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Saturday, August 25, 2007

"a good traveller has no fixed plan


and not intend on arriving" Lao Tsu





I came across this quote a month ago. I did not realise it's profound signifcance at that time but somehow it stayed at the back of my mind. A few weeks later my wife and myself went on a conducted tour of Delhi,Agra,Haridwar and Rishikesh. Immediately thereafter, I went alone on a conducted tour of Singapore. It was during the course of these travels I realised the full import of Lao Tsu's remarks.


Conducted tours helps one avoid several hassles like parking,for example. But it takes away a lot of the fun in travelling. Also, in its own way it can be quite stressful too. One is required to be at a particular place at a particular time for the pick up, worrying all the time whether you are at the right place or not, whether the pick up vehicle will turn up or not. Even during sight seeing you can never really relax as you are all the time worrying whether you can be back within the stipulated time.


The ideal traveller should not have any itirenary, or fixed schedule. He should be like a will- of the- wisp carried along by the gentle wind or blown away by any unexpected storm.This would apply to Life's journey too. Often we worry too much about things which could affect our cherished, orderly life. We should be Lao Tsu's ideal traveller in our Life's journey too


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Synchronicity 3


Synchronicity 1 & 2 were written a few days ago and posted yesterday night. I have Dilberts blog in my favorites which I read once in a week. I came home early today afternoon and was checking my email. I happened to open Dilberts Blog too. This is what I came across.

Freaky Happenings
I’ve said before in this blog that it feels to me as if all of my ideas already exist, and I’m nothing but some sort of antennae. Every time I have an idea, no matter how strange, that idea inevitably finds its way to my door from some other source. It’s freaky.
The first time I saw this phenomenon was in 1990 when I had been cartooning for about a year. One day, I sat down at about 4:30 AM and wrote a comic about opera singer Placido Domingo. My gag involved the fact that there was a fake version of him called, naturally, Placebo Domingo.
I was quite proud of my pun. Later THAT SAME DAY, I opened up the San Francisco Chronicle and started reading the comics. A syndicated comic called Farley had a joke about an opera singer named Placebo Domingo.
I just checked, and there are 460,000 hits on Google for that pun. I guess it is somewhat obvious. Still, what are the odds of drawing it in a newspaper comic in the morning and reading it in a newspaper comic within hours?
Skeptics will point out, rightly, that it would be more amazing if coincidences didn’t happen. You don’t notice all the things that could have been coincidences but weren’t, so when they happen they seem special in our minds.
I mention the Placebo Domingo story because a similar freaky thing happened the other day. But this one takes it too a new level. Let me see if I can give you chills. I promise I’m not making this up.
On August 14th, a fascinating article ran in the NY Times. A number of people recognized it as the sort of thing I would like, and forwarded it to me. The gist of the article is that an Oxford philosopher has a serious hypothesis that our lives are nothing but a computer program developed by someone else. Perhaps humans of the past created us as a hobby. The idea is that we have no physical bodies, we only think we do. This notion is standard science fiction stuff, but now it has risen to philosophic consideration.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/14tier.html?ex=1344830400&en=2300cf446929c707&ei=5124&partner=permalink
That article was published on August 14th. One day earlier, I had an idea for a movie plot that felt as if it came out of nowhere. I quickly typed it out in the Word document that happened to be open – the same one I am using now for my blog posts. I’m going to paste my notes below, without editing, so you see it exactly as I wrote it.
--- begin ---
Movie plot.
It's about people trying to download themselves to computers when humanity is at an end.
They discover they are already the downloads, in a loop of history
You can tell it's a program because of reused code in the form of memes.
Deja vu is memory leak
Clues you are in a program
No free will
You keep forgetting where you put things. Everyone does.
The program is crashing.
Some humans are like self correcting code. They spring to action trying to fix the program. They try to debug humanity.
Whole movie is program code analogy
--- end ---
Now you might say, rightly, this is a little bit like the Matrix, and a little bit like The Sixth Sense, and a little bit like my own book, God’s Debris, and a little bit like lots of other things. That’s all true.
The freaky part (chill alert) is that the main idea in my movie plot is that the characters discover their true nature as program code by noticing coincidences in their lives. For example, they see people who look exactly like other people they know, but aren’t.
The reason for all the coincidences in their so-called lives is that the program in which they live was written hastily. It reuses a lot of code. There are only a few hundred types of people, with minor variations. It was easier for the programmers to prevent duplicate people from ever becoming friends than to create 6 billion unique avatars.
So as I’m thinking about being nothing but code in a program, and thinking that the way you discover your true self is by realizing the coincidences in life are clues, a dozen people forward me an article about…being…code…in…a…program.
End


Freaky or Synchronicity? Perhaps ,as he himself states, it would be more amazing if coincidences did not happen.

I get Times of India and the Hindu at home. I try to do the Mindbender quiz in TOI supplement. On 22nd Aug. this quiz appeared. "What common English word has the letters'WSP" in that order without any letters between". I gave up and looked up the solution which was 'neWSPaper'. I turned to HINDU and was struck by this headline 'Vikas WSP's Expansion plans. The entire article didn't say what this 'WSP' stood for!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007



Synchronicity 1


I looked up in Wikepaedia information on the dialogue between Nachiketas and Yama. I had read Katha Upanishad long ago and could not recall the entire details. Surprisingly, there were scant details in the Wikepaedia. I went back for a general search with Google and came across an entry narrating how Somerset Maugm had quoted from Katha Upanishad in his book ‘Razor’s Edge” A short while later I came across an almost verbatim reproduction in the Cosmic Link column of Economic Times including the Razor’s Edge connection. This was a few days ago.

I first heard about ‘synchronicity’ from my father. He was reading a book with that tittle. I too wanted to read the book but as it often happens it had disappeared. My father had mentioned that the word was coined by Karl Jung to refer to an acausal relationship between two unconnected incidents. My father cited an example too. There is a belief in Kerala that the cry of ‘Kalan Kozhi’ heralds a death. The cry resembles ‘pooooovvvaaa’which is interpreted as (‘let us go’) an invitation to some soul to accompany it to the nether world. Quite often, one hears its cry in the night only to hear the news of a death in the morning. There cannot be any rational cause and effect relationship between the two but nonetheless such coincidences come up with disturbing frequency..

Ever since, this notion of Synchronicity was in the back of my mind and frequently surfaces and is again relegated to the sub-concious. Like this sentence in Robin Sharma’s “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”: “Synchronicity is one of God’s ways of remaining anonymous”. Deepk Chopra deals with it in greater detail:-

“Only Jung who studied religion and dream symbolism and saw the unconscious as a source of spiritual insight did not think all coincidences were the result of chance and happenstance. Some, which he felt were ultimately evocative to the person experiencing them, could be the expression of some underlying pattern being manifested through a meaningful relationship of events. He called the phenomenon ‘synchronicity’-an acausal connecting principle which was not based on a deductive cause and effect mechanism”

My current obsession with synchronicity was triggered after a visit by Hari and Usha .I mentioned to Hari that Owls are the best exterminator of rats and he could try putting up some nests for owls in the estate. A day later he phoned and mentioned the superstition about ‘Kalan Kozhi’.Till that day I was not aware that the mysterious bird which was supposed to be the harbinger of death was an owl. I researched it and found that the English name for the bird is ‘mottled wood owl’. (strix ocellatta)

A month ago, I had built an owl’s nest on the specifications available on the internet and put it up at ‘KRISHNA’. I do hope no mottled wood owl takes up residence in it and further strengthen my belief in ‘synchronicity’!.



Synchronicity 2


I was selected as a Probationary Officer of SBI and allotted to Kanpur circle in 1971. At that time Kanpur circle covered most of the branches in UP. I don t remember whether it was the first time I went to Kanpur or the second time, my father gave me the dentures of his father which he has been keeping for over 25 years for immersion in Sangam but could not. He has been faithfully observing annual “Shraddam”.One of my earliest childhood memories is of Ilayathu, who will come in the previous night of “Shraddam”and will leave early next morning with my father to Mankara for the ceremonies.Ilayathu was quite old even then and always used to wear a blue dress. He had ‘kadukkans’ in his ears and was almost always chewing beetle leaves. In later years, his son or nephew used to come.

I think it was in 1973 that I went to Allahabad and Sangam and immersed the dentures in the confluence as directed by my father. He had expressly instructed that no ‘Panda’ should be engaged for the purpose and that he will be doing the kriyas in Bharathapuzha at Ottapalam at the same time I was doing the immersion. We synchronized the timing earlier. I was required to take a dip in the Sangam, face east and say that “on behalf of your son and my father Krishnankutty I am consigning to the Sangam the remains “ or something like that and throw it over my head towards my back.

On my promotion to the Dy.General Manager cadre I was allotted to the Inspection & Audit department and sent on mobile duty. This was in September 1995. I remained in mobile duty for three years. This was the first time I was confronted with a series of strange coincidences which can only be explained by something like ‘Synchronicity’

My father had passed away in December 1989 on the day of Guruvayoor Ekadasi. He was cremated at Ottapalam and we were keeping his bones for eventual immersion at Sangam. My father believed in a Super power and had deep knowledge and faith in religious practices. We therefore wanted the bones to be immersed at Sangam. But somehow this got delayed for over seven years. The coincidences began then..

(1) I never wanted to join inspection department and mobile duty. I had to.
(2) As I had worked in Kanpur Circle earlier, I could not be given any inspection assignment in UP. I was given one.
(3) There are over 700 branches in UP and I could have been allotted any one of them. I got Varanasi close to Allahabad.
(4) This could have happened any time of the year. But the assignment was in December coinciding with the death anniversary of my father.
(5) One Pandey, Cash Officer of Varanasi branch and a brahmin poojari, invited me to come with him to Allahabad and to take a dip in Sangam. He was not even aware that I intended to go
(6) I did the Kriyas at Sangam, at Dashaswmedh Ghat at Varanasi and at Gaya
(7) The day I reached Gaya for Samarpan was perhaps the most auspicious day. That day Pandavas had done ‘tharpan’ there for the departed souls. I was not even aware of it.
It was as if some invisible power had taken charge of my life, at least temporarily, and directed it towards fulfillment of certain tasks. It is certainly difficult to believe that all of them were the result of chance or mere happenstance.

Should I not beleive in Synchronicity?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Perspective

Someone wrote that " a prayer is a petition to alter the Grand Design of the Universe in favour of one person". Considering the insignificance of an individual in the context of the Grand drama being played out, is the notion of an inviolable soul really relevant. Is insanity merely a glitch in the brain's programme. What purpose an individual's existence and the course it takes have for the Universe. As an annual ritual I have been reading Ramayana this year too. But sometime I cannot help wondering whether there would have been any cataclysmic effect had Ravana killed Rama in the battle. It is not impossible. Gods or at least their mortal incarnations have got killed like Krishna or killed themselves like Rama. Perhaps then instead of the "Travels of Rama" (Rama Ayana) it would have been Ravana Vijayam. Mark Twain got it right when he said "the very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice". Vibhishana would then have joined the ranks of Kim Philby or the Rosenburg couple

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Death on a Monsoon Night


The pregnant nimbus cloud rolled in slowly from the sea,

over the backwaters, over the dirty patch of sand;

The cocunut palms standing like nine pins tore into her belly

splattering drops of white blood staining the sand.








A long shuddering scream from her dark mouth

drowned in the banshee shriek of the wind

Her flashing eyes merged in the brilliance of a thunderbolt

the roar of thunder masking the sounds of her death throes.





          Her carcass broke into a million pieces, her juices mixed with

          the rivulets of white blood rapidly turning dark

          Rushing back to sea from whence it came, in a primordial urge

          back to the womb, back to birth, to death and back.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007







Swapnalokam

This is meant to be pure make-beleive......
A dreamworld.
Mandukya Upanishad states Swapna is the second state of consciousness.

Thoughts and ideas and feelings from the sub conscious should dominate here.
Responses purely reflexive.
Red,Blue,Green,Black or White
but never Grey