Easiest observations, Toughest questions!


Easiest observations turn into toughest questions. Sometimes I find it hard to let an observation be just that. Could this be a sign of an evolved mind? If it were then shouldn’t it help me move past these obstacles? Is there just a blurred line between the ability to reflect and getting stuck? Is it really a person’s ability or just a time consuming hindrance? Over past couple of years, I have interacted with a lot of young minds and my observation has been a looming lack of understanding among them, of the value that reflecting on experiences brings. Especially, the outgoing personalities, they are in such a hurry to move on to the next thing, that they despite having the maximum contact with the various events and happening moments in life fail to gain much from them. On the contrary, the minds which evolve via reflection are able to learn and grow much more even with lesser experiences.

But I am not asking any youngster or others to let go of their nature to have fun and sit back to reflect. That would be like asking them to give up on their natural behaviour and I might devoid them of the best way that they were born to learn. I have tried step by step interactive exercises to let the alternate behaviours seep into their nature. Still on the experimental stage, I am happy that it has been helpful to a few while to others; even this gradual movement has come as a complete shock. For the ones shocked, I have observed both regression and progress in performance. Interestingly, the progress cases are fewer. It has left me wondering if I am trying to achieve impossible or I just need more patience before I get down to calculating the results.

The ultimate choice

There is work, there will always be work but what matters is to find and be with someone who makes you happy. These words resonate so closely to my heart and bring me home every time that I am led astray by all the happenings outside of me. So, if I denounce all that is happening outside of me, what is it that I do to survive? To that a self-declared spiritual friend of mine, smiled and said, ‘Just be’. Does this mean that I have no control over all the so-called decisions that I am making; at least I think I am the one making them. So, if I can just be, does that mean that I do not need an ’other’ who makes me feel happy or at least remind me of my natural state whenever I sway from the path? If that were to be true, do you not think that nature would have made it easier for us to be all by ourselves all the time? Are the rules of the society that persuade us to be with someone, be a couple, conjured by humans out of nowhere? There is certainly a lot in the nature that inspires these beliefs.

The free will established in all of us by birth gives rise to our ability to make a conscious choice of beliefs and values that we want to be our guiding light through the journey of life. As we choose to be alone or be with someone or do a third thing, we practice our free will. Do you realize that whenever you feel sad doing whatever you are doing, it is mostly because at some point in your life, you chose to do that thing. This holds true even in relationships: tis the same person whom you loved so dearly and now the ‘feeling’ seems to have faded away. It is your free will at play which comes to the fore and it is this friction between the ‘just be’ and ‘being with someone’; ‘hustling’ and ‘letting things unfold’ which mostly shape the defining points in our life.

Now, can I even deliberately make this ultimate choice is what I am left to ponder over. The extremist in me says, of course, if it is to be, it is up to me so I control the situation and I make things happen. Whereas, a voice at the back of my head, without putting any argument, simply tells me to reflect, reflect upon my own life, reflect upon the lives of others that I have known to understand the delicate balance between free will and just being.


Qualification Vs. Knowledge

Is it fair to use these words, qualification and knowledge, interchangeably?  As knowledge refuses to be fully captured within the means of qualification, educators face a big challenge trying to fit it within system whether they agree with it or not. Of course, it is not everyone’s cup of tea to develop a blind faith in the system, especially if you are an evolved educator. With qualification comes the knowledge (despite the limitations of the system) that qualification is in no mean an end in itself. Knowledge might be, but qualification is most certainly not. So, is there any education system in the world which claims that their qualification is equivalent to the best of knowledge? Could it be Oxford, or Harvard maybe? Now, here is an unsaid assumption underneath this claim, if anyone does make it. This assumption is that the best of knowledge has been gathered and measured and put on paper already. Isn’t that a challenge to the very gist of knowledge: which yearns to be unbound?

The nature of knowledge is that it seeps in quietly depending on the willingness of the receptor whereas qualifications are bound, enforced, something to be acquired while you fight against fellow beings. Does knowledge also seek you to beat the competition? Framing a competition to check someone’s knowledge seems nothing more than a desperate effort on the part of educators and even worse is when they themselves fail to spell clearly what it is exactly that they are seeking. If it is just education then you are valuing a piece of paper over knowledge and if it is knowledge then the competitive exams are not really the right way to go about it.

This reminds me of the famous All Souls College, Oxford that is rightly famous for setting the hardest entrance exam for students. Hardest because there are no rules that you have to follow, you have to write an essay following a single keyword given to you on the spot. Now, just imagine the level of knowledge that ‘no-system’ can test and compare it with a system that drags down with it not just the financial resources of an institution but also reduces the search for truly knowledgeable fellows to a run of the mill competition.

If education is about learning and changing with the time, about keeping one’s knowledge updated then why the educators are so slow when it comes to learning from the best in their field? How is it that they can teach the same every year for years, without updating their knowledge? Where is the review? The system starts stinking the moment you leave the manhole with review open. To do your best, ensure that you close the loop. Define a system that competes with the best in the world instead of making you chose from the rest while you loose on the best fellows.

The Secret of Luck – Derren Brown’s experiment

Not everyone is born with luck but can you build it? Is luck also a skill or a belief maybe? The number of times that people around me have called me lucky has played a major role in forming a belief in my mind that I indeed am lucky. What does surprise me sometimes is that despite the tough times aka ‘hard luck’ sometimes I have never managed to let go of this belief. Does this mean that our natural self is not as pessimist as it is made to be?

In my opinion, based on my own set of experiences in life, Luck is the opportunity that you grab even if it means having to face a nerve wrecking experience. That is what Derren Brown’s experiment in a small town of Todmorden in UK proved. Of course the TV show could have been fixed, rigged or edited to reach the intended results but why I believe in it has nothing to do with the science of it. The belief that we usually accept as our own is the belief that somehow echoes with positivism that is inherent to us.

If you think that the power of belief is limited to you making a change in your individual self or your own life, then think again. Given the rough circumstances that we all have to face sometimes, a positive outlook that you project outwardly despite the situation might lead someone else to form a very hopeful, inspirational and joyful image of you in their head. Now, this belief of yours definitely did not intend to manipulate what image others form of you but this is just the additional reward which piles on to the pot of luck that you have. A positive thought that you have about yourself coupled with the thoughts that others have about you thus leads to a ‘lucky’ you. And that is what happened exactly with Wayne, the butcher.

Research, Education and I

Looking at an issue (social/political/philosophical/any other ‘als’) donning any of my thinking hats, digging deeper for the truth, I always reach the same conclusion. Could this be my inability to think beyond a certain limit? Or does every issue boil down to the same basic challenges that we are facing every moment? The interesting observation though is that the reasons that cause these issues to rise in the first place are varied to an extent that it is impossible to think about applying a solution that already exists. Caught up in research paradigms, sometimes we focus the research so much that we fail to leave room for our imagination. Now, researchers everywhere might stop reading right now thinking how outrageous my claim is. After all, research has no place for imagination. Tell me then where does anything unique come from? Where does anything new come from? Is everything born out of the old? Is the birth always a marvel or only when the imagination involved makes us wonder about the genius behind the possibility of it all? Now the bond between research and education (read as theory) has been so well set that it has almost come to resemble the chicken and egg situation. To research, I need to be educated and to educate myself; I need to rely on research.

          So, what is this ‘same’ conclusion that I always seem to get to? It is the fact that change exists all the time and there is a resistance to change along with its acceptance. Popularly quoted as, change is inevitable. Change is slow and sometimes rapid enough to leave us trying to hold on to the edge of our seats but simply put, it always is. So while we are busy establishing the facts to cut to the heart of the matter, putting in so much effort to predict, to understand, to catch the drift of everything that is happening around us, change is happening. Now, an economist might tell me that i should try to define my research variables either as flow or stock so that the change doesn’t seem overwhelming. The human in me (what else is in there?) although refuses to limit myself. I like the overwhelming feeling, I enjoy the mystery. I do not yearn to understand everything and I most certainly love waking up to the world where there are still many unsolved mysteries. Does this mean that I shall put a stop to trying to discover right this moment. Not at all! If anything, I shall try even harder to know what all that is that I don’t know.

To sum it up, in words of William James Durant: “Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” Still groping some optimism, I say that to know what you are ignorant about is what really makes you educated, if you know how to present it.