Take 2 – Bhagavad Gita

Last weekend, I met a very senior professor at a University. He is an old man who gives an impression that he knows his craft well and I totally enjoyed his presence and whatever we discussed.

Sitting in his office, I observed him holding something strange, like a small electronic counter in a hand where you press a button and the number display on screen increments by one, like one of those devices gatekeepers in malls use to keep track of the footfalls in a store.

I eagerly waited for a moment alone and asked –

“Sir, If you don’t mind, what is that thing in your hand?”

He smiled and started explaining to me that it’s an Electronic replacement of JapaMala

Just in case you don’t know – Japa Mala is a string of prayer beads commonly used by HindusBuddhistsJains and some Sikhs for the spiritual practice known in Sanskrit as japa. It is usually for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity.

I was not expecting this answer, from a senior university professor, or it was the Spirituality and God where I get a bit confused and disconnected, hence my second question without waiting –

What is the purpose of all these chanting names of a deity, spirituality, and God?

I also mentioned that recently, I tried to read Bhagavad Gita which is a jewel of Indian spiritual wisdom, which is spoken by Supreme Godhead Lord Shri Krsna himself to his intimate devotee Arjun, the book reveals man’s essential nature and ultimately his relationship with God.

And, being an Existentialist to core and idea of getting controlled by superior power, challenges my beliefs, hurts my ego and distorts my reality.
But, a very natural human tendency starts to kick in, when we are uncomfortable with an idea or thought; What we do? we DISAGREE! 

So I disagreed a big time, and couldn’t read the book any further of page-20, it’s still sitting on my shelf unread.

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He was listening to me patiently; smiled again and answered-

Let me tell you a small story about and a teacher and his student…


Teacher to his student – Take this Jute basket,  go to the river and fill it with water and bring it back to me.

Student as instructed went to the river, filled the Jute basket with water and started returning back to his teacher, but the jute basket leaked and could not hold water and it was empty by the time he returned to his teacher.

Teacher – Go and fill the basket again.

Student followed the instruction again… and again, but every time by the time he returned to the teacher the basket was empty. But after many hours of this tedium and meaningless effort the frustrated student, couldn’t resist asking his teacher…

Student – Teacher, I can see no meaning to this task, every time I bring water from the river it leaks and the basket is empty by the time I return to you. All my efforts are wasted! and what is the purpose of this activity after all? We’ve accomplished nothing so far. 

Teacher [Smiling] – Son, You’re wrong. Look closely at the basket, you will understand. Do you see anything?
Student –  I don’t understand, there is no water and basket is still empty.

Teacher – Yes it is empty, but it is many times cleaner now!


After listening to this small story suddenly it started to make some sense to me, maybe, MAYBE

Spirituality,  God and religion don’t add any value to us,
but, it’s purpose is to refine and clarify what we already know.

Grandiose of spirituality is not to fill/add the vessel (our brain) with new ideas, but to clean the existing thoughts and ideas so that a better and more comprehensible meaning can be derived.

I think, maybe we hold our existing beliefs so firmly that there is no space for new ideas to sprout and this is I believe the most important point in education which we as a community and a society are missing and is never taught or emphasized.

My Mistake: Before concluding that the book was not for me; Only if I was able to give space and opportunity to new ideas to form in our minds to evaluate and analyze, before owning or disagreeing under the shadow of our existing ideas and beliefs. Maybe, MAYBE, I could have learned something meaningful.

Aristotle wrote,

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Being able to look at and evaluate different values without necessarily adopting them is the perhaps the central skill required in changing one’s own life in a meaningful way.

Leaving you with this thought, and a promise that I’d be giving Bhagavad Gita and myself a second chance 🙂

Signing off…

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Has Science gone too far?

I read on the internet today, that scientists after some experimentation were successfully able to inject human stem cells in pig embryo to develop a Human-Pig hybrid and experiment was closed after 28 days of embryo development before it can develop into a piglet.

The experiment was looked with a lot of skepticism, hatred and disturbing to the human psyche and most of the comments/statements were like –

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Being a huge fan of Science and Technology my opinion may look biased and different compared to others, but I have a strong belief that advancement in science and technology is not taking us towards to the doomsday or in any way challenging the existence of the god or the affairs of Nature.

But it may seed doubt in your mind – Is science going too far?

In my opinion Science is already too far, while I’m typing the rough draft of this article on a 5” capacitive touchscreen that works on the principle that human body or more specifically tip of your finger’s skin hold electrical charge, which makes a keyboard which really doesn’t exist type in a language (English) that humans created and would be later posted on a platform (Facebook, Twitter, Medium, WordPress) which is nothing but a million lines of text (Program) running on a distributed array of machines scattered across the planet and another program called WWW (The Internet) which connects the world and provides an information space, to which any person in the world can hook up through Modulated Radio Frequency waves from a hand-held device or a laptop utilizing the nearby cell tower.

It’s ok if you don’t understand the hidden meaning in the above paragraph, but do you know if it was only God’s wish and no human intervention then,

We were never meant to light up our home hitting a button feet away.
We were never meant to be eating our breakfast out of cereal boxes.
We were never meant to sit in a complex metal machinery and drive a thousand miles sipping aerated drinks and call it a road trip.
We were never meant to fly over the oceans and through the cloud in a high-octane alloy chassis.
We were never meant to live in air-conditioned concrete cubes stacked one over another.
We were never meant to get the purest form of knowledge and wisdom of finest minds in the world by turning pages or just by switching on an electronic device.

We were never meant to have all those things we take for granted and consider standard luxuries of life if it was not about human curiosity and science!

Such experimentation is probably the key to develop organs with humans genes in animals like a pig who have similar thoracic and abdominal organs as humans, which can later be transplanted in human bodies, and I don’t think there is anything wrong or un-natural if we can give limbs to an amputee or a heart to someone who needs it, but yes, you can definitely debate on repercussion on the animals, which is why there is a social skepticism linked to such experiments making it difficult to accept by the society.

I totally understand, that mixing genetics or species touches something deep in human psyche and culture, which is definitely hard to put into words, but there are numerous mentions of existence of hybrid species from the mythologies of every part of the planet, in fact, many natural hybrids from Mule to Ligers exist, If it was God’s wish they wouldn’t have ever cross-bred, but they do exist.

If you say science went too far, how about the idea of injecting dormant or dead microorganisms injected into a healthy human body? Well, we call it Vaccine today, which assists the body to acquire immunity against the same disease it was infected with. Amazing, right? but very unnatural, and definitely un-godly if you want to think in those lines. Bionic arms and legs, pacemakers, bypass surgeries all are unnatural but they keep us alive and we are doing good as a species. Why don’t we question science when using contraceptives, condoms and an idea of family planning, no other species on the face of this earth plan their families! Isn’t this against the God’s will?

You know what is unnatural?  The number of lives saved by the Vaccination and steep drop of the infant mortality rate post discovery of vaccines like polio, hepatitis, malaria, against the God’s wish to waste all these lives. I think Science will never go too far until people know what they are doing and understand the responsibility of the footprints they leave for the future generations.

Scientists will definitely make mistakes; commit blunders, and still the out of curiosity they will seek knowledge and understanding of the unknown and I’m proud to say that – if as a race we never experimented enough, like we have been doing until this date, then highly likely I would be sleeping in a cold dark cave, without any clothes, scared to death and expecting not to be eaten by a wild predator at this time of the day.

Leaving you with this thought…  Signing off…

 

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Judging the book by its cover 

I want you to more observant and aware next time you are clicking a selfie; how you position your face in a perfect angle to make it look long and pointed instead of flat or round, smartly avoiding double chins and trying to reveal that masculine jawline, and not to forget the filters you apply to improve texture and skin tone.

The point I’m trying to stress upon here is – This is how we are judgmental of our own looks and features, subconsciously we are constantly judging and making the perceptions of our own self-image; constantly rating us Good-Ok-Bad every time we see our reflection in the mirror. Probably that is the reason your brain feeds you with sub conscious decisions to adjust your face at a particular angle to the selfie camera or a specific side of your face.

Do not believe me? Just go to Facebook, Instagram or whatever social media platform and observe how you have been positioning your face for in old selfies, or how your friends do it, you’ll understand what I mean and you’ll see repetitive patterns in their behavior. The origin of this pattern or behavior has deep roots in our subconscious to judge people including ourselves based on looks, followed by perceptions and finally concluding by categorizing attractive or not attractive.

We are designed to Judge,
with an ability of conscious choice to not Judge

Personally, I think there is nothing wrong in judging someone on looks and their appearance, in fact, this judgment, perception and decision making has helped us to live through the rough years of evolution as a species. Specifics we find physically attractive is hard coded in our brains as a part of evolving for millions of years so that we can choose a healthy partner and reproduce healthy offsprings with better genetical structures to pass to the future generations and spiking the chances to survive as a species.

I know I’m attracting hatred by writing this piece, but I have been giving a lot of thought to this and now I have a strong belief we are biologically designed to judge humans and other species and make a perception about them, either for reproduction or mere survival. Luckily we are also equipped with a superior logical ability to think, re-think and come to a conclusion that may deviate from our biological guidance system, which is good and fair enough! and that’s what makes Homo-sapiens different.

In spite of being conditioned at a social and inter-personal level, with hatred upon judging someone’s physical appearance, there are high chances you’ll be attracted to a person with sharp facial features or proportionate body measurements, primarily because – this is how we are designed and studies prove that subconsciously we tend to choose healthy genetics hidden behind attractive features. Just to clear, attractive neither mean chiseled abdominal muscles, huge biceps; nor it means to disgrace anyone on basis of skin color, nationality, and race. All I mean is a healthy individual who maintains his/her personal hygiene and the definition changes from person to person.

Fat/huge may be a norm for polar bears so that they can survive harsh weather conditions with accumulated fat during the hibernation and they may be a better prospect to mate for survival compared to a weak and skinny bear who has high chances to not survive the winters; but we are not polar bears and accumulating lot of body fat, looking lazy or overstressed is not a sign of healthy habits, and good genetics to be passed to future generations, which makes not so good prospect for reproduction, may be that is why our brain sub consciously process more than dozen (or hundreds) of such parameters to judge a person as attractive or less attractive.

In males, Strong Jawline is a sign of masculinity and higher testosterone levels, while in contrast to this female sex hormone estrogen prevents the growth of facial bone, which male find attractive. Scientists believe that finding someone attractive is more than just facial clues – large eyes, small nose, large lips and so on – to check that their prospective mate has high “fitness” and can efficiently pass their genes to the next generation. A study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences is the first to demonstrate that facial appearance is linked to their well-being because of hormonal impacts on a person’s reproductive health and fertility. While biologically designed Judgment and guidance on basis of physical appearances has not only kept us safe from scary looking animals with hostile body language and sharp teeth, but it has also helped us survive as a species by passing a better genetics to the future generation, while many other species who co-lived on this planet during years of evolution are extinct now.

Apart from biology, we are bombarded with information and clues every day in form of perfect looking Instagram models, bodybuilders, costly clothes, accessories and shiny cars from advertisements to social media, which have also adulterated how we choose a partner in this century. The brain is conditioned and sadly expectations are huge and far away from just passing healthy genes; in fact, just another strategy by fitness industry and corporations to propagate consumerism which is successful to make us believe that low body fat, muscular physique and leading a lavish lifestyle is attractive, causing our obvious inclination towards consuming fitness, beauty and food products.
We were never designed to be like this, but we are constantly conditioned subconsciously to become one, who knows if this is also part of our evolution or extinction. By the way, the idea of consumerism is not new, in fact after the industrial revolution which brought assembly lines, factories and surplus supplies of food, finished products, and a very limited consumption. So we were strategically conditioned to believe in things like we need 3 proper meals a day to lead a healthy life to increase consumption, whereas the truth is humans have not evolved to eat 3 times a day or have 16 inches of arm muscle and we can survive easily on a single meal a day. Don’t believe me do a fact check, you’ll understand.

Personally, I will not feel good about myself if a girl thinks I’m not fair or muscular enough or do not possess any other feature which she finds attractive, even though it seems unfair and wrong up to some extent, but I can’t blame her 🙂 because this is how we are designed, right? finding better genetics to pass to our future generation at a subconscious level. Similarly, I may find a girl beautiful over another, and technically I may look judgemental about her looks and it may not look good from a perspective of a third person; But, the question is who is not? at a conscious or unconscious level, every human makes those choices and we are evolved at various physical, verbal and psychological fronts adding more parameters and criteria’s as a box to tick when making those choices, like – smartness, confidence, speech, or intelligence etc.

Conclusion: No matter how much we are conditioned not to judge the book by its cover, we will end up judging and making perceptions, but that doesn’t mean you body shame people and make them feel any lesser of them. Instead, you should be more supportive and sensitive to people who don’t feel good about themselves, because I have not met a single person till date who doesn’t want to look great, and honestly they were not given a choice to look in a certain way when they were born and since we can’t evade judging them, so all we can be is bit more sensitive because the spectrum of good and bad is immense, and it would be small of you to think you fall more towards the good side.

Thanks for reading my random mumblings, signing off…

 

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