Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to leave the Matrix

To realize we are living in the matrix shouldn’t take too long:

Close your eyes, clear your thoughts of everything. Now open them and take in everything. Ask yourself this:

1. Why am I here?
2. Why do I look the way I look [A creature with two hands, two legs, a torso and a head]?
3. Why is it that my name is X?
4. Why do I have a family?
5. Is it real?
6. Does it even exist?
7. Why? And why in this specific configuration? Why do I need to continue breathing?
8. Where has all this come from?
9. Who turned on the switch to this movie?
10. Who wrote the script?
11. Who set up the stage that I am acting in?
12. Why?
13. But Why?
14. What right now is the perfect most beautiful thing to do?
15. Will this movie keep playing after 5 minutes?
16. Why does it exist like this?
17. Why am I here?
18. What is right and what is wrong?
19. Why is right right and wrong wrong, why do I know these words? Why do they exist? What is the point?
20. I can hear someone, I can feel my back against the chair, let me close my eyes and take in all that I sense [After a few minutes...]
21. Who put me in this Matrix? Why did He do this?
22. Everything I feel right now reminds me of HIM...
23. The deep blue ocean nearby and its waves, the hot blazing sun; the vast empty space between them; I feel this, like I feel the chair, like the sounds all around me, everything exists.
24. And I am at the center. Why do I know all this?
1. Yes I remember now, all of us had stood together and had made a covenant with our Lord.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Maturity - a journey from Birth to Death

Life is a journey from birth to death and there are many angles from which to look at this journey. One such angle is “maturity”.

At birth one is here to “get”. When a baby dirties his/her diaper they cry; the baby continues to cry till the diaper is changed or the baby goes blue in the face. The baby does this to “get” their diaper changed.

At death one leaves this world and whatever he has with him. Everything he had, if only a torn piece of cloth is left behind. He “gives” to anybody who is there to take it.

This is a journey from “get” to “give” and the journey in between is what I describe below.

The journey viewed in this way has three stations. The first station belongs to the baby and to the child who eventually grows into a demanding teen. When his demands cannot be met his parents “resist” and so the teen has to develop a new tactic. He has to “give to get” and this then brings him to the second station [He has progressed from “get” to “give to get”].

Many of us are now in the second station. Social exchange theory talks about an “economic transactional view of a relationship”. Since such a view is true of our closest relations it is also true of our interactions with other employees at the “work place”.

The reason most of us are compelled “by a force of nature” to move to the third station [in which we “give” without wanting to “get”] is the dissonance we feel in the second station. This is because as long as we expect to “get” we hand over some power to the "other" and this leaves us somewhat vulnerable.

Note if you want to “get” from somebody else, something tangible like “money” or intangible like “significance” the other will always have some power over you.

And this is why the “second station” may even be accompanied by a lack of “sincerity”. This is because the motive behind “giving” is not “for the sake of giving or helping the other” but for some “return”.

It is only in the third and final station that the person feels “complete tranquility”. Here the individual “gives” without expecting to “get”. The reason complete tranquility is only possible in this station is because when you stop expecting to “get” you close the doors to [internal] conflict.

The example below might explain the third station better.

This example is about a dispute between a Hindu and a Muslim over a garden [The roles of the Muslim and Hindu could very well be reversed; this example is only given to highlight the significance of the third station]. To resolve the dispute the Hindu sought the help of a religious Hindu group that decided to march to the Muslim’s house to demand the “papers to the Garden”.

With the mob outside and his family inside the Muslim “seemed to have” few choices left with him. He walked out to the group and asked for their leaders to come inside, to resolve the matter.

He showed the group leaders the papers, requested them to go over them and told them he would accept whatever decision they took.

The group left and the leaders were to review the papers. On review the leaders found clear evidence that the Garden did in fact belong to the Muslim.

They returned the papers to the Muslim and asked the Hindu not to misuse them again.

The point this example serves is: When the Muslim decided he could “let go of the Garden” is when he had most leverage over the situation.

The switch from the second station to the third station requires a change in perspective. You still “get” as the Muslim got back his garden but you get because people are “willing” to give. Here you get because you tap into the rules of nature [rules of reality]. You get because “God has promised this”.

Some people have also said of “heaven” and “hell” that to them neither is important; they are driven to fulfill their “purpose” by their “love of God” and by this love alone. Perhaps this is what they mean.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rung dae [Color me]

When you put a piece of cloth in a bowl of ink the cloth takes its color. However the degree to which the cloth does this depends on the type of the cloth.

While “pure cotton” might absorb more of the ink, a synthetically made piece of cloth may absorb very little. That said the following two results are inevitable for any piece of cloth put in ink:

1. The cloth will absorb ink
2. The amount of color absorbed will depend on the material that the cloth is made of

In Sufi discourse "Rung dae" is the final milestone between a teacher and his disciple. It translates into “color me”. When the disciple says this he means "today let my understanding reach its highest level yet by allowing your influence on me to be complete".

Positive energy and Negative energy

At a microscopic level we are composed of cells and the cells of atoms and the atoms are composed of tremendous energy.

So basically we are ‘energy’ and like us everything in nature around us is also energy. There is however “positive energy” and “negative energy”. When you are in the company of a “positive thinker” his or her impact on us is discernable. Similarly when we are with people who think “negatively” their influence on us is also something we can feel.

If I were to make a “mathematical formula” out of this it would go onto say that positive energy combines with positive energy to create an upward spiral of greater positive energy and that negative energy similarly combines with negative energy to create an inverse spiral.

This very well describes the effect on us of watching a beautiful sunset, dolphins swimming in the ocean, a roaring waterfall, the sound of chirping birds early in the morning and so on.

I think it would be safe to conclude that one must “make sure” they never get caught in a negative spiral!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The future of mankind

In a society where people have equal rights; right to vote, right to education, right to health, right to security, right to a good job; everybody who would work hard could do well. Everybody would thus be free to pursue happiness. This society would be more evolved than one where such equality of rights is not present.

In any case for equality of rights to exist at a societal level, equality of rights would have to be a value accepted by society.

In such a society however people could still view a relationship among individuals as being based on an [economic] transactional model where the value of a relationship is proportional to its benefit to the individuals. If however, society were to evolve to a higher value where a relationship among individuals were not viewed as a means [to success] but as a goal [of success] i.e. the milestones in the relationship become the milestones of success [in the journey to self-actualization], individuals would have to keep the “wellbeing of the other” close behind “the pursuit of one’s own happiness”.

Such a society would probably take upon itself the responsibility of ensuring the wellbeing of each of its members. It would require it to accommodate each subgroup even every member of the society. For such an accommodation to take place the society would have to create solutions to various problems. If such solutions were to become necessary for society then it would have to innovate and perhaps invent its way to these solutions. A society that took care of itself in this way would inevitably become a role model for other societies.

A society is however a group of individuals. Groups exist in many other forms such as a nuclear family, an extended family, a community, a nation, a religion and finally the whole of humanity. To reach equilibrium in a larger group is harder because of greater diversity. However the results of such equilibrium have to be proportionally significant. I think this partly explains why the Quran says [I have misplaced the exact reference – will put it here soon]: “Your creation and resurrection should be like the creation and resurrection of a single soul”.

For the whole of humanity to become a single soul; for every individual on the planet to be accommodated, humankind would have to answer many tough questions. When we have these answers we will achieve happiness in a way we have never experienced before.

The other side of this argument is however a little disturbing. This is the argument: for a group of any size, if the group were to not accommodate some of its members, the members that are left unsatisfied would emerge as a minority that would perhaps demand their rights [as a collective i.e. all the members of the minority] from the majority. Perhaps this is why the Muslims of India wanted a separate state. Perhaps this is why sects are born.

People inevitably rise when they feel they are being wronged. This continues until the larger group gives enough concessions to the smaller group leading to a state of equilibrium. Equilibrium is thus inevitable for any two conflicting groups. While the two groups may not agree with each other they tolerate each other’s existence. Unfortunately the process of adjustment to reach this equilibrium can be quite painful. [This is most evident in the case of the Middle East crisis.] Since equilibrium is inevitable it is in the interest of groups to readjust themselves in the least painful manner possible.

Equilibrium thus requires tolerance. If the whole of humanity were to tolerate its own diversity [and not fight proxy wars among itself] it would come closer to becoming a single soul.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thinking from the heart

Somebody said: “Leave the Church of your mind to enter the tavern of love”.

The mind it has been said earlier judges, fears, envies, thinks itself superior to others and wants to be recognized as superior, loves to live in a “high/elite” culture apart from the rest of the world. While the heart loves; it loves simplicity, wants to help others [is always in search for common ground], enjoys company, recognizes misery, and appreciates effort.

The heart I feel was made to guide the mind and therefore point it to the knowledge it needs.

If we were to ask the question: How should my relationship with person X be?
The answer given from within the Church of the mind will be different from that given from within the tavern of love. This could very well be the case for all relationships.

This is also true for many other questions; a few are given below:
1. What should my partner be like? [marriage]
2. What should my role on this planet be?
3. Is learning a complex-abstract-horrifying process or a simplifying-concrete-enabling process?
4. Is it cool to be an elite, outlier in a group or a popular member who can “relate” to other members and is therefore respected by them.
5. Is my life miserable or a challenge, something I suffer or something that grooms me?
6. Is God bad for creating Satan and permitting sin or good for enabling them to drive us out of our cocoons of foolishness?
7. If I view my past should I worry about the mistakes I made or visit such moments [in memory] as assets – as building blocks of experience.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to relate better with people

To relate better with people it is necessary to find common ground with them. To improve our ability to do this we should meet people from very diverse backgrounds and empathize with them in as many aspects of their lives as possible to discover principles that they all agree to [even though they may not always act upon these principles].

Everybody will appreciate the idea of resolving an issue in a more non-violent way than a violent way if [the non-violent method] can in fact be shown to solve the problem.

Similarly everybody will appreciate the negative connotation of being helpless because of circumstance and how making an effort to improve one’s condition is commendable [although many would think the amount of effort almost impossible].

Everybody will respect the love between a husband and a wife – [I am sure] societies from all over the world have written literature on the topic.

Everybody will agree that humiliating other people is not acceptable as a general mode of behavior. Once they agree to this rule it can be shown to them how [by extension of this rule] it is not acceptable to humiliate that particular individual they are targeting!

These values and many similar values are commonly agreed to by people.

Once one becomes articulate in these basic values it is very amusing when one meets people who [despite acknowledging these values] are violating them.

I find it very amusing when I come across people who are humiliating others when there is no reason to, are very aggressive when it is not needed, are shy of girls because they don’t understand the beauty and simplicity of a romantic relationship, feel a victim of circumstance when In fact it is only this feeling that is the real problem; in short it is very amusing to come across people who don’t have these basic concepts right and therefore are facing nerve wrecking trouble.

As this structure of knowledge develops discourse with people improves. One can find common ground quicker.