Friday, May 21, 2010

One must let go of one’s certitudes and beliefs

Looking For Right Answers Times of India ANIL MATHUR, May 21, 2010
As a child, questions concerning life and death would perplex me. Sixty years later, i find myself grappling with the very same questions. Is there such a thing as an ideal life? If there is, how does one know how to attain it? I tend to think that my destiny is in my hands. Experience, however, says something different. The path my life has taken is evidence enough that my destiny is not in my control; it does seem as though some kind of superpower is orchestrating the way each and every moment of my life unfolds. 
I have tried my best to try and quantify how much of what happens in my life is within my power to change and how much is not. However, the answer is still not within my grasp. I have failed to find the answer. Despite knowing that as a rational thinking person i would not come to the conclusion that one has to accept total surrender as that is the only approach that will help one to stay sane i find that surrendering to the inevitable seems to be inevitable. […]
Why have religions made life and death so difficult to comprehend? Going on pilgrimages and travelling to different places of worship and religious importance has given me much joy and pleasure. I have also enjoyed meeting and knowing several enlightened souls and interesting persons from whom one can learn a lot. Despite all of this, i still have not been able to find an answer to the question: In its final form, can salvation be achieved through pilgrimages and darshans? 
All roads lead to the same destination that's one philosophy i have tried to believe in. However, i do not know if the difference in quiet prayers at the Pondicherry Aurobindo Ashram and the vibrant chanting of Hare Krishna at the Vrindavan ISKCON temple are cosmetic or are marked by definite characteristics. I have enjoyed both, but cannot say which will help me reach the desired goal of salvation or peace. How does total surrender to God differ from escapism? Is being totally rational, or trying to be rational, an exercise in irrationality? […] 
If you get the message that i am totally confused you are right but i have still managed to live a life of some relative sanity because of spiritual or higher pursuits. Meanwhile, i will welcome any answers to some of my questions from the readers of the column that has helped me stay afloat.  
Michael Shermer in his book “Why We Believe” describes the mind as a “belief engine” that is constantly creating patterns of belief. From fractured information and sense impressions the mind weaves together plausible pictures of reality that we believe in. What do we mean when we say we “believe” then? Things that we believe in are things that we “think that we know.” 10 Comments » 
Benthamite reasoning is hard to escape. Everyone relies on it when making decisions in everyday life, whether it be voting on a job candidate or buying one car rather than another or putting a bus line on one road rather than another.  Even a lot of the arguments for following rules rely on an ultimate Benthamite judgment about good vs. bad consequences…Benthamite reasoning is inescapable, though it is a big mistake to make cardinal utility the only relevant value.  We're all pluralists now, but cardinal utility should be a major part of the relevant pluralist bundle.
The Divine Will is an elusive thing for sure.  The religious preacher confuses his strong beliefs with the Divine Will, the despot attributes his success to it’s action, and spiritual aspirant is supposed to surrender to it.  Does any such thing as the Divine Will really exist?  How can one recognize it ?  The Divine Will does exist because there is a teleological purpose in evolution.  Every soul is being led to the Truth through a certain line of evolution, seemingly haphazardly, and it is this Divine Will which subtly goads him to progress forward. Ordinarily, the Divine Will remains concealed due to our ignorance of our true nature but it begins to unveil itself as we gradually erase the ego through Yoga and allied occult-spiritual practices. […] Conditions for knowing the Divine Will
Purification of consciousness is necessary to uncover the Divine Will. There are certain set of practices one must do regularly as an integral part of spiritual life.  First, one must let go of one’s certitudes and beliefs, and clear the clutter of opinions one has acculumated regarding the world.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Like cats, professors are naturally suspicious

 Advice by Rob Jenkins The ChronicleApril 12, 2010
Like cats, professors tend to be highly intelligent, deeply self-actualized, and fiercely independent. They need to be stroked occasionally, but only on their own terms and in their own good time. Mostly, they just want to be left alone to do their own thing. They might not come when called—perhaps because they're suspicious of the caller's motives—but they may very well show up on their own when least expected.
In fact, the real question isn't whether or not faculty members are like cats. The real question is, "What's wrong with that?" Perhaps, instead of constantly trying to rein in faculty members, we should be cultivating their catlike qualities.
Take independence. It's true that many faculty members, perhaps most of them, seem to view themselves as independent contractors rather than employees in the traditional sense. They sometimes find themselves at odds with administrators who definitely regard them as employees, in every sense.
For college professors, however, independent-mindedness is hardly a negative trait. Indeed, it's largely responsible for the rich diversity of personal viewpoints, teaching approaches, and classroom methodologies that makes getting a college education such a rewarding experience.
Another quality I admire in cats is that they have a certain moral integrity. The truth about dogs is they can be bought. Cats generally can't. You won't see anybody bribing a cat with a kitty treat. Oh, it might take the treat, but it will still do exactly as it pleases.
Similarly, good faculty members are not easily manipulated—much to the frustration of some administrators, who think they can persuade professors to embrace the latest make-work mandate simply by stroking them with vague promises, empty rhetoric, and meaningless awards. Like cats, professors are naturally suspicious, not because they're cynical (although some are) but because they're highly sensitive to ulterior motives. […]
Just feed them regularly, don't abuse them, don't patronize them, and occasionally they might climb up on your lap and purr—metaphorically speaking, of course. Rob Jenkins is an associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. He blogs at http://www.academicleaders.or