Landscapes of my mind

The emotional landscape of my life is a different universe than the intellectual landscape.

The rules that apply in one break down in the other.
The principles that define one are meaningless in the other.
What is well-formed in one is warped in the other.
They are different universes – neither opposite, nor the same. They cannot be ‘similar’ and one cannot be ‘better’ than the other. They are different.
It is possible for the intellectual landscape of my mind to be rich in choice while the emotional map remains impoverished. Typically this would manifest in me being very intelligent yet reactive, jealous, fickle, holding grudges, resentful etc.
It is possible for the emotional landscape of my mind to be rich in choice while the intellectual map remains impoverished. Typically this would manifest in me having trouble with logic and argument but having an ocean of tolerance, maturity, forgiveness and empathy.
Reality, Nature, Life – is rich in both. When we enrich our choices in both these landscapes, we truly live life. To live in only one landscape at the cost of the other is living only half a life.
I strive to nurture both these landscapes and have richness of choice in both.

I am not inspiring

I have been often told that I am “inspiring”. As a communicator, leader, coach – I am able to paint pictures and tell stories with an infectious passion which leaves people “spellbound – sometimes with goosebumps” (quotes from a participant in a workshop).

However, the truth is – I am not inspiring.
I am inspired.
Being inspired is my favorite emotional state. The whirlpool of positive emotions I feel inside me when I follow a chain of positive thoughts is heady and powerful for me too. When I meet others and talk to them – I am not inspiring them – just myself. And they naturally seem to bathe in the experience of my emotions.
When I look at facts, situations and people – I do not look at “what is” but what is possible – what can be. When I meet people – I do not see the limitations they place on themselves. I see them for who they can be. And I share it with the passion that I feel within me. I inspire people because they inspire me.
A scary thought is – the same would be true for toxic emotions too, isn’t it? If one has a whirlpool of pessimism spinning wildly inside – what impact would it have on those around us?
Isn’t communication merely transference of emotions?

धन्यवाद् प्रेमचंद ! :-)

मुंशी प्रेमचंद से मेरा साक्षात्कार बचपन में ही हुआ था। शायद, ‘हीरामोतीकी कहानी से। तब से, प्रेमचंद मेरे प्रिय बन गए। उनकी अनेकों कहानिया, उपन्यास मैंने पढ़ डाले। उनके लिखने में कोई ऐसा जादू था, जितना पढता, उतना ही ह्रदय बाग बाग हो जाता। उनकी जीविका भी पढ़ी। कैसे एक साहित्य के मार्गदर्शक, एक महान लेखक का जीवन दुःख एवं आभाव से भरा पड़ा था। कहते हैं, मसीहा को अपने देश में कभी नही पूजा जाता। प्रेमचंद आज विश्वप्रसिद्ध हैं। उनकी कहानियो एवं उपन्यासों का अनुवाद अनेको भाषाओँ में हो चुका है। उन्हें हिन्दी साहित्य का एक अविलम्ब चिह्न माना जाता है। परन्तु अपने जीवान काल में, तो उन्हें प्रसिद्धि मिली, ना ही सम्रिध्य। अपनी सरस्वती प्रेस को चालू रखने में ही उनका जीवन गुज़र गया।

प्रेमचंद शब्दों में निपुण थे। अपनी भाषा, अपने लिखने के तरीके से, वो ऐसा समां बांधते, कि लगता उनकी कहानियो के पात्र कागज़ से निकल कर आपके सामने खड़े हों, आपसे बातें कर रहे हों। उनके सभी पात्र असली थे, कोई भी बनावटी था। उनकी कहानियो ने मुझ पर एक गहरी छाप छोड़ी। आज भी, उनकी पुस्तकें मेरे पास हैं।

मैं प्रेमचंद का आभारी हूँ, उन्होंने मेरे जीवन के कुछ क्षण बहुत ही यादगार बनाये।



Like all kids, I was a born poet.

I was naturally gifted to see the rainbow in the oily puddle in the road.

Then – my language improved, I started articulating better, became aware of subtle nuances of communication, geometrically expanded my vocabulary and… promptly gave up on poetry.

What if I got my poetry back ?

“Is it true?” vs “Does it work?”

Lately, I have been so intrigued by the question “Why” that it has clouded my life-long fascination with the “How”.

Trying to answer the fundamental Why questions remains a quest – its deep, its meaningful, even sexy.

Trying to answer the How is less glamorous. It is an arena filled with squabbling crooks, missionaries, conmen, charlatans, quacks and well… those like me. Since masses care about the How more than the Why, there has been commercialization of this space too.

Here is why I care about “How”

The lack of empirical evidence is more the norm than an exception of the discipline of mind-science (to use a not-so-graceful term).

John Horgan in his book “The Undiscovered Mind – How the brain defies explanation” says… (not verbatim)

Evolutionary Biologist Erns Mayr argued that no field of biology can match the precision and power of physics, because unlike electrons and neutrons, all organisms are unique. Even then, the difference between two different kinds of bacteria or different types of horses is trivial compared to differences between two human beings, even those who are genetically identical. Each individual mind may change dramatically when its owner is spanked, learns the alphabet, reads a book, takes a drug, falls in love, gets divorced, undergoes Jungian dream therapy, suffers a stroke. The variability and malleability of the human mind enormously complicate the search for general principles of human nature.

Investigations into the human mind have failed to generate the kind of applications that compel belief in a particular paradigm. Physicists can boast of lasers, transistors, nuclear bombs. Biologists can show-off vaccines, cloning, antibiotics. By-products of mind-science are less impressive: cognitive behavioral therapy, thorazine, prozac, shock therapy, IQ tests etc.

Millions and millions of people receive inputs through psychoanalysis, which Freud invented a century ago. Psychoanalysis also fares very poorly in empirical research. Freud has been described as a cult-leader who excelled at self-promotion and also as a genius whose insights into the psyche, though difficult to pin down empirically, still “ring” true. Each of these views is defensible, and the persistence of psychoanalysis proves the inability of science to offer an obvious superior explanation of the mind and its disorders. Freudians cannot point to an unambiguous evidence of their paradigm’s superiority, but neither can proponents of more modern paradigms.

The field of social psychology – which continues to speculate about human culture – coining terms that we are so intimately familiar with as teachers – like “identity crisis”, “conventional wisdom” or “learned helplessness” – these are not scientific theories but “help us think”.

A slightly different approach then, would be to judge paradigms of thought, not on what they say – but for what they do. The question shifts from “Is it true?” to “Does it work?”

Early advocates of Quantum Physics could only describe results from esoteric experiments. Later, they had the supporting evidence from fission reactors, transistors, lasers, thermonuclear bombs – technologies that altered the course of history. For many physicists; whether quantum mechanics is true is almost irrelevant. It works.

I believe – the name, the label, the thought-movement or affiliations don’t matter. I discovered NLP and several other philosophies in a personal quest for meaning and growth and accepted that which made sense and matched my experience. This strategy has worked for me. I cannot claim in all honesty that I have not been skeptic or unfairly judgmental of certain bodies of knowledge. However, in such cases – the loss has been mine.