The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

ATTUNEMENT: AN AGENDALESS PRESENCE

Attunement is attention that goes beyond momentary empathy to a full sustained presence that facilitates rapport. We offer a person our total attention and listen fully. We seek to understand the other person rather than just making our own point.

Such deep listening seems to be a natural aptitude. Still, as with all social intelligence dimensions, people can improve their attunement skills. And we can all facilitate attunement simply by intentionally paying more attention.

A person's style of speaking offers clues to their underlying ability to listen deeply. During moments of genuine connection, what we say will be responsive to what the other feels, says, and does. When we are poorly connected, however, our communications become verbal bullets: our message does not change to fit the other person's state but simply reflects our own. Listening makes the difference. Talking at a person rather than listening to him reduces a conversation to a monologue.

When I hijack a conversation by talking at you, I'm fulfilling my needs without considering yours. Real listening, in contrast, requires me to attune to your feelings, let you have your say, and allows the conversation to follow a course we mutually determine. Two-way listening makes a dialogue reciprocal, with each person adjusting what they say in keeping with how the other responds and feels.

Full attention, so endangered in this age of multitasking, is blunted whenever we split our focus. Self-absorption and preoccupations shrink our focus, so that we are less able to notice other people's feelings and needs, let alone respond with empathy. Our capacity for attunement suffers, snuffing out rapport.

But full presence does not demand that much from us. "A five-minute conversation can be a perfectly meaningful human moment,” an article in the Harvard Business Review notes. "To make it work, you have to set aside what you are doing, put down the memo you were reading, disengage from your laptop, abandon your daydream, and focus on the person you're with."

Intentionally paying more attention to someone may be the best way to encourage emergence of rapport. Listening carefully, with undivided attention, orients our neural circuits for connectivity, putting us on the same wavelength. That maximizes the likelihood that the other essential ingredients for rapport -- synchrony and positive feelings -- might bloom.

Daniel Goleman

Monday, 28 December 2009

WHY ALL THIS? – WHY AGAIN? (III) - WHAT DO FIGURES TELL YOU?

We had a stable government at the centre then. Figures decided to follow the line. The toothless demon, that inflation figures had become by then, started to fall down. We thought to breathe easy. But lo. The conundrum of figures started deceiving them too this time. The figures representing inflation and hence prices started coming down and settled as negative numerals for quite a period of time while the prices actually started the journey to skyrocket. Anything and everything is in between. Now the negative numeral value is gone and the trend has regained its upward spiral again and it is only expected to add to the price rise.

So prices will go up no matter where that inflation figure remains. Why all this hype and hoopla around figures then. Why such figures have become sole barometers of driving public sentiments, if not on ground but on perception.

True, inflation figure is not the only decisive factor. There are other indices too that affect and interchange the dimensions of statistical calculations and so the economic impulse of you and me. But they are not in the domain of the Indian voter of the street. He would never be able to find time to understand intricacies of WPI and CPI and inflationary reincarnations. Put aside the government’s move to measure Inflation figures now on monthly rather than on weekly basis. Food Inflation touched the decade high of 20% during the week ended Dec 6. He understands this only that it portends an omen, that surviving is going to be more burning, the scorch is continued unabated.

Statistically, the problems of an Indian has exaggerated manifold and are still increasing. Add it to the spectacle of austerity. Since 2006, inflation rate@consumer prices have seen the upward spiral stepping up from 4.2 to 5.3 to 6.4 to 8.3. 2010 is going to add to it. Another anomaly. Figures when they were favourable could not give any relief as in case of negative inflation figures. But when they were not favourable, they dragged the whole inflationary regime to stupendous highs year-on-year basis and mind you, the prices have escalated even during the high recession times before onset of doomed prediction of bad monsoon. Erratic monsoon just added to it. Some more figures. Agricultural production is likely to go down by 2% this year up ahead from the last year negative growth of 1.6%. The curry is brewing.

At one hand, income didn’t get the parallel growth as the prices; consumption bore the brunt if IIPs are any indication. So the consumption was down. Production was down. Jobs were going, still not coming handsomely. Salaries were being reduced. Employees were being threatened. Common Indian was being given lessons in austerity. Common Indian was advised to bear it this time. Delhi CM very emphatically says after three consecutive wins that expect and be prepared for price rises. Everything is getting dear, from drinking water to electricity to taking a walk on the street.

The politics of figures is manipulative enough to astound anyone. Much debates of controversial nature of China growth story emanate from ‘how this bulky country twists and turns statistical regime of its economy’. We Indians are sometimes sold a dream by some experts and analysts that Indian will overtake China as China would fall by its own weight of economic manipulations.

But is this common to China only?

No, it’s pandemic in nature. A pandemic where, most of the time, we are not aware of what the signs are telling us!

Changing regimes of statistical parameters can be found anywhere. It’s like fudging at an individual level if to put words in a crude and honest way. We may or may not do it. Ramifications are different. So some Army officials in India can fudge and become parties in a land scam; so a Raju can manipulate figures to the tune of thousand of crores; so China can remain vehemently adamant about its currency; so US and European banking system can send the world into spins of recession with inflated balance sheets. Sometimes reasons are justified as the complex web of economy needs it. There are times and ample of them when such exercises are done in order to look healthy, sound correct, win trust, and instill confidence.

But then isn’t it more about being politically correct? Le’s see it.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

SOCIAL LEARNING AND MEDIA CONNECT

We try to observe others and look for our role models. We generally try to imitate the behaviour of our role models. It is no doubt that TV has become an important part of the family along with the newspapers. TV speaks the most in any family. Our most of the leisure time is engaged with moving images of the TV or the news contents of the newspapers. We can have our ideals from other walks of life but it happens rarely. We imbibe most of the information through media, to the extent, that it is now shaping our behaviour, our opinions. Examples of 12 year old boy killing his friend in India or the similar incident in US have far reaching implications for the societal set-up in the coming days.

Media channels don’t operate in isolation. They are part and parcel of the society. They are, indeed, social institutions performing socializing functions but with implications. Media effect on behaviour has both aspects, positive and negative. And therefore we have tabs of every kind but still we have not come to the realization that we need an intense debate on these tabs. But that has to happen, sooner or later when social learning and media connect become complementary and not parasitic.

We can show the mutilated body parts of a powerful explosion again and again as was the case in Varanasi explosion and many other of the time but a CNN or some other US channel doesn’t go to beam dead bodies of Katrina on its soil. After that we have taken up things. We have started blurring images but still much has to be done. But that is just the beginning. It needs to be sustained and extended to the social base from here to culminate in a logical debate. But, then, that is the ideal and logical outcome. How can ideal and logic be followed in letter and spirit? The subjective objectivity will take its share too. We need to reach at a balance. Till then it will largely be parasitic connect with the perennial debate on ‘who is parasitic on whom’.

WHY ALL THIS? – WHY AGAIN? (II)

Graver is the situation with the prices supported well with commoditization of inflation in the psyche. This psyche has become divisive. Metro India and India of the towns are still not so belonging to the core of this division but it is becoming more and more puzzling. Any factor that has been the most subdued one is anti-incumbency due to price rise if we go back and analyze some past elections.

We opened our economy in 1991 and we still hail it as benchmark of our economic policy. Sure we need to pat ourselves today for the progress that we have made in these years. But again, as mentioned earlier, the recurring floods; the powerless towns and villages, where potable drinking water is scarce and that is still not an issue; where majority of the population still lives on a dollar a day; where majority of the school going population comes in the drop-out category very early in the life cycle; where farmers are committing suicide year after year, - all vehemently big question marks in their own etymologies - that each of these nullify whatever little positive that we have been able to achieve - socio—economically and not just economically.

Can we and should we be proud of the gains made in these years?

Statistics and indicative economic parameters are as good as the ways of their handling. We saw it during the outgoing NDA regime when everything was hunky dory and then suddenly the spiral of vicissitude broke its silence. The figures failed the incumbent hopes of dallying policymakers. This year’s general election again failed the intentions and indentations.

The double digit inflation that had reached over 12% and seemed to be staying there had become one of most sloganeered word and everyone was pinning hopes to nail the incumbents based on it. That didn’t happen not because the policymakers at the core were deserving but their opponents were not sharp enough to tell the voters what the figures were telling as they had failed in 2004. Figures are as good as their manipulators.

But figures have been failing the most vulnerable subject all this while – the entity of a so-called democracy – the voter – the Indian voter of the street.

India is a reality. Bharat has been a reality. The gap is widening. Figures are being done and re-done to tell a story that seems soothing. Dimensions are being looked for to add more virtual surfaces to the trickle-down opium.

So the elections threw the same government at the core. We all felt for the stability factor, more pragmatic policies and, moreover, a hope that figures would stop failing us. But on the contrary, happening are taking the downward spiral again. Let’s come to it.

Friday, 25 December 2009

AN INBORN SENSE OF MEANINGFULNESS

As ordinary consciousness is gradually freed from the perspectives of everyday existence – thoughts, ideas, circumstances, emotions, physical events – the transcendent dimension begins to emerge. What do we mean by transcendence? Take, for example, an apple tree in blossom. Though your glance takes in its trunk, branches, leaves, and flowers, you are also moved by its beauty and loveliness. And while the beauty of this tree depends upon its physical form, still, it has an essential reality of its own which is its meaningfulness. Or, take music: behind the notes are an array of vibrational frequencies that could be said to constitute the language of the thinking of the Universe. So the mind, stripped of the distraction of transient thoughts is infused with an inborn sense of meaningfulness. This transcendent faculty appears only when one has given up trying to sort things out in a habitual fashion.

Once while on retreat in the Alps, I had just such a breakthrough experience – one that was dramatically reflected in the weather and surrounding landscape. After a stormy night in the mountains, precariously sheltered beneath the roof of a shepherd’s shed, I observed the dark clouds and heard the thunderclaps gradually receding into the distance, swept away by a raging wind. Vanishing along with the storm were my concepts about the world, the Cosmos, my personal circumstances, unresolved problems, values, appropriate or inappropriate actions – even my teachings about the Divine Qualities, the meaningfulness of life, egos, bodiness, the psyche. Suddenly, all these thoughts seemed so futile, worthless, and misleading!

Rather than flounder in a “dark night” of negativity brought on by the collapse of these mental structures, however, I clung to the very meaningfulness that had just shattered my commonplace thinking. It was the consummate quantum leap; it brought vividly alive the last words spoken by my father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, on his deathbed: “When the unreality of life strikes my heart, its reality is revealed to me.” All my life, I thought to myself, I have prided myself on what I thought were valid theories about the Universe – unmasking the hoax of superstitions, dogmas, and conditioned responses to life. But instead of dismissing all these constructs, I realized that they had acted as stepping-stones that led me to this ultimate breakthrough. Even though I had no more use for them, they remained there for my use, like a ladder propped against a wall.

To awaken in life, we first must awaken beyond life. As the radiation of the sun powers the unfurling of the seed into a plant, so, too, does the light of spiritual realization alter modes of thinking, dramatically restructuring the formation of the ego. As much as one may wish to change one’s individual personality, it can only truly be transformed under the impact of illuminated insights into the meaningfulness of life.

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, from "Awakening: A Sufi Experience"

DESOLATE MEMORIES..FADING IMPRESSIONS..


Thursday, 24 December 2009

BINAYAK SEN - 'THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE HAS GONE UP TREMENDOUSLY IN CHHATTISGARH'

Even after spending more than two years in prison on charges of being a Naxal supporter under the draconian Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act, Dr Binayak Sen's enthusiasm for speaking for the rights and the wellbeing of the tribals in Chhattisgarh has not diminished one bit.

Out on bail since May 25, 2009 -- he was arrested in May 2007 -- Dr Sen was in Mumbai [ Images ] recently to speak at a seminar organised by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on December 14. He spoke to Prasanna D Zore on a range of issues including his health, the ground situation in Chhattisgarh and threat to his life from "non-State actors".

"Please don't write anything about my itinerary," he asked this correspondent after discussing the same with him, for fear that it might alert those who are out there to eliminate him.

Dr Sen, first tell us about your health.

I feel good now. My friends at Vellore (in Tamil Nadu) took good care of me and I am feeling fine now. I'm on medication but I don't need any surgery for my heart condition.

Can you tell us what has changed in Chhattisgarh between 2007 and 2009, the time you were incarcerated?

I think the situation there is much more tense now than it was earlier. The tension level today has increased manifold because of the presence of large number of police personnel in Chhattisgarh. Hence the need for concerted efforts to appeal for peace and justice has also increased.

What makes you feel so? What's the ground situation there now?

There is a huge influx of armed police personnel not only in the so-called Naxalite areas but also across the state. I presume there is a variety of them including the Central Reserve Police Force, the CoBRAs (the elite anti-Naxal force, Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), and also extra-judicial forces like the Salwa Judum.

The fact is there are killings, beheadings, rape and murder happening all the time in the state and the government is not doing anything about it. Such kind of violence needs to be condemned and treated as criminal acts but the government has not taken any action to prosecute the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.

In the given circumstances as they prevail in Chhattisgarh today, do social activists like you feel safe?

In my own case I've been told by a couple of senior police officers I know who work in other states that there is a definite risk to my life in the state. And in general the level of violence has gone up tremendously. So people who have been raising their voice against these issues (encounter killings and cases of forcible land grabbing by the Salwa Judum) may not be feeling safe.

Who poses a definite risk to your life? Is it the Salwa Judum or the government?

I think the risk is mainly from non-State actors. While I don't want to get into these details I can only say that the overall security situation in the state is not good.

Can we call this personal vendetta against all those people in Chhattisgarh who speak against the Salwa Judum? Even Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar's Vanvasi Chetna Ashram was razed under some pretext or the other.


I don't know if it's personal vendetta or not. I don't know what is personal or what is political. But certainly Raman Singh and his ruling party in Chhattisgarh have gone out of their way to build false cases against all those people who have stood against the atrocities of Salwa Judum.

I think the fact that people like me have raised their opposition to a large number of activities -- which we think are against the wider interest of the deprived sections of Chhattisgarh -- undertaken by the state government is what is prompting action against us. We are trying to expose the false police encounters, large-scale land grabbing undertaken by the Salwa Judum from the tribal communities, and this is what is forcing the state government to respond in the best way that they know.

How would you describe the plight of the tribals of Chhattisgarh?

Large proportions of tribal populations are severely malnourished there. Though the government claims that they have been distributing rice, objective data shows that 33 per cent of the tribals have a body mass index, BMI, of 18.5 (an average person who is 5'6" tall and weighs 65 kg has a BMI of 23), that a large section of the tribals there are malnourished. This is just one indicator of the kind of horrendous policies affecting the lives of tribals in Chhattisgarh.

What inspires you to speak for the rights of the tribals and the deprived in Chhattisgarh despite there being a threat to your life?

I think the people who are living under those circumstances are showing a higher degree of courage. The wish of the people who want to be associated with the resistance that the poor there are showing in living their ordinary existence is what inspires a lot of people to speak out for them.

What would be your appeal to all the stakeholders in the region: the tribals, the state government and the Naxalites?

I think we all should appeal for peace and justice. The common people, the civil society should appeal for peace and justice and ask for implementation of the Directive Principles of State Policy that would bring in a greater degree of equality.

How optimistic would you be that your appeal will be heeded by everybody?

It's not my appeal. I am saying that the civil society should come together and make such an appeal. My appeal alone will have no significance but if I can enlist the support of a wider section of Indian people then perhaps there could be hope for the region.

Did you at any point during your imprisonment lose hope that you will ever come out of jail alive?

All the inmates in the jail with whom I interacted treated me very kindly. Everybody was kind to me and they gave me the courage to face life as it was inside the prison.

Were you subjected to physical or mental torture?

There was no physical torture at all but watching the way the inmates live and the conditions in which they lead their lives inside a prison was a very sad experience for me.

You are branded as a Naxalite by the state government. How do you respond to that?

I can say for sure that I am not a member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist. Apart from that the trial is in progress and I will await the court's decision.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

WILLING TO EXPERIENCE OUR SUFFERING

A few weeks ago someone gave me an interesting article on suffering, and the first part of it was on the meaning of the word – “suffering”. I’m interested in these meanings; they are teachings in themselves. The writer of this article pointed out that the word “suffering” is used to express many things. The second part “fer”, is from the Latin word “ferre,” meaning “to bear.” And the first part, “suf” is from sub, meaning “under.” So there’s a feeling in the word “to be under,” “to bear under,” “to totally be under” – “to be supporting something from underneath.”

So (remembering the definition of the word “suffer”) until we bow down and bear the suffering of life, not opposing it, but absorbing it and being it – we cannot see what our life is. This by no means implies passivity or non-action, but action from a state of complete acceptance. Even “acceptance” is not quite accurate – it’s simply being the suffering. It isn’t a matter of protecting ourselves, or accepting something else. Complete openness, complete vulnerability is (surprisingly enough) the only satisfactory way of living our life.

Our practice throughout our lifetime is just this: At any given time we have a rigid viewpoint or stance about life; it includes some things, it excludes others. We may stick with it for a long time, but if we are sincerely practicing our practice itself will shake up that viewpoint; we can’t maintain it. As we begin to question our viewpoint we may feel struggle, upset, as we try to come to terms with this new insight into our life; and for a long time we may deny it and struggle against it. That’s part of practice. Finally we become willing to experience our suffering instead of fighting it. When we do so our standpoint, our vision of life, abruptly shifts. Then once again, with our new viewpoint, we go along for a while – until the cycle begins anew.

Once again the unease comes up. And we have to struggle, to go through it again. Each time we do this – each time we go into the suffering and let it be – our vision of life enlarges. It’s like climbing a mountain. At each point that we ascend we see more; and that becomes broader with each cycle of climbing, of struggle. And the more we see, the more expansive our vision, the more we know what to do, what action to take.

Charlotte Joko Beck

Saturday, 19 December 2009

WHY ALL THIS? – WHY AGAIN? (I)

The ongoing row in J&K; the ‘crisis for nowhere’ – demand for many more states and the threat of the inflated voices of shabby nationalism and regionalism; the controversy over India’s Nuke capacity and the slugfest now reaching to scientists adding to the fuel that polity was looking for in the wake of the highly-pushed but equally controversial Nuclear Deal; happenings in our immediate neighbourhood and their explicit and implicit consequences for us; and to make the worsening of a peaceful existence and co-existence complete, there is the steep price rise, now beyond control of the regulating machinery of the country. National Integrity is more at stake now than ever.

If we see what is happening in J&K today, we clearly see an irresponsible attitude. From the line of thinking of taking the state within the same administrative mould as other parts of the Indian Federation are, to the widespread separatist voices and agitations again, irresponsibility and lack of vision run deep. See what Shopian is representing now. Probably no would ever know the truth behind brutal killings of the two women. It is a clear case how petty politicians of the state has killed the process of justice and human spirit that could’ve been restored to some bit had it been the case where justice would have been allowed to be delivered even in the common but pathetic Indian machinery way. A classic case of conceptualizing legends out of nothing to serve the purpose, but distortion of policy ballooning to this extent! Nobody is there to think what will happen and what is happening to our national integrity. Nobody is thinking how severely it is affecting lives of the common people first in J&K and thereafter in the country. Just some countable months ago, the state was on almost a complete plank of harmony creating avenues of peace and prosperity and today it is again heading towards a split that is deepening in minds of the people of the J&K and which may lead to crisis of trust, and the victims are going to be again the likes of the women killed in Shopian. Life of a commoner is the least priority in crisis hotbeds of the universe!

What Pakistan has been trying since Independence, we give it that edge, sometimes, in just one go, thanks to the ways the concerned parties handle it. Terrorists, separatists and their promoters in Pakistan who had started showing signs of frustration, has been given a new lease of life and they are quick enough to revive their separatist agenda. When would the time come when we would be honest enough to critically scrutinize the measures adopted to resolve the issue to the extent of self-condemnation? We, just, do not need to emphasize but we really need to start a national dialogue with concrete action on ground involving people really affected. We need to advocate humanitarian policies to be adopted for people of the valley and of Jammu without any delay so that separatists’ intentions can be curbed.

BEING CONNECTED WITHIN

With our mobile phones and wireless palm devices, we are now able to be so connected that we can be in touch with anyone and everyone at any time, and do business anywhere. But have you noticed that, in the process, we run the risk of never being in touch with ourselves? In the overall seduction, we can easily forget that our primary connection to life is through our own interiority ? the experiencing of our own body and all our senses, including the mind, which allow us to touch and be touched by the world, and to act appropriately in response to it. And for that, we need moments that are not filled with anything, in which we do not jump to get in one more phone call or send one more email, or plan one more event, or add to our to-do list.

What about not connecting with anyone in our 'in-between' moments? What about realizing that there are actually no in-between moments at all? What about calling ourselves up for a change, checking in and seeing what we are up to? What about just being in touch with how we are feeling, even in those moments that we may be feeling numb, or overwhelmed, or bored, or disjointed, or anxious or depressed, or needing to get one more thing done?

What about being connected to our bodies, and to the universe of sensations through which we sense and know the outer landscape? What about lingering for more than the most mindless and automatic of moments with awareness of whatever is arising in any particular moment in the mind: our emotions and moods, our feelings, our thoughts, our beliefs? What about cultivating a bigger picture that includes ourselves on any and every level, even if the picture is always a work in progress, always tentative, always changing, always emerging or failing to emerge, sometimes with clarity, sometimes not? [?]

The more we are entrained into the outer world in all these new and increasingly rapid ways that our nervous system has never before encountered, the more important it may be for us to develop a robust counterbalance of the inner world: one that calms and tunes the nervous system and puts it in the service of living wisely, both for ourselves and for others.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

The journey from ‘selfs’ to the ‘Self’ – Realization of the Curves

It was just the last moment when it hit me again, like any other time; unlike any other thought. The thoughts that sometimes go unbound in every flesh of existence came riding the rush, finding again a moment of their expressivity, to make again a situational triumph. They solemnly tried to remind whether I was on the bricks now that may be laid to construct the road that the person I have come to identify with me would take on to the journey to the final moments. This time I had less doubt and more alignment and I said go on.

Since the time immemorial, the fleshes have been craved into curves to lead a curvaceous life, and the cliché doesn’t go like this. It has not been a simplistic ritual of finding a brick or two to be hit by the mortar into an array that could give some sort of legitimacy to the moments of walking around, bare-footed, drifted, airlifted, or levitating on the horizon of nowhere. It has been a multitude of battles at numerous curves of every flesh with its soul to find the legitimate balance. The battles do exist. Their realizations exist to cease after some moments of existence and it happens again in the multitudinous proportions. Here it goes like the cliché.

The journey from the ‘selfs’ to the ‘Self’ is this only -- striving to maintain the continuum of ‘realizations of battles of the flesh with the soul’. The realization that the curves are going to be unending if we decide to take the materialistic means of the words – not in terms of enraptures of consumerism, but for harmony of devoted existence of the soul of the ‘Self’ and the soul for your other people – is needed to be assimilated, for I have ‘selfs’ for the soul of the ‘Self’ as well as I have ‘selfs’ for my other people too.

The journey from the ‘selfs’ to the ‘Self’ is always about maintaining the harmony of the soul with the flesh, something that elevates us from being animals, separates us from their crude ways. If the soul is not in unison with the flesh, we are, indeed, just animal fleshes then, fighting for the “I’ at any cost, irrespective of the realization of the curves. We need to be continued with the process of self-doubt and self-awareness to flatten every curve that we come across.

HAPPINESS AND MISERY

THUS SPAKE SWAMIJI:

AFTER EVERY HAPPINESS COMES MISERY; THEY MAY BE FAR APART OR NEAR. THE MORE ADVANCED THE SOUL, THE MORE QUICKLY DOES ONE FOLLOW THE OTHER. WHAT WE WANT IS NEITHER HAPPINESS NOR MISERY. BOTH MAKE US FORGET OUR TRUE NATURE; BOTH ARE CHAINS, ONE IRON, ONE GOLD; BEHIND BOTH IS ATMAN, WHO KNOWS NEITHER HAPPINESS NOR MISERY. THESE ARE STATES, AND STATES MUST EVER CHANGE; BUT THE NATURE OF THE ATMAN IS BLISS, PEACE, UNCHANGING. WE HAVE NOT TO GET IT; WE HAVE IT; ONLY WASH AWAY THE DROSS AND SEE IT.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

AT ONCE, BENEFICIARY AND VICTIM

"Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful." -- Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C. D. Broad

According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this Particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born -- the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things. That which, in the language of religion, is called "this world" is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language. The various "other worlds," with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve.

Aldous Huxley

INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857 - A BRITISH SOLDIER'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER (VI)

Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)

MIRZAPORE, 5TH AUGUST, 1857

I again write to you a few lines to say we are all well. H. has joined. I cannot say I can give you good news, far from it. Delhi has not been taken; in fact the troops, so report goes, have had to retreat from before that town, and are almost besieged in their turn. The force sent to Lucknow, for the relief of some 800 Europeans, ladies, and fighting men, besieged there, have, after a glorious advance, fighting 20 times their number, and taking no less than 50 guns, had to retire to Cawnpore, when within a few miles of their destination.

Again fancy the feelings of the unfortunate people at Lucknow encompassed by these ruffians! God grant they may be relieved, for another scene like Cawnpore would be awful. You will hear of the latter by the papers, so I will not tell you anything of it, with the exception that out of some 500 souls, men, women, and children, not two escaped to tell the tale; and Agra being besieged, is also in the same predicament, but it is hoped if the Delhi force retreats, that that place will be relieved.

Another grand insurrection occurred at Dinapore on the 25th July. Three Native Regiments marched out of the station, and were afterwards joined by an Irregular Cavalry corps, so there is a fine force of some 3000 men going about the country. They laid an ambuscade, and caught some 200 Europeans that were sent against them, fired one volley, the effect of which was the death of more than one-half of the little force, the rest ran for their lives into Dinapore. I am so afraid the people in England will not understand Indian affairs, and only send a small force, whereas not less than 30,000 Europeans are now required. We are not fighting against the old matchlock men of the past times, but against the picked fighting men of India, armed, equipped, and disciplined like European soldiers in every way. We are very quiet in our small station, and likely to remain so, as it is out of the way, but like every Englishman in India, we want to be where we can give our little aid against these murderers of women and children. The 47th remain quiet, and appear to be staunch, but nobody can tell what an hour may show, but they are powerless, as there are only some 60 men, with the same number of muskets left at head-quarters, and we live apart from them, near the small detachment of Europeans stationed here. You cannot tell how anxiously we are looking out for troops from England, not because of our own danger, but it galls to think that these men, whom we have in every way honoured, should turn so treacherously against us, and commit such atrocities. You cannot fancy men in cold blood murdering men that have been their companions in war and in peace, living in their houses, and day after day for years speaking and seeing to them; but it is to be hoped when the opportunity comes, that no absurd feeling of pity and mercy will interfere with the total extirpation of these cowardly murderers. I am far from being a cruel man, perhaps too much the other way, but it makes ones blood boil to hear of what has happened. I do not suppose there is a single Englishman in India who is not now thoroughly warmed to the work, and the revenge will be terrible when our turn comes. Now my dear - you must not get frightened at this letter; both H. and myself are at present quite safe, and hope to remain so; but we are soldiers, and of course are not enclosed in a patent safety iron box. But believe no reports, the mail at any time may be stopped; in fact, I very much doubt this being in time, as the telegraph yesterday from Benares reported that the mail communication was interrupted.

HOW DO WE LOOK-UP TO SURVIVE?

It is the most basic question of life, and the most demanding one. Demanding not due to being basic in nature, but by varying explanations of paradigms of the quest to find the 'Self', something depending on the 'self' only. And here it becomes double edged. We need to be aware of the 'self' in order to find the "Self'. We may realize it as we grow spiritually; we may realize the true 'we'.

But mind you, it may or may not happen. We may come to realize who we are tracing our thoughts to the root of our consciousness, when we had started thinking; thinking somewhat independently about our spiritual quotient and the values of our existence. Then we are able to fix the bolt correctly.

On the other hand, we may altogether lose what we used to think of us spiritually when we had the basic free thinking and some perspectives on who we would be so that we could contribute for our existence here. Before setting eyes on it firmly, we had to embark onto different journeys, for subsistence, for Existence. We gain. We lose. We are nourished. We are battered. In soul. In mind. In thoughts. The thought process that was free of shackles, at least in matters of soul, and hence the representative one, starts inviting changes. Now these changes may or may not be in line, to keeps us on the track of the spiritual quest, or to sweep us away, somewhere in a world, utterly individualistic and extremely hedonistic. Here we may, somehow, fix the bolt; or may not fix it altogether.

It is about trying to find out the ways to extend thoughts when we had started thinking about values of life, in a desperate yet resolute effort to find the 'Self'. I believe growing spiritually is a journey from the many shades of 'selfs' to the 'Self'. I have felt the unease. I feel the unease. My many ‘selfs’ have let me down so many time, leaving me absent-minded. Perhaps the quest to the ‘Self’ has been the only constant as it has allowed me to assimilate every ‘self’ of mine irrespective of where it takes me. When I feel let down, I look up to the distant ‘Self’ that tells me then that every ‘self’ is a constituent of the ‘Self’ only, trying to impart significant insights, sometimes, to be let down to look up to survive.

The varying paradigms of the quest to the ‘Self’ let us on occasional introspection and retrospection sprees to see our ‘selfs’ in varying degrees of vulnerability and adaptability. We may be left let-down to go down. We may not be left let-down, as such, to go down.

WHAT THE VISION DOES

If your deeper intention is an inseparable part of how you are, it is not capable of attachment.

You can seek to accomplish your intention. You live out your intention. It is like the wind, the life force from which your energy and determination arises, whereas your vision is a particular destination you want to reach.

So, as best I can understand, the heart of the dynamic of being truly committed and nonattached is to anchor in your deeper intention and focus your energies on realizing your vision, while at the same time knowing that the vision is, at best, a reflection of your deeper intention.

It is possible to be truly committed and not attached. Indeed, it is essential to developing our mastery in the creative process. For years we have expressed this basic idea as the principle. "It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does." In other words, rather than obsess about realizing my vision, consider it as a force for change, a way of aligning my actions with nature's unfolding. When you operate this way, what happens may not be exactly as you imagined it in your vision, but what happens would otherwise not have happened. You could hold a vision of a genuine perfection in some domain and, although you might never realize that vision, you might also achieve things that would have never been achieved otherwise. It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does.

In this spirit, pursuing a vision is a way to live in harmony with your deeper ineffable intention. In this sense, vision is a tool for orienting our energies and effort around who we really are. But when we obsess about whether or not our vision is being achieved, we confused the animating force behind our being with an idea created by our mind.

Peter Senge

Monday, 30 November 2009

INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857 - A BRITISH SOLDIER'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER (V)

Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)

MIRZAPORE, 25TH JULY, 1857.

Since I last wrote I think things are changing for the better, though regiments and contingents are still rising. The European force that marched from Allahabad to Cawnpore has defeated the rebels upon four separate occasions, and has taken 40 guns, of course, not without loss. They were too late to relieve the unfortunates at Cawnpore, who numbered, men, women, and children, some 500 souls, out of whom not one survives to tell their misery. They were besieged in their intrenchments by about 20,000 men, who kept a continual cannonade upon them, and not until they had been without provisions and shelter of any kind for three days in the hottest month of the year, and upon a sworn promise of being allowed to proceed by boats to Allahabad did they surrender themselves. They got into the boats, and had proceeded about a mile, when guns were opened upon them from both sides, the boats sunk, all the men were killed, and the women taken away for a worse fate. Those latter poor wretches were found down a well hacked to pieces. They had been kept and slaughtered by divisions as the attacking column neared Cawnpore, and the sight that met the eyes of the Europeans upon their driving these demons from Cawnpore, was something awful. It (the news of this?) has now spread throughout India, and the feeling of Europeans against natives is as deep as it can be. The Cawnpore force burnt the palace of the Nanah Saheb, the head of these miscreants, but he had wisely run for it ; he will, when hard pressed, most probably commit suicide, so we shall not have the pleasure of putting him to death. This force crossed the Ganges, and by this time will have relieved the small garrison at Lucknow, who have had a hard time of it; but I imagine no terms will ever again be asked from natives after their treachery at Cawnpore.

Delhi is still in possession of the rebels. Our army before it has not been able to act from want of a siege train, which by last accounts was quite close, so we hope soon to hear of its downfall. The native merchants in this town say it has bean taken, but with great loss to the Europeans.

There are some 100 Europeans stationed here now, so we all feel more relieved, as in case of a row, there is some place to run to. I am living in a room in the mess, and there is another for H. when he joins. I am afraid there will be great confusion about letters for some time; direct yours to Grindley & Co., Calcutta, for we cannot say where a week may find us.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857 - A BRITISH SOLDIER'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER (IV)

Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)

MIRZAPORE, 19TH JULY, 1857.


Since I last wrote, things have been getting from bad to worse. Up to date, the principal stronghold of the insurgent Sepoys, Delhi, has not been taken from them, that is we have not heard of its fall. The Sepoys have fought right well, and there will be a long list of killed before the country is thoroughly quieted. Our men, as far as it is possible to judge, are faithful, but they have not as yet been opposite insurgent Sepoys, though we had a good bout with villagers, armed with matchlocks, swords and spears. There were about 300 of them, to whom we had but 50 to oppose, but we charged them and they, emptying their guns, fled. We killed about a dozen of them. At first I thought we should have had a good tussle, as they were well posted behind a bank waiting for us, and remained until we were within 200 yards of them, and then their hearts failed them; unfortunately we had no cavalry or they would have suffered very much. This foray was to avenge the death of a magistrate and two indigo planters, whom these robbers caught by themselves and cruelly murdered. They cut off the head of the former and only his mutilated body was found. We burnt and destroyed twelve villages. A party of European soldiers had been at them before, and we were followed by a strong party of infantry and cavalry; so I expect they will be rather chary in future of killing Europeans. You will see by the papers what slaughter of unfortunate officers, their wives, and children, has been committed, and at present their murder cannot be avenged from want of European troops, in fact the latter can merely hold their own. All the force going to China has not been intercepted; it will be upwards of a month before troops can reach us.

Government has a severe lesson in trusting to native troops and denuding the country or European. They have lost lachs and. lachs of rupees both in money and property. What is to be done when the country is settled, it is hard to say. Life in India for years will be miserable not on account of fighting, for I imagine that will all be settled by the end of the next cold weather, but moving about continually, no society of any kind, for all the ladies that have not left up country are only detained by the roads being impassable; when they are clear they will be off to Calcutta, and not one will come up for years. Our name as an army has gone, and Native Infantry another name for treachery and murder. I write in rather a despondent manner; I am not generally so, but I can see nothing in the future to alter my opinions. I acknowledge upon our arrival here our position was so critical, and in case of a rise in the regiment our chance of escape so small that the whole of us felt very uncomfortable, but now a great part of the danger is removed, and unless a party of rebels come in here and compel our men to mutiny, they will remain staunch. Still the uncertainty preys upon one, and I shall be very glad when it is all well over.

W. B.'s regiment was blown to pieces, having in the most absurd manner mutinied with the army, where the Europeans were about five to one. All the officers I believe escaped.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857 - A BRITISH SOLDIER'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER (III)

Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)

MIRZAPORE, 15TH JUNE, 1857.

I write you this from Beaullah on the Ganges. We have arrived thus far safely on our journoy. T- is at Chuñar all right; the Sepoys have half of them at least rebelled. The Madras Fusilleers walked into them at Benares, and though there were less than two hundred Europeans, polished off three regiments. They were however backed up with some guns, and I believe the loss of the mutineers was chiefly from the grape.

Our regiment, or rather the skeleton of it now left, most of them being on leave, remains as yet faithful and from the number of European regiments now arrived and daily arriving, I think the worst is over. « « « *

Dont think we are rubbed out if you don't hear from us.

Friday, 27 November 2009

INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857 - A BRITISH SOLDIER'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER (II)

Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)

MIRZAPORE, 1ST JULY, 1857.

Here I am still on the river; we can hardly expect to get to Mirzapore before the end of this month. As yet our Sepoys have behaved well, and as long as they do so we are all well. T- was all right a few days ago, and the rest of the regiments at Mirzapore perfectly quiet, yon may fancy what sort of times these are when I tell you that out of seventy odd regiments 4 have rebelled, the rest are mostly disarmed.

One of the ladies belonging to our Corps came down yesterday. She and her husband's sister had to travel for a long time on foot, eating rice and & kind of pea boiled, like the coolies, and in great ' danger of their lives. Two of our Sepoys escorted them in. The mild Hindoo has been coming out strong.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

INDIAN UPRISING OF 1857 - A BRITISH SOLDIER'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER (I)

Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)

MIRZAPORE, 28TH JUNE, 1857.

You will be anxious to hear how we are getting on' in India during these stirring times. On the 13th May we left Calcutta and started up country for Allahabad, having £20,000 Government money on board the steamer. None of us on board thought of mutiny, a supposed local disaffection in the 19th and 34th N.I. Regiments had been suppressed. So you may guess our surprise upon reaching the first station after getting through the Sonderbands, to hear of the rising and massacre at Meerut, but on getting up higher our surprise was changed into anxiety at hearing of the fall of Delhi and the robbery of the treasury.

It came home when we considered that we were entirely in the hands of our own men, and so much money on board, there was nothing to prevent their working their wicked will upon us and seizing the money. Every station we came near, an orderly met us with an order to move on and not on any account to land. The further we got up the worse matters became, and by the time we reached Benares the whole of India was up. At that place our destination was changed to Mirzapore, about fifty miles lower down the river. Upon our reaching Mirzapore a telegraph was put into the commanding officer's hands to the following effect: - "The 47th N.I. intends to rise and seize the treasure upon arrival at Mirzapore." You may fancy our feelings under the circumstances, as in every case the seizing the money has been preceded by the murder of the European officers. But I am glad to say it was a false report, the men landed quietly, and up to the present moment have remained so.

So few regiments have escaped disaffection that it would be nonsense to say we have entire confidence in our men, but we live in hope all will go well. We have very few men here, and the Government has a large sum of money in hand, the men's savings in Burmah, both these circumstances are in favor of their remaining quiet, and I think they will. Within the last few days news has come in of Delhi being retaken, and some 15,000 of the rebels killed. Cawnpore is still held by some 400 Europeans against thousands. Lucknow is the same. Allahabad is quiet, the town half destroyed, and a force starts at once for Cawnpore. The greater part of Oude is in a state of anarchy, and it will take time to reduce the country to anything like the fancied security that existed before the 10th May, but I think the danger is now over. European troops are arriving daily from Calcutta, and proceeding up country. I should be very glad to see some 80 men left here, but I imagine they cannot spare them, and I feel certain that as long as no force comes here, the men will remain all right. There is one station, Pagode, some 40 miles hence, upon which we keep a sharp look-out, if it go, we must cut and run, even if our own men remain staunch, as we have only 100 fighting men and they have 700, rather too great odds.

All kinds of reasons have been given for the insurrection, but the most popular one now is, that the head men of Delhi and Lucknow seeing the security that the Government thought they were in, and having denuded India of European troops, it would be a fine opportunity to raise the green flag, and gain the empire, but as they wanted the assistance of the Hindoos, the cry of the cartridge was raised, but you will see all this in the papers.

H- is with the left wing of the regiment coming up in country boats. They left Calcutta 31st May, and will probably reach this about the end of July, a long and tedious journey. I got a short letter from him at Bhagulpore, dated 21st that he was then all right.

If it had not been for all those disturbances we should have had a very pleasant time of it here. It is a very pretty place, and the society being much more various than is usual in military stations in India, there was less shop and more gaiety. Races, balls, and pic-nics, were the order of the day, not four months ago, now it is most miserable, all the ladies have left, and only a few of the gentlemen have returned, consequently the houses are empty. There is an army to be formed at Allahabad to scour the country, but I am afraid they will not include us, but we shall be kept here to do 'watchman's duty.

The Moreton Bay Courier views on publishing these letters:
Written without any View to publication, but merely for perusal in the home circle, and to quiet domestic fears, these letters present an unvarnished and unexaggerated picture of life, as it is at present in our Indian empire. We feel that any lengthened comment on our part would but weaken what is so well said by the gallant soldiers themselves. How many of these epistles find their way now as messengers of joy or sorrow to British homes and are opened with anxious heart and trembling hand at the domestic hearth. We sincerely hope that the approaching Christmas season will not bring further tidings of Indian disasters to darken English homes - the palace and the cottage like - but that the triumphant career of our arms will have restored peace to India and the undisturbed sway of old England over all her dominions.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

CULTIVATING AN EAGLE MIND

Human qualities often come in clusters. Altruism, inner peace, strength, freedom, and genuine happiness thrive together like the parts of a nourishing fruit. Likewise, selfishness, animosity, and fear grow together. So, while helping others may not always be “pleasant,” it leads the mind to a sense of inner peace, courage, and harmony with the interdependence of all things and beings.

Afflictive mental states, on the other hand, begin with self-centeredness, with an increase in the gap between self and others. These states are related to excessive self-importance and self-cherishing associated with fear or resentment towards others, and grasping for outer things as part of a hopeless pursuit of selfish happiness. A selfish pursuit of happiness is a lose-lose situation: you make yourself miserable and make others miserable as well.

Inner conflicts are often linked with excessive rumination on the past and anticipation of the future. You are not truly paying attention to the present moment, but are engrossed in your thoughts, going on and on in a vicious circle, feeding your ego and self-centeredness.

This is the opposite of bare attention. To turn your attention inside means to look at pure awareness itself and dwell without distraction, yet effortlessly, in the present moment.

If you cultivate these mental skills, after a while you won’t need to apply contrived efforts anymore. You can deal with mental perturbations like the eagles I see from the window of my hermitage in the Himalayas deal with crows. The crows often attack them, diving at the eagles from above. But, instead of doing all kinds of acrobatics, the eagle simply retracts one wing at the last moment, lets the diving crow pass, and then extends its wing again. The whole thing requires minimal effort and causes little disturbance.

Being experienced in dealing with the sudden arising of emotions in the mind works in a similar way.

Matthieu Ricard

Monday, 23 November 2009

SONS OF THE SOIL’S NEXT VICTIM! – BUT HOW COME IT DIDN’T WORK PROPERLY THIS TIME?

Verbal volleys involving the meek faceless icons of our country still presenting democratic India’s true federal dream to its sons and the so-called harbingers of the sons of the soil continued on the day 2, though, as expected, the fizz has fizzled out, the way Phyan gave us the much needed reprieve. But as my words went day before yesterday, the much sought after commodity, the publicity though largely through the media glare, is there. Boldened by the gain, the beaky fellows tried their hand on a dissenting but gentle voice that was honest and sincere enough to express it’s independence in a country which sells its democratic dream on every possible platform but seldom tries to do a quality check. That voice believed in unity of independence the entities.

Since the gentle voice is heard across the length and breadth of this landmass, the master sees an opportunity here to get publicity by confronting the views expressed by the voice as dissenting, branding him anti to ‘his people’. Next higher level of cheapness in getting publicty comes into play as the master views the opportunity even higher this time. So he releases a volley of words yet again in his typical style of branding and brandishing. The drama is set in motion. He advises his ringleader and the band of goons to be on the call.

But wait. This time the pedagogy of goonship saw a loophole in its near perfect syllabus. The voice to be at the core of the victimization process proved to be a silent crusher of their emotions, for the voice had much bigger emotive connect with the larger number of subjects, who are born to be victimized only by the fraternity of the ringleaders and the masters, than the manipulated and accommodated base of connects of the goon’s ringleader and the master. The basic fault line for the master was in his assessment of his subject, an apolitical voice, a mass figure, whose connect with it’s support base is through it’s skill that doesn’t require backtracking for fear of commercial losses caused by vandalism of goons and ringleaders; many incidents that we witnessed in near past involving some key mass figures in this country backtracking on their fundamental right of freedom of expression.. It has become the most blatant irony of this country that it cannot have a political but non-controversial figure to be followed.

Yes, so the degree of the desired outcome for the convoluted goons became somewhat convoluted itself. Though they got one inch closer to what they were trying to get, clearly seen in endorsement of their viewpoints of sectarian oratory of ‘for my people’ in one of India’s most industrialized states on issues, trivial and vital. But their failure in this attempt of application of their training leads them to think for course correction. They find an easy way out. In a classic example of making a line smaller by drawing a bigger line near it as they have realized by now that it is beyond their daydreaming capacities to manipulate the existing line even by an inch, they try to numb the gentle voice, that is yet to speak any word on this controversy, with voices of parallel emotive connect, again to their dismay, just to their bad luck of some more loopholes in their pedagogy again. Bolstered by the endorsements and in a hurry to save the face, the ringmaster and the goon try next degree of audacious shame. They drag some names to humiliate their subject voice. The cheapness becomes pricier. Comparison of contributions made is carried out and the spectacle is thickly impregnated with sectarian viewpoints of the master who has always believed in the policy of offence. Probably defense was never in his vocabulary.

But, as mentioned earlier, the pedagogy of goonship is not free of loopholes, much in the line of the cliché ‘nothing is perfect’, the outcome of this damage control exercise could not be even a mirage, to try onto something again to save the face. Like the gentle voice, the other dragged voices, too, didn’t bother to lend their words to this whole episode of venom spitting. But as the cheap is the pricey now, the goonship will find a new target, for they are aplenty. The tenet of the modern management, that don’t waste your resources in mending and tackling an almost impossible problem or competitor or target, find an alternative or the middle way out, has probably gone down well into the extended syllabus of the goonship, for goons know their worth; for master and the ringleader know the worth of the goons; for they know the worth going low to scale high in the spaces; for they know such dissenting and gentle voices can be counted on fingertips; for they know these apolitical and gentle voices don’t meddle in the expanding brotherhood; for they know the middle way out to not to stir the base of voices of emotive connects of such apolitical voices, something that may really jeopardize their game. After all, ‘spiral of silence’ is not just a theory in words only.

But why?

Why the brotherhood of the goonship gets prominence into the narrow by-lanes of the spaces?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

THE GOONS BARGE IN – ONCE AGAIN

The goons barge in. Set their ransacking machinery in motion once again. Start honing their tried and tested skills of vandalism with working on office furniture, their users and the end product. They do everything with a degree of audacious confidence. Say cheering hello to the camera eyes recording them, for they know it is now the easiest way to get publicity. They don’t care if the means are going to start a fury; an outrage that would spark a debate for few hours, for they know the poor memory of their subjects by now. Indeed it is what they are looking for. So they complete their work with required mastery. Leave more than enough of a trail to fill the spaces with words. Security comes in. Regulators arrive. They inspect. They communicate with the feeble victims. They come to pose before the lenses. Make bold and promising statements. Get their due in the spaces. They leave. They, too, leave a trail to be followed by the spaces. Some pawns are already there to be scapegoated. The ringleader gets the due, for himself, for his master. More than expected publicity for the goons has already crept in. The analyses, the debates and the scapegoating processes have seen the light of the day, just once again. The day comes to an end. Another day takes off. The ringleader goon comes out. He apologizes. He apologizes just for the slight inconvenience caused. He doesn’t regret his deeds. In fact, he shows himself to be victimized and veils ‘for his public’ cover to defend his hooliganism. Some political maneuvering takes place. After due assessment of political fall-out and subsequent pros and cons of decisions to be taken, a consensus is reached that the best way out is to serve the guy with a soft approach, for his gains may multiply if situation is handled according to rule-books. This goon and every other goon of this genre and their ringleaders and masters are in convenient know of this accepted and well assimilated fact by now. They always knew they would be left almost untouched, for the brotherhood of goonship is getting larger and wider. They know their use and hence their price in the present political scenario. They are always ready to barge in anywhere to hone their skills of vandalism, for the level of debasement has probably squeezed the catch phrase of ‘cheap publicity’ out of their senses.


Friday, 20 November 2009

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE..IT'S MY HABITAT


Indian Fox: A common meso predator in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh



A NATION WITH MULTITUDES..CERTAINLY NOT A HOTCHPOTCH NATION

“We are considered a conglomeration of different faiths, castes, languages, customs and traditions. Whatever we might say in defence or take pride in our ‘unity in diversity’, the world at large believes we are a hotchpotch nation.”

A debate topic on a blog starts saying like India’s slogan of ‘unity in diversity’ doesn’t work and the world at large sees us as a hotchpotch nation.

India is like a microcosm of the macrocosmos of world. We can easily find many Indias in this part of the world, slated to reflect a confusing identity, but is there truly a confusion of this sort? Nations have changed, their characters have metamorphosed but the basic human identity has remained the same over the ages. This basic human identity is at the core to set its other variants. We have always had group identities; identities of fistful of trendsetters; and identities of seas of followers. These identities subsequently reflected in identities of smaller communities; in identities of larger population groups; and in identities of nation states. But this ‘many’ at micro level remains around that sort of ‘many’ at macro level. Layers remain the same. Ethos remains the same. Their scope and paradigms take a shift based on the level they are operating at.

'Unity in diversity' is not India specific. No two human beings are same. The world is heading more and more towards individualism and it is not a new phenomenon. The world history is replete with individuals who really matter. We may represent sameness collectively with this difference of individuality. If we comply, we stay. If we cannot, we split. This basic entity of identity is reflected at every level of societal and population DNA. We make and break identities. That is process of evolution. The subsequent de-stability is a vestige of this process of evolution, to move towards more rational ways. Post-modernism might be a recent literary catch-phrase but what it signifies was always there – making your sphere ‘you’ specific, whether right or wrong. That vestige of process of evolution of identities gives us the rare chance to debate on the post-modern ways of thinking that we inculcate, consciously and sub-consciously.

This multitude of ‘we’ makes societies, communities and nations. This multitude of ‘identities’ is at the core of this process. This multitude of ‘differences’ and hence ‘vestiges’ is in the backdrop of striving for more, seeking corrections, demanding rectifications. We cannot simply do away with it. The world may believe we are a hotchpotch nation but we see that sort of thinking as hotchpotch way of thinking.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

WE EXIST.....?????

All of us born to exist. Sometimes, in the wider contour of existentialism, we arrive at the realization to debate whether we existed or not; are we existing or not. Most of the time, we know we exist. After all, existing is purely post-modern in its overtures. Yes, overtures they are. Overtures as they suggest us, to abide by, and not to abide by ‘what’s going on’, - to break the mould, the reshape the mould, or to break the self, - to assume a modified identity, to signify the change, first for self, then for others, or to remain the same.

It is debatable whether existentialism is absolutely individualistic, largely individualistic, or fairly individualistic inculcating the sense of a self with some supporting selves.

The answer can never be in absolute terms. The social structure evolves locally interpreting the underpinnings of all vital possibilities of its outreach. Localization has an inherent trait of maintaining lines of differentiation. So this evolution has limitations; limitations of accepting and assimilating. The larger units that are nothing but an amorphous whole of these smaller social entities have the similar problems of outreach. Only, at this level, the differentiators start adopting a monolithic structure.

The only common thread in this confusing conundrum is the concept of existentialism, something that propels the evolution to change or to adopt to scale the next level of adjustability’; ‘aptness’ is still a word not to be used here.

We all exist because we all believe in the small world around us. We believe we exist as that small world exists. We develop mutualism to draw meanings, to give meanings. This small world may be an individual or a group of individuals. The development of this small world is the only factor that has sustained evolutions; that has created civilizations; that has made us born to exist.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

THOUGHT POWER

Be careful of your thoughts. Whatever you send out of your mind, comes back to you. Every thought you think, is a boomerang. If you hate another, hate will come back to you. If you love others, love will come back to you. An evil thought is thrice cursed. First, it harms the thinker by doing injustice to his mental body. Secondly, it harms the person who is its object. Lastly, it harms all mankind by vitiating the whole mental atmosphere.

Every evil thought is as a sword drawn on the person to whom it is directed. If you entertain thoughts of hatred, you are really a murderer of that man against whom you foster thoughts of hatred. You are your own suicide, because these thoughts rebound upon you only. A mind tenanted by evil thoughts acts as a magnet to attract like thoughts from others and thus intensifies the original evil. Evil thoughts thrown into the mental atmosphere poison receptive minds. To dwell on an evil thought gradually deprives it of its repulsiveness and impels the thinker to perform an action which embodies it.

Very carefully watch all your thoughts. Suppose you are assailed by gloomy thoughts. You experience depression. Take a small cup of milk or tea. Sit calmly. Close your eyes. Find out the cause for the depression and try to remove the cause. The best method to overcome the gloomy thoughts and the consequent depression, is to think of inspiring thoughts and inspiring things. Remember again, positive overcomes negative. This is a grand effective law of nature.

The science of thought power is very interesting and subtle. This thought-world is more real relatively than this physical universe. The power of thought is very great. Every thought of yours has a literal value to you in every possible way. The strength of your body, the strength of your mind, your success in life and the pleasures you give to others by your company - all depend on the nature and quality of your thoughts. You must know thought-culture, and develop thought power.

Swami Sivananda

ANOTHER MOMENTARY RELIEF..

The air space scene was hot this evening with debates and analyses on Manu Sharma’s parole fiasco, his links, why he got parole, how he misused it, how he cheated the system, how everything backfired among others.

Two main themes were:

• Is Delhi police shielding son of a senior police official who had a tiff there at LAP, the bar where a brawl involving Manu Sharma took place? Reports say about Delhi Police Commissioner Dadwal’s son.
• Delhi Police detained businessman Sameer Thapar of JCT fame in a case of mistaken identity.

Given the societal arrangements that we are living in, it had to happen. All the links and patronage that Manu Sharma may enjoy had to take the backstage, in order to surrender to the interests of the mightier ones. A commoner would certainly be more interested for the momentary relief that wrong was backtracked so quickly this time in this case, just in days of controversy coming to the surface and Delhi CM denying any wrong in parole to Manu Sharma, for a commoner identifies more with a Jessica Lall.

Thanks to media this time. The pressure has worked efficiently. Media is questioning the police motive, government’s role, and the system functioning. We cannot expect that a commoner will identify her or himself to this extent and would go to identify his or her own identity and life circumstances amidst all the prevailing complexities that look trivial on surface but have potential to derail any life at any given moment.

Let’s see if we ever can come to feel restless until we get the whole pie of what should be delivered. Manu Sharma should just be the beginning at this stage. We need to identify us to the extent that why the action was quickened after mightier names got involved and why not when the report of Manu Sharma misusing parole surfaced first. Till then, it’s the sluggish race as usual to see the faceless justice getting some face. Till then it is just another momentary relief.

Monday, 9 November 2009

POLITICAL AND CRIMINAL MINDSET: THE INTERTWINING SMEAR

What Raj Thackeray has got done today is yet another deafening addition to the debasement of the face of Indian polity. The spate is going on. It is becoming epidemic now. The beak has become so stiff that it is threatening to drown the boat called India.

We have reasons to believe it. Spiral of politicians like Madhu Kodas and Raj Thackerays, many political goons belonging to every political party and every Indian state, is getting sharper and sharper. There happened to be a clear demarcation between a politician and a criminal when our academic forefathers had established Political Sciences. As the ages rolled on, the line of demarcation got thinner and thinner. Once there could not be a line. Then came a period when a line, though the bold one, could be drawn. The bold line was subsequently replaced by the thin line. Time keeps on moving uni-directionally. The thin line becomes the fine one and keeps on getting finer, rapidly now. Comes the days we are living in. The line is almost blurred to the extent that its constituent dots are threatening their cohesive gel of an imminent drought if the crisis is left unchecked anymore. Here comes the deepest of ironies. The dots find that they cannot trust the source of the solvent that is entitled to lubricate their cohesive gels.

Pity them. Pity India. For, the trepidation seems much more intense here than any other country with such a huge biomass. Pity India. For, it is getting leaders who believe they are rulers, and their voters are ignorant bunch of creatures. Sure, they believe their voters are just biomass, and not human beings. Pity India, for their number is on the rise. We proudly say we celebrate democracy when elections come. We break spiral of silence by sending out a government out of the office when no one had expected it. But we forget the basic necessity of our existence.

India has a constitution; an elaborate and detailed one. It is embedded in democratic values. It was written when there was a clear demarcation between a political thought process and a criminal mindset. Today when the criminal and corrupt mindset is getting the upper edge, the values find themselves amidst debilitating chances of survival. Slowly they have stopped speaking for themselves. Whenever they find some expression, most of the time, they find some sort of serendipity or some forced execution. The natural outcome: Democracy has become an occasional celebration, something that was our birth-right.

Today was day of debate parleys. Today was an occasional day for culture of debate in our country. We recently missed a debate on Madhu Koda deeds. The culture of debate, the backbone of democracy, is looking desperately to find some space. We need to accept India never had a culture of debate given its socioeconomic and political weavings in the post-impendence existence. Koda was not the first case of corruption. Raj Thackeray is not the last face of political hooliganism. But we have comfortably forgotten misdeeds of their predecessors. Almost of them still have secure political careers. A common Indian is not very hopeful about Madhu Koda and Raj Thackeray by the precedents already set. Let’s see when and how we forget this episode in the coming days!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

RIKTATAON KE BEECH

This one is one of my favorites, a poem written by Naqvi Sir, published in 1974, in the collection 'Saat Swar'. Naqvi Sir was just 20 when this collection of poems was published in Varanasi.



Qamar Waheed Naqvi, 'Saat Swar', 1974 

Friday, 6 November 2009

NOVEMBER 19 AGAIN: DID IT ECHO IN YOUR THOUGHTS?

I hope most of us are still aware of Shanmugam Manjunath who sacrificed his life.


What for?


Many of us would dismiss that in just one go -- for honesty -- and for human values, values going deeper into backstage with each passing moment, and this all in the veil of pragmatism. On 19th Nov., 2005, this IIML grad and sales manager of Indian Oil Corporation was found shot dead in his car in Lakhimpur-Kheri, and that in the age of 27. And for what -- he had raided and sealed some petrol pumps for adulteration. S. Manjunath, the teacher of his IIML professors was no more between us.


But what was our responsibility? Could we adopt even an iota of values of pioneers like Manjunath, Satyendra Dubey, Binayak Sen or Himanshu Gandhi? A selfless struggle to bring the process of change on the horizon.


Some media reports have pegged Naxals’ annual extortion operation at around 1500 crore and see, a Madhu Koda can easily outmaneuvers them in just few years of political career. Who’re mercenaries of debased interests? Finding that is getting tougher and tougher. Identities are coalescing and tentacles of vested interests are infesting virtually every area of our social habitat now.  


We need the change. We desperately need to save our social habitat. We need functionality of values back. Surely we need messengers of change. We always need to see that the sacrifices like Manjunath and all others do not vanish in the pages of history. We need to discourse the sensitivity. We need to see what has been the individual sensitivity? What has been the sensitivity of people as a whole? Are we able to question ourselves? I think we must question ourselves, our orientations.


I believe there are multitudes who share this sort of thinking. Such thoughts come to them time and again. I do believe that human consciousness will ultimately find its way one day when a Manjunath and a Satyendra Dubey would not have to get gunshots to follow their lives on the principles once the societies had accepted as functional norms.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

QUESTIONING OUR QUESTIONS




"If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes." - Albert Einstein


When was the last time you sat through a meeting and said to yourself, "This is a complete waste of time!"? Was it yesterday, or even just a few hours ago? Why did that gathering feel so tedious? Perhaps it's because the leaders posed the wrong questions at the start of the session. Or, worse yet, maybe they didn't ask any engaging questions, and as a result, the meeting consisted of boring reports-outs or other forms of one-way communication that failed to engage people's interest or curiosity.


The usefulness of the knowledge we acquire and the effectiveness of the actions we take depend on the quality of the questions we ask. Questions open the door to dialogue and discovery. They are an invitation to creativity and breakthrough thinking. Questions can lead to movement and action on key issues; by generating creative insights, they can ignite change.
Consider the possibility that everything we know today about our world emerged because people were curious. They formulated a question or series of questions about something that sparked their interest or deeply concerned them, which lead them to learn something new. Many Nobel laureates describe the "Eureka!" moment of their discovery as when the "right" question finally revealed itself—even if it took them considerable time to come up with the final answers.


If asking good questions is so critical, why don't most of us spend more of our time and energy on discovering and framing them? One reason may be that much of Western culture and North American society in particular, focuses on having the "right answer" rather than discovering the "right question." Our educational system focuses more on memorization and rote answers than on the art of seeking new possibilities. We are rarely asked to discover compelling questions, nor are we taught why we should ask such questions in the first place.


Actually it is quite easy to learn the basics of crafting powerful questions. However, once you understand the importance of inquiry, it's hard to turn back. As your questions become broader and deeper than before, so does your experience of life. There is no telling where a powerful question might lead you.


Eric Vogt, Juanita Brown, David Isaacs
  • What is the Indian approach – focusing on right answer or right question first?
  • What role does our education system play in it?
  • Can there be a fitting answer or set of answers to such propositions?
  • Right question or right answer first – what can be the determinant circumstantial attribute?
  • What is the universality of this proposition?

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

WEB OF THOUGHTS

Sometimes we feel we are living in a world that is nothing but an illusion. Most of the moments of life go unwarranted when thoughts are at a subconscious play. We are unable or unwilling to listen to them not realizing their influence on confluence of imminence and chance. They do affect us. Sometimes we feel conscious about our position and our place in the reality of the world. Thoughts emerge at the surface more often. We human beings are basically manifest creation of conscious, subconscious and unconscious thoughts. The gravity of their web decides the direction of stay here to make a living out of the life.



Web of Thoughts: Ragini's Sketch Impression

KAL HI KI TO BAAT HAI - JPG



Tuesday, 3 November 2009

THE NEED OF ‘WE’

The prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Award 2009 has found a match this year in Dr Jaya Arunachalam. It’s not the first time and it’s not the last time when Dr Arunachalam has been conferred with a prestigious recognition for her efforts. The important factor to be mentioned here is nature of her efforts. Like I wrote in one of my earlier write-ups, she has achieved much of her success with help of collective efforts involving the civil society by playing a pivotal role through her initiative the Working Women’s Forum (India) in bringing together the diverse groups of people with means and people seeking means to form a steady flow of subsistence for the needy. Dr Arunachalam’s belief in being an activist and not a fighter compliments the potential of ‘we’ bound by a cause and it emphasizes the need for collective effort.

The need is to believe in power of collective effort. The task before us requires as many helping hands as possible to come together and form a chain of undying spirit. The hunt is to be for likeminded partners to come and share their thoughts and extend their help to the cause of the mankind, graduating from a man to the men.  Obviously the most important asset here is the personal commitment.

We must not claim to be different; nature of the cause requires amalgamation. But, yes, we need to be different for the initiative once we decide over it. In Delhi alone there are over 60,000 registered societies and organizations that claim to be engaged into some sort of empowerment or ‘rectifying an anomaly’ work. Let’s think about the pan India scene. It will start looking disturbing right from the very beginning if we decide to go on social auditing for even a fraction of it. Still a common Indian is looking desperately for an aggregation of differentiators; looking for a consorted effort to help them to get ahead in the race of just standing on their feet.

It was always there – the need for the human factor to every life. It has not come just now when efforts to empower the last person and make her/him parallel to the official definitions are needed to stand out. But have we learnt? Have we been able to zero-in on the nature of efforts that we need to mobilize?

Such efforts speak for the ‘we’ factor. They too know they have proponents and not just a single one. But they need as much multitudes together as possible. This idea and just a discourse-knowledge of ‘others are there too’ is needed to be propagated.  There are some out of numerous who are working to bring some change. The commitment is to be extended among all. There must be a willingness to share the vision and commitment in order to create a ‘differentiator’.

What can be the basic differentiating contributions? Contributions from organizations as well as individuals can be in terms of thought process sharing, conceptualization of themes and projects with relevance for social empowerment, volunteer association for some manpower hours of highly satisfying outcome to name a few.

The need is to look forward to catalyze a pattern change in the way development assistance works nationwide by connecting the local and the global to achieve large scale development driven at the grass roots. Human development is about expanding the capacity of all human beings to take control of their destiny and reach their full potential. Remember, ‘we’ as a ‘unit’ can do wonders to make a difference.

Monday, 2 November 2009

KAL HI KI TO BAAT HAI

dy gh dh rks ckr gS
dy gh dh rks ckr gS

tc esjs vUrj us

eq>s fQj ls iqdkjk Fkk

eSa dgha [kks lk x;k Fkk

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mu ladjh foyhu gksrh xfy;ksa esa

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esjs vUrj us eq>s >d>ksjk

dgk dgka tkrs gks

D;k rqeus fdlh ls ;gh 'kCn ugha dgs Fks

cSBks nks ?kM+h fuokZr esa vkSj lkspks

rqEgsa D;k gksuk Fkk vkSj D;k gksrs tkrs gks

thou ewY;ksa ds rqEgkjs izfreku D;k gS

D;k ;gh ugha rqEgkjs vfLrRo dk lkj okD; gS

dy gh dh rks ckr gS]

tc eSaus lUukVksa ls [kqn dks ik;k Fkk

tc esjs vUrj us eq>s fQj ls cqyk;k Fkk

lUukVs vkt Hkh ogha gSa

ij laokn dgha izLQqfVr gks  x;k gS

vkvks pyks [kkstsa fQj ls fdlh fuokZr dks

fQj ls mu izfrekuksa dks xढ़us ds fy,