Something significant is about to take place in my life in 21 days, and I am both excited and nervous about it. And I am not in control of those two states. All I know is that when I imagine the future going as per my desires, I get excited and when I don’t see it going as I want, I get nervous.
When I am excited, those 21 days seem long. ‘There’s a lot that can happen in 21 days. Time and life changes quick. I am ready but time is long. I hope something wrong doesn’t happen,’ I say to myself. I then become nervous.
On the other hand, 21 days seem short when I am nervous. ‘Nothing substantial happens in 21 days. Everything takes time. Change is slow. It is here and I am not prepared,’ I tell myself. I then become even more nervous.
From this perspective, time seems to move slow when we want something to happen fast and time seems to move fast when we want something to happen slow.
But there’s another perspective to all this. Something in the line of what Einstein said explaining relativity:
When I wrote Mental Discipline Is A Ceaseless Process last August, I promised myself I wouldn’t allow internal chaos to confuse and destroy me. I said I would always remember that the workings of the mind are complicated and I need to be on the constant lookout and endeavor if I am to make my life more tolerable and comfortable.
Yet, countless times over the past six months, I have trembled, feared, got uncomfortable, and have found mind and life to be intolerable — not for once remembering the promise I made to myself!
I forget the thing I invent myself
I forget the lessons I teach myself
No wonder I lost myself!
But this morning, it came back. The idea of Mental Discipline came back! Not through a sudden or miraculous solution, as the mind sometimes produces. It came while I was reading Goethe’s maxims
…False, irrelevant, and futile ideas may arise in ourselves and others, or find their way into us from without. Let us persist in the effort to remove them as far as we can, by plain and honest purpose — Maxim 317.
And then, BAM! The lesson I taught myself last August came back:
false ideas, persistence, effort, removal were the keywords for me when I realized and wrote that Mental Discipline was a ceaseless process.
I had once written Mental Discipline and put it as my phone wallpaper, but it was no longer there when I needed it the most.
It has to be said right now that ideas in phone wallpapers evolve, develop and vanish. I may have stopped using the wallpaper with Mental Discipline written on it, or may have removed the text when I must have thought the idea was permanent in me. I will come back to this whole thing in a while.
For now, I want to know why the ideas I need are elusive.
Is it because there are too many ideas that I think are important and I get confused? OR,
Because all ideas have their appropriate time and place. And the time and place of the mental discipline idea hadn’t come until this morning?
If it is the first case, I need to do something with my ideas. I need to be clear about the value and importance of each of my ideas and find a way to manage them. Like by using phone wallpapers better. I will also need to know which ideas are of general importance and which of particular. I need to master my ideas. This makes me a conscious agency with a strong will.
While it may seem like a style-statement of a 21st century wannabe thinker who has come to write here right after reading Socrates’ quotes, it isn’t!
And I am going to give you some evidence:
I was sure the bus would fall off the cliff. It didn’t.
I was sure the airplane would crash that day. It didn’t!
I was sure someone at home had died that day. No one did!
I was sure I had killed someone with my car that day. I hadn’t(?)
I was sure I would get rejected on that application. I didn’t!
I was sure I would get that fellowship. I didn’t!
I was sure that girl liked me. She didn’t!
I was sure the other girl didn’t care about me. She did!
Although I have written ‘I was sure’ up there, I was actually CONVINCED about all those things. C-O-N-V-I-N-C-E-D.
I was convinced the bus would crash, and I took my ID out from my bag and almost threw it out of the bus window that day — until something else intervened! (I will come to that something else in a while.)
All those ‘sure’ up there are based on my knowledge of myself or the world at some time and place. Those knowledge came to me through my thoughts. I even called them ‘gut-feelings’. But all of them turned out to be false. That’s why I say:
The only thing I know now is that I know nothing and
SOME THOUGHTS ARE USELESS. Garbage.
The examples given above had immediate outcomes, that’s why it was easy for me to validate their truth. I fall off my chair wondering how many of those knowledge and thoughts I have been breeding inside me whose outcomes take time to come.
Here I have to undertake a difficult task:
While I say some thoughts are useless, I will try to understand thoughts through thoughts.
Another family wedding reception party. Another night of heavy drinking and conversations with people I wouldn’t even look into the eye for more than a second on a normal day. Another morning filled with enormous guilt and physical weakness!
I am making weird sounds every time my mind gets flashes from last night, which my wife says is me cringing on myself.
Why, Adesh, why?
Why do I drink, when I know it hurts the next morning?
At first glance, things seem something like this:
I don’t have friends so whichever party I go to is a family one. Which means, it is about obligations.
Obligations mean it is something I do not want to do. I do not want to go to such parties because I do not want to socialize. I do not want to meet my extended family members.
Yet, obligations mean I have to go, despite my lack of interest! Which means I need to find a way to make it tolerable and manageable. (I also need to find a reason to tell myself I am beyond obligations and I am doing it out of my free will.)
And what do I lure myself with?
It becomes the thing that makes the visit tolerable. It becomes the thing that makes me alright.
I drink even though it hurts the next day because I have to make obligatory family parties tolerable for me. And alcohol makes that happen!
Or so I thought before writing this. Because from a slightly different glance, things seem something like this:
If I go to parties for obligations only, why the hell don’t I stay for half-an-hour and leave. I mean, that would be perfect, wouldn’t it? Obligationsdone✔ ️Alcohol none❌
But I don’t do that, do I?
In fact, the thought of such an act makes me feel I am missing out on something big. It’s like everyone’s playing outside and I am forced to sleep in my bed with a fever.
And then I discover another reason I go to such parties. A reason that is in contrast to the reason I thought I drank alcohol at such parties:
What Wells has tried to say in this is that the primitive men were unable to form sound judgment on the important things that were happening around them. Those things spanned from the availability of their foods to illness and death. Although they tried to make guesses, they weren’t able to discover the proper cause-effect. This made them prone to fear and panic.
It was then that the older and steadier minds among them took lead and began advising, teaching and eventually commanding the multitudes. Those leaders were priests, which then gave birth to religion.
I am the proof that our modern time with computers, internet and now Artificial Intelligence, Space-Travels, Medical science, etc. is taking us into the great unknown which is making us fearful and anxious.
If the information overload — which has given us more confusion than wisdom — was not enough, the thought of machines taking our jobs, megalomaniacs stepping into moons, diseases taking our lives, have guaranteed almost nothing as we are unable to form sound judgment on what will happen tomorrow, let alone in five years time. We are confused about our livelihood and health — important things — just like the primitive men. The only thing that has changed is the tools. For example, anxiety about the availability of foods has been replaced by anxiety about the quality of foods. And in some places, quantity of it.
Although we try to make guesses, we aren’t being able to discover the proper cause-effect of all this. A quick scroll on Medium will prove this. This has made us fearful.
Once again, as per Wells’ narrative, this problem in primitive days led to older and steadier minds among them to take lead in advising, teaching and eventually commanding the multitudes. Those leaders then became priests, which then gave birth to religion.
Although the tools and mediums have changed today, we have seen an uprising of religious and spiritual pursuits on a global scale. We saw that in the mid 20th century due to bombs and we see that today due to computers, AIs, medicine, as mentioned above. The 20th century crisis had limited sources of threat from what we have today.
But a big part of us isn’t satisfied with the religious and spiritual doctrines that have its roots in spears and stones. We are today dealing with machines that threaten to be more intelligent than us. The ones that threaten to even eradicate us! We do have the option of deeming them ‘devil’ and ‘monsters’, otherwise those teachings don’t touch us in the regions we want to be touched.
If history does indeed repeat itself, what that leaves us with is to identify the older and steadier minds among us that are taking lead. Who are advising, teaching and commanding the multitudes.
In the ancient times, those leaders were called priests who gave birth to religion as we know today. Who is doing that today and what new religion is being formed from all this? Should we not be skeptical of what forms from all this?
Once again, if history repeats, they are here. They have to be here by now. So, Who are they? Is it me? Is it you? Is it us? Or is it a billionaire?
I just saw a school bully of mine in my dream. He was a powerful person waving a flag at a big event of which I was a mere spectator. Although the crowd booed him, he seemed to care not. He was as confident and cocky as I remember him to be all those years ago.
I woke up a few minutes earlier feeling bad. I am in my bed. I have recalled the dream and analyzed it. It is midnight. I had just fallen asleep.
At first, I couldn’t stand the thought of him or any other bully of mine being a successful or powerful person in society. And then I asked myself if he or any other bully of mine were successful or powerful yet. The answer was no.
During that questioning, I noticed that I didn’t seem to care if they were successful or powerful in ‘my’ country Nepal. In fact, it felt natural. ‘What else would they be?’
But I couldn’t stand the idea of them being successful or powerful in the world.
‘That would be unjust!’ I thought.
The biggest change in me in the last couple of years has been my disgust towards ‘my’ country Nepal. In fact, I am disgusted by the concept of nation-states itself. But Nepal is the cause, so I hold the darkest and deepest disgust towards it!
I can’t confirm the amount of influence the bullies have had on my eventual disgust towards Nepal — which is made up of Nepalese — but I can sense some.
I then asked myself if any bully of mine was successful or powerful in the world stage. I found none.
I then asked myself if any bully of mine could be successful or powerful in the world stage. ‘NO WAY!’ I laughed.
I then asked myself if any bully of mine could be successful or powerful in the areas of my concern like literature, art, philosophy, science?
‘NO Fucking WAY! They are light-years away from all this,’ I laughed louder.
I felt glad and satisfied.
And then I asked myself if any Nepalese was successful or powerful in the world stage yet. No was the answer.
‘There is justice after all!’ I said to myself and wrote this.
Now I will try to sleep.
But I am startled by the question I have asked myself just now:
Did I subconsciously choose the field I thought would keep me the furthest away from my bullies?
I can’t confirm the amount of influence the bullies have had on my eventual choice of field — writing — but I can sense some.
I have no idea how universe functions on these things, but, what I discovered once was:
When I want something, my mind conspires in helping me to *not* achieve it.
Take for example when I woke up early one morning and said to myself that I wanted to live and die as a writer. Full Stop.
It was okay for a couple of hours, but after that…my mind began its functions:
‘Writers are dead.’
‘There’s no point being a writer.’
‘You’re not living in the 20th century! Now, we have videos. Nobody writes.’
‘Only the people who can’t be billionaires become writers.’
These are just a few specimens. Not that I was scared from all this, the intensity was such that I was in fact, traumatized. Still am. I no longer want to be a writer. Which obviously means, my mind keeps showing me the benefits of being one:
‘Writers are alive.’
‘Life is all about being a writer.’
‘You’re not living in the 20th century! This is the best time for writers. Look at the platforms!’
‘Only the people who can’t write become billionaires.’
In my childhoodplays, I imagined (created) a perfect sportsman with a perfect new name, gave him a perfect look and personality and put him into the team I liked. I then simulated tournament(s) in my head. The team with the sportsman obviously won everything. And the sportsman obviously became the player of the tournament. It didn’t matter if the sport was cricket, football, basketball or WWE.
It was fun! The player reflected my inner urge to be the best. To be perfect. To be a hero. Living a perfect life for a change was fun.
But when I tried to recreate that type of storyline this morning, I got bored.
‘What’s fun about having a player who always performs. Who is flawless. And who – even when he goes through a bad phase – will surely end up winning?’ I asked myself.
‘Isn’t it too predictable. Too perfect. Boring. Dead?’
Like playing a game with cheat codes. Or, playing an easy game.
And then I thought of something else I have started to find too predictable, perfect, boring and dead:
Of course, not all movies. I am talking about mainstream, popular, franchise, movies. I can’t stand them anymore. Especially Hollywood, Bollywood and all that shit. Ones with HUGE budgets and huge Superstars, Megastars and all that!
If you understand the types of movies I am talking about, you would surely know that I am also talking about heroism in those movies.
Aren’t the Mega/Superstars ethically and morally flawless? (Yes, even the ‘bad-guy-protagonist’ is shown stylish, sexy, hot, whatever) And even when they go through bad phases, aren’t we sure that they will surely end up winning?
Yes, there are aberrations, but that’s not the point here.
The point is: I now find perfection boring. No wonder I feel dull and get bored when I imagine my future self with everything I desire today!
Life is not perfect and that’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes it beautiful and live-worthy:
To overcome the next challenge. Decode the next hint. Solve the next problem. Enjoy the meal with your loved ones after the entire day of separation. To be generous towards each other, knowing that we will all die one day.
Think what would happen if life was perfect. If life threw no challenges at you. If it had no puzzles, no problems, no separations. What if life had no death?
Living would be like playing a game with cheat codes. It would be like watching a tournament in which a team won’t lose a game (Arsenal playing in Nepali football league, perhaps?). Its best player scores a hattrick every time. Like watching a popular Bollywood movie. It would be dull and boring.
The Perfect Ones
But there are people who would prefer that. In fact, those people must find perfection fun and colorful. I used to find it non-dull all those years ago! When I simulated perfect sportsmen and enjoyed Shah Rukh Khan movies. I am obviously not the same person as my childhood self. It means there is a difference between such people. There’s a difference between the childhood me and today’s me.
In my personal case, I can clearly see the reasons behind the difference. One is age. Obviously. But I see many people my age still enjoy those movies. So, it must be something else. And what else but the fact that, a decade ago, I decided to go deep. I decided to explore dense Literature and Philosophy. And my life has never been the same. I have never enjoyed perfect movies, perfect games and perfect beings since. I haven’t tried to be perfect since. Although there have been sporadic desires to be one.
With my example, it would mean that perfection wasn’t dull until I experienced true reality. Colorful reality. Or deep reality. stupid reality. Or worthless reality. Whatever you would like to call it. I will call it depth.
Those who go deep, don’t care about being perfect. They no longer see anything perfect. Perfection becomes a charade for them. A show. A pretension. A shameful effort of superficial people.
Those who can enjoy perfection, must be all that: Show-off, Pretentious, Superficial.
It’s not that they must have never seen the depth. In fact, they maybe deeper than me. It might just be that they are too weak to let go of their superficial desires – their Kingly, Godly, general desires.
You can locate them:
They are the ones trying life-extension techniques, building perfect technologies, enjoying being called kings, making heroic movies. For them surviving is clearly more important than living. Being is more important than feeling. Death concerns them more than life.
Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.
Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.
But I have persisted with smoking. Despite knowing the risks. I have persisted with smoking solely to deal with my thoughts and emotions.
‘I’ll rather die than deal with this shit,’ I have said to myself on many occasions.
Let’s say, I sacrificed my body for the mind
So I thought!
A few days ago, I realized that I was actually destroying both my mind and my body.
Last night I watched an Indian movie in which a reputed medical institution deceives couples with fertility issues by making them believe that the sperm is of the husband, while they actually use those of other people.
That took me to a pessimistic void — Which amazingly made me calm and which, I found to be beautiful!
HOW AND WHY DID I GET THERE?
It is not about whether the issue presented by the movie is prevalent and accurate. It’s not about the movie! It’s not related to anything personal either.
As I sat in my bed with my wife watching the movie, I thought of every single institution that must be doing some form of deception. Then I generalized and saw every single institution as deceptive in some ways. Then I generalized further and saw the entire human race as deceptive and cruel.
That view…that view of the human species as deceptive and cruel took me to that pessimistic void!
And then I was calm. I felt good. It was beautiful!
Humanity and all its affairs appeared as a giant South-Parkan turd.
I saw no beauty in any achievement of ours. I saw no charm in any glory of ours. I saw no value in anything human. The only beauty was in that deceptive view of humanity.
I then paused the movie and said to my wife (which annoyed her of course)—
‘Looking at how deception is trending these days — from government and companies to people around us — I wonder if there will come a day when anyone who is even slightly conscious will get disgusted beyond repair, pessimistic beyond hope and will start living life just for the sake of living! Without any values to live-for, without any beauty to pursue, like playing a mundane mobile game. You are just living to live. To pass time. To die! Nothing excites you. Nothing impresses you. Nothing deceives you. ’
I said that, she thought for a while and said something.
I fell asleep with that beautiful pessimistic void inside me. No values. No excitement. No deceptions. No care. No anxiety!
This is not a religious thing, it is psychological. It is about our mind!
I am not a religious person. I am not a theist. I am not even an atheist. If anything, I am a person who has gone full UG on things —who has denied every system of thought and deleted all reverence from me. Which makes me a person whothinks that not enough has been known about the mind to know higher truths and who likes to find his own truth and reality his own way. This probably makes me an explorer. A mind and self explorer if you want to be precise.
But I have grown up in a Hindu family around Hindu myths, gods, stories, narratives, spirituality and philosophy. Which equips me with certain information on what lies within this religious system.
I am currently into mind and self exploration which takes me into the components of mind and their functions. I dig through my past and my present to see what I am all about and what I can make of myself.
While into this process, I observed something about the Hindu trinity that finally made them relevant and significant for me. It was their basic and commonly consented definition and description that gave me the idea of using them for my exploration and made me hypothesize that they may have actually been created not for worship but for mental exploration and idea programming. But I don’t want to get into whether they created us or we created them debate here! I also do not want to get into the history of the religion, it’s various sects and all that.
All I am concerned about is on using their basic description and definition for mind exploration and experimentation.
Before I get into how I think we can use them for creating new us and destroying the old, let me share a few things I have discovered as of now and how I got here:
The best way for us to see ourselves is through our desires.
Desires — apart from basic ones — are ideas. We create names and concepts, identify with them, get shaped by our environment, mix them all up and project basic desires into ideas. Eg. basic sexual urge turns into fascinating choices and preferences.
We can program our non-basic desires ourselves. That is, we can delete or modify old ones and create new ones. This is idea programming.
This means, we can create new versions of ourselves by modifying and experimenting with our desires.
We can use the Hindu triad for such a task.
This is how idea programming works:
You identify the prevalent idea
You identify its history and components
You design a new idea
You destroy the old idea
You persevere with the new idea until it is time to move on
It can be generalized in this way:
Now, into the general and common definition and description of the Trinity.
Vishnu: Preserver and protector. A personification of preserving power. Calm, Relaxed.
2. Brahma: Creator. A personification of creative power. Restless, Innovative.
3.Shiva: Destroyer. A personification of destruction, reproduction, change. Meditative, Aggressive.
Let’s add them all up:
Identify: Desires that exist in you at present. The desires currently preserved. Enjoyed. Desires that are there. Just in themselves. Not as good and bad. To do this, you need to dig into your past, observe your present, notice everything that excites or frustrates you. You have to list them all down. Generalize them. Shove them into categories. Understand why they might be there. Understand their cause and effect. In simple words, you need to know the things you want and not want; desire and not desire; like and dislike. You need to know the identity you attach yourself to. You become Vishnu to do all this. Accept things as they are in order to know them and enjoy them. Approaching them with good/bad will make them elusive. Just be them. Preserve them. See them. You need to be calm and unimaginative in all this. Be Calm and Relaxed.
Design: Desires that you would want in you. At this phase, you should be imaginative and creative. Think and feel what you would want to become. What you would want in you. Judge your pre-existing desires. List the desires you want in you. Generalize them. Shove them into categories. Understand why you want them there. Understand their cause and effect. In simple words, you need to know the things you now want and not want; desire and not desire; like and dislike. You have created a new idea! You become Brahma to do all this. Don’t accept anything until you are fully convinced. Keep searching, keep designing. Until you reach the sweetest of spot. Once again, you need to be extremely imaginative and creative in all this. BeRestless and Innovative.
Destroy: Desires that you would want modified or destroyed. After you have identified the existing desires and designed the future desires, it is time to destroy the old ones. Destroy the old ideas. Destroy the old you. You need to operate at the emotional level for this. Like a surgeon. Like your own surgeon. You got to be able to feel things. You need to be able to suppress. You need to be able to ignore. In simple words, you need to get rid of all emotional residue of the old you. Get rid of all ideas of the old you. You become Shiva to do all this. Be savage. Be detached. Be both Meditative and Aggressive.
Q: But how do you actually use them?
A: Remember their basic definition, description and characteristics and use their images as symbols. Place their image in your phone or computer wallpaper as per your phase.
You can modify the image as per your requirement. You can use symbols and metaphors as per your need. THIS IS HOW THEIR IMAGES HAVE BEEN MODIFIED AND PLAYED WITH FOR CENTURIES, ANYWAYS!
I have written about anxiety before. But today I want to discuss one of its lethal forms called Anticipatory Anxiety.
What is Event Anticipatory Anxiety? — This is something I named before I knew such a thing as Anticipatory Anxiety existed. I was trying to describe the same anxious feeling I felt while anticipating certain types of different events. I noticed that the idea of those events caused the anxiety way before the event even occurred.
What are events? — Events are occurrences of limited time-span. Life is the sum of events.
What kinds of events cause such anxiety in me? —Events that include people or entities I am not comfortable with in the event environment. For example, if the event is a walk in a certain street at night, stray dogs that bark are things I am not comfortable with in that environment.
What is common in all those event anxieties? — Something undesired will happen in this event.
Personal Examples of Event Anticipatory Anxiety—
While smoking inside the house
While entering a classroom
While checking Medium notifications
While meeting certain people
While visiting one particular relative of mind.
Descriptions of what goes on inside the head (the undesired will happen thought) during these episodes —
While smoking inside the house:A family member might come and create a scene about me smoking. While entering a classroom:The class laughs at me While checking Medium notifications in the morning:No response, followers or comments! While meeting certain people: This person will insult or humiliate me While visiting one particular family of relatives:They will talk of stupid and sensitive issues.
Real life instances where the descriptions above have come true —
While smoking inside the house: A family member might come and create a scene about me smoking. There have been instances in my young-days when I have been yelled at for smoking. Beaten and even jailed for drinking.
While entering a classroom: The class laughs at me. The entire class laughed at my buckteeth deformity when I first entered the classroom after joining a new school in the 5th grade.
While checking Medium notifications in the morning: No response, followers or comments! Daily these days.
While meeting certain people: This person will insult or humiliate me. I went through a lot of insults and humiliation during my childhood and teenage years.
While visiting one particular family of relatives: They will talk of stupid and sensitive issues. They always do so.
What have I learnt from all this? — * The undesired will happen * thought is due to the traumatic memories of true events of the past. Especially of those during my childhood and teenage years.
What is the solution? — Try to recallinstances of events above where you have been successful in order to wash the traumatic memories and replace them with successful ones.
While smoking inside the house: All instances of smoking in the house in the last decade. I have come out of the smoking room unscathed every single time. When I have enjoyed and woken up calmly at home after drinking the night earlier.
While entering a classroom: When I entered the classroom of the same school one day confidently chewing a gum and humming the tune of a song knowing one of them will ask me to write them a lyrics of any song anytime.
While checking Medium notifications in the morning: When one of my stories on Dostoevsky went viral.
While meeting certain people:Multiple instances in the last few years when I have bossed meetings and have come out of them as the leader.
While visiting one particular family of relatives: All instances I don’t visit them.
Event Anticipatory Anxiety is when I have the same anxious feeling while anticipating certain different types of events.
Such anxiety is caused by events that include people or entities I am not comfortable with in the event environment.
The prevalent thought in all those events is this: Something undesired will happen.
This is due to the traumatic memories of true events in the past when the undesired has happened.
What is the solution? How to be free from this crap? Recallinstances of events where you have been successful so that you wash the traumatic memories and replace them with beautiful ones.
It’s evening and you sit here with your laptop in your room
while the world rushes home closing their desktops at work.
You’ve always been this way. You realize.
You and the world have always been this way.
When you were a kid,
while they learnt real politics outside with their imaginary guns
You learnt imagination inside because you couldn’t understand the politics of the world!
When you grew up,
while they played kings and slaves in streets, classrooms and playgrounds
You played god and designed and destroyed sportsgrounds and movie-sets inside your head.
But you were not as strong or stylish as you present yourself here
You were weak, bleak and you were scared of their breath
Not because they spat fire. But because they stank!
But you couldn’t ignore them because your horizon was still a virgin
And so you sat with them and even tried to impress them!
Even their bad breath you thought was a norm
So you stopped brushing too…
You were not at all as strong or stylish as you present yourself here.
It’s always been this way.
And then when you reached an age where boys made girls cry
You yourself cried in a classroom.
And then you were stared-at, kicked, teased, yelled-at:
By insecure blokes who saw nothing when they looked at themselves in the mirror.
You didn’t understand then that their expression towards you
was their expression towards themselves
You couldn’t understand that because you didn’t play with them outside.
And now they look at their watches at work, nervously waiting for the time they get to go back home
while you get to sit here calmly in your room writing magical words like these that turns them into whatever pleases your mood.
You’ve always been this way the world and you
First, the world throws shit at you and then you throw the world into shit.
And now the world plays king-king down there at Troy
While you play god-god up here at Mount Olympus!
Poems: Power of words to those who like to both think and feel.
Poetry, if done and read right, can thrust your mind (states, perception, beliefs, etc.) into previously unvisited zones at such breakneck speed that in no time you find yourself changed beyond even your own recognition.
This is largely because of the concise nature of the art: Mental States, Environment, Perceptions, Opinions, Worldviews, beliefs, knowledge, etc. compressed into a few words with analogies and non-linearity. They are like mighty bombs that can decimate any walls, bridges, boundaries and frontiers — If done and read right!
I say all this because I have had a strong and healthy relationship with poetry. Myself having published two books of them.
They have changed me, shaped me, destroyed me, designed me. They have helped me come out of many misery and sufferings. They have shown me many beauties and feelings. They have helped me break shackles and relationships. They have helped me build relationships. They have helped me explore, experiment. They have opened many closed doors. They have closed many open doors. They have broken emotional and mental frontiers allowing me to feel and see things I never would have even imagined existed.
Here are 10 pieces/sentences/lines/stanzas of poetry that have broken my mind’s frontiers.
Lunatic: Laxmi Prasad Devkota
You’re clever, quick with words,
your exact equations are right forever and ever.
But in my arithmetic, take one from one-and there’s still one left.
You get along with five senses, I with a sixth.
You have a brain, friend, I have a heart.
A rose is just a rose to you-to me it’s Helen and Padmini.
You are forceful prose, I liquid verse.
To break any frontiers, you need energy. You need constant energy and force. These few words did it for me. This is mental poetry at its best and finest.
Alone: Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone — Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view —
This poem connected me with myself.
I started seeing differences between me and others. I started seeing things in me I had never seen. I started accepting myself like never before. I started exploring my desires. I began the process of knowing myself. I ceased to be afraid. I was finally proud of who I was. I developed self-respect. I developed strength. I discovered myself.
1: Sad Toys, Takuboku Ishikawa
When I breathe,
This sound in my chest
Lonelier than the winter wind
Japanese poet Takuboku Ishikawa died of tuberculosis. This particular poem expresses a lot. It grabs you by your outward looking head and rotates it enough so that you can look at yourself. Here and now.
There were bright glowing stars in my frontier, but after I read this…the direction of my frontier changed and I saw black holes.
the wine of forever: Charles Bukowski
the writing of some
is like a vast bridge
that carries you
the many things
that claw and tear.
I could have chosen a lot of Bukowski verses but I chose this particular stanza from this particular poem because with it I accepted that there were and are people in this world whom you can trust. In my case, those were people who wrote words. Although I consumed a lot of words in my lifetime, at one point I was stuck with mistrust and paranoia towards everything. This one helped me break that wall.
Also, Bukowski’s writing has carried me not only over things that claw and tear but also over many things that pinch and sting.
A Question: Robert Frost
A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.
I was taking life too seriously when I stumbled upon this poem. This helped me tone down the seriousness and smile at the absurdity of existence.
Worldly Wisdom: Friedrich Nietzsche
Do not stay in the field!
Nor climb out of sight.
The best view of the world
is from a medium height.
While Nietzsche’s entire bibliography is a string of dynamite that knocks down frontiers after frontiers, this particular poem from The Gay Science gave me the perspective of perspective. I may look at all the frontiers I can and analyze them, get drown in them — yet is my view of the frontier itself proper?
Where’s the poet: John Keats
Where’s the Poet? show him! show him,
Muses nine! that I may know him.
’Tis the man who with a man
Is an equal, be he King,
Or poorest of the beggar-clan
Or any other wonderous thing
A man may be ‘twixt ape and Plato;
’Tis the man who with a bird,
Wren or Eagle, finds his way to
All its instincts; he hath heard
The Lion’s roaring, and can tell
What his horny throat expresseth,
And to him the Tiger’s yell
Come articulate and presseth
Or his ear like mother-tongue.
I had written a Medium story about this a little while back:
What Is A Poet? — According To John Keats
A Poet is a complete Human!
This poem is crucial for me because I like poetry. Reading, Listening, Writing, Spoken, whatever. But, my mind likes confusion.
While I yearned to consume/compose poetry and be a poet, my mind told me that poets were things of the past, waste of a life and things of no impact and substance. Be a king. Kings are the best. Be a businessman. They are the best. Be a pilot. Be a minister, etc. I listened to my mind for a long time. Not completely! Else I wouldn’t have discovered this particular poem.
I could finally see myself reading and writing compressed words and be proud of it.
The Best Time Of The Day: Raymond Carver
Cool summer nights.
Fruit in the bowl.
And your head on my shoulder.
These the happiest moments in the day.
Next to the early morning hours,
of course. And the time
just before lunch.
And the afternoon, and
early evening hours.
But I do love
these summer nights.
Even more, I think,
than those other times.
The work finished for the day.
And no one who can reach us now.
I discovered Carver when I had too many things going on inside my head and too many desires flowing inside my chest. I was emotionally and mentally confused. At my mental frontier, there was this big fucking question-mark laughing at me all the time. My personal life was disastrous. I was always anxious. I wanted to read everything, watch everything, be everywhere, be everything. Of course, this made me explore a lot of poetry too!
And I discovered Carver and this poem.
This poem demolished the question mark and showed me through tremendous magnification the real thing worth aspiring for.
Tune: Calming Wind And Waves: Su Shi
Listen not to the rain beating against the trees.
Why don’t you slowly walk and chant with ease?
Better than saddled horse I like sandals and cane.
Oh, I would fain, in a straw cloak, spend my life in mist and rain. (From Selected Poems and Pictures of the Song Dynasty)
The desire for power and ways to get powerful were the furthest my thoughts were managing to reach at one phase of my life. This particular verse from the 11th century Chinese poet erased the boundary in one sweep, opening a brand new horizon in front of my eyes where I saw things more important than power. I spent hours basking in this poem.
Courage: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
CARELESSLY over the plain away,
Where by the boldest man no path
Cut before thee thou canst discern,
Make for thyself a path!
A decade ago, this particular stanza filled me with courage to go take risks, do something new, become something new, become myself, explore myself, design myself — become whatever I am and do whatever I do today!
Three of us were having a conversation about weed experience. All three, weed smokers at some point of our lives. One (me) already quit, another a sporadic user and another a regular one.
The sporadic user said weed didn’t do him much good. I said the same.
‘It’s because you haven’t smoked much. Once you get used to it, it won’t harm you,’ the regular user said.
‘No, I have tried it a lot! In fact, I have done everything to conquer it. I have tried to enjoy the mental games by strengthening myself. I have tried to use it, exploit it and conquer it. I have tried to enjoy the game it plays with my mind and smirk at it. But it just doesn’t work for me,’ I said.
After that, I got excited and shared one of my experiences with weed:
I was alone in an office one night. Everyone had left. I had some weed given to me by a friend. I went to the roof and smoked a stick, trying to tell myself I was now strong enough for weed to bother me. Strong enough to fight the paranoia!
For half-an-hour, I was strong. I was excited at the idea of having conquered the beast that had been responsible for many fits of anxiety, paranoia and depression. I was excited at the thought of having been a strong person now.
45 minutes in, I started to get dizzy and my mouth went dry. The thoughts were normal — largely because I was doing everything in my strength to stop a few from coming. I thought it was time for me to leave. Feeling dizzier and drier in the mouth by the moment, I shut down the computer, turned off the lights, locked the doors and left in my car. Aphrodisia had kicked in and I was in a hurry to go to my bed, open my laptop and do what lonely young men do!
The distance between the office and my home was 10 minutes. I must have been driving for about 5 minutes — still feeling dizzy — when I reached to a major junction. Cars and bikes with headlights stormed from all directions. I got blinded for a while. But I tried to maintain the traffic discipline and drove. But things had changed:
I got nauseous. Seriously dehydrated and experienced vertigo.
I struggled to keep my hands on the steering. My legs were shivering. I thought I could drive no more. But it was still rush hour so stopping the car wasn’t a good idea. I kept driving. It kept getting worse. My heartbeat went faster and louder. I don’t know what I did and how, but I reached home.
At home, as I parked the car and shut the gates. A strange question hit me:
‘I hit-and-run someone, didn’t I?’
I got more nauseous. Severely dehydrated and experienced serious vertigo.
‘I have hit-and-run!’ kept popping in my head.
‘The police will be here anytime now.’
Of course, the police didn’t come and after the attack was over I could recall clearly that I hadn’t done anything as such. But the impact was devastating. I don’t remember having smoked it since.
‘Yeah, it happens to some. Such people shouldn’t smoke,’ the regular user said after I narrated the incident.
‘How’s it with you?’ I asked.
‘Oh! I get hi~~~gh. I feel rela~~~xed. And the sexual side of it is just unbe~lie~vable. When I fuck while high, I go on and on and on…’ he said.
I wish I could use weed like that, now that I am married, I said to myself.
But why does it work on some and not on others, I wondered.
‘It must have something to do with blood-pressure and all,’ I had been explaining myself.
But yesterday I had a different perspective.
Maybe it isn’t about blood-pressure, maybe it is about character!
The regular user I talked about earlier is one of those fun-loving guys. He likes to go to parties, on trips to Goa and Thailand, watch and talk football. Take one day at a time.
Once I had tried talking classical music and philosophy with him but he kind of scolded me by telling me those things were for the boring or for the old.
‘Don’t waste your time on those things. Life is for enjoyment. Enjoy!’ he had said.
Of course, my version of enjoyment does include classical music and philosophy. And introspection and self-awareness and self-enquiry and mental exploration and all that!
But he isn’t someone who will sit and wonder why he or the universe exists. I will bet every dime on the fact that he doesn’t sit idle in front of a lake thinking of how deep he has reached in his wisdom about life. Nor will he sit in front of a sea questioning whether he should be powerful in society or not. He lives by the day and does what’s supposed to be done by a modern youth.
There’s where I see a difference in character:
I have done all those things (Sitting idle in front of a lake, sea, etc.)
I see myself as too self-aware (emotionally too) for weed. Yes, it does make all people self-aware but maybe not to the extent as it impacts me. Because I get emotionally traumatized by it. Because maybe I suffer from emotions too much. I have always been troubled by them. That’s why I say, it’s in the character.
Maybe I am being judgmental or maybe I am missing a trick or two. That’s why I would love to know your experience with this thing called weed.
The Process of a answering this How To live question Begins With another question:
How am I feeling right now?
It should always start with this question. It should always be about this question.
But how do we track things as elusive and vague as our feelings?
Why do I keep coming back to these questions whenever I feel prominently about something? More important than that, Why are these questions even relevant when I can tune into any form of entertainment available in abundance and forget about my feelings (wash them) and shut my thoughts?
I don’t think I can get into the first, second and third questions without answering the fourth.
Yes, I have used sports, games, music, movies, TV shows, novels, friends, cigarettes, coffees, teas, alcohols — I have used them all in plenty throughout my life. I have used them all to get out of all sorts of feelings dwelling inside me. Good, Bad. Get out of feelings intolerable. Even getting out of feeling enjoyable to me as a celebration.
I have used them all to shut-down the thoughts that those feelings have generated in me. And those things of entertainment have helped me. They’ve helped me get out of the dreaded zone. But always temporarily. Unwanted feelings haven’t stopped. In fact, feelings haven’t stopped. These days, whenever I think of going into entertainment or distractions to get rid or celebrate my feelings, I am reminded of their transience. Of their ineffectiveness.
A person who goes to entertainment all the time never has to understand and feel the feelings. But the question remains: Why should anyone have to understand and feel diverse feelings when one can feel ‘entertained’ all the time?
In my case, it maybe because I have also done time of introspection in my life. And once you go inside yourself, you never completely come out, do you?
I got into introspection all those years back because I wanted to know what life was really about. I wanted to know what I was. I wanted to know why I was existing. I wanted to dig and reveal all sorts of feelings and emotions possible. I wanted to live completely. I wanted to live colorfully.
I haven’t seen those people who live for entertainment feel much about things. I have seen myself not feeling too much about things when I have surrendered myself completely to entertainment.
So, understanding your feelings is important if you want to live an introspective, profound and colorful life. You can use entertainment as a bonus. As one color in all the colors of your life. But you cannot make entertainment the only color of your life. (If you want to have a profound and colorful life, that is.) Yes, I can wash my feelings and shut my thoughts whenever I want by merely pressing y in my browser address bar, but I want so much more from life, don’t I?
With that out of the way, I want to share how I try to trace my feelings.
First thing is to be feeling-conscious:
‘How and What am I feeling right now?’
It’s difficult to do this all the time. In fact, I feel lucky whenever this question does grace me at all. But it’s sporadic. I have been trying my best to increase the frequency.
The thing to do is to try to stop yourself from getting lost in your feelings, which means from getting lost and carried by your thoughts. I see thoughts as slaves of feelings.
This is contradictory. How do I make my life colorful and enjoy the feelings when I stop myself from feeling the feelings?
My experience is that being feeling-conscious gives you some amount of control over what you are feeling. This control is important because then you can decide what to do with the feeling. This act of being conscious itself is control. You can then decide how much suppression or allowance you are going after. For me this control is important because I have found even good feelings to be intolerable for me.
Let me share something with you
A few days back, I went to a party, Got drunk and shared things with people with whom I usually don’t share things much. The next morning was devastating. I wanted to kill myself. I couldn’t stand to go back to recalling the previous night, yet my mind wouldn’t allow me to go anywhere else than there. That day passed in intense suffering. Only time shall heal this misery, I said to myself. Until…
Immediately, the intolerable hangover vanished as I started searching for words to describe whatever I was feeling.
The word appeared as if by magic. And the feeling and thoughts that had made me suicidal, vanished, as if my magic.
But it wasn’t magic.
It was a pretty simple thing: Introspection. Feeling-consciousness.
I don’t want to and have to lie to you. After that, I was in control of my feelings. I pushed as if I was pushing something physical and heavy and successfully stopped humiliation from appearing in me again.
Trivia: I had spent the day watching a stupid movie for an escape.
The mere act of being conscious of my feeling and naming it worked for me. Of course, the humiliation hasn’t completely vanished, but it is something I know-of and am in relative control of as of now.
Let me answer the questions I asked in the beginning.
How am I feeling right now?
It should always start with this question. It should always be about this question.
But how do we track something that is as elusive and vague as our feelings?
We try to increase the frequency of the question above and name the prevalent feeling. Use Words. Use terms. Name it! Human beings have managed to create words for almost all the feelings, and even if they haven’t, it’s your chance to coin something epic.
Get in control of your feelings. This will help you control your thoughts. If you manage to do it, you will live a profound and colorful life. You won’t need to be dependent on the entertainers. You can use them in your own accord to provide you entertainment whenever you feel like having one!
Whatever you go through in your childhood will have a profound impact on the rest of your life. This is because in our lives – like in the world – a thing will cause the following event and that event will in turn be the cause of another and so on.
While this holds true for all phases of our life, childhood is especially significant because it is then that we change the most. That’s the phase when we are the most passive and relatively unconscious of ourselves and the surrounding. This passivity and lack of proper consciousness means we are not at all in control of ourselves and whatever happens to us happens without our consent and will. We are at the mercy of other entities. Which means, our actions of that phase are reactive. We are malleable.
I reach back to the days my childhood whenever I try to understand the thoughts and feelings I currently behold. Almost everything takes me back there. Everything seems to have its roots there and then.
For example, today during my evening walk, I tried to understand my passion towards the unacceptable things in society. My digging took me to the stage of my life when I was mentally ill-treated and bullied by someone who was acceptable in society. I can’t recall being fascinated towards the unacceptable before my close encounter with that person and the ill-treatment/bullying I got from him and his supporters. This must have developed a sense of rebellion in me which prolongs to this day and which has largely shaped a lot of my crucial decisions.
Of course, that person must have been valid from his point of view for his ill-treatment and he might not even consider it to be an ill-treatment, but what that did to me shaped not only my behaviour but my character and entire personality. He was conscious, I was not!
Of course, I don’t have an issue with how I ended up, but I could have ended up worse if I hadn’t dared to work on my self and if I hadn’t dared to stand-up to rotten values.
What do I take away from this?
Be careful with things that are malleable and sensitive. Tougher things will resist you and will probably shape you instead. Don’t express that frustration of yours on weaker ones. Take care of softer things if you’ve got balls. If you’ve really got it, try to shape things bigger and stronger than you!
P.S. Maybe that person was more unconsious than the childhood me?!!!
Each time you are self-aware of what you are doing for a living, you realize that you are on the lookout for the next true revolutionary thought, idea, so that you can sell them on platforms such as these and earn your money or things that humans are built to earn.
This way, you may flatter yourself by seeing yourself as a ‘natural-being’ because you are like a tiger or an eagle, or a pigeon or a sparrow:
Constantly on the lookout for the next meal.
This also means, you are not like a domesticated animal in that you are not fed based on your service to others.
But there’s a major difference between you and them (nature’s foragers), in that, what you are after is not the meal itself. In fact, if you are not after viral-content but are rather after some true thought, idea, then what you have collected could be the most worthless thing for any creature. Worse, it could be worthless for you in terms of its value in the marketplace. Take the idea that I have built this particular story upon for instance: I cannot guarantee that this will be read or listened-to by people such that my views and reading time go up. In fact, my experiences have time and again shown me this outcome in the form of proverbial slaps!
On a personal level, this hardly matters for me, because I would have already gathered my share of true experience and knowledge from the exploration and the writing. But, such ‘true’ experience and knowledge aren’t foods, clothes, houses, etc. in that they can’t be eaten, worn and they won’t save me from the winter cold. Which means it matters a lot from a professional level.
What am I trying to take-away from all this? What am I trying to say?
This life of an online creator is amazing. It is amazing in that it allows one to go wherever one wants in search of whatever thoughts, ideas, ‘truths’, stories one wants to discover. But it comes at a bargain. There has to be a certain ‘smartness’ if one wants to take it out of personal use and earn ‘valuable’ things from it.
The ‘smartness’ required is of productive-story-selection.
You have to be able to winnow:
You have to be able to carefully select (productive) publish-worthy true thoughts, ideas, stories from the mass of all conceived thoughts, ideas and stories.
You are like a forager but a forager who can’t directly consume the thing discovered. A forager who has to winnow the thing discovered and distinguish between things suitable for personal use and professional one. A forager who has to then come into the marketplace and then try to sell the thing discovered.
As a creator, you are like a beast but a beast that hunts for thoughts, ideas, and stories. A beast that then filters the things hunted and comes to the marketplace trying to sell whatever seems fit for selling (from the perspective of the beast.)
Q: But what about all those who teach you to express everything without winnowing?
A: My life experiences have taught me that people in general do not care about you, let alone your thoughts, ideas and creations.
But there is nothing unethical with this, is there? In fact, everything is natural about it. Most hunting animals do know whom they want to prey upon. And the reason they prey is for their survival. You have all the right to winnow sellable thoughts, ideas.
Most fascinating thing is that there’s even something called surplus killing where certain animals at certain times kill just for fun. Which should give you further inspiration and reasons for winnowing. Seek all forms of true thoughts, ideas, stories; sell those that can feed you and use the remaining for your personal use.
Q: Which type of creator are you?
(We are not considering killing for self-defence and all that)
A Human-Creator: A human-creator is a creator who tries to feed-off almost every type of thought and idea. This type of creator is experimentative. Of course, some will be successful and some won’t, but like a true human, such a creator wants everything and keeps an eye on everything too. They will use the useful and keep the rest for potential future use. Force marketeers too fall into this category.
A Crow-Creator: A crow-creator is a creator who creates part-time: Like crows foraging. If there’s an easy meal to be had somewhere they will eat there. But if there isn’t any, they will be out there trying everything. Just as human-creators, they will try and taste everything. For them, it’s just about the earning.
Scavenger-Creator: A creator can also be a scavenger. I have seen a lot of those and I fear I will become one. A scavenger-creator lives-off dead or second-/third hand things: Thoughts, ideas, stories, knowledge that others have conceived. The scavenger-creator takes others’ works and re-interprets them for the consumption of the mass-public. You can find a lot of those in the form of informative YouTube channels with millions of subscribers.
Eagle-Creator: This type of creator knows what he/she is supposed to create and sell. They are precise and meticulous. Niche creators you can call them. You don’t see them experimenting much.
What about the winnowing creator?
A type of creator who has a niche. This is because I have used the word ‘true’ up there. Which means, this type of creator cannot settle with publishing everything. The search for the true makes them like eagle-creators. But the search for truth in everything makes them human-like.
They look half eagle, half humans:
(Maybe we should take our favorite animal and try to be like them)
A trick for Self-Improvement. Unfasten all the seat-belts that bound you to seats. Wear something comfortable. Stretch your body parts. Take some deep breaths and get ready to go for a long thought drive.
A thought drive is a drive where you free yourself from the cycle of static sitting or sleeping and hence, free yourself from many shitty and sleepy thoughts.
A thought drive is a drive where you move around in such a manner that it sets the platform for your thoughts to take you to amazing mental places to see spectacular things.
A thought drive is a drive where your movement acts as an accelerator and the thoughts that you will have inside as the views you would see from your physical vehicle window.
How do you go for a thought drive?
First, you have to be willing to see what your thoughts have got to show and tell you. After that, you have to move around. But, you have to let go of all those meditative, sedative mind-control, self-control, god-focus, self-focus lessons that shitty and sleepy gurus have preached to you. You have to be ready to listen to your thoughts. Listen to what they have always been meaning to tell you but you have always been shutting them off because you fell prey to the scam of some philosophical conman.
After all this, go for it. Move around in whichever pattern you feel comfortable. Long walks, short walks, to and fros, stand and stares. Find the sweet spot of movement, like you do with your car seat. And then welcome your thoughts. Accept them. Invoke them. Do not use dull philosophical theories to understand them or control them. Let them flow. Let them come. Accept them.
But how do you make sure you don’t get lost?
That’s a good question. Thoughts are stingy and lethal at times. that’s why you have to learn to be strong. You have to learn to be able to take every sting with a smile and you hve to be able to respond every slap with a deep breath.
Once you are ready with that and good to go for a drive, you have to begin with a single thought. It could be an image, a sound, an idea, concept, desire, goal, person, computer, star, whatever. Yes, right before you go for the drive, begin with a single thought. Then, finish the drive by coming back to the same thought. Finish it by bring the original thought back. And notice how that thought looked before the drive and after. If you manage to do that, you will not only have discovered a lot of things, but you will also have returned to your home safely!
Being Visionary is more about will than originality.
I don’t know how it goes with entities such as stars and rocks and rivers but with those of us living with cell (s): we are always forced to make decisions.
An ant crawls on my table and I for my own leisure block its path with my finger. Now it has to make a decision: persist with the obstacle or go a different path. The ant has obstacles apart from me: The dog, the wind. Which means, it has to make a lot more decisions in life. However, regarding the approach to making those decisions — looking at its circumstances — I believe it has only one: pragmatic which tells it to go to the currently most beneficial place.
I, as a human, am similar. I go along with my business and for some god’s leisure, a thought comes and blocks my path.
Then, I am left to make a decision: force myself out of the thought or go a different one. Lots of thoughts and events occur, which means I have to make a lot of decisions. But, when it comes to approach, I have observed two in me:
Within the pragmatic approach I am like the ant. Whatever thought or obstacle I face and have to make a decision, I decide to do that which seems currently the most beneficial.
While taking the visionary approach, I become a human in that whatever obstacle I face and have to make a decision on, I decide to do that which seems in line to the vision of myself I have in my mind. It’s like the ant going, ‘I have to climb this finger thing and die so my vision of becoming a martyr is realized.’
Pragmatic approach is understandable, you do that which ensures your survival and life-success. But where the hell does this thing called vision come up on me?
Where does the vision come from?
My observations of myself have shown that I do not in fact envision a future for myself. What I do is simply decide to not be pragmatic and allow my mind to drift along the inner voices, the rest is done by my mind. This way I don’t think it should be called vision. It’s more like natural is the correct term.
While I envision myself, I am in fact, not as creative as I think I am. This is because I am not designing a certain type of me from scratch. Rather, I am merely imagining (projecting) a me who has fulfilled all the desires that exist in me during the moment of envisioning. It is like the perfect balance of all my desires. THE SWEET SPOT. This way, fulfilling my dreams or realizing my vision is more like me being that which is natural to me: achievement of all desires, with the desires being the things which are natural.
Pragmatic approach is more about advantage. I will have to sacrifice a lot of my desires in the process. Success is the key here.
Let’s stay with the visionary approach:
Even if it’s not about free designing and creating, there is a certain skill required to envision yourself.
As mentioned above, firstly you need to agree to listen to your desires and let go of certain pragmatism (Of course, mixed approach exists in people but let’s not talk about that here). Even after agreeing to listen, the path won’t be easy. Your mind will make you scream, yell, cry, want-to-die in its search for the perfect image for your desires. It’s like pulling out a healthy tooth. But when your mind finds one, it fills you with ecstasy. You are freed. You are free to work on the how’s and finally forget visioning and decision-making!
And then the sad part begins:
The desires you have inside you are not constant. They change with new knowledge and experience and so has to your vision.
The irony of it all is that even if you go after the vision and reach the situation envisioned, there is almost complete certainty that things will end up being something completely different!
Do you also worry you are not doing enough or learning enough? Given your standard of yourself, do you think you aren’t productive enough? Do you feel like something is stopping you from being a certain place, feeling a certain way?
Even when you do manage to get rid of all distractions and do the things you ought to work on, do you feel a certain rope kind of thing pulling you into something — away from your deed? Do you also get anxious if you do not allow yourself to be pulled by that rope?
Do you feel anxious, nervous, sleepy, tired, insecure, confused, jealous, etc. most of the time?
If your answer is yes, than it implies that you too — like me — have been falling prey to the Seven Deadly ills of modern life.
I’ve been successful in avoiding all seven of these ills as of the time of this writing.
Yes, at some point of my life, I have experienced all these which makes me sit here and think that I should be sharing these ills with the world. I — with confidence — hold these ills responsible for many of my weaknesses, unproductivity and misery. They have threatened me, sucked life’s joy and beauty out of me and have almost killed me. These are serious diseases and should be cured/removed/avoided.
I will now share my personal experiences with each and communicate why I consider them to be ills.
Here we go then…here are SEVEN DEADLY ILLS OF MODERN LIFE:
Facebook: It’s been a dozen years since I deleted my personal facebook account. In between, I have created random accounts to manage my business accounts.
The major reason I deleted my personal account all those years ago was because certain people I didn’t want anything-to-do-with started appearing there. Those included distant relatives and school-bullies (teachers included).
I was going through a transition in my life which included a lot of pdf learnings in my devices, and the last thing I wanted was their face in my sacred temple. Whenever any of those people appeared through suggestions or through posts of friends’ friend, I got agitated. I was clear with myself on the fact that I did not want to befriend them at any cost. Yet, facebook didn’t understand this! It got to a point where opening a facebook app meant anxiety. I thought: I can talk to my family members and close-friends on a cellphone, having them on facebook has less reward than the risk of those unnecessary craps appearing on my screen. I deactivated and have never had a personal account ever since.
A few years ago, when I started a publishing company, I felt the need for a facebook account. I created one with the company name and created a few business pages. My sole motive was to use facebook for work. A few months later, I was fighting with a random stranger in a stupid group! I was checking my account every ten minutes. I wanted more likes and comments on my post. I was getting more anxious. Things soon started to get personal. I began adding a lot of friends…and yet again, some unwanted people appeared! I deactivated the account soon — my business didn’t go anywhere through facebook promotions (paid/unpaid) anyway. Illness because: Facebook thrusts you into the rat race.
Instagram: Oh, facebook’s younger sibling:
how late you came into my life
and how early you disappeared! If facebook is racing in a crowded city, Instagram is you reaching the posh-area. It’s not just about running here, it’s about how hip you look while you run.
As in facebook, I opened an instagram account when I started that company. I was told that it was THE platform to reach out to young and ‘cool’ people. I created my personal account and a couple of business accounts. Looking back at it now — considering how uncool I am — I wonder what was I thinking back then!
I tried to use it for work — which for me is all about expressing who I am. But what I ended up doing was checking if each post I created fit into the norm. While this may be looked upon as being business-friendly or staying relevant to the trend, my experience was such that I had become something completely different. I didn’t say what was to be said, I said what should be said!
The original me vanished and was slowly being replaced by a cool funny youth. Once again, I am neither cool nor funny and I am proud of myself for that. Whenever I went to a place that looked nice (by posh standards), my eyes searched for a spot where I could take a photograph of myself and post it with a stylish caption. When I did it, I spent every five minute refreshing the page and scrolling down the human coolness. I hated it. My account got relatively relevant, but it was me no longer. I deactivated it. Illness because: Instagram pressurizes you to fit-in.
Twitter Where do I even start on this monster?!
During the course of my life, I must have activated-deactivated twitter on more than ten instances. I start one, gain a few followers, get fed up, deactivate. I start another, gain a few more followers, get even more fed up, deactivate again…
The supposed platform for the intellectuals attracted me for the same reason. I thought I could share wise opinions and change the world. How it ended up was, I found myself intoxicated in half-baked thoughts — always looking for a line that would increase more followers than one that was actually wise. Another thing that happened to me while I pushed for those words was I hoped some significant celebrity would retweet my stuff and I would be popular forever thereafter!
Of course, that didn’t happen, so I must have been fed up due to that too…but the bigger reason I suppose for being constantly fed up was that twitter was more for show than for a pro. I was getting exposed to mediocre thoughts disguised as world-changing just because a person with a great following had said it. Words have quick impact on me and twitter’s impact wasn’t healthy. I should rather spend time finishing, polishing my thoughts and reading finished, polished ones, I concluded. And so I deactivated. Illness because: Twitter is seeming intelligent, not being one.
Tiktok Okay, I am not familiar with this as much I am with the ones above. Yet, I have been around those who are and what I have noticed is: It’s goddamn addictive!
Uninterrupted supply of short-length videos with provocative music in the background that give you everything from the dance moves of that relative of yours to the review of that obscure restaurant in town means Tiktok has enough going-on within it to make you forget to turn off the stove. It doesn’t even allow you to get bored.
Although I do not use this platform as much, what I do know is that the more you enjoy shorter content, the more tedious longer works get for you. This means your patience dies and only quick stimulation can satisfy you. Depth gets boring. I don’t think all those are qualities you would want to miss.
Given Tiktok’s popularity, it has facebook’s rat-race quality within it. Also are twitter’s half-bakedness and TV with even more mediocre channels within it. This could only mean one thing: DISASTER!
Tiktok also seems to normalize otherwise embarrassing behavior. While it’s good not to get embarrassed at what you do, it is better for us all to not have normalized certain things. And there are lots of those certain things in Tiktok! Illness because: Tiktok satisfies your darkest urge.
Reddit While I had — without much intent — used Reddit a long time ago, I went back to it with purpose last year when I wanted to promote a link. I created a username and joined subreddits I thought would be relevant for me. Within a few days, I forgot the work purpose and started enjoying the opinions I and discussions I could read there. A few days later, I started posting comments and posts. A few more days later they started to get noticed. I wanted to post more. Comment more. I let my urge flow. I let it flow to such an extent that I still remember a morning where I shivered, fumed in anger trying to think of a reply to a comment of mine. This continued for a while.
Reddit is like school. There is knowledge there but you don’t pay attention because it is not provided well. There are bullies, and there are good guys. There are teachers. But one thing there is that, you don’t matter. YOU the person, the individual with an identity, with a context, doesn’t matter there. While it may be a nice thing considering how all other social media platforms exploit YOU, the discussions in Reddit don’t get humble and serious for that very reason. Illness because: Reddit devalues ideas.
Quora: It’s not at all a good idea to search all of your curiosities in Google. We should be able to answer certain questions ourselves — by reading and thinking about them. Yet in google you have the option to listen to credible people. It’s worse to ask random people about your curiosities in Quora. The flux of opinions you get means you will forget about thinking-for-yourself and turn into a mere pinball in the game of opinions of others. Illness because: Quora habit won’t let you think your own answers.
(Bonus) Entertainment Websites: Websites about sportsmen, movie-stars, musicians, etc. They are built and written to prove to you that the heroes they present and the works they do are superior to you in every way. That you are not like them. That you missed out being like them. That you should consume this and this to even slightly resemble them. Illness because: You can do better!
With experiences in all this, I have finally found some respite on Medium. It has allowed me to freely express ideas as these without having to worry how my neighbor will judge me, or how unkempt my hair must be, or will a Phd. from xyz trust me.
As of now, I don’t consider Medium to be among these ills. Hope it won’t get into the top seven anytime soon!
For those who live by the ultimate questions of their existence and yet cannot satisfy themselves with the religious-spiritual view. Who cannot convince themselves with the scientific-evolutionary narrative. For them, the whole situation of existing is like a long scary dream that just doesn’t stop. The meaning of life isn’t readily there!
In a world where we are taught to seek reason in all thoughts, feelings and actions, the perspective that there is still room for dissatisfaction on that ultimate question means the existence is the biggest joke, the biggest irony, the biggest paradox.
I don’t have enough courage to walk in the streets without reason. I can’t make a call to those whom I call friends without reason. Yet, here I am existing — without an indisputable truth on why I do so. Yes, if I believe hard enough or think casually enough I will be able to ignore, satisfy and convince myself on one view-point/narrative or the other, yet the fact that a question of such magnitude and relevance is open to interpretation is itself the biggest irony. Joke. Paradox.
This feeling is nothing new as far as I know. The history of philosophy is the history of this realization. Notably, there has been a Russian novelist, a German philosopher and host of French thinkers who have come up with one or the other solution to this ultimate irony.
Yet, to each generation and each individual who is foolish enough to go through it again, this problem hits newly in new places. It hits so damn hard, sucks the taste out of the juice, juice out of your life, and life out of you. It turns you into a zombie if there ever was one. You are already dead in your mind, the thing which thinks inside you is only there because your body hasn’t stopped breathing yet. In a world where they question you why you want to visit their venerated nation, you are mocked if you are the type who ponders upon the most important question that can ever be raised by any creature. Man is an animal after all. The most ironic. The most bizarre.
You have looked at animals and birds and have tried to learn the meaning of existence from them, haven’t you? But they don’t seem to care, do they? Or maybe you don’t understand them just like you can’t understand the meaning of your being. Even when you do interpret them, they all seem busy. Each and every one of them. Busy finding the next meal, busy finding the next mate, busy finding the next shelter, busy finding the next joy, busy in alertness from the next threat.
There can only be two explanations for their behavior: either they have been whispered the meaning of existence by their creator or they don’t have the ability to question. Either way, they go about fine. While you don’t see them laugh and giggle much, you don’t see them smoking and drinking in sorrow too! This perspective makes you realize that many of your human counterparts and indeed animals. Yes, they wear clothes, they speak well, they drive, they earn money, but they go by life just like those animals. But unlike in the case of animals and birds, you do know that they haven’t been whispered any secret by any god. You know that for sure, you have talked to them, you have been friends with them. You know them. They — given their quality — walking around as modern-humans with cell phones in their pocket and english in their tongue appear to you as yet another irony of existence.
But it’s not about them. It’s about you. If you could have been like them, you would have already been like them. You wouldn’t be writing or reading this line. And for you the fact remains that in a world where we are taught to seek reason in all thoughts, feelings and actions, the perspective that there is still room for dissatisfaction on that ultimate question means the existence is the biggest joke, the biggest irony, the biggest paradox.
Where is the meaning of life?
For one, the relentless search for meaning of life itself is a meaning.
Apart from that, the idea to create a meaning for yourself while you seek the real meaning can also be a meaning. This means, the things you do independent of the ultimate answer can be the penultimate meaning. You can mean to be happy, you can mean to be intelligent, popular, powerful, whatever. If the smell of money makes you get out of bed each day in excitement at the prospect of the day and the prospect of the progress you will make on the ultimate-meaning-finding process, money can be a great meaning. It ticks almost all boxes of human psychological yearns. You just have to ensure this forward-moving meaning isn’t engaging enough to distract you from your real meaning — the search for meaning.
Whether you will unlock the ultimate meaning isn’t that important. The fact that you have lived your life questioning the views that dissatisfy you and searching for your own way is, however, meaningful.
I can still recall how great it felt as a child to perceive natural features like a forest, a river, a dark cloud, or rain. I also felt good at the thought of any stories or games or music. This way, I had a taste for aesthetics and fun.
Those feelings started fading away from me as I grew up. First the aesthetic disappeared and then fun. Dark clouds and rainfalls turned into environmental phenomena that turned me gloomy; rivers were nothing fascinating; trees and forests turned boring. Later, the stories and music I enjoyed stopped being fun and here I am today. There are glimpses of beauty and joy — but sporadic and vague.
I didn’t grow up, I grew dull.
A lot of factors are responsible for this change: the practicality of life, the conscience of adulthood, depressive thinking, anxiety, all have played their respective parts. Very well, in fact.
But this afternoon as I stared out of my window at the impending dark clouds and glimpses of blue sky, I — after a long time felt alive. A feeling bubbled inside me that took my thoughts to the fond memories of childhood, the beauty of the sky above, the fascinating that my future can be, the importance of feeling and the beauty of life itself. I wanted to cry. It was a powerful feeling. Although the feeling didn’t last long it was enough to remind me of what I had been once upon a time and what I have been missing in my life all these years.
We get worried about ourselves a little too much — that’s the issue I think. We get too caught up in what/when/why/how we should be/do which turns us into mere pendulums. There’s success and failure. There’s either excitement or frustration. While that is okay for survival, I don’t consider that to be a life lived. I have stopped considering it to be a life felt. I don’t think a life not-felt is a life understood.
There are such diverse things inside and around us and we have this amazing ability to feel each and every one of those. Some of those are tasteful, some disgusting. Yet we get to know their nature through this ability of ours without having to get physically intimate with them. But we don’t do it. We are too eager to grow up. To mature too early. We want to do things faster. What we miss in all this is life. We get successful, but we overlook life.
Q: What does it take to feel alive?
A: A little reminder once in a while that doing is the means and feeling is the end!
Yesterday was the first day of my new experimentation:
Stopping the flow of a regular habit.
The habit = Regularly watching senseless videos on YouTube.
Yesterday, I successfully tolerated all my impulses to touch the YouTube app on my phone or press y + Ctrl Enter on my laptop web browser.
The reasons of experiment were:
I got aware that I was watching way too much senseless videos
I worried about how those videos might be affecting my feelings and imagination
I wanted to find out if watching videos contributed to my constant agitation and anxiety.
The worst part was that I had developed the habit of playing nonsensical cricket discussion videos on YouTube in the background every time I tried to go to sleep. The app on my phone tells me that Monday alone, I watched around 4 hrs of videos on YouTube.
So, yesterday morning I thought it would be a nice idea to go cold-turkey on my video-watching habits and see what changes take place in me.
Achievement: I didn’t watch a single video.
I’ll go over a couple important things I was thinking yesterday. It was surprising how long it had been since I thinked with such flow. It appeared as though my habit of watching videos had turned off my brain.
One major change I would like to express right away is that I slept well and dreamt vivid after a while.
Anyway, here are the thoughts:
Be careful on whom you listen to: Listening to ordinary people on a regular basis can be disastrous to your life. Ordinary people: They are those who aren’t related to us and who aren’t our friends; they are those who aren’t mature in an intellectual and emotional sense. Now, it’s not hard to notice that platforms like YouTube, TikTok and more or less all social media are filled with such people. Regularly listening to them, especially on sensitive topics, means we are being deliberately or unconsciously led by ignorance because they don’t care about us (since they don’t know us) and because they aren’t mature enough to teach us. Which, as you may imagine, is not at all healthy.
People who don’t know us but have have devoted their life to learning— even if they are strangers to us — might have acquired some wisdom to impart. If their hard-earned knowledge might not be useful to us, they might not be harmful either. But any bicky-dicky with an opinion can provide us nothing but senseless information.Even the advice that they give can have serious consequences to our thinking as what they provide aren’t the product of care-for-us or hard-learning.
There are many with the habit of sharing their intimate information on the internet, which gets videod and then commented on by random strangers. My point is, if sharing our feelings on social media (or hearing about your problems there) was to solve our crisis, why would we need friends/families, why would we need art and why would we need education and learning? It won’t work. Our issues work deeper than the level at which social media interactions occur!
Is my video watching, my mental weakness? — Noticing how even a short abstinence from video watching had opened the floodgates of my thoughts, I wonder if I watch videos or stroll around the internet when I am afraid to think for myself or weak to use my own imagination.
When I go on a YouTube video watching binge, I have the choice of selecting from millions of videos, which allows me to skip or fast-forward a video if I don’t find it to be as mind-numbing or enjoyable as intended.
Which may imply that I have been using videos as a means of sucking-up all of my thoughts — to escape from my own head — which I do think is a weakness because, in ideally world, I would want to solve my thought-problems rather than ignore them.
What I did during the break, however, was read books and what I found amazing was that reading a book now feels like a meditation. Now, considering how some thinkers of the pre-internet/TV days condemned too much of book reading as a sign of reading-so-you-don’t-have-to-think, one can imagine how deep they lived than us!
Is video watching a form of manipulation? — When I was younger, I remember learning a common success lesson from my grandfather and from some ‘you can do it’ book: ‘Successful/great’ people don’t spend their time around petty people or gossiping. They dwell in great ideas and deeds. While thinking on my bed, I wondered if any successful person (not in financial/social sense but as in the master of his/her art) of today would spend their time watching senseless YouTube videos. They would probably be either honing their craft or reading a great book on life.
This made me question if senseless video watching is equivalent to spending time around petty people and gossiping. Which would mean such watching is a form of manipulation from the ‘system’ side — to keep you ordinary, to keep you a sheep! Why else would such platforms exist?
That’s it, those are some significant thoughts that I thought during the break of a single day. I will see if I can sustain this discipline for a little longer. If I can do it, I will definitely share what days of absence has taught me. But if I can’t, there wouldn’t be much point sharing.
If I can continue this break, it may teach me the advantages of video watching and I may end up watching even more of them. It may also mean I will quit video watching altogether and maybe, become an activist.
I was out to pick-up a dog cage from a pet shop yesterday. The cage was big and the street was narrow which meant I had to load it in the car in a short time. Motorbikes and taxis were already parked which meant I didn’t have much space to work with. I went past the shop looking for a place to turn around, and when I did, I spotted an empty spot from afar— a perfect spot. It was at the opposite end of the shop. I pressed the accelerator in excitement and went near. But what do I notice when I get there?
A young guy is sitting on his motorbike at the exact spot, leisurely using his phone. There was no point honking so I drove past staring at him and parked the car a little further. It would take more effort and time to bring the cage and load it in the car. But I did that. All the while cursing that young person’s existence in my head.
‘Why is this person even existing?’
‘There’s no use for creatures like these!’
Miserable thought. Bad thought. I know. But I ask these too:
‘Why am I even existing?’
‘There’s no use for rascals like me!’
Whenever I get annoyed with someone (including me), I tend to have these thoughts. I tend to imagine the entire cosmos (as much as I think it exists) and judge the value of existence of each and every individual entity. Which is more important, the sun or the moon? The river or the sea?
What a sorry thing to do!
I don’t see much value in the existence of anything at all — including existence — apart from the value of existence itself. I mean, to exist is the only valid reason for existence. The only actual value.
Which means, I have no right to question the value-of-existence of anything or anyone. But I do it. I forget the lesson above.
I am a human and I have been shown and told a lot that existence in itself is nothing significant, its what you make of the existence that matters. So naturally I have grown up judging the value of existence of everything:
Dogs have less value than humans and ants have less value than dogs. Plants have less value than ants while mosquitos are there to be killed.
And then there’s the human world:
Writers have less value than businessmen and cleaners have less value than writers…and likewise. Division of labor. In society like mine — Nepali/Hindu — there’s this caste more valuable than that and that more valuable than that…
Yes, with my own eyes I have seen dead politicians taken to cremation in a parade and I have also seen corpses burnt with no one at all to attend. Division of value. VALUE OF EXISTENCE. Which means, high value people have more right to exist and properly die.
Now, when I saw the bike person, my human ego told me that the person was beneath me in terms of value-of-existence. I may have judged based on occupation or caste. But I judged and thought the person had a lower value-of-existence than me (and my dog since the dog I considered my own). Now, if there was a businessman with his Tesla parked — would I question the businessman’s value of existence?
Instead, I would question my own value of existence!
What a petty, miserable being I am. Why do I forget the lesson?!
Before getting into why I consider physical pain to be the greatest teacher, let me give some background.
I am one of those who constantly and intentionally creates problems for himself. Even when there is nothing significantly alarming in life, I have the habit of questioning and worrying about things such that I miss everything else going on, every emotion flowing in and need someone else to remind me of the absurdity of what I have been thinking and worrying about. That someone doesn’t have to be a highly intellectual or spiritual person. That something doesn’t have to be sophisticated or philosophical. Hearing a ten year old kid react while playing a video-game can do the trick. But such encounters rarely occur.
Believe me, I have read and heard the best of preachers preach and the greatest of teachers teach.
‘Thou shalt not do this…’, ‘You have been viewing the world wrong…’, ‘This is the proper way…’…they say.
But for me, what they preach and teach has always been like listening to some music you don’t like. You can hear the music playing, you understand what’s going on…but it just doesn’t touch you.
That’s my character.
Now I want to share my present situation:
I am going through excruciating pain in my mouth because of a couple of rotten teeth. It has persisted for a couple of days during which it has grabbed my attention, sucked my energy, has made me scream in anguish, has taken buzz away from beer, clouds away from smoke, taste away from food and relaxation away from a cup of tea. It has eclipsed my entire being and my thoughts haven’t been able to focus anywhere else apart from the region that hurts.
Under this situation, however, when I move my mind around things, I am amazed at my stupidity for constantly and intentionally creating problems for myself when there are none!
‘Everything is so simple…why was I complicating them?’ I ask myself.
‘This goes here, this there…this fits here…that doesn’t fit there…It’s all so simple. WHAT WAS THERE TO WORRY?!’ I question myself.
This is why I call physical pain the greatest teacher. While I sit here as a being suffering from the complications of its own body, I don’t have time nor space to get lost in mental forests of gloom. For one, it is because I don’t have the energy. Which makes me question whether my anxieties and mental issues are the result of me not being able to apply my energy appropriately. While all the energy of my being is sucked by the consciousness of physical anguish there is little left for the reveries of mind. This is why, perhaps, the mind focuses on the real.
Other thing I notice is the absurdity of problem-creating itself. While I sit here trying to figure out ways through which I can rid myself of this anguish, my state-of-mind is that of the issues of the body. The body which is real. I think I look at the thing that usually bothers me with the same state-of-mind which crops all unnecessary parts and perhaps, the mind focuses on the real. Here there is no place for problem-creating. Things are the way they are!
I don’t know how long this pain will last. In fact, I am about to go visit a doctor. But I don’t want to forget the lessons that this pain has taught me. Lessons about my reality, human reality. About my energy, human energy. Lessons about attention and conscience. Lessons I could never learn from gurus and philosophers.
This physical pain has given me hints on what I shall do and avoid. What I should try to constantly realize. Some part of me wishes some kind of physical pain always remains in me. But again, it’s not comfortable. I have to get rid of this anguish and this is what matters as of now. I need to go to the doctor for I have tried toleration and bearance but none has worked. I have tried homemade ways to avoid pain killers, hasn’t worked. The pain is real. I need to trust the system now. I need to trust a doctor. I need to focus on what is real. I need to do that which is there — not worry about that which may not be.
Right now, I don’t have enough energy or time to question the morality of medical systems!
You notice your anxiety and it burns such that you cannot help but question why you are feeling that way. By then, you have tried everything: distraction, inspiration, perspiration.
Questioning the reasons for anxiety is the only thing left to do and when you reach to that phase, half of it is already gone. ‘Why didn’t I do this before?’ you wonder. You begin digging, imagining, hypothesizing: what is causing this anxiety?
You go through multiple scenarios: past, present, future. Friends, family, self. Mental, emotional, physical. You trial and error through them. One moment you feel you have found the cause: memory of your bullies from school is causing this anxiety…but something doesn’t fit. ‘I have solved it before,’ you say and move on. Another moment: fear of failure! But still something doesn’t feel okay. The anxiety doesn’t leave! ‘No there’s something else,’ you say.
‘Oh, the absurdity of choosing a career of a writer’
‘Yes…but no not this time…I have dealt with it already. I have ideas about it…I don’t need to be anxious…it’s something else’.
And then you think:…it’s not the cause that’s the cause. It’s the anxiety that’s the cause. It’s the anxiety — which like a python dwells inside you. Yeah, it sleeps a lot too. But when it wakes up…it consumes you. It sees complications where there are none. It feels wrong when there are none. It sees another python when there is none. It may not only be the effect of sharp perception which sees the fragility in everything, It may be the cause of wrong perceptions. It maybe behaving like the way they call quantum particles do. In this case, it is both the cause and effect.
As long as it is effect, you can put the python to sleep (by digging the cause)and move on until the python wakes up again. And then you do it again. But if it’s a cause? What do you do? — Medication? Meditation? Masturbation? But, they’re all temporary!
Since I have mentioned the term ‘quantum’ above, I once read Einstein saying this:
…Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
I don’t know in which context he said it, but he said it good. The anxiety as the cause is similar. It’s some sort of weakness that lurks inside you and creates problem after problem. Time and time again. Why?!
It doesn’t let you have fun with your family, your food, your film. Doesn’t let you be at peace with your pet, your poetry, your plant. Nor does it let you do anything. It lurks and it hurts. Burns and it…It sucks!
It sucks color out of you, joy out of you, love out you, life out of you. And they say it is the sharp perception of the impending threat! I don’t wanna be sharp.
A better question then:
If you are constantly suffering from anxiety, are you shrewd or ill?
(I have written this and now the python seems to have gone to sleep. I wonder when will it wake up again? Oh, wait…it’s back! Apparently, my thinking about it woke it up)
I find myself feeling empty and frustrated during conversations of philosophical nature. By that, I mean conversations that are not gossip, or about success or money and are about the meanings of xyz. The feeling has occurred numerous times with numerous people.
I enjoy those conversations, that is why I get excited at meeting people with whom I can talk that kind of stuff. But every time, I end up disappointed and perhaps the other person(s) does too. Things go nowhere. Ideas go nowhere. Feelings go nowhere. What begins with beats of excitement always finishes with melodies of emptiness and frustration. Like swimming in nothing. There’s nothing to discuss after a certain point, no more to go. A void. A big dark void!
But a few days ago, after I devised a little concept called Contextual Philosophy I have begun to not only learn from but also enjoy philosophical conversations.
Contextual Philosophy begins with a simple premise: Why the hell should I talk philosophy with this person(s)? and goes to these:
I will not talk philosophy with this person because I enjoy it
I will not talk philosophy with this person because this person seems to enjoy it
I will not talk philosophy with this person because we are bored
I will not talk philosophy with this person to boast
I will not talk philosophy with this person because I am a writer
I will not talk philosophy with this person because I have just read a book
I will not talk philosophy with this person because I am frustrated with my life
and so on…
As you can see, this leaves me with not many reasons to talk philosophy with people and hence gives momentum to contextual philosophy.
Why should I really have philosophical conversations with this person?
I have had a couple of conversations after this conceptualization and things have gone smooth. Emptiness and frustrations haven’t been there while fruitful conversations have existed. Philosophical ideas have been relevant.
While I try to think why this process has worked — apart from the questions raised restraining me from unnecessary impulses — I have experienced a few worthy reasons to be having philosophical conversations :
If the ideas exchanged during the conversation make the participants question their desires in life,
If all the participants can constantly question: what new conclusion will we derive from this conversation.
For instance, if we are conversing about the existence of god — and if we deduct all ‘I will not talk ifs…’ from it, we will be making sure all points we reach will be connected to the desires we keep within ourselves and will generate new observations. But, it has to be relevant to all parties. Although this may not seem like much of a change, it ensures the conversation doesn’t go out of hand (mind) and always has relevance to the lives of the participants. This takes away the unnecessary and void from philosophy.
I have found this to be a useful thing which has eradicated the emptiness and frustration.
While this may seem similar to Selective Talking, it is different as it deals with philosophical matters only — while Selective Talking could be about anything with anyone.
This simple experiment of keeping the context of philosophical conversation in mind while thinking up new thoughts and arguments, doesn’t allow philosophical talks to be empty which can also be applied to personal musings and writings.
Philosophizing has now become relevant, in fact the most relevant thing to do in life!
Before getting into selective talking, I want to give present some background.
A few days ago, I attended a small literary gathering. There were different kinds of creative and intellectual people with diversity in profession, career-track, writing styles, etc. The things in common being that all were intellectuals and older than me. Much older. This allowed me to freely be curious as I freely asked questions and listened to them answer.
I introduced myself to almost every one there and keenly listened to them. Everything was going well. I was learning important things and getting to know them. After the event ended, I got to talking with a man in his mid 60s — a scholar who had degrees in Buddhism and Geography. I had started the conversation by asking him what his field was. But what followed from him was quite unlike anyone I had spoken to by that time. HE was both boring and anxiety-inducing for me:
He began narrating his biography: Where he was born, how/in what he was educated, how many surgeries he has had, where lives his son, what he studies, etc. etc.
I didn’t want to be rude so I listened. But I got bored. I wanted to walk-off. I wanted him to walk-off. I wanted someone to come and interrupt. I wanted the conversation to end.
The surprising thing was, I do understand that he was speaking of crucial things. In fact, he was providing me important life-lessons through stories of his own personal experiences. He had educated himself in diverse subject matters, so it was supposed to be very important for me to help balance and cope with my own struggles with balancing variety: BUT something was off in him!
‘This person speaks about important things, but it all feels nonsense to me.’
At first I thought it might have been my issue: attention deficiency and all that. But then, I had been listening to more than a dozen other people and none had bored me to such an extent, if at all. All had given brief and solid answers. It had all been enjoyable and impactful.
But then I noticed something: all of them (who didn’t bore me) were either much older than the person who bored me or were much more productive/successful in literature!
And that’s where I noticed something for the first time in my life: The Skill Of Selective Talking.
And then yesterday I discovered this Voltaire quote:
The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.
Curious and creative people usually have a lot of ideas inside their head. And I have come to believe that the most nonsense of talkative people are also either one of those. This quality (having ideas) pushes one to express. The most profound ones express with writing or other forms of creations. The not so profound ones have nothing but talking at their disposal. But that doesn’t mean the profound ones don’t talk or the shallow ones don’t write! My point however is: curious and creative people have a lot to express, but bad expression is worse than no expression, hence, selective talking is an important skill to have. And such talking is something that profound ones do. The shallow ones just blabber irrespective of the degrees they have acquired.
By selective talking I mean keeping these elements in mind while talking with someone:
Why is this person listening to me? What should I talk?
When I said above that the older or more prolific ones out there had given me solid to-the-point answers and hadn’t bored me, I say they were the profound ones. And I think the profound ones ask the questions above and answer them carefully to themselves before talking with anyone else. Or they could just be old and too tired to talk.
Anyways, the fact remains that we talk to express and we express to communicate. What is the point of expressing things or expressing in a manner that bores others and therefore deafens them and doesn’t become communication at all? It misses the whole point. Understanding this is being profound.
The person that had bored me and hence taught me a valuable life-lesson (if he wasn’t doing it intentionally to teach me and was therefore the most profound of them all) was not selective talking. He was expressing himself out of his urge without considering me as a listener. He didn’t care about me or why I was talking to him for that matter. He just expressed himself. While everyone doing things for selfish reasons is the norm of life (as I myself was trying to learn for myself), his talking bored me. It was important but seemed irrelevant. It was sensible but sounded nonsense. For me, he made noise the whole time, didn’t communicate. He wasn’t profound or old enough!
After that I have tried to tell myself to practice this skill of selective talking. After all, why do I want to bore others and waste my crucial energy at the same time — at the gain of nothing? I am telling myself to rather be quiet and listen. Talk only when it’s worth it. When it is required of me. When I have something important or entertaining to communicate.
The same applies to videos, cinema, lectures, speeches and writing:
While there may be point in writing things for self-expression, there is no point publishing them if they are not selected carefully. If they are not selective-writings, they just occupy computer and library spaces and achieve nothing. They merely bore others and waste our energy (and time-money resources too).
The pursuit of truth for human beings (Human knowledge) is often depicted as being a linear affair. It either goes up:
We, evolved from apes, have managed to create computers, peek into our cells and now we have rockets and now we are heading into unknown space, time, and new dimensions and it is only a matter of time until we will discover the truth!
The Truth: We, created by God…shall return back to God.
Either way, it’s a straight line. A timeline.
But I am having other thoughts:
The entire existence exists in the form of entanglement in our mind(s). Everything we have known so far, Every religion, science, art, philosophy, Every simple or complex knowledge, All our understanding, All our discoveries: are merely the process of untangling part(s) of a larger entanglement. The entanglement being our knowledge of our existence as a whole.
We untangle a knot, get excited and like a game of crossword puzzle, it leads to untangling of many other subsequent tangles. We then think we have unearthed the truth. Get excited. Oh, the joy of untangling!
Until… we hit upon another crisis…Time to untangle some more! Yet we don’t look at things as being in a tangle. We like to think of things as being linear. It feels as if every untangle is the last obstacle.
a quality that you either have or want to have in yourself
In the traditional sense, this ‘special worth’ of Merriam Webster is socially given. If any qualities in a person of any given time and place is deemed worthy and ‘good’ by the society, that quality ends up being a virtue. But I don’t think that it should be the case. An individual should be allowed to determine what virtue he/she would want in themselves and fight or convince others that the virtue they have selected is more worthy then the one prevalent if that is not the case. It is about fighting for the true against prejudice.
While we’re critiquing traditional thinking, I am reminded of one Nietzsche from the 19th century.
In his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche talks about ideally have only one virtue. Saying how qualities evolved from the maturity of one’s passion is the best route to discovering one’s virtue, he also goes on to say that while it is illustrious to have multiple virtues, it is a hard ask. He says multiple virtues will eventually envy each other as they all vie for the highest position within you.
But I think multiple virtues can be managed together. For that to be possible though, we need generalization and a little act of symbolism.
At this moment, I want to share my virtues with you. (Not what I have, but what I seek in me.)
These virtues as of now are:
Now, what I did to make sure these qualities I want to have in me won’t fight and compete with each other as Nietzsche warned, I have used symbolism to turn all three into one.
First, let me quickly define what I mean by those words above.
Calmness for me is the quieting of thoughts such that they go about slowly, gently and smoothly.
Strength for me is when your thoughts stop and ignore fearly emotions. Strength is when your own thoughts dominate and beat the hell out of petty and harmful thoughts.
Depth for me is thoughts reaching the root of everything it encounters.
I initially didn’t want to write and publish this article because all this is my personal work in progress and I may not have the same thinking about these things tomorrow as of now. But then I wanted to go ahead and do it, for reasons I do not know yet.
Well then, with that out of the way, I want to talk about the generalizing and the symbolizing.
I searched for a single thing (symbol) that would successfully have all the three qualities I have in it.
What could that be which is calm, strong and deep? — And then I got it:
Ocean surfaces can be calm. Oceans are mighty strong. Oceans are seriously deep.
Okay, I do know how ocean surfaces are violent and disturbing too! Just like our thoughts. But since we are humans, we can decide how we would want the waters to flow.
Let’s give some background before we discuss what is a GOAT:
The modern scientifically trained democratic man wants to mock and laugh at all gods and kings
‘Haha, gods are dead. It all started with a big bang, duh!’says he.
‘Haha, kings are dead. Long live the market!’ says he.
And yet look at the irony:
The same modern man goes to concerts and worships his musicians. He comes back and tattoos the musicians’ name and face in the most intimate part of his body.
The same modern man goes to football matches carrying flags. He bows to his sports player and imitates the player in every way practical: hair, the way to walk.
And then this modern trend of calling other people G.O.A.T — which presumably stands for greatest of all time.
This term called GOAT which should have actually been used as a satire for such performers and players — who are in most cases the reminder of collective human boredom and insignificance— is in fact a term of reverence.
It is a term born out of the inner urge to see perfection, the ideal in any field. In other words, it is a term born out of the urge to see greatness, because they themselves feel tiny. It is the same urge that gave birth to literal gods and kings — Gods are great. Kings are great.
The word great then is a relative term. You are always great relative to something. The classic Taoist case. But it is an urge isn’t it? You put five random people in a room and there is an urge in you to spot the perfect among them. The best among them. The great among them. And then you put the entire human history in a plane, the urge returns: you want to spot perfection, you want to filter out the best. The great. The great among the great: the greatest. Everytime you choose a great, you are belittling others who didn’t win over your perception. Everytime you choose a great that isn’t you, you are belittling yourself who didn’t win over your own perception.
My question and concern: Isn’t this urge the cause of gods and kings? Isn’t this urge the reason why humans have drawn vague and unnecessary lines between themselves? The same reverence which sustains our weakness, which makes us vulnerable, which makes us mote in the eyes of the greats!
How much have people across all cultures suffered because of this reverence! How much have people across all societies and states suffered due to the blindness and dumbness, force and fear infused by certain religions and monarchs?
When mythology was created, the goal wasn’t reverence for this or that god(s). When people came together, the objective wasn’t to choose a king to be a slave to. Life was supposed to be contemplative, imaginative, fun and organizable. That’s why those things happened. But then those things got exploited because some couldn’t rise out of their self-doubt and those systems got converted into organized systems of power. And people suffered…
People suffered and suffered until the progeny of the same culture and society dared to wake up and ward-off such reverence. And eventually the modern man was born: out of the hatred toward reverence. The modern man was born out of hope in science and democracy. The modern was born out of contempt towards political-religion and monarchy.
The modern man was supposed to enjoy Shiva but not revere him. The modern men were supposed to dance together in a circle but with an empty center.
But why then is the same modern man who has mocked upon literal gods and kings still so passionate about greatness? And that too for mere entertainers! Isn’t he supposed to have moved beyond greatness? Doesn’t the whole idea of his secularism and democracy revolve around anti-reverence? Doesn’t the whole idea revolve around self-belief?
This could only mean one thing:
The modern man has killed-off neither god nor kings, he is merely worshiping and being ruled by new ones.
In other words, the modern man worships and is ruled by his entertainers!
Q: And why does the modern man need such superficial entertainers?
In Nepal, it is difficult to find an intellectual unstained by Hindu/Buddhist or some sort of political ideology. This tendency might be a global phenomenon, yet, in Nepal, it stretches to a nauseating degree, so much so that you can correctly guess an intellectual’s entire idea-set by merely knowing his/hers religious/political inclination. The person I am writing about today is Laxmi Prasad Devkota.
He struggled with both those elements and yet managed to live and create in a way that included and transcended them.
You can’t predict him, you can’t guess him and you get both annoyed and exalted by his spontaneity and randomness: in other words, by his poetic genius.
There’s a lot of myth surrounding the man.
Stories of him giving away his coat to the poor; writing lengthy poems in cigarette packs; struggling immensely with money; being sent to Ranchi (a city in India known for mental treatment) — are abound. It was in this context that he was called a geographical mistake by a Brit whose name I cannot recall.
Yet some had enough sense to recognize him and call him a Nepali Mahakavi (Great Poet). But apart from that, his works and ideas aren’t popular in a folk sense and his presence is mostly limited within dull school-books.
Yes, such is the society of Nepal and such was the man born here: ahead of his time, inappropriately in space!
He mostly wrote poems (epic, short, metered, unmetered) spanning from Nepali Shakuntala to Prometheus. His seminal work Munamadan is still considered to be the greatest work of Nepali Literature. It is a tragedy about a man who leaves his wife and mother to go to Lhasa for a better financial life.
He wrote songs. He also wrote a lot of short stories and a novel.
His essays are brilliant and it is in this context that I would like to introduce his ideas to people who aren’t familiar with him.
A few years ago I published a collection of poetry in English named PARANOIA:
When I reached to the final stages the work — set to publish — I had the idea of using my work as a medium to interpret a couple of Nepali writers — in English. I translated certain lines I liked from Devkota’s essay collection and placed it in.
The translations include his thoughts on a wide array of things: creativity, art, science, philosophy, spirituality, education, life, god, etc.
I now want to quit this rambling of mine and insert those translations/interpretations so that you can judge and hopefully enjoy his ideas on your own.
Truth shines through feelings…
In the heart lies the luminosity of God.
Feelings or emotions are primary
Desiring and thinking come later.
To be devoid of these four is the sign of being a beast.
Difficulty doesn’t imply depth.
Difficulty doesn’t mean Art,
Incomprehensibility doesn’t have any value.
To manufacture machines.
And the soul desires a thing,
education provides something else.
All I’ve learned till B.A
in three years
I can put into little children’s minds better,
That we usually call Education
is making man stupid.
Creation Love Art
And love is the chief element of creation
Whilst Art is the chief action of love
I yearn to see:
What lies there in the heart!
I want to bow my head
As if the all pervading God is scolding me.
I know that I am a sinner.
The beautifully illustrated Truth is Art
Which springeth from the creative imagination.
The truth lies in our life
and unless it comes from the formlessness to the form:
we do not realize it.
Civilization hasn’t yet started.
We haven’t learned to respect life.
Real progress will start
The day our sentiment of brotherhood gets firm
As long as we aspire to become great in this world
or hold feelings to do things
and show our pride,
Vairagya is impossible.
To doubt is better,
as it helps understand,
Question is everything, answer is maturity.
It is cowardice to not move forward in opportunity.
We cannot live in a life devoid of danger.
What Science does not
Science cannot satisfy man’s curiosity
and he searches for glimpses
beyond the Sciences
through the magic of emotional and imaginative world,
where man feels self-satisfied as if he is near the truth.
What Art not
The works done by mathematical formulas,
even though are the works of brain,
do not deserve to be called Art.
Painting is Art, Photography is not.
Where Art springs
When the creative imagination sees new dreams
Rising from imitation
And maneuvers its works in its own manner,
Let’s get small
There is fun in being small
We can see others’ significance dance around.
There is pleasure in the peacefulness of ego;
We can see others’ pretense.
The energy to manufacture Art
Doesn’t come from the mere superficial darshan of objects
nor does it comes from mere intellect and knowledge;
It comes from those subtle consciences,
Which find emotional caressing from divine experience
rising above bestial eyes.
The beast merely looks and remains satisfied,
but man tries to touch the heart of everything.
Teacher and teaching
Science cannot locate everything
and our psychological studies end
within the darkness of the intellect.
This is why no teacher can teach.
In the divine talent of the Creator
The word was born
studying this creation
attain clear messages of
Divine Beauty and
In the creative imagination of God,
Totality works and provides beautiful
lines and colors and forms
to the Truth of God.
We realize the ‘beautiful’ through the sensing of Truth
and where there is no Truth there isn’t beauty.
This Self-Illustrating form of God
manifests in artistic creativity such that
truth becoming beautiful descends to the outer forms of the senses.
practicality is limited and
philosophy, intellect is blind.
I enjoy imaginative truth the most
and through it find the glimpses of God
I enjoy gambling,
As I find ample opportunities there
To engage my mind and study.
Why is God silent?
It is the consequence of the
Western Civilization that,
God doesn’t speak in
Wind and Water.
I speak with the shadows
The optical world is merely
The manifestation of the inside
And all solid objects are liquid.
In the heart of the poet
The rocks speak
And the leaves have tongue.
Those who say,
The world doesn’t speak
Those who say,
There isn’t life in the hills and the trees and the stars
Elucidates the affinity
Between man and God
It is Human-Heart and Imagination
Man seeks to
His identification with the unknown
And in the world of the known
Seeks for the kingdom of the unknown
For studying the life of any culture
There’s nothing more enlightening
Then the Arts of that culture.
We feel we’ve reached near to the Creator
When that eye in our inner world opens
Can bring to form the unavailable and the irregular
And fill it with colours.
A small spark of
The fundamental creative dream energy of God
He tries to create
Runs after fresh magic to improve the world
Listens to the call of the unknown,
Ascending beyond sights and sounds
Seeks for the inner sparks and sounds
He turns forms into sounds and words into pictures
He dislikes boundaries
He wants to fly and pluck
Peek from darkness and
Steal the fire from heaven.
Work and Art
In a simple table,
The work of carpentry is done
If a carpenter
Creates a table as if a beautiful dream
Art it becomes.
We call those creations Art
Which are within the boundaries of truth and beauty
If they’ve got the natural affect
For the heart of life.
Empty dreams aren’t Art
As long as they don’t get published.
Truth and Beauty
Beauty arises from the prodigious consciousness of truth
I avidly followed professional sports once upon a time — especially cricket. I ‘liked/adored/followed’ teams, players: their style, etc.
And then philosophical interests kicked in and I began questioning the essence of my so-called passion for sports. I found ignorance and vulgarity down there so I resisted and stopped!
India’s ‘festival’ of celebration of their ‘religion’ called IPL (Indian Premier League) is on these days.
Since I am from South Asia and we have this inherent tendency to compete (psychologically at least) with each other in things that we or some of us value — cricket happens to be in my blood (at least that’s what they try to convince us of). So I decided to let the blood flow freely and follow cricket passionately again.
I selected a team I thought I should like and I have been watching matches on TV, following analysis, news/gossip on the internet and also: thinking about the game. All this after a long-long hiatus.
One major change that has occured to me since this bloody-renaissance is this: I feel satisfied! I have a ‘good’ feeling going on.
There’s this massive wave of wind sort of thing inside my chest and it fills me up every time I think/see/hear of the league and when the team or the player of my choice does well. I then enter the internet and drink in each and every praise delivered for the team or the player(s). The wind drives me to do that. The more I drink, the more pumped I get. Once again, that lump/pump whatever of wind has made me feel complete.
On the other hand, if the team or the player doesn’t do well, I get agitated. A strange dissatisfaction lurks underneath as I constantly find myself not just roaming around the internet trying to justify their excellence but also imagining and playing out scenarios inside my own head. If the success of my choice fills me with a wind kind of thing, their failure fills me up with a stinky gas sort of gas.
Strangely however, irrespective of their success and failure: a general ‘good-feeling’ is inside me its thought form is as follows:
Tonight there’s a match, I will watch.
There’s a match, let’s see what they’re saying.
This is one strange drive for going through the day happily. I didn’t have such drives for a long time.
As I try to interpret the various elements present in this festival that may have been responsible for my changes, I find the following:
Support for a team or player(s): Their success winding and failure gasing me.
Competitive context: The tournament structure, the number of teams and players, the various possible scenarios, stakes mixed with my personal preferences with hearing/seeing what I prefer exciting me and hearing/seeing what I don’t prefer frustrating me.
Aesthetic(?): The jerseys, the style, the video quality creating a kind of attraction and excitement.
The Sheepiness: The number of people following this crazy nuance! Their sheer quantity providing me with justification to be-there and providing me with moral assurance.
The Zone: Everything above taking me to a zone of sorts where cricket and its context becoming an end-in-itself and the most important thing in existence. This generating assurance and warmth.
With all this, I want to look into the emotional spectrum in me — strictly in context of this cricket league.
As I mentioned above, what I have noticed in me is this flapping of excitement-frustration (wind-gas).
Now, this research here lists these as categories of emotions present in humans:
I do understand how people might find the emotions absent in me available in them in this cricket context. Some might have sexual, romantic interest towards some player or even umpires.
But isn’t it strange that some people find this cricket thing to be aesthetically pleasing, awe-some, horrorful, romantic?
I mean, this here is van Gogh’s work and van Gogh works with aesthetical things:
And this here is cricket:
Now this is what German Philosopher Immanuel Kant said generated awe in him:
Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me — Translated by Lewis White Beck
Similarly, normal people associate things such as death and ghosts with horror; nature, relationships with romance.
But won’t it be strange if people find this cricket thing to be aesthetically pleasing, awe-some, horrorful, romantic?
This scenario then is thus:
Following leagues and tournaments such as the IPL takes one to a zone. The zone stands independent of normal reality and its weltanschauung is that the league is an end-in-itself and everything else in existence is a means to the league and its success.
Inside the zone, there are preferences and those preferences generate certain emotions. Limited but nonetheless. Regarding emotions, there maybe two scenarios:
The zone does not contain all emotions of life: My case.
The zone contains all emotions of life: Some cases perhaps.
In the second scenario, isn’t it crazy that something like sports can generate diverse emotions in its consumers? This task is generally limited to arts and life. Come tomorrow with more and more resources, such sports might enhance the experience for its fanatics to such an extent that people will begin to say, romantically align with its players and love them if the players justify their ‘love’ by performing as they want to OR that people will begin to get petrified and afraid if their players do not justify their interest by performing as they want! (Some call cricket a religion in India.)
Now, this I find both weird and scary!
But do you know what I find weirder and scarier? — Case like mine (1) where while such sports aren’t providing me with a complete range of emotions, yet I am spending all of my time not just consuming but also musing them!
There may be a lot of people who follow sports just for a light escape or a switch-off, in which case these sports do no harm at all. They are games and that’s it. Maybe you read/watch a Shakespeare play; live life to the fullest and come to these leagues without taking it seriously. That’s great! But what if you live in the zone so much that you stop caring about feeling the full range of emotions and merely live within the wind-gas?
I mean that’s what capitalist culture with solid support from the scientific mentality is all about isn’t it? Take social media notifications and modern comical superhero movies for instance.
As I think back on the subjects I was taught at school, I find no subject more general and peculiar than Social Studies.
Other subjects were pretty much straightforward and drew a clear line and scope: Science was about hard sciences; Mathematics about numbers, angles and their relations; English and Nepali tried to infuse command over the language through grammar and literature (although I would prefer literature to be a separate subject, but of that some other day); computer about getting used to computers. But social studies? Was it just supposed to be about understanding social stuff or was it about having a command over society?Was it supposed to be what we call ‘social sciences’? What was it?
I mean, history you can understand. But geography? I vividly remember being taught to look at maps! And at the same time, I also remember studying about the monsoon, weather, climate and all those kinds of things. What were they doing in social studies? If the argument is that they have importance in our social life, then, well each of the sciences and languages do too! Likewise, civics and sociology is understandable. I got my first exposure to the political system of my country through this subject.
As with almost everything, the curriculum I was a part of came from Western Countries. In this regard, it was futile to argue about the subject matters of social studies in Nepali context. There was no point blaming the ‘incapable’, ‘incompetent’ thinkers of this country. I had to blame either the US or UK. And since I am from a ‘developing’ nation, that was futile as well– Anything they did had to be genius!
Which basically means, it is more a National Studies where each subject matter is looked upon relative to one’s nation. Even International stuff. Otherwise, anthropology, archaeology, geography, philosophy (of all subjects) would want to be somewhere else.
This clears it up for me: social studies isn’t social sciences. The major difference being, social science would want to be more objective in its nature, whereas the purpose of social studies is solely to inject some ‘national sense’ inside the learners head. In the former you could talk about the geopolitical weaknesses of your country, in the latter you had to be proud of it! Therefore, geography fits well inside social studies.
In this way, what I see in social studies is a tool which holds the essence of modern education. While science and mathematics get all the attention and accolades and surely provide the best things in life if done well, social studies quietly lets you know who you are and whom you should dedicate yourself to with all your talents! Telling you whose side you are on.
Proving once again that the things that have the deepest impact are usually ones that are the quietest.
I just hope there won’t be ‘Big Tech Studies’ anytime soon though!
An Euro-American lover-of-money — moneyphile — named Peter Thiel wants to live forever!
While his greed for money and his desire to live forever are his personal choices — what amazes me is his greed for wanting to be a philosopher as well. (Some people need everything, don’t they?) He says something like this:
I think there are probably three main modes of approach to death…You can accept it, deny it or you can fight it.
Now, Mr. Thiel is a businessman, a merchant, a capitalist. He loves money more than anything. And he is proud of it.
…merchant must concern himself with buying and selling, earning money and making a profit. This requires cunning, willingness to enter into disputes, cleverness, constant quarreling, and great persistence. These are things that belong to commerce. They are qualities detrimental to and destructive of virtuousness and manliness, because it is unavoidable that actions influence the soul. Good actions influence it toward goodness and virtue. Evil and deceitful actions influence it in the opposite sense…
…These influences differ according to the different types of merchants. Those who are of a very low type and associated closely with bad traders who cheat and defraud and perjure themselves, asserting and denying statements concerning transactions and prices, are much more strongly affected by these bad character qualities. Deceitfulness becomes their main characteristic. Manliness is completelyalien to them, beyond their power to acquire. At any rate, it is unavoidable that their cunning and their willingness to enter into disputes affects their manliness (adversely). The complete absence of (any adverse effect) is very rare among them.
The character qualities of merchants are inferior to those of noblemen and rulers. This is because merchants are mostly occupied with buying and selling. This necessarily requires cunning. If a merchant always practices cunning, it becomes his dominant character quality. The quality of cunning is remote from that of manliness which is the characteristic quality of rulers and noblemen. If the character of (the merchant) then adopts the bad qualities that follow from (cunning) in low-class merchants, such as quarrelsomeness, cheating, defrauding, as well as (the inclination to) commit perjury in rejecting and accepting statements concerning prices, his character can be expected to be one of the lowest sort, for well-known reasons. It is because of the character that one acquires through the practice of commerce that political leaders avoid engaging in it. There are some merchants who are not affected by those character qualities and who are able to avoid them, because they have noble souls and are magnanimous, but they are very rare in this world.
With this, I want to define Mr. Thiel as having the following characteristics:
(No wonder he wants to live forever!)
Greed Mr. Thiel…greed! Wish someone had taught you some virtue in your childhood
As these people have both the will and the resource to make life extension happen — once such technologies will actually happen — these people will be the ones who will live the longest or in the craziest scenario: they will be the one who will live forever. With people who are not greedy, cunning, clever, quarrelsome, etc. perishing.
It implies the world will be inherited by people with values such as the ones given above. (greed, cunningness, etc.)
So what about those who are not of those characteristics? I mean what about those of us who are not greedy, cunning, fraud, etc.?
But I have a more serious consideration:
Why do I care if Mr. Thiel and the likes live forever?
Why should I care?
Should I care?
If yes, how can I stop them? OR how can I help establish certain equity first?
You, born in a normal family with normal requirements in life and a normal worldview properly begin your social life with your school.
There you are immediately introduced to rules and regulations. If you break them, you are punished. Your punishments are so impactful to your psyche that — after a certain while — even a thought about breaking them makes you scared. Anxious. If you are thick-skinned enough to not get scared, you will end up a hooligan, a thug.
Likewise, if you follow those rules and regulations, you are rewarded. You are rewarded with claps and medals and praises. This makes you proud of yourself. Your pride is such that — after a while — the thought of gaining more of those claps and medals and praises gets you drooling. You are lured. You want more. You want to achieve more. Hear more. Claps, praises.
And so the same formula of rules and regulations drive you through college and university where — if you perceive you haven’t been up to the rule, you get anxious and at the moments when you think you will achieve or actually achieve some kind of success, you get excited…
And this way, you get into the job market, and you go through your life.
The formula (once again) is simple for you: follow the rules and be happy or break them and be miserable.
Now, if you are lucky (yes lucky!) or crazy you will question who the fk created that system of rules in the first place. Only if you are lucky or crazy! And you will start questioning a lot of things. The foundation of the system, the motive, the people invovled, etc. etc.
There you will be stunned at your first hypothesis of the division. Yes, there is a division!
On one end were you: a normal person with normal wants and circumstances and at the other end were those who made all those rules and regulations.
And then you will realize something that will feel like a slap: a slap vicious and lethal, embarrassing and humiliating than any teacher had ever given you:
What you did or did not was always ordained, controlled, fabricated!
Yes, your entire thoughts, desires and your bloody life was designed to make you exactly the way you ended up. You were never free, you were engineered! And it was never for you, you were just a tool…
And this is where you reach that realm: The Realm of Gods & Kings!
And then you will see them for the first time in a way you had never seen them. Yes, you had always heard of them, known them: but you had never understood them. Now, you understand them. Feel them.
They are the ones who drove you around like cattle. There you will see them and tremble at the sight. Tremble at your ignorance: they are the same kings, priests, philosophers, scholars and merchants that you were taught about. That you were preached about. Who were praised and venerated. Revered. Followed by thousands of you on Twitter!
Yes, you, you do think and talk to your buddies (same as you) about your big ideas — Where did this all come from, where might it be headed; what if life and what is existence; does god exist ; do aliens exist; democracy rules! — wear pendants and tikas, sit on your yogic postures chanting om, close your eyes and pray, sing, etc. but you do that with a vicious unconsciousness. Yes, you may talk and write about Plato, but you do it without a clue, without a sense. You are just a babbler, an unconscious machine. Going bla bla bla. Talking much but realizing nothing!
But guess what: they aren’t! They are your Gods and Kings!
You had once questioned god with your friends while smoking ganja on top of that hill, hadn’t you? Now, here you have it: Plato is your god, so is Buddha, Ashoka, Alexander and Napoleon! And so is Hawking. So are Jobs and Gates: Your gods and kings. For they set the rules. They watch you move. They decide your fate. They are in the realm of gods & kings, and you — you poor normal guy: aren’t! You are just normal. A normal tool. Nothing. You are dispensable. Manageable. Organizable. You, you normal person!
And then you think you are a democratic citizen of whatever your country. You talk of your vote, and your rights, and your activities.
Here’s to democracy:
Only when each and every human individual reaches the realm of gods & kings, will democracy even begin to be practical.
Dream on, Run from bombs and surveillance!
Follow on, Praise on!
As to education:
Well, they removed this secret from the curriculum a long-long time ago!
Philosophy’s task is to Understand and Guide Life and the World. That is what Real Philosophy is and should be.
Philosophy in general tends to get a bad rap in our times. Almost to the extent of getting bullied by the scientific community. In fact, philosophy has been getting it for a long-long time. Paraphrasing Kant, ‘she used to be the queen once, but not since long’, Understandably so!
After the advent of the scientific method and its apparent successes in the form of Copernicus’ model, Galileo’s observations and most importantly Newton’s calculations, philosophy in Europe quietly hung its head low and retreated to the back side of the scholarly ‘classroom’. Literally too, the success of science and its use to the states at around the 17th century along with the growing irrelevance of church and theological speculations meant philosophy had no place in what used to be the highest level of learning — which it used to share for a lot of years with theology. Understandably so!
Philosophy had no business meddling in things that were empirical in nature. Things of matter. It never had. The scientific method was destined for that. And once it arrived, philosophy had to retreat.
Yes, there have been philosophical roars and explosions now and then after the advent of the scientific age but they haven’t been intense enough, they haven’t been loud enough, they haven’t been impactful enough. Apart from: in the social, cultural and ‘life’ domains.
An example is Nietzsche. He was good and impactful because he didn’t speculate much on the nature of atoms, or the color of stars. Or even if he did, he wasn’t promoting it as loud as superman. He was a good thinker of human thoughts, nature, culture and understanding — the domains not accessible to science. That’s why he was good. He was doing real philosophy.
Real Philosophy for me then is philosophy in its truest sense: love of wisdom.
And wisdom is the ability and the state of mind where everything (notice the word everything) is taken as a whole and reasonable (notice the term reasonable) observations and conclusions are drawn from it. This is where philosophy is good. This is where philosophy is relevant and this is where philosophy is beautiful. The end goal of philosophy is life. That is: The Everything. Human Life. Animal Life. Machine Life. Whatever life. But Life. Not life in an organic sense but life in a subjective sense. And whenever philosophy focuses on life, it wins. It becomes relevant and it makes bloody sense.
Let’s take Plato. His works have multiple dimensions. He has talked about all sorts of things from Government to God to Education to Arts. I find Republic to be an extremely valuable and life changing piece of work, but Timaeus feels tedious, vague and nonsense. Whenever he talks about how people work or how society should operate; about the types of people present and about the use of art or war in human affairs: he is solid. He is there. Making sense. Changing thoughts and lives. Breaking shackles. Un-ignorable. Same is with the Allegory of the cave. We take something to be true, but what if it isn’t: this is the domain of skepticism, about our tendency to mistake things false as real — it’s about illusions and deceptions. It’s bloody good! False perceptions can have dire consequences in life. One human doesn’t need to experiment by jumping off a cliff to know that one cannot fly. It is common sense. It is pre-science. It is Real Philosophy. It is Plato. But when he starts talking about how the earth — which is our nurse, clinging around the pole which is extended through the universe — he comes un-believable and ignorable.
Similar is Schopenhauer. In his seminal work, The World as Will and Idea, look how bloody genius he is when he is talking about Arts and their use for us in life. And then compare that with his preoccupation with wanting to find the material and ideal source of it all — he goes astray and never becomes the genius thinker again. He seems like a mere copywriter of Upanishads and Buddhism.
Staying with those latter two, my experiences with them too have been similar. They are relevant and working as long as they are addressing life in general. About the misery. About the absurdity of desires, etc. But as soon as they venture into expressing how the universe may be working, how the earth may have come about — they look stupid.
Real Philosophy then is a subject that deals from the most general POV. With Wisdom. About life. Let science rant about The Big Bang Theory, the duty of philosophy is to check its relevance to our lives. Point out the theory’s absurdity for the mind, life and society. Laugh at science’s over-ambitions and faults. Be sarcastic if needed. Bring everything that is overrated back to size.
Real philosophy’s duty is not to compete with science. It’s is to guide and nurture science. An aging grandfather may not be able to outrun his granddaughter who is breaking records in local running competitions — and he shouldn’t try — because it’s not his job! His job is to tell her what she is doing right and what of hers is wrong and guide her appropriately. Tell her what over ambition will do to her life. Share experiences. Tell her what in life is of value at the end of it all. Show her the meaning of race in the context of her life. That’s the role of real philosophy and its presence for humans is eternal. Unlike the analogical human grandfather however, philosophy will only die with humanity and will only get wiser the as humanity ages.
For instance, let Neuroscience or psychology — the scientific embodiments of age old philosophical question of mind-body — do their work. See where they lead. Patiently. If they stumble upon a problem that is not empirical in nature but is epistemological, tell what may have been wrong in the approach. Guide those sciences. Don’t go around forming new speculations about what mind may be. Don’t go around promoting simulation theories. Those will lead nowhere. Science is philosophy’s child, there is no need to be competitive. Without philosophy, science wouldn’t have been born, without philosophy humans might not be around for long! That’s enough of pride for real philosophy!
As humans sit on their rockets and fly above, pump their data into their computers and a new being create, take more and more control of earth and its surrounding: many-many challenges await. Numerous problems will this race and other creatures face. If you leave it all to science, the chances are: either everything will be mechanical or dead. This is where real philosophy shall step in. To keep the real human engine running, to keep things alive. To think about and better life. It should show the significance of various things to people and all beings capable of seeing. It should teach to be critical, skeptic. It should explain the value of everything. It should be able to talk about the impact of learning and knowledge. Importance of virtue. Context of greed, lust and everything of the likes. About the good and the bad.
It is something no university can/should teach. Because it’s no business of organizations driven by various motives to be teaching life to people! Whenever they have tried, they have failed. Let them create their workforce for states and corporations. Real philosophy should be kept away from all these temporary structures. Its work is to contextualize and guide all thoughts and actions.
It is real and it has always come out of real thinkers. Call it Real Philosophy, Philosophy OR Thinking: the choice is yours.
A quick glance of known/believed human history will reveal to us one constant: Learning is essential. Vital. Crucial!
Learning in the sense of:
the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.
But another quick glance will reveal to us one more constant: learning has never been much popular among the masses. Yes, the populace has gathered a fact here, a fact there, and have been informed, but that cannot be said to be learning. Similarly, learning has had to face obstacles from many sources.
Yet, humans have been — time and again — able to learn and generate new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences with the load of all those people carried by a selected few in all time and place. Those carriers are the people of learning. Therefore, the value of learning and people of learning is constant.
We might never know the individual(s) who first came up with the understanding of the process of bipedal walking, fire production, stone tools manufacturing; language, art— yet looking at trends of how men have learned in recorded history, we can safely assume that there was someone somewhere who first converted an event of natural occurrence into a method. Who first converted phenomenon to knowledge. Crisis into solution. Despair into fascination. Those who did all these were people of learning.
It is those people of learning who first had the idea of viewing natural items as gods. Irrespective of civilization, this has been common. We might look upon that as weakness today, but for that time and place, this was learning: understanding, knowing, the world. You can’t call them weak. If that view didn’t happen, then who knows what would have happened! They had a way to turn fear into some kind of control. Those people of learning!
Similarly, it was peoples of learning who first had the idea of organizing pre-civilizations scattered societies into an order — once the number of folks increased. This too has been a constant in multiple civilizations. You might call it natural, I call it the doing of peoples of learning. Remove them from the equation, and we might not have been sitting here writing and reading on Medium.
And likewise, the peoples of learning came up with centralized power, religious rites, aesthetic buildings, laws, etc. And it was the same people who with their learning came up with the idea of things as diverse as citizenship, republic, and reason.
Indeed the rest is history. History made and interpreted by peoples of learning.
Without the people of learning, there might have been no history. You might say, there might have been a better history, but how? showme!
Irrespective of the moods of the temples, states, monarchs, councils, universities…People of learning have stood and shined.
Here today and heading to the future, uncertainties abound. Anxiety, paranoia, and stupidity reign supreme. That’s just the way we perceive natural things. But of course, here we are people of learning. Let’s understand and DECIDE where things shall go. Where we shall go. These kinds of shaping’s have always been the task of peoples of learning. Now it’s the time for current peoples of learning.
Let’s decide the fate of us all — our mind, life, earth, and everything else. If we won’t, then who will? — — Machines of Learning?
While thinking about the ongoing war in Eastern Europe and its consequences, my thought went to the businesses that are being adversely affected – along with lives in both Russia and Ukraine, with both suffering from their respective problems. How many dreams paused, threatened; how many goals destroyed; how many ideas shattered!
I am just trying to focus on business here.
One can understand how much is at stake in the execution of one. Particularly in modern times of uncertainty in everything. The risk, the hope, the plan, etc. Of course, life has more at stake – which once gone cannot be re-attained – yet business is where my thoughts are as of now. Those that are not operational due to the lack of peace. Those that have been affected by war. What would those businesses be wanting ideologically? Would they be concerned about the realpolitik? What would they support?
This took me to Ancient India, through a book called India: An Ancient Past… written by Burjor Avari.
In ancient India, after the rise of Buddhism, there were multiple instances where Buddhism as a religion was patronized, protected or supported by merchants or rulers. Especially the former.
First, it was during the Pre-Mauryan age, when Buddhist along with Jain monasteries were built which were enthusiastically received by kings, merchants and ordinary people. After that, during the time of the Satavahanas of the Deccan, there were numerous cave sites in NW Maharashtra, which housed Buddhists. There too evidence has been found of religious charities and endowments by merchants. People belonging to other professions and crafts were involved as well. And then there were other monasteries over the Satavahana Deccan, which too were established with endowments from the Andra merchants, who the writer says, ‘were some of the greatest donors.’
During the period in the history of India when the Kushans were dominant, there seemed to have been some kind of alliance between Indian merchants and Buddhist missionaries. At various places, merchants establishing their colonies and missionaries their monasteries went in parallel. The site of Ajanta caves is said to have stood in a strategic point at the merchants’ routes. Here too Buddhist monks and monasteries were richly supported by that merchant class.
Despite some mundane differences, the things in common between those ancient Indian merchants and the modern entrepreneurs are that they both work for profit, are involved in commerce and sell their goods/services. In this way, they both can be put under the umbrella term ‘business class.’
Buddhism as a philosophy – at its root – is one that talks about detachment and salvation from desires. The whole concept then builds towards disinvolvement, simplicity, knowledge, awakening – eventually culminating in nibbana. While at a first glance, this seems to be absolutely opposite to the motives of the business class, and one might ask why on earth would they be protecting and promoting such idea, anyone who knows anything about this philosophy knows that Buddhism isn’t the type of thought that reasons towards fight, ambition and war. Making it a socially passive philosophy too. An example of this is King Ashoka who, disgusted with his actions at Kalinga, adopted peaceful doctrines of Buddhism and went around building pillars and promoting the religion. He even deemed his further conquests religious.
It is quite apparent why certain groups of people in society who wouldn’t want war would want to promote and protect this philosophy of peace. Irrespective of their faith and ideology. And among them would surely be merchants and entrepreneurs – unless dealing with weapons, unless involved in a business untouched by war, or extremely opportunist. Which is a vast majority!
Before talking about attention crisis, let me share a small story:
Forget quietly being around nature, I am preoccupied with my own thoughts so much that I am now unable to quietly sleep even in the comfort of my bed.
Observing the dynamics of clouds and stars are the things of past now, I can’t even observe the movements of sparrows and pigeons that dwell right in front of my eyes.
But this morning, it all changed as I walked around my room with a cup of tea in hand and stared out of the window. It’s not that I rarely stare out of windows. In fact, I do so a lot. But I hardly see anything outside. It’s always about my own murky reflection of myself. Once again, due to self preoccupation! I temporarily spot houses, their owners, the birds, the street, before going back to the self reflection.
This morning though — after a long long time — my eyes halted at pigeons and sparrows fidgeting around at the roof of my neighbor. And then I started to curiously observe and enjoy their activities. All of a sudden the mirror shattered as I felt a connection with those birds, and my anxieties vanished: allowing the elusive joy to grace me. And then I looked around, and noticed a crow. And then I started wondering what bird-politics might be going around among those three species. I also noticed the bleak morning moon in the western sky.
Observing such I reached to a conclusion:
The ability to understand things in real time is more important than the ability to know facts.
I was lost in these sights and observations, when the mirror came back and THERE: I was back inside my own head!
Obsessive thoughts are gradual, I have noticed. If you have been constantly obsessing over say, your fame-magnitude — and one day you are involved in a recreational activity like swimming managing to be away from those thoughts for a while — when the obsession returns (the fame problems) it won’t appear in extreme. It occurs gradually.
First, they will bring the most common factors between swimming and fame and then gradually they will take you to a point where swimming will seem a futile pursuit unless you take your phone out, take a self photo and upload it with proper tags in your social media. If you can’t do that, the act of swimming will get chaotic.
Similarly, in my case, as I enjoyed the observation, the entry-thought was: You can’t attain this feeling through philosophy. Hence, the latter is sucking the life out of you. It merely talks about abstract things that have no significance in real life. Drop it now!
But thankfully and luckily an argument came up:
It is not the task of philosophy to generate these feelings. You don’t do philosophy for that. You do it to be capable enough to achieve these feelings.
As I sit here with my laptop staring at this white canvas that tells me to write my story, I wonder who I might be writing it for. I wonder who would care about these ‘stories’ — which are in fact nothing but doubts, excitements, half-formed/uninformed ideas, opinions, perspectives and reveries. Yet, I believe such writing has the potential to do a lot if only a lot of people read seriously! I have even derived a quote: Writing is a small attempt with a huge potential consequence.
People who think a lot should write a lot. People who can’t think a lot should read a lot.
Some writer’s books feel like an ocean while some writer’s books feel like a muddy street.
Billionaires going on space trips and ordinary minds becoming writers is like wearing a woolen jacket on a hot summers day: They will only make things worse!
What I have noticed is, the more you write the better your typing gets. I do not know what importance it has on whatever I will end up writing today but I thought it would be a fun thing to share.
If you are like me who doesn’t have a dedicated list of things to write, then at times you must also feel there’s nothing special to write. What do you do then? Yet a feeling inside you pushes you to write, doesn’t it? It is like an addiction. But let’s be good on ourselves and call it a habit. Yet, that feeling is nothing but — the reasons why you write telling you why you should now be writing.
I started this by focusing on what Medium puts in its header: Title and Tell your story…I think it was a good start.
Yesterday I visited a book store and I saw a book written by a person who has participated in mediocre art-works throughout his life. His book was a Self-Improvement book and he was supposedly instructing others on how to live a quality life. IRONY!
If there’s anything in my life that resembles the cat and mouse situation it is me trying to interpret and understand what is causing my anxiety.
Apparently writing during a block is a lot like getting out of bed in winter mornings. Initially, you start imagining you won’t be able to get on with it. But once you decide to do it, you will always find a way around it.
People who have the habit of questioning whether their pursuits are substantial or not are both lucky and unlucky. Unlucky because they can no longer be children-like. Lucky because they can no longer be children-like.
As a writer, you can bend the Universe in whatever way you want. But for that you need strong shoulders. (Thanks Nietzsche!)
Let’s say, it’s 2070 and Humans have settled on Mars or some other planet. What did you imagine them doing there? — — I imagined them quarreling over some piece of land.
My dog is a local Nepali guy. What I realized today is — if I look at him without his name and all other cultural associations I have with him — he is a raw and wild animal living in a manmade world of language and technology.
Sometimes I utter the word Humans and enter a trance.
We humans, in this Cosmos is: a weird situation.Living to figure this riddle out is equally important to Living to make the world better, if not more!
You want to see the power of ideas? — — Imagine a cold dark pessimistic philosophy ruling over everyone’s thoughts!
Without entertainment and art, we would feel cold.
What is Art? — — Art is to humans what humans are to the Universe: Not practically necessary, but you haven’t been able to be without it either.
It is not AI vs Humans. It is Avaricious-Humans (AH) vs Humans.
Don’t be afraid of other people, ever.
These are some random thoughts I wrote when I had nothing specific to write. What do you write when you have nothing to write yet want to write?
Wisdom is difficult to acquire. You have got to be patient and must continue to learn and persevere.
Once there lived a king who loved to hunt. While on one such expedition, he reached deep into a forest. The forest was nothing special in that the king had hunted in its fringes numerous times. He hadn’t reached so deep, however.
When he reached to one particular area, he was suddenly filled with great calmness and peace. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced. While he was a spiritual person, he had done nothing special to make him feel that way. So he realized it was not his own doing but of something special that lurked there.
He looked around until he discovered a small hut. He went inside and there he saw an old man who didn’t seem to be bothered with the arrival of the king. He stayed calm and smiled. The king was impressed. He knew why that place had such a vibe. He decided to leave everything he had and stay with that old man to learn the wisdom of calmness and peace.
He came back after a few days to live as a pupil of that old man. However, the king didn’t find life there as convenient and easy as he had thought it would be. The old man never spoke a word apart from commanding the king to do certain works. This way he didn’t let the king sit idly even for a moment. Worst of all, the old man never lectured nor taught anything. The king didn’t dare to make queries.
In a few days, the king found it intolerable. It was worse than his royal duties. He couldn’t take it anymore. So one day he amassed courage and went to the old man and asked –
‘Why don’t you teach me the secrets to wisdom?’
‘You are not ready yet,’ the old man replied.
The King quietly went about his tasks.
After a few days, the king asked again. But the old man replied that same –
‘You are not ready.’
And this continued until the king lost patience. One day while he was out on the spring to fetch water, he decided to walk away. Not had he walked a few steps, he heard a voice say –
‘Oh, look the king is running away from his duties.’
The king was surprised to hear this. He looked around but saw no one. Assuming it to be his illusion he continued to walk.
‘You are running away! The mighty king is fleeing,’ the voice said again
The king was now convinced that it was not his illusion. He looked around carefully and guessed it must have been coming from the pot. He went near and monitored the pot.
‘Where are you going?’ the pot asked.
The king was startled. He had seen nothing like this before. He looked around once again wondering if anyone played tricks on him.
‘Don’t be surprised. It’s me, the pot. Answer my question – Where are you going?’
The king nervously replied –
‘Back to my kingdom.’
‘I came here hoping to learn wisdom on how to be calm and peaceful from the old man. But he keeps telling me I am not ready. I no longer think he is special. Even the little calmness and peace I had is gone now. There’s no point,’ the king said.
‘To learn even a small thing is difficult my friend. Much more difficult than to rule, you may have observed. You may suffer your entire life yet learn nothing. Look at me as an example, I have suffered much but have remained ignorant.’
‘Really? Can you tell me more about yourself? How can you speak? Why didn’t you speak before?’ the king asked. He now seemed interested.
‘It’s a long story,’ replied the pot. ‘Once a man came up to me with his spade and dug me out of my home. He then took me to his house and poured a lot of dirty water on me. He kneaded me into a dough. Oh, how much I suffered then!
‘But that was not it. He then took me to a shed and made small balls of my parts and placed me on a potter’s wheel until I got lightheaded. When he finally took me out of it, I thought the suffering was over. But far from it. He bear me with a wooden mallet and put me in a burning furnace. He then took me to a shop and left me there. Just like that!
‘There were many like me in that shop. I looked at them and realized that all of them had gone through the same suffering and agony like me. So that gave me some solace. I realized that I was not alone in this suffering. That’s when I was full of pity for other pots too.
‘But tell you what – that was not the end of my suffering. People came and thumped me to see if there was anything wrong with me. I was surprised that an intelligent creature like man would be so indifferent to the suffering of others. I began abhorring humans. After a few days of thumps and lumps, a fellow came and bought me. He then gave me to the old man. Thankfully, I haven’t suffered since then. The old man takes good care of me.
‘You have to understand this, oh mighty king. Wisdom is difficult to acquire. You have got to be patient and must continue to think, learn and persevere. Do not despair and return to your life of power and glory. They are nothing compared to wisdom. In fact, kingship is easy. You have people to do the smallest of things for you. On top of that, you won’t get the chance to contemplate and improve. Such is the grip of power. I have seen you desire and try. I think you have a chance. Very few people get this chance. Count for yourself how many kings there are in this world and how many wise people. I don’t think you will find it difficult to see that there aren’t much around with wisdom. Don’t let go of this opportunity that very few get.’
The pot said and sighed.
The king carefully lifted the pot, filled it with water, and took it back to the hut.
The pot hasn’t spoken nor has the king returned to his palace ever since.
The other day the debate was around the same question:
What is the difference between knowing something and applying that knowledge in life?
After a friend of mine said what he always did —
‘I know all this. The problem is that these things cannot be applied to life.’
I get hit hard every time these things come up. It makes me wonder if all philosophical and literary pursuits are indeed vague and unimportant. I wonder if they are mere luxuries of impractical and privileged people: Fanciful playthings for people who cannot get along with reality.
But I had to answer my friend. Ihad to answer him because for most of the time, I see the importance. On top of that, I had to answer him to prove to myself that I was capable of interpreting almost any thought in words. But more importantly, the solution was lurking not too deep inside my consciousness. I had to bring it out.
‘Thoughts drift. Thoughts are not under our control easily. Applying something you know is just about successfully leashing certain thoughts. After that, it is about maneuvering them in any direction you want!’ I said.
I was relieved. The friend remained silent. Awkwardness reigned for a few minutes.
Read Duration: 2–3days (It is short but requires attention.)
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Sub-Genre: Philosophy. Cosmology. Spirituality.
Opening sentence:To the few who love me and whom I love, to those who feel rather than think, to the dreamers and those who put their faith in dreams as in the only realities, I offer this book of truths, not in its character of truth-teller, but for the beauty that abounds in its truth, constituting it true.(Preface)
Top 10 Highlights:
‘Now I do not quarrel with these ancients’,continues the letter-writer, ‘so much on account of the transparent frivolity of their logic — which, to be plain, was baseless, worthless, and fantastic altogether — as on account of their pompous and infatuate proscription of all other roads to Truth than the two narrow and crooked paths, the one of creeping and the other of crawling, to which, in their ignorant perversity, they have dared to confine the soul — the soul which loves nothing so well as to soar in those regions of illimitable intuition which are utterly incognisant of “path”.
‘Kepler admitted that these laws he guessed — these laws whose investigation disclosed to the greatest British astronomers that principle, the basis of all (existing) physical principles, in going behind which we enter at once the nebulous kingdom of metaphysics. Yes! These vital laws Kepler guessed, that is to say, he imagined them…’
‘In concluding this letter, let me have the real pleasure of transcribing them once again: “I care not whether my work be read now or by posterity. I can afford to wait a century for readers when God himself has waited six thousand years for an observer. I triumph. I have stolen the golden secret of the Egyptians. I will indulge my sacred fury.”’
A diffusion from unity, under the conditions, involves the tendency to return into unity — a tendency ineradicable until satisfied.
Discarding now the two equivocal terms, ‘gravitation’ and ‘electricity’, let us adopt the more definite expressions, ‘attraction’ and ‘repulsion’. The former is the body, the latter the soul; the one is the material, the other the spiritual principle of the universe. No other principles exist.
…the tendency to the general centre is not to a centre as such, but because of its being a point in tending towards which each atom tends more directly to its real and essential centre, unity — the absolute and final union of all.
The wonderfully complex laws of revolution here described, however, are not to be understood as obtaining in our system alone. They prevail everywhere where attraction prevails. They control the universe of stars.
And that all around them (circular masses of nebulae), on every side, there are volumes of stars, stretching out apparently as if they were rushing towards a great central mass in consequence of the action of some great power.
With a perfectly legitimate reciprocity, we are now permitted to look at matter as created solely for the sake of this influence — solely to serve the objects of this spiritual ether.
Existence — self-existence — existence from all time and to all eternity, seems, up to the epoch of manhood, a normal and unquestionable condition. Seems, because it is. But now comes the period at which a conventional world-reason awakes us from the truth of our dream.
Poe searches for the sweetest-spot of Wisdom to look into philosophical questions and he almost does it!
We look at others and think they have it all. We wish we did what they did. But, what we forget is: There is a reason why we are the way we are! It’s for us to figure out what we really are.
Once there lived a chameleon who could not just change his color, he was a shapeshifter. He could turn into any creature he desired – however he desired – whenever he desired. But the issue with him was, he didn’t know what to become!
One day while roaming around in confusion, he reached a shed where a milker was milking a buffalo. As he watched the scene wondering what kind of life was best, a drop of milk entered his mouth. He loved the taste! And then he thought to himself – This is so good! If a drop tastes like this, imagine what a hundred drops might taste like! How lucky must this buffalo’s calf be! I think I should be a calf.
And then he had his first transformation – he turned into a newly born calf and sat near a buffalo who had just given birth. The next day, the owner of the shed saw this and was glad that one of his buffalos had given birth to a twin. He happily accepted it.
But life as a calf was not as wonderful as the chameleon had imagined. The milker hardly left any milk for him. All he got to drink was a few drops left behind in the udder. He starved badly.
Then one day he thought – This is not good! Life of a calf is miserable. I think I should become a milker. He is the one who takes all the milk.
And so he did. He transformed himself into the same milker, tied and shut the original at a corner of the shed and took his place.
But life as a milker too was not as wonderful as he had imagined. He had to work tremendously hard – day and night without getting to drink even a drop of milk. It was then that he realized that the milker doesn’t get to drink anything. Everything went to the owner.
Then he decided to transform into the owner of the shed. He transformed and untied the milker. He locked the original owner in the storeroom of his own house and started taking care of business. But hardly a day had passed and he began freaking out. He had to take care of the house, manage workers and other people, listen to harsh words from others, manage loans and credit – And all this gave him no rest. All he did was worry day and night. There was nothing else. Only a constant fear, threat and thoughts of profit!
While he got to drink the milk, the miserable thoughts he had to deal with made the milk irrelevant and tasteless. It was no different from the water he drank as a chameleon – just some liquid entering into his body. He ceased wanting to drink milk after a couple of days.
This is not fun. Not fun at all, he thought one night.
He immediately went downstairs, freed the original owner, turned into a chameleon and ran off the house. He didn’t transform into anything else ever again.
Before talking in detail about bad thoughts, let me give some context.
A terrible nightmare woke me up at 3 AM this morning. After that, I went into a 30 minutes or so of ridiculous post-dream analysis.
I felt terrible. Weak. The dream and its thoughts were miserable!
I restrain myself from using the lessons from Vedic and Buddhist spirituality I once learnt. I dumped them after practicing for a lot of years, because I felt they were limiting my world-view and perspectives.
But this morning I the petty thoughts were intolerable. The more I argued with myself, the more I suffered.
So, after a long gap, I took out that spiritual-weapon. Focusing, drowning and losing myself on a feeling of nothingness!
It helped me fall asleep.
But that episode is still haunting me right now. Like a wound it persists. I don’t know what to do with it. It is injuring and damaging.
I have decided to write about them here to see what happens!
Thoughts are the ultimate entities of this human existence of ours. I have elsewhere tried to justify this statement. Thoughts play a crucial role in our knowing.
True and False are also essential to us.
If I am hiking in the woods and a thought suddenly says — A tiger is approaching, my immediate reaction will be to be alert and then look around. I do this because I want a proof of that thought. If I don’t find any, I relax a tad and walk on. This is because I haven’t found any justified truth to what the thought told me.
But still why my thought may have told me that is a question that won’t let me relax completely. If I can relax a bit, it’s only because I found a certain false in the thought statement.
However, if I notice birds flying or other animals making hasteful noise when I look around, I have found some evidence to support that thought, which increases my heartbeat, gets me sweating and emotionally injures me after which I start to figure out mechanisms of defence. This is because I found a certain truth in the thought.
But the differentiation between true and false is not an easy task as thoughts in themselves do not provide us with any distinction. Thoughts in isolation can be either. False thoughts can be judged as being true and vice-versa. As happened to me this morning, I panicked because I took the thoughts as being true which may or may not have been the case.
This is where a faculty in us called thinking is to be used for — locating evidence.
the facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true
In the case of the tiger in the woods, I searched for facts, signs or objects that had to prove to me that the tiger was there. In the case where I did not find any, I relaxed and moved on, whereas when I found some, I panicked and began thinking self-defence.
But figuring out the evidence wasn’t so easy this morning. For one, the dream and the subsequent thoughts told me things that were detrimental which was followed by imaginative ‘evidence’ which then emotionally injured me.
Unlike the tiger-case, I had no way of identifying facts, signs or objects as the thoughts were not about my immediate physical environment. They were about my self-worth and poor-decisions.
I then tried to argue with the evidence it provided by searching for counter-evidences which were again countered…
Now, how do I correctly gather evidence to judge the true or false thoughts that are about things as subjective as self-worth and decisions?
In other words, How do I deal with injurious subjective thoughts?
If my thoughts tell me that I am worthless, justified by an immediate evidence of me not earning money currently, which then injures me; how do I deal with them?
The path I chose was of ignoring — focusing, drowning and losing myself on a feeling of nothingness!
Is that it? The best solution? Is it healthy?
My purpose behind writing this was to just interpret whatever had happened this morning with me. As I have been writing, I have been noticing how absurd but effective the spiritual method is. While it would have been a stupid act in the woods, it does seem to be a worthwhile act in the safety of bed. That is, in the domains of subjective thoughts.
But in the long-term it seems hazardous. Since it is like tucking away an object of discomfort, I think it won’t stop thoughts from haunting you after a certain period. As I said in the beginning, while I did manage to fall asleep, the wound hasn’t left me.
A long-term approach such as that is sure to keep one away from addressing the issues at hand turning one’s life into one with ignorance. It was one of the reasons I had stopped using their teachings altogether because I thought they were limiting my world-view and perspectives.
So what is the solution?
I think I have found a few:
(Please remember that I am only talking about injurious thoughts related to Self-Worth and Decisions)
Irrespective of the situation and threat, the only thing we can do that will not have any repercussions in both short and long-term and will only help us in dealing with the injury better is to be strong. Come what may I will deal with it could be the best thing to remind yourself during a crisis.
While seeking evidence may not be as easy as in the immediate and physical scenarios, I think we should try to look for real-life proof of the doubts we are having. Trying to answer questions such as — What is the basis of the thoughts I am having? How can I prove it? What may have triggered it? can prove to be helpful as they take us away from the injury into the lands of scrutiny, where we have control (somewhat). This questioning I believe is the apt method to judge the true or false thoughts that are about things as subjective as self-worth and decisions
Remind yourself of deeds done:
This is where every deed ever done comes into play. Reminding ourselves of each act of success achieved, however trivial, can prove to be very useful. Maybe it is a game won, a road travelled, an adventure, an obstacle that had been overcome!
For me the purpose behind writing this was to — firstly, interpret what had happened to me earlier and then to hopefully heal myself through it.
I think I have successfully managed to do it (for now).
Writing for me is very important for many reasons. I am feeling the beauty and reality of one of those right now.
I asked myself about the future of thinking after I noticed how alert I was getting using my phone, laptop and TV.
I tried to understand the alertness and discovered that there was a voice inside my head that constantly reminded me that whatever I do in those devices is being surveilled,monitored and analyzed.
What is happening now is that this alertness is getting contagious. The hangover from device-usage is getting into my head. I am getting alert while Ithink, see or talk sensitive stuff in the same manner.
As if my thoughts and views are being surveilled, monitored and analyzed.
Is this what will happen to our thoughts in the future?
I have often found myself in the middle of philosophical arguments fuming with anger, full of anxiety. Speaking or typing at the speed of light what my fast-beating heart and an inflating ego demand of me.
While my intention behind discussing ‘deep’ things with others is almost always to share and hear things about I have been reading, thinking or writing, I haven’t been able to stop myself from getting petty to the point of attempting to humiliate the other person with all kinds of insults to his/her intellectual capacities.
Thisgot me questioning:
How can I handle such philosophical arguments better?
There are a couple of things I am clear about:
I *want* to have such discussions
I *don’t want* to win the arguments. I just want to learn a thing or two, boast a bit and have a good time at the end of it all!
So, how can I stop such philosophical arguments from getting petty?
How can I handle such arguments better?
The first thing is to see what goes on during such arguments by trying to identify some significant factors at work.
We have to remember that Man – being an intellectually advanced (relatively) animal – is very sensitive towards its intellectual abilities.
No normal or dignified human being would ever want to be told that his/her cognitive abilities are of a low-grade. It would be like challenging a python on its strangulation abilities by strangulating it. The python would obviously want to prove you wrong.
I think this factor is at work our petty philosophical arguments.
The dignity factor
What I noticed was, most of us arguers believe that the ability to philosophize is the highest kind of intellectual ability. It’s just the way our culture is set up.
But it is justifiable because the ability to philosophize implies the ability to use our brains for something other than trifles. Everyone can trifle! Something other than practicality. Everyone can be practical! To dwell in the domains of abstractions and values. Now, not everyone can do that is what we believe! The same reason we value science, mathematics and engineering too. Apart from the money.
I think this is why no one wants to lose such arguments. As it would imply intellectual loss. Defeat.
From this angle, it seems as if philosophical arguments are the best test of cognitive abilities.
At this point we can wonder why it has never become a popular sport or a reality show. There is so much at stake!
The other factor I found was Cultural/Identity Sensitivity.
Philosophical arguments touch on areas that form the basis of any culture and identity. Religion, Ethnicity, Nationalism, all these have subjective worldview at their bases. Philosophical arguments are merely debates at core: The nature of reality, Creator, Rights and Wrongs, Why x is better than y, etc.
These are substantial stuff. No wonder people get agitated! Some even kill others for their views…This is a dangerous territory!
The other factor is emotional sensitivity.
If Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra has helped me get over severe nervousness and anxiety, then I certainly would be emotionally offended if anyone calls it merely a reverie of a madman.
These are the factors I have discovered as of now. I will update if I find more.
Now, what about the answers to these questions:
How can I stop the arguments from getting petty?
How can I handle such arguments better?
The best solution is to stop participating in such arguments altogether.
But as I mentioned above, I do not want to do that.
So, in order to stop it from getting petty to the point of anger and harassment, I should remember that the person in the argument who remains calm the longest has a better intellectual ability. This is self-explanatory.
Of all abilities, I believe that controlling and directing thoughts, desires and feelings are the most difficult. If I manage to remain calm throughout, then I believe my ego will be silenced.
At the same time, I should remember that I always have the option of walking out of such arguments or not participating at all. If I am having an argument it means I have voluntarily participated in it. Therefore, I should be able to reasonably listen to others and calmly defend my opinions and learnings. Even if it concerns me culturally and emotionally. If I can do that, my ego again will surely keep quiet.
Because They Are Travels: Into a Different Space, Time and Identity.
If I am to recall the moments from my childhood when I have felt the strongest in a joyful way Absorbing Stories would surely occupy a lot of headspace!
The stories I read of Sindbad, Gulliver, Panchatantra, or the Arabian Nights gave me some of the most intense and wonderful feelings. I immersed myself in the character, time and the environment of the story with a sense of both nervousness and excitement. The warm feeling inside my chest boiled and tried to explode from the limitations of my physical body. It’s inability to do so being the only thing to remind me that my existence belonged here in this world in this country called Nepal and in this family called…
There were sports, TV cartoons and movies. While I didn’t find them as immersive as reading, they were deeply influential. I played a few video games but wasn’t too fond of them.
I wasn’t a social guy and I do not have fond memories with friends. Yes, there are moments with family that are special but let’s not talk about it here. What I want to discuss here is stories.
The moments I have spent absorbing fictional narratives or creating my own — strolling around my room and the house — are deeply special.
As time has passed, I have tried to understand why stories did to me what they did. I have tried to understand the feeling that arises when I am about to dive into one. The understanding process hasn’t been easy. But what I have come to realize lately is — this is a special subject for not just me but for a lot of people.
There are a lot of theories and a lot of interpretations. I don’t want to get into all that too. What I want to do, however, is share how I currently interpret the feeling generated both from the stories and the nature of stories. This interpretation is neither academic nor professional. It is about the reasons they make you feel that way and is simple:
Stories are a type of travel.
Yes, Stories are a form of travel. A psychological, spiritual, philosophical travel. This is what makes it special.
Not getting into the practical implications, I see three different types of travels we participate in during our immersing in the stories:
These three factors are together responsible for creating that feeling.
Different Space: Through stories, we travel into different places. Our mind seems to forget that the body it is in is actually in a cozy space — consuming a narrative. This frees us from the burdens of our current space. (Maybe we are freeloading!)
Different Time: Same as the above, through stories we also travel into a different time. This frees us from the burdens of the current time and age. (Maybe we have an installment to clear tomorrow!)
Different Personality: Perhaps the most important characteristic responsible for the joy stories produce — through stories we travel to a different personality. We forget our self-identity and become the character we relate to. We forget our national, cultural, religious, age identity as our mind relates to something else. This frees us from the bondages, headaches— anxieties of our present self. This relaxes us. (Maybe we do not like our present self, situation and society!)
This escape from the identity shackle is what most spirituality is about too!
But I have a question:
Does a person who absolutely loves his/her place, time and personality feel this way with stories too?
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It is in situations such as these, that we take ourselves too seriously, forgetting that we are smart only because we think so.
The point I am trying to get across is that:
No matter how smart we think we are, we all are indeed fools.
Our reverence towards our own fellow humans proves this.
Time and time again, we have been deceived, troubled and subjugated by the very person or the system we hold great reverence towards. Be it the emperors, the religious gurus, democratic leaders, the corporate visionaries, whoever. We have all been constantly well-deceived by those we revere.
Yet, we don’t learn!
Here we are today creating, gossiping, promoting and worshipping modern tyrants (dressed as merchants) only to create more tomorrow.
We humans never learn, do we?
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I had developed a desire-management formula. I have been implementing it for more than a couple of years now. The reason for sharing?
It has proved to be very effective.
Now that I have fully committed myself to a life as a writer, there are a few elements which I think are essential to such a lifestyle.
This desire management is simply an allocation of those elements to the wants and needs embedded in almost all of us.
I had been very random and all-over-the-place with my thoughts, desires, time, work and life management. This particular formula has helped me get a little bit more organized. It may be of help for others as well, irrespective of the profession.
I hereby publicize this formula as The ABCD formula as it contains the (fundamentals) ABCDs of my existence and life.
ABCD = A, B, C and D desires. All four are distinct sets of various sub-desires. Those which are common with each other are organized in the same set. This way, each set is a whole desire or as I like to call it — the wills. Each will is named according to the most generic term that applies to all sub-desires.
Let’s dive into the desire management formula.
It stands for Ability.
Ability is the state of being able to do something. It is about skill, talent and capability. It is the absolute means, the foundation without which none of my other wills or sub-desires can be fulfilled.
My desires in terms of the abilities I want/need are as follows:
Ability to Think
Ability to Learn and Understand
Ability to pursue freedom
Ability to love
Ability to experience
Ability to enjoy
Ability for aesthetics
Ability to earn and survive
Ability to be strong
Ability of Wisdom
Thinking, learning, freedom, love, enjoyment, aesthetics, earning and surviving are my sub-desires. All these are grouped in the ‘A’ set.
With the A set, my purpose is — to remind myself that in order to look far, I need a good telescope.
It’s all about maintaining, polishing, updating and upgrading my abilities to do things. It’s about sharpening the tool, so to speak. It’s about the tool. It’s about the lenses and the vehicles.
It stands for Being.
Being is about existing in a certain way with certain values and ideals. It is about personal ethics and feelings. It incorporates everything I am, want-to-be and will-to-be as a free-being, human-being, son, father, etc. etc.
My desires in terms of the being are as follows:
Life and World Experiences (including Travels)
I want to be as greedless as possible. At the same time I want to ensure I am not petty. I want love, freedom, strength, free-thinking, experiences, travels, aesthetics and joys in life. All these are grouped into the ‘B’ set.
With the B set, my purpose is — to remind myself of things that really make me who I am. My real purpose in life. My being. My essence.
It’s all about being who I am with this. I have settled on these sub-desires after years of hard work. My work with the B set is to ensure I don’t ‘sell-out’ (Whatever that may mean!)
It stands for Seeing. But is written C. Hence, C is an apt alphabet. Plus, it makes it easier as it perfectly fits well into the ABCD system which makes it easier for me to remember whatever I am trying to. I hereby use the term C-ing for seeing.
C-ing is about learning, knowing and understanding various subjects and elements of my life and of this existence of ours.
I had earlier mentioned about my life as a writer. My desire to — learn throughout my life was one of the things responsible for this choice. Now, it is also a necessity to sustain that choice. If I want to continue being a writer, I have to try to learn all the things all the time.
All the subjects I find interesting, relevant and important are covered under the C will or the C set which contains 3 distinct subsets.
My desires in terms of the knowledges of things I want/need are organized as follows:
All three are acronyms.
HG-HE-STEP includes knowledge of things that are somewhat social or humanitarian in nature.
E: Experiences (of People)
sPa includes knowledges of and via three tools of knowledge acquisition:
This sub-set includes looking at the previous subset through all three lenses (for instance, looking at technology from a scientific lens as well as from a philosophical one) along with studying the fields themselves and their interconnections.
For example, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Arts, Art of Science, Scientific Art, etc. etc.
POLE™ is all about my subjective, intuitive understanding and conclusions of everything possible.
™: Thought Management
Alternatively, I also use: EEEGSSTTPP
which stands for: Existential, Experiential, Economic, Geographic, Scientific, Social, Technological, Temporal, Political and Philosophical knowledge.
But it is difficult to memorize. C-subsets are much more convenient.
With the C set, my purpose is — to remind myself of things I want to and have to learn.
It’s all about organizing, balancing, selecting and choosing the subjects to learn.
It stands for Doing.
Doing is all about the actions I need to take and the things I need to do to fulfill the desires of ABC. This is through which I get things done. It’s about setting and implementing goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.
At the point of this writing, my D is threefold:
I got to write, publish and be active in various activities apart from those two. This part is subject to much change and adaptations.
With the D set, my purpose is — to remind myself and ensure I successfully do what I need to do.
You may have noticed how they are all interconnected. I think this is the beauty of this desire management formula (for me obviously!).
Let us begin this thought experiment by imagining a habitable planet with life. Far Far away!
The planet is revolving around its own star. Its day-night period same as Earth’s.
And on that planet, let us imagine species – Millions. With variety for procreation. Just like on Earth.
Let us imagine one species among them head-and-shoulders above the rest – In intelligence and sophistication. Just like us!
Now let us decide that the planet has had life for more than a billion years. The intelligent species there has been smarting around for more than 2 million years. Just like ours!
Now let us imagine the planet with its peculiar atmosphere, water, soil, forest, etc.
Let us imagine all this with one crucial difference — it’s intelligent species not like humans. Let us imagine them different. Yes, let them walk on two feet and let them look like us physically. But let them not be like us behaviorally.
Let’s make them different.
Let’s not make them build huge buildings, monuments and structures. Let’s not make them political. Let’s not make them national. Let’s not make them create huge corporations. Let’s not make them kill each other or creatures. Let’s not make them adhere to their own mandatory principles. Let’s not make them need any kind of superficial entertainment — Let’s make them wise.
Yes, let’s imagine them greedless, free and wise. It’s just a thought experiment after all!
They didn’t build huge buildings and structures because they are okay with distributed minimalistic settlements and structures of aesthetic/experiential importance.
They didn’t organize politically because they are okay with improvisational organizing. They understand the need of community but also realize the absurdity of politics and power.
Everyone is wise enough to mind their own business and greedless enough to not want unnecessary things. Everyone has their own land and they are fine cultivating what they need and consuming it. Remember, they are not greedy, so it will work.
Now, since they are wise as such, they did not need/want big businesses.
Nor did they have to trouble other creatures for their own amusement. They live at a distance far enough to remain untroubled by other creatures.
Since they are free and wise, they didn’t adhere to mandatory customs and principles such as marriage and children. Their population is well balanced. Whenever it seems to increase, they have the wisdom to understand it, hence, there will always be those who will make personal sacrifices. They didn’t need any forms of superficial entertainment as they don’t have any dissapointments hence anxieties.
So, what will they do? How will they live? How do we imagine that?
I propose the following:
They will spend their time in philosophical, scientific or artistic contemplation and creation. Depending on individual preferences or the need.
They won’t build sophisticated technologies. There is no need — they don’t want to conquer their fellows or the cosmos. They are wise enough to be happy where they are. They will scientific technologies though. For reasons clear! They might have computers and internet.
They have understood that the only purpose of their high intelligence is to experience and understand life and the world. Nothing else matters! All is peaceful and well.
Here I want to quickly share his views on the birth and use of Hindu God Brahman and the Hindu Reincarnation system by the ruling system in ancient India. It is presented in fictional form in his historical-fiction From Volga to Ganges.
Pravahan is a king of Panchalpur (Kannauj) in around 700 BC who has modified the Hindu Religion. His lover Lopa is not very fond of that kind of thinking though.
One day she asks,
‘Why are you involved in things apart from royal duties?’
To which Pravahan replies,
‘You mean my flight towards Brahman? But Lopa, all these things are not separate from Royal Duties. Our ancestors had honored Rishis such as Vasistha and Vishwamitra for the sake of supporting the State. Those Rishis inspired people to follow the command of the king in the name of gods such as Indra, Agni and Varun. Those Rishis made the kings conduct huge and expensiveYagyasso that the public’s belief in them would persist…All this was done to establish people’s faith in divine forces…and to tell them that all we have is due to Gods.’
‘But you already had old gods, what was the need of Brahman?’
‘For ages, nobody has seen Indra, Varun and the likes, therefore a few have started to doubt…I have established the form of Brahman in such a way that no one can ever demand to see it. It is beyond the senses. No one can doubt this concept the way they might doubt gods with forms’
‘…are you doing all this merely to keep your citizens in illusion?’
‘…It is necessary to do all this to keep the state under my control…our biggest enemies are the ones who doubt gods and Yagyas’
‘But you also talk of the existence and philosophy of Brahman…?’
‘If there is an existence then there has to be a philosophy. Not through senses though, because skeptics will talk of empirical proofs — this is why I talk about subtle senses. And now I talk of such methods that people will keep searching for ever and ever without losing their belief…’.
And then Pravahan tells her about his new invention that is greater than Brahman — Reincarnation:
‘Reincarnation is the most useful. The rate at which the wealth of we feudals, Brahmins and merchants is increasing is the same at which ordinary people are getting poor. There are those now who provoke artisans, farmers and slaves by saying, “You are troubling yourself by giving away your earnings to others. They trouble you and tell you that the Suffering, Pain, charity and sacrifices you do here will be repaid in heaven…No one has seen anyone enjoy happiness in heaven…”, to which we have established a narrative. All differences in this world are the result of your deeds in your previous lives…I do not care about Truth and Lies, it (an idea) just has to be useful for me. Today the idea of coming back to this world after death doesn’t seem credible…there will come a time when all of the pathetic citizens will be ready to bear pain, suffering and injustice in the hope of rebirth…’
‘But isn’t it ruining the lives of hundreds of generations just for your selfish wants?’
‘…it isn’t wrong. I am doing such a task that even the ancient Rishis couldn’t do…’
‘You are too cold Pravahan!’
‘But I have merely acted as per my ability!’
I understand that this whole thing has been presented by Sankrityayan in a Marxist mirror. That is, this thing of Metaphysical and spiritual nature has been looked upon from a dialectic-political-economic angle. It has also been presented in an artistic/imaginative manner. It is surely a limited view-point. But, it is a different perspective nonetheless!
It is about questioning the one who said the said.
It was a fun ride. So, I have decided to go on it again. I have manually translated these from the Nepali language. So, it is like the handcrafted version of literary work. Enjoy!
Everyone sees a burnt forest, none see a burnt heart — External problems are easily visible so they gather attention. Internal problems are known only to the sufferer and there are few who understand them.
One who eats ember excretes ember — Your output depends on your input. If you listen to a dictator, you will praise the dictator!
Without carrion, a vulture doesn’t roam — An opportunist isn’t there where there isn’t opportunity.
I will fake a hit, you fake a cry — Let’s act together to deceive everyone else.
A roaring tiger never eats — One who is intimidated, doesn’t hurt.
Poor have no money, the rich have no heart.
A sleeper loses, waker gains — If you are not alert enough, you will lose a lot of things. It will be taken by the one who is alert.
Where there’s lake, there’s water — Lake is a body of water.
Give your ears not your words — Listen freely, do not commit easily .
A single moon is better than a thousand stars — A single person who seriously reads your works is better than many worthless followers.
Only a snake sees a snake’s feet — To know the weaknesses of others, you have to be like them.
Small mouth, big talk! — To talk of things beyond your ability.
Washing an ass with soap won’t turn it into a cow — External change doesn’t mean change in substance.
A barking dog never bites — Threatening things rarely hurt.
It’s dark under a lamp — We focus far and wide and miss what’s beside.
Never ask for directions to places you won’t go — Don’t concern yourself with things that are not important to you.
Everyone is naked underneath their clothes — We all are!
Suffering never comes alone — A single source of suffering hardly exists.
The bigger the pile the bigger the strife — The more you amass your wealth, the more problems for you.
You can hide contentment but not suffering — It is easier to be humble than be calm.
Did you like these wise proverbs?
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Written words are static in nature. Other forms of expression which rely on words such as speech are dynamic.
Written words remain static unless mobilized — which equips the recipient with control over the thoughts and ideas expressed.
This control is crucial because it gives time: A valuable entity.
This available time can be used to imagine, ponder, scrutinize, and eventually decide! This available time can also mean freedom — from haste, from manipulation. Freedom to imagine, contemplate, scrutinize what you like when you like!
You can pauseand zoom on a single word for eons and not proceed without having extracted all the necessary juice out of it.
This observation made me derive a quote:
Written words are static content for dynamic minds while other forms which rely on words are dynamic content for static minds.
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For years she had dreamt of this trip. For years she had energized herself in the darkest of nights — thinking of this journey. The idea jolted her, inspired her — rendered meaning to a life otherwise plummeting towards inconsequentialism.
How much had she imagined herself reaching her destination — The mountains of Annapurna!
She had imagined the moment she would take that woolen scarf off her face, remove her jacket cap and expose her face to the mountain wind — the cold wind would smash itself into her and she would finally rise and shine out of her slumber.
She would wake up to be new! She would wake up from a long long night of dread and frustration — into a morning of vigor, purpose, and action.
She would stare at the dazzling mountain snow as the sun would gleam on her face. She would take a deep breath and get into a meditative state. She would drink in each and every moment and then return home — to dedicate her entire life to the feeling she had mustered there.
Here she was —mere 5 km away from her destination. After this night was done, she would wake up early tomorrow and rush! Bloody run!
But she isn’t able to sleep. It is 2 AM and the old melancholy is back.
‘What are you so excited about?’
‘Wasn’t you arriving here inevitable?’
‘You have come 5 years too late’
‘You were always supposed to reach here. There’s nothing new. So, shut up!’
One willing to go to the summit, should not give a damn about shame, disgust, sin, etc.
Nepal may not be among the strongest and the most powerful nations — but that doesn’t mean it has lacked the occasional thinker with words-of-wisdom. Today I am going to share a metaphorical story written by one such writer: Bhairav Aryal.
Hearing his uncle always say, ‘We all have to make it to the summit of success, anyhow!’
— a young schoolboy one day asks, ‘How tall is the summit of success? Can I reach there someday?’
In reply, the uncle says it was possible and would even take him there — if he could manage some money.
The same day the boy steals cash and jewellery from home. They leave in a Mercedes. On the way, the uncle first teaches that — one willing to go to the summit should not give a damn about shame, disgust, sin, etc.
Reaching a huge red pond, the uncle explains —
‘This is the sea of success. See how fun and romantic is this sea formed by the blood of the poor and the stupid. This is the route to the summit.’
The uncle takes him nearer and presses a switch. This takes them to a checkpoint. The boy hands his bag to uncle after which the latter disappears. He waits for four hours ! That’s when he remembers what the uncle had taught:
One willing to go to the summit, should not give a damn about shame, disgust, sin, etc.
He then — letting go of his shame, enters.
In a room, he sees self rotating chairs. Nervously he says —
‘I am here to see the summit of success but my uncle betrayed me. Can I get an entry-pass?’
The chairs laugh. A serious-looking chair asks whose guy he was. The boy is unable to answer. Meanwhile, a new person enters with a bag and all the chairs get into a tussle to get hold of that person. The boy sneakily leaves the room and heads upstairs.
After a floor with automated vessels that fight, he climbs further up.
A sweet voice welcomes him there. He looks around. He sees lots of thighs and legs. One thigh comes near him. And the lights go off. He hears chaotic sounds of those organs fighting with each other. He leaves to go further upstairs.
He sees nobody there. While he looks around, his back presses a switch that opens a door. There he sees a room with a disgusting smell. He sees human heads and bodily organs. He gets scared. He looks to run when he stumbles upon a corpse. Unable to bear the suffering, he closes his eyes and screams —
‘Uncle…Is this the summit of success?’
When he opens his eyes, he sees his uncle in front with a pistol pointed at him. The angry uncle tells him to leave. The boy joins his hands and tells him —
‘I will leave uncle! I saw the way to the summit of success you showed, but this wasn’t the summit of success I wanted to see’
I intensely explored the internet for doses of wisdom. Philosophers, Spiritualists, Poets, Writers, Filmmakers, Artists, Scientists — I was on a mission to find and understand everyone who thought freely and deeply.
I used to jump around fields — at times philosophy, at times spirituality, literature, cinema, arts, science…where, finding a thinker I related to — I would consume everythought available on the internet of his/hers. I wasn’t committed to any specific field.
Deep inside however, I was in fact seeking ‘the one’ ultimate thinker to whom I could submit myself intellectually-whole-heartedly. And based on whose style of thinking, I could build and develop mine!
A case of seeking the giant on whose shoulder I was to stand.
It was during such explorations that I stumbled upon the ideas of an old person from India discovered under the tag: Indian Spiritualists.
I had followed quite a few from India before — Kautilya, Kabir, Vivekananda, Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Rajneesh, Aurobindo Ghosh, even one Vimalananada from Robert Svoboda’s Aghora. I was pro-vedic spirituality at that time and had great reverence for the System.
But this particular old bloke I discovered was something else!
He said Vedic Rishis were fanatics high on drugs (Soma) and called one Rajneesh a pimp. He openly said he was not anyone’s guru and that knowledge of the ultimate was absurd.
‘You cannot know anything
You don’t want to know’,
he proclaimed. He hadn’t written any books, so all that was available was through videos. YouTube has tons of it.
He yelled, sweared, and roasted almost every revered spiritual saint and system.
I was immediately drawn to these thoughts as he spoke unlike any I had heard and had ideas that would put even Nietzsche to shame. He was quite something ! He was UG Krishnamurti.
I am not going to write about his life here. My only purpose with this article is to share what I think he was and his perspective is.
And so as time passed I started getting heavily-influenced by him. I continuously watched his videos and his thoughts and ideas became the foundation of my own thoughts and thinking. I had found the shoulder. But the one I couldn’t stand on. There was none!
He was elusive and incomprehensible. The more I thought I understood the man the more confused I got. I tried to fit him into different systems of thinking. At times it felt he fit into Roussean style, at times to Postmodern thought, at times to Mahayana and eventually to Absurdism. But something or the other always didn’t connect!
Initially, he had felt so natural and easy to grasp but the more I watched his videos and read stories about him, the things he said, the more bewildered I got.
He didn’t seem to care to write, make money, enterprise his thoughts. He didn’t seem to care about anything. He at times calmly expressed his ideas while at times, yelled in the videos. What was he about? What does he care of? Does he even care for a thing? Even Buddha preached as far as I knew!
Who was this guy? What was wrong/right with him? Was he a hypocrite? Was there any marketing-propaganda I missed? Who was he most like: Camus, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Rousseau?
Years passed and the influence remained and grew. His perception of life and the world very much remained at my intellectual-core. I gradually separated from Vedic Spirituality as I discovered flaws and absurdities.
My every impulse of wanting to be a guru someday, revering some thinker, monetizing my thinking, pursuing the 4 Ps (Power, Prestige, Popularity, Pleasure) used to hit upon the wall called UG which used to shatter and destroy the desires mercilessly. Desires were gone alright, but I didn’t know what else to do. What to pursue!
UG Krishnamurti was there in his American/Indian home talking with celebrities and big-shots. He didn’t seem to have a concern for money. It all seemed to have been taken care of by his followers or however. But I was here in Nepal, struggling in semi-political institutions to make ends meet. He may not have wanted to be a Guru but he was one.
I quietly kept his thoughts and ideas inside a small compartment of my mind and called it UGian Philosophy. I didn’t want to discuss or debate about it with anyone. I didn’t even want to search for other people’s opinion on him on the Internet. He was a puzzle, a riddle that I was to solve — by myself. He was a philosopher whose philosophy had inspired me, influenced me and had formed the base of my intellectual thinking. I had to find a category for his thinking. There had to be a category!
This continued for a few years.
But now, as of today, I think I have an answer to him and his ideas. I think I have finally understood what his philosophy was. Although, I have to honestly say that the UG Krishnamurti that influenced me was the one I viewed and listened to on the internet. I have no idea what he was like in person and what the background of it all was. It is just about the UG Krishnamurtithat appears in Videos and his meeter’s blogs.
What I understood was that the process of assigning UG Krishnamurti and his thoughts to a school of thinking or philosophy was in itself an absurdity. UG Krishnamurti was not a philosopher. In that, he didn’t have a philosophy to teach or preach. UG Krishnamurti was merely a negater:
He was what remains if you remove all schools of thoughts from a person.
Let me explain:
All thinkers I mentioned above: Kautilya, Kabir, Vivekananda, Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Rajneesh, Aurobindo Ghosh, Vimalananada had some philosophical destinationto sell and achieve. This applies to all other schools of philosophy, science and arts. They all are about taking you to a particular intellectual space. A destiny, a goal.
UG Krishnamurti had none. He was not about anything or anywhere. He was only a denier. Once again, he is what is left in a person if you remove all schools of thoughts from him: Philosophies, Sciences, Arts — everything! With that removal goes every value, morality, perception related to those schools. Every ambition or corruption we have is indeed the mixture of countless confused schools of thinking!
Take Schopenhauer for instance, a denier but still had spaces to sell and achieve. Be it in the form of an aesthetic-genius who can perceive the will-in-itself or in the form of an ascetic who accepts the nature of will. Buddha had nibbana to sell and achieve. Nietzsche eventually had Uberman and perspectivism. Absurdists had existential-meaning to achieve. Science likewise has empirical evidence.
But UG Krishnamurti had none. He didn’t seem to profess any particular destination. All he did was deny all existing ones. The closest I have found to this type of thinking today is of the absurdists. Yet, the absurdists seek existential-meaning, the cause to exist and do. For example, through Camus’ Arts it is as if they seek justification to do things in life. But without pursuit, UG became a natural thinker. The what is!
I would even go as far as to say that he is Man in the natural form without a color of culture.
UG Krishnamurti seems to have firstly, denied everything and secondly, didn’t seem to have bothered to search for new avenues. He seems to have just settled in negation without bothering to seek further. Why he didn’t care is not for me to answer. Although I can make a guess that he might have thought that commiting to a seek would once again trap him in the rabbit hole. It would mean ambition, rhetoric and eventually —would have meant ending up like everyone else making the same mistakes. Just another system!
All systems eventually fail, and what begins as a naive pursuit of truth necessarily ends with forceful adjustments to opinions once hardships arise, he probably understood. Absurdism!
What all this has eventually meant to me is that UG has immensely helped me see the absurdity and negate all propaganda, marketing, hypes and promises of various systems of thinking. Yes, we all have seen how each system promises, asserts and presents itself as if it is the only credible method to the truth. Thanks to UG Krishnamurti I have had the courage to see the absurdity in each and negate all of them in me.
What this has done to me is — opened me to the exploration of brand new possibilities either through the invention of a new system or through the amalgamation of all existing ones. (Yes, I am risking inevitability but I have my tools of hope!)
Other difference with me is that I have not concluded. I have not settled in negation. I still seek, search and pursue. And that immediately makes me a non-UG. And I have no problem with that! I believe in exploration and seeking. Not on settling and concluding. Hence, I look to learn and take important aspects from here and there. With UG, what I have done is follow a technique professed by Buddha with whom I don’t agree on much otherwise:
Just because a boat has taken you across a river doesn’t mean you have to carry the boat around with you further.
As I went through his life and ideas, I realized how profound impact this guy and his type of thinking has had in our minds and the world today.
I will cut to the chase: The impact is damaging!
Yes, I do understand that the laptop I use, the phone I use — are all the results of innovative works done on the West Coast of the United States. And I also understand that these technologies are the very reason why I could dare to self-study and self-employ myself.
But when I looked at these people and their motives closely, a horrifying reality grimly slapped me in the face: These people wanted to rule the world and our minds, and they did!
Now there’s nothing new with people wanting to rule others. It has been happening forever. And there’s nothing we have been able to do to remove this part of our existence.
Tribal leaders talked of security, and ended up leading.
Spiritual/Religious leaders talked of material salvation, and ended up leading.
Democratic heroes talked of freedom, and ended up leading.
Communistic utopia promised of kinglessness, and ended of leading.
This has been going on forever and unless we do something radical to the collective human conscience, it will continue to do so. In this latest chapter, however, our leaders are the hollow boys from California — who talked of technological-empowerment, and have ended up leading!
Yes, once again I will say — the technology I use today is their blessing. It has helped me in my learning and creative process.
Wasn’t that commander a blessing to normal folks who didn’t know where the next attack would come from?
Weren’t spiritual talks a blessing to people when they failed to attain satisfaction through material pursuits?
Wasn’t democratic ideal a blessing to citizens when tyrants horsed around doing whatever they wanted?
Wasn’t communism a blessing when capitalistic thinking destroyed the life and soul of people who bled their sweat in work?
What I have realized is — Whenever we accept blessings, we accept reverence too! And this is what is happening to our world today: We have unknowingly welcomed new Gods because we were so blind with the blessings given to us.
But there’s something damaging about gods, that’s why we time and time again put up a struggle to destroy the old temples and jump into creating a new one whenever anyone promises to take the initiative. This damaging thing is: God rules over not just our life and economics, God infiltrates deep into our minds!
And this is why I said that the impact of Silicon Valley heroes is damaging: They are not just about technology. They have infiltrated into the deepest regions of our individual minds — therefore into our social behavior. They have become our new Gods. Like it or not!
The concept of God was to create a presence so strong within us that it penetrates deep into our consciousness and the teaching dictates our every thought and behavior. The same is with any kind of ideology. And the same is happening to us with the values of Silicon Valley.
There are a few mindsets I noticed that have come out of there:
The only purpose of life is to make it big, you shall believe!
Tell them you are denting the Universe, and they will follow
Become a king through entrepreneurship, and they will bow
Create platforms, set the rules, and they will fight
Create technologies that expose their weaknesses, and they will drool
Create technologies that encourage laziness, and they will submit
Make them dependent on you and your work, and they will surrender
Tell them the market decides, and they will feel helpless
Tell them their life will get better, and they will believe
Present yourself with daunting cockiness and — they will worship
Again, it is not about the technologies, it is about the impact these ideas have had on our minds and the world. It is about the impact this kind of thinking is having on technologies themselves.
One can only wonder what kind of technologies we might have had if they were not dictated by the ambitions of intellectually immature children with fanciful dreams! (With a lot of support from the Uncle, of course!)
See for yourself. Look at the richest people in the world today and all that have come out of that wretched valley called Silicon, don’t you see all of the above being ticked?
Look at the most powerful person in the world today, doesn’t he talk the biggest?
Look at the audacity of a person who trades in software, don’t you bow?
Look at ‘that’ platform for instance, aren’t we bashing our horns with each other?
Look at the platform that had to recently change its name for posterior goodwill, didn’t it expose us all naked?
Look at the watch in your hand, are you supposed to be told when to sleep and when to wake up? Do we need a bloody software to tell us if our grammar is correct or not?
Look at the most popular internet search service, can you even search your key anymore?
Look at the heap of algorithm-driven generic content that is eclipsing who knows how many Aristophanes, Rousseaus, Beethovens and Teslas (Nikola), don’t you feel powerless?
Look at your life, did you need all these fancy AI driven inspectors, don’t you feel duped?
Look at the confidence of those narrow-minded marketing coaches spread over the internet like cockroaches in a gutter — who promise you a navigation through the market — don’t they make you feel helpless? (Even if you ‘make it’ through their coaching, you will have already become somebody else. It comes at a price: you have to be one of them!)
And all this is damaging: they have turned our mind and the world into one pathetic automated machine whose only function is to ‘dent the universe.’ Isn’t the universe already dented enough?
I am convinced now more than ever: We have had enough of technology. They aren’t going to solve any of our issues. It’s people’s behavior that has to be mended. It’s not out of a utopian need, it’s out of self-preservation that I speak this.
A person who takes vulgar pictures of young children will continue to do so — be it on an analog camera or IPhone 13!
A culture that produces crap drama will continue to do so — be it in theatre or Netflix!
Two nations that fight with each other will continue to do so — be it in SC Sea or Mars!
A country whose people are morally corrupt will continue to deceive the public — be it through government or e-commerce!
A spoilt kid who irritates others will continue to do so — be it through his bicycle bell or 1000 cc bikes!
These toys just don’t matter if people are going to be the same.
We have reached to a point where there can be millions of articles on the internet talking about the dangers of AI for writers and yet, none have the audacity to stand up and say: Stop this AI bullshit!
I really wonder:
What kind of technologies we might have had if they were not driven by the ambitions of intellectually immature children with fanciful dreams!
Coming back to the original point, we are driven today by the ideals of: superficial living, technology/market dependence, mutual exploitation and averageness with cocky-presentation. All these are Silicon Valley givens.
Yes, Silicon Valley has given a lot more to us. And I personally thank them for it. But now it’s time to move on. Now it’s time to unlearn. It’s damaging. This is not what life is about!
And for those who care about posterity,
I think the people of 2050 will wonder:
What kind of life we might have had if those who were aware 30 years ago did not surrender to the ambitions of the intellectually immature children with fanciful dreams!
So what do we do?
We start off by unlearning the lessons taught by them and detoxifying ourselves of their influence.
Technology isn’t wrong. The ones who control it should be scrutinized. Technology can be used for self-knowing, experiences, and exploration. It has to be freed from the clutches of Lusty boys of Silly-Con Valley! and so should our thoughts and life and the world and…
Once a dog was strolling near a forest when he saw a jackal sitting with her cubs. The dog sensed a resemblance with them. He went near and said –
‘We look the same. We must be from the same family. I think we should live together as one.’
The jackal too didn’t see much difference between herself and the dog, so she agreed to the proposal.
They went together until they reached a warm-looking den. They sniffed around and knew it was a den of a lion. The lion was apparently away, so the dog, the jackal, and her cubs went inside and made themselves comfortable.
In the evening, they sensed the lion approaching. The cubs got scared and began to cry.
‘Why are they making such a distressing noise?’ the dog asked the jackal.
‘They are asking for the lion’s heart,’ said the jackal loudly. She wanted the lion to hear.
The dog was smart so he understood what the jackal was up to.
‘Why don’t you give them the heart I brought the other day,’ said the dog loudly.
‘They are not gonna eat stale heart! They want it fresh,’ the jackal replied.
‘Tell them to be quiet for a while. I can sense a lion coming this way, I will kill it and bring a fresh heart,’ the dog said.
The lion heard all this. He believed a stronger creature than him was inside his den. He ran away in a jiffy. The dog and the jackal made that den their home after that.
(Taken from Folk Tales from Nepal: The Origin of Alcohol and Other Stories, Keshar Lall, Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 2009)
This tale is about characters of similar nature coming together to fight opposition and adversity. This tale doesn’t give a good message as it is about occupying what belongs to others and deceiving the rightful owner with trickery and teamwork.
What we can learn from this is –
There are lots of dogs and jackals in this world. Be alert and discover the truth before giving up!
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When you realize that the environment you exist in is incompatible, unsuited for you and it becomes inhospitable, you have four options in life.
You can either,
All these require distinct traits. Let’s see what they are:
Adjust: To adjust in such an environment means to be okay with things as they are. You will need patience, tolerance, malleability, and open- mindedness to do this. You have to be willing to change yourself and suppress a lot of thoughts.
Conquer: To conquer such an environment means to rule over it. It requires energy, will-to-power, boldness, and cunningness.
Change: To change such an environment means struggling to eliminate the toxicity in it. It means changing the agents. It requires involvement, persuasion, vision, and communication. You don’t necessarily have to conquer to change.
Leave: To leave such an environment means to quit it altogether to never return again. It requires courage, imagination, determination and detachment.
Q: What’s the best option in life among them?
A: In life, 4 isn’t an option, so I would go for 3. If it’s any other environment, I would go for 4. But it all depends on the traits you have or can have. You can add more options in life too!
Nepal may not be among the strongest and the most powerful nations but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had occasional thinkers with words of wisdom. Here are 30 wise proverbs from the land of mountains and wise ones (what?):
The lost fish is always big
He who is thirsty needs to find the spring
A devious friend is worse than an enemy
Opportunities come but they do not linger
When the Sun arrives, the Stars disappear
Greed brings Gain, Gain brings Sorrow
Even an ox will give birth — if you are lucky
To be in a hurry when one can barely walk!
You may eat what you want, but you wear for others
When brothers brawl, the villagers exploit
The tiger that eats you will not spare me
You have to tolerate the kicks of the cow which gives you milk
The buffalo is scared of the mendicant just as the mendicant is afraid of the buffalo
When elephants fight, grass trample
Ask for a goat to those who promise you an elephant
When the cat leaves, the rats rule
Too many cats kill no mice
Don’t sacrifice your goat for an ill chicken
Even a black crow lays white eggs
Can a hog muddy the sea?
The forest goes and so does the tiger
Every spring has a different taste, every man a different idea
Pulling a creeper can bring a landslide
No one sits by an extinguished fire
Children are the wealth of the poor
Will impatience bear a son?
A knot tied with joy is untied with tears
While the holy men die of starvation, rogues live on milk and rice
Even an unloaded gun fires when you’re having a bad day
The enemy is never idle
Did you like these wise proverbs?
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We all have limited time. There’s a lot to think, learn, do and live in this duration. At times it feels a single life is not enough. And it isn’t! This makes effective time management a serious thing.
While we may not have been able to unearth an elixir to make us immortal (it’s good it doesn’t exist), we have been equipped with a good enough intelligence for us to do wonders with – if we use it effectively.
One way to do that is by trying to allocate and manage our life and its duration in an effective manner.
Time Management is simply the process of managing the time allocated to us for an effective life.
I developed a time management formula a few months ago and I have been implementing regularly. It has proved to be effective.
Now that I have fully committed myself to a life as a writer, there are a few elements which I think are essential to such a lifestyle.
This time management is simply an allocation of those elements to the clock-time embedded in almost all of us.
I had been very random andall-over-the-place with my time and work management. This particular formula has helped me get a little bit more organized.
I hereby coin this formula — The C-Clockwork (because it contains a few Cs)
The C-Clockwork consists of 4 Cs sub-grouped into 2 Cs each, which in turn are allocated into groups of roughly 3 hours each. Each pair of Cs get around 6 hours and are interconnected. The clock cycle begins at 6 AM and ends at 6 PM.
The Cs are:
Here 1 and 2, Contemplation and Consumption make a pair while 3 and 4, Creation and Coordination make one.
Let me briefly describe what they mean so to show why they are paired like that. But I would like to remind the reader once again that this allocation or division is based on what I think are the essential elements in my life as a writer.
The 1st Pair: Contemplation and Consumption
Contemplation: This is where I think. I begin the process at 6 AM by trying to answers questions that are integral to my life as an individual, such as —
What is going on in my life currently?
What do I want?
Why do I want what I want?
What have I wanted?
What should I want?
What is the status of all that I have wanted?
What should I not want?
What do I need?
Why do I need?
What should I do?
What should I not do?
What is helping me?
What is ailing me?
What do I need to do to remain motivated/inspired? etc.
More often than not, I wake up confused or curious on these. So by asking these questions walking to-and-fro with, firstly a cup of warm water followed by a pinch of black pepper in a cup of warm water and finally a cup of tea, I try to answer all these questions. I note the important points.
On rare occasions where I do not wake up bothered by my personal conditions, I contemplate on social, political, scientific, artistic and philosophical issues. The questions vary. There is no set formula in this. It may often be what I had been exposed to the day-before or in my dreams.
This lasts for 2.5–3 hours.
Consumption: It begins with my bathroom time at about 9 AM where I read the news followed by mostly continuing with the book I have been reading.
I use the term consumption for any reading, listening or video-watching activity — from others. But it is mostly reading.
I have made reading a great priority in my life. But before this structuring I was very haphazard in it. If I was reading a book, I would go on and on for the whole day until I finished it. But I noticed that such reading had an adverse affect on my thinking and writing. Most days would just pass by reading books without anything else. Reflections on books read were not happening. Writing wasn’t happening. This gradually became very problematic.
This C-Clockwork has allowed me to manage my reading time well. Now, I read at a certain period of time and have adequate time to think and write about it.
This ends at around 11:30 when I have lunch.
The 2nd pair: Creation and Coordination
Creation: After lunch and chores, at about 12:30, I begin the process of Creation. This is when I write. This goes on for about 3 hours.
Writing on medium has proved to be very helpful for me in this process as it has allowed me to dedicate myself to one piece of writing a day. Otherwise, I wasted a lot of time either wondering on what to do or debating with myself on why not to write xyz.
The writing projects I have has to be worked on in this time period.
I am also involved in visual-arts projects. I make documentaries and animated cartoons. Writing them, directing them, is reserved within Creation.
Coordination: Interchangeable with Communication, this is the time-span when I:
Meet in person- go outside, talk to people with whom I am working or am supposed to work together on project(s).
Meet on the Internet- talk to people online with whom I am working or am supposed to work together on project(s).
Seek people with whom to work together on project(s)
My poor organizing before this system had me isolating myself for days without any communications with others, whenever I was reading or writing something important. That got me ignoring a lot of projects and people. Didn’t turn out to be a good thing at all!
Beginning at 3 PM and extending up to 6 PM, I spend my time going outside to meet people, making phone calls, sending or reading emails, finding relevant people and organizations, etc.
I have paired it as such because Contemplation and Consumption are inward, introspective processes. Nothing comes out of me during these. I just intake. They are about organizing and receiving thoughts respectively.
Similarly, Creation and Coordination are extroverted processes. Here the thoughts go out. They are outbound. They are about creativity and communication respectively.
Of course, there are days of inconsistencies. I may have to go out early in the morning or read a very important work in the evenings. I try my best to not divert but at times circumstances get the better of me.
But I try to cover-up by doing the activity missed in that timespan, the activity of which I did in the period of inconsistency.
After 6 PM: It’s Personal time. I spend time with family or doing activities of joy. Going out for an evening walk or some glass of beer takes place here.
Before the implementation of this formula, I wasn’t spending much time with my family or in activities of joy.
In the first part of my What are thoughts? series, I discussed basic things about thoughts and the importance of understanding them. This time I want to dive into the history of thoughts – which is nothing but a history of the attempt to understand them.
A Brief History
Throughout history, humans have attempted to understand the nature of thoughts, thinking, mind, heart, and brain.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus of Egypt from c. 1600 BCE is the earliest found documentation of such an attempt. It contains descriptions of the brain and its functions albeit speculative.
It is in Indian Philosophy that the pursuit gains serious consideration and gathers momentum.
The Chandogya Upanishad (600 BCE) describes the mind as an object distinct from the soul. In it, when Narada tells Sanatkumara that he has a thirst for knowledge, Sanatkumara says,
Before satisfying one’s thirst for knowledge, one has to know about the mind…
When Narada expresses further desire to know about the mind, Sanatkumara tells him that to know about the mind one needs to have devotion and before one can have devotion one has to have faith and has to know about concentration, for which, one has to know about happiness as concentration comes only in the pursuit of happiness. When Narada tells he wishes to know about happiness, Sanatkumara tells him the following:
Happiness lies in greatness. You will have to know about greatness. Greatness is that in which nothing can be seen, heard or known. It is immortality, it is the brahman. He is above and below, to the front and behind, to the north and the south. I am the brahman. I am he…Learned ones realize that it is from the atman that one derives the breath of life, hope, memory, sky, energy, water…meditation, emotion, resolution, the mind, speech, names, the mantras and all actions.
These earlier Upanishadic perspectives interpreted thoughts along with everything else as being given by some unitary entity. It further goes on to tell that,
in the physical body exists the heart in which the Brahman resides in minute form. The heart is like the sky, heaven and earth, fire and wind, the sun and the moon, lightning and the stars. Everything in the body is in the heart.
The Katha Upanishad describes the brain as the charioteer and the physical body as the chariot with the atman being the owner and mind the bridle. It talks about the need to pacify the mind without which, the intelligence remains without consciousness.
Describing Brahman, the Katha Upanishad says,
It is through the mind that one can visualize the brahman.
This type of thinking is of Advaita Philosophy which asserts there is only One entity in existence and perceiving otherwise is illusion. The reason things seem elusive and otherwise are due to ignorance and this is due to- Thoughts.
Thoughts are entities that hinder this natural connection of the mind and the brahman.
When there is contemplation of the non-dual Self, then all thoughts vanish and one is established in that Supreme Reality, says Ramana Maharshi, an Advaita monk of the 20th Century.
His philosophy revolves around the concept of Self which is both- every individual’s identity and the only thing in existence. The Self alone is real and there is no other consciousness to know it, for it is consciousness. The distinction between God and Soul too is not real and to know the Self is to be the self. Consciousness is existence. Mind is only a name for thoughts of which ‘I’ is the support. Mind is truly nothing else but the thought ‘I’.
This way, the Vedic systems of thinking describe thoughts as things that create a perception of duality or diversity in an otherwise uniform existence with only a single entity. Thoughts, therefore, are something to control and eventually destroy. They arise due to the contact with the world with senses.
Buddhism has a general point of view that the thoughts themselves are part of consciousness and are thinkers.
Buddha himself had mentioned various types of consciousness, evolving from sense bases. For instance, visual consciousness arises because of eyes and forms. For them, the concept of contact is significant. Contact being the conjunction of the sense organs with the sensed object. It leads to the birth of feelings.
It is feeling that experiences the desirable or undesirable fruits of an action done. Besides this mental state there is no soul or any other agent to experience the result of an action.
Entire Buddhist thinking is described as follows:
Dependence or cessation of:
Ignorance leads to Conditioning activities
Conditioning activities leads to Relinking Consciousness
Relinking Consciousness leads to Mind and Matter
Mind and Matter leads to Six Sphere of Senses
Six Sphere of Senses leads to Contact
Contact leads to feelings
Feelings lead to Craving
Craving leads to Grasping
Grasping leads to Actions
Actions leads to Birth
Birth leads to decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, despair.
For them, the mind consists of 52 mental states among which feelings and perception are distinct. The remaining 50 are collectively called volitional activities. Among them, volition or citana is the most important factor. All these psychic states arise in consciousness.
Now, in regards to thoughts, they have a concept called ‘thought-moments’ which are time-limit of consciousness:
There is no moment when one does not experience a particular kind of consciousness, hanging on to some object whether physical or mental. Time limit of such consciousness is called thought-moment. Each thought moment is followed by another.
Consciousness consists of 3 separate instants: genesis, static/development, cessation/dissolution. Each new consciousness is in a state of flow, like a stream, which once gone never returns again. This consciousness flow occurs without any interruption. Death too, is simply an event for them during which the final thought moment of a life conditions another thought-moment in the subsequent life.
This way the Buddhists look at thoughts as incessant instances in mind which ought to be eventually shut down or extinguished (nibbana).
I was scrolling through my phone photos when I noticed something —
Four years ago, for the first time in my life, I had edited a photo of a page from my diary with ‘Goals’ on its header.
I know, there’s nothing special there. All I had done was use the vignette tool to make the center of the page brighter.
Here’s that image:
The significance of this information is that it was the first time I had used a photo of a self-written-text as my wallpaper in order to remind myself what I was about and what I was to do. It was the beginning of thought management through phone wallpapers.
That particular photo is followed by other photos in my phone. There are a lot more photos with similar design: A page of a diary vignetted.
I guess that marked the beginning of a habit that still persists in me — Designing and using phone wallpapers for my thought-management. It has been more than five years within which I have collected some solid experience on it. That’s the reason why I wanted to talk about it.
Phone-Wallpapering for thought-management is a regular and natural activity for me. Whenever I have a new idea, new structure or a new paradigm, I either draw it in a paper, take a photo or use a photo editing app. It has proved to be useful. I like to call it: Mind-supplement-in-abstracto.
Phones are without a doubt the most useful and personal technological devices. We learn, work, communicate and entertain ourselves in them. We spend almost all of our time with them (around).
They now play a role no other technology ever has.
This possibly makes the phone screen the most viewed thing in our normal day, both in terms of frequency and duration.
Into the inner phone experience, the wallpaper or the background is the most general component. In terms of design, it is a base in which everything is built and exists. Apps come and go, change places. But the background remains!
This nature of the phone background and our high phone usage makes the background an ideal thing to replicate what we would like to have in the background of our minds.
This is why I used the term: Thought-Management. It is about using the phone wallpaper to manage our thoughts in the way they ought to be managed. In a way they will be managed!
That’s why the term Phone Wallpapers for thought management.
Almost everyone who uses a phone keeps a wallpaper which is supposed to inspire or remind the person of what s/he is all about. After that, they look for aesthetics. It is done for symbolism. Everyone does it naturally. But what I am trying to put across is that, our thoughts are not as simple as that. Therefore, this task of phone wallpapering for our thoughts has to be taken more seriously and methodically.
Our minds are not naïve. They won’t obey what we would want them to obey! Things don’t work that way. the mind likes to counter-reason, it likes to explore, it likes to confuse! Providing it with only one vision and trying to discipline it on it is absurd.
A way to control or manage it is by using the phone-wallpaper more effectively:
The wallpaper has to be designed in such a manner that it addresses all aspects of our life and mind. The wallpaper has to address the confusions too.
Such wallpapers provide inspiration and context. But they won’t be able to address all of our questions and doubts. For instance, when a part of us is concerned with our current income and expenditure, such lofty inspiration can hardly be of use. What use of the information that we are here in this vast unknown, smaller than a speck of dust, when our bellies are craving the next meal!
Yes, I know they are supposed to provide metaphysical/spiritual base. But if we are talking about using phone backgrounds effectively, it surely has to do more than that!
If our human mind was to focus on a single thing, there wouldn’t be the need for thoughts and thinking.
I consider thoughts to be useful. Not something to suppress or extinguish — as others like to believe. Thoughts can and should be managed if we want to go to territories never gone before.
My pursuit is to open them up. To revolutionize human thinking.
If we want wallpapers to be our Mind-supplement we have to dig and design deeper.
We have to move beyond symbolism.
Here we are talking about using wallpapers to communicate to our mind all the things that we want to have communicated. A night sky wallpaper in the background with the current goals and obstacles written could be a good solution. This way our mind will notice the cosmic/metaphysical context along with the financial/moral whatever —just the way we want it!
What we can do is draw diagrams, make bullets — whatever we do to organize our mind — and set it as the wallpaper of our phone.
I have discovered space-effectiveness. Which is the art of placing certain components at certain parts of the wallpaper for the best effect. I also have my ideas about image placing, text placing, color-usage and all that. But I will talk about all that later.
My idea with this was to roughly talk about phone-wallpapering. I would love to hear how you use your wallpaper as I have no idea how others have been doing it!
It is the kind of activity I am doing right now which both amazes and amuses me on being a human being. What I mean to say is in regards to the act of thinking, questioning and investigating thoughts. What are thoughts, by the way?
It is through thoughts that we understand and know everything beyond our bodily sensations.
On occasions where we try to understand the thoughts itself, it creates a very peculiar situation of:
A thing doing that onto itself that it is supposed to do on something else.
Is it even possible?
Let us see where else such situations arise. Beginning with other organs of the human body.
Thinking about thoughts is equivalent to the heart pumping itself. The eyes seeing itself, skin sensing itself, tongue tasting itself, teeth biting itself, hair and nails covering itself, fingers holding itself, brain understanding itself and likewise.
Beyond organs, such situations exist in the following general cases:
Thinking about thoughts is equivalent to a creature consuming itself.
A snake poisoning/swallowing itself, a lion eating itself, a mosquito/vampire sucking its own blood and so on.
It is like a hammer hammering itself, a knife cutting itself, a gun shooting on itself, a lighter lighting itself.
Let us name such activities. Let us pick a name.
I have picked a name. Let’s call it: Self-Execution.
It is immediately apparent that it is not the function of any organ or system to do unto itself that which it is supposed to do to something else. Self-Executing is unnatural. Doesn’t the same apply to thoughts?
Is thought understanding necessary? More so, is it even possible?
In regards to the necessity of understanding our own thoughts, let us make a small experiment by pretending we know nothing about them.
Let us assume, we don’t know what kind of pattern they follow from one to another nor do we know what kind of law they obey in terms of the circumstances in which they spring or not-spring.
This implies we know nothing about reasoning/logic and psychology.
Now let us put ourselves in a situation where there are five of us in the middle of a forest and you, the individual, are the only one who has a small loaf of bread.
What does this do to us?
Will you be able to safely deal with the situation and ensure everyone comes out of the forest relatively calm and happy?
My guess is No, you can’t. You do not have the skill of reasoning that will tell you what are the best options and actions to take nor do you have the understanding of how your actions will affect your friends. All this will probably lead you to doing something that is unreasonable considering the situation..
Hasn’t this immediately turned us into hopeless beings troubled by great confusion and emotional turmoil?
One thing though is clear in regards to understanding thoughts as self-executive systems: Understanding thoughts is as important as understanding our physical body and in its organs.
But this immediately begs some questions- What are thoughts actually? How do we define it? What are their domains and boundaries?
One of the best approaches to thought-understanding comes from Thomas Hobbes, the British Philosopher. He defines thoughts as representation or appearances of objects which originate from our senses. Imagination for him is nothing but the residue of the sensed while Mental Discourse or thinking he defines as the succession of one thought to another. Every other cognitive faculty is developed from this basic principle for him.
It is clear that, for Hobbes, everything we humans do mentally, originates from senses which are then interpreted as thoughts. Therefore, our each and every mental activity from contemplation to emotions are nothing but thoughts- generated from senses emerging from the brain.
From a slightly different viewpoint, Khaptad Baba, the doctor turned spiritualist is of the opinion that thoughts have special forms of their own. He believes that the origin of thoughts are atomic in nature which are very subtle. In fact, so much that there is nothing in this world that is more subtle. For him too, thoughts originate from the brain:
Thoughts originate from the brain…Brain is more powerful and complete compared to other machines. Brain has such dazzling energy that it cannot even be described.
Like Hobbes, he too describes Thoughts as the original entities of all human cognitive actions. Therefore, our each and every mental activity contemplation to emotions are nothing but development of thoughts which emerges from the brain.
In regards to the origin of thoughts, neuroscience tells us the following:
Perspectives aside, we humans have not been able to clearly and concretely understand what thoughts actually are. This is something of great controversy and debate that has been going on forever it seems! Yet, people have tried and have continued to try.
In the next part, we shall investigate the attempts made to define and understand thoughts. For now, however, let us define thoughts as – everything that the brain does that is not physiological and as:
Something through which we understand and know everything beyond mere sensations.
In regards to the need to understand it, let us accept that anything we humans understand properly is always helpful in one way or the other for us. For this will allow us to move ahead without much confusion and restlessness. Additionally, under the self-execution system of knowing, now we have a valid reason too: Understanding thoughts is as important as understanding the heart, if not more!
There is another way of looking at history. As the struggle of human beings to understand, organize and use their own mind. That is, their thoughts!
It won’t be wrong to paraphrase one famous sentence of history this way:-
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of thought struggles.
To validate this silly argument, let’s start by suggesting that the struggles between good/bad, right/wrong, duty/passion, ideology/compassion, ego/emotion, gods – exist inside the human cranium (mind) in the form of thoughts and thinking. As struggles of the mind!
That is why, all struggles are the struggle between thoughts. A crisis of thought management. A crisis of mind management.
Identity is the way we define ourselves or the things which we identify ourselves with. This exists in the form of thoughts. Our very existence and the proof of existence’s existence is only possible through thoughts, said one Descartes, a long time ago. But we will not go in that end of the spectrum here.
Let us rather go into the ancient times where different tribal groups fought and killed each other for resources.
The thing that separated tribal groups from each other and made them go for each others’ blood and bounty was their identities. Members of each tribe identified themselves as a part of that particular tribe and not the other. This made them think it was right to kill people from other tribes and not one’s own.
History shows that tribal groups fought with one another until their groups united into one. The same continued later when small states appeared.
When multiple groups united, the individual members who fought one another suddenly identified with the nemesis as one and searched for new foes with a different identity. The latest example of it is the fact that more and more people today are choosing to identify themselves as a single species called Homo Sapiens instead of identifying on the basis of their race, ethnicity, caste, class, nationality, continent etc.
Of course, there are those who would like us all to be obsessed with minor identities to exploit the sentiment of such identities for their own power-game, but it is safe to say that we all are becoming wiser by the day and learning to utilize our specific racial, ethnic identities for cultural and emotional values instead of using them to decimate each other. It is only a matter of time, and, yeah, of thought!
Our difficulties in thought management and the absurdity of what will happen if it is not done well was understood very well by some of the ancients folks who being way way way ahead of their times, worked hard to find some method to the madness.
While some came up with the idea of One identity with the entire Cosmos, a person called Buddha came up with the idea that this entire identity bullshit is the most bullshit thing in existence and we all have to get rid of it from its source in order to stop suffering and ending this identity game for once and for all. Buddha and his subsequent followers established an entire religion which is nothing but a course in thought management. Mind management!
With the identity side of thoughts aside, let us talk about our earliest tool of thought management. We are not going to talk about various forms of chemicals, which basically alter the brain neurochemically which takes thoughts to directions as per the nature of the chemical and the default character of the user. We are going to talk about a thing without which it would have been impossible for Buddha to do what he did — Language.
Many thinkers on thinking agree to the fact that it was language which allowed man to actually take a giant leap forward. Not only did it provide man with a sophisticated mechanism to record thoughts, it also allowed man to conceive previously unconceived things and communicate with each other better which only improved as ages passed by. One can only imagine where man would have ended up if not for language.
Along with it, humans had been using techniques of arts — drawing, music, storytelling, dancing to make sense of thoughts by expressing them in a systematic way. While the arts had allowed people to express what buzzes inside the cranium it was far from becoming an actually serious pursuit.
Then the Greeks beginning with the fabled Socrates ‘seriously’ began working on thought management. Plato became so obsessed with the idea of thoughts that he thought all there is- is in that form, while Aristotle took the game a hell of a lot of steps further and began the establishment of an entire system of thinking. While we can go on and on about such theoretical managers, all we will do right now is stop at Aristotle and say that the works he did opened doors to a lot of things in the domain of thought management and utility, the fruits of which we are enjoying today in the form of writing, rationalism, philosophy, science, technology, etc.
And now that we have arrived at today, we have arrived at a point in time where our understanding of our thoughts and their management are about to go to a whole new level. Perhaps, we are entering a period of significance in thinking matched only by the advent of language.
The computer is a strange machine. While all machines and tools developed by man since his ‘rise’ had been to make his task of physicality, be it seeing or running easier and smarter, the concept of computing machines took tool usage directly into the domains of the mind. While various transport vehicles must have allowed ancient people to lessen the distance between their objects of interest which they had to count themselves, tools such as abacus allowed them to make counting easier and more reliable.
If language provided voice to human subtleties, computers provided tools to supplement the brain and mind in their tasks. Beginning with simple arithmetic operations, computers soon evolved into doing heavier and more sophisticated mathematical tasks, some of the type which is almost impossible for a human mind to do. But all this to supplement human mind’s labour.
If we are to stick to the definition of computer as a device that makes human thought management easier, then we have to include devices such as navigational compass, clock, recorder, camera to the list too.
The compass provided the ability to think through directions, the clock helped keep track of time, the recorder allowed to record sounds, which is an advancement of audial-memory and the camera enabled to record images, which is an advancement of visual memory. The difference between other tools for same functions such as a drawn map, notations and drawing and these tools is that the former tools cannot be qualified as machines, they are mechanisms/methods alright but are not automatic.
In regards to the camera, the reason it qualifies as a thought machine and tools such as binoculars and telescopes do not is that- binoculars assist the physicality, the eye while the cameras assist thoughts by saving space and effort for memory.
This brings us to modern gadgeteries. While smartphones with the internet are supposed to be such thought managers, their niche is limited to integrating all other forms of retro thought machines into them and enhancing communication. Along with it, they are important assistances for other functions such as selection (eg. shopping items), distribution, entertainment and information, among few. While the amount of information they contain can surely be said to be assisting thoughts, which they certainly do, they haven’t reached to a point where they automatically as a tool allow us to understand, interpret and manage our thoughts. They are merely existing in the form of content of someone else’s language or such other forms.
But there are three up and coming technologies that can make a difference — VR, AR and BCI.
One of the founding fathers of Virtual Reality, Jaron Lanier has listed a total of 52 definitions of VR in his book Dawn of Everything. Among those are definitions that talk about VR as a type of sensory and motor organs tricking devices which can make one identify with a whole other thing and environment instead of one’s own biological body and immediate surroundings.
VR functions as an immersive technology, in that, they temporarily disconnect all sense organs from the actual identities and environment and submerge them in some other scenario, tricking the brain/mind into believing that its actual body and hence responsibility is of that which is given by the device. This way of approaching the self can have huge consequences in the domain of thoughts and thinking. It directly toys with self-identification. But it doesn’t seem to have direct mechanistic implications in regards to our understanding of our thoughts and mind in general.
Augmented Realities on the other hand can be called extended and enhanced smartphones. They provide information better and easier but I don’t see them assisting in our thought comprehension.
And then come — BCIs
Brain Computer Interfaces in this context stands for consumer-end subset of neuroimaging which are fundamentally devices that allow us to send information of our brain directly to a computing device and vice-versa. It is a product that is and will be available to any human being. This is what makes it interesting and a serious contender for filling the shoes of language.
While still at their primitive stage, ideally, BCI can be that technology that allows us to see the happenings of our brain and mind in a system that is, firstly, not our own brain and secondly, is a machine. Language, Writing and Art allow the former but are not automated machines, meanwhile, a computer is a machine but does not have the ability to help us see those happenings if not for its usage in Language, Writing and Arts. BCI can be both.
With its capacity to map the workings of the brain in a computer in real time, we can expect to have greatly enhanced understanding of how our own brain works and which part of it does what when we are involved in x,y, or z. But as mentioned earlier, this mapping is still in its primitive stage due to the technique it uses called EEG which produces weak signals and is prone to interferences and also due to lack of information about brain-mechanisms, in other words on actuation.
Yet, they hold potential and no one can deny that. Considering the amount of investment being done on them in terms of both financial and talent resources, we can be sure that their limitations will surely be overcome in the not too far future.
Imagine being able to place a device in your head that is connected to your computer and being able to see the workings of your brain when you engage in xyz in real time. Now, imagine you being able to manipulate information in your brain, not by thinking but by making changes in the program in your computer which in turn affects the brain. Further, imagine your most important desire in life, say, taking care of your family, and imagine being able to computerally store that desire in a part of your brain via a computer and programming your computer to send you an electrical nudge each time you put on the device in that specific part of your brain where you have decided to keep that desire. Now we’re talking about thought management!
Imagine being able to see everything you have thought and your pattern of thinking in a computer device with you being able to press a few keys and play around with them! All this might be possible with BCI.
As with every other tool of importance, there will be vulturesque and hyenaesque humans to take advantage of your privilege.
Now imagine a corporation such as google or facebook being able to observe everything going on in your head and manipulating the information therein as they own the device or the system related to it! Not pretty now is it?
With great potentiality come great opportunities, ergo there will be opportunists waiting to cash in in your new found glory. But with the amount of control you have over your own thoughts, may be, you will be able to deceive them at that game and actually win! All this and much more is awaiting us with BCI.
We are on the verge of a paradigm shift in thought and thinking. Not only due to the technological sophistication but also due to the nature of our lives today with crazy amounts of information and complexities, we will be in dire need of thought assistance. Our brain will just not be able to handle the incoming times.
Name any kind of thought manipulating item and we are at a juncture where that item is getting more and more advanced with each passing day. This change is inevitable. All we have to do is think really really good now.
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of thought struggles.
can be turned into:
The future of all society is the future of thought magic. Of mind magic!
We humans will have tremendous opportunities opening, the kind we are not even capable of imagining today once we get hold of the tools that will allow us to for the second time in history understand and manage our thoughts. Those tools are at our doorsteps. And so are opportunistic exploiters…
WILL WE WIN?
CAN WE WIN? but more importantly:
CAN WE BE FINALLY PUT AN END TO THE THOUGHT STRUGGLES?