Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank you, 2013!

No surprises here about the form of what follows. It is a list. But the substance of it is entirely up to the perception of the reader. To myself, what follows is a great pleasure of introspection and learning, and about choosing habits and behaviors that shape a way of life I prefer. I have written this as I would speak to myself. It is also philosophy if you know me well enough and if you are somewhat into the line of thinking that 'philosophy-in-everything' is indeed a great way to view the 'everything' in  life. After all, of what good is life if it does not provide the impetus and constant means for 'philo-sophos', quite literally 'love of wisdom'? If you got me right, Bravo!

So, here goes the list.
  1. Substance over form: I have been prey, more often than not, to form rather than the substance of things, people and their actions in my life. I wouldn't say it was all that shaming after all. It's the best way to learn. Go ahead and judge people. If you are right, great! If you are wrong, admit it and learn not to be judgmental by the looks of anything/anyone. The best part is this - each time the form deceives me, the substance proves it is indeed unshakable. In other words, seeing is believing, but seeing through is knowing. Decide for yourself where do you want to keep your heart and place your trust. Belief or knowledge?
  2. The gift of solitude: If you haven't felt solitude, please take time off and do it consciously. If you don't know how to, here are a few things that may help. Get up very early and listen to the sounds of the world come up from nothing. See the darkness turn into twilight and then into daybreak. Feel the whistling wind on your ear tips and the icy sensation in your eyes that cause tears of cold as you bike your way in the early morning mist. If you live by the sea, hit the beach and watch the sun rise. Don't miss the silver linings on the clouds. Don't miss watching the sea turn from blue to yellow, orange and finally sparkling white. Get so lost in this grandeur that there can only be the realization that you and the sun are one. Trek a mountain or a hilly terrain and feel the chilling wind dry your eyes and ears out as you go higher up. Even one of these is enough to stir up thoughts that assess what man-made materialism and natural aesthetics add to life and which one is more fulfilling. To be able to experience and know this is bliss, is to understand the finesse of solitude in you and what it can bring you to help you view life differently. It never fails on you. All of these happen when you are mostly alone. So, don't immerse yourself in self-pity if you are alone. Being alone is the best thing that can happen to you to experience solitude. Alone is great, loneliness is not! Don't confuse solitude and loneliness. You are way more than just a lonely being lost in the abyss of listlessness and ineptitude in life. If nothing, Solitude makes all the more sense if you are a longing or a troubled man, for it brings hope to the former and wisdom to the latter.
  3. Love and friendship: Fall in love, but be sure to pull yourself up if you find yourself fallen for a while, for it cannot be love if it does not lift you up. Better still, keep off it if you know for sure you are going to fall and won't find a helping hand. It is perfectly fine. To save the trouble of all this pettiness in the end, be as much around as possible with a friend. That hand around your shoulder never lets you fall down in the first place. If you have both, nothing like it.
  4. Find a way of life and get moving: In simpler terms, philosophy is a way of life. And there is always one right way. Choose the best that suits you. But to know which one to choose, take a dig at everything available. Sometimes you will find the right one early, but most of the times you will know the wrong ones early too. That helps narrow down the probable ways. Ultimately, you will get on your path one way or the other. And that is just the beginning. Immerse yourself as much as possible in the ways and means of life prescribed in that path. That won't be difficult, for if you did not feel it both intuitively and with reason, you will not have chosen that path. Feel the thrill of that journey and cherish the ride. It will be one of the finest and most beautiful memoirs you could ever write.
  5. Be invincible: Easier said than done. But definitely not impossible. We only need two things intact to be invincible. Be sure to get your thoughts rights; for some thoughts, like habits, die hard. Judge only your own character and get it right. You can't judge another man's character. It is a lie
  6. From rat races to grand marathons: If your perceive life as an exciting journey, then there is no use in your being part of the many rat races of others. They may all be excited that they are racing and that there is pride, fame and glory in winning the race. But they fail to see that their race is never over. They are oblivious to the fact that the moment they think they are near the finish line, someone somewhere extends the line. And so it goes - a never ending race in which they are exhausted too soon and still puff and pant to get to the invisible line. They will never finish the race. Don't worry. Instead, try seeing through life as a grand marathon. You don't have to necessarily win it. You just want to finish it and be proud that you could stand it all and still make it. There is no competition to you but yourself. You only want to better yourself with each passing twist and turn. You will make good with the ups and downs. You will enjoy the scenery all the way. That's with the metaphorical rat races and marathons. Literally speaking, just running is a lot better than sprinting or racing. Physically, you are able to run a lot and still feel good at the end of it instead of being exhausted and burnt out in a sprint and could barely move yourself about. It also lends a perspective to the metaphorical stance mentioned above. 
  7. Travel: For life's constant wanderer who is in love with the unexplored, I need say no more. One life will not be enough to travel all you want. But if you're waiting for a start, please do travel right away. The best part of traveling is that it always has surprises which challenge your mental complacency and laziness in wanting to be different. And so it provides the real impetus to be different. You will be thankful for it. It is highly likely that Nietzsche's rare and isolated moments of the greatest significance will beckon you on incredible and exciting travels. It definitely did for me. And not just once. I've had that pleasure many times over. 
  8. Know your religion and choose your God wisely: Believe in a God, but know That starts from within you. And you will know there is only One God. I venture to speak only about Hinduism here, because that is the only one I know of in quite some detail. The Vedas do not prescribe any form to God. The forms are our imaginations and creations for a simple thing - focus. If we can focus on the omnipresent without needing a form for it, we have got it. Again, Substance over form, you see! [Particularly for Brahmins, if you need further proof, know the core essence and the ultimate purpose of Sandhyaavandhanam which is "Asaavaadhithyo Brahmaha, Brahmaiva Ahamasmi" which translates to "The Brahman (the single absolute being pervading the universe and found within the individual; atman) that the Sun is, that I am too". Now tell me if you really need an idol worship and a set of rituals]. If not for any of the above sound reasons, personally as an admirer of aesthetics, a few mins of stunned awe at the live glowing brilliant ball of fire is preferable to a clay/metal idol to get me going through the day. The form is useless to me here.
  9. Humility and Indifference: People always have both good and bad opinions of everyone around them. If you value their opinions: Take the good ones with humility. Always keep in mind that they have spent time thinking about you and your actions and have attempted to judge you favorably. Some humility helps appreciate the other person's intent and interest in judging you. Take the bad opinions too with humility. It's a check for you to judge yourself from the other person's shoes. And you may indeed be wrong. Learn from both the good and bad opinions and see if it makes sense to improvise. If you don't care about others' opinions: It pays to be indifferent to others' opinions and focus instead on yourself. Indifference is not a vice. At any time, a No is better than a wrong decision
  10. Social Networking: If you belong, all heart and soul, in your real trust radius, you don't need to be connected with the mostly irrelevant and noisy chatter of the hundreds of branches along the perimeters of the virtual world called the social networks. Time is not far away when we'll come to realize we have wasted far more time than we could afford to in the virtuality and missed out on many real ones. Even if this doesn't work, if you have got even a few of the above, you don't really need a network, because you'd by then know that virtuality is a fad.
Well. That's it. Thanks for having come this far. Hope this makes up for the 3-month hiatus from writing and the lack of clear thoughts for a while now.

Here's wishing everyone a happy and prosperous year ahead.

Rajaji