Education.

education

There are as many definitions for ‘education’ as there are people interested in some aspect of it. My own is simple and one that I have found to be effective.  Education is learning to learn.

My own education followed more or less that definition after the initial schooling was over. Post school achievements for me were all autodidactic, except for my Masters Degree, which by an accident I acquired by attending regular classes in an institution of learning.

And, this is the important point that I wish to drive home in this post, the Bachelor’s Degree and the Masters Degree that I acquired, in my humble opinion, equipped me for getting admission to the institute of management and getting a job via campus recruitment respectively, AND NOTHING ELSE of practical value, except that both enabled me to learn how to learn.

Post my professional qualification my employer took great pains to train me to be an effective manager and to this day I acknowledge that debt as being a greater one than my other academic achievements.

And more importantly for my life, the education that I received in our traditional way of the Guru-Shishya Parampara in learning Vedanta from a remarkable teacher and his teacher, has enabled me to live a peaceful and productive life.

All these would not have been possible for me had I not been prepared for learning to learn, by a very remarkable system of grounding called the Montessori method of primary education in my childhood.

Having shared my own experiences, I would simply add that I am appalled at what happens now in our country in the field of education, particularly in the higher levels where we are producing graduates and post graduates who are unemployable.  There are some notable exceptions to this rule but they are the ones that select the cream from the hordes that are churned out in the system by a highly competitive selection procedure.  For the rest, the less said the better.

I am glad that my own life is at its last stages where I don’t have to compete to learn anything.

This topic was suggested by Shackman for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently six of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The five other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

As You Like It.

When one is a busy housewife with four children and a long distance commuting husband, living in a joint family in India, finding time to spare for intellectual kite flying is difficult. So, when I urged Maria G for some topics to be included in the list for the year for the LBC posts, in an inspired flash of originality, she came up with a list of Shakespearean dramas. Readers will remember our post on Much Ado About Nothing some time ago which was the beginning of this series.

This is the second of a series the rest of which my readers will come to read eventually in the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where five of us write on the same topic. The four other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

I don’t quite know if like Roasalind in the play, Maria G has plans to flee persecution, but I love the play for its many melancholy speeches the favourite of them all being:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts……”

This opening, ties in neatly with Vedanta which propounds exactly this as a philosophy. This also ties in with my earlier post When Are You Leaving? Vedanta names Truth as The Witness that is simply Consciousness and everything that we see is illusion. Realisation by internalisation of this is liberation, moksha, nirvana etc. I like it very much thank you.

I have always suspected that Shakespeare was a Vedantin. In fact, there is a story in our part of the world that says that he was originally Shaakeppa Iyer who decided to travel West, and in Persia became Shaikh Peer and eventually found his way to England where the transformation was complete.

And let us see what my favourite philosopher has to say about this great play. Please click on the image to enlarge it for easier reading.

all the world is a stage

Code Name God.

cng book

Yes, it is the title of a book and not something that I wanted to expound on.

My cousin Damodaran was browsing books in a local lending library when he came across this book, was intrigued by the blurbs “This book may change your life” – Sydney Sheldon; and “The author’s personal odyssey… in an attempt ot find common ground between Eastern spirituality and Western science is eloquently told and makes for fascintaing reading.” – Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao Of Physics. He borrowed it from the library, returned it after reading and decided to buy a copy for himself to keep as a source book and a few more copies to be distributed among his friends. After he had done all that, knowing my interest in Buddhism and Vedanta as well as my involvement with Vipassana for over three decades, he ordered me as he is wont to, to get myself a copy which I promptly did and have just finished reading it.

I can safely say that I finished ‘reading’ the first half of the book but for the second half of the book, I should really be using the word ‘studying’ instead. The second half is when the author gets away from the background story of his rags to riches story to how he gets on a journey of spiritual enquiry and how he reconciles his background as a Scientist with Eastern mysticism and meditation.

There is really nothing new in what he writes as Capra has written extensively on the subject and I have read all the latter’s books, but how he writes is where the book scores. It is easy to read and understand even for a non scientist and the examples he gives lead one to understand the complexities of quantum physics and that makes all the difference.

I recommend this book to people who are interested in exploring how Physicists are now validating the findings and experiences of Eastern mystics without access to sophisticated equipment like colliders. It is also a fascinating story of the journey of a poor farmer’s son from penury to riches, despair with materialism and eventual happiness through spiritualism.

Ego.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where ten of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Conrad The Old Fossil. The nine other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Ego

I have a sneaking suspicion that TOF is planning on becoming a Swami. Otherwise why would he choose this topic?

The word ego is now used mostly in a negative way to denote something not quite nice to have. I try not to.

Ego is defined as follows by the Free online dictionary.

1. the self of an individual person; the conscious subject
2. (Psychoanalysis) the conscious mind, based on perception of the environment from birth onwards: responsible for modifying the antisocial instincts of the id and itself modified by the conscience (superego)
3. one’s image of oneself; morale to boost one’s ego
4. egotism; conceit.

These are all valid and are used in various contexts in the physical realm, and the word is more often misused in the spiritual tradition where the word ego is used instead of Ahankara which is the correct Sanskrit word for that part of the personality which is responsible for the sense of I, Me, Mine etc and also for the sense of doership.

In the Advaita system, Ahankara is actually the state of ignorance of one’s true self. Let me explain.

Logically, the body, mind and intellect are all objects that the subject “I” can objectify. Similarly the Ahankara is also objectified by the self, and the quest is to identify and abide in the self that is the I, and leave the mind-body-intellect-ego complex to perform its functions assigned for it during this life.

In that abidance, which is called consciousness,  ego is simply another object, ie a non reality and therefore not worth praising or condemning.

Carl Jung was among those early seekers to answers for questions of the psyche from the Eastern traditions, who identified as the I as being consciousness and also famously propagated the idea of collective consciousness, which is the concept of Atma and Paramatma which is the Witness to the Ego’s manipulations.

Oddly enough the more scientists delve into the physical matter, the more they are becoming aware that there is no matter and are beginning to look for answers in the spiritual and holistic sense.

For those who are interested to explore this further, a good source will be Fritjof Capra and Carl Jung.

The Guru.

During my recent visit to Vashi, I attended a lecture on Vedanta by a Swamini, that is a lady Swamy who answered a question from the audience about the Guru appearing when the student is ready. She said that in the olden days, this was very much true as a Guru in physical form was very much necessary. She further said that the guru need not be a person but can be a source of knowledge like a book or a recorded message and pointed out that we live in blessed times because innumerable gurus are now available to us via the internet and the television / radio media. She says that now the Guru comes home to teach individually to learners who do not have to undergo the trials of seeking out a guru.

This is indeed very true and on reflection makes me wonder as to why more people do not take to spirituality now that the guru can come home and teach. Most would rather watch programs that titillate and entertain.

Be that as it may, she directly asked me how I found my Guru and I explained that a series of events starting from 1978 led me eventually to my current Guru. When she asked if I attended his classes even now, I said no and that he has now concluded his teachings and has asked his students to pursue the path by the traditional Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam. (Hearing, Reflecting and Meditating). And that I was following his instructions. She promptly pointed out that here is a clear case of the Guru being available in the form of books, and media to help me along without the physical presence of a Guru.

We are indeed blessed.

Gratitude List, January 14, 2012

Saturday I got my readjusted dentures back. Because of the visit to the dentist to get it refitted, one cavity was discovered and that too was filled before it became necessary for a root canal treatment. Phew!

Sunday turned out to be interesting. On Saturday, my lifeline idli supplier announced that he would not be delivering idlies for the next two weeks as he was going down South to his native place. Reconciled to cooking the idlies at home, I had bought the ingredient on Saturday evening and kept it to ferment overnight. On Sunday morning, just as I was about to start the process of steaming the idlies, I heard the air horn and lo and behold Chittan was at the door with the idlies and vadas. He grandly announced that he had postponed his trip to April. Now, I was left with the dough. Mangal came to my rescue and made dosas for lunch with the same dough but diluted more. This is what one of them looked like.

After a long time, we had dosas in style!

By a strange route I came across information about a book “Enjoy Every Sandwich” and bought a kindle edition. I could not put it down once I started it. For those who have not read it, I strongly recommend that they do read it.

My lifeline threw the ball back at me on Monday and said that he has changed his mind again and would be going off for a fortnight or so after all. So, back to the steamer after all! May be the discipline of sourcing the dough will make me walk up to the super market every day!

I had a date! Mitali came over for tea and as usual did not come empty handed. Home grown chickoos and ginger biscuits came along with her. She accompanied me to the park and was quite a sensation among my friends.

A new delicatessen has opened almost next door to our home and I made the first buys from there. Some dough nuts. It is a blessing really for a household of three bachelors.

I attended a meeting of the AA along with Ranjan and Saeed. It was a fantastic evening catching up with many old friends. I am indeed much grateful for the AA without which our lives would have been vastly different than what it is today for us.

I attended a lunch meeting with my spiritual Guru and me erstwhile Vedanta classmates. It was a highly stimulating meeting with my Guru, as it always is and the reunion of the classmates was also highly satisfying.

I had to go back to the dentist for fine tuning the dentures and while doing that, was told that one of my teeth needed a cap. So, I sat through the whole rigmarole and have to go back tomorrow for a temporary cap and after a couple of days thereafter, for the permanent one. I was grateful that I did not have to take a local anesthesia shot while the process was going on.

I took the opportunity of being outside to go for a pedicure and was I pampered! I went to a new saloon and the pedicurist there gave me the best pedicure that I have ever had. I hope that she does not migrate elsewhere.

And as a fitting finale to Wednesday, Ranjan’s friend Saleem from Mumbai came over to spend a night with us. And Cathy, yes, he did not come empty handed. He brought some fantastic biscuits and chocolate coated dried fruits.

Thursday was uneventful with plenty of time for me to catch up on some badly needed reading.

Friday was a very special day for me. A teacher of extraordinary character from my past was visiting Pune to attend a wedding and some of his old students got together to meet up with him and share ideas. I attended the meeting and was able to publicly acknowledge the debt of gratitude I owed him for his generosity. I was grateful for the opportunity and my ability, for the first time since my surgery, to go to the venue by an autorickshaw without any discomfort. The other students too chipped in to share their experiences and it was a nice way to pay personal tribute to a great teacher. I intend writing a post about my gratitude to the teacher.

To add to my joy, the rickshaw driver turned out to be another good Samaritan, who had taken quite a lot of pains to locate me to return a file that I had forgotten behind in his autorickshaw, many months ago. He was most disappointed that I would not be using his services for the return trip also. It was nice to meet up with such wonderful human beings.