Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cracking the basic code!

What to learn when? What do we define as "basics"? What are the so called "fundamentals" that build us? I find this list the hardest to fill.

As a kid, I remember struggling to memorize the alphabet. My wonder was, why have numbers and alphabets while they are kind of essentially the same. Why not the letter "A" be used to represent both the digit "1" and the alphabet "A"? It terribly confused me when the alphabet "I" and the digit "1" looked so alike in books! I even wrote my kindergarten exams replacing digits and alphabets with ones that I felt were "just the same", much to the ridicule of the staff! The first task my parents dealt with, was to guide me in differentiating the digit from the alphabet. Once that was through, they had this tough task of getting me to read time from the clock, and for that they had to teach me the importance of time! Then there was two kinds of math - plain arithmetic operations and the time-math. I could not do time math for one whole term in the class. My father let me begin by first doing the math with only the clock - very small problems like what is 20 minutes plus 10 minutes. Then my dad would move the minute hand of the clock that distance to make me "see" the time-addition! Gradually, I learned.

So, after many many years of trying to understand what we define as fundamental, I've come to the conclusion that any understanding that gives you a directive picture of "why" a concept is needed to be studied is the fundamental. So the band of fundamentals is not the same for every human being. I guess, that is the concept that schools should work towards - know what each child attaches importance to.

Take for example, the Bhagvad Gita - kids read it in the comics, filled with wonder at the circle of life and death, while the youth read the original, trying to relate to the practical mesage it conveys, and the old, digest the content to reflect on how it relates to the life they've lead. One whole summer, while I was down with measles, my mother took this mammoth task of reading the fairy tales to me. It was so well narrated, that even to this day I remember how I got better thinking of the fairy God mother who comes in every little girl's dream to make her dearest wish come true. My mother did not ever deny to me the existence of these wonder beings, but rather left it to me to decide of their existence.

Let go of ethics and frame your own views, or love history and live like an idol you cherish? Does that well known coordination of the heart and mind really exist? Are we really "born" to be individuals of our own right, or historical creatures reborn in a new social order?

The birth of the mind:
With observation, is the mind born. With observation, do the senses begin to relate with one another, and build mental images. Inherently, the mind attempts to build a hologram of thoughts. Humans have less of instinct, more of self-learning skills. Prejudice begets instinct. Self-learning substitutes instinct with recipes of action. It is important for schools to guide its student's self-learning skills, and guide the building of the mental hologram in its student's minds. Schools should not form "schools of thought" but should rather form "schools of self-realization".

The growing of the mind:
The construction and destruction of thought is a continuous process. The mind tends to strike a balance with nature - Hence, the hologram. Emotions are a byproduct of the growth of the mind. Hence, the mind constantly strives to design and re-deisgn its mental images during the phases of its growth. Genetics, the environment and self-learning contribute to the design of the mind.

The birth of talent:
Talent manifests itself during the growth of the mind. The mind is not just the mind per se, but the coordination of body and spirit. Like how most sportsmen are prodigies and most musicians have a built-in "note" at a tender age, the mind tends to find a growing "pattern" that manifests as talent. While I had to be "taught" the moves of chess, my little four-year old sister with plain observation could play professional chess in a matter of days! The chess board was like a maze in her mind, with the pawns being the gear that could check-mate the opponent in no time!

The blending of minds:
Prejudiced minds (instinctive minds) tend to blend arithmetically with one another - mutually inclusive or exclusive. Holographic minds blend geometrically - as a hologram inherently retains its image, even if broken or enlarged. As the mind grows by being a "whole in parts", its blending is far more efficient than the mind that creates a "jigsaw with missing (read wrong) pieces".

The birth of religion:
Why does the beauty of religion lie in the scriptures alone and not on individual minds? Intepreting religion is a consequence of the prejudiced mind. Discovering religion is the consequence of a holographic mind. It is best not to believe, until you feel the urge to believe. Seeing God as the fairy Godmother when you are little, seeing God as the "miracle man" who bestows you luck in your graduate exams and seeing God in courageous self-realization while defying written social code is the path of discovery of religion.

The evolution of the mind:
Even the most prejudiced mind "likes" to get holographic. The rate of human evolution would depend on how "far" does the mind eliminate dependance. The mind does not tend to wait, but discover.

Does age bar development?
Some are precocious, some are late bloomers - I for one, still hope that I would bloom some day with a complete hologram, if that does not sound naive. But there is no such thing as completion - biology is a learning science and so is physics. Math grows like literature. The most of our early years are spent in observation and derivation. The most of our later years are spent in application.

The least time spent in worthless self-defense, and most time spent in self-discovery, implies faster growth. Life is co-existance, but not co-mental-dependency. Culture is ethics sprung from self-discovery, and not theology implanted on the mind.

Is evolution a long-term conquest of derogatory species? Or is evolution the strengthening bond between nature and living beings, striving towards imortality? Nonetheless, to me, evolution is plain a matter of "live and let live"!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Books and my mind

Reading is the one adventure that never ends! To me, books on human nature, anthropology and spirituality relocate the pieces in the jigsaw of my mind. I am extremely mutable to new ideas and am drawn to books that expand the ever-growing enigma of the mind.

I am inclined at first to "brand" authors and domains. With time, I have decided to rule out branding the former - "autor-branding" didn't work well with me, as them authors have only a couple of masterpieces and dehydrate the rest of their work, by deviating from the domain and getting prejudiced (barring good old mythology, Jane Austen and Matt Ridley, whose prejudice I like!)

The books that influenced me the most are from Indian mythology. I have grown to love the roots our Indian civilization from these very scriptures. To quote a few, "Amar Chitra Katha" and K.M Munshi's "Krishnavatara". I was awed on reading of supernatural beings who had four arms and wielded mighty weapons. It made me think of the then-India or Aryavarth as a prosperous nation, more than self-sufficient and very cultured. "Krishnavatara" by K.M Munshi is a masterpiece that speaks of "four-armed" superhumans being plain "two-armed" humans, with probable robotic gear and supreme intelligence that made them far efficient than ordinary beings. I was very inspired by the episode that shows Krishna and Balaram carving out the Sudarshan Chakra and the Great Plough from the rich hills of Gomatakha. Converting weaknesses to strenghts, and working "miracles" with sheer faith and practical hard work was the beautiful message conveyed in these scriptures. I got motivated to analyse social anthropology in India and compare eras, making me wonder why the current India so skewed in culture from what these books of yester-eras show!

The next domain of books that influence me are those of evolutionary science (though I do read them with some degree of paranoia!) - Matt Ridley for one, has beautifully related the evolution of organic earth, its living beings and how genetic-history can relate to the beings of the future. How families develop traits, leading to societies developing culture and species developing variation.

I tend to skew towards biographies too, and the biography that most influenced me was, "Its not about the bike - my journey back to life" by Lance Armstrong, which made my mind broader about percieving pain as a crude tool to strength.

Mark Twain in his inventive style of writing, portrayed mythical heroes in Tom Saywer and Huck Finn that humbled the image of the strong silent men of romantic novels. Tom, Huck and Jim as mock-pirate-heroes, brought out the value of freedom, generosity and the rare little joys in life.

Ayn Rand's "The fountain head" is another of my favorites, that has left a lasting influence on my mind. Howard Roark as the austere, unconventional hero inspired masses by showing perfection as absolute integrity. It is one of those books whose message stays ever-green!