Category Archives: Personalities

Blinkastic

I dont remember how many times have I read Gladwell’s BLINK. Is it coz of its lovely, beautiful cover or its gripping, realistic content…hmm, may be both. However, can say with conviction that this book have been a life changer.

See, Take a sip and if you like this taste…don’t forget to drink the whole can…its worth it 😉

 

 

Thin-slicing is the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.

It is striking how many different professions and disciplines have a word to describe the particular gift of reading deeply into the narrowest slivers of experience. In basketball we call it “court sense”, and in the military we say generals have “coup d’oeil” or power of the glance. Others usually refers to it as gut feel, instinct, a knowing, intuition, instinct, a hunch, an inkling etc..

The problem with snap decision or rapid cognition is that it takes place behind alocked door. We know certain things, but we just don’t know how we know. It is difficult to find out what people really think. This is because we don’t know why we like certain things and not others. Rapid cognition occurs behind a locked door. We know something but we don’t necessarily know why.

The more expertise we have, the more accurate our snap decisions are. We have all our experience and knowledge in a storeroom called the unconscious. We don’t realize it, but we use this information all the time when making decisions. So next time you just know something but can’t give a reason, consider that your unconscious made the decision for you.

A Lovely Homily

This is a homily given by my uncle, Fr. Stephen on occasion of a Commemorative Mass for his late friend. Found it very touching and thoughtful. Hence sharing it.

Introduction:

–  the enviable passing away of Fr Elias… living life to the full, and in harness till the end – an end that I would pray for myself…

– Let us begin this Mass with a moment or two in silent prayer thanking God for this wonderful person that we have known and loved, who touched our lives in unique ways, shared our company and made us grow…

Homily:

… What do we do when we reminisce over a human life?

–  When we remember someone, we emphasize the good memories, and we celebrate…

–  A practice of the Mercy Sisters in the States that I always liked to attend – the ‘wake’ with the body of the deceased Sister in the Church or in a hall, sitting around with friends and family, just recalling and sharing incidents (mostly funny and thought provoking) about the deceased person – it was always a collective celebration of a life, and it always provided a sense of closure to a life in community that had touched so many other lives.

– It underlined the fact that every life is to be celebrated.

– It underlined the fact that, whether pauper or prince, bid daddy or a small fry, we are all headed to the same reward – death is a great leveller.

… In this context, I often think about the parable of the labourers in the vineyard

– The ones who get paid equal amounts regardless of their hours of work… points to the fact that we do not as yet have any idea of what God has in store for us; and, more importantly, that we do not earn it – ALL is grace!

– Over there on the other shore, I believe…

– Talents or lack of it don’t really matter;

– Colour certainly will not be an issue;

– Manmade categories of tribe and ethnicity definitely won’t find a place there;

– Power and positions and influence won’t mean a thing;

– Reward and punishment may not be after all so opposed to each other as here on earth…

… I guess we will need a new theology to think along those lines…

… How would I like to remember Fr Elias?

– with two images…

– The first in 1963 leading us early morning from Mawlai to the Cathedral on a cold wintry morning for the funeral mass for Fr Matha who had drowned at Raliang – we were the choir, and a good one at that. I can still recall him collecting the frost from the small wooden bridge in front of present St Anthony’s College and shoving it down our collars to make us walk fast and catch up with him…

– The last just two months ago at my birthday supper at Azara, relishing the dinner that we had, enjoying the light banter with the us and the Archbishop, and taking from me two recent books to read – he kept alive that habit of reading and updating himself to the end…

– and, with some vivid, pleasant and grateful memories…

– I remember him… as someone who touched my life in the most impressionable years and left an impact that has lasted a lifetime (I was just 12 when I came into contact with him… He had been ordained a year earlier and had just taken over as our Prefect of Studies). He is one of those persons that I thank God for… for bringing him into my life.

– I remember him… as someone in whom I saw an abundance of the type of talents that would stand me in good stead as a religious and a Salesian – cultured behaviour, pride in oneself, ability to inspire others (in music, on the play fields, in the classroom)…

I remember him… as someone who inspired me to excel in what I was good at, and try my hand at those things that I was deficient in… There were ample opportunities for both in Juniorate those days.

I remember him… as someone who kept telling me that there is more I could do than I was actually doing, who introduced me to the idea of tapping unrealized potential early in life.

I remember him… as someone who, even in his last years, made light of his ailments and aches and pains, and went about his tasks with an evident zest for life.

I remember him… as someone who, in these last years at Maligaon, would come over to Azara whenever we asked him to, to talk to us, to hear our confessions, to encourage us with our work and our dreams, to share a glass of wine and talk of the good old days. He seemed to enjoy doing that… the last time, as I said, was just three weeks before he died, towards the end of November.

… In brief, I thank God for having brought him into my life, leaving some footprints there…

and a concluding thought for ourselves

…. If we can celebrate a life once it has passed away, and feel good about it…

– Why is it that we are so reluctant to do that when persons are alive?

– Why is it that issues like positions and colour and ethnicity blind us to the basic human goodness that we all share?

– Why is it that we allow harsh judgements and criticisms to colour our relationships?

– Why is it that we nurse hurts, real and imagined, and allow them to poison our days and traumatize our nights?

– Why is it that we prefer to hide in the shadows and mutter under our breath rather than celebrate life and love in the light?

… Give it a thought…  may be we need a new theology for that too!

… or, may be just a change in vision and perspective?

Scribbles by Percy Shelly

Was having a relaxed evening at @detournow yesterday when I stumbled on this small book on ‘compilation of poems by Shelly’. Having heard the name many times, took it out of curiosity. I was so amazed reading ‘ Songs to the men of england’. ( a poem written by Shelly as an empowering anthem for the workers of England). An excerpt from the classic:

The seed ye sow, another reaps,

The wealth ye find, another keeps,

The robes ye weave, another wears,

The arms ye forge, another bears.

Here is another one from ‘Mask of anarchy’

Thou art Wisdom — Freemen never

dream that God will damn for ever

All who think those things untrue

Of which Priests make such ado.

No sense is better than nonsense

"You were scared of me.. right Leo ?. I know, you used to walk away from me when you see me sitting infront of the house. Guess you were in class 5 then."

Trying my best to deny a fact, I mumbled: No, pauly chetta.. I was never scared of you. Why should I be ?

Again with a partial smile on his face, he continued. It’s ok Leo, I know everyone used to be scared of me. But trust me, Pauly chettan is no more the same. I’ve changed, but no one understands that now or want to believe so.

Pauly was the only graduate in his family. Studious, most beloved son of his parents and a good neighbour to us. It was in ’95, when people spotted him doing exercise on the middle of the road at mid night. It was the beginning. Unknown the reason was, but he gradually was losing balance of his mind and as any helpless mentally challenged person he too was branded as a ‘madman’ or a ‘branthan’ soon. Within an year his parents passed away and soon the eldest sister-in-law took control of the home.

It was in her better interest that Pauly stay a madman. Thus he was smartly kept away from all financial deals of home. Was never fed properly and beaten when asked for food. A hell in earth, that’s what he was in for past 12 years. His freedom came in the form of dividing ancestral property by siblings(they just had a small hut and a hutly shop), and that made S-I-L to go out of home. Since then Pauly is a new man. He has recovered tremendously and is now all words with people around. It would now be difficult to tell that he had some mental illness few years back. Above mentioned conversation to me when while at home, reiterates the fact that Pauly has certainly changed. He now speaks more sense than many living in the same street.

But, how do we take care Paulys of the world ? By medicine or just by being a little more humane ?.. Guess through a combination of both, but with more dose of latter they have a better chance of regaining their self.

Friends beyond age

Today am gonna write about Thomas bhai, oldest in my friends circle. Thomas bhai is one of those old generation malayalis who are settled in Gujarat for more than 50 years. Destiny made me meet him and since then we share a special friendship. Special i call it, coz I still dont know anything ‘personal’ about him. Neither have I asked nor has he told. All I know is that he is 78 and is thoroughly knowledgeable in theology, literature of both english, malayalam and has a very sharp sense of humour which goes into multiple layers of thought 🙂

We dont meet quite often, but whenever we meet it feels like we had talked just the day before. He is so good at starting a conversation, a meaningful one. Mostly we discuss about religion, malayali culture and literature (yea, literature…here he talks and I just listen :P). Its so enthralling to hear him recite poems. Few of them which he had studied in his school days. He is very particular about completing it and gives a radiant smile after that (smile that shouts, see beta I still remember it). Sometimes he becomes so happy and laugh aloud….like a kid will start patting on my shoulder. May be after a quick second he will just get up take his bag and leave. That’s him. Punctual, aware of his time.

Today our discussion started with me mentioning to him about my brothers upcoming marriage. Suddenly he said, ‘Life invested on external appearance based selection is a depreciating investment’. After mentioning few of his experiences in life, he dropped another bomb. Maternity is a matter of fact, where as paternity a matter of opinion. This was immediately followed by a beautiful malayalam translation of it (Maathrutham sphadikam pole spashtam, Pithruthum nisha pole nigoodham). He continued saying this was translated by some malayali poet and he likes the translation better than the original. A man of few words, he didnt speak much then. Both quotes were enough to ponder with.

I dont know why am writing all this. Just felt so. Was thinking of these w.r.t my life . Guess, I need to grow more mature to give enough space for someone else in my life. Till then better I walk alone. Immersing in life, may be thats what this phase of life is all about. Doing it non-diligently now but with awareness.

Vararuchi and life philosophy

A random conversation with #nishkus and esp. @kuttyedathi today reminded me of Vararuchi and Parayi petta panthirukulam. It’s an old mythical story which always fascinated me. I think this is one of those intelligent stories which make you think beyond the superficial story layer.

Outline of story goes like this :

Vararuchi, one of the nine wise men of King Vikramaditya’s court married a girl from Paraya caste which is one of the lowest castes among the society of Kerala. They started a pilgrimage and on the way one-after-another, they had 12 children. Each time upon delivery, Vararuchi asked her if the baby had mouth. If she said ‘yes’, he would say, “If God has given mouth, it will feed his mouth too” and would ask her to leave the child there and then proceed. Grieved by these, when the 12th child was born, she lied and said the baby did not have a mouth, upon which he permitted her to take the child along. But when she was about to breast-feed it, the mouth was actually not there!! Vararuchi then consecrated the child on a hill, which is called “Vaayillaakkunnilappan”

The children left out in the forest were subsequently found, adopted and raised by families belonging to different communities, recognised one another as they grew up, and used to get-together at the illam (residence) of the eldest son, Mezhathol Agnihothri, on their father Vararuchi’s death anniversary (Sraadham) – so goes the story or myth. Each of these 12 tribes / families still exists in Kerala and they used to get-together too.

These twelve children are:

  1. Mezhathol Agnihothri (Brahmanan),
  2. Paakkanaar (Parayan, a very low caste),
  3. Rajakan (Dhobi),
  4. Naaraanathu Bhraanthan (Elayathu, a lower class Brahmanan),
  5. Kaarakkal Maatha (high caste Nair, only girl born to the couple),
  6. Akavoor Chaathan (Vysyan),
  7. Vaduthala Nair (Nair Soldier),
  8. Vallon (Thiruvalluvar of Tamil Nadu),
  9. Uppukottan (Muslim),
  10. Paananaar (Paanan, a very low caste of country musicians),
  11. Perumthachan (carpenter),
  12. Vaayillaakkunnilappan (deity)

Each of these 12 had very intriguing stories and trust me it will enthrall you like anything when you read through. My favorites are Paakkanar, Naaranathu Bhraanthan and Paananar.

It even inspired a very famous poem in malayalam:

" Panthrandu makkale pettoramme
Ninte makkalil njananu bhrandhan
Panthrandu rashiyum neettumamme
Ninte makkalil njanan anaadhan
Ente sirayil nuraykkum puzhukkalilla
Kannil Iravinte pashana thimiramilla "

There’s a very interesting history to Vararuchi’s marriage to the paraya girl and his leaving kids behind is also associated to it. Whether it seems justified or not, his reasons for justification remains sticky. ‘If god has given mouth, it will feed him too’ (Vaa keeriya bhagawan annam kodutholum). To me it doesn’t relate to the god part of it, but more to the confidence a person has on a human.

In this era of spoon feeding children with everything and finally helplessly watching those efforts go in drain…. i guess it is also pertinent to know that humans are capable of growing to their right ability, if at all there were given the freedom to do so.

Read more about Panthirukulam:

My tryst with faith : Part three – Living the Zen way

continued from Part two

This post is going to be excerpts from what OSHO has said about religion and Zen. I think he has articulated my thoughts so well, that it would be futile if I tried to put in my own words. OSHO is one of the most misinterpreted personalities ever existed. Majority of people know him only as sex-guru, and probably has read only that part of what he has said. In reality, he was a truly enlightened person and One of the very few who knew exactly what he was saying and he spoke sense.

Here OSHO speaks about dangers of religions and how Zen stands as a viable alternative to practice.

Religions are always postponing life: they are giving you beautiful illusions about life somewhere in the future, far away, beyond death. That is a strategy to divert and distract you from the realities of life. That is pure cowardice. It is also a rationalization so that you can be consoled: ’If life is miserable today there is nothing to be worried about, tomorrow everything is going to be well. In fact, to suffer life today is a preparation for enjoying life tomorrow, so the more you suffer the better.

There is no reason to complain, no reason to rebel, no reason to revolt against all those things which are causing misery.’ Religion protects the establishment and the vested interests. It is a very subtle strategy – so subtle that for thousands of years man has lived under its weight without ever becoming aware of what is being done to him. Karl Marx is almost right: that religion is nothing but opium for the people. It keeps you drugged, it keeps you hoping, waiting – and the tomorrow never comes. Desiring, fantasizing about life after death is a sheer waste of time, energy, and also it keeps you stupid.

Life is here now – there is no other life. Life knows no past, no future, it knows only the present.

Zen

  • Zen is living life in its totality, here, now.
  • It is one of the fundamental revolution.
  • It cuts the very roots of the so-called religious structure of the mind.
  • It is not religion, it is pure religiousness.
  • It is not oriented in the past, it is not inspired by the past – it has no goal in the future either
  • It is living your life passionately, intensely, ecstatically this very moment.
  • It is a jump into the very thick of life. And life surrounds you within and without. Don’t wait for the next moment, live it now.
  • It is the greatest flowering of human consciousness yet achieved.

Zen is not a religion, not an ideology, it is not a philosophy, it is living in an existential way, not in an intellectual way.

Source:

Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing – OSHO

Talks given from 27/12/80 am to 10/01/81,  English Discourse series

World is of the doers…

It is not the critic who counts;
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes short again and again,
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
But who does actually strive to do deeds;
Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who
neither know
Victory nor Defeat.

by,

Theodore Roosevelt