Monday, October 24, 2011

The Spiritual Way of Life

What is a self-proclaimed agnostic doing talking about spirituality? You may ask.

Just to clarify, it's one of my periodic exercises to revisit the questions: What the hell is going on? What do I want? What should I do?

Here, I will jot down my current thoughts on these fundamental questions. I will be as brief as possible. Disclaimer: It's an opinion. If you manage to read it through, please use it to trigger your own thoughts. I am not a spiritual guru for sure.

Two Stimuli. Whatever we do, we do as a reaction to two types of stimuli: External and internal. These stimuli are distinct, but they mix with each other in a complicated way. One of the important exercises of spirituality is to sort this confusion out. The spiritual way of life is strive and react to only internal stimuli.

How do I know if it's an internal stimulus. Internal stimuli lead to perpetuation of happiness. External stimuli cause temporary happiness without leading to anything perpetual.

The final destination. A state of perfect happiness and perfect harmony. And it will be characterised by complete lack of conflict. There will be no conflict between our inherent needs and wants. There will no conflict between inner and outer requirements.

In real life. Do things which are uniformly good for oneself, and for everything/everyone else. No exploitation. No sacrifices. This will lead to weeding out of conflicts both from within, and from outside. Though inner harmony is what we really want, it can't be achieved without harmony with the external world.

What causes harmony? Any act of violence leads to disharmony. Anything done with the intention of creation a global win is a step towards harmony. Winning competitions are not harmonious. Gains planned over someone's loss are disharmonious. Creating knowledge through thinking or experimentation is harmonious. Creating hope of harmony is also harmonious.

Definition of violence. Anything that causes death is not violence. Anything that seeks death, or is knowingly based on death is violence. Peace can't be achieved via acts of violence.

Seeking harmony and meaning is harmonious. Leading a life which rejects the notion is disharmonious.

There is no logical reason I can think of which can tell if trying to lead a harmonious and meaningful life is any better or worse than not doing so. I think it's a choice one has to make. I even feel that people make these choices in their mother's womb. I haven't seen people switching midway.

My life. My choice is to look for a meaning. As I said, I consider it a choice. Not a logical deduction. It's similar to choices like being good citizens. I believe that all people (myself included) can be happy. I believe that all wars (including the ones within me) can end. It doesn't make an iota of difference if these beliefs are realistic or not. Living for this unrealistic ideal is every bit more fun than resigning to a dismal fate that terms life a meaningless Brownian motion leading nowhere.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Science and Marketing

Science gives solutions to existing problems. Marketing gives problems to existing solutions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prof. Priti Shankar

Sharing a sad news: Prof. Priti Shankar of CSA, IISc is no more!

She was the first teacher whose lecture I had attended during my stay in IISc. I feel indebted to all the support she had provided during my early and most difficult days in IISc. Throughout her days she has inspired innumerable students as a great human-being, teacher, researcher and as a woman. And beyond her time, she will continue to do so.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Remembering Jagjit Singh

'ये आज़ान के स्वर हैं. ये पिआनो बाजे में नहीं होते.' It was one of those late live concert albums Jagjit Singh said this. During my PhD days, my labmate used to play it again and again, he being a big Jagjit Singh fan.

Jagjit Singh's songs don't sound hard. In fact, they appear ridiculously simple. But, Jagjit Singh is also the most hard to imitate singer. I was moved to remembering late Jagjit Singh several times in the last one day after his demise. And I tried humming his songs: 'शाम से आँख में...', 'एक  पुराना मौसम लौटा...', 'होश वालो को खबर क्या...' Like every time in the past I have done that, this time too, I felt like a piano, which doesn't have all the notes in it. Jagjit Singh had those other notes in him. His voice weaved magic into songs which would be lifeless if sung in any other voice.

Like many millions, he was my introduction to ghazals. At least 2 of my good friends, who don't claim to be music aficionados, have been devoted listeners/collectors of Jagjit Singh work. I have not seen any other artist having such cult fan-following. So many of my life's emotions often sing themselves to me in Jagjit's voice: friendship, love, nostalgia, separation, pensiveness, tranquility, resignation...

Jagjit Singh's voice is like that aazaan which today's pianos can't create. With his demise, those mystical notes have died too. I join Jagjit Singh's innumerable fans in mourning his death.