Monday, August 11, 2008

Technique and essence

Being a mathematics teacher teaching for competitive exams, I understand very well that students give a lot of importance to the techniques to solve problems. They call these techniques by names like short cuts, easy solutions etc. and they wish to know how they can crack their exams in as little time as possible using these techniques. People like short cuts and people like techniques.

Short cuts dont always work! Cliched though it may seem, it is nothing but hardcore truth. If you follow a technique to solve a problem and the problem statement is slightly modified, the technique might not bail you out. You might need to customize the technique to suit your new requirement. And you can only do this if you know the essence of the technique. Essence is that which creates, technique is the created! But knowing the essence, deriving the formulae and understanding the logic behind a method is more tedious than just learning a formula by rote. And thus, the technique is known, the essence compromised!

The whys and hows are the questions that are more difficult to seek answers to than the whats. But only those who make the effort go the distance! Maths is so much like life. We all need to survive. When in school, I did not realize that survival is so easy. Come what may, in the end, everyone survives. Whether you are rich or poor, famous or unknown, intelligent or not, everyone in the end survives. People follow various professions(techniques) to earn a living and survive(essence). But is surviving the final essence? IS that the only purpose? Surviving is in itself a technique for the bigger essence which is living. We are here not just to survive, we are here to live.

Living then is just a technique to attain our purpose in life, which is the essence. And so on. Every technique can be the essence for a newer technique. But, what we need to know is the essence, for once the essence is known the technique can be easily derived.

Most religions in the world today have ended up being a set of rituals and rites(techniques) to be followed. In the technique, we have forgotten the essence and hence, all the terrorism and riots the world over. Let us ask those questions that lead us to the essence. Asking the whys and the hows is a technique that takes you towards the essence. Every technique is like an institution in itself which people follow. But let us de-institutionalize ourself and find out the essence of our every day techniques - techniques to survive, to live and to be happy and blissful.

Let us adopt those techniques that take the journey the reverse way around - those techniques that take you to the essence - to the source and the creator. Lets just breathe and know our ownselves better - let us know numbers before attempting to crack the CAT!!!


Aj said...

I understand that with time, techniques change but the essence (or the conditions) that causes a technique to be created remains the same. What if the situations that created the main reason for a technique are no longer there? [For example, a brahmin created a puja to appease the rain god. Therefore, the reason for the puja is to appease the god. The conditions for the creation of this reason would probably be a draught.)

Would that mean that the techniques are wrong for today's world? If they are wrong, who has the right (or knowledge) to modify the technique because they obviously don't know what conditions caused the technique to be created in the first place. At the end of it all, we're all just a little too scared to make those changes. But it is easier if you create new techniques for todays challenges rather than cling on to older challenges and try modifying them. What say? :)

Shreyans Mehta said...

Hmmm... a very interesting thought there... The idea is to identify the possible essence (as you do in the example pf the draught) and then find pout solutions to problems relevant today. Who has a right to do this? At an individual level, each of us have a right and at a societal level, though changes are slow, things do change. Let the change be in ourselves first.

Also, at a philosophical level, the intent of this write-up was to encourage introspection rather than following the herd mentality. And let the inrospection go deeper and deeper :)

Sainath Salian said...

This is the first of this kind of post I have read. Did not understand quite a lot of it.. But it sure did make an impact else i wouldn't be confessing my lack of knowledge..

Nice posting! :)