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.

Jonjhua

Surely we are asking the wrong questions.

Why are we alive?
Why do we exist?
What is the purpose of life?
What’s the point?
What is going on?
Why do we die?
What is reality?
I have figured out – the right question to ask is Jonjhua.
Jonjhua we alive?
Jonjhua we exist?
Jonjhua purpose of life?
Jonjhua point?
Jonjhua going on?
Jonjhua die?
Jonjhua reality?
What is Jonjhua?
Patience. 🙂 Read on…
All our questions are based on trying to figure out reality.
Let’s see how well we do on “reality” on a day-to-day basis.
What we normally refer to as our experience of the world is actually a set of events that have already been significantly transformed with respect to the world and bears only a shadowy resemblance to the real world.
What we see is just a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Photons of wavelength between 400 to 700 nanometers strike receptors in the retina of the eye. All wavelengths below and above this are undetected and unexperienced by us directly. The photons between 400 to 700 nm are detected by our receptors and create an impulse which travels through the optic nerve passing through larger complex structures (eg. distinct nerves, lateral geniculate bodies, hypothalmus etc.) and leading to the occipital lobes. At each of these stages mapping through neurlogical processes changes or adds on to the data stream that serves as the initial input to the receptor.
(Simple translation: What we see is not what is really out there, but a version of it corrupted by our own receiving antennae)


John Grinder in ‘Whispering in the wind’ says –

The image we see of what we take to be in front of us is actually behind us on our occipital lobes. We “know” that that occipital lobe image corresponds to some event in front of us through learning and especially the multiple descriptions of the our experiencie of the world that we create through a comparioson of the products of the neurological transforms that define the individual sensory modalities – in particular touch and audition. The sound we hear emanating from behind us is an event that is actually occurring on our temporal lobe – but we have learned as in the case of vision through coordination with the other modalities and in particular by arrival time differentials as refined as 1/250,000 of a second between the two ears where in the space around us the source of the sound is located. Again similar descriptions are available for the other sensory channels.

Case in point – Stainless Steel. Stainless Steel is made ‘stainless’ by a thin film created when chromium, oxygen (from air and water) react with iron, chromium, manganese, silicon, carbon etc. This thin film is invisible and prevents additional corrosion by acting as a barrier that limits the access of oxygen and water to the underlaying metal surface.
What this means is – that stainless steel does not corrode – because it is already corroded. Since, we can’t see the new film – it looks “stainless” to us.
Similar sequences of corruption of each sensory channel can be described. What we hear is within a limited bandwidth. What we feel is too. What we smell is again inhibited. And so is what we can taste.
We can’t hear dog whistles.
We see stars which are probably long dead.
A dog can smell what we can’t.
What we experience is not reality. What we experience is a shadow of reality – mutilated, corrupted, modified, added on,
changed beyond recognition by our own neurological receptors.
In his book, Grinder gives a beautiful description of this distinction –

You are likely sitting in a comfortable chair holding this book in your hands as you read these words. You are sensing a vast number of things; most of them occur without your being aware of them; some force their way into your consciousness. We invite you to back out of your present perceptual position for a moment and look at this reader seated comfortably in a chair, holding a book. What is the larger context in which you observe him or her holding the book?

This reader whom you are observing is awash in a sea of electromagnetic energy – the entire electromagnetic spectrum is in active play in, around and through her, her chair and her book. The reader has very limited access to this vast spectrum of events. Her eyes are capable of detecting wavelengths between 400 nanometers and 700 nanometers. Her ears register the arrival the sound waves, alternating compressions and attenuation of sound waves generated between 20 cycles per second and 20,000 cps. The tactile sensitivity of her skin responds to differences in position, temperature, moisture… within extremely limited ranges. The rest of what is happening — indeed, the vast majority of those events that occur in the electromagnetic spectrum that defines the actual world — occur without any awareness, in fact, without the possibility of unaided awareness (that is, without instrumentation) by her. In the time that it took her to read the last paragraph, a large number of sub atomic particles have literally passed through her body.

The channels of access – her sensory apparatus – to this booming buzzing riot of movement, energy and flux are as small knotholes in a fence through which she attempts to peer as if to catch a fleeting glimpse of the great game being played out there.
Having already demolished the reality of the real world – let us now zoom in to what seems to be going on inside our mind.
Thought.
Memory.
Imagination.
Reasoning.
Cognition.
Decision Making.
Sentience.
Subjectivity.
Self-reflection.
These are the tools or appratus available to us through which we are trying to figure out the ‘meaning’ of reality.
What makes us believe that these tools are enough? How do we know that there are not other tools that exist and are available – just not to us?
We are not equipped to “see” the real world.
We are not equipped to “hear” the real world.
We are not equipeed to “feel”, “smell” or “taste” the real world.
What makes us believe we are equipped to “think” about the real world usefully and come to ‘real’ answers?
And isn’t the construct of an ‘Answer’ merely that – a construct?
What if our intellect operates within a limited range and once one goes beyond this range (which is of course, not possible) – the whole construct or idea of things having an answer or solution dissolves and something unknown takes its place?
What then?
And then – comes the problem of ‘framing’ the question. Our experience of the world – is not real. It is merely First Access. It’s messy. It’s corrupted. It’s downright inaccurate.
But at least its a representation ( a re-presentation, we present the world again to ourselves ) through the apparatus available.
To this cocktail of confusion – we now add Language. It is like doing tequila shots when you are already pissed drunk so that you can get a grip on reality.
Language is not even a re-presentation. It is a re-presentation of a re-presentation.
Remember First Access? Language deletes, distorts and generalizes from the First Access and tries to make sense of the world.
This means – language undergoes two levels of corruption (the more appropriate word is “transormation”).
Now imagine – you are trying to figure out the meaning of reality (or life) by using tools of language – which are a representation of a representation of reality – when the first representation itself is assuredly inaccurate.
Good luck with that!!
Hence, Jonjhua.
Jonjhua is the word I have invented to describe a language construct – which uses a range of mental faculties not available to us so as to get rid of all the limitations posed above. If we use Jonjhua – we are not dealing with the challenges of corruption in language. We are not even dealing with the challenges of corruption from First Access.
When you use Jonjhua in language – it directly (and what must seem like magic) connects one to “reality”.
And using Jonjhua helps you access the unknown “stuff” that helps ‘real’ reality makes sense.
Jonjhua we alive?
Jonjhua we exist?
Jonjhua purpose of life?
Jonjhua point?
Jonjhua going on?
Jonjhua die?
Jonjhua reality?
If only, it were possible.

Fake

How easily our lives get swept away by the fake world of borders and stock markets, advertisements and sports, being good-looking and looking good, the evening news and the morning newspaper, the talk shows and the reality tv, the national elections and the international ones, the wars and the freedom struggles.

How easily we make that business deal over there, matter to us so much that we develop ulcers over it. How effortlessly we get swept away in the world of distractions that surrounds us – till we forget to be with ourselves. Then – we are alone and we want the TV on, or that magazine to read. The distraction from life has now become life – while life looks on – hapless as an accident victim, the only witness to it too busy to take note and rescue it.

Almost nothing that touches us in real life is real. Almost nothing.

Money is fake. Countries are fake. Passport and Visas are fake. Stock Markets are fake. Deodorant and Perfumes are fake. Clothes are fake. Cars are fake. Sports are fake. Movies are fake. Advertisements are fake. Religion is fake. Godmen are fake. Promotions are fake. Laws are fake. Currency notes are fake. Banks are fake. Police and military are fake. Schools are fake. Colleges are fake. Degrees are fake and Ph.Ds are fake. Organizations and corporations are fake. Houses are fake. Rules are fake. All traffic signs are fake. Marriage is fake. Divorces are fake.

Almost everything that touches us in real life is fake. The things we care about, get high blood pressure over, cry, scream and wail over – are fake.

Money, passports, visas, bank-statements, insurance claims, bills – pieces of paper which we have agreed to mean something. Fake.

Promotions and Corporations – invisible designations in artificial constructions called organizations make us feel good or bad. Fake.

Degrees and Education – Spend so many years visiting the same buildings with the same people, sitting in the same rooms, pretending to study the same thing, answering the same questions, getting different marks and you have graduated. Learning – is optional. Fake.

God and Religion – A megalomaniac of a God, waiting to hurl punishments and the everlasting fires of damnation upon you if you dare to break his rituals, forget to remember him or worse still – pray to another god. A needy clingy monster egoist god who would not smile and bless you till you kneel in submission at him, for the rest of your life. By the way, he loves you. And he’s always a He. Fake.

Marriage – a fire, a ceremony, a party, a court-paper, a judge, two witnesses is what you need for marriage. Not understanding and compassion and growth and expansion and creativity and sensuality and love and laughter. A paper, with four signatures and a seal. Fake.

Divorce – a court proceeding, hurled accusations or amicable separations – must be legal. A couple married long ago – bored, stiff, unfulfilled, no conversations or love or laughter or sensuality, a limp resignation and cynicism about each other, hoping like hell to be somewhere else every minute they spend together – are still married, unless the paper says so. Fake.

Houses and Cars and other Toys – who you are is everything around you except you. Who you are is the house you live in, the car you drive, the mobile phone you use, the gadgets you own – You don’t exist, you have no inherent value – the Toys make the man. Fake.

Rules and Laws and Codes – Everything that is held sacred now, was up for sale once. Everything that was held sacred once, is up for sale now. Societies keep choosing the way they wish to live. And keep changing their choices. It gives workability, transient – in the moment – workability. Fake.

Countries – lines drawn on sand, grass, desert and across seas by an invisible hand-mind-gun invoke passion, fury, hatred, love, pride and breeds violence. Fake.

Then, what is real?

What is intransient and exists.

Music is not fake. Music is real.

Learning is not fake. Learning is real.

Love is not fake. Love is real.

Fear is not fake. Fear is real.

Courage is not fake. Courage is real.

Love, Fear, Courage, Learning, Music – is real. Is Life.

On Writing

The greatest respect an author can have for his public is never to produce what is expected but what he himself considers right and useful for whatever stage of intellectual development has been reached by himself and others.

Von Goethe

Poetry

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 ?

Reality is a purple blob

Floating heads like me are often urged to be “realistic” and “practical”
Another request often made is to live in the “real world”
In about 120 years, all seven billion human beings alive on this planet would be dead – and that is “really” realistic!
Being realistic and practical wouldn’t have mattered at all.
That can be deeply distressing or immensely liberating.
Which one is it?
🙂

Ambition or Meaning?

When I think about how I have evolved, there seem to be two main players.

Ambition and Meaning
These are the two principal actors in the theater of my life.
Ambition and Meaning.
Ambition takes center stage at times, his demeanor is assertive, his gaze fixed. He is full of passion and believes in his dreams. Ambition strives to succeed, to create, to partner, to conquer, to defeat, to win. Ambition takes a hard look at reality and proclaims “This needs to change” or “I will create this and that”. Ambition got me to be dynamic, learn skills of persuasion and negotiation. Ambition tells me I should hire an agent who will do a good job promoting me. Ambition got me to start my own company and persist in the face of odds. Ambition gets me to create new products, ideas. Ambition gets excited at the slightest mention of fames and riches and seeks glamor and the limelight. Ambition is full of energy, constantly dissatisfied, constantly striving, constantly improving.
Meaning on the other hand is much pensive. Much reflection, curiosity and intellectual honesty seem to have gone into the making of Meaning. Meaning strives to find, to connect, to synthesize, to combine, to bring together, to understand, to analyze. Meaning does not believe in perceptions. Meaning does not believe in the “outer world”. Meaning is beyond social, political, environmental and even personal happenings. Meaning only strives for intellectual honesty and believes only in the power of reason. Meaning does not care about glamor or riches or fame. Meaning only cares for an understanding, for things to make sense. Meaning seeks its place in the universe and its role in the scheme of things. Meaning does not even seek fulfillment or satisfaction – merely the beauty of “it makes sense!”. It seeks the higher truth, not worldly gratifications.
Here I am, typing these words into a screen with zillions of shimmering digital drops of lights. I run a company, care about my work. I make a difference to people’s lives – when I know in the ‘absoluteness’ of it all – it doesn’t matter. I strive to succeed, yet understand that success is an illusion. I seek fulfillment, yet understand that its impossible.
This is my malaise. Who do I choose to rule my life – Ambition or Meaning?
As of now, we continue with their uneasy co-existence.

Two of a kind

I do not write very often. I have been advised of Bernard Shaw’s “Write-5-pages-a-day-no-matter-what” rule, have tried it and not succeeded. Regular readers of my (other) blog would notice that the promise of one-post per day was not kept either. I need inspiration to write. I need an idea to bubble up from the abyss of consciousness, stir my soul and strum my neural network till I am driven by inspiration and energy to put it down on paper – or – type it out on the screen.

I am inspired, today. Why?

Imagine growing up knowing there is something fundamentally weird about the way you think. Imagine being able to see the unfairness of the world and the hypocrisy of it. Imagine never buying into the world, really. Imagine learning to shut up and be normal. Imagine learning not to let your teachers know you are smarter than them. Imagine learning that your astute observations about life, education, religion, learning, patriotism, morality might be really really politically incorrect. Imagine learning to shift, change, adjust, accommodate. Imagine lowering your standards for the kind of person you are, can be and want to be with. Imagine being abnormal, idealistic, impracticable, unconventional, eccentric, over-analytical, dreamer, stupid….. and hiding that. Imagine being not-understood and imagine not imagining any other way things could exist.
Now, Imagine discovering that there are two of you.

Richard Bach says – Your true family is seldom the one you are born in

And the winner is…. Choice!!

Just before I started penning these words, I stared at the white blank space in front of me. The possibilities are staggering. With my thoughts, my mind and fingers, I have the choice to make any use of it that I like. I can write a poem about the beauty of rains, a story about a little girl and her dog, a hate letter against a country or community, a new manifesto for a better world, conversations with myself, haikus, an article about how to use nail-clippers better, a list of my deepest held goals and desires, a list of things i need to buy in the next one week, names of people who have hurt me, a love letter, a gratitude note to those who have touched me, a work mail, a love song, a swot for my company, a recipe for making littis, a manual on how to get an autorickshaw in bangalore, a litany of accusations against someone I despise, a list of reasons I shouldn’t write anything or nothing at all.

Anything.

The white space invites me to express any part of myself that I choose to bring forth today… right now. The possibilities, the potential, the freedom, the limitlessness, the infiniteness of it is very difficult to miss.

Life is a lot like this, isn’t it?

At any given moment, the next moment and the moment after that stretch before us like a blank sheet of paper. We have absolute freedom, total control, complete power over what we choose to bring forth in those moments. We can choose to write a beautiful story of our life, our destiny. We can choose to write lovingly or write with angst, we can choose to write with our soul or write with our mind. We can choose to admire or envy, we can choose to learn or weep, we can choose to grow or shrink, we can choose to bring forth that which is the best in us – our best version of ourselves or we can carry on – a humdrum existence or even a part of ourselves that is angry – full of hate and venom. We can also tear up the blank sheet of paper. But, we are free. We can be, do, think – anything we want. The only limitations we might apply are those that we have created ourselves.