Monday, June 18, 2018

NUTS-SHELLS-NUTSHELLS


1. Do not try to give swimming lessons to drowning persons. Jump in and give a hand if you know swimming: Else, call for help, pray pr shut up!
2. The man who likes to constantly pick up thorns in others will succeed in collecting a basketful of thorns by bed-time. He will require increasing doses of soneryl to sleep.
3. This body of yours is developed out of one cell.
All that happens to one part happens to the whole body and its functions.
4. YOU have come along with your body: But, for a mess of pottage, like Esau, you sell yourself and your car at current market price.
Esau and the mess of pottage - Jan Victors, 1653. Oil on canvas
5. For a few seconds a day behave like a twentieth century scientific man, being accurate and detailed with yourself and your body, rather than like a primitive barbarian uttering unfashionable platitudes about things you personally know little about.
6. The whole of medical terminology like the whole of religious and spiritual terminology requires overhauling.
7. The word "Psycho-somatic" is the deadliest and stupidest of the lot, achieving a fission between psyche and soma with more dreadful consequences than that caused by nuclear fission.
8. The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and speak-no-evil monkeys of the old parable require admission to an institute for the blind, deaf and dumb.
Carving on stable of Tosho-gu Shrine, Japan - MichaelMaggs , Wikimedia Commons
10. Seeing is more important, more fundamental than seeking.

Friday, June 15, 2018

INSTITUTE OF AQUATIC LOCOMOTION FOR FISHES

Fishes were merrily swimming along. One day a strange fish happened to be with them. This fish was for a long time an inmate of the aquarium of the local marine museum, and was, without its own knowing, thoroughly indoctrinated in the methods of science. It also imbibed the wisdom of religious discourses delivered in the same hall which used to be lent out to a local Guru by the Director of the museum who was also a great devotee seeking his true self.

This educated fish, after watching the fishes promiscuously swimming about, asked them what it was they thought they were doing. 'Why, just swimming,’ they answered.

'You fools, that is not swimming. You have not gone to a proper school to realise your full potentialities. People laugh at you and call you silly fish. Better join my institute for Aquatic Locomotion. First of all you had better give up this unseemly rolling about and leaping and diving till you learn the ABC of the affair, unless you want to die as common fish. Also remember that you don't swim on Friday afternoons and don't eat worms on Sunday. Moreover, do not chase a female fish the whole of the fortnight when at the institute. You call it swimming, this unseemly racket you are making!'

Moofushi Kandu, Maldives - Bruno de Giusti. Wikimedia Commons
Quite a large number of fish got thoroughly ashamed of themselves and gave up swimming in order to learn aquatic locomotion; these were just a few; quite a large number secretly indulged in swimming, publicly went into hysterics over their lapses, and joined societies, and formed governments to prohibit uncontrolled and unsanctified swimming. Soon a majority of fishes lost the capacity for natural swimming: they only knew the Australian Crawl and Indian Dive. One or two fishes who were discovered to exhibit traits of swimming were considered abnormal, made to feel ashamed of themselves, were drowned in the beginning but with further civilisation, these were counted, measured as to the degree of this awful abnormality of swimming - naked habit, and all the fishes worked themselves to death raising funds, and donations for an increasing number of institutions of rehabilitation.

Once it was discovered by a very able young fish, with a Ph.D in Aquatic Locomotion and Dyskinesis, and Akinesis, its treatment, management and prevention that accidental exposure of the abnormal fish to contact with an electric eel produced dramatic results - the affected fish could now stand still in shallow water without being a nuisance to anybody. Soon electric eels were in great demand.

As the counting and measuring proceded it was becoming alarmingly clear that all the fish were abnormal.

At this stage it was considered an urgent measure to increase the number of Aquatic Locomotion experts to serve each fish, and the number of abnormalities being inumerable, it was decided that every expert in one abnormality should treat another expert with a different abnormality.

The last I heard on the seashore is that the fishes are having a raging argument as to who is a normal fish.

The aged fish who started the whole affair told them that the time has come for the fishes to ask themselves who they really were. It was felt that this could not be understood in the customary milieu of water and that they should spend at least six months in an year in a Tibetan Monastery far from water. When some of these adventuring fish trying to find who they were died, it was said that they all became Golden Fish invisible to ordinary fishes and could only be seen in vision or by special Grace.

In the midst of this great to do about discovering their real identity, there were a few coral mausoleums where large number of fishes gathered every evening for prayers and meditations. It is believed that one mausoleum was in honour of a great fish who not only swam without going to school, but, audaciously enough proclaimed his philosophy which was 'You are a fish. You just swim!' what a great fish! What simple things he says! It is easy for Him to say all this! But how difficult it really is! I am trying for years, thousands have been trying for years! Only last year my grandfather dies on land dedicating his whole life to know who he is! Such penance! Such austerities! What can I do, a poor ordinary fish! Only thing I can do is to pray to this great Fish to have mercy on me, and at least appear to me in a dream, and that at least in next life I can be a great fish like Him, knowing how to simply swim! But, right now, I am in the midst of this complex world, and how can I just swim, when I have to go to the special classes in swimming wading through knee-deep water, and tomorrow I have to go through one long mile of muddy water to eat worms sold at that place on Sundays, for here you don't sell worms on Sunday. What a horrible life muddling year after year through endless miles of water and I have not learnt the ABC of aquatic locomotion. It is ok for these God-Fishes to swim merrily along. Just fates. Also right now I am having sinful thoughts about that fish in blue fins. This is fate. What Hell we have to go through to reach Heaven!

One or two fishes who thought that being a live fish was good enough have been sent to the centre for juvenile delinquents.

The matter is still under multidisciplinary research. I am glad to tell you that the fishes are having a jolly good time trying to find out who they really are!

***

Monday, May 28, 2018

THANKS GIVING

This is to thank you and you who sowed these thoughts in me and woken me up to new horizons in human health:

Krishna; Buddha; Christ; Ramakrishna; Ramana Maharshi; Krishnamurthi; Alice in Wonderland; Winnie Pooh the bear of little brains; Ivan Illych; Schumacher; Hertzog who scaled the Annapurna; Scott who lies buried in the Antarctic, as a living symbol to show the near irrelevance of Vitamin C to how a human being can behave; Lawrence of Arabia who investigated the question of hunger and thirst and walking barefoot on hot sands; President Kennedy , who with an injured back swam the sea to save fellow-men in utter ignorance of facts like pH values of blood as measured in a hospital bed; Mihir Sen; to the men  who have trained themselves to defy gravity and soar into space; and all those who in their different pursuits gave expression to man's urge to exceed himself, and dared to break through the gravity of professional and doctrinal dissertations on what man can and cannot do - all these and others, who explore the behavioural space of man.

To Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mira who give content and meaning to my work and set me on the road in quest of personal autonomy.


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Saturday, May 26, 2018

WORK, REWARD AND LEARNING

It is well known that in the process of learning, concepts of reward or reinforcement, and withdrawal of reward, or punishment play a crucial part.

The details of the process can be summarised.

Certain actions involving a certain pattern of neural connections produces for the subject a reward which satisfies him, and which induces a readiness to repeat the performance. Here one must carefully observe that the most important element in the process, the man who is conducting the learning experiment, is not in the foreground. But, for a full appreciation of the totality of the process of learning, he has to be pushed into the foreground.

Now, this man called the scientist offers the monkey a banana or stops an electric current, if the monkey succeeds in doing something - work a typewriter, or play the piano, or add two and two. (Obviously, if the whole object of the man, if we may call him thus, was merely to give a banana to the monkey or relieve it from pain of electric shock, simply because he loves the monkey, the whole exercise is useless. What new knowledge arises in such a mutual interaction between the man and the monkey is of another domain.)

What the monkey does in this business is useless for its existence - typing banging the piano and adding two plus two - left to itself without the kind tutorial of this very objective scientist. Therefore, the whole business in the objective science of learning-theories consists of a man who makes the monkey do some things that interest the man, things it would not normally do, using its love of bananas and fear of pain as the palpable intermediary goals for the monkey. The experimenter being an objective phantom does not need any rewards excepting the salary he gets for this business or the thunderous cheers he gets for his thesis from fellow phantoms. Such rewards are not at all stressed out of sheer modesty and scientific humility.

The least obvious aspect is that which happens to the nervous system of the monkey and its teacher. Since the monkey has not yet been taught how to do brain surgery and examine slides, the benevolent objective scientist cuts open the monkey’s brain to go to the roots of the learning process. The teacher, no doubt, is successful in learning the steps of man’s evolutionary descent into ape - its idle and destructive curiosity and its tendency to pull things out to expose the roots.

These, then, are the four cornerstones for the edifice of learning theory: Reward for the subject, reward for the objective scientist, and that which happens to the nervous system of the subject and that which happens to the nervous system of the scientist.

Let me examine the case further:

Just as basically a monkey wants a banana or avoid pain, so does a man, presumably, wants food and wants to avoid starvation. The social experimental situation is thus arranged. A rich man wants a chair. That is his reward. He cannot make a chair. So, he catches hold of a subject who can make a chair. This man and his friends so arrange affairs that the chair maker cannot get food which is his primary aim or reward and unless he produces a chair which is perfectly useless for himself. So far so good. Society organises itself so that everyone is made to produce rewards which he himself does not need in order to get the rewards he needs from the first lot.

Now, let us see what happens if the monkey can hoodwink his teacher, the reward-bestowing God and manages to snatch away a banana which is what it really needs. When the human being is the subject of the experiment the possibilities are quite interesting. Many human beings manage to directly snatch the banana without having to go through the beastly bother of making chairs and the learning process. The whole human society is completely arranged around the laws of learning so ably revealed by the objective scientists who need no reward. The man who is in the position to offer rewards is first of all in a position to withhold rewards, and is certainly not in need of any vulgar rewards. Only, he wants a chair for the sake of the chair, art for art's sake, food for food’s sake, sex for its own sake and objective science for its own sake.

Now, if you offer ten bananas for making a chair, and if the subject of learning experiment is able to get at the bananas more easily by making a hollow chair made of cardboard, or if he is more enterprising and can waylay his reward giver, mug him and take away forty bananas instead of the miserable ten, the name given to this very unscientific but extremely sensible biological activity is lawlessness, corruption etc., because it flouts the laws of learning laid down by the professors.

A few in this jungle come out of the trap of reward and are concerned with the drive of their inner urge to find out if they can train their nervous system to do without bananas, if they can get out of the terrible limitation which binds them perpetually to bananas and the laws of learning.

The Sufi speaks of two harvests which are the result of any work done by man: the external harvest, the yield, the grain produced which gives food, which also gives frustration and pleasure according to the yield, putting the whole of the man's compex being at the disposal of the vagaries of the wayward yield.



Statue of Nasredd─źn Hodja in Bukhara. Faqscl, Wikimedia Commons
The other harvest is what happens to himself during the work - the patience he developed, the joy in putting his muscles to work, the joy he gave and got in looking after the trees and cattle and workers, and his own ascent into higher and higher and more and more harmonious expressions of behaviour he and his body are capable of. The second learning is the ascent of man to something higher than himself as he is, and his miserable dependence on numerous things for his comfort, where comfort is seen not as a state of being, but is seen as a sum of articles and objects.

One of the most important objectives of science and technology is to provide comforts to man. The immediate and ultimate object of these comforts is to prove that man's body is totally unnecessary. The degree of comfort is measured by the degree to which a man need not use his organs. A man has two legs. The first sign of civilisation is when he has found it unnecessary to have legs when he found it easier to apply the laws of learning and climbed on a horse or on other men's backs.

The logical end object of a comfort-offering science and technology is to abolish man, all men, excepting the objective scientists who will find a hole in Mars. This abolition of organic man can be achieved by subtle or gross means. The subtle means are to provide cars so that the legs may be found unnecessary, learning theories to show how you can make another man work for you; theories of human personality founded on scientific investigations to show that man is really an ape and it is better to stop there; the gross methods are by mass murder with bangs or hisses or completely noiseless lasers.

What the work does to you is the reward. The rest is biological theory propounded by objective science and made by self-declared robots who have left their humanity in the cupboard or bank vaults.

Real human inquiry begins with the subject himself, not as subject of this or that inquiry or operation.


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Friday, May 18, 2018

NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

Long ago, Krishna in the Gita stated that anger, depression, greed, egocentricity, etc., are demonic qualities. They are damaging to harmony and have very little external causation.

It does not require much ascetic tapasya in caves to know that these reactions can come into play for a variety of reasons. The same reason or cause may produce different responses of anger, depression etc., of different degrees, the same reason which produces anger at one time in one situation may fail to do so at another time, the same set of reasons which produce anger in one person may fail to do so in another.

Sixteen faces expressing the human passions-coloured engraving by J. Pass, 1821, after Charles Le Brun
Compiling huge volumes on the causes for these emotional responses is a relatively sterile occupation.

You are driving your car. Some muddy water gets splashed on your windscreen. If you do not at once do something to wipe your windscreen, but look this way and that to find the 'CAUSE', who threw the mud, why and so on, you will get into a crash.

Each time a reaction of anger or depression is provoked in you, a run-away circuit is set up in your vehicle called your body, the most potent and dangerous machine on earth. With anger and depression your headlights get dimmed, you will be pressing accelerator instead of clutch or brake and you head for disaster to yourself and others. Your search for causes is not an innocent or innocuous legal or objective pursuit for truth. Each so called 'cause' becomes a stimulus for further chaotic defensive action provoking counter measures in the other cars around you.

Let us say, you have received a dangerous cut on your body and the blood is flowing freely. Would you first rush to do something about it, got to a hospital, bandage, or do something to stop the bleeding or would you start a court of enquiry to find out by whom and how and why the cut was inflicted? You see you first attend to the cut because the damage is obvious. But you don't take any immediate action on your anger or depression because the dangers are not obvious, though anger and depression are playing havoc with all your inner subtle control mechanisms - your heart, lungs, blood vessels, intestines, etc. You justify them, you will go to a doctor who provides you further sophisticated justifications for your almost wicked determination to destroy yourself.

When you can learn English, Algebra, all sorts of of gymnastics, what is the hassle, humming and hawing, medical or philosophic disputation about learning to do something about the deadly accidents that confront you every minute on the road of your daily life?

Attend to the disturbance: not to its so-called cause.

The first step is to realise, to feel that this disturbance is damaging the most priceless possession you have, without which you are nothing, your body.

Have the dignity and pride of being master of your own car, which you are. If you can make your body scowl, sulk or shout you can jolly well make it smile, shut up and breathe easy at some point of time in relation to the disturbance. Do the smallest thing, control the smallest possible movement to show you are the driver.

Otherwise, give your body over to the family, doctor or guru, in fact to the driving school for public buses. You will be taught driving lessons. The family will advise you rest in bed, knowing full well that the most likely place to get a heart attack is in bed; the doctor will chemically or physically annihilate your amygdaloid nucleus because even a chimpanzee without this nucleus smiles at the experimenter cutting it to bits, and the guru teaches you how to walk gently so that ants won't get crushed. You will be like the car driver who has been taught to drive at 25 mph in the first gear with a proper silencer attached to your car no matter how the road is.

You hand over the driving of your car to the public school for driving. You will ensure the maximum insurance, covering the cost of staying in an intensive care unit in Switzerland and a safe passage to the abode of the Gods.

There is nothing wrong or immoral about anger or depression. They are words. Remember: Do not fall into the trap of saying anger or depression is bad. it is, that some learnt reflex responses covered by these words are damaging to your car and prevent your reaching the objective you have in view. Saying that anger or depression is bad has no operative value. That way, laugher and love are bad. If you cannot help laughing or making love when the house is on fire and your stated objective is to put out the fire, then laughter and love are bad.

Therefore, what is central to the discussion is that there are no good and bad emotions. The issue is your inability to modify your responses.
The mechanisms for learning are within you and with you. The motivation for learning the skills are thwarted by a social conditioning which in the guise of helping you makes you helpless, takes away your interest in learning, provides you with justifications and paralyses you.

Then to say that all society and organisation is bad is equally stupid. To avoid using these words and to attend to the type of responses you make to them, and the capacity to modify them in the interests of your harmony and growth is the issue.

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