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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Archive for September, 2012

Joke of the Day :)

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 30, 2012

I absolutely love it when a post I read gives rise to a train of thought. Some posts trigger dormant memories that bring tremendous delight to the reader. When posts present your mind with a “connect the dots” exercise, you know its time to press the “Like” button. You may end up with something completely irrelevant to the post that seeded the thought process. But the fact that it put you on a journey is beautiful in itself. I experience this emotion everyday. And this is one of greatest blessings of being a blogger.

Today, I was viewing this wonderful post by Nikolay Kotev when I was reminded of this joke. Enjoy!

A World War II Royal Air Force pilot is reminiscing before school children about his days in the air force.

“In 1942,” he says, “the situation was really tough. The Germans had a very strong air force. I remember, ” he continues, “one day I was protecting the bombers and suddenly, out of the clouds, these fokkers appeared.

(At this point, several of the children giggle.)

“I looked up, and right above me was one of them. I aimed at him and shot him down. They were swarming. I immediately realized that there was another fokker behind me.”

At this instant the girls in the auditorium start to giggle and boys start to laugh. The teacher stands up and says, “I think I should point out that ‘Fokker’ was the name of the German-Dutch aircraft company.”

“That’s true,” says the pilot, “but these fokkers were flying Messerschmitts.”

😀 😆 😀

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Saturday Night Exposure

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 29, 2012

First and foremost, I’d like to say a big “THANK YOU” to Kara, Lauren and Andrea for nominating me for “One Lovely Blog”, “One Lovely Blogger” and “Liebster” awards respectively. These honors feel extra special because they come from beautiful, aware and awakened souls. I am a big fan of their blogs. A visit to their pages, and you will know why.

To celebrate, I am going to put on a show for you all. I shall expose myself in ways that I must admit are more revealing than me stripping 🙂 Andrea made the effort to think up 11 questions for the nominees to answer. If it wasn’t for her effort, I may not have even attempted answering them. I am glad I did. The process turned out to be a great exercise in self reflection.

Here we go.

1. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ans. Kashmiri Rogan Josh. A delicious mutton delight cooked in Kashmiri Style.

Rogan Josh

2. Who do you find inspirational?

Ans. Martin Luther King, Jr., Osho, Socrates, Tupac Shakur

3. What is one thing you have accomplished on your bucket list?

Ans. I went to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup 2010. Check out some images here. Ayoba!

4. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Ans. Tupac’s “If I Die Tonite“. A coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once!

5. What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Ans. I get the same peaceful sleep in a $15 dorm that I do in a $200 hotel room. My super boss once said about me, “Pack this guy off to the remotest and cruelest island, and he will party there”.

6. If you could live anywhere for a year, where would it be?

Ans. Colorado

7. If you had a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would do?

Ans. Maserati Quattroporte

8. What is your life motto?

Ans. Middle Path!

9. What is the number one trait you value in a friend?

Ans. Positive and Encouraging Thoughts.

10. When was the last time you did something fearless?

Ans. Early this year. Managed a closely fought Political Campaign and Canvassed for a Candidate in the dangerous “Wild West” of Rural India. Got into heated debates, blasted the opposition in speeches. I was “marked” by opponents. Yet, continued doing my job, when I was the only person not carrying a gun 🙂 There is indeed a thin line between courage and stupidity!

 11. Why do you blog?

Ans. I belong to a group of Aliens that have been sent to Earth to maintain a log of people’s thoughts and report it back to our world. This is a breach of my code of conduct. I might get terminated for this exposure.

Nanoo, Nanoo!

As always, your thoughts welcomed 🙂

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He Will,He Wont…He Will,He Wont…He Will,He Wont…He W…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 28, 2012

Factors that will affect his decision to attack Iran.

He Will, if these are the thoughts that run in his brain:

1) Iranians are as extreme and fundamentalist as they come. They believe in the coming of the last Imam who will rule the world. To enable that return, they must wipe out the Zionist from the face of the Earth.

2) Once Iran has the nuclear deterrent, Israel will lose its influence in the region. Its Arab neighbors, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq will be emboldened to dictate their terms. They might even form an alliance to attack Israel from all fronts.

3) Iran may give a few Nuclear warheads to Hezbollah to launch at Israel from Syria or Lebanon. This way Iran is not held accountable and saves its arse in the global circus, namely the U.N.

4) The Saudis will covertly support Israel. If there is one country that makes the Saudi king shit himself, its Iran.

5) I will let Iran drop a bomb on Saudi Arabia. To save Saudi interests, the US will jump into the war.

6) Once Israel attacks, the Iranian people will revolt against their own regime.

7) Iran’s most technologically advanced weapon system is the “Suicide Bomber”!

8) Old and unused artillery is rusting and it is time Israel uses it.

9) This is a Crusade and I am Richard the Lionheart!

10) Iranians do not bathe regularly, are a stinking lot and I just hate them.

He Won’t, if his brain is still running.

Your thoughts?

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Change the World.One Circle at a time!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 27, 2012

Fix Your Radius. Draw Your Circle. Own It!

In his book “How Many Friends Does One Person Need“, Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, presents a concept of concentric circles to explain how we position our friends around us. These Social Networking circles are similar to the ones we now find on Google+, only that they are not limited to the virtual world. In real life too, we have clearly defined emotional boundaries that define the strength of the emotional bond we share with people in each of the circles. The closer the circle to the center, the stronger the bond.

Now let’s try to extend this proposition to construct a model that will direct our efforts to bring about change in this world.

Along lines similar to social networking circles, every person possesses a range of influence which too can be divided into concentric circles, our level of influence decreasing as we move away from the center. Here, influence refers to the ability to impact thoughts or actions or both of a third person.

The Circles of Influence, have two primary factors governing their strengths; Emotions and Distance. The stronger the emotional bond with a person, the more the probability of having an impact. The more the proximity, the higher the probability of effecting a change. I use the term “probability” because Emotional and Geographical proximity only increase the reach of your message, the conversion of your message into the desired result depends on factors beyond your control.

Many of us have, at some point in our lives expressed the desire to change the world. And a majority of us failed. Why? Our failure was not because the change we wanted to bring about was beyond our capabilities, but it was because we wanted to effect that change over an expanse that was a million times bigger than our Circle of Influence. We wanted  to change the world!

So if you wish to contribute to the well being of this world or just have people conform to your thoughts start from the center and move outwards. There are two ways of going about it. One, draw out your Circles of Emotional Influence and decide which concentric circle you will focus your energies on to bring a change. Till which level of Emotional bonding is the probability of you affecting a change high enough to justify your efforts. Fix your radius!

Second, draw out your Circle of Geographic Influence and decide which concentric circle you will focus your energies to bring about a change. Till which level of geographical proximity is the probability of you affecting a change high enough to justify your efforts. This could be your neighborhood, it could be your village, it could be a couple hundred meters from where you live, it could be a mile from where you live, or it could only be your home. Again, fix your radius!

Fix your radius. Define your territory and make that territory the best in the world. Let that territory mean the world to you. Let no wrong or injustice be ever done to anyone in that world. Let equality reign supreme in that circle and let wisdom and virtue constitute its essence. If every individual fixes a radius and defines his or her circle, changing the world will no longer be a dream.

Change the World.One Circle at a time!

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Am I Letting Freedom Ring?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 26, 2012

There are three forms of behavioral existence I experience in my life. One defines the relationship I share with myself, my body, mind and soul. Second is how I (a collection of my body, mind and soul) interact with another human being. And third is how I as part of a group of human beings (country, religion, race etc.) interact with or perceive another group of human beings.

Since “I” is common to all three forms of interaction, I assumed that “I” would remain constant in both its nature and essence. I could not be more wrong! I see disturbing changes in the way “I” behaves in the three different dimensions. I describe this change “disturbing” because it exposes the hypocrisy in me and  presents a huge obstacle in my path to Bliss.

And I do not think I am alone in this predicament. Many of us are unaware of this dormant contradiction that is plaguing our being. It is time to take notice of this malady and remove it as soon as possible from our journey towards spiritual awakening.

The title of this post is inspired by the fact that above thoughts came to my mind while I was listening to this:

“…..Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring — when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children — black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics — will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Hampi: Of a Great Empire and a Foolish King who really pissed off his enemies…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 25, 2012

…and pissed them off so much that three kingdoms, that were mortal enemies, joined hands to raze the Vijayanagar Empire to ground.

Hampi, blessed with an out of this world and mesmerizing landscape, is surrounded by the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire. The Empire in the Deccan Plateau spanned over three centuries (14th century AD to 17th century AD) and was ruled by four dynasties. At its peak, the empire was the seat of excellence in administration, governance, commerce,technology, literature and culture. This zenith was reached under the reign of King Krishna Deva Raya who ruled in the first half of the sixteenth century. Excavations around Hampi speak of the power and wealth of the empire. But peaceful existence could never be taken for granted. The first two centuries of the empire saw the Kings adopt an aggressive strategy to keep its enemies at bay. Military excursions against neighbors were frequent, and this ensured an efficient army of hardened warriors.

Towards the middle of the 16th century, the Empire found itself surrounded by three hostile dynasties. The Muslim Sultanates of Ahmednagar (Nizam Shahi), Golconda (Qutb Shahi) and Bijapur ( Adil Shahi) bordered Vijayanagar and were a constant threat. Surrounded by Muslim enemies, the strategy for survival was altered, “Divide and Live” became the new mantra.  In 1542, Aliya Rama Raya ascended to the throne of Vijayanagar. During his rule, the Muslim Sultanates were constantly involved in fighting each other and requested Rama Raya on more than one occasion to act as a mediator. Rama Raya exploited this role to not only aggravate misunderstandings between the Sultanates, but also to expand his own territory. Rama Raya constantly changed sides  between the Sultanates. He was foolishly flirting with danger. And he paid for it.

In 1565 the unthinkable happened. The Muslim Sultanates that were mortal enemies, awakened to the connivance of Rama Raya and joined hands to bring down the Vijayanagar Empire. The Battle of Talikota resulted in a rout of Vijayanagar.

What followed was a victorious army along with dwellers falling upon the great city. With axes, crowbars, fire and sword the victorious armies went about the task of bringing to rubble the city of Vijayanagara which never recovered from the onslaught.”

According to another source,

“After three days, Muslim troops entered the city. There was no one to stop them. They looted, plundered and destroyed the city. Men, women and children were killed without any mercy. Shops, temples and houses were burnt and the sacred Hindu idols were destroyed. This destructive episode continued for six months relentlessly. The havoc was complete. The scenes showed the magnitude of hatred Muslims had for Hindus.”

Alas, one of the greatest Hindu Empires of India was thus reduced to rubble. Hampi, a UN World Heritage site is a must visit for anyone traveling to India. The beauty of its landscape is stunning, and the ruins echo the sounds of a once supreme Empire.

 

 

 

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Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 25, 2012

Ten wonderful and varied points serve as good brain fodder. Each prediction stimulates an exciting train of thought. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. As always, comments welcome 🙂

Playing in the World Game

MIT Economist Daron Acemoğlu in a paper dated April 2012 lays out a number of predictions for the world that his grandchildren (and mine) will inherit. Unfortunately the original text is behind a paywall, but Business Insiderkindly lays out the gist of the scholarly work in terms that this poor lay mind can understand, with some pretty cool images.A condensed list, with some of my own thoughts (in blue), follows:

1) Global pollution will get much worse.

Industrialization in China means that CO2 emissions and climate change could get much worse. The only way to slow this down would be a mass transfer to clean energy…a tall order that would be nearly impossible without a global agreement. Clean energy doesn’t have enough market share to thrive now, and more pollution could lead to destruction.

This is a given, unless radical steps are taken. People are still too busy…

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Ask God for an Enlightened Mind…the Rest is in Your Hands!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 24, 2012

Om bhūr bhuvah svah

tat savitur varenyam

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yo nah pracodayāt

– Gayatri Mantra, Rigveda (3.62.10)

This is one of the most revered mantras from Vedic Hinduism and is an invocation to the Sun God, Savitr for an enlightened mind and stimulated prayer. So why does one of the most widely quoted Vedic mantras, the prayer that symbolizes the break of dawn, ask the Holy One for only an enlightened mind and glory? There is no mention of food, no plea for peace and happiness, no asking forgiveness for our sins. There is no reference to success or failure nor is there any appeal for the good things in life. Why?

Because only the Mind is absolute. Everything else is relative, and in most cases an emotionally conceived illusion. In addition, Mind is a truly free entity. It is divine. We cannot control the thoughts that emanate from it. Yes, we can train ourselves to control how we react to those thoughts and direct them into actions, but we cannot suppress the birth of a thought or check the nature of those thoughts. And for what we humans feel helpless against, we must turn to God.

Everything else, everything, is subordinated to us. We have been blessed with powers to deal with hunger, sadness, stress, sins and evil. Some of us treat these “Imposters” as just that and do not let them affect our lives. The rest of us have capabilities to change the circumstances around us. However this ability relies heavily on having an aware, intelligent and healthy mind.

Hence, prayer to God should seek divine thoughts and an enlightened mind. The rest is in our hands.

As always, comments welcome!

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Beautiful Short Story: The Appointment in Samarra

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 23, 2012

This story appeared as an epigraph for the novel, “Appointment in Samarra” by John O’Hara. It is W. Somerset Maugham’s retelling of an old story. First, here’s an interesting historical fact about the meaning of Samarra. Medieval Islamic writers believed that the name “Samarra” is derived from the Arabic phrase “Sarra man ra’a”, which translates to “A joy for all who see”. Later when the city declined the name changed to “Sa’a man ra’a”, which translates to “A sadness for all who see”. Eventually the two names merged to its current form Samarra. (credit : Wikipedia)

The Appointment in Samarra

“A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Shortly, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at top speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles, where he believes Death will not find him. The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

A beautiful tale from a magical and mystical land. Alas, what have we done to Mesopotamia!

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

I experienced a Moment of Bliss today…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 21, 2012

This evening I had the good fortune of witnessing a Japanese Tea ceremony. The event was held as part of the Auroville Festival that has been on in New Delhi this week.

It was my first glimpse of the tradition and am certain it will not be the last. The 40 minutes that the host performed the ritual movements, elevated me to a dimension where space and time disappeared altogether. What remained was an unexplainable oneness, of mind, body and soul. Repetition of precise movements created an energy waveform that was therapeutic. In minutes, my senses shed all the fatigue that the day’s long drive and heat had given rise to.

I believe that a stone idol, worshiped for centuries by millions of people, develops powers that seem divine. The cumulative energy transferred from devotees to the idol bestows on it divine abilities. Similarly, the movements that I saw the host perform, signified for me the oneness between the creator and the creation. The host seemed in union with every object that he handled. Every ingredient of the ceremony seemed to have become an extension of his, and the tea seemed blessed with divine energies that the host channeled through every movement and every object.

If the sight was so spiritually uplifting, I can only wonder what a blissful effect it must have for the performer of the ritual.  The ceremony was a beautiful representation of the oneness that can be realized between humans and their tasks. If only we could immerse ourselves so completely into what we do, miracles would happen, right here, right now.

Have you experienced a tea ceremony?

 

 

 

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

fast.faster.fastest….to nowhere.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 20, 2012

The thoughts in this post were inspired when I read “Context and Content”.

Objective: To study the apparent “need for speed” observable in human behavior of recent times.

Data:

Vimshottari Dasa system of Vedic Astrology considers a normal human life to be 120 years long. For benefit of this post, and considering the huge change that lifestyles have witnessed over the last 3 millenniums, we shall reduce that figure to a more modest 75 years. So in numbers,

Average Human Life = 75 years = 900 months = 27000 days = 432,000 awake hours

Observations:

1) I have been using Lean Tools to optimize my movements in my house. And I don’t like it! Its become an obsession. Every movement of mine is coordinated to do the maximum amount of work in least time. Its become so bad that when I place a cup of water in the microwave, I can’t just stand there for a minute while it gets heated. I have to occupy myself with some other task, like filling the water bottle, to make the most of that 1 minute. I can’t even sit on my desk waiting for my laptop to boot!

2) A lot of my friends have been asking me the processor speed of my mobile phone. I don’t get it! I remember when the most important parameter in judging a mobile phone used to be its strength and not its speed. If my phone survived a 20 feet drop, it was a good phone!

3) I am getting increasingly impatient at traffic lights. I honk at the car in front of me even when the light is red!

4) At my wedding, I asked my priest to conclude the rituals within 45 minutes. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken close to 3 hours.

5) I am embarrassed when my mobile phone does not stream an online video within 10 secs of clicking “play”.

Explanation:

We have become wholly entrapped in a web of illusion, a world where our minds have been tuned to think that “Time is Money”. We have been manipulated into choosing the fastest journey, without knowing what our destination is. We are made to believe that the speed is important, not where we are headed or what stops on the way we have missed out. It is like sitting in train going at the speed of light. You cannot see anything outside the window of the train, the train has no stops and your destination is the point you started from. You pay for the thought of traveling at the speed of light and nothing else. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted…Really?That Bad?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 19, 2012

Here’s a sign board I came across while enjoying Kodaikanal, a beautiful hill station in South India. I am used to seeing notices that say “Beware of Dogs” outside house gates. But this was too extreme for me. And a tad funny too 🙂 Wonder what bad experiences the landlords went through to warrant such a graphic display of a dog attack.

All that blood gushing out of the leg! I ain’t going anywhere near that property 😯

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Enjoy Spinoza while I Slog!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 18, 2012

I am happy 🙂 Today I am washing away at least 50% of my bad Karmas; Helping my parents unpack and settle in a new place they will be calling home. And unpacking and setting up a house is no easy task. In our culture parents are considered only next to Gods and serving them bestows one with the highest blessing. While I work on improving my next life even more, I leave you with a post that was inspired by one of my favorite philosophers, Spinoza. It is titled “Humility is not a Virtue”.

“Humility is a sadness which arises from the fact that a man considers his own lack of power.Moreover, insofar a man knows himself by true reason, it is supposed that he understands his own essence,his own power. So if a man,in considering himself, perceives some lack of power of his,this is not because he understands himself but because his power of acting is restrained.

-Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics

Not surprisingly, this has been a prevalent thought in Western Philosophy and a key tenet that differentiates it from Eastern thought. While the Athenians, Stoics, Epicureans and others treated man as part of a society and framed definitions inspired by man’s interaction with his external surroundings viz. the state, fellow humans et al., Eastern philosophy focused on the individuality of a man, his struggles with his inner beings, the divinity that lay within him.

So why the two different approaches? One possible explanation could be that while the Athenians were struggling to find the answer to a Utopian form of state, the East may have already figured out the best form of governance. The East was already beyond the struggles of community living and had now reached a level of spirituality where the biggest struggle for a man was against the forces within and not without. Any further explanations? Or is my observation off the mark?

 

 

 

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Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 17, 2012

A wonderful post by Vanessa, reminding us that we are the masters of our happiness. The power to seek the truth lies within, hence no outsider can dig it out for us. Enjoy!

bringingupbuddhas

Mr. Modern Invention, that tricky bastard, makes us believe that suffering is an easy fix.  Countless gadgets have been delivered to us so that we will never be hungry, never be bored, never be lonely, lost, dirty or without a pre-recorded fart sound (yes, there’s an app for that).  We employ all of these material and virtual inventions, wondering how we ever survived without them; and still, we suffer.

Why is that?  I mean, with all of these gadgets, shouldn’t life be perfect?  Or at least be close to it?  Life should at least be sort of easy, right?

But it’s not.

It’s not.

Life is not easy.

And no matter what the next latest-greatest promises, life will not become easier once we invest in it.  The end of suffering is not available in stores.  The end of suffering is available only deep inside ourselves.  And once we think we…

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Travel Diary: Siat Khnam: This is how we gamble in Meghalaya

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 16, 2012

Welcome to the beautiful land that is North East India. In the midst of the seven states lies Meghalaya, a natural wonder that boasts of some of the most beautiful sights and people. And speaking of people, there is one sport that they quite seem to enjoy: Siat Khnam. Every evening, a crowd of a few hundred gather in the middle of Shillong, the state’s capital, and surround a ring of archers ready to let fly hundreds of arrows into a single target. The thrill lies in the fact that betting in this sport is legal. Gambling enthusiasts bet on the number of arrows that will hit the target during a defined time period that the archers are at it.

eager archers preparing to let the arrows fly

I was fortunate enough to witness this spectacle. Read the rest of this entry »

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I Cannot “Toletare” a bad job

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 14, 2012

Another instance where a picture’s worth a thousand words. My commentary follows.

ZOOM IN

So, a high end construction company in my city could not have chosen two better lines to mess up. And, they have put up these hoardings in several places. I shall not comment on their judgement which thought that people would not see the glaring mistakes. They were right, many don’t. But I’m certainly NEVER going to invest in their projects. Why? Because I am cautious when I invest and I cannot tolerate a bad job! 🙂

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Reality and Illusion

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 13, 2012

The thoughts in this post were conceived when I was reading Pat Cegan’s wonderful post titled “Figment of My Imagination.”

What defines our interpretation of the world? How can we trust that what we sense is real and not just an illusion? Lets explore a few arguments and see if we can answer these questions, and in the process define illusion.

Human beings have been gifted with two powerful abilities that enable us to interpret events that happen outside our mind. These abilities are Logical Reasoning (LR) and Emotions.  They exist in the form of 2 windows through which information passes to reach our mind, where it is interpreted. Hence, Observation of an external events passes through either or both of these  windows and results in an interpretation by our mind.

When an observation in the form of a sensory stimulus passes through the window of Emotions, it is corrupted by our desires and wants, and the output that reaches our mind is an illusion. When an observation passes through the window of LR, it remains uncorrupted by any of our subconscious biases, and the output that reaches our mind is reality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Time to Rethink Freedom of Speech

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 12, 2012

With the advent of social media platforms, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore. In this new world order, it is time to revisit the founding principles of nations. It is time to exhibit the courage and foresight required to change these tenets to cater to present day sensibilities.

Freedom of Speech is protected in the U.S by the First Amendment to the U.S constitution. However, this freedom is not enjoyed by speech that presents “imminent lawless action” and what may be termed as “hate speech.” Great, so the U.S Constitution lays out a very balance and judicial legislature to allow its citizens to speak their minds and suppress opinions that may lead to outrage among its people. But what happens when what Americans express, either in the form of opinion or art, transgresses the moral principles and beliefs of  people belonging to the more “unfortunate” rest of the world?

There are two very important opinion/speech defining parameters that must govern any discussion on this topic. Firstly, the Geographical reach an opinion can have and second, the Universality of the subject.

The lawlessness that broke out in Cairo and Benghazi last night are being attributed to anger over an American film that shows Prophet Muhammad in very bad light. The film has been made by Sam Bacile, an Israeli American real estate developer. The attacks unfortunately led to fatalities. Would it be wrong for the Libyan and Egyptian governments to ask for deportation of Sam to try him in their countries? Should not the U.S courts try Sam Bacile for inciting violence that led to the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens? This incident clearly illustrates that opinions in a connected world, like the one we live in, have absolutely no geographical boundaries. New laws need to be formulated to address these issues.

It is high time that the world decides to exempt Religion from Freedom of Speech. Religion is a private affair. While your religious beliefs should be kept to yourself, so should your opinions about other religions. Representation of religious opinions in any form, text, films, cartoons, paintings etc. should be globally prohibited. That, and only that, is true Secularism. No ban should be put on people trying to present the teachings of their religions as stated in their scriptures. But negative opinions on any religion must be banned. If a religious group is proving to be injurious to its followers, it is the Government’s responsibility to safeguard their interests.

No religious bashing has ever hurt any religion! It only hurts people. And in this case we lost Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. RIP.

Posted in News, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

My tryst with WordPress: Insights of a new blogger

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 11, 2012

Last night I published my 50th post. Yes, it is only a number, but a milestone that prompts me to share my experience of living in this man made world. A world where the five elements of nature: words, thoughts, images, comments and ego form the basic building blocks of it inhabitants. So here’s what I have learned and observed two months after I took a travel down the blindside, on this path called…Blogging.

Respect Opinion. Until someone comes up with the Universal Law of Truth, you have to accept the fact that there is nothing right or wrong in this world. Every thought that a citizen of this world shares, has risen out of experience, observation and well reasoned logic. Mind is a multidimensional space. Hence, reasoning can be executed at millions of different levels, each level influenced by a subconsciously embedded experience.  Hence logical reasoning in two different minds can yield two very different results.

Newton’s third law of blogging: For every dumb person on one side, there is an equal and opposite dumb person on the other side. Yes, if you find a post or an opinion downright dumb, the chances are, that the author of that source of idiocy finds your opinion equally, if not more dumb.

Meet the Stalkers: There are certain residents of this world who you will bump into in the “Like” row of every post that you view. Don’t judge them. Some of them truly are avid readers and are contributing tremendously to the goodwill of our world. Yes, a few have motives that only their egos can understand. Over time, you will be able to differentiate the two.

This is a “Thinking Network”: Unlike alien worlds that call themselves “Social Networks”, this world allows you to build relationships that are based on your thinking and not what you wear or what you eat or which fancy car you just bought. Just like on Earth, here too I have acquaintances, friends and close friends. In addition, and most importantly, I have thinkers and contributors. I have made good friends, discussions with whom carry on not only on posts but also through emails. Luckily, this world does not imprison you by limiting your communication channels.

A Number is really, only a number: A venture called “Klout” measures the influence that people have in the virtual world. Their algorithms judge this by not just focusing on the number of connections you have, but on the level of engagement you have succeeded in generating. Rightly So!

A Barking Loudspeaker Gathers No Ears: The key to good living in this world is two way communication. This is not the right world for you if you wish to be a one way broadcaster. Sooner or later you will find yourself alone and suicidal.

No Left, No Right. This is Utopia: The citizens of this world pay no taxes and do not have a government. When down, you will always find someone inspiring you to rise up. Free of cost! We have a one-party political system called Capitalist Socialism.

Etiquette: If a post does not display completely on your Reader, do not press the Like button on your Reader without reading the post. You may not think so, but any person with an IQ over 10 can figure out whether you have done this. If you don’t wish to read the post and still,for some reason known to yourself, wish to like it, at least open the post in a new window and press the Like button on the post page or the home page of the blog. But not from the Reader.

Nothing pleases a Freshly Pressed blogger more than when a new reader makes the effort to read posts besides the one that has been FPed. Do this more often, and add to you good karma count 🙂

And lastly, follow for a reason. I repeat, a number is only a number.

There you have it. Musings of a new and happy resident of the blogging world. Comments welcome.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Is God Still Relevant?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 10, 2012

In an earlier post I argued the complementary nature of Karma and Astrology. “Our past life actions determine the quality of life that we lead in our present lives”, says Karma. And the tool it uses to implement this principle is Astrology. Schedule the time and location of a person’s birth in a manner, that the natal planetary positions influencing the life of the person result in an existence that conforms with the past life deeds of the person, good or bad.

By this very reasoning, God’s significance in the whole scheme of things becomes pretty untenable. Assuming God existed, His role would be limited to judging the actions of a person’s past life. I am certain that this judgement is not subjected to an arbitrary scale, but follows a well defined scale of good and bad. And I trust God to be virtuous enough to not cheat the system by favoring a  person who has visited the Church every single day. Since God’s role is limited to being a judge that honestly follows a well defined set of laws, we can rule out that He has any powers Himself. Think of it this way, worshiping a Supreme Court judge does not change either the probability of you being punished nor does it change the severity of the punishment. Both parameters are governed by the Constitution and an honest Judge is subservient to the written word.

So that has pretty much ruled out the need to worship God. And since most religions are based on the very act of worshiping God, they are rendered redundant. Or are they?

We need religion. Period! Governments need religions to control their subjects. Yes, we are subjects of our governments no matter how much freedom and democracy our leaders sermonize. They fall back on religion to justify their policies, they fall back on religion to divide people and play vote-bank politics, they need religion to colonize countries, and they rely on religion to suppress people’s intelligence and prevent a revolution.

And we the subjects need religion too. It is our only hope when things seem down, it is the refuge we turn to after committing sinful acts. It is the sanctum that lets us be bad and evil, because we always know that there is forgiveness to be attained by worship. It is the source of calm that arises from the belief that we have bribed an incorruptible God.

I leave rest of the reasoning to you. I saw my astrological chart this morning, and something in it tells me that I better go worship my God now 🙂 .

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

 
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