Tuesday 29 October 2013

Faith: My Alternate Power Source

Yes, I believe in God! There are no answers to Calvin's questions and I would be lying if I said I haven't had similar questions on occasions. But, I do believe in God.

I have grown up in a God-believing family, where various actions were part of regular life - pray, go to the temple and also have fear of God. I was made to understand concept of truth being God's path, how good always triumphs over bad - of how God sees everything and about God's omnipresence.

By mid-teens, I am not sure if I started believing in myself as a non-believer, but I definitely started doubting my understanding of God - as I was made to believe growing up. I started questioning the general approach of showing faith in God. I couldn't do both - accept the concept of 'omnipresence' and believe there was something special about visiting temples. I couldn't accept I needed an intermediary (a.k.a Pundit) to make God see & hear me. This was the time when almost all of man's collective actions towards God started to seem either commercial or superficial in nature - but definitely not out of love for God.

I owe it to my parents for allowing me to find my own path to God. They realised I wasn't happy doing / following religious acts. Neither of them pushed me to follow a path just because it had been part of our family's traditional values. I think they could see that I was generally against the idea of showing my faith in a particular manner than question God's presence or even significance.

The freedom I got from my parents helped me explore my own path and find my answers. When things were going my way, I didn't even care to think about God - but the moment there was a slight hiccup, I couldn't help but reach out to God for help. This was the first sign for me that I believed - I accepted that I am not in control of everything that happens to me and that, from time to time, I need a hand to guide me. Obviously, I have never sensed an actual 'hand' that helped and guided me. Something did, inexplicably so.

The various situations where at first I didn't know what to do, didn't believe if I will manage to prevail / survive...asking for help, keeping faith in God helped. These situations taught me one of the most important lessons about God - much like Terminator's alternate power source, God is the alternate power source for me. Anytime I doubt myself, worry about my own ability and feel depleted fighting my battles...all that I need to do it reach out to God. This alternate power may not necessarily be the power to prevail over all hurdles or win every battle, but it definitely helps in survival. It is the power to prevail over pain, disappointment and loss.

As I have understood my faith in God, I am sure, each person needs to understand his / her own concept of God - whether they believe in God or not and why. There isn't a common path that all can follow to reach and understand God. For me, God is a power source and a guiding hand - I am sure for others God could be something else entirely, more meaningful or even less.

It is not based on any religion, it is not based on any written text or spoken word - it is not about anyone or anything else...but it is about how an individual looks at God and what kind of a relationship that individual wants to have with God. In my view - the clearer the understanding, the stronger the faith - the better is the individual's relationship with God! Faith, after all, comes from within and at least in my case, is about my inner strength.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Shift in Moral Values

Generally understood as socially accepted and ethical principles that govern the day to day living of life, moral values are losing their significance at a rather fast pace. This loss is purely of values that existed in past - it is not as if people are becoming immoral, rather the change is happening in social acceptance and understanding of what's ethical now.

There is rigidity in trying to live as society wants you to. After some time, resistance to rigidity and control become strong enough to make the society realise that a change is in order. This change is towards acceptance of new ideas, new understandings and new definitions of good / bad...ethical / unethical.

Back in the 80s, I was in IV / V standard, I remember there used to be 60 minutes (in a week) dedicated to moral studies. A teacher used to come, make one of the students to read stories from her book and in the end - try and explain the moral of the story. When I look back at this concept of 'moral studies' - the only rationale that comes to my mind is society's way to feed young minds with possible actions that were pre-approved by society.

Back in the day, probably moral studies were needed and even successful in imparting some moral sense in the young. Those were the days when kids had little to absolutely no exposure outside of school and home. That era can perfectly be described as "ignorance is bliss" - lack of exposure ensured young minds' ignorance towards ideas other than the ones fed into and parents & teachers were living a blissful life.

With each generation changing, concepts of morality and ethical have evolved. The most interesting bit is - morals and ethics are not common across any one generation now. In actuality, the acceptance of ethics and morals is now with individuals. Since I am part of this individual-based society, I am tilted in favour of how things happen now than they used to earlier. I am not saying things were getting done wrong, just that they may not be the correct actions in today's scenario.

The pressure has now shifted from society to an individual really - to live by some code. It is no longer considered a societal role to dictate morals and pass on values. Society still does that, parents and teachers still try and help, there are friends who contribute and then there is inner-voice as well - but onus entirely lies with the individual to define his / her own moral values.

Does the individualism of moral values pose a threat to society at large, well - no! All that it does is help usher in change - change the way actions are judged...change in the concept of society itself. And...change is always good!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Love Poem

You do more than I ask
You think ahead, every time
You make it easier for me
You are my strength, my prime

You help me see reason
You make me face reality & still smile 
You are the centre of my universe
You have been, for a while

You want the best for me
You definitely deserve the best as well
You may try and show you are strong, but
You do get hurt, I can tell

You can rely on me - now & forever
You can trust me to be there
You can ask me to prove it - anytime
You can throw me a dare

You may get angry on my short-comings
You may be disappointed with my attitude
You will never be without me, unless
You give me the boot

You may not see me much improved, but,
You can, hopefully, see that I am trying to
You can, hopefully, see how much I care
You know, hopefully, how much I love you

Midlife Crisis or Identity Crisis?

Ageing is never easy - there are aspects, beyond just the physical, that make this process a painful one. I had completed two of six items on the list above, before I turned 32. Honestly, I have asked myself if I have hit some form of midlife crisis - more than once! 

There have been questions in my mind - who I really am / what am I doing / what have I achieved / who are my friends...I have felt almost incomplete, not knowing convincing answers to these questions. Have I allowed otherwise dormant insecurities to become active, all of a sudden, or if there is actually a deep-rooted issue that I am unable to put my finger on?

There is a growing impatience within me, along with an inexplicably strong urge to do more than just follow home-work-home routine. I am not sure if the impatience and general feeling of incompleteness are a form of midlife crisis or if they are signs of a bigger problem - identity crisis.

Not often I allow myself to get cornered with my own negative thoughts. Unfortunately, the thoughts running through my mind aren't negative really - because almost all are facts. Born in middle-class family, let's say with an above average IQ, but average to no talents, living life without a dream or obsession...worse of all, not sure if the direction I am walking in is the direction I want to head towards!

A friend tells me I am not alone, most would be in similar boat - some may not realise this and others may be worse of for their own reasons and balance-checks. Instead of making me feel any better - this pushes me back right into the crowd and eventually makes me identity-less.

I believe that this blog's revival has happened just at the right time. Even if minutely, it has allowed me to break away from the routine. Writing has given me something else to look forward to - something else to think about - something else to try - something else to identify myself with.

The questions are still there, they are still unanswered, they are still troublesome - but the fact that I can write and share, reduces burden of these questions. Hopefully, I will manage to get some insights into my own self that will help me understand my life and its direction better.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Inequality or Discrimination - Which is the bigger evil?

My wife's working on a project to get people to acknowledge existence of inequalities. I am not even sure if acknowledgement is just the first step of this project or if that is the complete objective. While discussing certain potential ideas, we covered various inequalities that are obvious parts of our lives - gender, income, social, colour and then few that would be sub-sets of these.

Sometime around mid-90s, when I was a just teenager, dad and I were driving past a slum and dad asked me how I felt when I saw people living in slum area - kids who had no comforts compared to what I had. My instantaneous reaction was a bit arrogant, probably, and I said - "I don't care looking at people who have less, I focus on people who have more". My thoughts haven't changed much on this issue - just that I now know how privileged I have been and continue to be.

Another inequality is of gender - men & women are different. I think there is a definite natural rule in creating this difference - women can give birth...men can't! Nature has given men & women different strengths, thus at a basic level - we shouldn't begin to say that all are equal. Neither are all equal, nor are all supposed to be equal!

For me inequalities are quite natural, it is the way things are supposed to be. It exists in humans, flora & fauna, food items - inequality is a way to let this world function. The way to look at this is - if there were no carnivorous animals, there won't be any grass available.

Acknowledging inequalities is nothing more than accepting truths of our environment - something as basic as human's need for oxygen to survive. Nature / God / some power beyond human understanding (yet) - decided this is how humans will be - they will need oxygen, they will have different capabilities, different colours...they will be different...they will not be equal

The issue is not of inequalities - but of discrimination. People won't have a problem if skin colour, physical ability or gender were not considered important, when these factors aren't important. Inequality will then be nothing more than a difference in taste - I like Indian beer and my wife prefers German beer!

Discrimination on any basis is unjustifiable - but that has become our second nature. These days are about reverse discrimination - certain groups that were discriminated against - have now been provided special rights in the society...in effect discriminating against people of other groups.

Until and unless our society, in general, doesn't accept inequalities as nature's way and reduce discriminating ways of functioning -  merely acknowledging existence of inequalities won't make people take notice of injustice in their own actions. Thus - it won't have any reaction and there won't be any corrective thought-process.

Life of Choice!

"You always have a choice" - said my Economics professor. He continued, "it is your choice to live, to breathe, to love, to work...every step you take is out of a choice you make." I brushed this statement aside - considering it an eccentric man's view on life.

It wasn't a simple concept to comprehend - a lot of us, in the classroom, questioned the possibility of a person being in control all the time. Collective brashness, along with arrogance-due-to-ignorance - the group failed to distinguish between choices and wishes. It didn't occur to us that a choice is made between options available - whereas we may wish for the improbable as well...something all of us have learnt since. 

Over time, as I experienced life - I derived my own meaning for professor's words "You always have a choice". I think it is really quite basic, it is the starting point: every situation has at least two possible actions - either something is done about that situation or nothing is done about it! Which option to pick is our choice...

Our minds are tuned to ignore the latter choice all together. We are so caught up with the former that we can't even compare outcome of following the "do nothing" choice, with worry of "what to do". We tend to forget that we actually chose to do something about the situation facing us, because we wouldn't be better off doing nothing. The statement that's heard quite often - "I have no choice", truly means, I have no better options than the one I have decided to take up. 

Even though I don't remember much of economics, but this life lesson has remained with me ever since. For me, this is not merely a thought - it is a life philosophy. If understood and followed, one begins to look at things objectively, looks within before seeking answers outside, takes fewer knee-jerk decisions and becomes self assured as the feeling of helplessness vanishes.

Monday 7 October 2013

Questions I often ask myself...

Am I bound by this society, or I just like to think so?
Am I really trying to break free, or I just like to think so?

Am I one of the better ones, or I just like to think so?
Am I even different from the rest, or I just like to think so?

Am I on the right track, or I just like to think so?
Am I making the right decisions, or I just like to think so?

Am I capable to deliver what I have promised, or I just like to think so?
Am I seeing things clearly, or I just like to think so?

Am I providing more than taking, or I just like to think so?
Am I contributing...making a difference, or I just like to think so?

Am I doing everything I can, or I just like to think so?
Am I giving my best, or I just like to think so?

Am I still at the centre of her life, or I just like to think so?
Am I still the one for the one for me, or I just like to think so?

Am I important to people around me, or I just like to think so?
Am I going to be thought of with fondness, or I just like to think so?

Tuesday 1 October 2013

100 posts completed :)

I just realised that the previous post I wrote was my 100th and that is something I definitely feel glad about - especially because the number of stop-restart-stop-restart cycles my blogging has seen.

It has never really been lack-of-ideas as much as not-enough-motivation-to-write! Hopefully the motivation that I have had (to write) in last two months, continues now.

I will keep this one short - just wanted to share my happiness on completing some sort of self-appointed milestone...Cheers!