Thursday, June 04, 2009

The principles governing individual choices

Any society is constituted by three sets of people - conformists, non-conformists and individualists.

Conformists are those who abide by the rules of the society - explicit or implicit - and believe that the social system and social laws are for their good and try to get them passed on to their future generations.

For example, many-a-times, when students are in school, they abhor the sheer idea of smoking since this abhorrence has been imbibed in them and their parents have passed to them the idea of smoking being a taboo. Such an opinion is formed by a student based on the social imprint of the parent being passed to him/her. The student also recognizes the social repercussions of breaking the code of social conduct. If an individual thus comes to take it for granted that smoking is a bad idea, it is the principle of conformism being put into effect.

The conformist thinks like the herd - or perhaps, lets the herd think for him/her. His/her faith lies in the majority. Such individuals imbibe the good values of their generation to the next but at the same time, carry forward wrong ideas and beliefs prevalent in society. For example, when child marriage or dowry was a common practice, most conformists would agree and stick to these practices believing that what the society thinks is in everyone's best interests irrespective of whether this appeals to his/her individual sense of logic.

The next set of people are the non-conformists whom we encounter frequently these days. Most atheists would fall in this category. Non-conformists reject every idea that the herd sticks to. If the herd says one should not smoke, the non-conformist would make it a point to break this social code and will be happy with the idea that he/she governs his/her life and it is not governed by the masses.

It isn't uncommon phenomenon to hear elderly people say, "Aaj kal ke bachche humaari sanskriti bhool gaye hai". [The current generation of youth has lost touch with our traditions and culture] But, in fact, there is an underlying conformism in this non-conformism. Non-conformists conform to the belief that they have to non-conform to any conformist idea. They oppose for opposing. They believe they are independent from the herd, but actually are equally dependent on it. They work on the herd mentality, albeit, the task they perform is to oppose it. The rejection of the herd thought is a motivation for them and thus they too are dependent on the herd. Yet, most non-conformists would call themselves individualists as calling themselves a part of the non-conforming "herd" would destroy their sense of individualism.

A lot of people move from being conformists to non-conformists due to development of a rationale and a sense of logic and after being disappointed with the existing frame of thought in the prevalent social system.

The last set of people are the individualists. These people judge each idea on its individual merit irrespective of whether the herd accepts it or rejects it. Their judgement arises from a deep sense of emotional understanding coupled with their rationale. "To smoke or not to smoke is an individual's choice but I do not smoke since it is harmful for my health" is something that you might hear an individualist say.

An individualist might reject certain ideas, notions or practices prevalent in society and yet he/she would not hesitate in accepting the social norms which are for his good. The transformation from a non-conformist to an individualist happens due to high emotional maturity which comes through various experiences in life.

Most revolutions that came about in this world were brought in by non-conformists or individualists. The non-conformist replaced capitalism with socialism while the individualist thought of a third alternative imbibing the good part of both the economic systems.

Individualists look for alternatives which take along all the right ideas and try to strike a balance between the conformist and non-conformist ideas without compromising on the right means and morals. In this process, they develop a highly creative bent of mind coupled with a beautiful understanding of all sets of people.

We are all made up of one or more of these three constituents of conformism, non-conformism and individualism. And we all have a choice - to adhere to the herd, to reject it or to base our decisions on the current frame of reference without being prejudiced for or against the herd. It is, after all, a matter of being in balance!

[This post is dedicated to students of various colleges indulging in use of abusive language, substance abuse, ragging etc as these appeal to their sense of non-conformism. I wont conform to being a non-conformist.]

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Of smoking, drinking et al

Transcendence is what we all seek. It is the need of every individual - to go to a higher plane and observe things unfolding around him without his own self getting affected by any of it. Smoking, drinking et al carry a promise - a promise to dissolve the world around. To give u a kick which would make you float high enough to forget worldly troubles - even if for just that one instant. The need, I re-state, is to transcend.

There are two ways "perceived" to attain the transcendental state - one is to get unaware of whats happening around you, assuming that you have transcended the world. If you are unaware of everything around you, you have transcended the world, is it not? This is like closing your eyes and saying the world doesnt exist. Drinking takes you to a world where your consciousness is not conscious enough to distinguish between reality and illusion. Hence, the roads which seem to be dancing when you dance around! And you seem to lose connect with the world. You seem to have transcended all the problems of the world even if for just some time. Poor ostrich with its face buried in the sand!

The second way is to get deeper and deeper into awareness about yourself and nature. The deeper your awareness within yourself, the more you are cut from the world finally transcending the world! This is real transcendence when the mind shuts itself down and no longer perceives anything! You actually dissolve!

So, we have two "perceived" ways to achieve transcendence - to get unaware of the existence of the world and believe that the world doesnt exist and has been transcended. This is called deluding yourself! And the other way is to get fully aware of yourself, thus bringing about a natural transcendence, which is real - the attainment of a blank mind. So, we can either get unaware of the world or get aware of our own self - that is just the difference there is.

We all want to dissolve into nothing - for nothing is the end of all misery and the hope of all liberation. We can either choose to run away from the problems and roll the garbage under the carpet believing that the problems dont exist anymore, later leading to a stinking room or we can clean the garbage daily. Drinking, smoking just give a temporary dose of relief but actually make the whole carpet stink later in form of a diseased body and a consequently troubled mind. Smoking starts stressing rather than de-stressing. At this point, most people admit that they wish to kick the butt.

The other way is to realize that smoking or drinking does nothing but triggers some chemicals within the body and it is these chemicals, and not the habit of drinking/smoking per se which causes the transcendence. When we realize these body chemicals cause the feeling of transcendence, we can look out for techniques which bring about transcendence by releasing these chemicals without your consuming smoke or alcohol.

And when we realize that there exist possibilities of real transcendence, much beyond running away from the world, within oneself, a smoker or drinker would automatically quit for he has found a better alternative which further improves even physical health! Welcome meditation!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Science versus Art conundrum (Part 3)

The Solution

To understand water as a whole, we need to know both - its constituents and properties. Trying to separate the scientific from the artistic is the cause of a lot of problems. Religions today "seemingly" have no scientific basis, not because they are not scientific, but because they are followed blindly in the artistic method. People follow the techniques and rituals without knowing its scientific essence.

On the other hand, science and analysis will ever remain incomplete if we cannot adopt a holistic view to look at things. Science cannot explain the basis of intuition and feelings from which arise all major pieces of art. To try to dig deeper further takes the scientists away from the truth. Rather than to pinpoint xyz as the cause of an issue, we need to see that a lot of times there is no direct causal relationship identifiable. Certain events just happen and can be understood on an experiential basis only. That you go digging into why the event occurred after its occurrence will lead you to reasons but to no avail. Events will keep on happening and we will keep analyzing. Sometimes, the flutter of a butterfly in Japan can cause a tornado in the US as per the butterfly effect. There lies no way to predict despite infinite analysis. Science needs a more accepting attitude towards art.

Thus, a more intellectual approach by the followers of art and a more accepting approach by the scientific thinkers can help us bring an equilibrium in the world and a combination of these attitudes can help us solve any problem in a much better manner.

As Guruji puts it, "Kuch jaan ke chalo, kuch maan ke chalo, sabko pyaar se jeetke chalo". [Know somethings and move ahead, believe somethings and move ahead, Win everyone with love and keep moving ahead :)]

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Science versus Art conundrum (Part 2)

The drawbacks

The Artistic Method
An artist, using his creative skills and imagination, creates something beautiful, picturesque. Any work of creation is a work of art. Any scientific theory, any painting or for that matter, any religion is also a work of art. Certain pieces of art become accepted and loved by a large number of people. Then, these pieces of art are followed as the standard de-facto. Over a period in time, people forget the significance of these pieces of art and follow them blindly. Any society or religion is marred by the same problem. People follow religion blindly, not knowing the essence of this piece of creation. And what happens then is a matter known to one and all. Seeing water just in terms of its properties will never let you understand the essence of water.

The mass acceptance of some art causes any opponent or disbeliever to be maligned and seen as an infidel or a man with bad taste. People follow what they do not understand. And in this process of mad blindness, they dont understand the essence of things which forms a further blockade in the very process of creation of art - for art to be created needs understanding of the core and the basics; an understanding of the truth and the essence. Thus, the artistic method creates art which blocks further art from being created! The process impedes itself!

The Scientific Method
The method of science probes into the very basics of things. It tries to delve deep and deep into an issue so that the roots of a problem are reached and then it is finally resolved. But, in the process of this probing, there comes a point where further probing disintegrates the problem itself.

Once, we understand that oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water, probing further to understand water by understanding the properties of oxygen and hydrogen does not work! Beyond a point, analysis fails to bail you out. Rather, it takes you away from the very reality that you wished to know! Once again, the method impedes itself!
(To be continued...)