To remember when things are tough


Recently, I told a friend of mine that sometimes it is not possible to see the future from where we are standing. It rarely ever is a linear extrapolation from our current situation. As I was telling him this, I realized that it was me who needed to understand this the most. I sometimes fear what the future would be. I fear that if the present continues, it would not be for the best. And in telling him, I found this truth for myself. I stopped trying to extrapolate it and create a reality based on today which has as much possibility of not being true as it has of being true. Things change a lot and it happens in just a moment. Does not take very long. One could be going on a completely different path than imagined.

I better not forget this when times are tough because changes are always lurking just around the corner. It is a good probability that we would find a good one on the turn we fear so much.

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What confounds most people


Life Crises have now begun to strike early. The first major one now happens when you are in your mid to late twenties. The reason – reason being that most people at that stage find themselves without a set path. They find that there is no one direction to take, no one criteria to fulfill, no one basis on which to call yourself successful. This predicament confounds all. They have been believing all their lives that there is a set answer to a set question and they are ready with it. But when the crisis hits, they realize that the questions have changed. Life is not asking you what you expected it to ask of you. Instead, there are questions which you never even imagined. There are circumstances which are unique to you and would not have answers anywhere except within you. It is most confounding. Some people delude themselves, some numb themselves, some seek answers with gusto, some are flabbergasted and some just give up. The choice is one’s own and unique to our situation. How to go through it, one can only imagine but the thing is that you have to befriend yourself like no other and hate and love yourself most. And then ignore yourself and focus on the world around you and all the things which make every experience worthwhile.

My art – my dream!


My art is not to create new worlds. My art is to take this world, bring a new lens into it, tweak it a bit so that it becomes as dreamy as any imagined world. That is my art and that is my dream. My work and my creativity are aligned to make this happen in this lifetime. Take reality (science, humans) and transform it into a dreamland (great books and better businesses/management practices).

 

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins


Given the normal Hindu upbringing that I had, I had grown up hearing and knowing about all the innumerable gods we have. Then, my education in a convent school for a few years of my life exposed me to the Christianity as well and a couple of my friends as well as family friends being muslim showed me that way of thinking too. In short, I knew about 3 religions and how they functioned. I loved the mythology. I loved the stories of Gods – more like superhuman beings. There wasn’t much I questioned early in life. It is when I came in higher class in school – around class X or so..that I started reasoning for myself and found many incompatibilities. It was just flabbergasting to believe what mythologies were saying and what science had actually proved. It did not go together and that is when in the hearts of my hearts I accepted that God – be it any religion – was a superhuman character in an elaborate plotline with earth as center.

The book asserts as much and tries to argue rationally. Dawkins is a charming speaker and a gifted writer and he is very passionate about the subject. It is indeed a touchy topic and he starts by pointing out how religion gains much more immunity than anything else (in terms of offence).

I came across Dawkins and his quest for Atheism when I was in college – 2nd year I think. I have been thoroughly convinced since then, of course but reading this book was just a reassertion of the fact that if one begins to see the world through scientific lens and tries to accept the unknown/fuzziness as such , which is as yet unknown, rather than devising supernatural story plots, there would be so much more beauty to be seen!

Rationality is a gift we all have but the choice to use it is what makes a difference. Sadly, most of us choose to believe in something which is incompatible with rationality, science and evidence.

If you want to give even an iota of a chance to see the argument for not believing in a supernatural – This is the book.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl


(Might contain spoilers)

Before yesterday, I had often come across recommendations for this book. They all said how it was so inspiring and had been written by a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Now, I have read a bit about the era and seen movies about Nazi tortures. It was a painful time. It saddens me to read about it and I did not want to get depressed again reading about the worst possible dimension of human nature. It was for this reason, I just kept delaying reading the much touted Frankl’s book.

Yesterday, I eventually got it on my Kindle and started reading and I only stopped when my eyes completely surrendered and started once again as soon as I got up. It is a small book. But it’s power is enormous. Yes, It is about the concentration camps and torture but its not dispiriting. Instead, its uplifting and that is why it is a great book. Victor Frankl is an extraordinary man who not only survived the camps but at the same time used that experience to understand one of the man’s most basic survival skill as well as his innate desire – that of a meaning in life. Throughout the book he describes how those who were determined to allocate a meaning to their lives were the people who survived the unimaginable brutalities. As soon as any one gave up that trust in the meaning, they gave up all hope and were quickly consumed by death.

Through his and other’s struggle and survival, Frankl makes a case for having a meaning in one’s life. He asserts that it is not the will to pleasure (as advocated by Freudian School of Thought) or the will to power/money (as advocated by Adlerian School of Thought) but the will to meaning which is the most powerful driver of a human’s satisfaction and actions. He has christened this school of thought as ‘logotherapy’. He emphasizes that people can be helped more by focusing on their future and the actions which make that future possible than by delving deep into hidden desires and intents.

There is also much discussion about free will and liberty of man in the book. His view is that while man is not free of the situations and the difficulties he might have to face, he is free to choose his actions and the attitude which he will adopt in every possible circumstance – favorable or not.

He also suggests self transcendence as the best way to live a meaningful life and also having therapeutic value where one shifts his focus from himself to something outside it. This resonates with Bertrand Russell’s thought that a man’s locus should be external to his being. Being the locus of oneself forces one to constantly watch, evaluate and criticize one’s actions which can get very tiring and frustrating soon enough. So, one has to choose meaning which is external to self.

More than once he quotes Nietzsche’s words ‘ He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how’ which forms his credo as well. Here are a couple of lines from the book regarding Logotherapy –

According to logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways : 1) by creating a work or doing a deed 2) by experiencing something or encountering someone.3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

He concludes with a thought that it is not happiness which man finally seeks but a reason to be happy – which means a meaning for his life and happiness is but a by-product of that. Also, meaning is not some generalized abstract concept but is unique to each and every person and should be tailored by answering the questions which life asks of us at different points in our lives.

All in all, it is indeed a very inspiring book and should be read at least once. I am glad I finally did.!

Judgement, People


I have a real issue with judgement and judgmental people. I can’t take it with nonchalance.

With some difficulty and conscious effort, I am in a place today where I can respect the choices people make for themselves, be it similar to mine or better or worse. The reason I have is that I am not the best person to make a decision about someone else’s life and give it a rating – good or bad. Often, I am not qualified to understand the mental process of other people, to feel the intensity of emotions they must have felt and so I can’t really ‘judge’ them for the decisions they have taken.

And being in this place makes it tough for me because I expect that other people would do the same. Not true. Not true at all. Most people would make an associative judgment about you without even bothering to know all the facts or give it an honest assessment or even verify that what they remember is an actual fact or just a figment of their associative memory’s imagination. It bothers me because that is an evaluation that they carry about me and it is not accurate.

My point is simply this – If you are going to assess, get your facts right. If you cannot bother to take the pains of knowing the honest truth, then don’t be quick to assess and come to a judgement.

That is all. That is where I stand!