How does increase in cultural homogenization affect self-identity?
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Why do we do anything? Why do we want anything? What leads to our actions or inactions? What makes us social? Why do we compromise? Some say that human life is driven by fear. It is fascinating how society functions and how many variations there are of society. However, the core of human nature is the same all over the world. In my observations, our social lives are highly influenced by three distinct fears -LLP:
1. Fear of Loneliness
2. Fear of Effort (Laziness)
3. Fear of the Unknown (Predictability)
Evolutionary biology tells us that a desire to procreate and to self-preserve dictate a lot of our behavior. I think the modern world is much more complex. Reliance on another human is being replaced by commercial goods and services. Time is our most limited resource and it is primarily consumed to earn money and/or to satisfy our senses. Is that all there is? Let's see how LLP plays a role in our daily social lives:
1. Loneliness: It is really hard for us to sit alone in a room and do nothing. Try it and see if you last more than five minutes. Loneliness can be very painful. It makes you think about the meaninglessness of life. Comfortableness with nothingness is probably the hardest thing to achieve for a human. We look at our phones constantly or watch TV or drink wine or eat food or read, etc., but it is really hard to do nothing. Why do we seek attention on social media? Why are we exchanging messages or pictures all the time? It is to escape loneliness. People have friendships and relationships, which lack mutual respect because people would rather be with somebody than nobody. Human relationships are complex and difficult so many people choose a relationship with a pet rather than with a person. A much easier way to escape loneliness! There are 75M+ pet dogs and 80M+ pet cats in the US. We spend ~8 hours per day looking at screens (TV, phone, laptop, etc.). Why can't we be alone?
2. Laziness: We tend to avoid physical and mental effort. It is much easier to read a tweet than a policy paper. It is much easier to buy a lottery ticket than to find ways of making money, which require a lot of hard work and risk. Some people tend to stay in romantic relationships when all the love and romance is gone because it is a lot of work to date and find someone else. Why do we like TV? Because it is a medium that requires no mental or physical energy and we get entertainment. Reading a book requires much more mental energy. We tend to follow what society expects of us without questioning and making up our mind about issues because thinking is a lot of work. Geroge Bernard Shaw famously said, "Few people think more than two or three times a year. I've made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week."
3. Predictability: We like our whole life to be planned and everything to go as we plan. We want to know what the weather will be tomorrow, and if it does not turn out to be as sunny as forecasted, we get upset. People stay in jobs that they find miserable because it is predictable. Going to a new company or doing something else would require dealing with the unknown. Psychic services is a multi-billion dollar industry. We like to plan the future of our children. Stock markets run on predictability. We choose our life partners based on their predictable behavior. Would you marry someone, who does not behave predictably? Ironically, we are a product of the random selection of genes.
Loneliness, Laziness, and Predictability are interconnected with Loneliness being the biggest fear. Sometimes, we put effort (not being lazy) into a relationship (to escape loneliness) to have a relationship that lasts forever (predictability).
Sunday, January 15, 2017
|Representation of human spirit?|
But whether the visage we assume be a joyful or a sad one, in adopting and emphasizing it we define our sovereign temper. Henceforth, so long as we continue under the spell of this self-knowledge, we do not merely live but act; we compose and play our chosen character, we wear the buskin of deliberation, we defend and idealize our passions, we encourage ourselves eloquently to be what we are, devoted or scornful or careless or austere; we soliloquize (before an imaginary audience) and we wrap ourselves gracefully in the mantle of our inalienable part. So draped, we solicit applause and expect to die amid a universal hush. We profess to live up to the fine sentiments we have uttered, as we try to believe in the religion we profress. The greater our difficulties the greater our zeal. Under our published principles and plighted language we must assiduously hide all the inequalities of our mood and conduct, and this without hypocrisy, since our deliberate character is more truly ourself than is the flux of our involuntary dreams. The portrait we paint this way and exhibit as our true person may well be in the grand manner, with column and curtain and distant landscape and finger pointing to the terrestrial globe or to the Yorick-skull of philosophy; but if this style is native to us and our art is vital, the more it transmutes its model the deeper and truer art it will be. The severe bust of an archaic sculpture, scarcely humanizing the block, will express the spirit far more justly than the man's dull morning looks or casual grimaces. Everyone who is sure of his mind, or proud of his office, or anxious about his duty assumes a tragic mask. He deputes it to be himself and transfers to it all its vanity. While still alive in subject, like all existing things, to the undermining flux of his own substance, he has crystallized his soul into an idea, and more in pride than in sorrow he has offered up his life on the altar of the Muses. Self-knowledge, like any art or science, renders its subject-matter in a new medium, the medium of ideas, in which it loses its old dimension and its old place. Our animal habits are transmuted by conscience into loyalties and duties, and we become "person" or masks.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Last month, I was in Victoria, BC, to attend a workshop on Awareness based on teachings of my favorite philosopher, Krishnamurti (K). The workshop was held at the Krishnamurti Education Center of Canada. It is a beautiful and calm place, perfect for introspection. Following are my random notes from the workshop:
1. What drives our actions? The general understanding is that thought drives action. Hence, we try to control our thoughts with meditation. The idea is that if you control your thoughts then you will control your actions and if you control your actions then you will be happy. Everybody is looking for happiness and the cause for happiness or unhappiness is thought. However, K says that what you think is result of the state of your mind. And, the state of mind is influenced by one's unconscious. So what one thinks is caused by one's unconscious and thought becomes the effect and not the cause of one’s actions.
2. The Mind, which always wants to satisfy senses, overindulges in pleasures. Why is it that animals don't overeat? They listen to their bodies. Humans listen to their mind more than they listen to their bodies.
3. Social conditioning influences how you satisfy your senses. Some societies prefer beer and others prefer wine. Some like frog legs and others like lentils.
4. The morning is the best time to get in touch with your unconscious because during sleep the unconscious is active and the conscious is resting. In the morning, a conscious mind is not fully active and that is an opportunity to tap into the unconsciousness. During the day, conscious takes control over unconscious.
5. Consciousness is what we are aware of i.e. it has content (e.g. thought and knowledge). Pure consciousness is without knowledge. K says that you need this pure state of consciousness to see things as they really are.
6. K's meditation is to observe thoughts. See how the mind transitions from one thought to another. The observation should occur without knowledge and interpretation. This observation slows down the conscious mind and gives the ability to tap the unconscious.
[My question was how does the mind observe itself i.e. there is no separation between the observer and the observee. Apparently, that is when you find The Truth or God when the observer and the observee are one]
7. To understand self, one has to let the mind be in the raw form i.e. no conditioning.
8. Exercise: To slow down the mind, lie down and exhale deeply. Don't worry about inhaling, it will happen automatically. After ten minutes of deep exhales, observe your thoughts.
9. Awareness is consciousness without interpretation i.e. pure consciousness.
10. At physiological and psychological levels all humans are the same. Different conditioning makes us different and creates social or imagined boundaries among humans.
11. "Life is changing." This statement is a conclusion that most people have drawn. Any conclusion about life is dangerous because it obstructs observation. Don't form the conclusion. People tend to start repeating the conclusion and stop discovery.
12. Exercise: Sit at a quiet and comfortable place and write down any questions that come to your mind for half an hour. Don't think about the questions, just keep on writing whatever is coming to your mind. With this exercise, the mind gets cleaned because it has to face itself and you get deeper into your unconscious.
13. At the end of an intense physical or mental activity there is a moment of silence in the mind.
14. When the body is relaxed, it is easier to observe the mind.
15. Meditation is choiceless awareness or thoughtless awareness. With meditation, the mind is aware at the moment.
16. Meditation is not trying to still the mind or seek concentration or focus. When you focus on something, your mind is in conflict because it fights with things you don't want to focus on. A mind in conflict can never be calm.
17. Conscious mind either suppresses or indulges.
18. Meditation is not something you do. Even trying to be aware is not meditation. Just being aware is meditation and not becoming aware.
19. Love = The Truth = Beauty = God
20. Who I am is a product of my thought. The thinker tries to change the thought that created it. How does thought change thought?
[I did not quite get this. Of course, thought can change thought. A person who is product of a society and can change society, etc.]
21. Exercise: No mind meditation. Speak gibberish for an hour. Get louder as time passes by. The idea is to let the unconscious come out because language comes from the conscious mind and when you speak a language the conscious mind is active. Basically, make random sounds without thinking anything. After an hour, lie down and observe the mind.
22. There are always conflicts in our consciousness.
23. Chanting calms the mind and the body because of the vibrations it creates.
24. Most of us are intellectually trained. Society wants only the intellectual output and not the total output that includes emotion and body.
25. Why a part of me, the intellect, has become supreme? It dictates everything - morality, virtue, daily life, etc. Why is the intellect so important in our life?
26. We live in the past or the future and never in the present.
27. The intellect is an isolating process. It creates the idea of I. We start thinking in terms of my this and my that. It creates a separation between me and everyone else.
28. I know nothing but the past. There is security in the past because it is certain. The dissatisfaction of the past is the hope for the future. The intellect creates the security in the past and hope in the future. That is why it dominates everything including emotions.
29. When we like something, we want to repeat that experience and want to have permanence in the experience. E.g I had a glass of wine I like. I must have it again. Or, I have a car for the last ten years so I must have it forever.
30. We live in the center created by the intellect. It is a self-perpetuating center. And, it is all about me. How do we break from this center?
31. Can we live in harmony among emotion, body, and intellect? The idea of harmony is not somewhere in the future. It is harmony now. With harmony, there is no conflict among body, emotion, and intellect (reason). You live as a whole.
32. If you make an effort then the intellect is driving it. With awareness, there is no directive or effort.
33. When you look at things through the intellect there is justification, condemnation, etc. When you look at things in harmony, there is no judgement, condemnation, etc.
34. Control has become important in our lives. We want the body, emotion, and intellect to follow certain direction. Don't resist. Just be aware. It is the awareness that can create harmony.
35. Harmonious life is possible by observing with attention. What you are observing is not important.
36. Joy is different than pleasure. Joy is in the present and is beyond senses and pleasure is sensual and wants to be repeated.