion, thus explaining its subjective nature. This reaction you may call, the answers to your prayers, without which,  we are all subjected to causality.  May be yet another perception of a blind man 🙂

Now back to the drawing board, to speak of bringing science and God together, it is to say, bring logic and belief together, it feels queer, as it appears to me the logic would never have the magic of belief. It’s something like the difference between a complex geometrical representation and a fine art. The former could never get that magical feel because he is well aware of his progress and the outcome and cherish his success at each stage, bit by bit, that he does not have much of relish left towards the end, while the merriment of the artists is that of a child’s, looking at his candy! There is always this unfathomable magic associated to this leap, both in creativity and belief. It may happen that, one day we hold the scientific proofs to reason out God, but I’m afraid we would not perceive God the same way we do now, for that magic would be gone.

Unravelling the casteism, as one of its victims

We are marching towards peak of our civilization, adorned with multifarious technologies, more polished, refined, comprising of well-bred ladies and gentleman, Yet! we continue to encounter discriminations, on various grounds. Well, Casteism is the most conspicuous and contentious one of it – you would need no further explanations if you are from any rural parts of India, irrespective of your religion! At least one in ten of the population is a potential victim, in one way or the other, at-least at some point in their life time. You could see things like ****Land disputes turns into caste violence*** Teen paraded naked for affair with a girl from different caste**** girl allegedly assaulted, tonsured for marrying out of caste***Dalits attacked for hoisting national flag***, frequenting the headlines. In-fact these are pretty much run of the mill affairs that are just brushed aside while there are many other subtler non vocal ones as well.

It all roots back to our ancient castesim (comprising of 4 varnas – Brahmnas , Kshatriyas , Vaishyaas and Sudraas). My understanding of its origin is not of mere stratification but more inclining towards social balance. To form a whole society, we need people to split up the responsibilities equally, people took various métiers based on their capabilities, got labelled accordingly, thereafter trying to preserve the genes over generations under the veil of karma, to maintain the balance. Whatsoever, we all know this balance could not last long. Two things – One is that, genetics is just one of the influencing factor and that it could very much flip, alter and evolve. The other is that our society has witnessed a sea change since then, that now our choice of occupation is quite subjective and rely on various ingredients like educational opportunities, job opportunities, competition, location and environmental factors, monetary aspects, so on so forth – the point is, now the choice is very much controlled by these societal factors, in an unformulated way of-course, than a free man’s desire, aptitude or heritage.

One fact clear! Castesim is stereotyped, hackneyed, dull and nothing more than a cliche now, devoid any real worth to the society. Yet, you are reading this, implies despite of no value or efficacy, there are and continuing to be several victims of it, including me! It still prevails, continues to defy and resist to evolve with the changing technologies. It’s not just the four varnas anymore. Not only the castesim has overgrown and has so many branches now, cloaked under various names, its roots has perpetuated deeply, not just into materialistic aspects like politics, business, blah blah blah – into more deeper place, making it quite difficult to deracinate – Yes! into our very own minds!. Someone at some point of time, has recorded this information somewhere deep. In my case, I belong to the brahmin clan and the recording sounds like *** ‘I am intellectual, I am highest of all the class, I am selfish and ridiculous!’****. We have been hearing this over and over, I could very much sense that it has altered the consciousness to a considerable extent, influencing my desires and choices, even defining my character at times, slowly feeding all over me. It is this very recording that keeps people from having an open mind, skeptic, in ignorance!

Recently I read a blog on humanistic psychology talking of Abraham Maslow’s theory of learning, proposing that human motivation is based on a hierarchy of needs. Surprise!, I could very much correlate his pyramid to the four varnas – from the basic physiological needs of survival to the path of self actualization. ***Stratifying the society based on our needs, so that we could always actualize them, all of them, reserving people with appropriate vocation to deliver the job **** that’s what our ancestors had done. Irony is that the purpose has faded away, leaving us with nothing more than mere discrimination. With ages of conditioning, many of us have either developed intolerance to change or just too lazy to pull the strings, while some do willfully enjoy the dominance, take leverage and stamp over the weaker. Now the situation has to started to show its flip side as we have angered the meek for so long, nevertheless the caste system by itself is unswerving. Whoever protest, they do under the same tag line. For some fatuous reason they still want to hold on to it.

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I was looking at the Abraham Maslow’s pyramid, deeper this time, occurred that it’s not just the hierarchy of needs, a clear indication of evolution as well, so as the varnas. . As I was looking, unconsciously my mind was trying to fit me in there, rating me. My brahmin recording said,*** Yay! you are on the top of the pyramid and my logical mind rejected laughing, see you still spend most of your time, making your living***. Hmmm…..***bit my lip*** why blame someone else?.  It was then I remembered something – We have seen people who have held self esteem way above their lives, we have seen people who have reached heights in the path of self actualization even before realizing their basic needs – I would say these are typical epitomes of evolution and holism.

What we miss is that we have always been looking at evolution in a sequential way and continue to  – one of the prime reasons behind the tendency to develop superiority – inferiority traits. We are so fundamentalistic to still hold karma as fate and not discern that it’s nothing but causality. We have evolved a lot and have complicated ourselves a lot, we will not fit just like that in these classifications, not anymore! We are more of a whole and compiled version, that we cannot break and restrict ourselves down to one of these sections/classes. With our given society, high time for us to wake up, renounce our preconceived notions, stop being fundamentalists, acclimate ourselves to play the role of all varnas , be agile!

The Cliché

Let’s start with a quote –  ‘Opposite attracts’, seems very much self-evident in terms of magnetism, to the fact that a north pole of a magnet attracts a south pole. However, we use this popular saying in-numerous times in various contexts – It’s all about our thinking pattern –  our human mind always tries to connect the dots, trace and form a link between our current  and past experiences/memories, importantly in accord with our desires!  For instance, when people fall in love with a person who is way different from them, you know what people say, don’t you?:-), “Not a surprise, you know, the opposite attracts!, I know you both will be great together..blah…blah…blah..!”. But does it really hold good, every time? To me, a relationship is bringing in two different entities, unique, destined to unify for a purpose, eventually forced to accept and adjust each other. To make things work, a couple should always compliment each other, grow from each other, still be compatible and adjustable, to form a whole healthy relationship – what’s there with opposite attracts?

Now back to magnetism – Opposite attracts?  really ? ? I do agree, a south pole attracts a north pole, but wait! that’s only when you are looking at the poles!

Let’s step out a little and look again, at both the magnets as a whole. Okay… what we see ? – Yes! we could see that –  a magnet that is positioned in N-S direction attracts another magnet that is positioned in the N-S direction, in the same fashion!  Why we never bothered to look at it this way? Think!

It’s up to us to look at the poles or whole magnet, up to us to look at the bigger picture. Unfortunately life is not as simple as it, where to determine whether we are looking at the poles or the whole magnet itself  is a challenge. We perceive based on what we see at that point of time and act, deemed to face the repercussions later , be it good or bad. This is not about scenarios where one knowingly  commits a crime or an act that is universally identified as so. This is all about people who acts and thinks, they are doing the right thing, but get into trouble, despite their act seems righteous. For instance, let’s take a socialist trying to act against a social crime. Ofcourse that’s a virtuous act, yet we have enough history with us, on the mishaps and hiccups faced by the socialists. According to the so called Karmic law, good begets good! What’s with all these commotion?, something to seriously look at! to think what we miss.

We see things, as what appears as good and bad to us, we don’t break our conditioning to step out and see. As with the magnet, we are stuck to the poles! We are conditioned to classify things as good and evil , not as action and reaction. We fail to discern the happenings as cause and effect, fail to observe the universe goes by that law, never taking sides.  The socialist had hell because he failed to foresee and analyze the possible threads and diligently develop a strategy, efficient enough to defend himself, left alone curing the society. I wanna cite our epic Mahabharata, where the Pandavas would have lost, despite being  virtuous , if they didn’t have the brilliant strategist –  Krishna on their side. When I write this I could sense my heart thumping, saying NO!!! Truth always Triumps !!!, Krishna being with them or not, I started wondering if that’s a cliché too.. Then I realized , there is no truth when there is ignorance. Krishna was the tool to clear the ignorance, to discover the truth, as Ignorance is not an excuse, when we take such huge responsibilities, so said Dan Brown – ‘Ignorance is a crime at times of social crises’.!

P.S – I would leave it to you to rephrase the cliché.

Camouflage

Some say ‘know thyself’, some say ‘annihilate the I factor’. Some say ‘just live your life’, some talk of abnegation. We get advices for setting  and realizing our materialistic goals, while the so- called wise say ‘seek thy spiritual self’. Knowledge is wealth or freedom from the known?  Why we are always at the crossroads, we know not where it ends and whichever we pick, why there is always miles to go? Why we cry at both the movies and in reality? What is that we are covering us with, why that we always run from the truth?  Or worse..there is no truth at all!

Immanence

The paradisiac nature has blessed us with all wondrous beauties –  the sun-kissed clouds, the breath-taking view of mountains and the sun rising slowly above them, vibrant rivers and the scenic beauty of its confluence with the sea, serenity of the lakes, wind whispering to the trees and birds chirping around them, lush greeneries , ethereal blossoms and it’s heavenly fragrance, so enchanting, spectacular, picture-perfect, sometimes we even get the feel, the whole world is made for us, all for us, just for us! Then, suddenly, all upside down, it just takes a moment…all gone with an earth quake or a Tsunami. What seemed motherly and altruistic, all of a sudden seems self -serving, inconsiderate, uncaring, disastrous!. One may say it’s the repercussions we deemed to face for disturbing her balance, be it! still, nature doesn’t mind killing us to maintain her balance? We do see the same behavior among us, among all living beings, don’t we? a primal instinct to fortify thyself, we have seen even the most caring and tolerant people, acting otherwise at times of crises. Does that depict inheritance ? Nature’s paradigm? We always think nature as transcendent, but then did we discern nature is also immanent? We realize not, we are an embodiment of nature as well . This is important, this very realization , as it ought to  bring  a sense of responsibility to maintain the balance and harmony, not just with the outer world , within us as well, thus bringing in the much -wanted peace!

A blissful day

                 It was just another sunny day in Chennai, when my office had arranged a day out. I was super excited as the docket included a catamaran ride. It was almost noon, by the time we reached and  I was pretty much focused on my two primary goals – the ride to the sea and of course, the food and happy that both took the top position on the agenda.With the life vests up, we were all set, of course with a mixed feeling. I was quite peppy in the beginning, enjoying the bumpy – jumpy feeling over the small waves, with water splashing all over. After what seemed like twenty minutes, we stopped at a point ,that felt like we are in the middle of the sea. There was a rope around 20 feet long secured to the hull; we were told to hold it and  just jump. I was little edgy yet 1..2 ..3 ..and did it!

It felt different, the might of the sea, the expanse of it , how minor I am compared to it. We never realize it when we are in the land, safe and secure inside the four walls. We always have the illusion as that’s the whole world for us. It reminded me of a crazy idea I used to have in my childhood days, I used to imagine that the whole world is revolving around me, picture myself as the principle character of a huge drama, on this world-stage, where everyone else is chipping in, just for me :-). Nature broke all my ego on that day, showing her might, making me feel so minuscule, frail. The more I sensed it, more anxious I became. I tried to keep my head up and clutched the rope tightly. My body became stiff and soon started aching, yet I didn’t want to give up, wanted to explore and savor the moment to the fullest. I comforted myself with some rosy words, put my head back, held the rope gently and relaxed my body.

That was the moment! the moment I was caressed in the best duvet, swayed in the best cradle! Nature is indeed the best mother as all say, all  you have to do is to  surrender to her. I was savoring the moment and my thoughts drifted. Man always thinks himself as superior, his ego doesn’t allow him to yield, though we know it’s the grass that survives the cyclone and not the mighty trees. But then, I also realized surrender takes one to a different level. It slowly took me to a pensive state, where everything felt so trivial to me, all I could hear was the sound of the waves, I could feel the drift in the frequency, everything became calm and serene, then for some brief moments, my thoughts went blank. It was then, I realized, whenever we think we meditate, we don’t, we can’t, it happens! and all we have to do is let it happen.

The common impediment we hear from people who try to meditate is, the thoughts, layers and layers of it, one leading to the other. It all links back to the ‘I’ factor, our ego, as for each of us, as was my childhood fantasy, the world revolve around us, so do our thoughts. All it takes is, to come out of the illusion we have constructed about ourselves, forget who we think we are, all thoughts surrounding us would automatically vanquish itself, as there is no trigger, as there is no motive, as there is no identity, there we are, aligned to the frequency of the nature, where only consciousness prevails and meditation happens! Oh yes, we can feel the bliss…