Thoughts & Reflections

Think beautiful, live beautiful.

Rendezvous Within

Life, as we perceive, is an amalgamation of thousands of miniscule experiences. Human contact, whether in the physical or in the emotional realm is no different. We live our lives oblivious of these involvements and yet get touched by them so deeply. Hundreds of people, meet you in the eye, every week; strangers who would never know, who you would never know and yet there are times when there is feeling of commonness. Some connect to you strangely, some have that same inner calling that you have and you wonder whether they have similar inner thoughts, urging them to reach out.

I wonder what is it that engulfs certain people together? Is it the need, the desire to come together, a curiosity, or an expression of our physiological self. We are bred in social orders which, inherently, encourage people to collaborate, assist, trust and support others; structures adhere to rules wherein people depend on others for a meaningful existence. Life, in itself, evolves as a process, working on a the underlying substance as happiness.

Happiness, therefore, lies right at the core of the driving force that energizes various processes. Connections, (which I alluded to earlier), are one of the several ways which guide ourselves to a sense of fulfillment. The reciprocity of human emotions is powerful enough to serve as a means to achieving it (happiness). We, as humans, have a strong tendency to yearn for reinforcement. Our behavior is moulded to assimilate happiness from reflective feelings accumulated from our experiences. It is this inherent desire that lets people connect, understand, love, like and even hate each other.

It is difficult to imagine someone loving a person who is passive, simply because passivity does not have that nature of reflection. Those who come back at you (either positively or negatively) reassure you and fulfill a need within you to respond. This ignites the passions within for someone you like and equally flaring anger towards a foe.

It is these inner connections which make life interesting, those ambiguous and yet clear concoction of thoughts which place two strangers on a similar pedestal of understanding, associating them through strands of an unknowingly woven entanglement. Emotions are an expression of these associations lighting up your inner self to the world without. Such rendezvous like experiences bring you so close with another soul and yet the whole process seems strangely unforeseen, untold, unfelt manner. It is these myriad, inexplicable experiences that sometimes can energize one’s soul, and could drench one’s inner energies.

Of Rationality, Conscience and Temperament

Rationality, or the art of acting and understanding according to one’s conceptions of rational (reasonable) arguments is one of the foremost qualities of a virtuous life. Conscience, is the guiding principle, the jury, so as to say, within each one of us that lays the foundation of our rationality. Temperament, defines the innate tendencies (that may either facilitate or hinder) of a human being to act in accordance to his character.

This essay explores the interrelationships between the three guiding principles that act as the basis of our actions. Rationality is assumed to be an absolute, irresolute and unchanging conception guided by unbiased reasons. These reasons are assumed to be independent of time, space or being on whom the concept acts. Temperament is the other extreme of rationality; being the emotional self of any being that asserts its intrinsic and individualistic influence and affect one’s actions. Conscience is an individual quality too; however, it is assumed to be true to one’s nature and heavily affected by one’s character and conceptions that change slowly over time and is a more generalized notion. The conscientious self is aware, awakened, capable of comprehending one’s moral responsibilities, one’s rational concepts and at the same time one’s temperamental flaws. It is essentially the seat of one’s judgement posterior to actions and judgements taken by the self.

Every action that one takes has a primal causal element to it. The categorization of the causes of an action is thus guided by any of the following three views:

  1. The rational view
  2. The conscientious view
  3. The temperamental view

The hypothesis that this essay purports is that for an individual to be able to lead a virtuous and peaceful life, rationality has to be the most essential component that pushes oneself into acting.

The rational view and the temperamental view, in general, tend to be the a priori forces acting as basis of most of our actions. The conscience, tends to mold our conceptions of the results of our actions besides at times being the cause themselves.

Temperament, by essence is temporal extremely dependent on one’s conceptions of the present. Our understanding of the world around us is essentially ephemeral. We harbor myriad biases, misunderstandings. Our inferences are based on generalizations that may be not rest solely on true facts. We tend to be inward looking and are therefore guided more by the ideas that favor our own self. Temperaments tend to be outlived by preposterous results of our own actions triggered by such biased ideas.

Rationality is solidified by reasons and understanding associated with any stimulus. Any troublesome situation has a rational response associated to it. When devoid of any rational view, one should adhere to a moral viewpoint. It would ensure that one’s actions have support of one’s long held conceptions, thereby not being temporal. Thought processes that are built up over a larger period of one’s life tend to be more structured and have better results.

The conscientious view, being all aware, tends to be correct and morally correct. Posterior to our actions, when emotions drain out and understanding seeps in, this view takes note of our actions. Conscience tends to be place that infuses satisfaction or sorrow into the results of our own actions. Thus, the underlying guide to our own satisfaction in life is this conscience which is independent of our emotions in the long run.

The curse of rationality lies in the observation that it is hard to practice. As beings, we are born with an essential desire to be impulsive, guided by the moment rather than an understanding evolved over a larger period of time. Our rational self requires time and effort to develop into a self sustaining being within. At times, it requires extreme patience and belief in oneself to follow the path of reason. As erroneous beings the probability that one would forgo the rational path will always be finite. Emotions tend to be powerful and tend to decline as we grow old giving way to the rational self. Conscience, on the other hand, matures through understanding, learning, experience itself. Conscience is ever present within us, yet takes a large time to awaken from the slumber it resides in. Quite often, we tend to jump to action, skipping the more patient path of rationality. The jump infuses a sense of energy within leaving us with emotions running higher. There are areas where being passionate definitely help and reasons tend to fail. In such circumstances, conscience could be the guide yet the source of strength has to be passion and not reason. Barring, such situations that require an extreme level of outdoing oneself, normal life tends to be better guided by reason and logic.

Suffering and Happiness

Suffering is the effect of our materialism that our sensations bring about to our lives. Buddhism preaches us to seek the ultimate happiness by attaining the state of nirvana. The material happiness is just another facet of the sorrow. Hence, seeking that would never satisfy your self. 

Let us first concentrate on the Four Noble Truths [1]: 

  1. All life knows suffering. Nobody gets what they want out of life.
  2. The cause of suffering is ignorance and clinging. Wanting it is the problem.
  3. There is a way to end suffering. By learning not to want it.
  4. This is the way to end suffering: The Eightfold Path.

     
The underlying idea behind Buddhism is that life is full of suffering. The wheel of time impacts you with both joy and sorrows. The primary reason for this sorrow is the yearn to have more. Happiness is an ephemeral feeling. Every individual’s primary aim in life is to end this suffering. One can attain the state of eternal bliss by achieving Nirvana, the state of knowing it all. An enlightened soul is one who not only knows the temporal nature of being but also realizes and understands it. 
To achieve nirvana you need to get rid of this desire. To overcome desire you need to follow the Eightfold Path, which preaches the following: 

  1. Right Understanding Learning the nature of reality and the truth about life.
  2. Right Aspiration Making the commitment to living in such a way that our suffering can end.
  3. Right Effort Just Do It. No Excuses.
  4. Right Speech Speaking the truth in a helpful and compassionate way.
  5. Right Conduct Living a life consistent with our values.
  6. Right Livelihood Earning a living in a way that doesn’t hurt others.
  7. Right Mindfulness Recognizing the value of the moment; living where we are.
  8. Right Concentration Expanding our consciousness through meditation.

The underlying pragmatic philosophy is to become content in life and understand life’s fleeting nature. Equanimity is the blessing that you must seek to achieve. Peace in both sorrow and happiness by realizing that everything in life is for a very short period of time and that the devil that brings you sadness is within your self. It is your own wish to achieve more, to have more that causes you pain. Once you realize that you become immune to materialistic emotions in life. 

The Buddhist philosophy might seem contradictory as it preaches to end suffering by giving up desire and yet pursuing nirvana. That is another debate. Yet the assumption there is once you attain that state of supreme understanding you stop wanting, something that does not happen with any other kind of gain in life. 

Suffering, on the other hand, can be overcome and get rid of, definitely. 

1) Source : The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

Love – destined coincidence

I believe love, for most of the general population out there is an abstracted version of a destined coincidence. The general population just never happens to meet their soul-mates through those very cliched methods that are purported by popular, yet so sparring stories that we hear. 

We, as humans, have an innate desire to be loved, The social structure that conditions us leads us to finding that very comfortable partner that we desire to spend our lives with. Once, we start realizing this we happen to undertake the soul mate search. 

Somewhere on some corner of the world there is yet another human (rather a pool of potential mates) pondering over the same questions and thereby decides to undertake this same walk of destiny.  

Thereafter, you start weighing yourself against all those potential mates that come across. The theory that marriages are made in heaven and that you eventually find your soul mate in the nick of time, leaves non-believers like me perplexed. My belief, lies more along the lines that you tend to select your mate from a pool of more similar people and matching personalities. 

Thus, the only coincidence in the whole process becomes the phenomenon of matching interests and really nothing more than that. 

There are people who find their love mates through unusual circumstances, in random pubs, parties, through mutual friends etc. etc. Well, then there are always outliers to every theory and this one is no exception. There will always be people who would cry out loud of having found true soul mates through the grace of destiny and credit the unknown.

Realizing the good within

We presume that our thought process is a stream of ideas purported by the dualism owing to the happy and the sad components that reside in it. The structures of these two different parts of our minds are pretty similar and hence for those unrealized minds it becomes hard to understand and differentiate the origin of our thoughts. They could be from the angels or from the devils. 

Understanding the subtle difference between a optimism and pessimism, therefore, becomes of prime importance. For starters, one should start building up a mindset to analyze these thoughts before acting on them. You could cultivate a very simple notion of asking yourself whether this thought progresses your life in a healthier way without harming anyone else around you. Affirmations to such questions should belong to the optimistic side of your mind.

Another pretty clean idea that you could implement is to understand the functional aspects of those two sides. The negative side will try to project ideas where you are more inclined to give up, cause trouble and look at the insurmountable problems. These are the energy suckers, as you may understand. They tend to push you towards myriad distractions that tend to leave you with lesser energy. The positive side are energy generators and thus do the exact opposite. Hence, when having doubts, troubles or negative thoughts try to believe in your positive side, try to listen to those angels within that keep urging you on, go to the depths, analyse the situation and when you find that your decision is backed with ample facts proceed on it. 

A very simple comprehension of our life is that it is fought within the brain. The real battle is not out there, but rather in your brain. The fight between the angels and the demons within could make or break. It is this primary struggle that is persistent and all-pervading. Once you learn to overcome those devils, your vision would become clearer, ideas beautiful and efforts efficient.

Demons within

There are numerous lessons that life teaches us from time to time. One of the best ones that it teaches us over and over again, yet we fail to realize it is to be positive in life.

Our mind is a home for both the constructive and the destructive self. The destructive self will keep telling you that there are thousand people in this world better than you at your task. The constructive self acknowledges to it and motivates you to keep working on your abilities to beat those thousands of people out there.

The demons in our lives that prevent us from appreciating our lives are within us. It is those ideas that we prevent us from going beyond the boundaries of potentials that we create for ourselves. It is that voice that is currently asking me not to write this answer and coaxing me to give up working and go and rest.

What separates the winners from others is the realization of delusions that the ghosts within us create. Those huge sets of problems that we create for ourselves whenever we set out to achieve our goals are works of the negative power within. The trouble is when we set out we have energy to fight those demons. The start is always positive. Yet, as the path gets long, the road gets bumpy, you lose energy. Part of your energy goes in fighting the demons. Every failure, every small incorrect move and your mind keeps feeding those devils with doubts. The negative forces thrive on mistakes we commit. Sooner, than later one gives up, depressed and dejected and the kingdom of the devil becomes ever so mightier.

You try again and those devils feed you with earlier memories of your defeat. You keep wondering why you could not do it the last time and there in you lose valuable energy. These devils have blood running on their mouths and like leeches they suck on your own energy. They relish the hopelessness of the mind and strengthen their hold on your emotions. Sadness, pain and horror of failure are their magical wands that perpetuate their strength.

You build a mountains of doubts ever so slowly and every time you go out achieving that task, those devils rise within and stop you out.

There is a very simple concept to out performing your own self. Those who successfully endeavor to overcome those negative side of one’s inner self.

The only remedy and the simplest one is to keep feeding these devils the potions of positiveness. Every time you go out and try to stretch your boundaries have the magic wands with you. These include faith, hope, happiness, belief, optimism, patience, persistence, and an understanding of reality. Listen to the angels within. They might not be loud yet their words are worth in gold. Comprehend the world around you. There are rules to getting successful on things. Failures are staircase and success comprises of every extra step you took from your last attempt. The boundaries that we define around us are not for real. These are illusions created by the scary side of our mind telling us not to look beyond. Ignore those advice and look beyond for there might be easier paths leading to your destination. Each successful step builds up strength of the optimist within.

Ever tried running a very simple marathon ?? Give it a try. You would realize those inner demons amplify their voices as you keep getting weaker and tiresome. The marathon is always run within your mind. The track is just the abstraction a depiction of how well performing against your own doubts.

Being practical versus being a quitter

The line that differs a quitter from a pragmatic person is that which accounts for the amount of effort one puts in. A practical person puts in a whole heart before realizing that the aim was out of his reach, still being positive about the quest. A quitter does not realize his full potential before he calls it quits.

Consider two guys, lets call them

Mr. Pragmatic

and Mr. Quitter.

Lets assume both of them are given a bag full of wonder coins.

The game is that they need to spend all their coins and fetch a bag full of goodies. Seems simple right. The catch here is that they need accurately judge the value of each goodies they actually buy.

Rules of the game are as follows:
1) The catch is that they lose if they overspend the amount or cannot get the requisite set of minimum goodies.
2) If they quit, they could keep the residual wonder coins for themselves ever after. 3) They can never reclaim any of the wonder coin that has been spent.
4) The goodies are theirs only if they achieve the goal else they lose everything.
5) The goodies required are different for each of them, though they are similar.
6) The number of wonder coins have different value for each person.
7) The value of the wonder coins diminishes with time.

Mr. Pragmatic initially sets out to analyze the value of each wonder coin and looks at the list of goodies to be bought. He then comes to the conclusion that the task at hand is a difficult one. He sets out his targets, say within X number of days, if he is not able to collect the goodies at a reason, he would move on as he could use the wonder coins in other places. He thus begins his endeavor, already with enough analysis done. He spends X-N days on this task, working ever so meticulously and positively to achieve what he set out. He does an analysis periodically to know what is the opportunity cost of still working on this task. One day his analysis shows that may be if he keeps  the coins to himself he may be able to spend his life more happily then going down the battle. So he Quits.

Mr. Quitter is ever so pessimistic about the goal, right from the start. He has already seen Mr. Pragmatic, after such a deep analysis “lose out”. He sets out and tries to achieve his goals. He gets frustrated, nervous and intimidated by the fact that others have failed. He makes some very basic mistakes of never counting his own coins, understanding their value and is greedy enough to have his cake and eat it too. He tries to spend as little as possible lest he should spend it all and then lose it all. He stares at defeat right from the start and thus continues into that hole. He gives up ever so early, comes out with a large amount of wonder coins and laughs at the face of Mr. Pragmatic.

They do not realize that the over arching goal of the game (hidden from them was) the overall value of the goodies they collected to be used in all the subsequent games.

We thus see that those wonder coins were a quanta of efforts and the goodies experiences. Those with lesser residual efforts and more experiences finally emerge victorious. The practical person has a tendency to use their efforts more and gain more valuable experiences than a quitter who is always busy in conserving his efforts.

And so you can see the fine line that separates the practical from the quitters.

Turns that shape your life

One of the very amusing things that crosses my mind time and again is how our lives are affected by the mindsets of the people around us. Through the course of our life our experiences, actions, environment, interactions etc. shape our ideologies and build up the structure in which we think. As we grow mature, these ideologies become firmly entrenched and eventually shape not only our own lives but also of those in our immediate surroundings. 

There are moments in life when you sit down and have to decide the course of your life; when you have to face your future self in the eye. Such moments are the most critical turns in one’s life. It is thus necessary to have a very clear ideology about your own beliefs, objectives. One must be clear as to what one needs to sacrifice, what one considers necessary and thus cannot give up. More often than not one is biased, in such situations, due to over-arching effects of the current situation. This could lead to incorrect decisions and regret later in life.

Life is a journey where one would have numerous turns, one meets several fellow travelers. Everyone is on the path to discovering that inner peace which would bring a sense of bliss and happiness. At times our paths cross each other’s; some become friends, with some we fall in love, some we might hate, and towards most of them we remain indifferent. The very magical part of this journey is how our mind (our guide) keeps interpreting the map to happiness. The interpretation is variable, depending mostly on our preconceived notions of the impressions that this journey has left behind. At times, we hit a two way and are forced to choose one of the paths. At times we have to do this keeping in minds our fellow comrades; and it is in this split second (that I was previously referring to) we decide what our lives would be decades down the line. This could be pertaining to your career, your family, your loved ones etc. 

An essential thing in this journey is to understand oneself (your own journey). We are different individuals, with different aspirations, different abilities, powers, resources at our disposal. Quite often, we tend to imitate the paths that others are following. We tend to believe in concepts from other lives. Intelligent people learn lessons from other’s lives, the wise ones comprehend, filter and then reapply lessons to their own lives in a personalized manner. Quite often, we fall into the trap of following the unknown roads, without understanding how our lives get affected by them. 

Light, by the end of the journey

By the end of the journey, flashes is a light,
Guiding us, through pain, fears and fright.
As vagabonds, we move on, searching a goal,
And yet that light is end to your flawless soul.

Sweet November

An eagerness within, that shrouds my thoughts,
Engulfing my heart, with happiness I always sought.
Of a rendezvous, of beautiful moments to cherish, 
And two souls awaiting, for this wait to finally perish.

As I sit alone, resting through this lonesome night,
And I recollect those memories, as a lover might.
I realize this unconditional willingness to be there,
When time comes to a standstill, and love everywhere.

Oh, how I yearn, this period of restless numbness,
To pass by, and give way to a joyous calmness.
For the time to arrive, to fire up that inner ember,
A blissful period, that elusive sweet November.

 

This blog post is dedicated to a friend of mine. This brings back some of my own personal feelings and so I wrote them here.

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