Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Being Conscious...

The first definition of Consciousness says its the state of being conscious; awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

Extending it beyond your own existence, it's about the awareness of the impact of your existence, and it's this consciousness that causes you to do more than just existing and start living. Given that we've been blessed with this discerning power, how good a use do we make of it depends on whether we make our choices mechanically - the way the world’s been doing it or are we aware and alive in every moment. The consciousness could be felt in every single moment of your existence, from things as tiny as closing your tap when brushing your teeth to serving yourself only enough food that you can eat!

Now, a typical contrast to consciousness would be the state of unconsciousness. That's not just something that doctors do to you before a surgery or something that happens when someone bangs your head hard. Look around, you might just find too many souls walking around unconscious and oblivious... going about their business mechanically, sometimes applying their heads, mostly just letting things be.

On a different line of thought, doctors make you unconscious so it doesn't pain. Lessons in sociology taught us about the blasé attitude of a modern day urban individual because there are too many painful things happening everywhere and one is better off being ignorant rather than being pained by every unfortunate incident. Now, hypersensitivity to issues beyond your control might disturb your life balance and cause disorders but should that drive us to the other extreme, to become absolutely insensitive? One is a state of being comfortably numb and the other one of ostriches, who turn their head away from anything that's unpleasant and bask in their illusions of a beautiful world. And then of course there’s a third category, the ones who actually make the mess, sometimes not realizing the impact of their own actions.

Not to say that the world is not beautiful, it just might feel much more so if you want to feel it that way.. and possibly play your role in making it that way. Orkut requests its uses to keep it beautiful by refraining from creating identities or groups derogatory to a community or nation. Unfortunately there’s no such host or owner of the world, who could possibly try to request us humans to keep life beautiful! There’s no ‘Do Not Litter’ board and it’s not so much of an act of malice as the series of unconscious acts by normal individuals that has brought the world to what it is today.

Going deeper into it, that’s what we do when we’re unconscious! We litter around ourselves, ignorant of the consequence of our own actions. And it’s not just the wrapper of the candy that you just ate that counts here, but also the numerous deeds of immorality that you littered your life and the world with. Yes, that includes all of your unethical maneuvers that you thought were necessary to get you this far. Here comes conscience, the one that sees you doing what you do when you think no one is looking.

Perhaps you didn’t realize that what you did just for fun- lifting that pair of goggles from that roadside shop, passing answer scripts in that small quiz, or the other casual things that everyone seems to be doing- cooking up taxi fares for reimbursements, inflating bills and getting cuts, maybe there’s nothing wrong with any of these, but maybe there is! Most importantly, these serve as the starting points of many more and bigger things to come.

I and the world would exonerate you, but can you forgive yourself? Yes, maybe no one will ever even find out. But the theory of karma and several others have emphasized that your actions shall come back to haunt you some day in your own life. You will slip yourself someday on the banana peel you threw. That might just come as a moral conflict or a guilt induced breakdown and a strong desire to want to go back and undo your own misdeeds. Unfortunately the life doesn’t offer a reverse gear or even as much as an eraser.

So though you might like to think that you can get away with giving shit to people, listening to your inner voice is not so much about what you do to the world but what you do to yourself. It’s for you to decide what price you’re willing to pay for success. Just incidentally, if every person took care of his own doings, the world would become so much better a place.

They say only two kinds of people can stay perpetually happy in the long run- the ones who listen to their conscience, and the ones who don’t have a conscience. Either ways, you are a rational individual and don’t need anyone to preach you. You KNOW what’s right for you! I only insist that you make a Conscious choice and not let life happen to you.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Of Ethics and Business!

For most Bschoolers, more so for people who have worked before, and unlike me, have seen the business world from the inside, the two words just don't go together! Ethics exist only on paper, they would say. That's what I raised as my question in the first of our classes on 'Business Ethics' and had hoped I’d be able to answer it better as we go through the course. I have the exam today and this is what I'm doing for the preparation.

Now, I won't know if one's ethics can really be taught and built up in the classroom or in fact, even be really affected in a person who has come all this far, grown to this age. (Where one likes to believe that he knows most of the things and most importantly, 'what's right for me'). They say the attempt was at sensitization, perhaps they managed a bit of it, as at least the breaks in between the class were spent by intellectualizers on the fodder for thought provided by the 'ethics' class. Of course, despite that, when one would go around saying that he chose ethics for an elective, a typical jeer would come as, "Oh yes, you really needed it!"

Going more fundamentally to ethics, it's more a matter of personal choice, at times, an unconscious one. Often, we are just too casual and ignorant so as to miss the line between ethical and unethical, which might at times be really thin. You might use your naiveté as defense that you were too gullible and didn't realize when you crossed the line. You might start just with a few fake medical claims or overcharged HRAs, and may or may not end up devouring a few million bucks without as much as a belch. I'd only say, you were ignorant to begin with and not really conscious! This word is of a huge importance in the way you live your life, as shall become clear with time.

However, as they say, there would be times in life, (going to happen pretty soon, now that we're standing on the verge of a high flying corporate career) when you would need to make a choice, not between two right options, but a right and a seemingly wrong one. And like Shahrukh Khan's DDLJ mother used to tell him, 'In life's dilemmas, you'll find two roads that you can take, one will be a shortcut, it might seem easy and simple to start with, but you'll end up losing if you walk this one. Then there would be the other road, the long one, wrought with difficulties and hardships.. it'll scare you at first, but in the end, the victory shall be yours'

Now, I don't believe I should want to be ethical because it's what the world expects of me (while making it's own sinister designs behind my back) or because it is the good thing to do. That makes the motivation to be ethical an external one, while given the amount of temptation that's let loose, the driving force to be ethical must be an internal one. As internal as ethics themselves are. I would consider myself ethical as long as there's no conflict brewing within.

In the middle of this muddle, it might seem appropriate to really define what constitutes ethical behavior and what doesn't! Pondering over it, there's no strict guidebook you can make of Do's and Don'ts and be content that you've shown the ethical way to the world. It is a matter of a person’s own standards of right and wrong. It's not like someone doesn’t know it, it's only that people have different perceptions of where right transforms into wrong all of a sudden. And of course, the relative nature of things says that what's right for me maybe wrong for you!

As a curious young man, I've been fed a lot about the Big Bad World out there, where your fate, (much as you'd like to disagree or dislike the fact) often hangs on the whims of someone else. Where you shall be made victim if you don't become the attacker soon enough. Where your winning must necessarily mean someone's losing. Where being selfish is the most important quality to be able to rise at workplace. Where the politics and work culture might unnerve you for a start, but it’ll become comfortable as you imbibe them yourself... and whoever still remembers that he had an inner voice to listen to... would end up having to choose between his career and his inner voice.

I somehow believe that it's a case of self fulfilling prophecies. One was too convinced in the first place that being ethical won’t work and might in fact hold him back. If that's the amount of belief you have in your weaponry, you sure to surrender fairly soon, rather than fight it out because you're scared you'll die! And believe me, that's the point when YOU die! What was your identity if not your beliefs and convictions and what's left of you if you've had to give up on them? There's one move, to trample the inner voice that had been bothering you and then gradually and incrementally, as you bite the apple and get intoxicated with the taste of success... your race begins.

That's the beginning point of the line of thought where they see one's ethics a matter of conviction. You can't have a low defense in the first place (be almost waiting to surrender) and then blame it on the juggernauts that blew you over. Hold your guns long enough, it might just be worth it because the excuses that might work when you have to defend yourself in front of others, will not work when you need to answer yourself. Much as you'd like to believe you'd get away with it, yes, you might not get caught.. but the 'self' within you is sure to catch up sooner or later! Your deeds will come back to haunt none else but you and then, you might want to exonerate yourself and go back in time to undo things!

They say everything in the world can be bought.

Every'thing', and every'one' shall be up for sale.. if offered the right price.

What’s your tag? It’s gonna determine your quality of life.. your consciousness.. and a lot more!


Saturday, December 02, 2006

On the Foundations of Love

" The foundation of everything is love"

Have moved on from the romantic form of love to its broader manifestations.. happened to run into the home page of The Foundation, an NGO floated by Rahul Bose. It can be reached on the weblink stated above.

Had left an open ended thought as to what success in each dimension might mean to someone and how one might end up abandoing everything else in his passionate pursuit. In an attempt to look at epitomes in different fields one of the first names that struck me was that of Bhagat Singh and a little search on the web only revealed some more manifestations and proofs of the statement that's the title of this article.

"While discussing anybody's character you asked me one thing, whether love ever proved helpful to any man. Yes, I answer that question today. To Mazzini it was. You must have read that after the utter failure and crushing defeat of his first rising he could no bear the misery and haunting ideas of his dead comrades. He would have gone mad or committed suicide but for one letter of a girl he loved. He would as strong as any one, nay stronger than all.

As regards the moral status of love I may say that it in itself is nothing BUT PASSION, not an animal passion but a human one, and very sweet too. Love in itself can never be an animal passion. Love always elevates the character of man. It never lowers him, provided love be love. You can't call these girls - mad people, as we generally see in films - lovers. They always play in the hands of animals passions. The true love cannot be created. It comes of its own accord, nobody can say when. It is but natural. " - Bhagat Singh

He did write a lot further than this, but this much suffices to bring the point of the importance of love. Not just the love of one man for one woman.. but of a man for a cause, of a man for life, of a man for humanity.. of a man for peace!

Relooking at the definitions and parameters of success as I'd thought of previously, I'd say success is the joyful state of bliss when you're in love! Some kind of further exemplification was provided by Dr. Kiran Seth, (founder of the SPIC MACAY movement) when he was asked about his missionary zeal for the cause despite the odds not stacked but ingrained in the system and the culture and presenting hurdles at every step. He only had one thing to say... ' Jab pyar ho jaata haina.... ' I do not precisely remember the remainder of the sentence but it had touched me within.. and perhaps most others present.. and it elicited a heartfelt applause as an ovation to the spirit of a man... to his love for a cause!

To put it in the earlier framework, probably these people are high on their need for making a difference to the society and the nation and in that pursuit, they have forgone the material wealth.

To them, it doesn't matter.. does it. They couldn't care less.

Will some time try to contrast this situation with that of someone who's pursued something else in some other dimension and compromised on some dimensions. Nothing like being able to pursue all dimensions at the same time, but then we have one life!

Live it to the full.. make your choices yourself.