Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Chimp Behavior

Don't ever judge a Chimpanzee by the way it behaves while stuck in a cage, especially if it has never been locked up in a cage, in the past. (You may, however, arrive at a few thoughtful conclusions about its nature when you study it in its natural habitat). 

The poor creature will need to be locked up in a cage regularly and frequently enough for there to be a reliable pattern in its behavior. If it is true that apes learn from mistakes, then there could be an improvement over a period of time. Only if the Chimp is conscious of its behavior and desires to change it. What this implies is that you may end up changing its natural behavior when you subject it continuously to an alien environment. 

Coping with the World

The really ominous thing about today's world is that if one is overly sensitive, then one is likely to give in and dissolve into smithereens, one or more atoms at a time, when constantly faced with what the majority of society suffers from in one form or the other - incompetence, apathy, selfishness, superficiality, hypocritical-ness, meaninglessness, greed, cruelty, sadism, discrimination and a whole lot of other depressing things that I better stop making a list of. 

Arguably, you don't really need the media to blow it up and negatively impact your mind. Families suffer from it, organizations you work for suffer from it, banks you rely on to safeguard your earnings suffer from it, service providers you rely on to execute your tasks suffer from it and even the temple you go to for peace of mind is subjected to these ills. 

To feed into inspiring literature and thoughts and then swing back to reality might actually backfire as you struggle to cope with what you increasingly aspire for and the unyielding, chaotic and yawning gap you see when you come back to reality. If you're lucky enough to cross paths with many of those who are successfully endeavoring to make a difference, change and adapt themselves without impacting their values and attitude, little rays of hope begin to fall on you gently. If you are not filled with an infinite ability to bounce back and recreate your original strength to cope with reality as is, the only option begins to look like leaving reality, creating your own imaginary world and letting the delusion keep you ostensibly protected and happy. Buddha chose solitude and separation to understand life, Ramana chose solitude and silence and so did many other souls looking for liberation. 

A fascinating connection that occurred to me, in this context, is the mythological (Hindu) story of Ganesha (the Elephant God), Karthikeyan (his brother), Narada (the mischievous and wandering sage) and the mango that he used to create a rift between the brothers. I have listened to this story a gazillion times but this is the first time I am arriving at such an interpretation. 

Narada tempted the brothers with a single delicious-looking mango and said he could give it to only one person and suggested that they run a unique race to determine the winner. He said he would give it to the person who came around the world faster than the other. Without wasting a single second, Karthikeyan mounted his peacock and started his journey around the world. Ganesha, meanwhile, thought through it and mounted his mouse and quickly went around his Parents (who were nearby), Lord Shiva (one of the three super powers and the one in charge of re-creation through destruction) and Parvathi Devi. That, of course, took no longer than a blink of the eye. He then claimed the mango from the sage and declared that he had come around the world as His parents represented the world to Him. Narada could not deny the truth in it and therefore gave away the mango to Ganesha. 

Meanwhile, Karthikeyan returned from his world trip and went to Narada, confident that he was the winner. But, alas, he discovered that Ganesha had already claimed the mango and won it. Karthikeyan did not perceive the judgment to be fair and was enraged. He decided to leave all his possessions behind and go far away atop a mountain, and be a recluse. This, I now suspect, is a story to indicate what a person who is not tuned into worldly affairs and its subtleties will be subjected to, however sincere and dedicated he is with his tasks. Tell your child this story and see whose side she takes. You may see signs of either a worldly charlatan (I am not talking about a fraud exactly, but someone who knows how to twist things in his favor) or a person with an idealistic and simple view of what the truth is (and thinks that the world will see it the same way).  

In the modern world, there are many Karthikeyan-like recluses (such as Watterson) who have decided that happiness does not lie, for them, in coping with the real world (which in any case is not a one-time activity but something that has to be done for an entire life-time) but going away (literally) into their own shell, designed to be as self-sufficient as possible. This may, of course, call for relinquishing many materialistic and worldly desires. But the moral of the story may be that we should recognize whether we are worldly competitors who can figure out how to win the game or recluses who should carve out our own thing and stop complaining about the world. ;-)

Saturday, June 01, 2013


When you remind yourself every day that others may never ever see things from your perspective, you grow more tolerant and self-reliant. 

When you remind yourself every day that you may never ever see things from others' perspective, you grow more compassionate and learn to leave them alone.