Sunday, November 25, 2012
Compulsions often arise out of obsessions, which can ultimately lead to depressions and if you add anxiety to the mix, then you can come down with a case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). All are loosely termed as anxiety disorders. Did I switch off the lights? Did I lock the front door, and arm the lock. An abusive boss, a struggle to make both ends meet, ma rital discord, all these thoughts can become an obsession. All stressful situations trigger reactions such as fear and a surge of hormones, and lead us to act irrationally. Anxiety is a fear that is unbearably vivid and insanely abstract or simple worry amplified a hundred times. Obviously another anxiety is sexual obsession also, a desperate attraction to another person. Stressful modern life can alter the biology of the brain, tipping the mind into illness, and leaving molecular scars. According to neuroscientist Eric Nestler, stress influences the brain through epigenetics and suggests that stress causes chronic diseases by shortening structures that cap chromosomes. Anxiety disorders are characterized by a sense of fear and doom, and lead to drug or alcohol addiction and some become a recluse avoiding situations and people. Depression sets in, and social anxiety sets in where irrational fear makes you avoid social gatherings .This also leads to separation anxiety all adding to depression. Some with general anxiety disorders become highly religious and follow complex rituals which serve as ineffective anodynes. People feel sad, hopeless and a lack of interest or enjoyment in activities. In the case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) recurrent irrational fears are assuaged to a degree that one engages n repetitive behavior. Medicine and therapy definitely helps.
Fairplay and ethics in business is a modern word, introduced perhaps by the French Revolution, based on the assumption that there is same kind of a universal measurable scale, which determines objectively what our worth is. In Hinduism the word for value is Maya; a truth created by comparison, hence a delusion a mirage. The Rishi Mandavya was arrested and br utally punished by the Kings guard for a crime he did not comment. When he questioned Yama, the god of death- who looked at the book of Karma and replied, as a child you tortured insects. Mandavya thought that it was not fair to punish him for a crime committed in childhood innocence. Yama, had a differing measuring scale as compared to Mandavya, who was right, the sage or god? In India the word Karma (destiny) is used to cope with situations which we cannot explain. Why bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people. We never question the basis and attribute it to Karma (fate). In the mythological story “Ramayana” Ram is banished to the jungle -was it fair? Nature is not fair; the Doe cannot complain that the tiger has eaten her new born fawn - Culture strives to be fair. We struggle to bridge the gaps between what we desire, what we deserve and what is in our destiny. But no matter what we get, we are never satisfied and always feel cheated. Unlocking true value with Vedic wisdom – Inputs from -Devadutt-
Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, voices whisper in the trees. The night of Halloween – when seasons change. It’s that time of the year. Trees lose their leaves and the gardener has begun to sweep them up into heaps in the compound – burning them. The smoke, drifting through trees, looks like mist. An evocative fragrance hangs in the breeze. Soon there w ill be a nip in the air, and then the atmosphere will be perfect, till the crackers start to burst heralding the festive season and the dawn of a new year. The burning of the leaves emphasizes, not the salvation of the believer’s death, but the cleansing of the personal spirit, almost as if that is all that can be done, even by people of goodwill. “Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare Time for the days ended and done… The world that was ours is a world that is ours no more… Earth cares for her ruins, naught for ours Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.- Robert Laurence Binyon-
It takes all sorts to make the world, businessmen, politicians, doctors, lawyer, artists, tradesman, workers, bankers, theologians and society at large. There is a concept of persona and shadow, ethics and values. Everyone tries to project an image and reputation even products need to builds up a brand image, this is also a form of greed or avarice. As Gorden Gekko states in the movie Wall Street “Greed clarifies cuts and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all its forms: greed for life, for love, for money, for knowledge, for power has marked the upward surge of mankind. Persona is the visible part of our personality, what comes naturally to us, which we unconsciously project to the world. The opposite is the shadow part, which we try to conceal as it contains all the greed, the lust, rage and resentment, shadow also operates on multiple levels community, groups or industry- The shadow of capitalism, religion, politics and war. For a winning persona these ugly shadows have to be repressed for projecting an ethical, reputable image of integrity. Rajat Gupta was gifted, articulate, intelligent, person who nurtured his core competency to become head of McKinsey. He networked and built up relationships but somewhere the negativity escaped from the closet. Where sharing insider information is now a norm, in his case it was a small error that caused his undoing. As celebrity coach S Balu concludes in these times when business houses, banks, wall street, politicians and almost everyone uses unethical ways and in India where the judiciary can’t even keep pace with the scams, and corruption cases that keep tumbling out, role models are becoming a scarce commodity. Conditions, culture and context help shape behavior. Leaders walking the talk will help us re frame our code of ethics and enable us follow the dictates of our conscience.
The word Hindu has not been properly defined clearly even by Indian law, leaving it wide open to multiple interpretations. In loose terms “religion” has been expressed to mean a matter of faith, within individuals or specific communities who talk of advancement or endorse a precise set of beliefs. Technically speaking Hinduism is neither a religion nor a community and these are not words of any iconoclasts, philosophers or sages. Hinduism is a way of life of a civilized society and is not a religion. The spiritual traditions native to India beginning from the Iron ages stretch back beyond the prehistoric and Bronze ages when the Indus Valley civilization was in bloom. Indian philosophy consisted of Vedas and some were steeped in Tantra too - the gods in the Rig Vedas are personified concepts of nature. The interconnected and interdependent nature of the universe is the heart of the Upanishads known as Vedanta. It is against anyone who worships divinity other than the inner self. Lord Shiva, Hanuman, Indira, Durga and the multitude of gods represent aspects of nature and do not represent a religion, but are merely superheroes of the universe. Temples are open to everyone irrespective of caste, creed, gender, religions, faith or color, even atheists and communists can visit. There are no specific holy days like Sunday or Friday in a week, nor any commandments. Temples celebrate festivals provide facilities for visitors, social and cultural balance funds are utilized for providing education to the poor, needy and helping people affected by natural calamity. The partition of India saw India emerging as a secular nation with Hindu majority, the word given by British to differentiate them from Christians, Muslims, Parsees
The story of our lives from birth to death is like the invisible images of a movie, portraying the transitional desert in everyone’s life. Nothing is forever yet; you can somehow make things seem better than they truly are. Tired and disillusioned as we are by lost wars, revolution, and inflation, the atmosphere vitiated by our dreadful history. Traumatic e vents pile on to the next one, driven by what you gain. Broken honor, you came and you went, the journey disrupted by your destiny. We try to cherish ideas worth cherishing and to question ideas that need questioning. It’s hard, to know a little about this life and how it will end, we forget the meaning of genuine human kindness, but realize shortly before the end of our own tenure, that humanity is the most important part of life. We are just another crack in the wall, here with no love lost. We struggle in search of meaning from sunrise as the bright rays of the sun like a beam of light explores the earth, yet cannot throw light on our doubts, finally we end up watching the orange sunset that defines the end of existence and we understand that everything is ephemeral and this irony is understood only when we rest in the zone of eternal silence. –Vinay-
A young man visiting his home town desires a quick affair. While there he unexpectedly comes across a woman he had known as a schoolboy. She has become a deep, sensitive, and truthful woman. Married to a shallow and vulgar man, she is miserable but blames no one. The young man sees his chance. Reminding the childhood girlfriend he always loved her, and sweari ng to devote his life to her, he seduces her, and then sneaks out of town. We recognize the man’s search for treasure as an allegory on the quest for true happiness. The unhappy are egoistic, spiteful, unjust, cruel, and less capable of understanding each other than fools. Unhappiness does not bring people together but draws them apart. The luxurious surroundings, the idyllic landscape - that bespeaks higher a cultural status of the townspeople,as opposed to village folks who would have reacted wrathfully. Nobody knows the real truth, as the young man leaves town turning up the collar of his overcoat and thrusting his hands in his sleeves. . . . A light rain began to fall. It is as if his gestures acknowledge the perpetual inclemency and uncertainty of human life.
Mythology and fairy tales, like our own lives, were born out of conflict. The stories confront the injustices and contradictions of so-called real worlds. As such, their function was–and, is still is–to engender solidarity and hope among disenfranchised classes, and spread awareness of social inequality. In the tales, peasant women want to marry princes and peasant men want straw to be spun into gold ability to financial prosperity. Evil kings and queens (and step-parents) are punished and the proletariat triumph. “The magic of the tales,” we learn, “can be equated to the wish-fulfillment and utopian projections of the people.As an oral form, fairy tales have been around for millennia; it wasn’t until the 17th century that they were written down for the first time, recently, they’ve been commercialized into TV and films and, with each new incarnation, the fairy tale’s ability to depict social struggles has diminished. Confusing the real world with the cosmic one, the movement sees itself many times as self-righteous and blessed in every occasion, and surrounded with miracles. In “Beauty and the Beast” that shows persuasively how the folk tale was subverted. Rooted in ancient fertility ceremonies wherein virgins were sacrificed to please dragon gods who were trusted to then help the community a depiction of Stockholm syndrome, she eventually grew to love the beast. Faith in the Gods and dragons and other superstitions attract millions of foreign influences, living entities and powerful agents... proceeding from erroneous and sincere beliefs of gods and prophets that bigoted religions and sects worship. It’s never, of course, a good thing to let the masses become too hopeful. Inevitably they will start wanting things. The clergy and aristocracy appropriated fairy tales, thereby squelching folklore’s revolutionary soul. The various media have redacted, airbrushed, and photo shopped much of this content away. –Zipes-
Garuda, the eagle, was enjoying the song of a sparrow atop Mount Kailas, when he saw Yama the god of death (grim reaper), also looking at the bird. But Yama was frowning. Maybe he did not like the song. Fearing for the welfare of the little bird, Garuda, with compassion in his heart, decided to take the bird away from Yama’s line of sight. Garuda took the bird in the palm of his hand and flew to a forest far away beyond seven mountains and seven rivers. There, he left the sparrow on a tree full of succulent fruits. When he returned to Mount Kailas, he found Yama smiling. Yama explained, my account books are balanced. I saw a sparrow here singing a song. It is supposed to die today but not here. It is supposed to die in a forest far away beyond seven mountains and seven rivers, eaten by a python that lives under a tree full of succulent fruits. This has happened, thanks to you the eagle. Garuda realized that what he thought was an act of kindness turned out to be an act of cruelty for the sparrow. So when death narrates a story you have to listen, as death is synonymous with time, the destroyer of worlds. Robert Oppenheimer- while watching the mushrooms cloud of the atom bomb recalled this verse in a reminiscent re-incarnation. Death as time is equally dead. Religious mythological stories can easily be used to delude and manipulate mankind in the garb of motivation, there is no truth out there only myths in the scriptures. Sometimes our failures work in our favor by creating new opportunities. So we must embrace life and enjoy it as long as it lasts. Recretated- -Extracts from Garuda Tales stated by D Pattanaik and Vitthal Nadkarni-
Steve jobs traveled to Indian when he was young and poor, he was hitchhiking his way and had no money. Yet this trip was an eye opener and he imbibed the fundamental wisdom of the east. As a young hippie struggling to find meaning in his life it was a sort of tipping point if ever there was one. He learnt that money was not important as the observed the very poor in Indian who seemed to be very happy and were as inspiring as the rich people. He learnt not to be driven by money; he also learnt the value of intuition and was awe- inspired by the spiritual beauty of India. He became a believer of the eastern spiritual way and it defined the way he was for the rest of his life. Steve was inspired by the frugal life in the hinterlands and people despite lacking material comforts fiercely hanging on to their dignity. The magical quality of Vedic life in India surprised him and he went on mine this Mother lode of spiritual experiences. For the stoic Steve Jobs this place encouraged his ideal state of mind, and a strange tranquility descended on his troubled mind. In later life he once again achieved this tranquility within the chaos of disruptive innovation – not by chasing after enjoyable success, but by cultivating a kind of calm indifference towards all opposition and criticism. By defying his detractors, not shunning them – but examining their view point’s closely he was able to understand the reality. He did not exist in isolation was meticulous and gave us a product that has become part of our modern eco-system and made him a larger icon than any rock star or Hollywood actor. –Vinay- (with inputs excerpted from his biography
This is the process by which individuals are conditioned to pick up beliefs, connections and cognition of the Holy Scriptures. Religious imprints are normally associated with organized religious from which they derive a set pattern of rituals in their religious experiences. Therefore certain dogmas are indoctrinated which are from their associated religious beliefs or laws, like a Christen or Islamic religious imprint which gets embedded in their DNA. Albert Einstein arguably the greatest scientist has written in his letter which is up for grabs in an auction for millions of dollars. His view on the physics of the universe and cosmology are diametrically opposite those in religious works. Einstein states “God is nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses. The Bible/Koran and other Holy books are a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends that are nevertheless pretty childish. A host of eminent scientists – endorse this view. The Rig Vedas and many Indian sages like Radhanath swami echo similar sentiments “Man cannot be enlightened by any religious organization, creed, dogma, priest or rituals – nor through any philosophical knowledge or prayer. He has to find it through understanding the contents of his own mind. Dalai Lama in his discourses states. There is no need for temples, mosques, churches or complicated religious philosophies. Our brain and are hearts are our temples or places of worship and our philosophy should be compassion ethics and inclusive love towards the universe.-Vinay-
"Those who love sunshine have never danced in the rain". A light mist settles gently on the wet leaves across the rain drenched trees. The leaves danced green and sparkling knowing the monsoon was leaving them. I paused for a moment listening to the confluence of sounds. The pit patter of the receding rains drumming on the roof, and then falling onto the ribboned roads –the cheery gurgle of the overflowing brook. It was the time to step out of the dreary time frame, savor the season’s departure and assume an identity of that ephemeral moment, when true nature stood revealed. To break free, from the captivity of space, time and to attempt to achieve – the idiosyncrasy of creative expression, through the lens of intellectual simplicity and visual imagery. When awareness comes within you there will be a mingling of the spirit – with the precise mix of melancholy and joy that makes life so exquisite to live. Nature will steal your heart while the cool breeze whispers lovingly in your ears. Do not consider the universe separate or remote from the concerns of ordinary living – it has a sense of fun that verges on the erotic. It’s unique nature creates its own story which defies definition. Just be with nature, marvel, absorb and be inspired to delve into its complexity and incarnated divinity in a spontaneous way with total aesthetic freedom. There is sadness in beauty when you understand this you will no longer be unhappy. The mystic experience and realization – That the entire inverse is nothing but a blissful fort of consciousness. -Vinay-
Since mind as such pure from the beginning and with no root to hold to something other than itself-Has nothing to do with an agent or something to be done, one’s mind may well be happy. Since intrinsic awareness with no objective reference whatsoever, has no intention as to this or that, one may well be full of love toward all. Since vision and attention to the visitor are neither disrupted nor falling into contraries, having nothing to do with acceptance or fear, high or low, one may well be joyous. Since enactment and goal, having nothing to do with acceptance and rejection, expectation and anxiety, are not seen as something to be obtained or missed, one may well feel inner warmth.
As Bill Cosby the American comedy actor stated “ A word to the wise isn’t necessary - it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” It is a natural tendency to depend upon someone else, whom we consider superior. When we are young we have our parents, uncles, and teachers and as we grow up we embrace religion, Gods, Guru’s who we feel have greater knowledge, competence and power. We rely on them in times of crisis or failure to boost our morale. Too much reliance, leads to loss of confidence and insecurity, our minds will be dwarfed in its capacity to think and act in a creative manner. We develop a fatalistic attitude to life and growth will be stunted. It raises questions of the duality of this relationship and explores the roles of the creator and the created, master and slave, father and son/daughter and so forth. We should never the conditioned by the values and belief systems of our superiors. We should train our mind and spirit to seek for itself in the adventure of life and find opportunities to grow. Then only can we emerge from the cocoon with a wider vision of the world and test the limits of our own soul. Vinay
Once upon a time – around 6th century AD- there was an Indian Buddhist monk called Bodhidharma, who was given to a peripatetic life. And then one fine day he landed in a Chinese temple by the name of Shaolin. There he found the monks rather weak and unfit. So he devised a regimen of exercise which became the basis of what later came to be called Kung fu. It is actually a generic term for Chinese martial arts and there are various schools and styles. Among the major techniques are the ones based on animals: dragon, tiger, leopard, snake and crane. Kung Fu movements are circular in nature, with one movement flowing into the other. This gives it a rather graceful air, and some of the moves are reminiscent of the ancient martial arts called” Kalaripayettu practiced in Malaba r. Karate: Some time in the early ‘80s, small- town kids were yelling “kiyaah” and throwing their limbs at weird angles. Not only that. Dojos were springing up at every corner, tailors were busy stitching gis and pimply adolescents were tightening their obis. All thanks to a film called Enter the Dragon. Karate originated in the Japanese island of Okinawa sometime during the 14th century. Its origins lie in the mixing of the indigenous fighting system known as “te” with Chinese martial arts brought to the island by immigrants from Fujian province. Karate movements are more linear and crisp with clear stop and go movements. There is bias toward striking, punching and kicking. While the weapons are similar, a Karateka dresses (gi) is different: a kimono- like top and loose pants and a belt (obi). Karetekas do not wear shoes while practicing.What Bruce lee showcased in his films was neither Kung Fu nor Karate but Jeet Kune do. According to Lee it is a “style without a style”. “The art of fighting without fighting”. -Yusuf Begg.
Retronaunt - The past is a foreign country, so we will go hunting for vintage products that are absolute. It happens to humans as well, we all have our expiry dates stamped on our skins. Gone are the flashbulbs and cameras, last year’s camera has already been replaced by a new model. The TV set evolved glacially in its early life. It has moved slowly from B&W to Colour, but then accelerated LCD to LED to 3D and Smart TV in just three years. Remember the old gramophone that went round for years and Grundig spool tape recorders. Now one needs to change the digital dock every time the digital music device changes. One strain of history holds that our desires as mankind are rooted in the changing features of products. We had the Peugeot /Ford and Chevrolet cars for 10 years and it took almost 5to 7 years for platform change in automobile, now it happens in 24 months. New designs are seen on luggage racks in less than a year, fast fashion makes garments move from the catwalk to the store in two weeks flat. It took decades for plain old rotary telephones to evolve into a push button. No more oohs, aahs and wow for the old Blackberry, now it is like a Jurassic Park item. Smart phones get obsolete in six months. I phone 5 is the coolest gadget with all the hot dudes flaunting this hardware. Mebbe in few years no one will miss me as the demands of multitasking daily life, outstrips my capabilities. When our time comes a fancy new dude will take over with oodles of charm, and only glimpses of life from my era will be revealed. We have forgotten what the real qualities of life are ---- we are wrapped up with all this new shining dollar gizmos. Watching a video and sharing our lives in virtual reality. -Vinay-
According to Peter Bregman meditation brings many benefits and helps us to cope in a world overloaded with information.-it improves performance and productivity. Meditation is not sitting cross legged on a cushion on the floor with eyes wide shut and breathing heavily. Meditation is one of the hardest things to learn. Or ability to resist impulses determines our success in changing old habits and acquiring new behavior. You have to ignore the hard and sharp vicissitudes of the real world outside - and concentrate to see the world in your inner self, dwelling on the verge of abstract. Our mind always feels like a crowded city where thoughts constantly nudge each other for space – meditation is an internal journey which we seldom undertake. If we can then the thought curves intensifying with each other will coalesce, reminding us of the continuous nature of everyday life and it will refresh us. Life then becomes an apparition where co-incidences never exist and the subtle nuances of our emotional expression are portrayed in their relevant perspectives.- Vinay-
Wall Street operators, toxic debt, religious intolerance, rampant unemployment, depression, recession, untenable lives full of hardship. Today everyone works aimlessly in software – but are mentally unemployed since the Internet, Social network, TV and videos have invaded our homes. The legacy business is narrowing like all brick and mortar traditional industries. The marvels of human engineering give way to Face book, to find connections in our deep and vast cosmos. It’s no longer enough to dress in pin stripes suits, look the part and cultivate an attitude. The days of boozy lunches and careful chatter in 5 star restaurants are over. Now we need to stare at our laptops and cell phones with a haute nerd intensity – in the flat and spectral non hour time zones of the globe. Things have changed so abruptly from the pre-globalised small shops to a world wide website. Futures like our grandparents have insufficient “now” to stand on. The old system has collapsed people had time in those days and everyone had work, badly paid but one could eat. People valued friendships talked endlessly ate and drank. A life of the spirit sniffing at one another’s caste and creed. Face book has taken a bite of the forbidden Apple, yesterdays products all toppled by Steve’s icon. Google has arrived to serve our voyeuristic desires in the virtual world. Our present is too volatile – we have to rely on risk and disaster management software. Sign of the Times or a pattern recognition.
One man’s food is another man’s poison is the old adage. In India where the fast food culture is in its infancy the variety of dishes is a gastronomic delight to our senses. Here it is important to appreciate that like the tea ceremony of Japan having a proper meal is a mental state – “Vairagya” forgetting the problems of the world as you partake of the pleasure of delicious food. Lunch, Dinner or Breakfast is a serious affair the tingle of cutlery is a re assuring sound – that whatever the uncertainties of the world outride, food is not one of them. Food lies in the details, culture and civilization and it begins with a salad, a yellow lentil, curry, a small dish of curd and the quintessential rice, pickle and pappad. The completeness of the meal is what distinguishes an Indian meal with its nutritional value from the junk food containing high levels of calories, sugar and fat. It is not for those who are in a tearing hurry, who jump out of bed, shower run a comb, gulp coffee; grab the coat and dash to the metro. The modern idea of a quick business lunch is anathema – a festive sandwich – slapping some meat or cheese between slices of bread or a slice of pizza accompanied by Power Point presentation is taboo in Indian culture. The centrality of a proper meal is a squatter’s act of fat denial of the idea that work must inundate us with its pressing impatience. The western idea of a quick working lunch –sandwiched food between layers of office hours, compressing hunger into a task on the job list is frowned upon. Indians also prefer home – cooked food, it is what rescues culture from biology. The Tiffin from home is a complete meal and gives a sense that we have not left home to another world of five days a week and gives you an inner fulfillment.
The question whether money can bring one happiness, is a controversial topic discussed by theologians, philosophers and social scientists. Money is definitely a luxury and one can indulge in it. Many research shows that people with money are not much happier than people with less money. Recent research by Jennifer, Melanie and Cassie of Wharton contradicts the earlier research. According to their findings you must know how to using happiness with your hand earned money. They state that you should spend money on experiences rather than baubles like jewellery, diamonds or a farmhouse in the hinterlands. They also advise us to buy small pleasures instead of big ones and share experiences with family and friends. Do not compare, or compete with the Joneses or other rich and famous people. The forgoing seems logical based on some of my personal experiences too. With money I don’t have to worry where my next meal would come from, which was the case when I was broke. Of course I passed my stage of extravagance in my youth. Now money gives me interesting possibilities, like spending it on an old peon who was in dire straits. His emotional letter gave me a lot of happiness. So too similar gestures that I randomly shower on some needy and less fortunate people. Money helps me to do what I want to, especially to be generous to my old friends. Property and real estate has no allure for me, I would rather spend it on a throwing a fabulous party with fun and frolic or a memorable trip with friends. Money has given me access to highly intelligent, stimulating people, making for an interesting life. My personal needs still remain simple, yet living a chequered and extraordinary life. Try and delay sensual consumption of pleasure to gain the benefit of anticipation. Since I have a vagabond’s heart like a gypsy and a philosophers mind, the idea of wealth is not based on how much I have, but on how much was creatively spent. Money must be spent to create happiness. -Vinay-
Ayn Rand was a Russian – American novelist and philosopher who propagated the philosophy of objectism - a philosophy full of “I” that it fails to make space for the “we” - that is an integral part of relationships and lose themselves as individuals. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion. She strongly supported rational and ethical egoism while rejecting ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned any sort of forced initiation as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism or Statism, she supported laissez faire capitalism. She believed that capitalism was the only social system that protected individual rights. She stated that all important questions of life like who am I, what is the purpose? lie in our subconscious, though we are not aware of it, she was critical of philosophers and their traditions but tolerated Aristotle. The Ayn Rand mystique has a huge fan following and many who hate her for propagating the dreadful, atmosphere of intellectual repressiveness that pervades her philosophy. She promoted romantic realism in art and literature and often echoed the sentiment “That it is the happy moments in life that really count.
Everything in the world need not be laden with meaning or elemental truths. Most people spend their entire lives in search of some profound meaning in the universe. We are obsessed with dead metaphors of blind faith, deaf to logic and reason. What is the meaning and purpose of life? Where am I? What should I do for salvation? Every man and woman tries to prise out the answers, whether he is consciously aware of it or not. As they grow older the anxiety to find answers to these existential questions increase in leaps and bounds. This causeless fear, anxiety and undefined guilt make them desperate and they reach out to organized religions for succor. Religions cannot answer these questions “who am I” or define your identity. They set about doing what they know best – that is vapid, internecine squabbling between faults, a powerful testament to the conflict, and brokenness inherent in mankind, religion and civilization. Carl Jung believed that the barren materialism of science and technology with its empirical formulae and organized religions stripped of its mystery has “desacralised” the world. Man must discover a deeper source of his own spiritual life. There is only one science that can attempt to answer these unanswered questions: philosophy. Philosophy with its tinge of spirituality, studies the fundamental nature of the existence of man, and his relationship to the universe. Philosophy unlike the silos of science and religion deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything. Religion which is exoteric is suitable for the masses. Philosophy reveals to those in the inner circle through spirituality – how you can discern the content of your mind. Through this comes comprehension of your form and you will be familiar with your innermost self.
Mumbai also described as the “maximum city” by Suketu Mehta like New York has become a maxim for the rise of volatility and density that is gripping Asia, a continent witnessing the imploding rise in displacement and the dislocation of most of its inherent values. Discarding its agrarian roots this continent propels all its inhabitants into capitalistic gamblers. Mumbai is the measure of India’s journey – a constant system of abuse, an unabashed route to seeking affluence, the new avatar, showcasing India’s new avatar, identity and primacy. Simit tries to explore and understand the furtive drive of an insatiable, collective greed to own any and everything at a spirally hyper-inflated cost. The poetic metaphor describes the conflicting duality that creates a rootedness as well as the difference to live and survive gracefully, if not in the utilitarian salvation of the cosmopolitan. This fuses the materiality of the urban mind scape, entrusting it to other sets of knowledge: including those from religious realms to spiritual and sensual desires – symbolically interrogating the entanglements in which we survive as a society in a competitive environment. A mitigating relationship within the urban sprawl, from spiraling land prices to the intense effects of ecological misdemeanor. The urban space called home becomes a metaphor, where spiritual primacy offers rhythms of numerological beliefs. In this steel and concrete jungle, with its marked territories, chants and own set of laws – herding the doubts, where cash – enhanced kismet (destiny) drives away the uncertainties of those still arriving. We float and fly to reach those faraway goals, in our eternal quest to reach a “destination”. – Simit Raveshia-
It is unfortunate that some ideologues within religions tend to set up science and religion as binaries. During the time of Roger Bacon, father of modern scientific research, scholars of all creeds, religions and beliefs were welcome. Modern science may seem Eurocentric as it was part of the imperialist expansion. For centuries it was thought that science was opposed to religion because it believed in materialistic reducibility. Minds or consciousness could in this sense be reduced to a manifestation of the biological operations of the brain and nerve cells. But quantum physics has now ushered in an era of uncertainty in matter that needs interaction of a mind to resolve it. Carl Jung believed that the barren materialism of science and technology research – and organized religions steeped in mysterious myths has “desacralised” the world. As Sir Rudolf Peierls the physicist stated. “The premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of human beings including knowledge and consciousness is not wholly tenable ………something is missing. Materialism is not consistent with quantum mechanics. With science comes questioning and is not as dangerous as religion which come with fixed ideology and dogmas. Stephen Barr states “if the human mind transcends matter to some extent beyond the physical universe, there might also, exist an ultimate spiritual mind. According to Indic philosophy this phenomenon of manifestation is a single thought on the canvas of pure consciousness – the boundless space with nether inside or outside, where the universe is born, develops and perishes, in a never ending cycle. That is why the Nobel laureate Engine Wigner endorsed the Vedanta philosophy practiced in India by the ancient sages – especially its theory of the universe as an all – pervading consciousness. – Compiled with thoughts of Professor Stephen Barr & Mukul Sharma.
For several centuries, Americans have been living under the regime of common sense - hard-headed empiricism, Yankee ingenuity, and so on—with respect to practical affairs. Yet at the same time this “nation with the soul of a church” has produced a plethora of emotionally charged creeds, most of them claiming exclusive access to the deity while denouncing their rivals and predecessors as cold, false, and dead. This now is the case of Islam that is rearing its religious head, starting from the Middle East and spreading all over other Islamic states. Truth games of the spiritual type, if they are not to sink into anodyne church/mosque/temple conversation, cannot and must not be confined within the frames of an epistemological establishment or within institutions of a politics of knowledge that's given once and for all. Religion sees “third world” humanism as a kind of "taming of men" that saves them from "barbarism, infidels and heretics. For cultural historians - social struggles, war, pain, the arts, politics, accidents, poverty, culture, science and technologies, are more important than trying organizing and domesticating the social life of people through the creation of organized religious institutions. Over the years the religious framework faded and accumulation became more acceptable, the Protestant, Catholic and Islamic ethic will be transmuted into the spirit of capitalism—a set of moral and psychological sanctions for systematic moneymaking. For much of world history, the marriage of religion and capitalism was the only one fitfully consummated. Mammon is the ultimate God.
India is an ancient land two world’s meet the negotiation between the spiritual and the material a semi bridge between two different cultures East and West. It is at once ancient and modern, westernized and oriental, wondrous and ordinary, familiar and exotic. It is also the largest functional democracy in the world. This geographic and cultural land hosts numerous sacred sites revered by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, giving it a feel of ancient holiness. It has invaluable artifacts of early Indus valley civilization, byzantine majesty and a spiritual supremacy. It’s an ethereal and dream like experience submerged in the pristine mist – meandering brooks, it’s like you have reached a place beyond reality, realms where dreams are made, a cocoon of timel essness. Priests, Sages, Gurus, Prophets, and Charlatans rub shoulders with each other in the holy places, houses of worship – Sadhus in loin cloth with holy ash smeared all over proclaim the nudity of their faith. Hinduism is the prevalent way of life here and there are millions of gods, but the Gods do not bother anyone, as they are as amazing as they are tolerant. So many religions thrive here unlike Europe where Christianity is much more exclusive or Middle East where Islam holds sway and are intolerant. And at the same time India is also a horrible place – it’s got poverty, its corrupt, most places are filthy, it’s that contradiction that makes it so alive. Like their multitude of gods and irrational rituals, this doesn’t make sense on its own, but helps make sense of the world or Maya, a visually sumptuous place. It is a repository of all ancient civilizations nurtured by its spiritual soil, a place that can teach you many things. A terrible, wild, crazy, horrible but wonderful warm place. I don’t know, it’s ambiguous, like so much in life its vivacity is unmatched.
Of all the bibulous ballyhoo that emerges from the loquacious lips of politicians, fat cat bankers, investment analysts, plutocrats, businessmen and corporate kookaburras, the weirdest is the idea that the businesses of a company or government is delivery of value to its clients, customers or the people. People all over the world have a credibility quotient and an appetite for swallowing bullshit into their genetic blueprint. The U.S.A. is staring at an economic ‘’fiscal cliff’’ and in India there is a huge fiscal mountain of debt, current account deficits that will take a long time to flatten. As Reagan stated” when your neighbor loses his job it is called recession and when you lose your job it is depression’’. One cannot be enormously wealthy and successful without persuading some politician or government official to bestow favors on you. Nothing succeeds like sleaze, and the ability to “fix” things is the most important attribute. Sleaze is the grease that lubricates the world of big business. Never call a spade a spade, call him a golden toothpick, but if you are against all bullshit tactics and holy cows you can call the spade a bloody bulshitting shovel. In public life use your words carefully.- The Bullshit Quotient-
The word ‘gentry’ is an anachronism – it is a thing of the past. Aristocracy, landlords or landed gentry evokes a cosy genteel exclusive and somewhat smug world – in which background and family were deemed more important than sheer- wealth and individual qualities. The younger generations has declined this privilege and are scattered round the globe. In those days it was all about land, they had core values of grace, enterprise, chivalry, breeding and honor. Money and conflict were as crucial as blood and family, but character was important and this many times has caused them to lead a life of struggle in later years. A sense of order, sociability, well being and ability were expressed through the landscape and inter folding of people. Land, animals, paddy fields, food, and old rambling mansions, all interconnected with old money and social connections. Many amassed wealth through plantations, business was looked down upon – so too jobs and politics. As the old order changed slowly, big businesses, politics and the government took over of vast tracts of land and pushed them slowly to penury. Some through their achievement, adjustment & adaptation have advanced up the ladder. The beautiful sense of community slowly disintegrated by unkindness, dominance and competition. To struggle with the new world order and corrupt politics was their waterloo. In the faint horizon we can still hear the clink of wine glasses, the clutter of Dresden crockery as the hushed low voices fill the air. Life is a struggle and community ephemeral.
Thou still unravished bride of quietness, thou foster child of silence and slow time! If you listen with your heart, quietening your mind, you can hear the brook and the river gurgling (breathing) in bliss – as they meander on their arduous journey. There is no hurry, she is on her way to the sublime retreat, and she enjoys the experience, and knows she will reach her destination someday. Finally the ocean will claim the river in an epiphanic cosmic sweeping moment merging together and there is only water and river no more.-Vinay- As Lao Tzu states “ Every journey is a search and the pleasure lies in the journey, rather than the destination”.
One evening I wandered beyond the hills into the woods overlooking the city, it was a blend of exceptional beauty and tranquility. A pristine patch of nature preserved within the environs of the town with a bewitching charm. The sun was beginning to set and the modest crimson light seeped through the couture of dark foliage creating a dense evocation. The woods were so dense and there are no pathways, its wild nature whose sheer intensity makes us gasp in awe - desire burns slowly as the details emerge, hitting you with an intense punch. Our senses awaken to the whole story about longing and derail the elemental matters confronting mankind. A hushed silence envelopes everything like in deep meditation. The intimacy of nature demands one to physicall y bend and smell the fragrance of flowers or peer at the texture of a mushroom. These are the minutiae we miss in our daily lives which are revealed in nature- often with an absurd sensibility and require a poetic sense of imagination. We ignore these vignettes because we are immersed in the different aspects of our quotidian lives. A mystic osmosis takes place and a sense of elation overcomes me. I found the woods enlightening and liberating, all my worldly worries disappeared like an illusion as true nature revealed itself in the serenity of my thoughts. Back in the city lights come on, where glass and concrete has devoured mother earth. People despite street lights are walking in darkness, and cannot fit into nature’s landscape…, they have to rebirth anew. They understand nothing in that sense - it is difficult for them to recognize the insufficiency of worldly knowledge. I let out a sigh of relief before setting out to see the sorrier and sordid side of the world–Vinay-
A new world is trying to eradicate old traditions but is not easy, as the old war horse fights back but doesn’t really stand a chance. The old Victorian buildings are being pulled down to give way to monstrous glass and concrete structures. During Asian and Commonwealth games the whole topography of Delhi in India was changed, similarly in cities where Olympic games were hosted. As Bailey and Pattanaik state that even in the eastern philosophy it states “everything must change for better or for worse” It is like someone growing a beautiful cauliflower in the garden to nurture and admire it, then of course, somebody else will come along and eat it. In the old Vedic system a man is supposed to retire from active life once his son has a son of his own - and renounce the wo rld and material activities. His s supposed to eat half of what he ate as the householder, and in the final renounced state eat whatever the wind brought him. The essence is that the old makes way for the new, so that society just as in nature is always taken care of and there is like too much burden on the resources of nature. It is like a career or job where you have given your heart and soul and your self-worth hinges around it. We are terrified of letting go of our identities, you may not let it go, but it has already let you go. Only those who relearn and reinvent themselves can inherit the future.
There is something particularly sinister in a shark’s appearance. The sight of his ugly triangular fin lazily cutting zigzags in the surface of the sea, and then submerging to become a hidden menace, suggests a malevolent spirit. The idea that they are ‘brutish and unrelenting’ goes way beyond perception, yet shark attacks are an exotic rarity the modest threat they pose to us, and the grave threat we pose to them. TheoTait states that many scientists don’t like to talk about shark sex, they worry it will only reinforce the popular perception that these creatures are brutish and unrelenting. Larger male sharks have to bite or trap the females to keep them around during courtship; the process is so violent that, come the mating season, female nurse sharks will stay in sha llow water with their reproductive openings pressed firmly to the sea floor. Otherwise they risk falling prey to roaming bands of males who will take turns inserting their claspers penis in her. Biologists can tell when a female has been mating because her skin will be raw or bleeding. Fear and hatred of sharks are powerful forces - reinforced by movies like Jaws. Sharks were swimming the seas before our continents took shape, while the dinosaurs were still around; They are carnivores, and the ones we’re most fascinated by are the most rapacious predators, right up at the top of the food chain. The big species that prey on marine mammals - the bull shark, which lives close inshore and up rivers, eats everything from dolphins to small sharks and, on occasion, horses – and has ‘the highest level of testosterone of any animal on earth. Meanwhile, to supply the shark fin soup trade alone, an estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year. Sharks are facing an extinction crisis; they will be mostly wiped out becoming little more than a folk memory.. Who is the predator man or shark??
Indians have always been a tribe that makes adjustments and are tolerant of other religions and cultures, as evidenced even during the Mughal and British rule. Martyrdom is when we give up our lives for a religion faith or ideology an indicator of inflexibility and absolute surrender, refusing to budge and dying for a cause. Devdutt Patnaik takes us down the earliest labyrinths of martyrdom which began with the Judaic faith. The Greek Selucid Empire went about “Hell raising” all lands including Judea home of the Hebrew tribe. The Jewish clung to their faith despite pressure to change refused to eat pork or make offerings to foreign gods. Judaism is synonymous with martyrdom as Judas insisted on keeping the Sabbath and circumcising male offspring. In Christianity both Roman slaves and nobility faced the wrath of the establishments. Jesus was a martyr as he refused to give up his faith. The early Christians were burned on the stake or fed to the lions for dissent. In Islamic tradition a martyr is called Shaheed meaning witness “to Shaha da” (there is no god but Allah). The first martyr was a woman Sum Ayyah bint Khayyat. In Shia the observance of Moharram ,where suffering is emulated by self flagellation for Hussain who died in the battle of Karbala. In Indian Vedic tradition there is no Sanskrit word for martyr. Though some saints and Sikh gurus suffered persecution, at the hands of the Mughals. However during India freedom struggle from the British rule ‘Shaheed’ become popular amongst the revolutionaries. Defending ones country is seen as a noble and upright cause. Bhagat Singh become a martyr inspiring freedom fighters when he walked into the gallows singing the song “Mere Rang de Basanti” (Color me saffron, the color of sacrifice) dying for ones motherland. I am reminded of an opening dialogue from the movie by General Patton of the US Army “You don’t win wars by dying for your country; you win wars by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country” Questions haunt us about color of sacrifice.