A Thought – On Life

Life is a framework of possibilities, with a bias towards making the impossible possible.

Life as instinct is unconcerned with/unaware of possibilities. It knows no doubt, no pause in the will to strike.

Like a little computer program to add 10 numbers, it does the addition flawlessly a million times over but cannot deviate from the aim to add 10 numbers. There is a mind for sure but it is an algorithm with a single purpose.

In man life as instinct morphs into life as mind. All the complexity, the variety, richness and ambiguity of mental man is only a glimpse into the mind of the Creator.

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A Thought – On Pain

All pain is only the most palpable sign of the will to evolve. That which is not striving and stretching has stagnated.

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Journey Back To The Home Within

Am sure you know the feeling.

To emerge from the hurricane of unfavorable winds and chance upon calmer times.

To view oneself anew, as if rude winds have ripped apart the scaffolding of ones character.

It is a disconcerting experience. To be confronted with the core of one’s self. What does one do with it? Use memory to re-build the traits? Let habit and instinct rule, as they usually do. What values should inform the new behavior the world draws out from you?

To begin anew upon a newly decimated being is the rare gift of a Grace that sees beyond the wincing of the time-born self. The irony of it, the Iron Hand of Mercy!

Amidst the contours of the self, all is known yet tinged with the trepidation of a first encounter.

All said, it is good to be back to the home within.

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India’s National Anthem Rings Out From Kenya and USA’s From France!

The thing that hooked me in was the Indian National anthem being sung by Kenyans.

Or the French singing the anthem of the Americans.

Pangea, is the name of the project that aims to use film to promote unity. A powerful concept that rides upon the ubiquity of the internet and the visual media.

I should say my national anthem gives me goose pimples, even when sung by a different race/culture/people.

Beneath all the variations of skin, language, cultures and every other distinctness that makes us look upon another as different, there is an unity that binds us all. A variety of means exist to see this unity. Music, painting, poetry, the world of ideas and now increasingly, for the last 60-70 years, the world of films.

Watch it. In 3-4 minutes a considerable amount of prejudice can be washed away.

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A Callous Society

Today I happened to go to CMH Road in Bangalore on my way to work. I observed something was not quite right. It was this way since the explosion of commerial establishments on the previously quite road.

But I could not quite pin it down for more than a few moments. Then it struck me, the trees were all gone. I counted at least 15 of them and I covered only 30% of the road.

To be honest this was not Fangorn forest. This was a small set of trees on either side of the road covering almost 60-70% of the road. The stretch that covered Ulsoor was mostly bare.

I believe this is to ensure the metro rail can pass through this road. I am sure the rail project will alleviate, or at least attempt to alleviate, the strain on the road traffic. But there could have been a holistic attempt at re-homing the trees. Perhpas the cost of doing this could have included within the project estimation. Or corporate sponsors could have been roped in. Bottom line there are simply too many options available nowadays to ensure we protect what is left of Bangalore’s foilage.

A race that once proclaimed “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahmam”, ‘All that exists is the Brahman/Supreme Consciousness/Divine’, now barely pauses before ripping apart the roots of its own future prosperity.

A callous society does not realise hindsight will not be enough to save it from ruin. The Ents shall have their revenge.

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21st Century Style Snake-Oil?

As humans a few ubiquitous limitations constrain us all, regardless of our affiliations. Whether we subscribe to the hypothesis on space and time or the axioms of math or the subjective escape into the rarer realms or the conjuring tricks of sound and light or as a traficker of ideas, Death ends us all.

The problem of Death must have been one of the earliest pre-occupations of thinking man. It can easily be imagined how the very first reasoning animal-man would have confronted a reality that snatches away what he has adored until a little while back.

Here is article from Wired that covers another attempt to do away with Death. It covers Ray Kurzweil‘s pursuit of ‘singularity’, a state in the evolution of humanity as defined by von Neumann.

The notion of what the singularity seems to have been added upon later. From what I understood it seems to be the sudden burst in the advancements in machines, that will exceed the capabilities of humans.

But look at it in another way. Is this any different from the ascetic who isolates himself in the mountain-cave? Contorting his physical and mental self, to catch the rhythm of an existence that allows something of him to pass on beyond gates of physical self, and hence death?

Perhaps singularity wears different masks? Is it the same as Buddha’s Nirvana? Or the Nirvikalpa and Savikalpa Samadhi of the various Yogas? Or more even the supramental state of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga? Or is this all merely a scientific snake-oil? What do you think?

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Is this the far-seeing eye of Shiva?!

Shiva, it is said, has a third eye, one which could penetrate the soul of existence and perceive its singular essence. This was the all-perceiving eye of the Chief Ascetic. One which could see all triple projections of time, the ‘trikala dhrishti’ – the eternal now, the receeding past and the impending future. To gain some measure of insight into the workings of Time would make a mortal even as one of the Gods.

But technology, that great democratizing power, knows no Yoga, nor penance, nor asceticism. It lays no claim on eternity, unlike religion, but is forever the skeptic. Abandoning one half-truth in preference to a fresher half-truth. But it atleast upgrades itself unlike religion!

Science in its most candid moments touches a little of our eternity. When that happens, the method of reaching out ceases to be relevant. It is the touch that counts.

The WorldWideTelescope is one such expression of who we all are. It is a brief glimpse of the eternity to which we shall return, at least as dust. There is something about the TED presentation here. Could be the invention, could be the AWESOMENESS of it, could be the uncorrupted intent of the iventor or the speaker..could be some other alchemy that escapes our understanding.

But I loved it, every second of what I saw.

The interviews on the site seek to guess its utility once released. But I think this is a big mistake. Things of such beauty should not need to justify their existence.

I can perfectly understand Scoble’s reaction on seeing this.

I dont remember seeing a software application that made me confront and remember what I am as a human being.

No untruth was proved false. No hidden connection was revealed. No forgotten secret laid bare. This was an epiphany, of who we all are, masquerading as science and software.

I am Lust, I am Power!

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It starts with the uncanny visual realism, yet something is not quite right – skin that looks like skin but is too perfect to be real, a face too taut and a posture straight out of the Renaissance period. The voice actors are first class – what strikes you is how self-sure the voice is. Everything about this movie seems to stand out for me – Beowulf is a retelling on the old English epic poem, with a little help from Neil Gaiman.

The trailer is amazing and am eager to see it regardless of what the critics say about it.

There is this sequence in the trailer where Beowulf shouts out “I am Lust, I am Power” and so on, expounding various facets of his personality. I feel this is perfect characterization, keeping in mind the time and culture in which this story takes place. And I found it so consistent with my understanding of those ancient times.

Often times, especially in India, where we confuse artistic merit with the personal morals of an actor to pour our fanship, it is  hard to come by a character, live or imaginary, that reflects reality. Reality not as in portrayal as is, for that is but one definition of what art can be, but even by amplification or contrast of our lowest and highest impulses and aspirations. It is almost as if the creative sap of the race has been dried out by the geniuses(Vyaasa, Valmiki, Kalidasa, Tagore etc) who have come before us. What we have now are pale imitations, counterfeits and imaginary dwarves who don’t deserve the crown of posterity. The impoverishment within reflects in the kind of characters whom we choose to create and idolize. Perhaps a more complete destruction of the national character and forms of culture is needed to bring about fresher and more puissant creation.

The Myths of Innovation – A must for fanboys of every genre!

It is not often that a book grabs you by the scruff in the very first line and this one does! In the author’s own words the goal is to use “myths about innovation to understand how innovation happens“.  And it starts with…

By idolizing those whom we honor we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves…we fail to recognize that we could go and do likewise. – Charles V. Willie

That line resonates in so many contexts to me. That all that has gone before us is achieved and open for further expansion. Be it science, literature, philosophy, religion or any other field of human endeavor – all that has gone before is only a prelude. To be stuck in a past however glorious, to derive self-esteem by association to attributes and victories that are not ours, to define our life and outlook by standards laid out many hundred years ago in an alien culture…one could go on.

I believe one could advance the state of art that exists. The scope of that change might not be universal. Might be so local that its subjective rather than something that manifests externally. The change so miniscule that one hardly perceives it within. But advance it we must. Sri Aurobindo touches this subject in an aphorism on Karma. I have covered the aphorism and my commentary on it here.

And I just finished reading the preface! Hope to update you all with a review.

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What is serendipity?

(This was a question asked by someone on LinkedIn, have posted my response below)

It was a dusty, moth-eaten fragment of a book. Its papers crumbled at the touch, one had to handle it like when holding a butterfly. I was fascinated by the occasional line drawings in its pages, the content was incomprehensible to my 11year old brain. I used to study in a school that was pathetic to say the least, I just had no clue.

Another 8 years or so later the book miraculously survived being thrown out as junk and I re-discovered it. It turned out to be the complete works of Lord Byron, or at least what was left of the complete works. And I read it end to end, thrice..without a break. The language, the thought and the expressiveness was like a miracle to me. Every turn of phrase was like a lightning that flashed across the ignorance of my mind and burnt itself within me. I have been a very different person since.

I have read lots more, learned that Byron is not the master of subtlety and been through much to be where I am now. But the presence and eventual discovery of that book has to be an act of providence, there is no other rational explanation that I can give myself. This to me is serendipity.

It is the realization that there is a vaster intelligence that guides our lives. To know that all the byways we have taken in the past had purpose, our falls, our failures included- that every little thing a limited human intelligence belittles has a purpose that exceeds its grasp. And that not all things in life are tainted by “the touch of tears”….

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