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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Change does no change

The desire to engineer change
No. System is perfect. There are always two forces acting on the System. One that wants to maintain the status quo, while the other roots for change. The forces that want to keep the status quo sees the positives in current scenario while they are not comfortable with the unpredictability of change. Whereas the forces that propose change are always idealising the non-existing scenario and argue on the benefits of the change and while pointing out the faults in the existing system.  

Branding Example
Whenever a new Marketing head assumes office, a consultant comes on board, or an agency takes advertising or marketing of a brand, the first thing they do is change the logo or the packaging. What do they want to accomplish. Their argument is simple, something is wrong with the perception by the customer about the existing marketing, product, company, hence we begin by changing the physical appearance. The reality is, they are probably too lazy to analyze to find the real problem, instead look to start afresh with a cosmetic overhaul. 

Governance Example
The term 'incumbent' describes exactly what I am trying to explain. The electorate is bored about the existing government and hence, the rival party gets a chunk of support in the hope that they will probably provided better governance, even though they are fully aware of the flaws of the opposition. Only because they see the opposition as the only viable alternative because they have a short memory and remember the faults of the existing government. 

Inevitability of change
Without sounding overtly supporting status quo, I can only say that I am too skeptical of any radical change. Yes, change is inevitable. Change is necessary. But the bigger question is, how much and how drastic a change can we accept. 

On the other hand, arguing for change, I can only say that, no drastic change can ever happen with real consensus. It can be brought only by a revolution(ary) -  preferably without violence. Yes, democracy is a system that ensures status quo, because, by sheer numbers, the number of people who prefer status quo combined with those who are either moderate in ideas or indifferent to the notion are more than the number of people who want change. They form a vast majority of any system. .

History has shown us that those with the power to change in general are resistant to change and prefer the status quo, as they feel the very power That the system has bestowed upon them will be under threat if there is a drastic change. As a result, the forces that are proposing change gathers momentum slowly and reaches a point of break out and a revolution is caused.  

On the moderate argument, change is inevitable, irrespective of the fact that the change was planned and engineered or not. 

The question arises that how do we bring about change for the betterment. Well, all we can do is…
1. Propose an idea and leave it in the public domain
This idea has to have organic growth and a general consensus on the methodology l over time. The idea will germinate in due course of time. Of course, there has to be a systematic evangelism for the change. People who believe in the cause and believe in the new idea.
2. Accept reality
Real consensus will never happen. That is the reality. Especially if the change proposed is drastic. A leader provides the motivation by his sheer will of conviction.
3. Test change ideas
Implement change in small areas and prove change will work. Then scale the change. Proof of the model is essential. This also poses an inherent risk of that it may not work ideally and not produce the desired effects. In which case, the change may have to be tweaked. Also, this implies that the first test case should not be overly publicised before seeing the results. If publicised, it runs he risk of being dissected too early and denounced.
4. The agent of change is as important as the change itself. 
As a judge, the agent of change has to be impeccable. Unblemished. Have an infallible image. Unfortunately perception is more important than the message itself.
5. Know what change might actually work. 
Advocates for change either oppose the people or the system. In trying to address this they often in the pretext of changing the system end up just changing the people, which will not serve the purpose.
6. Delicate balance of the system
When proposing change, one has to be very mindful that the existing system is in a delicate balance. Like an ecosystem. In the name of change, we should not accidentally tip the balance in anybody's favour. Once the balance is tipped, to regain that balance might take a little amount of time.

(Un)Real benefits of change
Having brought about change, what can we foresee in terms of benefits. Well, cynical as I may sound, the change itself will most probably bring about a minor change, that which cannot be denied would have happened anyways. 

The power centers may change, but there cannot be a system with no power centre. Therefore inherently within any system will have flaws. 

Let us say, the existing system is a tree. What if all the leaves wither and fall off, and new ones grow in their place. It still remains a tree. The tree itself does not change. It's functions do not change. It only looks greener. Even if we had caused the change, the by itself in due course would have shed its leaves and new leaves grown naturally, even if we did not wish it. This parable begs the question, do we have a problem with the leaves or the tree. Also, the leaves themselves are produced by the system (tree) and inherently not too different from the ones that withered. 

The leaves of a mango tree may have withered, but come what may, it will sprout new mango leaves, not banana leaves. Again the parable begs the question  what is the problem with mango leaves that annoys us and makes us beg for change. Even if the tree sprouts banana leaves, in what way will the leaves function differently. It will also provide the nourishment that mango leaves would have provided, and in time they too will age and wither. All leaves will be leaves. All systems will be systems, albeit with inherent flaws.

We are only naïve in looking at a system that produces a mango and think that it might be better if it produces other fruits. A tree is a tree. A fruit is a fruit. Just wishing another fruit does not make it a real change.

Conclusion
Instead of ending on a cynical note, I wish to state that, engineering change is not just an art, or science. It is fortuitous. It is almost by chance. Almost. That does not mean we should not try and engineer change. Every one of us should throw up new ideas that might spawn change. You put it out there as a tree disperses it's seeds. And just like a seed, some of them will take root and grow and change the world. It will. One day it will.       

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Who wants a perfect world?

Well, Everyone. We all want a perfect house, a perfect wife/husband, a perfect country, a perfect car, a perfect customer, a perfect service, a perfect life... We romanticise everything to its perfectness. we have a definition of a perfect neighbour, and if our neighbour doesn't fit the bill, we say we have a bad neighbour. We have a definition of perfectness for everything and our expectations in life have soared to such high levels we have set impossible levels for our family, friends and society to meet these standards. One of the reason for this is our growing affluence. The more affluent we are, the more higher the standards we set for ourselves and others. The more perfection we aspire in ourselves and others,the more disappointed we are going to be. 
Is life ever going to be perfect?
Well, I cannot but be the bearer of bad news. Life is never going to be perfect. All what I have ever read, been taught, experienced, have only tried to convey that life will only be imperfect. In the myriad characters of our mythologies, we see everyone has a folly and isn't perfect. In our lessons of the lives of great Inventors and discoverers, they have never been perfect, neither have their inventions and discoveries,l which, time and again have been improved upon and theories revisited with even drastically opposite views and conjectures. Even in my life, I cannot but see imperfections in all, including me. Follies, shortcomings, immaturities, misbeliefs, misunderstandings, flaws in character, like selfishness, jealousy, hatred, unwarranted bias, naivety, greed, etc., all I have ever seen is imperfections.
But there are only two things that will ever be perfect in everyone's life. It will be their father and mother. Isn't that something that we see so common amongst the myriad of shades of imperfections in this world, that everyone sees their parents as being perfect, being their source of strength, being their pillar of support, being their heroes, being their guiding light? Isn't it so singular? Why is it that everyone is able to see only their parents to be perfect, but not able to see anyone else or any other thing to be perfect? 
If we can analyse this, we can be more happy. I am not going to analyse this for you. You are better qualified for it.
Believe me, our parents know we are not perfect children, yet they choose to love us unconditionally. Isn't that the simple solution. Unconditional love. 
Can we work unconditionally for our client. can you help your friend unconditionally. Can you serve a customer unconditionally. Can we reconcile with things we have bought with our hard earned money to be perfect for the time and opportunity. Can we try and be more unconditional. Can we be more content. Can we be more humble.
The problem today is, we have even started romanticising unconditional love. We have started setting standards for our parents to meet. Isn't that a sad day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kerala Introspection

Kerala Yatra: February 11, 2013 - February 16, 2013

Started from tuty at 10:30 by bus (SETC) and reached tirunelveli at 11:30. Isravel picked us at Bus Stand. Went to Janakiram for lunch started on the Yatra at 12:30
I have started on a critical and analytical journey. Was thinking how to pray, what to pray, what to ask. What should be my sankalpam? My first instinct was to go to these temples and "blackmail" saying that i will not come back to see them unless they grant me the boons and blessings i seek. Fancy my chances of convincing the gods that they will miss 'me'. So narcissistic and self pompous thought. So I decided that I will not blackmail the gods in front of the sannithanams.
The next instinct was to "bribe" them saying that if they grant me my boons and blessings I will return and instead of giving them Rs.10 will give each Rs.500. Again fancy my chances that how much I have to give to impress and ask for quid pro quo.
I soon realised that I can not "bargain", i cannot blackmail, all I can do is surrender and go to the sannithanams and lay a petition seeking a list of boons and blessings and will wait for them to act on them at their will. But that was being naive where the list is not going t be any different from my earlier lists or something that the 'omniscient' himself/herself did not know.
Then, should I "beg"? Show that I am desperate. After all, only the crying child gets fed. Yes, he and she are full of love. But how am I to get their attention. Will my begging be answered by alms of Boons?
So what am I to do at the sannithanams, what form of prayer should I follow. How am I to go about this journey.
Will this be a journey of self discovery?
Will this be a journey of self realisation?
Will this journey show the path of self actualisation?
What attracted me to this journey? Why this journey? Maybe I thought seeing all gods could bring about a whole change in me. Since we will be seeing Ganapathy, Iyyappan, Shivan, Parvathi/ Sakthi, krishnan, Vishnu, dhanvanthri, nagayakshi, katyayini, Kali, murugar, bharathan, ramar, Adishankarar... Like a galaxy of gods - If all their grace will not bring good things in my life... Who will? Or what will? 
Well I have 6 days to instrospect.
Introspection! Will it bring sanity? Or Will it drive me to insanity? One one hand I know there is no progress without introspection but at the same time, introspection without any new inputs is a waste of time because it will lead me to the same decisions that I have made. This where I miss my Guru. There was a daily progress when I was with him. Without him there is stagnation of thoughts and break-down in the journey.
Well reached Kottarakkara at 4:30pm and had darbhanga at 5:00 sharp. Stood dumb founded in front of Ganapathy. Just allowed the energy to envelop into me. Felt nice heaviness in Ajna. Slowly asked for removal of all hurdles in personal/financial/physical well being and reach my potential. Again slowly realising that I have to first fix what is my potential. What is my potential? To lead the world? Country? State? City? I don't think it is in my potential to lead any part of any community! Thinking a bit... I come to realise this exercise is futile as I have started to confuse potential with destiny! What is destiny but one that can be seen only after the journey. Destiny! That makes me rephrase my earlier statement. I don't think it is in my destiny to lead any part of any community. Makes more sense. Because it is still my potential - provided I get the opportunity. Hmmmm.. Probably doesn't make sense... Just some confused ramblings..... After all the journey (Yatra) has just begun. Will surely be writing more clearly towards the end I hope.
Onwards we go towards Pandalam. Birthplace of Shri. ayyappan. Well before I could do some introspection .. We have visited Pandalam, Chengannur, Thiruvalla, Chakkulathukaavu. Remained plain in thoughts... Taking in the visual forms of the deities, taking in their vibrations.
Continuing the thoughts... What are the blessings / boons I seek? Do I deserve them? I have no doubt that I would have been a better person in this life if I had got what I deserved at the appropriate stages in life. So I am right in demanding now what I deserve. Coming back to the things I deserve... Why haven't I got them yet? Is it by design? Is it to experience this a part of my greater education that spans across lives?
Staying over night at Kottayam. On with my night ramblings...
Taking one of the major pain points in my life being that of my marriage...what do I want? I want A true companion... An understanding Partner... A passionate lover... an Avid learner and a patient teacher, whose love I have won and surrendered my love to her... Whose respect I am able to earn and maintain, who motivates me, who is optimistic...who understands my path of Shaktha...and plays her role... And we become spiritual partners... Share divine love...suddenly my own thoughts make me laugh.. Going more and more towards idealism... After all when I am about to get married only at 40 I strongly feel that I should increase standards instead of lowering as common sense dictates.even if I have an aorta of a chance of living the few years in love. Sharing loving times for as long as possible. Ok.ok. I am painting an impossible rosy picture... Maybe... I will spend my married life being successfully henpecked and may be filled with bickering till end... May be... But as I pray... Let me pray for the best... My philosophy has been... Expect the best while preparing for the worst...
An hectic morning visiting Thirunakkara(Kottayam), Etrumaanoor, Kaduthurithi, Vaikom, Chottanikkara, Thiruppunnithura and drove down to Guruvayoor.
Continuing my thoughts at Guruvayoor.
Off late I have been very distracted.... Is it possible that I was avoiding introspection... Avoiding critically thinking about myself, avoid assessing myself, avoiding evaluating myself? One could say that... But, I have been doing it on and off..... Many a day I have cried to sleep in loneliness - fearing that is how I might spend my last days... Never knowing companionship...so I have distracted myself from going to those realms of assessing where I was and kept entertaining myself.
Nice early morning visits to Kodungallur, Irinjalakuda, Vadakkunatha, Parmekavu, Thiruvembady and drove down to Kalady for Siddharth's Upanayanam.
While in silent thoughts after the poonal, the most pressing idea in my mind is 'causality'. Rather the simple questions of "how do we influence the future"? Even to the point that, "are we influencing the outcome of anything at all"? What can we do to influence the order of things that unfold. Are we like sparrows who think highly of its strength that it thinks it caused the fruit to fall, while it was a fact that the fruit was just ripe to begin its journey.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CHANGE to ADAPT

We always find a way of doing everyday things. We establish routines. We dictate order of things, set times for doing certain things etc. In this ever changing world - not changing the way you do things is a strategy that is sure to fail. CHANGE. Not that it should be erratic by design, but systems should accommodate deviations. Generally, when more deviations are there are in our lives then it is usually termed as being unpredictable. I call it ADAPTing. Missing a mid afternoon tea or something will not spoil my day in any manner...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Destiny, Prayer & Money

Recently, there was a posting on a facebook group,
If every thing is decided by destiny then why is so much time effort and money spent on prayers?

My reply...
Are we confusing destiny and control? I mean to say, if there is something called destiny then there is no control of our lives and if we can control our life then there is no destiny. Hmmmmm... What are you seeking? Control? Ask and you shall get?..... In my experience... if you really seek answers for these kind of questions, you have stop thinking from a 'human' point of view and think globally about all life. For eg. What is the destiny of a Mango Seed? Just because we are the only sentient being that is able to communicate thoughts doesn't mean we are the only beings. Whatever rules apply to us should apply to all beings...
Also an interesting fact is that, whenever you petition to a court of law, it usually starts with, "I pray". Therefore probably the true meaning of the word 'pray' is to 'petition'. When 'pray' is religious - directed towards the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient 'God' - it too is a 'petition' to grant us his 'grace'. But, just as a judge need not answer all prayers in favour of the petitioner, so too all our 'prayers' to God need not be answered in our favour.
On the third aspect of the question, money spent, well... Generally, all money spent towards all 'religious' activities are deemed as 'charity'. Charity, to me, is when we say 'this is no longer mine'. That I do not need 'this' any longer. Just look at the way all religious prayers are held... one cannot pay for a 'pooja/homam/velvi' for another. It can be done only by oneself. It is always done with money one has earned. So whenever that person says, 'this is no longer mine', it elevates him to a more பற்றட்ட நிலை.Philosophically, we came to this world with no money and shall leave it with none - what we do in-between with the money is generally irrelevant. Whenever money is spent... it is re-distribution. As long as that happens, i would encourage more prayers.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Responsibility

Responsibility is a Huge word. I realise some of its importance as I see it encompasses a whole gamut of other characters we all should possess.
Responsibility implies duty, discipline, care, focus, among many other qualities. To act responsibly  implies that we act with reason, intelligence, love, dedication, loyalty, selflessness, nobleness, accountability, reliability, and many moral 'abilities'.
I can only imagine the depth of the word and even a thesaurus is at loss for finding equivalents.
Responsibility can probably be categorised towards 1. Oneself 2. One's Family 3. To His Occupation 4. To his Community and 5. To God. Meaning anything and everything we do, we have to do responsibly.
Responsibility is in the mind and acceptance of the extent of the responsibility one takes up lies within one's comprehension or one's capabilities, strengths & the size of his circle of love. A person who loves himself becomes knowledgeable, he who loves his family becomes respected, he who loves his Occupation becomes talented,  who loves his community becomes a leader, He who loves God becomes an enlightened soul.
Responsibility sometimes is taken willingly and sometimes thrust on someone. While some responsibility towards all of the above is always implicit, others are taken by choice. The more a person acts with selfless responsibility, more respect he/she earns. This is the self-centric view about Responsibility.
Everyone of us has a tendency to 'FIX' Responsibility on others. It is the fulfillment of these said and unsaid responsibilities that elevates respect and love towards that person.
Also that we tend to 'fix' responsibility on others of every aspect, event and incident that happens around us. The 'fixing' may be rational or emotional, and many times we tend to fix it wrongly. When answering the question,"Who is responsible for all (or each of) the problems in my life?" We generally 'fix' responsibilities irrationally. Or we 'fix' it on 'God'. Yes, God is responsible. But Where is God? God is within me. Then it necessarily follows that I am responsible for the problems in my life.
The more we learn to say 'I am responsible' the more we are likely to change and become a better person. While I have to caution that this might lead to a 'Guilt' Feeling, we have to overcome that with ways and means that should suit oneself.
To me, the goal to is to be 'Responsible' every moment of my life. God Help Me!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guru

Shri Gurubhyo Namaha
Innumerable Books - both prose & poetry have been written about the greatness of a Guru, by describing their nature, character, greatness, intellect, abilities, spirituality, practices and such attributes.


THE NEED
Saint Thyagaraja, the great music composer, says, " Guru Lekha Etuvanti Kuniki Theliyaka Podhu." Meaning that, "Without a Guru not even an iota of knowledge can be gained."  So, if we are to improve in any way, we should seek knowledge, we should seek a Guru who will teach us, we should submit ourselves to him, surrender to him, observe him, learn from him (both explicit and implicit teachings), submit ourselves to his tests, exhibit our understanding of his teachings (to which he may explain or correct us - as the case may be) and surrender to him totally. Moreover, throughout our life, we have to constantly seek his audience to guide us. As the proverb 'Learning never ends' says, it is a lifelong association we should seek. 


OSHO in answering to who is a Spiritual Master? Says, Just by being near a Guru, you become more and more aware of yourself. If you submit yourself as a real disciple - and by being a disciple, I mean being open to the presence of the master. You may be sitting before a mirror with closed eyes - then the mirror cannot show you anything. The mirror is a mirror because it does not do anything on its own. But if you are in front of the mirror with open eyes, then the mirror can show you what you want to see about yourself. Such is the presence of a Guru.


In the presence of the our Guru; Knowledge flourishes (Gyana raksha); Sorrow diminishes (Dukha kshaya); Joy wells up without any reason (Sukha aavirbhava); Abundance dawns (Samriddhi); All talents manifest (Sarva samvardhan). What more do we want...


Once my uncle said, "I have not found a Guru who is worthy enough to teach me." I am of the exact opposite view. Who are we to test the qualities of a Guru. Most of us have little or no idea on what makes a Guru. The little we know actually misguides us. Saying, 'There is no guru worthy of me' is like saying there is not a single school to teach me. Schools are abound everywhere. But we do not seek admission, nor apply for scholarship. It is the student (the disciple in this case) that makes the difference. If you are a good disciple, you will find 'teachings' everywhere.


Coming to think of it, all a Guru does is to teach you to be a disciple (or student) and in that state of humility and submission to the fact that, "I want to Learn", itself helps you learn from all around.
   
Here is what Kulanarva Tantra says..."The disciple's only essential practice is to surrender himself to his guru." 


CHARACTER of a GURU
I wish to state only that, we should not see who is saying what. Rather see the thought or advice or philosophy separate from the person who said it and accept it on its merits. It is said, ரிஷி மூலம் நதி மூலம் பார்க்க கூடாது. Meaning, a river may run through many countries / districts and many a sewage / dirty stream may mix with it. If you seek to see if the river is pure by going through its entire course, you are bound to see the dirt and pollution that is part of the river. So will you find some character flow in a Teacher if you dig deep enough into his life. But what should matter is at the point of drinking the water, taste it, if it is sweet and does no harm - drink it - do not worry about the origins of the river. Similarly look at the advice a Teacher tells you, and take it as it is. 

But I also have to say that a Guru is one who practices before he preaches, so look at his present practices (if at all you have to look to judge) rather than past actions before discarding an advice because it has been said by someone with a dubious past. Take the instance of Valmiki, a robber and hunter by nature. Are we to discard the entire Valmiki Ramayana because it was written by Valmiki? 

PHILOSOPHIES & PRACTICES of GURUS
Each Guru advocates, a particular philosophy that they hold and teach to their disciples. Sometimes there is a conflict of ideas when we see the teachings of two Gurus and we somehow start saying one philosophy is more sound than the other. What do we know, that we think we are able to stand in judgement of these Gurus. 


On the other hand, even in Pedagogy (Teaching Methods for children) it is well known fact that childrens' learning can be classified into, Visual, Auditory & Kinesthetic (tactile) learning. While some children need to see the teachings, some just need to listen, while others need to touch and feel and do to learn. Similarly, as each Disciple is different and hence, a Guru takes an individual approach to each disciple. 
I could go on, but would like to stop with a quote from Kabir...


Sab Dharti Kagaz Karoon
Lekhan Ban Raye...
Sath Samundra Ki Mas Karuoon
Guru Gun Likha Na jaye...


"Even if the whole earth is transformed into paper with all the bigtrees made into pens and if the entire water in the seven oceans aretransformed into writing ink, even then the glories of the Guru cannot be written. So much is the greatness of the Guru."


Jai Guru