Sunday, September 27, 2015

Monday Musings 241 - Where you want to be....

Monday Musings 241 - Where you want to be....

The other evening over drinks, part buoyed by spirits and part as a banal attempt to carry forward the evening, I asked a few colleagues "what would you be doing if not doing what you are doing". There in hangs the tale for this musing. Not one of them said they would continue to do what they are doing right now.
Lets do a drawing room research. How many of us be doing what we are indeed doing given a choice for the rest of our lives? Will more of us be happy doing what we are doing or will more of us jump ship and do something else? The other dimension of the same question will be will how many of us are indeed doing what we think we should be doing with our lives? Given a choice will we be still doing it? Are encumbrances like money and responsibilities driving this decision more than joy? My hunch is that close to two thirds or even more would answer in negative - that is they would prefer to do something else.

I have done such anecdotal armchair over the drinks kind of research over the years and across organisations and the results are fairly consistent. I have always wondered why practically everyone wants to do something else. It has amazed me that so many remain stuck in things that they want to so desperately get out. It is not the phenomena but the fact that it is so ubiquitous that has baffled me more. Also if everyone is supposed to do something else then who will do what everyone is doing now.

Let's put all the possible reasons in the melting pot and allow it to brew. Lack of courage to make the shift could be one, weak risk appetite could be two, not knowing what the real calling is could be three, lethargy to could be four and not having had the choices could be five. In reality it could be all five.  

I also am wondering if my question itself is loaded. May be this notion of wanting to do something else is pure romanticism of the idea that we are far better than what we have got. It is always easier to believe that we could have done better in what we have never done than accept that we are quite unspectacular in what we are currently doing! (that sounds unkind - may be I should delete it). Coming back to if my question is loaded - because the moment one is ask what would be doing if not this, he embarks on flights of juvenile fancy which keeps changing every few weeks. It allows one to take a break from the drudgery of the nine to five.

I also feel sorry for the guys who hold the onerous task keeping employees engaged. Imagine their plight - if everyone wants to do something else and be somewhere else right now, how will you make them believe this is where they should be.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Monday Musings 240 - A drink for the 'caves'

Monday Musings 240  - A drink for the 'caves'

My first trip to Ajanta and Ellora caves has left me gasping. I do not understand the art of sculpting or cannot discern the quality  in murals, neither do i have a connoisseur bone in my body about these things. However what i saw definitely touched me in strange ways. Here are a few ways in which it did.

The board outside Ellora said that it took more than 200 years to make them. I find that to be overwhelming. It is inconceivable for me that a group of people, most likely monks would hammer away for generations and carve out such exquisite geometric structure, such fabulous design thinking, such perfect symmetry and such intricate engravings - all of this managed successfully while cutting away one single rock from the top (compare this that all modern structures are built bottoms up). Some caves are Buddhist, some Jain and some Hindus. Some people must take lessons from this happy coexistence. 

The Ajanta caves are breathtaking. They practically hang atop a small river. They are universally Buddhist in themes. I will leave the religion aside for a moment. What mesmerized me the scale at which monks have worked with the rocks. I cannot even begin to imagine the mind of men who would have first decided to hew a rocky mountain and create an elaborate labyrinth of prayer room of sorts. It took me a while to deal with that choking sensation when i realized that the largest of those caves was prayer room almost two times the size of houses that most of us live in. All of that cut through the rocks!!

I wonder about the motivations of such men who would for years together chisel the lifeless mountains and carve out breathtaking giant size deities, with themes, eye for detail and embellishments that will put a Sanjay Leela Bhansali set to shame - all of that some 2000 years ago. I wonder what would such a person be as a child, youth and and an adult. I wonder what would be his fabric, what would be his self talk, what would he think every day morning (and cheekily i also ask what would be his thoughts on a Monday morning!!). 

I wonder what would be his last thoughts as he would be lying on his last moments and would have seen what he had managed to create out of the recalcitrant and lifeless rocks - how much life he had breathed into them. Would he be smug? would he be vain? Would he just shrug it away as such possessed men are wont to do?

They said that the monks who worked on these caves would mediate while they were working on these caves. I am not sure about it - may be the making of the caves was meditative. Who knows?

As one stands at a vantage point and witness the panorama of caves from outside, before one has visited the caves and witnessed the magnitude of human creativity, one is impressed. When one repeats the panorama after a visit of each of those caves one would perhaps feel tiny and petty. One cannot help but experience the enormity of human application around and it does not rest on the shoulders lightly. It has a power to push through every sinews of your body and soul and demand a life that must yield much more than what it has yielded so far. It is a challenge only the blind and insensitive will be able to ignore. 

I wonder who were the men who assiduously built something like this. I wonder if they knew that it will last 2000 years and still inspire. I wonder if i will leave behind something for even 2000 minutes. 

Gosh - i need a drink. !


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Monday Musings 239 - That Enigma called God

Monday Musings 239 - That Enigma called God

‘’Somewhere along the way man met God and both exclaimed, My creator!”– A whatsapp forward.

It is within a few days of receiving this that I chanced upon the book ‘’History of God’’ by Karen Armstrong, an ex nun and now an authority on the subject. I have just read two pages of the book and wondered about my own views on this subject. So before I allow my view to be coloured or influenced by a well researched book I thought I will put down what is my current position on this subject or may be the lack of it.

I am not sure if God is a person or an abstraction, I am not sure if he someone to be loved or feared, I am also not sure if he is to be explored or revered. All I know is that he is too important to most people, so important that they can go to any extreme in his name. I don’t know if He Himself is mild or moderate in his disposition and temperament but I can well see that his followers do not hesitate to go to extremes to protect his reputation from hurt real or imagined. I don’t know if he sees us all the time from some vantage point as many would like us to believe but I do know that we keep Him around us all the time. I don’t know if he is jovial and fun loving and if he has fun doing his business of keeping this well oiled machine called universe firmly in its place and engines running but I do know that his followers and disciples do lack a sense of humour.

I don’t know if I was created by Him or whether he holds the strings to my destiny and hence it is advisable to be in His good books. I don’t know if I should listen to the rationalists and believe only that I can see and prove or go by the merchants of faith who ask me to ‘just submit’ and let Him handle what is eloquently called my destiny. What I do know is that I fear bad outcomes; unfulfilled dreams and that I do not understand and cannot explain many things that happen around me. Inexplicability is fertile ground for faith to flourish. Fear creates conditions for search of an anchor.

Who is God and what role does he play in my life appears to be a metaphysical question on one hand and an extremely practical question on another. I am confused if there is ‘My God’ and ‘Your God’ and ‘Other Gods’, because if there is monotheism as a concept I don’t see much of it these days. I am confused about the business of organised religion. Rituals that I grew up with which were at the centre of the notion of God and which gave me comfort and succour till a while back are increasingly appearing meaningless. Should I worry about the scorns of the heavens?

If God is an ‘Experience’ as the mystics have told that He is and that He reveals Himself only to the deserving, then I guess so far I am not deserving. I have no such epiphany so far.

I knew about us as Homo sapiens – I have discovered two new phrases in the recent past – that we are also Homo Economicus and Homo Religiosus. This means that there is an innate need in each of us to want to believe in something bigger than us. In worshipping something spectacular we perhaps uplift ourselves too.
I see two contradicting phenomena around me emerging simultaneously - the space allocated to God in the daily chore of life is both shrinking and expanding. It is shrinking because it is more and more becoming ritualistic and a weekend activity to some and it is expanding in the sense that more and more Godmen and Godwomen are emerging every day. Elementary marketing - if so many are selling then there must a large demand!

I understand Voltaire far more now when he said – ‘’IF God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him’’.  I guess the book shall be an interesting read.