Saturday, March 1, 2008

A long gap

It has been a l..o...n...g time since I wrote anything here. The reason...? Well.. hmmm.. Should I reveal that I just fizzed out. Or I just lost interest.

I don't know really. May be I just did not reveal my blog to my friends, family to get a feedback. A feedback - poitive or negative - would have definitely spurred me on the continue writing.

I was doing a lot of talking in the long gap. I should reflect on that adventure and imprint the process and the outcome.

I was summoned by my friend Madhan kumar to handle the Life skills classes for IX standard student sof TVS matriculation school,

It was quite an experience. Or an ordeal ?!

The students were initially very eager to hear form their new life skills instructor ( or trainer ?)

Because of my lack of experience in handling school students, to start with, I fumbled a lot.

then I learnt from me blunders. The students craved for activites more than lectures or puzzles.

I hope i can share on the topics taken and the process/outcome.

so long for now..

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Walk the talk

Walk the talk

It is early morning and I was taking my bath. I was in great hurry to start from the home to honour an appointment. One of my friends had called me from Hyderabad. My friend usually will not hang the phone without chitchatting for a minimum of 15 minutes, even if I am in a hurry. So I told my wife to say that I had gone away. My son who had been watching all this loudly objected to my falsehood. It was only couple of days back I had given him the credo of speaking the truth. Why we should not lie. And how god will punish those who speak lies. And now I was going back on my words in a couple of days. You know how ashamed I felt. Why could not I just conveyed to my friend that I was in such a hurry that I cannot speak to him now. What hindered me?

Perhaps most of us had such moments of disgrace when we cannot uphold the values and principle we profess and like to follow. Why do we falter at crucial junctures? Does it show a lack of commitment to our values ? Or is it due to our lack of conviction in them ? I believe both. If we truly believe the credo of truth, honesty, justice etc. We would definitely give our life to honour them.

There have been simple men who lived their life with meaning and never bothered to worry the history writers. They are nameless but they stuck on to their task of following their heart. And then there have been the mahatmas who created history. Where do I stand? Can I live by my values and ideals I profess? Can I “walk my talk”?

My left-brain says that I should consider the strategy of carefully choosing my ‘talk’. Do not advice what you yourself cannot follow. There is an interesting anecdote my 5th standard class teacher told us. One-day mother brought a boy to Gandhiji and complained that he was eating lot of sweets and his teeth are getting spoilt. But he is still unwilling to stop the habit. Gandhiji was silent for a few minutes. After much though he asked the mom to bring back the boy after two weeks. When she did return, the mahatma advised the brat to stop eating sweets. The mother was very curious as to why he had not done this advice earlier. He replied that he himself was eating sweets a lot, and how could he reprimand the boy!

But there is a serious flaw in that kind of thinking. If we only talk what we could walk, then we would restrict our values. Then we would be careful in choosing to follow our values. In that case we would be only fooling ourselves. The values are built into our conscience. They are meticulously built into our mental framework during our childhood, by our parents and important others. We cannot just follow a few values and choose to ignore some. We would feel the pangs of conscience. There might creep up in our mind an uneasy feeling that we cannot attribute to any tangible cause. To avoid this we should be holistic in our implementation of values.

I am resolving to go through my life enabling the outward expression of my core values. While in the process I feel my every mental muscle of will power being stretched to its limit. It is painful initially. But I feel happy that I am transcending the banal desires and impulses and showing the way for my kids. The extraordinary responsibility of raising kids in these crazy times rest on us. We may have to repent a lot later if pseudo values corrupt our kids. By ‘pseudo values’ I am referring to the hedonistic superficial values of pure self-gratification.

So the tremendous importance of walking our talk is self-evident. Our family and thereafter the society depend upon people who walk the talk. If the scientists, bureaucrats, policy makers, social advocates and more importantly swamis’s, Christian fathers, and imam’s - the moral custodians of the society of religion do not practice what they preach then the societal structures will crumble under an adventitious crisis. Already very much aware of the ills of our society due to the hypocrisy and nepotism of the politicians. But the responsibility of upholding the principles does not stop with them. Each one of us should realize that it is up to us follow the philosophy of life we believe will facilitate our spiritual growth, help our family realize its potential and harmonious living in the society we belong.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Pride

My Pride

The invention or rather discovery language by humanity is regarded as the most important of all. Because, without the language for communication modern civilization would not have progressed further. Nevertheless we cannot pride (oops…!) ourselves to have achieved much in the refining of that tool. In any language the words symbolize more than one meaning. And easily you can be misunderstood. And ‘Pride’ is one such word.
There are five meanings to this proud word. It used mostly as a noun and rarely as verb, when it is used “to value a skill or good quality that you have”. It can be used to denote “a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that you get because you or people connected with you have done or possess or done something good”. And it also can used indicate “the feeling of your own worth and respect for yourself” – self-esteem. Or can disapprovingly to “the belief that you are better or more important than other people”. Lastly, it is used for indicating “a group of lions”. It all depends on the context of use.
Now when do I have this feeling of Pride? The feeling of fulfillment; that I have something I value. It can be after a good meal. After which I may feel that I have a wife who can cook really tasty food for me. It can be when my daughter gets Class first or second. The feeling that my daughter is better than the 23 other kids studying in her class. I can feel proud for thousand other reasons. After I buy a new electronic gadget like a mobile phone, iPod etc. More importantly this my heart swells with this feeling when I buy something costly like a plot of land or a new car. The vital thing is that on all these occasions I need to compare myself (or people I ‘own’) somebody else.
There are times I feel proud of my intellectual bent of mind, and about my ability to understand abstract concepts. No fact I happen to be very arrogant. During my college years I used read the lessons even before my professor had taught them in the class. I used find fault at their classes and embarrass them. I was proud of my accomplishments. But, one of my professors called me alone and admonished me about my teasing the teachers. I put an end to that habit then and there. It was only recently my psychological knowledge reveal to me the motive behind my behaviour. My pride got a serious blow as a result of my surprisingly low cut-off marks required to enter the professional courses. And I could not study MBBS, which was my ambition. In order to hide my hurt I was inflicting hurt on my lecturers. Strange … but true.
I remember an interesting incident. I was at my aunt’s place for the eight standard summer vacation. It so happened that one night the phone bell was ringing continuously. My aunt was a gynecologist and she normally gets emergency phone calls from her hospital. That night I woke up and found everybody asleep. I attended the phone. It was indeed an emergency. And I informed my aunt about the emergency. My aunt was so happy that she kissed me on my forehead and promised to buy me a gift and hurried for the hospital. But, the tragedy was she forgot about the whole episode. I did not feel pride on my achievement. It was because nobody knew about it. And, I did not want to reveal it myself.
When my parent came to pick me up I was eagerly awaiting my aunt revealing my great feat. Thanks to my mom’s enquiry about my behaviour during the holiday. She remembered the incident. I was joyfully anticipating the reward. The anticlimax was that it was a wrong call for some other doctor. And my aunt had to spend the rest of the night at the hospital. She did not say anything about it fearing that I may feel bad. On hearing this from mom, I did feel bad then. She loved me so much that she did not want to break my tender heart. Now twenty years later I am proud of my aunt. The perspective has changed.
I have a car. And I am so proud about it. It is a matiz. It makes me feel good. Until I see my friends car, which is a stylish and bigger Ford fiesta. I am surprised. I don’t make such comparisons. But these come up from our unconscious mind, and you are caught unawares. Previously I used to feel guilty for feeling jealous about my friends possessions. And the thought used to linger long in my mind. I have come to understand that pride and jealousy are related feelings. You will frequently alternate between these two states, if you are playing the game of comparison. Now of late I just do not give attention to the thought. And it just evaporates like a passing cloud without a trace.
The vanity of the modern life has had its impact on me. And it is only a reflective study of spiritual readings helped to be aware of my pride. In fact during a period of time I was very proud of my progress on the path. However I had frequently received jolts from the existence and realized my folly. But I cannot say with confidence that I have completely absolved myself from my pride. But I can vouchsafe my capacity to detect when it raises its ugly head. Soon the awareness melts away the icy feeling of pride. Even during this exercise of writing I was comparing myself with my good friend, Madhan. I was feeling proud for some reason and inferior for some other. But it did not take me long time to recognize my discomfiture. I could smoothly tide over the uneasy ripple in my consciousness.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

On Karma

On Karma

It was a half past four, early morning in the summer of ’83. Our family had been traveling to Madurai from chennai, in an ‘omni’ bus. It was raining cats and dogs. But the bus driver did not mind it. He was driving like a formula one race driver, negotiating the curves with aplomb. Alas there was this very C curve that he misjudged. The result: the vehicle carrying 75-80 passengers skidded at great speed. The brakes were jammed. It was moving towards a ‘kamma’ on the other side of the road. Nothing could stop it. But, there was this single huge ‘thoongu moonji’ tree. And the bus crashed into it headlong and stopped. It was nothing short of a miracle. It could have easily missed the lone tree and fallen into the ‘kamma’ killing a few and severely injuring many in the process. But…it did not happen. The driver later recounted that he lost control of the vehicle and he could not see any tree in the heavy rain. The tree saved the lives of many and prevented a disaster.

Was it really the tree, which saved the day for the passengers of the fateful bus? Or was it something else. An old man in the bus exclaimed minutes after the accident, “It was the good karma of the few people traveling in the bus which saved rest of us.” I was a teenager then, and I could not understand the word ‘karma’. My query to my mom about the meaning of the word met with a stoic reply, “It is your father. He is our karma.” So my understanding of ‘karma’ was firmly established. My father is karma. He is the superhero who saved us all. I was very proud. One day I will succeed him. Not until my paternal grandma broke the myth of karma. She explained my mother’s wrathful reply and declared that it was he forced us to board that ill-fated bus, ignoring my mother’s plea to travel by train the next day.
What is actually karma? Even though it is a Sanskrit word, karma has found its way into Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary. May be it was karma, that it should so happen! The lexicon opines karma, as a “(in the Buddhist and Hindu religions) the force produced by a person's actions in one of their lives which influences what happens to them in their future lives”. So the definition presupposes the concept of reincarnation present in these religions. The ideas of reincarnation and karma have had a tremendous influence on the Indian society. Its many values and traditions are intricately linked with these vital ideas. The value of truth, justice, ahimsa, chastity, non-covetousness, service, sacrifice. Everything is based on Karma. People were advised to uphold the values in order to clear their bad karmas (evil deeds) and create good karmas (good deeds). Karma means both the action and the result of the action. If you do good things respecting the values outlined above, you will have a good karma leading to a blissful life. On the contrary if you commit bad things to other living beings then you will incur negative karmic impressions and will lead of suffering. It is an extension of the theory of causality into the moral realm. The doctrine of karma has helped build the morality of the Indian nation, which has not invaded any country as military aggression. But its ideas have pervaded the whole world through the ‘wandering monks’.

In this age of science, one can ask, “What scientific proof can you show for the effect of karma ?”. A rational questions no doubt. The evidence for karma has only an indirect evidence. If one can prove that reincarnation is true the same can be said of Karmic influences. The lives of the individual soul, which travels from successive births, can be examined. The most telling evidence comes from the experience and writings of Dr. Brian Weiss, a psychiatrist who had personally recorded the recounting of past lives ofhundreds of persons in his best-selling book "many lives, many masters". These individuals could remember, under the hypnosis, their past lives and occupations. A young nurse could recall in one of past lives the process of embalming the dead, taking care of the horses in another. In her present life she could no access to these knowledge and skills. There were many such cases.
Similarly, in 1997, Stevenson released Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects, a two-volume, 2268-page examination of cases in which persons were born with birthmarks or birth defects related to traumas purportedly suffered by a "previous personality," and medical records associated with such cases. His research, over 3,000 study cases, provides evidence suggestive of reincarnation, though he himself was always careful to refer to them as "cases suggestive of reincarnation" or "cases of the reincarnation type." Professor Stevenson himself recognized one fundamental flaw in his argument for reincarnation: the absence of any evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body. [See ]
Since the law of karma operates, in the spiritual plane, its operation cannot be demonstrated as in a laboratory. There will be only indirect proofs. [ see ]And there is a popular western belief that karma declines freewill and it engenders fatalism and inaction aka inertia. But it is not true. Swami Vivekananda outlines in his karma yoga that it behooves the humanity to do their duty to best of their abilities, enjoying it all the while, without unduly worrying about the fruits of the effort. This, swami asserts is karma yoga. And it is the highest yoga of all.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Do the Indian kids need sex education?

Do the Indian kids need sex education?

Sex had always been a taboo in the Indian society. Even if the temples are not short of bare breasted female idols. I remember my dad or mom closing my eyes suddenly when we were watching movies in theaters. Initially I would be so terrified by this maneuver that I used get anxious and panicky anticipating the next time the tackle would occur . The trigger, I later found out, to such tackles were explicit scenes depicting sex. Usually it would be a James bond movie, with occasional scenes of his romantic advances to the female actresses. Because, in those days, cinema halls were the only source of such embarrassing moments. And parenting was not a big problem.

But these days one can watch porn movies at the nearby Internet browsing centre, in spite of the ban. Obviously, the 11 or 12 year old kid who watches it is seriously misled and sexually stimulated quite early in life. And for the not so adventurous kids frequent doses of soft-porn are delivered regularly at home – courtesy the cable television. No amount of parental alertness could prevent such mishaps. And what with the kids having their own TV sets in most of the affluent homes. It is now an unpreventable ‘evil’.

In this scenario, should we should ask the question of the morality or wisdom of educating about sex to school kids. If not, why? If yes how should we go about it ? What would be the methodology and what should be the limit? The government is already implementing the project in CBSE schools. Soon the state government schools would follow suit, if not already.

I personally believe that sex education is a necessary addition to the school education. A few people may oppose the issue by citing our culture and religious norms, forgetting that 'bharat' is the first nation in the planet earth to provide a complete treatise on sex. They are ignorant about the beautiful paintings of Ajanta; the fabulous carvings of the khajuraho. One might ask, “ Why should it be done in schools ? Why cannot the interested parents do it themselves for their wards at home?” There are lots of hurdles of doing it at home. The father or mother themselves may not be aware of the sacredness of the sexual phenomenon. And some may feel shy to talk about it to their offspring. Or they may not be able to communicate their ideas effectively. So, ideally it should be carried out by experts, preferably doctors and psychologists.

Human sexual behavior, like many other kinds of activity engaged in by human beings, is generally governed by social rules that are culturally specific and vary widely. These social rules are referred to as sexual morality (what can and can not be done by society's rules) and sexual norms (what is and is not expected). They should be taught to the future citizens of India. With western media relentlessly beaming information contrary to our culture and ideologies, we need educate the kids in all aspects of human life.
It is not enough to just give them technical knowledge to earn a livelihood.
Hitler was a man of tremendous will power, and power of speech to communicate his ideas to a nation. He had the vision to change the face humanity. But alas... his conscience was not well developed. All his strengths went against the interests of humanity. And he brought forward the most terrible destruction on earth. It was due to incomplete education. So in order to be effective education should be complete in enabling the learner to take up the challenge of life and come out victorious, physically, mentally, financially, socially and spiritually.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

On technology

A few years back calling a loved one in a distant land such as USA would be such an ordeal that you have to plan it ahead for two days. Estimate the cost involved. Work out a cost-benefit ratio. Go to the ISD booth. Usually one did not have the facility at home, in case the kids unwittingly tamper with it. Then one normally speaks for a few seconds hurriedly, and hangs up. Then the foreign connection would call us on our home number. The whole process takes so much energy, the next time you have to talk, you think twice about it.
But now, things have changed. You can talk to your son or daughter anywhere in the world. all you need is PC with Internet facility. The changes like this have come with astonishing speed, one cannot help to be amazed by the technological development. In fact we are very much dependent upon technology for our day to day life. Old timers find fault with this phenomenon. But the gen next have welcomed this techno explosion with open hands.
There is a negative aspect of this electronic revolution. The Sony play station, x box for the kids have made them couch potatoes. They prefer to stay glued to their gaming devices than go out and play in the ground. This is a matter serious concern. Because if the kids do not go out play, how will they get used to physical exercises, the sun, the falling on the ground etc. Their bones and muscles will develop strong enough to endure physical exertion in the future. They will also fail to learn the lesson of winning and losing in reality.
No one can deny the fact that the telecommunications have been a catalytic factor in modern India resurgence in the world economy. Mobile phones have changed the way business is carried out in modern India. In fact India is the largest market for mobile phones. But, this is exactly the problem. The school and college students have fallen head over heels for the mobile craze. It is considered a shame to be without a cell phone. And they talk, talk and talk in the mobile for hours. And disturbs (just every body) them wherever they go. Obviously this can seriously affect their academic performance.
The tools of technology are neither good nor bad. It is the way in which we use them that is important.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

In pursuit of happiness

I wonder if there would be a single sane human being in this planet who would not want happiness. Unless until he is suffering for a cause. We all are in pursuit of happiness. It is after all a state of mind. Confucius says, " once you are aware that you are happy, your happiness ends". If so, is it a state of forgetting our Self - our bundle of anxieities, aspiration, hatred, jealousy, secret agendas etc. If only briefly.
There are certain basic needs which have to be met in order be comfortable. I am happy to find water when i am thirsty; food when I am hungry, a toilet when I have the nature's call. But then these are momentary 'pleasures'. What would give me perpetual happiness - absolute, unconditional bliss ? Rishis have, since aeons, had their supreme goal as the 'anandha' - bliss. we ordinary mortals, treading this 21st century would want a 'understanding' (read acceding to all wishes) family, peaceful workplace, and a enlightened society. But I am also a part this society - as an individual member. what is my contribution to make others happy. If only I am happy and and don't care about others. Is it not selfishness ?
We are born crying, but want to live laughing ! But we were also born happy - after a long stay in a dark and cramped up space called uterus. All our needs taken care of by that angel called mother. she feeds us when hungry, cleans our excreta, sings us songs ( or atleast plays the music system). we were very happy then. How then we lose our happiness.
When we developed desires, ambitions. But ambitions are good. everyone should have them. To motivate ourselves to achieve. In order to.....? In order to be happy. oh..what have we done. We have set ourselves conditions to be happy. we will not allow ourself to be happy if we do not attain certain materialistic gains. Our happiness is conditional.