Friday, April 19, 2013

Modern Orthodoxy

We say we live in modern times and we call ourselves modern. I keep wondering what we do that is radically different from our previous generation or the one before that which gives us a reason to call ourselves modern. Oxford dictionary gives the definition of the word Modern as a person who advocates or practises a departure from traditional styles or values.  I am speaking in a contemporary context. Have we really departed from traditional styles and values of the past two generations to call ourselves modern? If yes then, what styles and values have we moved away from?

When we look at our lives there is a cyclical nature to it and also presence of a strong pattern:

  • -          Everybody earns for living
  • -          Everybody has relationships
  • -          Everybody has kids
  • -          Everybody has ups and downs in life
  • -          Everybody worry for their kids
  • -          Everybody looks towards their kids marriage
  • -          Everybody has sensual pleasures
  • -          Everybody has fears

When we face a particular situation it appears as if we are the only one caught in such a situation and struggle through it cursing this world to have put us through such an ordeal. However when we open up to people about our problems, not only do we realize that others have faced similar situations we also realize how trivial our situation appears in comparison to that of somebody else. This either makes us realize our folly in feeling we have a huge problem on hand or gives us the courage to face our problems on our own. However there is nothing new in this, both the situation and problems appear repetitive and cyclical in nature when, we take the entire mankind into account. Fundamental problems of human life and living remain unresolved as we get to embroiled and held up with seemingly insurmountable problems of our lives.

With a strong prevalence of institutionalization, we have entrusted various institutions with the responsibility of solving fundamental problems of human living. Spiritual is left to the religious institutions, gathering skills to earn a living to Education institutions, law and order to judicial institutions, politics to the institution of government and so on and so forth. Once such entrusting has been completed what is left of our lives? We are ready to be totally embroiled in the day to day trivial problems of our lives and unconsciously allow the institutions to dictate terms to us.

So the question arises – how are we modern? Does use of technology makes us modern? Does the entrusting of responsibilities to various institutions make us modern? Does our dressing sense makes us modern? What traditional styles and values have we really departed from to call ourselves modern?

George Orewell says
“Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” 

“To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.”

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Destructive Upgrade

Have you ever lost a mobile phone? It is tough to get through life without losing one I guess! Those who have lost their mobile phones should be able to identify with a sinking feeling that gushes in immediately after we realize that we have indeed lost our mobile. Ofcourse the feeling dawns only after we are exhausted from frantic attempts to trace the mobile and from innumerable calls that we make to our own number with a hope that somebody would answer and miraculously we get our mobile back. Such situations do happen albeit rarely so. Immediate aftermath of such exhausting exercise is the sting of the truth sinking in –yes the mobile is lost – this is when feelings take over with a sense of nostalgia and proud memories of what was achieved with the great device. Often mobile phones are given as gifts, so there are emotions attached to the device and loss of a gift also brings a sense of guilt. Ofcourse the most painful of pinch is felt when an expensive, brand new mobile with latest feature is lost or stolen . Like any other pain this settles down too.

Once the feelings settle down and the bitter truth is accepted, comes a sense of relief. Relief that stems from knowing that we can always get a new phone (maybe latest one), a SIM card can be reissued for the same number, all the phone numbers, of friends or relatives, could be retrieved from any of the social networking sites through which we are in touch with all or most. Whoever is not there on any of these sites and whose number we can’t retrieve were anyway insignificant or people who needed us more than we needed them.  

Not much data is available on the internet to substantiate if loss of mobile is one of the primary reasons why someone thinks of buying a new phone. A general understanding of the matter led me to two other reasons:
  • -          Current one stopped working – out of order
  • -          Genuine interest to keep pace with emerging technology trends and features
  • -          Loss of the current one [misplaced or stolen]
Am sure that, except for a few that are hard core techies and love technology rest wait for an unfortunate incident of loss or fatal failure of a mobile before they could be coaxed to buy one.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Dearer Endearment

God and Inflation

One might wonder what the two have to do with each other. Some might think that it is about God helping us dealing with inflation. No, I have something else in mind. All religions prescribe some way or the other to help us take our requests to God and also ask us to nurture hope of getting our requests accepted and answered.  Have we ever thought of how much the price of such requests have gone up over the past few years? How much burden of inflation do we have to suffer to reach the omniscient? 

Long ago when population was less and things cheaper, I would assume, it would have been easier to get attention and requests fulfilled. Whether it is an offering [candles, oil, fruits, sweets etc.] or whether it is a pilgrimage it has only become costlier to be heard and seek the blessing of the almighty. Often it is also the satisfaction of a priest that decides the satisfaction in the rituals performed and possibly satisfaction of the worshipped deity, here also what used to suffice few years ago is considered a pittance today. Not so long ago, a friend asked if ‘priests were beggars’?  If we don’t treat what priests do as a service and don’t consider it to in anyway help us get ourselves closer to God or be heard by God, well then, they are possibly beggars in disguise! So are all of us who also believe that we offer some service that is worthy enough to earn us our money.
Some might argue that to keep pace with inflation both the quantity and quality of offerings have suffered. Then the question is whether we have found yet another shortcut to keep the almighty happy for less? Some might also argue that it is not in the offerings but the honesty of feelings behind the offering that matters. I don’t know any way to measure the honesty behind offerings nor do I know how it has changed over time. Though, offerings do tend to keep track with changes in earning capability but not essentially with inflation. It appears more of a subjective interpretation of what we assume to be sufficient to please and get the desired result, rather than what possibly is demanded of. How would we know what is demanded off anyway! 

However inflation in these matters is not entirely avoidable. Installing deities at home, offerings, pilgrimages all have become dearer than before so much so that some can’t afford it. Behind all this is wisdom. Whatever wisdom is available at our disposal constantly makes this active choice of how much, how often, worth of it, whether desired results are met. Is God at the mercy of our individual wisdom or is our wisdom at the mercy of God – it is for people to observe.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Buddy Wiser Inc.

Life is a journey into the unknown. Each day unfolds with umpteen possibilities, ofcourse, partly influenced by our actions of yesterday and by our preparatory action in anticipation of the tomorrow. Much like a roller coaster, life cruises ceaselessly with its regular but unpredictable ups and downs. I think the vicissitudes of life become bearable due to the friends that we make during the course of our life. While we live to please our relatives, it is the friends who help us in achieving or doing whatever we set out to do in this life.

Friendship, like many things in life, comes in various forms and is very fluid in nature. It easily acquires the shape of the ‘cast’ that we desire to keep it in. With time friendship evolves and takes on newer meaning. What makes friendship special is that it is a voluntary act of choosing who one wants to associate with. More often than not we attract people who think alike or have similar goals or share similar views about life. At times we have to talk and exchange views to make friends and yet there are times where non-verbal communication plays a key role in building a subtle friendship. We realize that being born in a particular family is a matter of chance but friends are a matter of choice. Often through course of life we find ou
t that ties of friendship could be stronger and more meaningful than ties of blood.

I think, friendship becomes so strong because friends don’t come with any baggage or prior expectations, they accept us as we are today, and there is no incessant need to please each other, or give gifts to each other. In addition it also gives the freedom to criticize with no loss of dignity or fear of insult. There is no stress or pressure on us to maintain or stick onto a friendship for all our life, some friendship ripe. A summation of me is a summation of all my friends. Friendship, unlike any other relationship, cuts across barriers of caste, creed, religion, language, nationality or sex. As does friendship come in various forms so does come its expiry date. Some friendships expire with death whereas some friendships expire as the original reason ceases to exist. Nonetheless, it is a voluntary act and I think that is the key factor why we are most comfortable when amongst friends. 

I have had the privilege of having some great friends through the course of my life till date. I know for sure that, life wouldn’t have been enjoyable or fulfilling or plausible without the presence of the friends who have helped me survive, strive and grow. I am sure I am not isolated in thinking so.


Random: April 2013