Sunday, May 21, 2017

Is God For Real?

The question, as old as time itself.

The question that has been debated is being discussed and will be discussed in the years to come.

Though it must be acknowledged that the concept of God had lost its power and the hold on the masses with advancing years.

If I were to draw a graph, the curse of being an engineer by profession, it would be like this.


Prosecution:


People, particularly those who want to be at the helm of affairs have always been manipulative. And nothing allows you to hold on to, and grow more, power than a well-engineered myth.

The term “put the fear of God into him” does have some ancient inclinations as to  how it must have started.

Let’s take an example.

When concepts and ideas do not make sense, simple explanations, anecdotes or examples and simulations help in greater understanding.

Let us select, at random, one of the Ten Commandments.

Thou shall not kill.

Etymologically it could be confusing.

If masses were murdered in war, it was not killing.

If a king or a judge ordered that a person’s life be extinguished, it is not “kill”
The ancient civilisations lived peacefully, far away from each other, rarely coming in contact and probably never understood the need for the word “kill”

Probably their language, if they had a spoken language, did not even have the word.

A chance encounter between two unrelated individuals would have ended in curiosity, caution and going about their way.

At some point in time. Someone must have come across the idea of “ruling” his/her subjects.

Most probably a lazy one, who did not want to toil like others.

Most inventions belong to the physically lax ones.

How do you make people do what you tell them, why should they do it?

Once the rule is established, the subsequent events unfold predictably. Continuity is something humans latch onto with alacrity.

The first ruler had to be a genius. It is my belief that the first ruler must have resorted to dark powers, the power of the night, demons and banshees so to say, as fear is an integral part of the ruling. You can’t rule a free spirit. You need to have it chained, constantly looking over their shoulders in terror. No one would have given in easily to authority unless if the life of that individual and the others associated were in great peril or, worse still, were to become unbearable. The first ruler must have devised ingenious ways to convince his/her future subjects to listen to him/her. What would herald complete submission? That the self-appointed ruler is the “chosen one”. He/she must have been vetted by a mysterious entity. The first requisite for such a mysterious entity is that everything about that entity has to be surrounded in mystery. 

What is understood is never scary.

You know how a plane flies, even if you do not know the complete engineering behind it, the thrust of the powerful engines, draft, the aerodynamics, the adjustable flaps on the wings, the minute adjustments that the pilot continuously makes all through the flight, the fact that thousands board and alight safely is often enough. It is true, that you do have cases like MH 370, but then the science of probability convinces you it is still safe. Because you know how a plane functions, or you have enough data to prove flying is not a one way journey, you confidently board a plane, read your kindle, eat and drink up the free liquor and alight. No mysteries.

And the best way to accelerate this process is to go about inventing that entity.

So, the first ruler painted a picture of a mysterious nocturnal being, it had to be nocturnal, day-light brings clarity, that is prowling the woods, ready to jump on you, tear your limbs apart, sank its fangs in your throat, drank up your blood, feasted on your flesh, while you are still alive, inflicting on you unbearable agony, and the squeamish would be ready to throw in the towel.

The ruler then had to demonstrate that such a dark entity does indeed move about and had to create a few victims to prove its existence. This must have been the first “kill”. Having established a dark entity and sown the fear in the minds of the subjects, making them listen to the antidote should have been fairly simple. The creator of the myth could easily control its actions too. A complete elimination would have led to disobedience. So, even after full submission and complete control the ruler would have still unleashed violence in sporadic bursts to keep the subjects on edge. Any pattern would have been a disaster. It had to be a random event.

A dark power could not be a “god”. Unless you are a cult that is labelled as Satan worshipper. The “God” must have been created to counter the dark force. A second myth to control the first myth.A “god” without the demon to take care of would be similar to a world class goalkeeper facing a team with no forwards. What does he get to save if there are no goal scorers?

Once this pattern is established, control gained, the rest is, as it was, mere history. Subsequent rulers increase the stranglehold and gained better control.

If two such societies lived away from each other, and were never in contact, and each developed their own versions of, first the demons, then the Gods, and if they happened to meet, either by chance, or by the avarice of one leader to expand, a clash would have been inevitable.

The stronger of the two tribes would have succeeded, taken in the conquered tribe as their subjects, and their God would have been conquered too. Now emerged a new society with two sets of subjects and one God, old to some and new to some. Suppression would be the new word to the language and suppression would elicit more “kills”.

The act of taking the life of a subject of the conqueror by the conquered would have been labelled as a “kill” while the same act if the subject were that of the conquered, would have labelled as “justice”.

All, in the name of God.

The power of the Gods would have vacillated.

Advancing years, greater understanding of the world, better control over the elements, greater reliance of our own capabilities, and the opportunity to question without the threat of being killed all must have led to the current state where a general belief in God is diminishing.

We understand. We think. We can predict. We can control. We can create. We can destroy.

All characteristics once associated with the God are now ours.

A Zlatan Ibrahimović in awe of a Eric Cantona grows up to be an all-powerful footballer and one day gets to stand in Old Trafford, basking in the glory, knowing that Manchester United now depends on him to deliver, finally gets the courage to say “I am the king”. Cantona still hangs around, but is not revered, nor feared.

Getting back to the starting point of this discussion, the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” which was an absolute command once, became muddled according to interpretation and finally reduced to just a pigment of someone’s imagination.

In today’s world of science, it gets to be difficult to believe that there could be a God, who is pulling strings from some remote place, orchestrating all events. The events defy logic; the end game does not appear to make any sense. The whole concept of create, allow it to fall apart, destroy completely (Kalyug) and restart from scratch, play on endlessly does not make any sense. A poor business model. We, today have a compelling need for evidence. In the absence of the same a God is as likely as a speaking horse.


Defence:

While the prosecution is on a strong ground asking for proof, the defence has to rely on the “why”rather than the “how”of it.

It is all attractive and intellectually stimulating to picture the scenarios above thrashing the concept of God.

It all started with a need to control, to laze around, to benefit from someone else’s labor, yada yada.

There is one glitch though!

All through the history, in all those years when information exchange was not what it is today, where most people lived their whole life and died without ever knowing what had happened even 100 kms from where they spent their whole life, it is difficult to imagine a world-wide conspiracy where similar approaches were put into practice.

There are multiple ways to gain control, and it is rather difficult to assume that people disconnected from one another, all over the world, in various climates and terrain, all resorted to one methodology of “dark forces- fear of life – a savior God – anointed leader” approach to rule.

It is almost impossible, even in today’s ultra-connected world, to pull off a scam on a global scale with any possibility of a success. Some thing would not gel, some would be a whistle-blower, a leak would happen, someone would screw-up a vital part of the execution in one part of the world.

If pulling off a global scam is not possible today, how this would have been possible in all those yesteryear.

VW could not hold on to its tampering with emission results. Even if VW was in collusion with GM, Toyota, Chrysler and Peugeot chances are that sooner or later someone would pull the plug and the whole scam comes out in the open.

If we draw a parallel, then the various communities around the world, the pagans, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Jains at various stages in history all had an elaborate scheme that was working so well that, even though they fought with each other on occasions, they never once exposed the other.

The battles were always on who was bigger and more powerful and never if one was an outright charlatan.

One can go back and touch on the Roman and Greek Gods to simply stand dumbstruck.

And matching literature, massive monuments, references everywhere, coherent story-line, a comprehensive philosophy of living, a mind boggling treasure of manuscripts recording miracles, methods, punishments, justice all collectively so vast it is certain to say the whole thing could not have been a scam.

And hence,……………it had to be true.

Proving by negation may not be extremely appealing, but even modern day science has many established methods of proving only be absence.

You test your blood for HIV and the result is negative, it proves that you are healthy, at least from the dreaded HIV.

The same science that had taught us to relentlessly pursue proof also taught us to never believe in coincidences.

If all the groups in the world, at various times, and in various places, unconnected to each other, had developed the same methodology as a means for controlling, it would rate as the biggest coincidence, EVER!


Conclusion:

So, is God for real?

My personal belief is immaterial here.

At the end of evaluating the prosecution and defence's arguments, to be honest, in the name of God (pun intended) I do not have a clue.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Face The World (Notes for the emerging youth)

Do something funny
Do something stupid
Do something dangerous
But never do something
That you will regret one day!

Tell funny tales
Regale with good jokes
Recommend books that are outrageously hilarious
But never make a joke
At the expense of someone.



Say good about someone
Say nice things, even to a stranger
Say most things with a smile
But never say a word that
Is going to hurt someone.

Live your life with humility
Live your life in continuous awe
Live your life to the full
But never live your life
That is another person’s dream.

When someone talks to you , pay attention.
When someone asks for help, give without hesitation.
When someone criticises you, listen
When things hurt you, don’t hold the tears back, cry
When something makes you happy, celebrate
When you set your heart on something, never rest.
But when someone insults you
Walk away with a smile.

The world owes you nothing.
Don’t sit and fret
You owe the world one thing.

Leave it slightly better than how you found it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Exam Fever




I gave my final exams of my school in 1982.

My son will finish his exams in a few days, a gap of 35 years separating our pivotal moment in life.


I fill most of my blogs with events from my life, often exaggerated, and with what I observe around me.

As I watched my son going through the preparatory stages and the actual ordeal of the exams themselves, I was transported to how I handled mine 35 years ago, and I was taken aback at the differences.

Read on.

1982:

The whole year was crammed with non-stop activities by the school to ensure that you always stayed in touch with your subjects and exams.

There were the monthly tests, the surprise tests (that are usually announced a week before 😃), Quarterly exams, half-yearly exams, mock tests and the much awaited “Study Holidays”

In 1982 I did not know the meaning of the word oxymoron, even if someone had mentioned that word, I would have thought it to be a higher grade of a moron, but of all the oxymoron I have come across none is better than Study Holidays!

It was about a month long!

If the year in preparation had been a marathon, this period was a 100 m dash.

And the organisation was quite elementary!

30 days and 6 subjects.

So 5 days to each subject.

The order was not relevant. What mattered was that I covered the first exam subject as the sixth and last during the study holidays.

We studied all day and most nights.

I had an uncle who told me that the early morning was the best time to study. 

My brother told me that late night was the most ideal. Another piece of advice was to stagger the timing.

Study, read some comics, play outside, sleep a little and then study again.

Now I realise that everyone suggested to me what they tried (and failed at)

I remember studying mostly during the nights well into early morning hours.

It had two advantages. No one disturbed you during the night. And if I slept during the day, everyone thought I had studied the previous night.

The state board syllabus and the structure of the examinations tested your ability to rote learn. If you could memorise vast amount of material, and remember to reproduce at the right place within the given time you topped your class, district, state, etc….

Application oriented studies was not common then.

It was hard but not a matter of life and death.

In addition to that I was not distracted by
  • Computers
  • Internet
  • Mobile phone
  • Tablets
  • Whatsapp
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • American and French elections
  • Climate change
  • Cow worship / mafia
  • YouTube
  • Television
  • Twitter

The only two possible distractions were
  • Newspaper
  • Radio

And no one played the Radio in the house when I was studying for the finals.

And newspaper was an enigma! It was bought, kept neatly folded, and at the end of the month sold to an old man who came and collected the papers weighing on a balance that was more crooked than the one the lady in the court holds.

I never understood this enterprise. This was for me a clear charity. Buy at full value, sell at 1/10th after never using the product.

Fast forward to 2017.

Jesus Freaking Christ!

My son withdrew from social life a good 14 months ago.

The family built a home and moved residence and he did not even know. For him it was simply he slept at residence A on 28th and residence B on 29th.

Usually miserly in conversations, he became more miserly.

Words replaced sentences, mumbling sounds replaced words, gestures replaced mumbling sounds, a glance replaced gestures and suddenly like the cat in Alice in Wonderland, he was just present for a while and retreated to his kingdom.

His room resembled a minefield. You were scared to enter lest you disturb something, and having entered you had to navigate your way, as if on a minefield, through the mere 5 meters from the door to his study corner.

You usually scared him, as he was always with his headphones on.

It was nerve wrecking to sit in the hall and listen to various sounds that emanated from behind his closed doors.

  • Thud.
  • Curse
  • Shriek.
  • Footsteps.
  • Loud Noises.
  • Long monologues.
  • Metronomic banging (what against what was never clear)
  • And the worst sound of them all
  • ………………..silence.

He finished talking to his family and relatives on the Christmas Day in 2016.

Being an art student, there was nothing one could do to help him. His syllabus was strange and his methods stranger.

And the school, which made me doubt if they were actually licensed to teach in all the preceding years, suddenly appeared to have tightened up as if to make up for the lax displayed before.

I initially did not mind much, thinking this could be the difference between Europe and India.

One day he showed me his program.

It was more a pogrom.

The regular readers of mine have always blamed me for exaggerating.

Look at this.

And it is not a typo showing two breakfast. It was two breakfasts. Lunch consumes more time. Sorry. No time.

Most days unfolded like this.

A tentative knock, a pause, peek into the room and “ hello, could we talk for a minute?”

A startled look, nearly having jumped from his seat, and a vigorous shake of his head accompanied with frantic gestures and a “later, during the break” with a dismissive head nod or a hand chop.

We are so used to having someone loiter in the house, stamp around, move from one room to another, switch on lights, soliloquise and wake you up at closer to four in the morning to tell you to wake him at 0930, that once he leaves for his university we would not even stir if a band of burglars broke into our home.

The breaks mentioned in the pogrom were filled with multitasking.

Laptop open on facebook, with seven message windows popped up, food plate in front of him, music on his headphones and either the Guardian and John Oliver on his mobile.

The silver lining to this dark cloud is “I will come biking/trekking with you once the exams are over”

Which is three days away.


But, in all probability, I would need to start with introducing myself.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

TED talks for inspiration ?

He was 26.

She was 24.

They had just married.

A bride would expect the new home all to the two of them, to start a new beginning, to get to know each other, give into some fantasies and above all cherish the privacy that a newly-wed needed.

She walked into a home with 7 kids.

The man “inherited” the 7 kids from his two sisters who had died rather prematurely, both widows when they died.

It was not a marriage in the conventional sense, it was more a financial arrangement to augment the income to feed the hungry mouths.

He could have walked away from the problem, disowned the “inheritance”, the kids could have been left to the mercies of the circumstances.

He did not.

She could have chosen
  • Not to enter such a marriage
  • Or after marrying, poisoned his mind and threw the kids away.
  • Or, could have ill-treated them.

The 7 kids would have all lost their faith in humanity and not realised the meaning of the word humility.

She did not do that either.

Together they gave the kids life and love and purpose.

In between they found time to have 4 kids of their own, undaunted by the additional responsibility, or probably emboldened with the practice of bringing up the seven.

Together they felt their hearts swell with pride as one kid after the other grew up, took root, made a life of their own.

Together they withstood the calamity of losing their fourth kid to meningitis, then still un-treatable.

Together they grew old, witnessing the perfect 10 grow up and become independent.

Each one gaining independence meant a reduction on their purse strings and the responsibility.

Must have been a relief, but they started to feel “incomplete” as if an integral part of them drifted away.

This man and his wife are responsible for the life of about 60 people today.

Still counting…..

He left behind no fortune, no assets when he died.

But the combined wealth of these 60 people and their very existence is priceless.

She commands affection and respect that no money can buy.

And the two of them never once shouted in their life, never raised their voice, never disrespected another soul.

He was my father.

She is my mother.

You do not need YouTube searches or TED talks for inspiration.

Am certain each one of us have similar stories.

Look. Learn. Live.