Saturday, November 04, 2006

Keep on Rockin in the free world

Its amazing the amount of hope, the sheer amount of energy, the naivette, youth and being young should embody. And its hard to preserve and let that which makes us beautiful, hopeful and positive live and thrive inside of us, particularly when all we see outside of us is so sapping in every way. Its hard to be positive, to learn from your mistakes, to try to be honest to yourself, to be naive in some ways yet wiser in other ways. And it just comes to you at some point, the sheer challenge in balancing many seemingly difficult contradictions inside of you. I guess when we tranform ourselves, we'll transform what we see outside of us.
I guess that naivette about being young is so beautiful, its such a gift, it needs to be preserved and unfortunately many young people don't realize, that part of the beauty of being young is not knowing it all, not 'having it all figured, and its just so amazing. You don't have to know everything in life, the first day you are born, I know people expect that of us, but its nice to let loose and give ourselves space to grow and thrive in our own way. And its an amazing realization to come to, that your growth doesn't have to keep pace with anybody elses around you, its just you and the race is with you. When you know that, you tend to make a deeper connection with yourself.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

How I felt when I was 21 and mindless ramblings about life after

Some days ago my mind harkened back to what it was like for me when I was 21. How did I feel? How did I view the world? Why am I reflecting about how I felt when I was 21. Honestly, our past must cause us to pause and reflect. Most of that reflection is internal, some of it needn't be, which is why I am writing this blog. When I was 21, I was like anybody else of my age, a little ambitious and looking towards the future. The life I had lived before I was 21 had'nt been short of events, I had already learnt a fair bit of hard lessons by then, but my mind hadn't fully cranked up to the experiences I would have in the years since. My 21st year changed it all, nothing happened in that year and yet everything happened, a weird contradiction. Nothing happened to fundamentally alter the direction of where I was and have been headed and yet something happened that caused a paradign shift in my life. A curious contradiction. Many things happen in our life, some of those things have a humanly comprehensible cause and effect relationship with us, but there are others that happen to us seemingly bereft of causality. Sometimes we don't grasp the magnitude of the event that happened and continue living our lives deeply numbed by the our own experience, living our life like aimless zombies. Sometimes we do, and when we do, we start looking for answers. Answers to questions that were in some obscure corner of our mind, questions which we told ourselves, we'd ruminate on, hoping that we wouldn't ever need to answer them. How we deal with ourselves, our own experiences and the things that happened to us, including the things we caused and those we seemingly didn't, fundamentally define our life, they define the decisions we'd take and those we wouldn't. I began serious questioning of the premise of my life at a time when I felt particularly vulnerable, challenged by own reality. Such a situation can manifest itself in one of two ways. Fortunately as I see it, I felt I couldn't stay content any longer without pursing those answers, I considered crucial to my understanding of myself. I had done some of this thinking before, but the way I viewed these questions and how I pursued their answers changed quite radically. Hence the paradigm shift. I learnt the value of human experience. Its funny how the greatest personal troughs often provide the greatest amount of inner inspiration. I was disillusioned before, trying to find my moorings, unsure of my steps, but nevertheless walking slowly and suddenly some of it started making sense and the steps became more sure. Life isn't about getting to the final destination somehow anyhow, its not about winning at any or all costs, its about playing the game on the rules of personal conviction. And it is a deeply personal game with some universal realities. We all came alone and we will all walk away alone and even the most lucky amongst us will find most of the road desolate. We all have to find our own rules, our own games, our own ways of getting good at the game , of accepting victory, digesting defeat all with humility, and foremost of the reality that someday the game will be over and we will be judged for our performance in the game. There is the possibility of earning both a promotion and a demotion. And the people that I have met since the time when I started looking at my own little personal game, have helped me refine my rule book, its also helped me understand that the understanding of our own internal inabilities is crucial in our own inability to master the game. Our own ego manifesting itself in the desire to control those around us, is our greatest inability. It impairs us from making deeper communications with ourselves. At a certain time in my life, after commiting a grave error of judgement which had direct ramifications for some others, I in my mind was blaming others for my follies. On careful reflection I realized that I bore the responsibility for what I thought, said and did, and blaming anybody else but myself for what happened to me, was not appropriate. I also realized that those people around us who choose to interact with us at a deeper than superficial level, give us a deeper insight into who we are. And if we are mindful, we can learn from every experience we have.

The ability to introspect, look within for our own answers, our own rationale for life and while doing so, not judge the world for not sharing our views, adds value to our own experience. Thats not always how I felt, but thats how I started thinking and my experiences and my ability to be alive to that has helped me a lot. My life or mind did not change course overnight, it had been slowly heading in a certain direction, certain experiences accelerated the process.

The process of learning is truly a process, its life-long, its based on what is esentially deep introspection. It is based on internalizing external experiences, on living lfe without the desire to control other's reality, it is the ability to strive, passionately towards something and yet let go. This is a weird paradox. There are things in life, which we can legitimately impact, among those are our thoughts, our speech and our actions, what we can't impact is, how it gets received by somebody else and how they choose to understand it.

Our realization of our own limitations can bring a sense of modesty and a sense of perspective of who or what we are and what we can do to improve ourselves and our world. We cannot hope to stand forever on others shoulders, at some point we have to find our own individuality, our own small, but unique place in the grand scheme of things. An honest assesment of ourselves can only help in that endeavor.
The Human ego like anything else has an inherent duality to it. On the one-hand it brings meaning to our life, it can make us strive towards the most perfect individuals we can be. It can also be a very bad thing, when we do not understand ourselves and the world around us properly. It can sometimes without our own knowledge bring a sense of self-righteousness, a sense of self-persecution and a sense of self-centeredness and self-absorption. When we think that others around us are wrong and we are right in all cases, we have decided to walk through life with blinders on. Its basically a decision to not correct or learn from our past mistakes and to not listen to anybody who may have our best interests at heart, as we have made the decision to view everybody who disagrees with us as our enemies. Its a profoundly disempowering experience when we have decided to not learn from the past, as effectively we have consigned our own past to the waste-paper basket. I wasn't always open myself to this idea, I made mistakes, hurt myself a lot and many others in the bargain and gradually learnt from it. Even as I write this today, there are occassions when I observe myself slipping into the mode of self-righteousness. The only good thing is that when one is aware of one's own mind and behavior, one has better chances of faster and less-destructive self-correction.

When we know that we can be wrong, that its alright to be wrong, as long as we learn from the experience, we are not afraid to err. The funny aspect is that most people err, don't learn and keep falling into the same traps again and again. Its a sad truth but there are certain very negative and personally harmful stereotypes which are enforced by our societies of today. Its conventionally thought that if we show our weakness too much, it will be exploited, that while for the most part true, doesn't as an argument hold good for looking at oneself, it also doesn't take into account those around us who aren't out to get us, or to put it differently who are out to help us grow, improve and understand ourselves better. One of the sad aspects of human society is that people are taught to follow conventions (we are not taught to think or spot exceptions), and in attempting to follow conventions which one often doesn't completely understand, we are not able to or taught to think for ourselves, we are not taught to question, we are not taught to be skeptical of what we see around us and what we see in ourselves. When we are in a position to think, we reach a stage where we can discriminate between our various experiences and at that point we can understand that every person around us isn't out to exploit us, we reach a stage of higher self-awareness, we reach a stage where we can accept love and compassion, be aware of what we are accepting, what we are learning, understanding, absorbing and disseminating. A thinking man, fights against blind faith, he fights against the irrational dogmas, essentially a truly thinking man is an individualist. I don't know why it is hard for many to accept that its alright to feel weak sometimes, to feel vulnerable, to feel sad, to wander the depths of one's own pschyche in search for answers, one doesn't need to feel sad, sorry or make excuses for one's own thoughts, and above all, its alright to be confused, to find one's own mind oscillate between different thoughts, different points of view, after all no man, not even the greatest of us, had it all figured out the day he was born. Only the self-delusional can make any claim of knowing it all, knowledge unravels itself to the discerning mind. The aim of life ought to be , to be that discerning mind, to fight for and seek truth, within and by obvious extension outside. Sometimes societal stereotypes are emphasized and enforced in odd ways, like such catchy punch lines as "We are Born winners"(If you are a born winner, please reveal your DNA configuration, it must be something super-human), "Win at all costs"(how about do the right thing, pursue your passion, don't just look for instant gratification, quick money, quick fame at any cost, oh ofcourse I forget, that was the ethos of a by-gone generation wasn't it. I forget, thats what may be right may not be the most easy thing to do or the most expedient thing), etc etc...People get wired with these societal stereotypes rather quickly, of whats cool and whats not in somebody elses view and then it becomes very difficult to fight such views.

I do not claim, I know it all, what I do claim is that knowledge is no one's person's property, its everybody's to find out, understand, personalize, preserve, enlarge and disseminate. Forgive me, I didn't always sound so old and grumpy, I got there, I just hope I got a bit wiser in the bargain. I guess only time will tell.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Invincibles

I have often thought of what binds all human-beings who walk this planet. There are many ways of looking at it, but the one aspect that I have seen with the greatest prevalence is the almost universal vanity in the human species. The belief that I am right, I am always right, I know everything, that I am better than the rest. There is not a human-being I have met, not one, foremost among them myself, who has not or at some level does not still have such a view of oneself. It is amazing the kind of vain and make-believe worlds we create for ourselves. And all we do is delude and fool ourselves. To what end? What do we achieve? Well, I think we achieve a lot, we achieve a sense of security, we insulate our lives from who we really are, and thats very important for many. If we have succeded in deluding ourselves, its fairly easy to delude anybody else. Now I shall digress for a bit.

I have heard some of the myths of super-humans even gods walking this planet, but at some level fantastic as the stories sound, could it be true that they did. Why is it, that god has to be brought into the mix, everytime man-kind can't manage its own house. And why can't we manage our own house. I am not disputing the story that gods walked this planet, frankly it sounds quite fantastic, one would always want to believe fantastic stories, they give a larger than life perspective on reality. Anything else, would seem dour and boring. At some level, that might be because of the inherent escapism in humans. People would much rather cull an elaborate story about what they wished or fantasized had happened as opposed to deal with what really did. But in doing so, I fear that man-kind in general has veered off the path of, action and consequence. When we are the ones, cutting trees and pillaging the planet, and when we face greater droughts, floods and natural catastrophies as a result of disturbing the delicate ecological balance, why blame it on the wrath of gods, why not blame it on the stupidity of humans. Could it be because we all walk with such bloated egos, that we'd be willing to blame everything and everybody on this planet for what happens to us (as a result of our own actions By the way), besides ourselves. I have a feeling that the history of human-species on this planet has been one of 'lost oppurtunity'. We have had numerous oppurtunities to redeem ourselves, but every single time one gets the feeling we have looked to extend our domination over other objects outside of us, we have looked to dominate nature, by incessantly destroying it, we have looked to dominate other human-beings through less subtle techniques like slavery, colonization, conquest, racism etc.. or more subtle techniques like mind control etc... At some level, our history, sadly most of it lost, in all but myth and legend, in my opinion, is a depressing chronicle of an agressive, war-mongering species who want to subjugate each other's will powers and pillage the planet. And though its depressing, its never been more important for that history to be uncovered. Just because its depressing doesn't mean, we shouldn't know it, we are on a collision course with our own nature and with mother earth. And it would seem an appropriate moment to uncover the "great" civilizations of the past, many of whom (the 'escapist' in me wouldn't like to think all), may have met a fate which they embarked on in ignorance and a false belief of 'invincibility' just like we have. It may be essential for us to know all this, so that maybe just maybe makind as a whole can undergo a paradigm shift in terms of our view of each other and most profoundly of ourselves. That ofcourse, predicates itself on a rather flimsy assumption, that we will learn from our own mistakes of the past and those mistakes will translate into a collecting wisdom, resulting in a huge course correction. Probably Only time will tell.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Past Regrets

"i've used hammers made out of wood
i have played games with pieces and rules
i undeciphered tricks at the bar
but now you're gone, i haven't figured out why
i've come up with riddles and jokes about war
i've figured out numbers and what they're for
i've understood feelings and i've understood words
but how could you be taken away?
and wherever you've gone
and wherever we might go
it don't seem fair...today just disappeared
your light's reflected now, reflected from afar
we were but stones, your light made us stars
with heavy breath, awakened regrets
back pages and days alone that could have been spent, together..
but we were miles apart
every inch between us becomes light years now
no time to be void or save up on life
you got to spend it all..
and wherever you've gone
and wherever we might go
it don't seem fair...you seemed to like it here
your light's reflected now, reflected from afar
we were but stones, your light made us stars
and wherever you've gone
and wherever we might go
it don't seem fair...today just disappeared
your light's reflected now, reflected from afar
we were but stones, your light made us stars"

These are lyrics from a pearljam song called "Light years" and the amazing part is how pertinent it is to human beings and the way we live our lives. We often deal with people who we think are precious to us in an almost cavalier fashion, freely assuming that there will be a tomorrow. Sometimes there is no tomorrow, all that there is, is today, to explain how sorry you were for what you did, how much somebody means to you, etc...I have known through personal experience of some instances which drove that point home to me early on. Sometimes we may meet a person, a close friend perhaps, for the last time, we may be alive, but may never meet again, but the precious few minutes we may spend together isn't spent in understanding the great friendship we share, it
is spent in other sad and wasteful ways. If there is one universal truth about human nature, it is probably that we are profoundly ignorant and that more than anything else brings our own downfall.

"and i wished for so long, cannot stay
all the precious moments, cannot stay
it's not like wings have fallen, cannot stay
but still something's missing, i cannot say yeah
holding hands are daughters and sons
and their faiths are falling down down down down
i have wished for so long
how i wish for you today
will i walk the long road the long road
cannot stay the long road
there's no need to say goodbye say goodbye
all the friends and family
all the memories going round round round
i have wished for so long
how i wish for you today
and the wind keeps roarin'
and the sky keeps turning grey
and the sun is setting
the sun will rise another day
i have wished for so long
how i wish for you today
i have wished for so long
how i wish for you today
will i walk the long road
we all walk the long road
will i walk the long road
we all walk the long road"

Another pearljam song "Lomg Road", seemed pertinent.

Peace

"Peace starts from within. Peace is quiet.

Peace is listening when others speak – even if they are speaking in a language we must learn to understand.

Peace is recognizing that we are all different – even as we are all human. Peace is acceptance that we do not understand others unless we take the time to allow them to tell us who they are.

Peace is humble – it is realizing that we do not know, we are not experts, we need help more than we need to give help.

Peace is not global. Peace is Individual.

Peace is knowing that life matters enough to change our actions so that our personal commitment becomes one that honors the life each of us has been given, and allows others the right to decide for themselves what their personal commitment must be.

Peace is helping when asked – it is not assuming help is needed.

Peace is freely making the choice to live the life that is right for us – to take care of what is ours, and to leave others free to do the same.

Someone once asked, “Why does God allow us all to suffer?”

God seemed to answer – “I allow you to suffer because I have given you the freedom to choose. When you choose to follow the simple laws I have given to you, you will no longer suffer. You have not chosen well.”

Peace is knowing that we have chosen well. "

This is something interesting I found on a webiste I found interesting. What I would only wish to add is, peace is the ability to be dispassionate, to look at oneself for who we are, peace is the ability to look at oneself in the mirror everyday and re-affirm the commitment to better oneself, to always learn, to forgive and make peace with others. Peace is the belief in taking responsibility for our thoughts, our speech, our actions, of being honest,mindful, considerate. When we have seen the amount of suffering we have caused to ourselves and others as a result of our own thoughtlesness, we may realize that the means and the end lies inside us.

Marriages are made in heaven

My knowledge of marriages are purely through observations, not through any practical experience thus far thankfully. But its just funny how people say marriages are made in heaven, well if marriages are made in heaven, so are most other things. Whether people believe in the concept of heaven or hell or not, I certainly do think there are many things in life which are a consequence of actions indulged in by a soul not just in this life-time, but in other life-times. For a moment I might digress into the whole concept of 'karma' which as I see it, is basically the encapsulation of all experiences thus far in the journey of a soul. It doesn't matter which life or what physical vehicle (Human or some other living form) a soul resided in, the experiences of a soul continue. During this journey of a soul towards its eventual rightful place, of higher consciousness, experiences are annihilated, while new ones are created. I am convinced that marriages, just like one's family, close friends are experiences one carries over from a different time and place. One may also ask the question, is it not possible that these may be new experiences, and not carry overs from previous experiences? Though it may be possible, I have my doubts about that. At any instant, on this planet, millions if not billions of souls occupy a physical vehicle for this small part of their journey, called this life. Why did I bring this up? Well did you know in which household you would be born before hand? Did you have control over that? Why is it, that among so many people born at any given momet, some are born in rich families, some are born in poverty. Some are born in households of a certain kind, some in households of a different kind. There is no doubt that our parentage, our family background, has a big part to play in who we are, and who we will become. Our family is our greatest pillar of strength, in some sense our parents define the values we have, and the values we don't. Then there are other experiences we have in life, which shape our mind, certain life-altering experiences, certain mind-bending experiences which forever change the way one looks at life, the true meaning of life, why we are here and what we are about. It takes a great deal of courage to look within. I have known no better or more meaningful way of looking at life. Returning to the subject of marriage, marriage like most other experiences is a 'karmic' experience, one gets who and what one deserves, no better and no worse. There are people who spend their young lives dreaming and fantasizing about their 'dream girl' or 'dream guy' or whatever, such thoughts are often shaped by societal stereotypes of who or what is beautiful or handsome as the case may be, and knowingly or unknowingly people serve to merely enforce that stereotype. Nobody seeks an ugly looking person as one's life partner, no matter how one may look, from the physical stand-point. But inspite of all I have heard from people about being friends before being life-partners, I have often thought of this as a highly suspicious statement. Who is a friend? A person who for better or worse, always stands by us, fights for us, sometimes even fights against us, to protect us from even the remotest of difficulty, who laughs with us, who weeps with us, who is always there with us, mentally even if not physically, and who will make any sacrifice humanly possible to see us happy. Different people define friendships differently, this is my definition. Even the most fortunate amongst us, find very very few true friends, most are friends more out of situation and convenience, than philosophy, and most of us find no true friends and walk life alone. Mental affinity, is about understanding a person's thinking, what they stand for, their vulnerabilities, the kind of thoughts one keeps tucked away somewhere in the deepest corners of human thought, and at that point of profound and deep understanding of oneself and hence another person, one finds love and the true meaning of life. To some this may sound like an ideal, impossible to achieve. To me, what I have seen of marriage, has made me believe in this ideal even more. There is no point garnishing a relationship based on 'physical attraction' alone, with such words as 'love' and 'friendship', sadly to many these are nothing but words and are often used inter-changeably. Its sad to see how such inexplicable vulgarity is so commonplace. How somehow, emotions which are so beautiful, so private are talked about in public, how people express their love for one-another in front of so many others, is that really love, or is it really trying to find validation for one's love, relationship, from others. But people do that, and thats a sacrilege, that isn't love, its something else, but thats what most people do in parties, other social events, thats what marriage becomes. So like everything else contemporary, marriage becomes a compromise. A compromise for the sake of others and because in our quest to please others, we never gave ourselves the chance to explore ourselves and what we seek from life.

But in spite of all this 'marriages are made in heaven', even though those whom we may get married to, may not most often be the person who makes us happy or even a better human-being or makes our life more meaningful. For good or for bad, we get to experience the fruits of our own strong likes and dislikes, and marriage and who we are married to, is but one of many consequences of that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Howard Roark

Howard Roark was the famous hero of the ayn rand masterpiece, "The Fountainhead". Howard Roark was a man who believed in himself, his vision of himself, his vision of life and of the one thing that was his life and more, his work (The buildings he envisioned, but could not build and the buildings he envisioned and built). The answer to what is howard roark is a rather complex one. Howard Roark is the deep, undying self-belief in a man who believed in his own self, his own vision, his own dream so deeply, that even the deepest abyss of failure could not bring despair to him, a man so deeply honest to his own principle, that nothing or nobody could shake or change that belief. In a world where people want to live in the eyes of others, we need people who live for themselves. In a world where people want to act out their dreams for others, we need people who want to make their dreams reality for themselves. In a world where people want to make statements about themselves to prove something to others, we need men with the integrity and courage to make their life a statement, to make their life an embodiment of all that is pure, beautiful and worth striving for in mankind. Seen too much make-believe around, We need honest men , we need men of truth, of dignity, of true class, who truly value themselves, their thoughts, their life and what they can give back to life. "Howard Roark" is a pillar which can't be destroyed, Howard Roark is a flame that can't be extinguished, Howard Roark is the belief in everything that is pure, beautiful, serene, honest, natural and unembellished.

We need such men, now more than ever. We have too many around us who believe in what other people want them to believe. We have relinquished so much of our personal lives to others, there's no space remaining for the real 'me'. Other people's judgements have come to decide, most every aspect of our life, others are our standard-bearers, if this isn't living life second-handed, what is. Something I have had the privilege of observing, experiencing and learning from close quarters about people, is that the true spirit of men doesn't need statement, it is itself a statement. Those who understand this, don't need to state themselves, their life makes the most eloquent statement.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Contemprary concept of god

God is an energy, power who will come in a human incarnation, wash away all our bad deeds, show us intelligent humans the way, and we human-beings will learn from such a lesson or from our own past mistakes and improve, and then everything will be beautiful and everybody will be happy ever after. That story does give you a warm and fuzzy feeling doesn't it or is it self-delusional? I will stay away from saying more.

Blogs

Nowadays everybody has a blog, including yours truly. Thats at some level one of the greatest boons of the internet revolution. However it is often very difficult to sift through purely crappy blogs like this one, which is nothing but my own mindless rants and musings, and anybody who reads this and actually follows my points of view does it at the expense of his own sanity. Now that, that little disclaimer is out of the way, I'd just like to continue on the point I was making, which is that is the huge plethora of blogs a good thing? The answer, my opinion, strictly is 'yes', simply because a blog gives one the oppurtunity to air one's thoughts on anything. There are people who are afraid of expressing themselves honestly, I do not think blogs are meant for them, if one lacks the will to express oneself, whether for fear that there are total strangers out there who will be able to read what you write or for some other insecurity, blogs aren't meant for you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A man's individuality

When one looks at the true quest of life, as I understand it, it is essentially perhaps the pursuit of one's own individuality. It is the desire to find answers to questions such as who am I, what am I and why am I. Every man has a unique identity and he tries to find it. Some men think that what differentiates them from others is far more than what they share. I think the only thing that differentiates a man from another man is our own individual abilities to grow from our own experiences, our own individual abilities to transcend desire, anger and the sometimes hidden (other times fairly overt) desire to prove ourselves in whatever way, shape or form to others. There are people who question why we should deal with other human-beings, why we should trust others? To them my simple answer is, that every single, meaningful human experience we have with some one else is a way of annihilating ones own karma(good and bad) of the past and preparing oneself for the future. Why must every meaningful experience happen with some other human-being as the other party, how about between me and nature, or me and myself? There are a large number of realizations one comes to through critical thought and through self-analysis, but there are also other realizations one comes to through observations of one's interactions with people around. It is my belief, a belief I have derived from some level of observation of my own experiences over the years, that, we meet people who in some way shape or form, offer us present, past or future images of ourselves. And when we dislike or mistrust those around us, we dislike or mistrust who we were, who we are or who we'll be. When our experiences from the past, make us cynical, they don't make us better human-beings, they make us worse. Any man who seeks to find his own individuality, cannot deride or disrespect his own past or future or for that matter, that of another man. I have always believed that our lives offer us infinite chances for redemption, for making good with ourselves, with god and with every form of god's creation around us. You can't love god, without loving yourself, you can't love yourself without loving another human-being. Sounds like I lifted a phrase from a do-gooder's book doesn't it? Well to be honest I have read a few people who write along the above written lines, but these are certain thoughts I have had, based on my own observations of myself in the past, what I've done wrong, what I could learn and even what I've done right. I don't preach socialism, some people might misunderstand, quite the contrary, all I say is that the pursuit of man's individuality invariably leeds him to another man(his own time-variant image). So when you have an experience, good or bad, learn from it and you will see yourself understand yourself that much more than before. So don't loathe another man, learn from him and you will grow. People so often talk about realization as if its a concept only in the abstract, I don't claim to be realized, but do understand that one starts realizing when one stops talking and starts listening to one's own inner voices.