Sunday, November 06, 2005

A fantastic Magazine

The Hindu presents the Magazine on every Sunday. Some article are interesting and some are plain boring to me. Today's magazine was very interesting. I happened to read it just now and found a few articles to be noteworthy:

Perils of Comparison
The Art of the Matter and
Swiss Bliss in Zermatt

The first article discusses a matter raised in the recent issue of Alvibest. The 2nd article talks about an effort similar to that mentioned in an earlier post of mine and is related to a conversation I had with a blogger today!! The last article is beautiful in itself. Would love to visit that place. An article in an earlier issue of the Magazine might be of interest to those who read AgniBharathi's piece in the current issue of Alvibest. Suddenly, a lot of things get braided together!


  1. I agree. After a while, I found the latest Hindu Magazine really interesting. Read the entire thing yesterday. And the Literary Review was a fine one too.

  2. Perils of Comparison:

    I disagree with this article in the Hindu.

    I think all the suggestions given like - no ranks, no comparisons with fellow students or no promotional office parties are just cosmetic changes that dont deal with the core issue of how to CHANGE A WEAK NATURE STRONG, HOW TO MAKE A NON-TALENTED MAYBE-LAZY CHILD OR ADULT A STRONG MINDED, TALENTED, ACTIVE PERSON who doesnt want the whole world to be sculpted to fit his incapacity, but who would do little to do something great for the world.

    Let us face facts - so long as there is a goal to be reached there is a comparison that is automatically created.

    Whether a student is compared with another student's achievement levels or his own WRT WHAT HE SHOULD BECOME, but AS OF NOW IS NOT, a weak student is going to buckle under pressure - "Oh no! I have to know the complete history of America from the Civil War - I cannot, I will not."

    What do you do about a weak character? Do you keep on changing the environment so that he will expect to be pampered all his life or are you going to ask him to buck up and rise and work hard to reach some goal or the other?

    Ok- in the ideal world described here there are no ranks in schools, there are no promotional parties, no awards for good performance. Should there be no superior designations given, or no salary increases too for the person who excels in his work?

    Or is the non-performer going to be a fool not to know that the over achiever has been given a raise (party or no party is moot in the adult world - money is the marker for performance), whereas he himself has got a cut in his already puny increment? How are you going to protect him.


    Lets not pretend that it is otherwise just because we dont give ranks, we dont compare one child's achievements with anothers, if we dont give appreciative parties to achievers -

    faking reality might help a little but does not transform the core of incompetence or unwillingness in a lazy or incapable person.

    Look at non performers' non performance. Not give them a candy floss sweet face of a world that doesnt exist.


    The world belongs to the strong - we have to make everyone STRONG, SIMPLE, brilliant minded, HARD WORKING ACHIEVERS.

    We cannot say, "no dearie, the world belongs to you, who has no interest, no talent, no strength of mind to work towards goals - the world belongs to you, who will be incapable of running it."

    To do so is just pretending that that reality doesnt exist..


  3. Dear E,
    True, the Literary Review was interesting too. Did you notice that Anita Nair's book's hero was also related to the Kerala Kalamandalam (mentioned in the Magazine)? A good weekend read...

    Dear P,
    Phew! It was fairly challenging to read that comment but I suppose I was competitive enough! ;-) The article lacked a lot of meat. I wouldn't recommend that article to anyone who wished to understand and explore the issue of competition and comparison. I merely noted it as a delightful coincidence (that an article dealing with a related matter appeared in Alvibest). But you also disagree with the whole issue of competition being not essential. We shall discuss that here.
    I am glad you made the statement so long as there is a goal to be reached there is a comparison that is automatically created. It is always interesting to start with what the other person has said! So a goal is what causes comparison/competition to occur? And what would be a goal? I am this, and I do not like this and I want to be that, which becomes my goal. Isn't that how we construct a goal? Financial goals, academic goals, personal goals... any of them. On your blog you mention about true artists and how one could excel in what they do. So what is the goal of someone who loves to, say, learn and practice martial arts? Consider the monks of the Shaolin Temple. What? You don't like monks? Ok.. let us consider artists in a school (art school). Painters... ok? They are taught to play with textures, paints, brushes, sfumato etc. The power of dotting a wide ochre patch with nearly invisible spots of black to render a different effect, and... well, I suppose you get the idea. :-) There is a lot to learn. Now where does comparison come into the picture? Here I am enjoying the smell of red and the taste of sharp yellow lines (inspired by Gogh) and consumed in the world of beauty laid out in a palette... and you wake me up to say that "Do you know something? Parvati paints much better than you!" Now I can have 2 responses: Were I to be brought up through 20 years of comparison and competitive urges and thrusts, I would say "Bull! I can paint better than her anyday" or something similar and go about trying to establish that I am indeed better, or sulk about my inability to better Parvati's works. OR I could say "Ok!" and return to my world of well-coloured sensuous delights! This is not about individual traits alone. If, for 20 years, you are brought up to excel in whatever you do on an absolute scale and not on a relative scale then there is no sense of insecurity arising from comparison. If my school helps me realise that I am good at, say, Geography and let me realise and grow my interest in that area, then I wil be happy in a holistic sense. Later when I go out into the world and realise that investment bankers and software engineers are earning 10 times the amount I make, I could feel miserable or be neutral about it, realising the fact that I am doing what I love to do. The role of the school is not merely to make us adept at a subject so that we can earn higher degrees of academic knowledge and finally a good job. A school should bring out the passion of a student and make a child realise the futility in comparing oneself as that would be a never ending process. If the student is not passionate about anything the school should figure out what her/his natural bend is (analytical stuff, sciences, commerce, etc.) and prepare him/her for that. But a child should have the full freedom to realise one's passion which can only be done in a non-competitive environment. Consider this: You are exposed to say... ummm.... say classical dance in school. You try your hand (and leg) at it and realise that you are naturally good. The school will foster that and help you realise whether you are passionate about it. The subjects would go on simultaneously, but in the absence of comparison and competition you feel safe to pursue something unconventional (unlike engineering, commerce and the like) because no one would come up to you and say "Sheesh! Classical dance? What is the point? Such a waste of time. My daughter is doing her MS in the US of A" or they would say these things and you would get a chance to simply smile at them and walk away. The school does not merely reject things but strengthens things from within creating an entirely internal frame of reference which an individual can use in order to life his/her life to contentment!

  4. Dear P,
    BTW, Would you prefer teak, willow or mahogany for the crucifix? ;-)

  5. @Oh Dearest Eroteme or Herod or Pilate: Any wood would do, or steel and glass too would be fine, so long as the crucifix itself is designed by my very own architect Howard Roark!

  6. loved the tagline to ur title...

  7. Dear Sundar,
    Thank you! :-)

  8. Anonymous1:57 PM

    The comments of P, reminds one very much of ayn rand's views and the reply to that by eroteme, reminds one of J. Krishnamurti's.

    Life should not be a battle of strengths. it's love that should win. when do you really love something -when you don't expect something from it. this is what the bhagavad gita too expounds, but overlooked by many of us. when we set up goals and go after it, the ends become more important than the means. and the love in what we do is lost.

    I myself liked the article very much. I should thank you for letting me view this wonderful debate.
    - anonymous

  9. Dear Anon,
    You are welcome! Which article are you refering to? The one in Alvibest or the one in The Hindu Magazine?

  10. Dear Anon,
    I am ok if love does not win as long as there is clarity. This whole thing of "should" and "should not" kinda makes me squirm in my seat (even before I have had my lunch). Its not about who said something or where it is said. It is all about realisation. If someone realises the truth in something, then that suffices. To accept something simply because it is mentioned in the BG or Quran or elsewhere... naaah! Will not hold on for long. Tomorrow if something happens which seems to nullify the message of any of these texts then we are back to square one, wondering what is the truth!

  11. Anonymous4:33 AM


    First, thanks for making me feel welcome. I was referring to the article in Hindu.

    I am in the same page as you, the medium of message is not important, if the medium is contaminated,so is the message to our eyes. messages have to be realised.

    My opinions all grew second-handed, first I was influenced by Ayn Rand's Atlas shrugged, then Maugham's Razor's Edge, seemed to erode those, then came J. Krishnamurti, Ramana maharishi and BG. Opinions are there to change, the thing that does not change is truth. Truth is a pathless land, says JK, the depth in these words simply boggles me. i am still askng for a way, to a pathless land.

    thinking out loud, how does one come to meet truth, someone should be there to show a way (irony), BG is just there to show us the way. it could be the bible or quran, i really don't care.

    the thing is the generation that insists that we should follow our culture, tradition fails to understand our culture. BG is one of the main pillars in our store house of traditional knowledge. it says us not to expect the fruits of our work, just to act. so when we start comparing the results of our action, the whole ideology falls apart. even with their approach, which is traditional, they are wrong.

    As i had already mentioned, i guess i am in the same page as yours and am not making an argument, just thinking out loud in your space.

    Btw, Have you read the Ashtaavakra Gita. It seems to express in clear terms what the truth is. The one who is already mature enough should find at home with it.

    Thanks for allowing me to express my views.

  12. Dear Anon,
    You are always welcome, though it would be great to have your name. :-)
    Should someone be there to share truth with you? You do get to see the sun in the morning. No one pointed it out to you... Truth exists and cannot be readied and decorated for anyone. Life helps you realise truth. I am not talking about the informational truths (like about photosynthesis or digestive system, etc.).
    :-D Feel free to raise hell and make an argument. This is a discussion and such caution (as you express towards the end) are nice to hear but are not really required! :-)
    I had once seen the Ashtaavakra Gita. Haven't studied it in depth. Will do so once I can lay my hands on it.
    You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Do feel free to come along anytime... :-)

  13. Anonymous1:35 PM


    the status quo, makes realising truth, a really difficult process. the environment in which you are raised, conditions you, helps you identify what is right and wrong. it tells you what to think and what not to think. It teaches you to go after, success, fame, money and what not. if there is no change in the enivironment,(absence of some external catalyst) do you really think that you as an individual would change?

    Death - i believe to understand life, you have to start thinking about death. the way we lead our life today it's like we are in complete denial that we are mere mortals. the way people run after money, to accumulate wealth that they might not live to enjoy, and in the process denying many a chance to have the basic amenities is really sickening. many of us have had to deal with death among dear and near ones, but did it invoke in us the same impact as it did to budhha? what i mean here is did it bring us any closer to truth? why not?

    If someone comes along the way say, like J. Krishnamurti or ramana maharishi, and says something about truth. it would help you identify with it and discriminate between the real and unreal. if you are serious enough, it could create a dent in your thought process and help you understand that it is your thought/mind that distorts truth.

    Let's just call me hypocrite.

    - hypocrite

  14. Dear hypocrite,
    Why should realising truth be easy? No one ever complained about the process involved in becoming a surgeon or a architect. External influences will always be there, whether you seek truth or not. Point is: do you wish to seek truth?
    How can you think about something you know nothing about? No one has returned to tell you about it. Everyone has their own theory. Death and discussions about it are purely conjectures, aren't they? What do you think about Jescopesia?
    If you listen to people and accept or deny what they say, then you are functionaing in the intellectual world of theories. When the atomic theory evolved, there were plentiful conjectures and many camps. But that was in the realm of scientifically discernable truths. When things cannot be realised through experiments, then we need to watch, observe, learn and realise. You could do it by listening to people, but if you react with a "Yes" or "No" you will only be in that sphere of theories till someone else walks in and strikes you wonderfully with their sense of truth.
    There is an element of exposure (to teachings, life, incidents, etc.) that is essential before anything about them can be known. But of these teachings is least important as one can arrive at them without the help of others. Effort is not an issue. If one is in love with truth, effort never surfaces... If JK or Ramana Maharshi tells you something about Jescopesia, would you simply agree or would you investigate, and harmonise with it to realise what it truly is?

  15. I found this interesting discussion with a famous poet. The poet was pointed out to me by a dear friend and I must say she has a good taste. I would like to draw attention to the portion where he talks about the freedom to do what he pleases and the sense of success nowadays...


  16. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Dear Eroteme,

    Thanks for the article link, it was really good, and the conducive environment which he speaks about(his mother being very supportive) is really very rare, especially in india.
    We are, as i think and others have pointed out a "shame based society", we want our lives not to be a shame in front of our society, we wish to be a success in their eyes. not in our own

    "There is an element of exposure that is essential before anything about them can be known." ,
    very true, this element of exposure is what helps you identify with their teachings.

    If you examine the lives of these great philosphers, like ramana maharishi and JK, you should see that ramana left his house, at an age of 12 ( am not sure) and led a life of solitude. JK was spotted by the theosophical society and raised for the very purpose of starting a new religious order( "order of the east", which he later dissolved).

    An ordinary individual, is being raised with a middle class attitude( what others think of you is more important, you want to be a success story in the eyes of others, than your own). In this case, the ELEMENTS OF EXPOSURE, if not reinforced by the experiences of others, the exposure is lost, this is what i meant by "difficulty" in status quo. Ofcourse, eventually, we might come to know the TRUTH. But, i wonder, if this "eventually", might happen to be eternity, due to the environmental conditions.

    Ofcourse, i cannot simply agree or disagree with JK, as he says, i would have to meet him in the same plane. ofcourse meeting them in the same plane, cannot be achieved without my investigative/thought process.

    I believe, death is not just a conjecture, if humanity were to exist for immortality, i believe our attitude towards life would have been different. the enigma, that revolves around death, impels our drive towards understanding life and the truth behind it.

    I haven't heard about Jescopesia? what is it? tried googling it, but nothing came up.

    Btw, the post " the colour of the wind" was awesome.

    - hypocrite

  17. Dear Hypocrite,
    There is no word called Jescopesia! :-) I created it merely to emphasise the point that death too is a conjecture of sorts. One who doesn't know Jescopesia can talk endlessly about it, like one who talks about death!
    I agree that the pressures are enormous. I have been brought up that way. I even followed and believed in the need to be successful. I am no better than anyone else in the world. But my point was not that the pressures are absent. I am questioning the need for an easy solution to things. Why should finding truth be easy? Simple? Obvious? If people aren't serious enough, they can do without it. You don't need truth to survive and get 3 courses of food and a shelter. So many millions of people do without it! :-)
    More than shame, I think it is fear. We fear disrespect, we fear financial instability and having to give up our once a week pizza, we fear that that guy/girl wouldn't give us a second look if she knew that you would need to borrow from her to go back home, we fear about what people would say, ... we fear a lot of things. And that is what eliminating competition might nip at the bud: roots of fear. With nothing to win or lose, a child is more likely to live without fear and hence more fully!
    Glad you liked the new post!
    :-) But comments regarding that usu. go there ;-)

  18. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Dear Eroteme,

    About Jescopesia's reference, after google showed no results, i thought it was similar to "who is john galt?" in altas shrugged, . a had to check it out. anyhow, I liked the reference.

    The food is on the table, those who are hungry enough, will find a way........... (not my words)

    i can only summarise the conversation that has been going on as,

    Eroteme: If you are hungry enough, you should be able to find the way to the table yourself.

    Hypocrite: I am hungry enough and If I cannot find a way to the table myself, i would be glad to take help from those who can point a way to the table, but the journey is mine. I might be misled, but eventually, i will find my way.

    Thanks for the conversation, it has helped me find holes in my argument.