The Calling.

Magpie 11 commented on my post THE MOST DANGEROUS STAGE IS RESPECT

“…some one said there is too much Me me me…surely that is what blogging is about?”

Exactly. This is a BLOG, short for Web Log, or a diary written and maintained in the web, with the exception that it is shared with anyone who cares to visit, read and comment. For me, it is a way to crystalise my thoughts and to explore fresh thoughts from my readers.

He also went on to quote me and comment –
” there is an inner calling to pursue certain esoteric things that does not seem to affect most people”

What are these “esoteric things”?
esoteric:: Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

Smacks of some sort of elitism to me…… the problem is of course that if most people did seek to pursue these tings, whatever they are, then they would cease to be esoteric.”

In my response, I had written that I would address the issues raised by him in a separate post, and here it is.

I wish that Magpie 11 had chosen a different definition of the word “esoteric”. The same dictionary that he refers to also has this definition –

“b : requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group ; broadly : difficult to understand
a : limited to a small circle

I used the word in these two contexts.

My understanding of the word ‘calling’ stems from my employment background. I went through three phases of a job, where I got paid for what I did, or did not if I did not do what was expected of me; or I left if what I got paid was not worth my while; a career, where I progressed from just a job to assuming ever increasing responsibility; and finally, to a calling. The last was at the peak of my working life when I was able to create a completely different organisation in the late nineties, which continues to flourish till today. Subsequently, the calling became one of care giving and as I write this, that calling continues to operate.

Now, let us look at what ‘calling’ means to me and why I call it esoteric. It is what I would do anyway, with no pay or promotions or other rewards, and nothing else other than, physical disability or death will stop me from doing it.

I also believe that the calling is of two kinds, one is the calling to attend to material things, in which category, I would include my current preoccupation, care giving; and the other which is spiritual. Now, Magpie, please do not mix this with religion. Let me explain.

I believe that my spiritual pursuit forms the foundation of me as a human being, and is based on my central values and beliefs concerning purpose and meaning in life, truths about the world, and my own vision for real-izing my full potential and purpose. My calling is to real-ize my full potential and fulfill my aspirations, and this has to include self regulation. This means that I have to understand and control my thoughts, emotions and behaviour. I fully accept and recognize that other people have the right to hold different values, beliefs, customs and traditions, and that I must, without giving up my own beliefs, show others due consideration and be open to other points of view. This does not mean that I become a door mat and allow others to trample on me, but I am willing to live and let live. I simply expect reciprocation and if I don’t get it, it is of no great import to me.


Why is it esoteric? To the best of my knowledge, a very small minority of the world’s population, wish to pursue this path to Real-ization. That is why I called it esoteric.

And finally coming to the question of Religion, Magpie says – “Yes Religion….. or “The Way”. There is another reason….. it leads to an easy life…. convince your self (or be convinced by the brainwashers) that your life is controlled, ordained by a greater power than you and you can sail along as easy as winking.

This comment I would imagine comes from a scientific temper, now called atheism or virulent anti spiritualism. I do not approve of brainwashing of any kind, spiritual or religious or whatever, but why is someone not willing to accept that the Subject and the Object cannot be the same, considered to have been brainwashed?

I belong to a tradition that fully accepts atheism and materialism as legitimate philosophies. So, I am intrigued that the latest kid, let us call him a Religion, on the block, Atheism is not being considered as a Religion with its own High-priests like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Or am I just playing with semantics? Is it not their esoteric calling, or am I missing something here?

Ethics II.

In my post Ethics, Blackwatertown commented:

“I wonder if the growing chasm between what the lower levels of corporations are paid and the highest levels has something to do with it. The sky’s the limit for some. They may feel they don’t breathe the same oxygen as lesser mortals. Sure, there have always been significant differentials, but these seem to have increased by a couple of powers of ten in the past few years.

And perhaps as older structures of society and respect break down (perhaps deservedly) without necessarily being replaced by something better and robust, money steps into the gap as the be all and end all.
Ethics classes? Good. If only so culprits caught later can’t reasonably plead “I didn’t know.”

The mother of all banking corporations, The I.M.F. sets an example in the area of ethics, and perhaps also in the area of compensation that BWT identifies as possibly influencing behaviour.

Please read this mind blowing article in the New York Times.


Please click on the image to make it larger.

The Financial Times has just announced its list of the world’s top ranked Business Schools and it is a matter of great pride for me that my alma mater the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad has ranked 11th in that list. Yes, I am an alumnus of that excellent institution and owe a lot to it for what it made out of a hustling salesman.

Apart from enabling me to make a career in Management, it taught me to learn and be curious. My interest in reading all kinds of material was instilled in me there and some of the best friendships that I value till today were also formed there.

My writing skills, for what they are worth, were also developed there, under the very careful and effective eyes of a couple of excellent teachers in a course called WAC. Yes, I am serious. That acronym stands for Written Analysis of Cases. The Institute follows the Case Method of study inherited from the Harvard Business School, with which it collaborated in its formative years, when I studied there. The real life business cases that we studied and analysed had to be presented in written form and that proved to be invaluable in later years, when I spent more time writing/reading reports than managing! That ability finally came to my rescue in my retirement into becoming a fairly regular blogger.

The purpose of this post however is not to eulogize that Institute. More competent people have been doing that by their sheer brilliance. Some illustrious alumni include C K Prahlad and Raghuram Rajan

The purpose of this post is to talk about another matter altogether. Immediately after the 2008/9 melt down all MBAs came under attack for what they had achieved, not only in the financial markets but also for what had happened to Enron, WorldCom etc. The MBAs and bankers were suddenly the villains. It was not the case in India, where there was no melt down and till date, our finances have remained stable though we did have a couple of major corporate scandals, not attributed to MBAs but to greedy entrepreneurs. The Indian MBAs continued to attract global interest for recruitment, particularly if prior to their acquiring their MBA degree, they had been to any one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).

Post melt down therefore, faculty in many Business Schools thought it prudent to include a course in Ethics in the MBA curriculum.

I for one am very happy that this has happened, but I wonder if the kind of ethics that would work can be taught to students who go to Business Schools. For this doubt, let me take another premier Indian institution the National Defence Academy of India (NDA).

The selection process for the IIMs and IITs of India and the NDA is about as tough as it can get. The people who select the former two will be motivated by something totally different than the motivation for the last. While broadly speaking, the former will be motivated by making a lot of money, the latter, hopefully by patriotism. One would therefore expect the latter to be more ethical than the former.

Unfortunately, recently, that elite group of NDA alumni have also been beset by scandals of grubby money making and bending rules.

Or let us take another glorious profession, that of medicine. Doctors and hospitals run by them today, seem more to be interested in making money than their avowed original purpose of treating the ill and the infirm.

I can go on listing other professions that the young can follow where even the thought of ethics does not enter into the picture. Leaving aside the notorious one of law, the Indian Bureaucracy, Politics etc also do not seem to attract Ethics in their vocabulary.

From the various blogs that I read written by people from various countries, it is obvious that this is a global phenomenon and not restricted to India.

What is wrong or right with humanity that its elite shun ethics? Is it just that we are now evolving into a species without any consideration other than making money by hook or crook?

Walk The Plank.

I like traffic to my blog. Which blogger does not? I also regularly provide traffic to many blogs. I often give links in my posts to other blogs. In most, I park in the form of comments. In some, I just drive past as I am afraid that if I slow down to park, I may get caught in a traffic jam.

What has this got to do with this post? I visit Ursula’s blog but don’t slow down, leave alone park. But I enjoy reading the messages she leaves for me there. On one recent occasion, I did park and since then have been wondering whether I should gather enough courage to park again and risk getting caught in a traffic jam. Ursula is more gritty. She not only parks in my blog but also drives a lot of traffic to it from other commentators.

Ursula has this to say in her blog post On The Narrow. “Same goes for you, Ramana. You will talk the talk but do you actually ever WALK the plank?”

Having a lot of personal connections in the Indian Navy as well the Merchant Navy of India, and with some hands-on experience with some of the world’s finest maritime people, the fisher-folk of many countries, that comment made me wonder if I read it right and went back to read it again, and found that that is exactly what she says.

The Wordsworth Dictionary Of Phrase & Fable describes, Walking The Plank as – “To be put to the supreme test; also, to be about to die. Walking the plank was a mode of disposing of prisoners at sea, much to vogue among the South Sea Pirates in the 17th Century.”

Okay, putting me to the supreme test – being betrothed to me, I suppose that she implies matrimony as the supreme test. Having experienced that state before, I can indeed confirm that, yes indeed it will be. If however, the latter part of the definition is to be considered, then Ursula wants me to be shark feed! A widow before even becoming a wife! Unless of course she means that walking the plank may be a better alternative for me.

And there is my good friend Bilbo Baggins getting wedding rings and polishing them and being invisible most of the time. Bilbo, my good man, be patient, you may get to use the rings elsewhere, if I do become shark feed.

Synchronicity, The Ring, The Ring Bearer And The Betrothal.

Regular readers of my blog posts and the comments on them will recollect the side show that is going on about an engagement ring, the ring bearer and the perilous state of the betrothal itself.

It is all in fun and I thoroughly enjoy the banter, as I hope the other protagonists in the story do too. Yes, fortunately, all three role players are indeed protagonists. This story is very like many situations today in the real world, as opposed to the blog world, where all are Generals and there are no soldiers.

One of the protagonists, Ursula, is usually bemused with my preoccupation with Synchronicity about which I wrote a post as part of our LBC Friday blogging efforts on May 27, 2011.

This post and this link is dedicated to Ursula. Take a look at the dateline in the article. Though it is dated May 27, I read it at 0715 hrs on the 28th inst. Indian Standard Time.


Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Padmum and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get nine different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Delirious.

Synchronicity is an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated.

I am a great believer in this principle. I keep seeing it happening all the time. Let me give you two recent instances.

Last week I received a story from a friend in my in box. The next day, when I visited Life On A Limb by Delirious. The same topic was written about by her and I left the story in her comment box. Don’t miss reading her post and my comments.

Last week again,I wrote my post on Enlightenment and said that I was intrigued by fellow LBC blogger Ashok’s anthroposophism. Having said that, I wished to refresh my memory about that complex philosophy that I had studied many years ago, and spent some time locating the relevant book and spending some time reading up on it. The same evening, another friend from Brazil wrote to me asking for a brief introduction about anthroposophism, without having read my blog. Since I had just that afternoon read up on it, it was a simple matter to respond immediately and he was zapped.

Both the above topics are not ordinary every day matters that one talks about or reads about in the daily newspapers. Why did these two coincidences happen at exactly the right moments?

These kind of things keep happening all the time to me. I have even written about them earlier in some of my non LBC posts. I am convinced that everything that happens has a message in it for us, if only we keep ourselves open to receiving such messages and appreciating them.