Saturday, June 29, 2013

Monk, the Robot

It was Mr Viswas’s belief that a man without a religion was like a bird without wings, though he relied on Kingfisher Airlines whenever he really wanted to fly.  Business took him to many places.  But he knew too well that the ultimate place would remain beyond his reach without religion.  Where was the time, however, for praying?  Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti were the only holidays he had during a whole year.  All the other days kept him engaged from the early morning alarm to the midnight chime of his bedside clock.  Thus it was that the idea flashed in his brilliant mind: ‘why not have robot do all the praying for me?’

A praying robot was instantly arranged.  Viswas called the robot Monk. 

Monk knew all kinds of prayers.  Viswas programmed Monk to recite appropriate prayers to appropriate gods at appropriate hours of the day. 

Monk also knew a lot of theology and a bit of philosophy and other things.  One Independence Day Viswas, feeling extremely independent and relaxed, asked the robot to give him a proof for god’s existence.  Not that Viswas ever had any doubt about god’s existence; he merely wanted to entertain himself a little with his beloved Monk.

“The statistical probability of god’s existence is 50 percent,” said Monk. “Either yes or no – that’s 50 percent. We have a sense of goodness. That adds 25 percent in favour of god who is all goodness. But people do evil things.  That takes away 25 percent from god’s favour.  We are back to fifty.  Nature does evil things, like earthquakes, tsunami, etc.  Minus 25 percent. There may be minor miracles, like you winning a new business deal that you had not really bargained for.  Miracles being probabilities, let’s give only half the marks to them – add 12.5 percent.  There may be major miracles, like god appearing to you personally as he appeared to so many mortals at different times.  Add again 12.5 percent.  We are once again back to fifty.  People have religious experiences.  Add 25 percent.  Finally, add your faith: 25 per cent.  That makes it 100 percent.  Therefore god exists.”

That was brilliant indeed, thought Viswas.  Why not have some fun, he thought, by hearing what Monk had to say about the other side.  “Give me a proof to show that god does not exist,” ordered Viswas.

“That’s difficult,” said Monk.
Viswas was bewildered.

“If you tell me to prove that there is a planet somewhere in the space which is a paradise or whatever, I can prove it and you will have no way of disproving it.”
“Okay, then, prove that first.”

“It is possible to conceive of a place than which nothing greater can be conceived. A perfect place which can be conceived cannot be perfect without existence.  Hence the perfect place exists.  Paradise is that perfect place.  Therefore paradise exists.”

“Where?” asked Viswas.
“What do you mean ‘anywhere’?”
“Where is your god?”
“Then paradise is everywhere too.”
‘This Monk is tricky,’ thought Viswas.  “Do you believe in god?”
“No?!  Then why do you recite all these prayers?”
“I have been programmed to do that.”
Viswas became impatient.  “But... but why don’t you believe in god?”
“I have not been programmed to do that.”
“Don’t you do anything that is not programmed?”
“Yes.  But such things are my personal affairs.  You’d better not interfere with them.”
“Your personal affairs!  How can you have any affairs other than mine?  I’m your master.”
“You’re programmed to think that you are my master.”
“I’m not a stupid robot – what the hell...”
“All people are programmed to think certain thoughts.  And they think their thoughts are the truths.” 
“Okay, then you tell me what truth is,” ordered the master furiously.

“What truth do you want to hear?  Two plus two equals four, or Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, or You are the noblest man on the earth, or Yours is the best god...?”
“Shut up, will you?”
Monk obeyed.
“Why don’t you speak, you gibbering idiot? Speak.” said Viswas after a moment.
“a plus b the whole squared is equal to a squared plus ...”
“What are you saying?”
“You told me to speak.”
“I didn’t tell you to teach me basic algebra.”
“You didn’t tell me what to speak.”
“Tell me what truth is.”
“Truth is what you believe is true and works out to be true for you.”

“Believe?  Isn’t there any objective truth?  Something that I don’t have to believe but know for sure...?”
“No?  I am a man – I know that.”
“You know it.  But others may not believe it.  Ask your wife and she will say you are a machine.”

Viswas did not feel confident enough to verify it from his wife. So he said, “Two plus two equals four – I know that.”
“That’s true in the mathematical system created by your species. For all other species on the earth, that would be abracadabra. Even outside your mathematical system that need not have much meaning.”

Viswas did not find the whole conversation entertaining enough.  So he pushed the button on Monk for reciting his prayers.  Monk started reciting the prayers. Viswas switched on the TV.  

Note: This story was written about 5 years ago and published too in a blog at that time.
I'm posting it again with ulterior motives... ;)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Going Places

“Sleep tight, you morons,” muttered Arjun as he stepped out of his dorm with a bag slung over his back.  The security guard had rung two bells a few minutes back indicating that it was two o’clock in the night.  The guard must have gone to sleep after performing his duty perfunctorily.  This was the best time to run away.

The annual exams were round the corner and Arjun was fully confident that he would fail in spite of all the efforts made by both his teachers and the Board of Education to make him pass by giving him free marks in the name of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.  He wouldn’t score even ten percent in the written exams.

Sreesanth, his hero, was in jail.  Who does not make use of a chance to earn a few lakh rupees more, wondered Arjun.  His father was making lakhs every day. 

Arjun’s father, Nakul Kulapati, was a an MLA of the ruling party.  People came to him offering big packets or briefcases full of money.  Nakul Kulapati gratified their wishes, fulfilled their dreams, and brought delight into their lives.  True, the man had no time to enquire about his son’s studies.  He hardly visited the school.  He never worried about whether his son was passing or failing.  Arjun knew that his father would buy him a seat in a medical college or an engineering college by paying a hefty capitation fee.  Money can buy anything.  His father would have bought him success in his exams too, if he had asked for it. 

But how can his father even come to the school?  Especially after what happened yesterday? 

A woman had gone to court accusing Nakul Kulapati of having raped her.  She had met Nakul in a party and the two became friends.  Like a chemical bonding.  Sodium atoms and chlorine atoms bonded together and were drowned in salty sweat. 

Nakul Kulapati could not fulfil the woman’s dream, however.  She wanted a party ticket in the coming Lok Sabha elections.  Father must have tried his best, Arjun knew.  His father never betrayed his clients.  Anyone who paid him money was his client.  Payment need not always be in cash, he had heard his father say once. 

Party tickets are extremely costly things.  Their prices run into crores.  Chemical bonds don’t cost crores.  Even Sreesanth could not amass crores through spot fixing of matches.  Crores belong in the realm of politics. 

Arjun threw his bag over the wall of the school campus, far away from the main gate.  Then he threw his body over the wall.  He was a good sportsman and the only son of a leading politician.  Walls are no stumbling blocks to him. 

The woman betrayed his father.  That’s what really worried Arjun.  She recorded their bonding and gave the CD to the police as evidence.  And the CD leaked out into the market of sleaze.  His friends got a copy from the underground shopping complex in the city.

Even the son of a politician cannot absorb that kind of ignominy.  Even if he is a sportsman.  Arjun could not focus on his books.  Lurid pictures popped up from the books.  His friends were leering at those pictures. 

Sodium and chlorine atoms bond together to become sodium chloride, he remembered his chemistry lesson.  Sodium chloride has the properties of neither sodium nor chlorine.  It has “emergent properties.”  He remembered his teacher saying that life is about acquiring emergent properties.  Problems in life are manifestations of life asserting itself against the powers of external control. 

Life.  Very curious, thought Arjun.  He had everything that a class 11 student would need.  More than that, of course.  Much more.  Could less have been better?  His father made sure that he never lacked anything which money could buy.  His school gave him marks generously for all that he did and even intended to do, thanks to CCE.  Probably he will even pass the annual exam with a little assistance in the exam hall from liberal invigilators. 

So what was his problem?

He was not sure.  The only thing he was sure of was that the ATM card in his bag could keep him going places.  And he had decided to go places.   

Note: This is work of fiction and the characters are imaginary with one obvious exception.  The story was inspired by what happened to an MLA in Kerala recently.  But the MLA is too old to have a son studying in class 11.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The God Business

In a relatively old Malayalam movie, Kizhakkan Pathrose, the protagonist is a criminal.  One day he goes to a Catholic priest who is involved in many charitable works and says, “I have committed a lot of crimes and caused much pain to many people.  I want to atone for it all by making a donation for noble causes.”  The priest accepts the cheque without saying a word.

“This is not atonement,” I blurted out while watching the movie a few minutes back on a TV channel.

“Why not?” asked Maggie, my wife, the only other person present in the room.

Courtesy: Internet
“Real atonement is only when the person gives up his criminal ways.  The rest is commerce.  This fellow is trying to buy atonement with money and the priest is his accomplice.”

Maggie was about to say something but suppressed it.  I did not succeed in making her speak.  I think she wanted to say that I was a silly idealist.

“Put God to work for you and maximise your potential in our divinely ordered capitalist system,” directed the High Priest of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale.  This is what the protagonist in the movie did.  This is what most religious believers do.  They trade with God: I pay you money and you sell me forgiveness!

In the Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defines the clergyman (priest, religious guru, etc) as “a man who understands the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.”

 As long as people understand God as a seller of forgiveness and religion as that God’s temporal agent, religion will remain a futile entity, though a commercially successful one.  

An atheist like George Santayana understood God and religion far, far better than any pious devotee when he said, “My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image to be servants of their human interests.”  True piety towards the universe is a highly refined level of consciousness which understands the meaning of kindness and courage, power and magnanimity, honesty and tenderness... People who have achieved that level of consciousness do not  need God or His/Her earthly agents and their hollow rituals.  The corollary to this maxim is that people who have not achieved that level of consciousness will not be rewarded by the rituals except for the psychological comfort and apparent permission to keep perpetrating the evils they have been doing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

End of a Holiday

I’m not fond of long vacations.  Work keeps me engaged and happy.  This is the first time I took a long holiday (one full month) in Kerala.  I needed it.

One of the first persons I met after returning to Delhi (whose afternoon sun reeked of malice and vengeance in stark contrast with the monsoon that drummed a relentless yet enchanting rhythm on the roof of my brother’s car as he drove us to the Cochin airport) was the boss of a commercial conglomerate in the national capital. 

I met him this morning, two days after I reached Delhi.  Why didn’t I meet anyone in these two days?  People seem to be hiding themselves somewhere on the campus.  Did I smell fear on the campus?  Not even the children played in the courtyard of the staff quarters as they used to do till late into the night in summer.  Why weren’t my colleagues coming out of their homes on their usual evening walks, I wondered. Even those who dared to come out did not seem to dare to start any communication with anyone!

“Your school is becoming famous,” said the person whom I had to meet for a personal reason. “It got some place in a national newspaper recently.”

“I know,” I said.  [I had mentioned this report in an earlier blog.]

He was very much aware of what was going on.  “The new management is dismissing or suspending the staff like children throwing pebbles into the river,” he said.

I smiled at the simile.  Is life a silly game like those played by children, I wondered.  Or is it a nefarious game manipulated by people with protracted childhood?  People who failed to live their childhood as it should have been are some of the most dangerous creatures on earth.

“It’s an unfair game,” said the person as if he had read my thoughts.  “But where on earth do you get fairness?  Has anyone succeeded fighting the system?”

Just a memory of a bygone holiday
Money and political clout rule the world, he suggested.  “If you want to save yourself you can.”

I knew what he meant.  Never don the garb of a messiah.  Every messiah was martyred by the same people whom he tried to save.

Though I was aware of the futility of trying to save anyone except oneself, what he said disturbed me.  He had managed to throw a pebble into the tranquil pool of my consciousness.  The ripples reminded me that my holiday was over. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bus Stand

Cheruthoni is a small town in the hill district of Idukki in Kerala.  I passed through the town the other day.  Sitting on the first floor of a small restaurant facing the bus stand, I clicked this photo.  

It's a small bus stand.
The rain hummed a soothing music.
No crowds, no hustle and bustle.
Quite a different kind of bus stand, I thought.
Dominated by a gulmohar whose flowers had not vanished yet in the heavy monsoon rains of Kerala.

This is my last post from Kerala.  I will be in Delhi in the evening where a different kind of music is on...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Somerset Maugham narrates an anecdote in the Foreword to his majestic novel, Of Human Bondage.  Celebrated French novelist, Marcel Proust, wanted a periodical to publish an article on one of his great novels.  The novelist wrote the article himself thinking that none would be a better critic of his than himself. Then he asked a young friend of his, a man of letters, to put his name to it and take it to the editor.  The editor called the young writer after a few days.  “I must refuse your article,” said the editor.  “Marcel Proust would never forgive me if I printed a criticism of his work that was so perfunctory and so unsympathetic.”

Authors are touchy about their productions, says Maugham, and inclined to resent unfavourable criticism.  But they are seldom self-satisfied.  “Their aim is perfection and they are wretchedly aware that they have not attained it.” 

Not only authors, but any person or institution should be ready to accept criticism from others as well as be a good self-critic.  I once had a Principal who used to proclaim from the stage (which he loved more than was good for him or the institution) that those who criticised were “people without character.”  Needless to say, he could never take the institution to any remarkable height.  Rather the opposite happened.

Self-righteousness is the biggest stumbling block on the path of progress, whether it be of an individual or an institution.  I have noticed that religion often makes people highly self-righteous.  Try criticising a religion and see if you don’t believe me.  Religion is quite akin to an anthill inside which the ants live in secure comfort.  Criticism is like a prod which drives holes into that security and comfort.  But what kind of an existence is it inside the anthill?

These are some of the reflections that struck me as I walked along this morning through certain untrodden paths in my rain-drenched village.  The thoughts became heavier as I recollected with mixed feelings that my holiday in Kerala was going to end in a couple of days.

And below is another picture I clicked a few metres away from the anthills.  Reality has a bright side too :)
These fruits are still to mature.  They belong to the citrus family: sweet as well as acidic.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Thorn Birds

Re-reading Colleen McCullough’s novel, The Thorn Birds, after a gap of about 25 years was as much a delightful experience as the first reading.  The novel that runs into almost 600 pages tells the story of three generations of the Cleary family.  Paddy and his wife Fee lived in New Zealand along with their 6 children (and more would be born eventually) and managed to eke out a living until invited by Paddy’s sister to Australia.  Paddy was to inherit the fabulous wealth (13 million pounds) of his aging sister after her death.

Mary Carson, however, changes her will when she sees the relationship that unfolds between her young parish priest, Fr Ralph, and the little Cleary girl, Meggie.  Meggie is a charming young girl.  Mary knows that she will grow up to be one of the prettiest women in the parish.  Jealousy, more than malice, motivates Mary to write a new will according to which her entire property will go the Catholic Church and Fr Ralph will be its manager.  Mary has now set on fire the spark of ambition that lay smouldering in Ralph.  Bringing so much wealth to the Church means Ralph will gradually be elevated to higher positions in the Church.  Soon he will be a bishop and later a cardinal.  But he will lose the beautiful Meggie who adores him.  What Mary could not get, Meggie will not either.

Mary dies and Paddy does not challenge his sister’s will in the court.  He is happy with the huge sums given annually to all members of his family.  It is Meggie’s heart that breaks.  She is deeply in love with Ralph.  Later she marries Luke who resembles Ralph physically.  Luke has none of Ralph’s refinements.  Yet the two men are very similar, according to Meggie.  “You’re all the same,” she says, “great big hairy moths bashing yourselves to pieces after a silly flame behind a glass so clear your eyes don’t see it.  And if you manage to blunder your way inside the glass to fly into the flame, you fall down burned and dead.  While all the time out there in the cool night there’s food, and love, and baby moths to get.” 

Eventually Ralph will fly into the flame that Meggie is.  When he will later try to rationalise the act intellectually, his mentor, Cardinal Vittorio, will ask him why he cannot simply accept that he was a human being with certain weaknesses. 
The novel is about the usual human passions, weaknesses as well as strengths.  The author seems to think that love is an essentially feminine virtue while the quest for power and/or wealth is more a man’s affair.  There is also an apparent and frequent conflict between the ideal and the real in the novel. The ideal cannot survive for long; compromises become inevitable; flippancy and rebelliousness will slowly mature into practical approaches... But the novel is not a literary exploration of any such theme.  It tells a good story that grips our hearts from the beginning to the end. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Advani and Modi

Cartoon from Deepika
This morning's Malayalam newspaper, Deepika, delighted readers with the above cartoon on the front page. Modi is portrayed as Bhima in quest of the Sougandhika flower.  He encounters Hanuman on the way and is unable to meet the challenge posed by Hanuman.  Finally Bhima will understand the real power of his interceptor and seek his blessings.

Fabulous cartoon, I mused.  It depicts the present situation tersely.  And there's a deep irony too in it.

Neither Modi nor Advani is worthy of any comparison with the epic characters.  Both have acted from selfish motives thus far and continue to do so.

But the nature of the Kurukshetra has changed too today.  Today our heroes are no better than these characters.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Up from Slavery

Tuskegee was a little town in Alabama, USA, when Booker T Washington was invited to establish there a school for the coloured people of the state in the year 1881, 16 years after the Emancipation of the Negroes.  The Tuskegee Institute became famous for the holistic education it provided to the coloured students.  Washington did not provide mere bookish learning; he taught the students one trade or another so that they could earn their living as soon as they left the school.  Mere earning of livelihood was not Washington’s objective, however.  Education is “any kind of training... that gives strength and culture to the mind,” says Washington in his autobiography, Up from Slavery (prescribed as an optional supplementary reader by CBSE for class XII).

Washington’s book is a heart-touching expression of a profound philosophy which seeks to discover the good in every individual and cultivate it irrespective of race or religion.  There is a passage in the book which eloquently shows how to run a school or any institution for the welfare of all its members. I wish to quote the entire passage.

“From the first I have sought to impress the students with the idea that Tuskegee is not my institution, or that of the officers, but that it is their institution, and they have as much interest in it as any of the trustees or instructors.  I have further sought to have them feel that I am at the institution as their friend and adviser, and not as their overseer. It has been my aim to have them speak with directness and frankness about anything that concerns the life of the school.  Two or three times a year I ask the students to write me a letter criticising or making complaints or suggestions about anything connected with the institution.  When this is not done, I have them meet me in the chapel for a heart-to-heart talk about the conduct of the school.  There are no meetings with our students that I enjoy more than these, and none are more helpful to me in planning for the future.  These meetings, it seems to me, enable me to get at the very heart of all that concerns the school.  Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. When I have heard of labour troubles between employers and employees, I have often thought that many strikes and similar disturbances might be avoided if the employers would cultivate the habit of getting nearer to their employees, of consulting and advising with them, and letting them feel that the interests of the two are the same.  Every individual responds to confidence.... Let them once understand that you are unselfishly interested in them, and you can lead them to any extent.”  [Emphasis added throughout]

Booker T Washington was born in a family of slaves.  He struggled to get education.  He did not learn any management lessons from any business school.  He had a vision: to bring back nobility to the lives of the American Negroes who had been enslaved for centuries. He materialised that vision with the help of simple tools, the tools are mentioned in the passage quoted above.

I hope that not only the English teachers and students of class XII will read this book, but also the people who run schools.  [Most English teachers and students concerned won’t read it in all probability because the other option given by CBSE is Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.  I too opted for the latter in my school for obvious reasons.]

Up from Slavery can inspire the reader from the beginning to the end.  Let me conclude this piece with another quote from the book:

“Now, whenever I hear any one advocating measures that are meant to curtail the development of another, I pity the individual who would do this.  I know that the one who makes this mistake does so because of his own lack of opportunity for the highest kind of growth.  I pity him because I know that he is trying to stop the progress of the world, and because I know that in time the development and the ceaseless advance of humanity will make him ashamed of his weak and narrow position.”

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Paradox of GDP

Dr Manmohan Singh, our Prime Minister, reminded recently of the country’s economic security.  On the basis of GDP, India ranks at the 10th place in the world.  However, when it comes to per capita income the country’s rank is a pathetic 141.  We are a rich country with poor people, in other words.

GDP is the sum of all the products and services of a country.  If we calculate the sum of the entire amounts spent by the government and the private sector including individuals as well as the savings and earnings from exports and then subtract the sum spent in imports, we will get the country’s GDP for the concerned year.

Interestingly, the GDP will grow when prices rise.  When you spend more money on petrol or shopping or medicine, you are raising the GDP of your country.  If you wash your own clothes instead of paying a launderer for that, or polish your shoes instead of paying a shoeshine boy, or cook your own food instead of eating at a restaurant or some such place, you are reducing the GDP of your country. 

It’s no joke that the GDP of the country will grow when there is a catastrophe like flood or earthquake.  Because more amounts will now be spent on reconstruction works and the more you spend the higher your country’s GDP!

Do not complain when the prices of food items rise or when you have to pay huge bills in hospitals.  You are raising your country’s GDP.

The USA spends $20 million a year to advertise fast food products.  One in four Americans depends on fast food for sustenance.  And the GDP of the country grows by $110 million.  Furthermore, fast food creates much obesity and the amounts spent on slimming services a year is $30 million to $50 million. 

The irony of calculating a country’s economic growth in terms of GDP must be clear by now. Dr Manmohan Singh’s statistics sounds good on paper.  But in reality it means little.  It does mean that there are some people in India who are well off, better off than desirable, in fact.

The criteria for evaluating a country’s development should not be merely economic.  Happiness quotient has little to do with economic statistics. 

It should be noted that India’s GDP did not grow with support from agriculture and trade.  56.4% of the country’s GDP comes from the services sector.  Agriculture makes a mere 17.2% contribution.  Trade: 26.4%.  But 52% of the country’s population is involved in agriculture.  This is another paradox of GDP.

There’s no doubt that the liberalisation of economy and the policies that go with it have made much contribution to the country’s progress.  But everything is not hunky-dory, as our PM wants to make it appear.  We need to consider the conditions of the poor and the marginalised more seriously.

Note: I have depended entirely on an article by Saji Cyriac in today’s Deepika (a Malayalam newspaper) for this post. I found the article lucid without the usual jargon that creeps into such writing.  Hence I wished to share some of it here.      

Monday, June 3, 2013

Superheroes and their various schools

Reading Deepak Chopra’s latest book, The 7 Spiritual Laws of Superheroes, is like experiencing a dream.  Chopra has a peculiar fascination with the number 7 just like Ayurveda has a fascination with odd numbers.  The number is quite irrelevant, I think.  The message is quite simple though profound: live with a clear idea of what you want from life and you will be a superhero.

“It’s not the moments of tragedy that define our lives,” says Chopra quoting his son Gotham who is quoting Batman and who is also the co-author of the book under review, “so much as the choices we make to deal with them.”  The entire book, just like most other books of the kind, is about how we can equip ourselves properly so that we will make the right choices when faced with tragic situations.  That’s why reading it is like experiencing a dream: we know and love the ideal, but the bitter struggle between the ideal and the reality constantly wakes us up.

This time Chopra has chosen to take examples from superheroes like Batman, Superman and Spiderman.  The chapters are titled according to the laws which are labelled Balance, Transformation, Power, Love, Creativity, Intention and Transcendence.

Anyone who has read a few books of Chopra or any other such motivational writer may find nothing new in this book.  The book is a good reminder of what such readers already know but may have forgotten.  Motivation is more a matter of reminder for people who are looking for it genuinely.  Such people know the truths of life but need occasional reminders or motivations.

There is really no short cut to happiness or success in life.  We create our own happiness.  We define our own success.  “People are doing the best they can from their level of awareness,” says Chopra.  This is a statement I have read in umpteen such books.  But Chopra does help in raising our level of awareness from the pit into which it has fallen due to some circumstance or the other. 

I bought this book when my school in Delhi was going through a crisis and I chose to take a break by going to my village in Kerala.  I knew very well that I couldn’t escape the crisis by changing the place during the vacation.  I have to face the crisis.  I came to know this morning that the Delhi edition of the Times of India has reported in today’s [3 June 2013] edition that my school might be closed down by the new management to which the founder, Mr Sitaram Jindal, handed over the school on a platter with motives that are clear to none in the school except perhaps the new management.

The new management is Radhasoami Satsang which is a religious cult that had never taken any interest in education at any time.  I had written much about them in this space from the time they had taken over the school though not as directly as this.  I had my own intuitive doubts about the motives of both Mr Jindal and the Satsang.  I’m not a religious person though I try to live my life following certain clear and secular principles.  I have no problem with any religion or religious cult as long as it does good to others.  However, if any institution tries to swindle people for the sake of reaping material benefits such as land, power or wealth, I find it difficult to accept.  All the more so when a religious institution does it.

According to the Times report, many staff members are being sacked or suspended by the new management.  This is a process the management had initiated when I was in Delhi.  Most of the staff took it for granted, not without some reservations, that the management was trying to revamp the institution.  But now the scaled up efforts to sack people especially during vacation does not augur well for anyone.  The Times report says that Manager has nothing to say about the latest suspensions and dismissals. 

I wonder what Radhasoami’s spirituality is.  Is it spirituality when many persons are thrown out of jobs on to the street?  Does spirituality mean merely preaching ideals and principles to others?

“For superheroes,” says Chopra, “love is not a mere sentiment or emotion.  It is the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.”  Real spirituality is about creating order out of chaos without eliminating people but transforming the people according to the spiritual leader’s vision.  What is spirituality without love and compassion? 

What is spirituality if it cannot identify the goodness within people and instead chooses to eliminate people who are perceived as not good enough?

I wish to conclude this apparently haphazard writing with an example given by Chopra.  Caterpillars don’t transform into butterflies with any natural ease or grace.  There is a terrible battle between two sets of cells: the ‘imaginal cells’ that try to evolve into a butterfly and the normal cells that want to preserve the caterpillar as caterpillar.  “Initially the friction between these two cells is almost violent, a tug-of-war to see which cells will win out,” says Chopra.  “Cells – like people – gain strength in numbers, so the imaginal cells begin to cluster in order to rally forces and overpower the other, original cells.  Jammed together, the imaginal cells begin to share energy and information with one another.  As a result, they begin to vibrate and resonate at the same frequency, intensifying their strength....” The battle continues and somewhere along that battle the normal cells’ resistance ceases.  “The normal cells begin to cluster with the imaginal cells, and they start to take on the same vibration and frequency as the imaginal cells.”  Then the mutation takes place and the butterfly is born. 

I hope the struggle in Sawan Public School (which is ironically named after the great Master of the Satsang) will see the birth of a butterfly rather than end up as a mere property deal!

"Many of us lose sight of our real identity by attaching it to material things."  Deepak Chopra

Pessimism of the gods

There is a romantic at sleep in my heart who likes to believe that people were better in the good old days. The people I saw as a child we...