To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

~My Photo Blog~

  ...Worth a Thousand Words

Thursday, January 31, 2002
I've often wondered if there's a connection between reality and belief, as some pychologists seem to say. Here's a quote that offers some dope --

"Another commonly heard defense of paranormal claims goes like this: `Reality is relative. If I decide to believe in astrology, then it becomes real in my own reality and works for me.' In other words, belief determines the structure of reality. An extreme version of this rather silly position is held by parapsychologists who try to explain their critics' repeated failures to find any evidence confirming the existence of ESP (extrasensory perception) by saying that the critics don't believe the phenomenon to be real and, therefore, for the critics, it isn't. We'll see that a much better explanation is that the critics conduct better, more tightly controlled experiments than do the believers. In any event, this position that belief determines reality puts its proponents in a rather unpleasant position. In Nazi Germany millions of people really believed that Jews were sub-human. If belief determines reality, then the belief must really have been true. This is an absurd position and those who hold that belief determines reality have never bothered to think their notion through to the repellent consequences of its logical conclusions. The point is that truth is independent from belief. When the proponents of a pseudoscientific claim maintain that belief determines reality, it's a safe bet that they can't prove their point using legitimate rules of evidence. The examples of the witch delusion and the Nazi horrors show the great damage done by the uncritical acceptance of pseudoscientific claims. Both might have been avoided if the public had been educated in critical scientific thinking and had simply asked, `What evidence is there that what you are telling me is really true?' "
--Terence Hines

More skeptics' quotes
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Happy Republic Day !!
Friday, January 25, 2002
A battle lost…….but will the war be won?

Fear of the unknown and untried is inherent in all of us; the difference being that some conquer the fear at one time or the other, and some don't.

I was never a public speaker. Only once before I had been forced to make a speech. Never after that, that is, until yesterday.

Since a week ago, I had been preparing and plotting for yesterday. I tried not to think of all the things that could go wrong, instead, concentrated on how I would perform, if everything should go right. The fact that the subject of the presentation was left to my choice, helped and helped a lot.

Whether I'm a tame and uninterested observer or an animated and spontaneous contributor, in any conversation or discussion, depends entirely on the subject. I was into this little secret and thought it would work to my advantage.

I also believed that, even though I might not fall in love with the audience and woo them on sight, as long as I was in love with the subject, I could make them interested in my plight.

The day dawned and evening couldn't hurry soon enough for me. I was eager to get it over with. I had somehow got over my nerves and felt rather reassured and confident. Perhaps the good wishes that came my way had something to do with it. I remember a time in my childhood, when it was something of a ritual; my mother would come upto the doorstep to wish me luck before I left for an exam. At that moment I would feel confident of taking on any task.

But to get on......the evening finally did make an appearance. My friend was the first speaker. She dealt with her subject so sensitively and expressed it so beautifully, displayed such a humility of spirit and an empathy for those affected, that most of us in the audience couldn't help but be impressed. Since I personally identified with her topic too, I felt a further surge of emotion.

But the unfortunate part is, my confidence at this point zoomed down. The next speaker, I walked up to the mike. I began and after going on for two minutes, stopped. My mind went blank and I couldn't say a word.

I took a deep breath and referred to my sheet. I then started from where I left off and went straight ahead. The five minutes finally over, I waited for the comments and questions.

When it was time for the judges to speak, they all expressed wonderment at the fact that I could be so nervous and uncomfortable during the course of my talk, and then as suddenly, display such marvellous confidence and spirit while responding to queries. It was as if I had been gulping down a bitter concoction and felt better, once I was through with it. Only later had they realized, how deeply I was moved by and conversant with my topic.

I know things could have gone differently but I don't think that would have been best for me. Imagine I hadn't stopped, had finished without event, answered all my queries and happily left the scene. I would have thanked my lucky stars that I had not lost my head or given way to nerves. Next time, I would have prayed for the same happy set of combinations, but still wondered if something would go wrong.

Now, I don't fear. I know the worst that can happen and also know I can pull through. Like one of the judges said, "What I liked most was the sportive manner in which you took hold of the situation and moved on, not laying down your guns". Sporting, me? Before yesterday, I would have thought, "hardly".

Also, now I understand better what is meant by that saying, "Failure is a stepping stone to success". If you fail once, you try harder whereas those who succeed, just think they are smarter.

I'm glad I got this opportunity to learn. The next time, I'll be more than eager for my turn ! (Wish me luck !).

Tuesday, January 22, 2002
What oft was thought but never so well expressed !

Eternity of Love protested
----by Thomas Carew

HOW ill doth he deserve a Lovers name,
Whose pale weak flame
Cannot retain
His heat in spight of absence or disdain;
But doth at once, like paper set on fire,
Burn and expire;
True love can never change his seat,
Nor did he ever love, that could retreat.

That noble flame, which my brest keeps alive,
Shall still survive,
When my soule's fled;
Nor shall my love dye, when my bodye's dead,
That shall wait on me to the lower shade,
And never fade:
My very ashes in their urn,
Shall, like a hallowed Lamp, for ever burn.

Saturday, January 19, 2002
It's not a laughing matter, being born................anyways, I was and on this day.........a poem sums it up for me.......

"I'm sorry you are wiser, I'm sorry you are taller;
I liked you better foolish, and I liked you better smaller."
--Aline Murray Kilmer

Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Ghost Stories

There's something about ghost stories -- they can be terrifying and exciting at the same time. A few days back, when I was going through ghost story links on the net (in connection with work !); I was reminded of my childhood days.

Back then we kids would exhaust ourselves all evening with games and play, and when it was dark, we would huddle around in some corner and discuss ghost stories. Each of us would have the most outrageous thing to relate and when our imagination was exhausted, we would use real material.

White haired old ladies passing by us were our prime targets. I'm glad none of the tales we cooked up ever reached their ears. We might have successfully speeded them to their graves and created a real ghost into the bargain.

In one of our more creative ghost story sessions the tension reached crackling point, so much so, that one of us actually jumped up and ran. The rest of us were quick to panic and follow suit. The next day we couldn't help laughing over our foolishness, though at the same time we had to admit it was fun.

When I have one of my crazy ideas, I can't help sharing it, especially with someone who's likely not to think of it as crazy ! I just asked a friend if he should like the idea of a cold, wintry night, the lights gone, wind blowing outside and a group of us friends huddled around a candleflame in a corner of the house; doing what? spinning ghost stories !

I for one would very much enjoy such an evening (more than most things and as long as there's no real ghost to contend with !) .....

By the by, for those who can't resist ghost stories, The Lady With The Emerald Ring, looked like a decent one to me (not too spooky).....and here's a whole lot of them.....
Friday, January 11, 2002
Train Travails

I like to carry a book everyday. No, it's got nothing to do with omens. Quite a practical reason, actually. I hope to entertain myself with it while commuting by train. But the hope, for the most part, remains a hope.

In the mornings and late evenings, the entire city seems to be headed towards some common destination; some can't get there fast enough (sadly, they reach a different destination altogether). The general rush and push that marks those hours at the railway station may well resemble some madman's dream.

Luckily for me, I don't have to travel in those busy hours, but even so, there's no avoiding the hustle and bustle.

But to get back to my book and why I never manage to open it in the train. The fact of the matter is, I postpone one pleasure in favour of another (For those who would watch a circus or spend time at the zoo, I cannot recommend better entertainment). Real characters and real scenes grapple so much for my attention, that there’s nothing to do but oblige them.

Sometimes a beggar child will crawl around wearing his most despondent expression, at which particular moment, all eyes will suddenly look out of the window admiring the anatomy of some distant tree, or become obsessively engrossed with the dullest object in the vicinity.

Sometimes the women next to you will start gossiping animatedly or exchanging confidences. You strain yourself as if every word were worth its weight in gold. The suspense will build up and when you just cannot hold your breath any longer (nor let it out, lest it explode); well, it will be time for you to go. You will try to prolong every minute hoping to catch in a word or two that will allay some of the suspense, but no, absolutely no hope, and you wonder what the point was, going through a book only to find the last chapter missing.

At times, you yourself will get caught up in a scene (unbeknown to you, ofcourse). Reminds me of the last time I was.

One afternoon I was munching on my lunch in the train (as I do sometimes, though I must say I don't relish the prospect nor the food at those times). The woman next to me (say woman A) started fidgeting and muttering to herself. I noticed her strange behaviour and quickly labelled her as one of those characters (you know those?). After a while, her frowning and fretting attracted glances from those around us.

The woman sitting opposite me (say woman B), suddenly commanded me to trade places with her. I was more than happy to comply. But I wasn't prepared for the arguments and abuses that erupted between the two women and least of all for the cause: me (!!).

Woman B wanted to know why woman A was acting so funny and strange and making it impossible for me to eat in peace. Woman A didn't care to address this point, instead, she wanted to know what the other women thought she was doing by barking at her. All this while woman B was throwing sympathetic glances at me, as if to say "I'm on your side and we'll fight it out together".

I decided to myself that both women were, as a friend of mine would have put it, "wacked in the head" and left it at that.

Reading a book is one matter and appreciating a play another -- but its quiet a different ballgame -- getting mixed up with the characters !!

Monday, January 07, 2002
Matter Of Belief

There are certain things I very much care to know about people; not all people, only those whom I come a lot in contact with or those who interest me for one reason or another.

The first is the sun sign, second is belief in a higher power. There are of course, third, fourth, fifth and a number of other things but for the present, I don't intend to discuss them.

It is not an uncommon question these days: "Do you believe in astrology?" There are those who will say they believe in it and those who will say they don't (as if it were a matter of personal faith). Of course, some will merely say a "can't say", but these I think are the kind of people who cannot be trusted to have an opinion on any matter whatsoever.

What I find funny is that no one will ever ask if there is anything in astrology worth the believing. Those who are on its side are happy enough with the goods it delivers (or I presume they would have changed parties) and those who are on the other side can't imagine how anyone could entertain the absurd idea that a planet somewhere in the heavens can make you sad and morose here.

I for one could do with knowing how, ie, if the poor planet actually is the unfortumate cause.

To this day I haven't learnt but that is not to say I have stopped trying. For the most part, so I like to think, it's fun and no harm done. But I can't deny it's beginning to have a subtle (or maybe not so subltle) influence on me. The moment someone says that he or she belongs to the star sign Gemini or Libra or say, Aries, I'm visibly dissapointed (especially if I was particularly keen on the person). I also tend to observe an emotional distance after digesting this little piece of information. And conversely, If I learn the person is a Taurean or Scorpion or Piscean, it's difficult not to feel a certain warmth towards the angelic creature. I tell myself it's this compatibility thing, it's written in the stars and you can't deny the way it is.

Men who know about my star sign fetish sometimes like to know what I think about their star sign. Someone once happened to ask me the question "so what do you think of Aries men? ' I couldn't stop myself from saying 'I don't think about them'. Needless to say, he was very much put out.

My second question is never treated lightly. Most people know where they are going here (I'm quite clueless). Some have no doubts in the existence of a supreme authority, they're lucky enough to have all questions answered and are all the more happier for it. Some equally vehemently deny the existence of God. Infact, they cannot possibly imagine a God quietly sitting in the heavens and directing our moves like a smart chess player. The very idea seems to defy practical thought (so they say).

I wouldn't know either ways. My business it is to find out, but here again, I've found nothing.

Neither do I find a quiet assurance within myself that good always prevails over evil, so there must be a God; nor can I accept the extremely scientific idea that we've emerged from slime and will end in it one day.

Nevertheless, when I come upon people who are ready to treat this question as skeptically as I do, again, I cannot help feeling the aforementioned warmth. It's like finding partners in a journey or a common quest; I like to think of it as a quest for 'truth', not what is popularly known or percieved as truth, but the truth we are ready to discover for ourselves.

Maybe it has something to do with the stars..........after all, those with compatible signs are supposed to think alike, aren't they??

Friday, January 04, 2002
Quite often we think of or dream of a remote thing or possibility and all of a sudden, we find our thoughts to be rewarded by reality. Why? Some say it's a coincidence while there are some others who hold (one of them being the noted Psychologist Carl Jung) that it's not just a coincidence -- but a meaningful coincidence (Synchronicity )

It's when one event cannot possibly be the cause of another, but where you still cannot deny the connection between the two. Where the coincidences are connected in such a meaningful way that they seem to defy the calculations of probability.

"...matter and consciousness - far from operating independently of each other--are, in fact, interconnected in an essential way, functioning as complementary aspects of a unified reality. "
Thursday, January 03, 2002
"It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

"I never guess. It is a shocking habit -- destructive to the logical faculty."

.......These are some gems uttered by one of my favourite characters, Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes would see a walking stick and derive the background of its owner. I wouldn't have been more awestruck if he had performed a magical trick. Then he would take us through his deductive and analytical thinking process, step by step, and the wonder would evaporate. From a magician he would become an ordinary (though intelligent) person.

I don't know if my love of reasoning and deducing things has anything to do with my love of Sherlock Holmes or it could equally be vice thing I realised was that the human mind has capacities far greater than what we usually attribute to it and what seems mysterious or strange on first appearance may have a simple explanation to it.

I can't help mentioning one of his philosophical statements here, not because it's one of his philosophical best, but it's one of the things I have been thinking about lately.....

"What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever."

Tuesday, January 01, 2002 a new year begins.