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Consulting.Philosophy.Travel

  • 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.

Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

We don’t find peace because we don’t REALLY want it

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on May 26, 2015

Inner PeaceAccording to evolutionary psychologists, our psychological mechanisms/adaptations have evolved as a product of our ancestral environment that existed 1.6 million to 10,000 years ago. Human behavior is the expression of these psychological adaptations in the form of our preferences, desires and emotions. So let’s apply this belief to our endless quest for peace.

Preferences, desires and emotions are expressions of psychological adaptations that evolved to address the problems we faced in our ancestral environment. Hence, psychological adaptations address problems of the past, not of the present or future environments. It is this prehistoric origin of human behavior that gives rise to conflict with present day system of moral values and ethics. Evolutionarily evolved preferences, desires and emotions when expressed in present times are subject to misinterpretation since they are judged against the backdrop of current environment.The present day environment does not necessitate the expression of human behavior in a way that was absolutely critical for survival in the African Savannahs. So should ethics and moral laws be governed merely by existing social environment or should they also incorporate the ancestral origins of human behavior?

Will the human body evolve further to develop psychological adaptations to cater to the current environment? I doubt it. The world we live in is highly dynamic. Technology ensures that there is no place for stagnation in our society. Capitalism is a key catalyst to that change. For evolutionary adaptations to evolve, a degree of contiguous stability is essential. “A degree” means over hundreds and thousand of years. Highly unlikely in present day world.

Another question that arises is whether happiness, peace of mind are states of being that evolutionary adaptations allow us to achieve? Is the pursuit of inner peace natural? How deeply do we desire happiness? Do we really want peace of mind? I have my doubts. To our ancestors, peace of mind was an alien state of existence. To survive, one had to be constantly alert and fearful of one’s surroundings. There were predators everywhere. Every minute of existence was dedicated towards survival and multiplication. No fear,would surely lead to death. And this was a state of existence for  hundreds of thousands of years. So by seeking happiness, we  may be in pursuit of a path that our psychological adaptations are just not evolved for. Do we really need to find “inner peace”? Is it natural? I don’t think so. Does our failure to be happy or content make us any less than those who are happy? No it does not. It is natural to not desire peace. It is natural to be in a constant state of mental flux. We are built like that. Do not let lack of peace make you sad. We don’t REALLY want peace.

Then how does one explain the attainment of peace and content by some people? I think the answer to this can be found by applying Satoshi Kanazawa’s “Intelligence Paradox” hypothesis. However, that can be the topic of another post.

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

Things that make you go “Oh Crap!”

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 28, 2014

At a job interview,

Interviewer: So Raunak, what do you think is your strength?

Raunak: I am good in dealing with people.

Interviewer: And what do you think is your weakness?

Raunak: I hate dealing with people!

Over the last couple of years I’ve realized that a lot of things I am good at are things that I do not like doing at all. So where does one go from here? Anyone out there with a similar realization?

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Answers are not born in a Vacuum

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 27, 2013

space

In his book “No God But God” Reza Aslan writes,

Admitting that Muhammad might have been influenced by someone like Zayd is, for some Muslims, tantamount to denying the divine inspiration of Muhammad’s message. But such beliefs are based on the common yet erroneous assumption that religions are born in some sort of cultural vacuum; they most certainly are not.

Vacuum. A lot of us seek mental isolation in our efforts to find answers. We feel that creating a vacuum around us insulates us from the worldly disturbances that plague our mind. In our pursuit of inner peace we look for opportunities to cut ourselves from the routine life we live in. I have come across more than a few people who have expressed their desire to retire into the forests or the mountains to discover themselves, people who seek answers to their problems in seclusion. But is that the way to go about it? I doubt it. Yes, a quiet and peaceful surrounding facilitates our mind in collating our thoughts, in putting together the pieces of the puzzle. But a vacuum can never answer the questions that arise in our spiritual and subconscious mind. Those answers are right here, right now in the real world that we live in. The answers lie in the mayhem that surrounds us.

Answers come from learning, not from a moment of inspiration. Learning is most effective when gained by observing outcomes of actions being performed, either by ourselves or by those around us. The quickest way to learn is being aware. And learning inspires answers. Since a vacuum is devoid of any action, it does not provide any learning and hence cannot yield answers, no matter how much the level of awareness.

Hence, do not seek answers where there are none. Seclusion is a place of quiet not of peace.

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

Message of the day

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 14, 2013

“Dedicate everything to God”

Turned on the TV this morning and saw Joel Osteen preaching. Yes, televangelists have taken over the morning slot on Indian television. Some make sense while others make money. Since I regard Joel to be the former, I didn’t change the channel. Of the many things being talked about, the one that left an impression on me was his message to dedicate everything to God; every word, every action, every desire. How every obstacle would be removed if only we began our endeavors in the name of God. I lit an incense stick and began my day.

Later in the afternoon, while reading “Personal Panchanga and the Five Sources of Light” by Komilla Sutton, I came across the following lines

“Agni (the element Fire) was the primary principle through which the gods communicated with the earth and agni feeds from the offerings given to gods by humans. Agni wants the soul to act in the voice of God, to dedicate all its actions and karma to the gods….If all actions are thus dedicated there is no need to worry about getting any negative effects of karma.”

What I like about this message is the fact that mere dedication of something can work as an offering. Gods do not ask for donations, riches, grand sacrifices that have become the flavor of the day in temples across India. All one needs to do, to seek divine blessing is to dedicate every action to God. That in itself serves as an offering.

A beautiful message from a Christian and a Vedic Source, couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Dust thou art…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 7, 2013

pyre

Haridwar is one of the holiest places for Hindus. It is here that the river Ganges descends from the Himalayas and begins its journey along the great northern plains of India. Millions of pilgrims visit Haridwar every year to bathe in holy water of Ganges and wash away their sins. It is here, by the banks of the river, that thousands of Hindus immerse ashes of their loved ones into the Ganges and perform final rites of their relatives. And this is a scene that draws me to the river banks frequently.

Most people visit the holy banks to take a dip in the water or pray at the temples there. Not me. I climb onto an over-bridge and spend more than a few minutes looking down at the portion of the banks dedicated to immersing ashes into the gushing river and priests performing ritual prayers for the dead. I see mourning relatives fold their hands in prayer as they let the remains of their loved ones unite with the divine river. And I think to myself, someday, someone will do the same for me. I will be that ash that dissolves into insignificance in the mighty river. And just like that, I will be gone.

It is this humbling experience that draws me to the Ganges. It is therapy. It makes me realize how inconsequential the things that bother my mind are. And this realization is an awakening, a rejuvenating experience that lifts my spirits unlike anything else. Last rites have a mystic spiritualism attached to them. I just found it.

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

Sunday Freebie!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on March 3, 2013

Click here for your free copy :)……and if you are late or prefer a pdf version….drop me a comment. I’d love to share a copy with you.

 

cover_final_1

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

Limp Sunday

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 17, 2013

cover_final_german

I know I’m happy when I spend my Sunday listening to this

this

and this

and knowing that the German Translation of my essay “You Can Be a Buddha Too: Of Desires and Wants” was read by more than 500 online buyers in January 🙂 You can find it here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Chosen Ones

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 16, 2013

chosen

We are all God’s chosen people, its just that God doesn’t choose us all at the same time.

For me, being “chosen” means to be able to connect with the Divine, to be able to be one with the other world. And that connection is something that we are born with, but fades away as we blend into the ways of the material world. The opportunity to reconnect with the Divine beckons us again, but not when we want it to, rather, when the Divine wishes. It is at that moment that we become the “Chosen Ones”. For some people this reconnection may be momentary, while for others it may last for several years.

And more often than not, the connection is reinstated when times of prosperity have passed us by. It is in periods of hopelessness and despair that the human ego is crushed and this heightens our spiritual senses, making way for the divine contact.

So embrace the difficult periods of life with gratitude. Connect with the Divine. You have been Chosen.

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

Mixtape

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 16, 2013

seven

“…most people, when in prosperity, are so over brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they maybe), that they take every offer of advice as an insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to run, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer-by.”

Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologica-Political Treatise

While Spinoza traces the root of superstition in fear and despair, I couldn’t help but realize how often the above situation plays itself out in the corporate world. While some foolhardy, egoistic CEOs find it demeaning to consult their team members, those on the other end of the spectrum lose sight of the solution in search of way too many reassurances. A true leader is a good assessor of his own judgement and knows where to seek counsel when he lacks the ability to make the right call himself.

On the topic of similarities in geographically separated cultures, here is another one. In Vedic Astrology, every person’s life assumed to be 120 years) is divided into  9 unequal phases, each phase ruled by a planet. One of these phases is ruled by Ketu and has a duration of 7 years. This phase is characterized by the person being stripped off his or her material comforts and being left with the bare minimum required to survive. A seven year period where the person may struggle financially, the material outflow being more than the inflow. Seven years, the duration of the famine in Egypt, stated in Genesis.

Posted in Management Consulting, Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

state of nature vs State Authority

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 29, 2013

“In the state of nature, therefore, sin is inconceivable; it can only exist in a state, where good and evil are pronounced on by common consent, and where everyone is bound to obey the State authority. Sin, then, is nothing else but disobedience, which is therefore punished by the right of the State only….in the state of nature, no one is by common consent master of anything, nor is there anything in nature, which can be said to belong to one man rather than another, all things are common to all.”

Benedict de Spinoza, Ethica

Somewhere along the road, we drifted from living in a state of nature and slid into a civilized society living under a State Authority. This transition is  reflected in the way our religions have evolved, from ancient beliefs that were so closely aligned to natural elements to modern tenets that reek of authoritarianism. In India, Vedic Hinduism gave way to the Bhakti and Brahmanic movements. In Europe and Middle East, the Abrahamic religions replaced ancient pagan beliefs. Tortured by the excesses of an authoritative state, people found comfort in the arms of an authoritative God. Only an aggressive protector could save us from the struggles of a life that was now being governed by a State. We did not believe in the “passive” Nature Gods anymore because we did not live in a state of nature anymore.

The bottomline though is that we are intrisically a part of nature. Solutions to problems relating to our bodies, minds and souls cannot be found in the artificial state we have created around us. Hence I encourage people to try to connect with our roots, to connect with the elements that have formed us. Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Space hold the answers to all our questions. Adding to them the sixth element, our mind, completes the puzzle of life.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Divine Sunday

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 27, 2013

bless you

Came across an interesting piece this morning.

There are only 3 ways in which God responds to our prayers.

1) Yes.

2) Not yet.

3) Wait, there is something better in store for you.

Reminded me of my post “Its not about If…its about when”

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

A Perfect Constitution for Imperfect People

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 26, 2013

indian_flag

On this day in 1950, India formally adopted its Constitution and became a Republic. The unthinkable was achieved and an unknown future awaited 350 million people. A population that had been oppressed for over thousand years by hundreds of invading armies, was free. Indians finally had a country to themselves and for the first time in history, the right to vote. We became a democratic republic. Were we prepared for it? I doubt it.

My belief in the righteousness of the Indian Constitution is total and unwavering. A country as diverse as ours has been a stable democracy for over 60 years. We have faced no military coups or major religious conflicts. If that was not miraculous enough, we have grown into a significant economic entity and are headed in the right direction. Slowly, yes, but surely.  Everytime I look at the demographic spread of India, my respect for the founding fathers and their foresight only grows. The fact that we are still a united country is a testament to the greatness of our Constitution.

But what explains the ills that pervade the Indian society today? Why are we ranked so low in almost all human development indices? Why are women still not safe in India and why is there so much poverty and destitution in the country?  Any panelled discussion on the above topics inevitably ends up pointing fingers at our politicians and their corrupt ways. While I do not agree with the attitude of blaming our politicians for all the mess, I am particularly disturbed when the “civil society” raises doubts about our constitutional institutions. And this questioning of our Constitution and our system has become a fashionable trend lately. To all these people my answer is clear, “Ours is a perfect constitution”. We are “Imperfect People”.

In a democracy, the government and politicians are a reflection of the people. In India, I have absolutely no doubt about the verity of this. We have corrupt politicians and bureaucracy because we are corrupt. Women do not feel safe on our cities’ road because we in our houses do not respect our women. The devils that commit heinous crimes like rapes are no strangers to our land. They have come from among us. We do not have good infrastructure, because we refuse to pay our taxes. We have such economic inequality because our caste system has tuned us into accepting an unequal society. We have a population explosion problem because we “f#@ked up”, literally! I could go on and on.

The devil lies within us. Lets not blame the politicians or the constitutional institutions for our own failures. Lets be thankful that our great constitution gives us a chance to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. We can do this. Lets become the greatest human beings in the world, and leave the rest to the constitution.

Thats it. I’m done.

Posted in Philosophy, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

If it sounds good, then it must be true – A Symptom of Denial

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 24, 2013

Denial is a dangerous state of mind. And most recently I have seen some of the best “leaders” display it.Much to my dismay.

Management consulting is a wonderful experience. I am usually called when something is either going wrong or is already in the pits. And many times it is too late. I wish people called me during there good times instead, because it is then that lasting improvements can be seeded in an organization’s working. I often mention Genesis 41:54 and how Joseph’s plan saved Egypt. In the corporate world it is even simpler. Preventive measures can keep the “famine” away forever. And these preventive measures need to be undertaken during good times.

We live in a world that bombards us with data. True data and false data. All conceivable calculations and estimations are presented to analyse trends and strategize businesses. However, sometimes excessive data is injurious. Especially during times of crisis. And this effect is amplified when the decision makers enter a state of denial. In such a state, people tend to look at data that conforms with their plan of action, no matter how wrong that action is.

If it sounds good, then it must be true. If the data presented to them justifies their ill-planned actions, then the data must be true. If the data does not agree with their plan of action, then it must be false. Alas! Denial is an easy state to slip into. It makes us see things the way we want to see them and not for what they really are.

Antidote:

Do not put the cart before the horse. Do not plan actions before analyzing data, both subjective and objective. Pre-conceived ideas and actions corrupt our analytical appreciation and interpretation of reality.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in Management Consulting | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Lets Do This

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 11, 2013

62 Fast Tips to Get UnStuck
By Robin Sharma
Author of the #1 Bestseller “The Leader Who Had No Title”

1.        Believe in your vision and gifts when no one else believes in your vision and gifts.
2.        Start your day with 20 minutes of exercise.
3.        Make excellence your way of being (versus a once in a while event).
4.        Be on time (bonus points: be early).
5.        Be a celebrator of other’s talents versus a critic.
6.        Stop watching TV. (Bonus points: sell your tv and invest the cash in learning and self-education).
7.        Finish what you start.
8.        Remember that your diet affects your moods so eat like an athlete.
9.        Spend an hour a day without stimulation (no phone+no FaceBook+no noise).
10.        Release the energy vampires from your life. They are destroying your performance.
11.        Write in a journal every morning. And record gratitude every night.
12.        Do work that scares you (if you’re not uncomfortable often, you’re not growing very much).
13.        Make the choice to let go of your past. It’s dusty history. And polluting your future.
14.        Commit to being “Mozart-Level Good” at your work.
15.        Smile more (and tell your face).
16.        Do a collage filled with images of your ideal life. Look at it once a day for focus and inspiration.
17.        Plan your week on a schedule (clarity is the DNA of mastery).
18.        Stop gossiping (average people love gossip; exceptional people adore ideas).
19.        Read “As You Think”.
20.        Read “The Go-Getter”.
21.        Don’t just parent your kids–develop them.
22.        Remember that victims are frightened by change. And leaders grow inspired by it.
23.        Start taking daily supplements to stay in peak health.
24.        Clean out any form of “victim speak” in your vocabulary and start running the language of leadership and possibility.
25.        Do a nature walk at least once a week. It’s renew you (you can’t inspire others if you’re depleted yourself).
26.        Take on projects no one else will take on. Set goals no one else will do.
27.        Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable at least once every 7 days.
28.        Say “sorry” when you know you should say “sorry”.
29.        Say “please” and “thank you” a lot.
30.        Remember that to double your income, triple your investment in learning, coaching and self-education.
31.        Dream big but start now.
32.        Achieve 5 little goals each day (“The Daily 5 Concept” I shared in “The Leader Who Had No Title” that has transformed the lives of so many). In 12 months this habit will produce 1850 little goals–which will amount to a massive transformation.
33.        Write handwritten thank you notes to your customers, teammates and family members.
34.        Be slow to criticize and fast to praise.
35.        Read Walter Isaacson’s amazing biography on Steve Jobs.
36.        Give your customers 10X the value they pay for (“The 10X Value Obsession”).
37.        Use the first 90 minutes of your work day only on value-creating activities (versus checking email or surfing the Net).
38.        Breathe.
39.        Keep your promises.
40.        Remember that ordinary people talk about their goals. Leaders get them done. With speed.
41.        Watch the inspirational documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.
42.        Know that a problem only becomes a problem when you choose to see it as a problem.
43.        Brain tattoo the fact that all work is a chance to change the world.
44.        Watch the amazing movie “The Intouchables”.
45.        Remember that every person you meet has a story to tell, a lesson to teach and a dream to do.
46.        Risk being rejected. All of the great ones do.
47.        Spend more time in art galleries. Art inspires, stimulates creativity and pushes boundaries.
48.        Read a book a week, invest in a course every month and attend a workshop every quarter. 
49.        Remember that you empower what you complain about.
50.        Get to know yourself. The main reason we procrastinate on our goals is not because of external conditions; we procrastinate due to our internal beliefs. And the thing is they are stuck so deep that we don’t even know they exist. But once you do, everything changes.
51.        Read “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.
52.        Know your values. And then have the guts to live them–no matter what the crowd thinks and how the herd lives.
53.        Become the fittest person you know.
54.        Become the strongest person you know.
55.        Become the kindest person you know.
56.        Know your “Big 5″–the 5 goals you absolutely must achieve by December 31 to make this year your best yet (I teach my entire goal-achieving process, my advanced techniques on unleashing confidence and how to go from being stuck to living a life you adore in my online program “Your Absolute Best Year Yet”).
57.        Know that potential unexpressed turns to pain.
58.        Build a strong family foundation while you grow your ideal career.
59.        Stop being selfish.
60.        Give your life to a project bigger than yourself.
61.        Be thankful for your talents.
62.        Stand for iconic. Go for legendary. And make history.

This is YOUR time. Now’s YOUR moment. Let’s do this! 🙂

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

My management lesson for the day

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 9, 2013

Civilizations may be likened to mountain ranges, rising through aeons of geologic time, only to have the forces of erosion slowly but ineluctably nibble them down to the level of their surrounding. Within the far shorter time span of human history, civilizations, too, are liable to erosion as the special constellation of circumstances which provoked their rise passes away, while neighboring people lift themselves to new cultural heights by borrowing from or otherwise reacting to the civilized achievement.

McNeill, The Rise of the West

I find McNeill’s thought very universal. It can be effectively applied to a company’s growth in a competitive market. Market leaders need to realize that “circumstances” which provoke their rise are destined to pass away. Competitors will sooner or later, by either “borrowing” or “reacting”, nullify that advantage. There can be no stronger case against complacency. Continuous innovation and improvement is an eternal truth. Accept it or quit the game.

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

Divorced from the Soil

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 8, 2013

alone

Whatever disconnects itself from the land becomes rigid and hard. High culture begins in the preurban countryside and culminates with a finale of materialism in the world cities. Cosmopolitanism is the essence of rootlessness, because it is not tied to the land.

Oswald Spengler

My father was born in Peshawar, Pakistan. When India was partitioned, he and his family moved to New Delhi. My mother’s hometown is Srinagar, Kashmir. Ethnic cleansing by muslim militants forced her entire family out of Kashmir in the late 1980s. My father’s career in the Army meant that I kept changing cities every three years of my childhood. My work has taken me to several places and today I find myself in Haridwar, a new city, surrounded by new people. Been there before!

So when I’m asked where I belong to, I have no answer. I have no native or ancestral place. Unlike most Indians, I have no unique mother tongue. Is it my yearning to be tied to land that drives my passion for traveling? Am I in search of the Eden that I wish to tie myself to? Or have I developed a fear of tying myself to soil that makes me move whenever I find myself in a comfort zone?

I have often wondered how important the feeling of belonging is. I am still to find an answer. Until then, I remain divorced from the soil.

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

My mind today

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 8, 2013

Its cold here. A lot of you may think that 3 degrees Celsius is nothing to fear, but in India, it is scary. We are just not prepared for it. Our houses aren’t centrally heated nor are our workplaces. I walk into a factory and I see the shopfloor workers shivering while they assemble white goods. The pressure is high because its a shipment for the United States. Minimum wage workers earning less than $5 a day, fighting against all odds to earn a living. North India experiences terrible winters every year. Yet, I have not seen a single factory that is centrally air conditioned. I guess the hardships of the shop floor workers are not important enough for the management. Or maybe low cost production doesn’t allow us to install heating for assembly lines. The Indian economy is booming!

The cold wave in North India has claimed several lives. Ofcourse it will. We have millions of homeless who dare below freezing temperatures every night. Imagine going to sleep not knowing if you will wake up. I have been through that once and it is not pleasant. The cold this year is not unique. Every year we face similar drops in temperature and every year we lose lives. The government cannot provide temporary shelters and blankets to all the homeless. The Indian economy is booming!

I have always heard Indians boast that we are very family oriented people. We couldn’t be farther from the truth. I do not come across anyone leaving office before 7pm. In a city like Delhi, most people leave for office at 8am and return home at 8pm. They spend an average of 2.5 hrs in daily commute. While most companies officially state a 5 day week, I have rarely seen anyone free on Saturdays. And even when I leave my office in the evening, I can expect my boss to call me at any God forsaken time. When do we spend time with our families? Family oriented does not mean getting married to the person our parents pick for us. It means spending more quality time with our families. Sadly, very few Indians are truly family oriented today. The Indian economy is booming.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

The might of human nature

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 7, 2013

The world “is the result of forces inherent in human nature.” And, human nature , as Thucydides pointed out, is motivated by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos), and honor (doxa). “To improve the world,” writes Morgenthau,”one must work with these forces, not against them.”…..After all, good intentions have little to do with positive outcomes.

Robert D Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography

I find this thought of realism very interesting indeed. Good intentions have little to do with positive outcomes. Several times I have felt frustrated when my attempts at helping another person out of depression failed. I am sure a lot of us have experienced instances when our good intentions have served no purpose other than turning us into villains in the eyes of others.

And how powerful are fear, self-interest and honor! They truly define human nature and I believe that change in anyone and everyone can be brought about by employing these three forces in varying and manipulative ways. A great learning indeed.

Needlesss to say, the book is brilliant.

As always, comments welcomed.

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

A Lesson in Life

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 6, 2013

“People with interesting lives have no vanity.They swap cities.Invest in projects with no guarantees. Are interested in people who are opposite of them. Resign without having another job in sight. Accept an invitation to do something they haven’t before. Are prepared to change their favorite color, favorite dish. They start from zero countless times. They do not get frightened of getting old. They climb on stage, shear their hair, do craziness for love, purchase one-way tickets.”

Martha Madeiros

I learnt a lesson last week. Unfortunately, as in many cases, the lesson came a little too late. I was reminded that the present is the only thing we can be certain of. The future is nothing but a hope. It may or may not get realized. Live as if there is no tomorrow. Do things as if they were the last things you will ever do.

I moved into my apartment a little over a month back. The apartment was shown to me by the caretaker. A couple of phone calls with the landlord, Mr.Sharma and the deal was made. I shifted my stuff and started enjoying my new home. Every now and then I would talk to the landlord over phone expressing few concerns regarding faulty plumbing or electricity. And everytime, Mr.Sharma would take immediate steps to ensure my comfort and convenience. In a country like India, finding such a cooperative landlord is very rare and I felt blessed indeed. It just amazed me how  he, without having met me in person, allowed me to lease his house and even went out of his way to make me feel at home in a strange town. Our telephonic conversations were very friendly indeed and I sensed a spiritual connection with the jovial spirit.

Every week I would resolve to meet him the coming Sunday but end up being in office and put off the meeting to next Sunday. Five such Sundays passed. Monday 8:30 am, I opened my car door when I heard the caretaker’s voice from behind me, “Raunak, Mr.Sharma is no more. He passed away this morning due to a sudden heart attack.”

I rushed to Mr.Sharma’s house. I finally met him. He didn’t talk. My heart cried.

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

Why do people do bad things?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on December 23, 2012

I have often wondered how people do things that seem “bad” and do not even recognize it as something not virtuous. Why do people not hesitate even slightly before doing something that I find “wrong”? I truly believe in the goodness of our original being. Then why does a Virtuous creation do “bad” things? Here’s an attempt to answer that question.

“The effort for self preservation is the first and only foundation of virtue. For prior to this principle nothing can be conceived, and without it no virtue can be conceived…..

….No virtue can be conceived as prior to this endeavor to preserve one’s own being”—–Spinoza, Ethica

If we believe in self preservation being the most important virtue, then it is not difficult to see how “bad” can be virtuous. What allows this contradiction to exist is the way in which we human beings have expanded the definition of “Self”. In an ideal world “Self” would mean the collection of body,mind and soul. In the real world “Self” includes another parameter which we shall label as “Ego”.

Proposition 1: People only do Virtuous things. We are innately Virtuous.

Proposition 2: Virtuous actions are Good

Enquiry: Why do People do Bad Things?

Investigation:

Virtue= Self Preservation

In Ideal World, True Self = Body+Mind+Soul (All factors are independent of what lies outside an individual)

In Real World, False Self = Body+Mind+Soul+Ego

Ego adds a 4th Dimension that introduces the influence of the external world into the “Self”. Self-preservation is no longer the survival of only the body, mind and soul but it is now the survival of a false image of the self which is a reflection of how the world around us views us.When we untertake actions that work towards the preservation of this “False Self”, we lose sight and understanding of Virtue.

Nature has trained our minds to instinctly recognize that whatever we do to preserve ourselves is Virtuous. Hence what we do to preserve ourselves must necessarily be good. Hence preservation of the self is a virtue and hence any action undertaken to ensure this is good. But this applies only when Self = True Self.

When Self=False Self, we are tricked into believing that what we our doing to preserve this “False Self” is virtuous. And hence we do not question the nature of our actions that preserve this “False Self”. We continue doing bad things without any guilt because we are tricked into believing that since they are preserving our “Self” they must be virtuous and hence good.

Therefore, in the real world, virtuous actions can be bad, because self preservation is actually the preservation of the “False Self”. People do not regard a bad action as evil because that action of theirs is preserving their “False Self” and hence they do not hesitate before doing such things. Their brains are tricked into thinking that the preservation of this “False Self” is a Virtue.

To rid our world of this “Bad”, we will have to be able to differentiate the “True Self” from the “False Self”. Once this is achieved, we will only be concerned with preserving the “True Self” and since this is a real virtue, all actions emanating from it will be good.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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