Wednesday, November 23, 2011

i-TFTD #345: Me And 'Er

#345-1. The path of least resistance makes all rivers, and some men, crooked.
-Napoleon Hill, author (1883-1970)

#345-2. An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.
-Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

#345-3. Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.
-A. A. Milne author (1882-1956)

A river f! orms a powerful motif in Herman Hesse’s Siddartha, who finally learns useful insights from a river. Rivers, I think, hold a fascination for humans, more than oceans, and definitely, lakes and ponds. Oceans beckon with mystery and danger but they also overwhelm—rivers, on the other hand, we relate to. A river seems to be the perfect metaphor for how we perceive our lives. Flowing, flowing, always moving inevitably further, encountering obstacles, overcoming them or changing direction… Nourishing those en route, also collecting and carrying unwanted baggage, appearing to meander aimlessly at times, at other times purposefully seeking the path to merge with the final destination, the ocean…

Of course, one may prefer, instead of this philosophical musing, to gape at this interactive mapping of rivers by National Geographic. Or figure out why genders are associated with rivers, not only in India where Ganga is feminine and Brahmaputra masculine, but also in other countries.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

i-TFTD #344: Dawn of True Wisdom

i-TFTD #344: Dawn of True Wisdom

by Ramesh Balsekar (in “Enlightened Living”)

Every month the disciple faithfully sent his Master an account of his progress.

In the first month he wrote: "I feel an expansion of consciousness and experience my oneness with the Universe." The master glanced at the note and threw it away.

The following month, this is what he had to say: "I have finally discovered that the Divine is present in all things." The Master seemed disappointed.

The third month the disciple’s words enthusiastically exclaimed: "The mystery of the One and the many have been revealed to my wondering gaze." The Master shook his head and again threw the letter away.

The next letter said: "No one is born, no one lives, no one dies, for the ego-self is not." The master threw his hands up in utter despair.

After that a month passed by, then two, then five months and finally a whole year without another letter. The master thought it was time to remind his disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress.

Then the disciple wrote back: "Who cares?"

When the Master read those words a look of great satisfaction spread over his face.

This format of initially funny-looking but eventually thought-provoking anecdotes (called "koans") are used in Zen teaching. Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit priest who conducted spiritual retreats at Lonavla (a hill station near Mumbai) for many years, has written a number of books that are superb collections of such stories sourced from all religions. Some of them are "One Minute Wisdom", "Song of the Bird" and "The Prayer of the Frog".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

i-TFTD #343: Another Children's Day Special

In India Children’s Day is celebrated every year on November 14, the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister. We saw a few quotes related to children in an earlier i-TFTD in 2008. The comment there said, ”Substitute children in the above with subordinates and parent with leader, to get useful insights on career development, leadership qualities.” Here is another bonus edition of quotes related to children—their creativity and their dreams. Are they theirs only?

#343-1. Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it's the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.
Sir Ken Robinson, British educationist and world-renowned expert speaker (1950-)

#343-2. All kids are gifted; some just open their packages earlier than others.
-Michael Carr, British light music compose (1905-1968)

#343-3. The soul is healed by being with children.
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky, novelist (1821-1881)

#343-4. We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.
–Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist and writer (1901–1978)

#343-5. Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well.
-Aristotle, Greek philosopher and polymath (384 BCE–322 BCE)

#343-6. ! Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
-James Arthur Baldwin, American writer, poet and social critic (1924–1987)

#343-7. In a short poem titled, Cloths of Heaven, William Butler Yeats wrote:

   Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
   Enwrought with golden and silver light,
   The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
   Of night and light and the half-light,
   I would spread the cloths under your feet:
   But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
   I have spread my dreams under your feet;
   Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.
Sir Ken Robinson, British educationist and world-renowned expert speaker (1950-)
If you are not one of the estimated 200 million people around the world who have watched Sir Ken Robinson’s TED video speeches, please do so when you have thirty minutes to spare. They are at and I absolutely love and get inspired every time I watch, by the distinctly British humor, humility and passionate advocacy…

Friday, November 11, 2011

i-TFTD #342: How to Start an Induction Motor

It's been a long gap of seven weeks in the otherwise regular i-TFTD of the past many years.

I could give many excuses like being busy with organizational changes, helping my wife open her second Just Books library outlet in Thane (please spread the word to your Thanekar friends, it is at Hiranandani Meadows near Vasant Vihar area) and so on. But ultimately as often emphasized in past i-TFTDs, we choose to prioritize what we fill into our time and that is all there is to it. Nothing could really justify not finding a few minutes in a week to do something I care about.

I consoled myself saying...

Not all those who wander are lost.
-J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, philologist and university professor, best kno! wn as the author of 'The Lord of the Rings' (1892–1973)

But it was important to realize that...

Every man is a damned fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.
-Elbert Hubbard, author, editor, printer (1856-1915)

I figured that the resumption could elicit appreciation! After all...

As contraries are known by contraries, so is the delight of presence best known by the torments of absence.
-Alcibiades, Athenian statesman, orator, and general (c. 450–404 BCE)

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.
-Robert Brault, American writer (1938-)

I further pepped mysel! f up saying...

It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.
-Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Moliere, French actor and playwright (1622-1673)

Getting UPSET will not help. Always getting UP to SET the things right will surely help.

(Thanks to Neelabh Upadhyay for sharing this.)

Finally the lesson from all this for me is...

Absences and gaps /
Howsoever justified /
Can be wily traps!

The above is an example of expressing a thought in haiku form, mimicking the 5-7-5 syllables used in the original Japanese poetry. Over 200 of such haikus are part of my early tweets.

In case you are wondering about the title, it is an indirect hat tip to ! the delightful movie, 3 Idiots, which talked about strengths and passion. Sorry if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t make the connection.