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Thursday, July 29, 2010


Let me remind you a little story.

Sinbad the Sailor and his companions got marooned on a vast floating island. They were weary and wet and then one of them lighted a little fire. That’s when the ‘island’ rose skywards with a groan. It was a whale. This illustrates the old saying that "the absence of proof isn’t always the proof of absence".

All my life, I have been fiddling with the idea of God. I keep on struggling to define my position vis-s-vis the belief in God. I realised early in my life that I would have problems with God when I refused the request of my first girlfriend to accompany her to a temple. Of course, I do not believe that it is the curse of God that's why she had left me. I am not an atheist, nor am I an agnostic.

It fascinates me when I look at people totally at peace with their Gods. I do not mind people worshipping god or gods. But I do mind if I am forced to pay obeisance to 'their' god. I prefer to be left alone when it comes to worshipping. I would like to decide for myself whom will I worship... a god or a human.

That makes me what? According to what I read in The Economic Times, I am possibly a follower of Possibilianism. Neuroscientist David Eagleman says,"Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true." On the other hand, Possibilianism is open to new positions: one that emphasises the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing.

As the saying goes - "the absence of proof isn’t always the proof of absence".

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Law of attraction

"I recently read that love is entirely a matter of chemistry. That must be why my wife treats me like toxic waste." - David Bissonette

One facet of human society on which a lot have been written and spoken is the intense physical and romantic attraction between two persons. I do not want to be drawn into a controversy by qualifying whether between different sex or in the same. The attraction to each other among human being is often being romanticized by expressions like “The infallible chemistry between the two” and “One being fatally drawn to the other” etc.

That chemistry is indeed on play in the game of attraction become known to me only the other day. Apparently, when some chemicals called phenyle-ethylamines are released into our brain, the romantic love blooms. The affect of these chemicals are similar to those mind-expanding drugs which are so addictive. That’s why romantic love is often equated to an addiction. However, the romantic love always dies down as the amount of phenyle-ethylamines released to the brain goes down with age. Apparently, as people grow older this love is replaced by intimate love or nurturing love that blooms over years of proximity, caring and tolerance(?).

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, wrote in The Gurdian "I suspect most people would describe being in love as feeling strongly attracted to someone else, as considering another person to be overwhelmingly desirable". She goes on to say that what many of us confuse as love is actually lust driven by some other chemicals called pheromones. Huh! chemistry again.

"When we are madly attracted to someone else, it is because we sense that they would make excelent genetic match, someone who would allow us to produce the strongest and healthiest offspring. Lust is all about the survival of our DNA". What a concocted view of a clinical psychologist!

I think chemicals have their roles to play. But the dominating factor in the game of attracation is not entirely chemistry alone. It is the stimulus that forces the brain to release these chemicals that are more important than the chemicals themselves. I am sure the sunset over river Brahmaputra releases no phenyle-ethylamines, but it might stimulates my brain to release them. I feel ecstacy simply looking at rain. I feel elated watching a good movie and look around for my partner hoping that the movie would have been more enjoyable with my partner by my side. Possibly Linda could explain these in terms of lust and chemicals.

I find human brain more complex to be explained entirely in terms of chemistry!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Chasing a dream

For the last few months, may be quite a few months, I am doing some impossibly passionate, over-enthusiastic and extremely crazy things; things that I would not have done otherwise; not even had thought of doing all my life. But, I am doing them now; why I do not know. Most of the time, I am not even aware of the aberrations, only to realize them later when I get a chance to brood over.

People who know me will vouch for it that I had never been the impulsive type. I have always taken lot of pain to keep remembering that the head rests above the heart. On several occasions the heart wanted to leap above the head traveling apparently through the throat. Writers describe these moments as the heart jumping into the throat. Instances when you get butterflies in the stomach. However, every time such a moment came, till a few months ago, the head eventually ruled.

So, off and on, it occurred to me that it was probably the mid-life crisis that has caught up with me. You know, a feeling like –“Essentials are taken care of, now what?” So, when I noticed a piece on mid-life crisis by Seema Goswami in the Hindustan Times Brunch a few weeks ago, it grabbed my immediate attention. It took me not even ten minutes to finish up the piece reading and I found it interesting.

Seema has a theory on mid-life crisis. She wrote, “it is no so much panic engendered by the thought of what you haven’t achieved (and are unlikely to) halfway through your life. It’s actually angst, kicked off by envy about all that your peers have managed to accomplish in the same period.” She says, midlife crisis is not about how you failed to live the dream you had when you were young, “its about how that joker from the back of the class seems to be living it on your behalf.” Seema’s theory says that the mid-life crisis is triggered by the single vice called envy. Nice generalization, but a generalization only, that is.

It is hard to believe there can be a theory on mid-life crisis, because in its profound prevalence and multitude of manifestation it defies the boundary of a theory. In fact, it cannot be even defined or classified. The awareness of our life begins by nurturing a dream. Some ultimately realizes that dream only to pick up another dream, and a majority of us nurtures the dream throughout our lives, never ever realizing it or not even coming closer to realizing it. The essential elements of these entire dreams are three – money, fame and power. I agree with Seema on that.

You wanted to be famous writer, a famous sports person, a famous somebody. That would have given you money, power and everything else you need. By midlife you realize, the dream slipping away. You suddenly realize you have not done anything worthwhile, noteworthy and you do not have much time left. It is already late to start again. Now you try to achieve an absurd goal, try to score. In your haste you start behaving like another human being. The only thought that preoccupies you is - What to now?

Nothing! The way your life will go on till the end has pretty much being decided already. You have already put a social value system in place, entangled sufficiently with your environment, have already chosen a philosophy of life and not much of these are going to change – may be a little modification will be there, but not drastic change. Yes, you can still have the dream. In fact, you can take up another. And live the rest of your life nurturing it. Who knows, one day you may realize it.