Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to make use of imagination – taking decompartmentalization to the next level

I have talked about decompartmentalization in one of my earlier posts – read it here. I want to talk about it a little more here and take the concept to the next level.

However I will start with a brief review of decompartmentalization:

Decompartmentalization is viewing the world or reality as a singularity i.e. instead of viewing life in the various compartments in which we are generally accustomed to seeing such as:

1.My life at work
2.My life with family
3.My life with friends
4.My life with children
5.My life in my trip to England/Iran/etc
6.My life in my previous job;

Decompartmentalization then is to view reality not in terms of these many compartments each of which helps us live in our comfort zones but to in fact to view it all as a singularity – a single reality.

The way to do that is to analyze experiences and those compartments, find the similarities and interpret the differences and try to move experiences from one compartment to the other until one’s understanding reaches a point where these compartments become one.

If you have not understood what I mean, pause here and think it might make all the difference in your lives.

Taking it to the next level

To take decompartmentalization to the next level is to increase the limit of the compartment that is your singular reality and this is possible as I understand it in two ways:

1.Through new knowledge
2.Through imagination

Knowledge: New knowledge in books and on the internet or some experience that is completely new and brings with it new knowledge – all of this can increase the limit of the compartment that is your singular reality.

Imagination: The other way to increase the limit of your compartment that is your singular reality is to use your imagination. Now somebody dreams of having a big house one day, somebody else dreamt of putting personal computers in every household in the world, another dreamt of reaching the moon and yet somebody else dreamt of creating one of the most powerful levels of energy from something as small as an atom.

The higher you imagine is as high as you can go! Of course you have to follow up that dream with a lot of hard work, but even if you do that hard work you can only go as high as you imagine.

Taking decompartmentalization to the next level then is to use ‘new knowledge’ and ‘imagination’ to increase the limits of your singular reality.

Moral virtue vs. Intellectual virtue and the Victim turned Victimizer debate

Some parents work very hard to develop the sense of right in their children others don’t work that hard. Some times are more turbulent then other times, some societies more developed then others and some families more righteous then others.

In each case a person grows up with a different training and therefore a different degree to which he feels strongly about certain values.

Virtue developed from habit from upbringing is what I call moral virtue.

Another kind of virtue is intellectual virtue and this is the reason that a person no matter how a dire circumstance in which he is raised, once is able to decide for himself, is held accountable by law. This is because when he reaches a certain age and maturity he knows that a certain habit however ‘familiar’ it maybe, is wrong – he knows that out of an intellectual process – and therefore is in a position where he can choose to change.

Thus the virtue that develops out of the mental process is what I call intellectual virtue.

Therefore there is no justification for a victim turned victimizer. I’ll demonstrate this now through an example: Many people grow up and develop the habit of smoking while in school or later i.e. at a point in their lives when the pressure/motivation to pick up the habit is high. As they grow older they realize that smoking is a serious health hazard. Some start to debate with themselves and try various means to drop the habit. It is possible to drop the habit of smoking that was once developed.

I therefore argue that it is possible to drop any habit that one wants. Similarly if one developed a certain habit because he was victimized he can always choose to not victimize others.

How to remember the dead

People we are with who have been good to us and/or have taught us something should be held in respect and high esteem at least in proportion to their contribution to us. We are not always in the presence of such people in fact we may meet some of them only once in our lives but we remember them, not necessarily for their person but also for the ideas or the good that they represent. We therefore remember them so that we can do good or apply the lesson they have taught us.

Some people have contributed to us, like they have contributed to the whole of humanity, without us ever having met them. These would include people such as the prophets, the saints, scientists such as Einstein, war heroes, etc.

I feel there is merit in remembering them, at least remembering them as the person that represents the ideas that they have given to us.

There are different ways of remembering such people, for example by making monuments or naming streets after them, by making the homes of such people into a museum and simply visiting them at their graves.

Some people who have touched us deeply like our parents and grandparents are also worthy of remembering whether we are with them or not.

I was going with my cousin to his house and while crossing a graveyard he asked us to stop by on his grandfather’s grave to pay our respects. When we got off into the graveyard in an Iranian city I saw beautiful black marble tablets with engravings on them decorated at times with flowers and some even with beautiful stones to go along with the flowers and the black marble. I found that most interesting. We kept on moving further till we came to the grave of my cousin’s grandfather who had written a piece of poetry that he had asked to be put as an epitaph on his grave. Seeing the grave had some dirt on it he took a pipe and washed the black marble. A few people came by on a grave a little further. While my cousin was cleaning the grave some drops of water fell over on the people who were a further away. They simply moved over a little bit. Once done my cousin asked if they wanted the pipe. They took it washed their grave and washed the next two graves on the side.

Coming to such a grave and remembering the person and what he represents I think is beautiful. The event that I have described shows the amount of respect with which the ones who have passed away are remembered in Iran.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Abusive relationships and the Mile high club

It is amazing how taken for granted people take their own actions at times.

Principles are principles, but it is supremely important to understand them in order to be stead-fast to them and thus not take one’s own actions for granted.

Children are raised to believe, innocent and dependent as they are to believe their parents always mean good for them…but remember the two sentences I’ve just written, its not always that simple.

But what can children do?

I think at times these children grow up with mixed values and perpetuate these to their next generation.

And then there are those who understand the principles and break the cycle.

And it is thus that I feel knowledge is so close to divinity.

The post How to beat Girls and Women by an author who tells us from experience of how abuse of women is institutionalized:

It started with a lecture which you listened to in a search of the spots you might massage to prevent an escalation to beating - was he tired? Could you make a long explanation and bore him off? Create a distraction? Be sick? Or was he dead set on his entertainment? You knew the final judgment leaned towards beating when he said 'Fetch the belt.' This might mean walking all across the compound and round the house to the corner of the sitting room; or it might just mean turning round and unhooking it from the nail. But whatever the journey, nobody ever saw you do it. Even if they were sitting right there trying to work out how to melt away into the floor.

“Please don’t beat me. I’m having my period,” and he turned abruptly away from me, dropping the belt to his side, and marched away to the end of the path to stand staring at the fence for a few dangerous moments. Then he turned and marched back to me and handed me the belt. My heart leapt.

“What you just mentioned to me,” his voice had gone low. “Never mention it to me again. Never. That’s between you and your mother. Go!”

I was never beaten again. Nor as far as I recall was my little sister. Psychological torture became the punishment of choice…

… It's just a question of mind over matter. It 'doesn't matter' if Daddy beats you, it's important as a good daughter to let him, to swallow the pain, to let yourself down into your seat for days afterwards with a gasp and dismiss that pain as just your womanly due.

But you might pause here and think. Are these events however repetitive sufficient to institutionalize abuse of women. And the answer is probably no. What is required the last most important pillar to set up the institution is what follows below:

A few days later I was walking home with my mum, down a steep rutted path, when out of a silence she suddenly asked, “Why did you ask Daddy not to beat you because of your period?”


“The other day, when you asked Daddy not to beat you because of your period. Did you think it would make you bleed more heavily or something? Why did you - ? What did you think would happen?”

I was puzzled. I decided to stick with pure fact.

“I wasn’t having my period,” I said.
“What? You weren’t?”
“No. I wasn’t,” I waited for her to burst out laughing and congratulate me.
“You mean you lied?” she was shocked.
“Of course!” so was I.
“But why?” she asked.

Abuse is thus institutionalized in culture, only to wreak havoc in her adult life:

Nine years later, my boyfriend picked me up and threw me at a wall. He then kept me up the whole of the rest of the night with various torments. In the morning he sat heavily down as I dragged myself about getting ready for work (he didn't work) and said, "But you know I would never hurt you!"

That statement, and my mother's question, come from the same league of thinking.

And to articulate that league of thinking as best I can is: “But this is the norm, why make such a big deal out of it…like blowing it out of proportion. It happens in every household, so one day 'I' lost control, it isn’t happening everyday! If it were happening everyday we would have taken it seriously. But then again that’s just how fathers and husbands are. They have a certain right, for protecting you and being with you, providing the support they can. Be patient, patience is always a good thing!”

But the author…unlike her mother understands the flaw in this argument. I congratulate her.

If I were to let this sink in deep, I don’t know how deep that would be.

In whatever role one assumes in their lives, if you feel you are abusive (however subtly), be it psychological, with your friends or younger siblings, wives or husbands,children or parents, subordinates or colleagues, students… don’t take it for granted. I am sure it won’t be all that difficult to change. It will be worth your evolution to the next stage of enlightenment, to your joining the club of those people who have already made that journey and are eagerly awaiting you to join them.

If you move to the next stage you will find from people around you, those that have made that journey and whom you never noticed before.

I definitely want to join the mile high club!

But in what ever proportion I have managed to do this, it has only been possible after I thought things through and broke the cycle of victim turned victimizer (however subtle the damage inflicted). I had to figure it out!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Batman - The Dark Knight - Lessons for us

The latest Batman movie – The Dark Knight is a heavy roller coaster ride, a pretty heavy movie I would think. It has a number of characters playing their distinctive roles. But the two principle roles are played by the Joker – an agent of Chaos, an ideal bad; and Batman – an agent of Good , a proposed ideal of good.

Joker is evil because he thinks it is fun. There is no other rationale to it other then to keep himself from getting bored. He thus not only murders people in the most ruthless ways but steals the money of all the mafia bosses from the city of Gotham and sets them on fire, simply because having outsmarted everybody and gotten all the money he couldn’t enjoy anything more then to set it all on fire. Sounds a bit like the concept of fun some teenagers have and I am sure some adults too.

But this is not Joker’s achievement. In order to win the game with Batman in the battle between good and evil he does two other things:

1) He does a social experiment in which he loads two ferries with bombs. One ferry has all the criminals of the city (except joker) and their guards and the second has civilians. The trigger to each of these bombs is in the hands of the opposite ferry. So the experiment is that Joker will blow up both ferries unless one of them blows the other up and saves itself. This experiment fails as both the civilians and the criminals decide not to blow the other up, no one man on the ship can take all the responsibility for pulling the trigger. In this battle the joker losses and Batman wins. Batman also manages to disarm the Joker of the master trigger he has and so all three triggers are not detonated.

2)The other attempt of Joker is to turn Gotham’s hero into a villain. It is to take the district attorney of the city who manages to pull off all the criminals off the street with a little stunt, push him to the point of paranoia and turn him into a villain. In this the Joker wins and Harvey Dent the DA turns into two-face a criminal who is another agent of chaos and decides to kill people based on a flip of a coin, a decision based on pure chance.

The first experiment shows that people can choose good over evil while the second lesson shows that even a hero pushed to the limit can choose evil over good.

A little confusing if I do say so myself!

The final lesson of the movie to which I disagree is this: The people killed by Harvey Dent when he becomes two-face are associated with Batman so that Gotham can continue to believe in their hero while Batman who “can run” and therefore “can afford to take the blame” does so. (Harvey Dent after becoming two-face and going on a mission to kill the people in order to get revenge is finally killed by Batman).

This I think is the most misplaced lesson of all! People don’t need heroes they need to understand and believe in good so that they themselves can become heroes! And if anybody was to be made into heroes it should have been the civilians and the criminals on their ferries who did not decide to blow each other up.

It is said that Muslims of old used to believe in Allah while the Muslims of new believe in Islam. This sounds so similar to the lesson being taught above. We believe not in what is ‘good in itself’ but in ‘ideals of good that we make up’, at least some of us do.

My best description of Reality/Haqiqat

One of the classic questions out there I think is: “What is reality? Or What is Haqiqat? (urdu)”

I don’t think I can define it but I will try to describe it as best I am able.

One description of Haqiqat:
I was being taught a course by an accomplished teacher where I landed with bad grades for the first few exams only to do better in the finals. The sense I made of things that enabled me to get a grip on the course eventually was the fact that the answer written in the exam, that the teacher checked, was only as smart as the understanding that I carried with me. In a sense 'cracking the paper' or thinking smart while working the hours that I put in would get me the grade I wanted.

So if I were to study the subject just a few times, slowly, one chapter at a time, make notes and finally make an “abstract” model of the chapter in my mind which I would carry with me, I would then be able to use that chapter best to my benefit. This is what I understand by the Haqiqat of the chapter.

The Haqiqat of the chapter would dawn on me even more if I related that chapter to everything else I had previously studied or knew, discussed it with my friends and family and looked up related material on the internet.

The more I could relate to the chapter the more the Haqiqat of that chapter would be known to me!

Extension of first description of Haqiqat:
If you notice there are people who make bricks and then there are those that design software for satellites. Having studied computer science I know I can do the latter. All it required was studying a few text books - making of a model in my mind; knowing what to do - and viola there I am. In a sense it will be harder for me to make bricks (till I learn how to) then to make this software.

Similarly somebody born in a Memon family (business community in Pakistan) with a business background would find it a lot easier to do business than I would.

And by a similar token Mao ran China in a way unimaginable to most of us. He “knew” (and kept learning each day) how to do it better.

So at each stage from brick maker, to satellite programmer, to Mao one needs a certain body of knowledge which will enable him to do what he wants to do.

Second description of Haqiqat: (What I learnt from the Zahir)
My mother always tells me that there are people who are shallow and then there are those who have a strong character. I now know what that means. In the book The Zahir by Paulo Coelho, there is a show within the story, a show which has an audience as we read. This audience is told to discuss the most pressing issues that are bothering them in their present lives. When they do discuss it, it becomes apparent that the issues are not very serious rather, what this proverb says applies well: “making a mountain out of a mow hill”.

And here is where having a strong character helps tremendously. You are able to look above the conflict and see clearly that the conflict is too small a matter to worry about.

You therefore (in the sense of the second description) see Haqiqat for what it is.

Third description of Haqiqat:
So if you carry with you an:
1. Abstract model – which is knowledge of reality
2. A strong character which enables you to see beyond conflicts – to see clearly things as they are;

The better you can do this, the more powerful you get: you are more in control of yourself and are able to use your mental faculties better in more difficult situations.

In a religious context Satan has less control over you, other people have less control over you and you have more control over yourself.

In the sense of the ideal of philosophy and psychology you are a happier person.

In terms of philanthropy you are able to help others because you are now in a position to help yourself.

In terms of our third description of Haqiqat you come closer to it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Conversation with a friend from Poland

Faraz: is this correct?
Friend-AB: meanings of what?
Friend-AB: linguistics?
Faraz: english philology
Faraz: *philology
Friend-AB: so that must be it ;)
Friend-AB: but it sounds damn complitated ;)
Friend-AB: complicated lol
Faraz: haha
Faraz: but i am very curious AB...
Friend-AB: about what?
Faraz: how does one manage to get doen with their MA in E.P. and not be analytical?
Faraz: b/c i have this notion...
Faraz: that the study of any subject leads you to be analytical
Friend-AB: well I guess you've got to be a very unusual person you know ;)
Faraz: why's that though ? :)
Friend-AB: because I had to be unusual to be in the top of the class and WITHOUT being analytical ;OD
Faraz: that is most amazing AB, most amazing indeed
Friend-AB: hehe ;)
Friend-AB: I know
Faraz: i am obviously missing something from the equation :)
Friend-AB: well you are
Friend-AB: you're missing me as you can't see me
Faraz: it'll take some more time to see you...time and effort are all that are needed to see anything
Faraz: and to solve any equation
Friend-AB: probably
Friend-AB: you sound to be pretty philosophical yourself ;oD
Faraz: well i suppose this must be how the philosophers think then
Faraz: but to be honest this is the only way i know how to think
Faraz: which makes me supremely curious about you :)
Friend-AB: really?
Friend-AB: what do you want to know?
Friend-AB: just ask I might answer ;oD
Faraz: well...hwo you went about your study of the E.P. without analysising the techniques required....
Faraz: b/c without the process of analysiing hwo can one learn?
Friend-AB: yes
Friend-AB: you can do anything you want
Friend-AB: if you really put ur heart to it
Faraz: and by one definition it is teh process of breaking somethign into its parts , understanding the linkages...and so understanding the thing...and thus to be able you use that thing or technique
Faraz: this is how...i would learn even to drive a car
Friend-AB: yes
Friend-AB: lol
Faraz: so what then is it that you are putting your heart to?
Faraz: if not analysis?
Friend-AB: into my friends
Friend-AB: family
Friend-AB: hobbies
Friend-AB: work
Friend-AB: many stuff
Faraz: i do the same....
Faraz: even music, movies....people , you , and everything else that i come across
Faraz: only i analyse it all...
Faraz: try to find the linkages in them all
Faraz: breaking it down till i can see the linkages
Friend-AB: yep
Faraz: this is what i mean by analysising
Faraz: you do the same?
Friend-AB: sometimes
Friend-AB: but I don't think that much
Friend-AB: about things
Friend-AB: I just go with the flow ;)
Faraz: cool....interesting i don't even remember how to do that anymore :)
Faraz: *interestingly
Friend-AB: why?
Faraz: but i suppose i do it just like you analyse
Faraz: me predominantlys spending my time analysing adn you going with the flow
Faraz: *predominantly
Friend-AB: yes
Friend-AB: well I do think at times you know lol
Faraz: well i think to complete myself the kind of a person i need to marry would have to be somebody like you
Faraz: but that is somethign only experience can confirm
Friend-AB: well I do appreciate
Friend-AB: thanks
Faraz: its a pleasure
*Friend-AB smiles
Faraz: *Faraz: feels good....over meeting a cool virtual friend :)
Faraz: i wish i was in school with you btw
Friend-AB: why?
Faraz: i would have gotten to know you better
Friend-AB: ahh
Friend-AB: yeah I guess
Friend-AB: but we're in totally different parts of the world
Faraz: yeah there is that little situation :)
Faraz: well you never know , on one of my trips abroad i might meet somebody like you
Faraz: i'll know where they're coming from (thinking)
Friend-AB: well I hope you will one day
Friend-AB: athough I am not an angel you know
Friend-AB: I have my shady sides ;oD
Faraz: what possible shady side could an enlightened woman like you have...would be worth discovring in itself :)
Friend-AB: I don't know anyone who is perfect
Friend-AB: neither am I
Faraz: well that is true ... but
Faraz: the higher you go up the ladder of enlightnement ....the less shady you keep getting
Faraz: thankgod for that
Friend-AB: we shall see
Friend-AB: once I hit 90 years old ;oD
Faraz: by that time you'd probably be an angel :)