26 October, 2011

Inspiration

I had an unsolved mystery about inspirations for a long time. ‘Are inspirations ephemeral?’ I used to ask myself time and again. I can hardly recall any experience then, where my inspiration lasted beyond two days at a stretch! I had tried developing and instilling a thought or two on the lines of the inspiration which triggered them in the first place. I failed all the time. It was long before I experienced and felt, finally, that all inspirations are ephemeral but those driven from within. I don’t see a reason why an inspiration should not be the source of internal motivation. After all, what inspiration essentially does is that it triggers the hidden inertial energy to motion. The cause is internal and the effect is driven from within too.

That inspirations are primarily non-material is the biggest discovery of my life, though they may drive downstream material goals. An inspiration is no more than a spark in that it fires the inner fuel at the right time. What follows as a result is that the concentrated and channeled thoughts are given shape by the spark and become visible to us through its tremendous energy and action.  If inspirations were to emanate from a source, then that source has to be infinite and transcendental, for it is impossible for something by itself to generate different motives in each one of us. That each of us gives a different angle to our actions is because of the fundamental difference in perception, and that perceptions differ across each individual is the ultimate evidence that each of us is as unique as the rest of us. So, essentially, the source of inspiration is unlimited by space, time or any other infinite measure in comparison to our short life. And that is precisely the reason my inspiration most often comes from nature and the natural life surrounding me; from the sunrise, from the early morning dew, from the blooming flower, from the drizzle to the pouring rains, from the waves and tides, from the sky, the clouds and the stars. I also feel it in music, in the wisdom of the philosophers, and much more. All these, needless to say, are unlimited by space and time, and are infinite in comparison to our short lives. These trigger some internal thought process in me that takes a cue from the natural design of things, develops a thought and puts it into action. And thus they become the true source of inspiration to me. This is from my experience with the quest for the metaphysical.

Coming to the physical and more haphazard, I have a problem with the self-help books. That one can derive continuous streams of inspiration from someone else’s experiences and discovery in life is simply unacceptable to me. As I mentioned before, a true source of inspiration can never be from a thing that is limited by time, space or any other measure of finiteness. What we truly mean when we say a person or a thing is an inspiration to us is that there is a characteristic or a quality in that individual or thing which is infinite, transcendental and unlimited. That Albert Einstein is my inspirational figure essentially means there is a certain quality of his which was unlimited in scope, his creativity and thought. That Abraham Lincoln is my inspirational figure truly means there were more than one quality, perseverance, integrity etc. that stood the test of time and resulted in historical glory for himself and a source of inspiration for millions like me. To reiterate, these are qualities that we all have but which are dormant all the while. A thing, an individual or an action that is not part of us triggers this from within us. Personally, I think it is but futile and silly to ascribe a permanency to an inspiration from a source outside of one's self.

Finally, if one goes by the universal adage that ‘God helps those who help themselves’, the self-help books are a waste of time and against the devotion to their self, and ultimately to their God. (That I’m an atheist is a different matter, but even if I were to construe a God, it would be my own ‘self’! And this I take as substantial evidence from the words of the second best God, next only to myself, Krishna, who I could see as nothing more than a man with profound wisdom and common sense to say 'Your self is your God; and that is me!) Self-help is not to be found anywhere but in the self. If there was someone to lend a hand, literally and metaphorically, all the time for all problems one faced in life, I guess the receiver is nothing more than a machine which is driven by the thoughts and actions of someone else. If you feel a tinge of objectivism in this, I’m glad you’ve got my point.

If I feel like writing a ‘Part II’ to this, I sure will update.

P.S: This post is originally written for Akila's blog as my contribution to her column on 'Inspiration'. So, as such this in itself is an inspiration. I've tried my best not to generalize the concept and to stick to my personal thoughts and opinions on it. 

16 May, 2011

The struggle of the educated minds - an introduction

This post is a foreword to my views and opinions on the effectiveness of formal education which I intend to bring forth in detail in the near future.

My doubts on the effectiveness of the formal education system began to convert to certainties as the years drew closer to the official completion of the two-decade battle. And I've eventually found out that the system of education has indeed affected me negatively to a great extent, if not fully. Not that I would have acquired significant knowledge of any other kind by any other means of education, if not through the formal schooling and college education system. Still, the certainties come in the form that they've been only partially and very minimally successful, if I may call it a success, in imparting the right kind of knowledge. The flaw that I've felt in this mode is that it doesn't quite clearly put forth from the early days what is the right kind of knowledge that it intends to impart and how much of it (The Zeroth Flaw). Of course, it has the indubitable and perfectly compelling excuse of saying 'what is taught in class is very little and only theoretical, the actual learning is out in the world'. Agreed. But if that is the case, has the system at least made sure that it puts forth the right foundation? I am against this view. To me, this is obvious in the many dubious methods of teaching the theoretical foundations of some of the pertinent knowledge (that which is assumed and expected to be of use to everyone in the right sense of both pertinence and knowledge and on all the spheres of life).

I find it obvious that this has affected the effectiveness of using all that information and knowledge. Facts are facts. Facts are information. Facts are knowledge. But do we not find it quite odd that most of the times, these facts aren't of much use? It is not difficult to realize that we never put to use most of what we read/study/learn/acquire as knowledge. The best it does is that it brings some realization to a troubled mind that what is available is not always needed; and sadly, what is needed is not always available either.

It is in this aspect that the brain is severely crippled in handling the whole lot of knowledge, a mixture of all sorts; useful but incomprehensible and prohibited (The First Flaw), useless and unlawful (The Second Flaw), and dubious and immoral (depending on one’s views on morality, a topic for some other time). The more concerning matter is that it impairs the capability and outcomes of an individual in the society due to the expectations thrust upon him/her based on the universal laws of the flawed system, both in terms of misleading the individual to what level of knowledge is expected and what is the source of that desired knowledge. And the outcomes are disastrous sometimes.

The prime suspect in all this, I believe, is a false motivation. For a cliche, two of the most influential yet thoroughly misleading motivations in this aspect are thrust upon the child right from its childhood; 'Knowledge is Power' and 'Information is Wealth'. These two simple adages are so subtly and subconsciously thrust upon an individual like a slow poison, that the effects don't show up clearly until it is too late. These are like drugs that consume the mind of the person pushing him/her towards an irresistible ecstatic state and at one point driving the person to a condition from which there’s no way back. These have only complicated the existing system and continue to do so. The levels of irrationality, if I may call a spade a spade, that this extensive knowledge professes are so high that someone could easily tip over to blind beliefs in that knowledge and lacking complete reasoning to justify its usefulness or adoption to one’s life.

For example, in theory, motivation may be internal/external, positive/negative. Now just these two broad classifications (there may be more) bring four quadrants into the picture and a knowing mind is already in a fix as to where it draws its motivation from and of what kind it is.

More flaws on the way. Chaos prevails!