A collection of epiphanies, a discovery of philosophy
Mokita is a journal of philosophical inquiries into otherwise elusive unspoken truths.
The Journal publishes the writer's personal epiphanies, life hacks built on philosophy & curated wisdom.
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She: Every one of my friends you meet, you will see a different shade of me. A different person, born with their arrival. That’s the range of my personality and it scares me. It scares me that I’m too fragmented for your love.
He: What you and I share, goes deeper than these superficial fragments. Your soul, your emotions, they remain constant across all your personalities. That’s the only thing that concerns me and that’s what I’m in love with.
If we had to pin point one major achievement from our generation, it would be the pace at which we have built instant gratification. We post an opinion or an article online & we get likes and shares within seconds. How do you suppose anyone could possibly read, understand and evaluate within seconds? But we don’t care. All we care about is how soon and how many of these gratifiers we ‘earn.’ Earn being used so loosely that it almost loses its true meaning. We have apps and specialised services, all claiming to get us what we need a little bit faster than the other. All of them aimed at reducing our apparent “work load” & put more time in our hands.
To think about it, we now have technology and automation to do most of our menial, mundane work. Heck, there are apps to even automate the aforementioned online posting. So it only makes logical sense to say that we now have more time in our hands, but do we? The answer to that is a resounding NO! No one has any time and everybody wants more of it. This age of instant gratification has made us believe that we can excel at almost anything because 40 people liked that post/comment you made on Bots & 10 others shared it. So now you call yourself a Bot Enthusiast and want to pursue a career in something like Bot Management or Bot Development. You make a 3 year plan on how you will achieve that- online courses, networking with people in the industry, the works. But at the end of those 3 years you still don’t get that dream job in Bot Management. What do you think happened?
In order to ensure that I don’t get carried away with these virtual-pats-on-my-back, I regularly conduct reality checks for myself. These checks are severe and downright mean. I strip down my personality, one layer at a time. Facing all the harsh truths about myself till I cannot do so any more. The night is filled with echoing voices of the harshest kind but when the morning arrives, I wake as a new person. A person only mildly touched by this virtual world and its delusions. With this mindset, I learn again and I learn better. No pretence.
As fool proof as this practice of reality checks might seem, the past few months have been especially challenging for me. The troubles, well they just kept piling on- to such an extent that I felt it in my bones, the pressing physical pressure of my world coming crashing down. Fortunately for me I had spent the time, before I got caught in this personal tornado, reading and studying philosophy. At the risk of sounding a bit loony, this seemed to me almost like it was a test. A test for me to fully explore the depths of my grasp on philosophy and also to realise a school of thought that is most aligned to my personal leanings. Two schools of thought resonated the most with me. They became this life-saving ship that would carry me through the tornado and help me see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” These two schools of thought were of Zen and of Daoism. Both alike in some ways and extremely distinguished in others. I’ll be writing more on both of these philosophies in some of my upcoming posts.
But today, today I wish to talk to you about how you can definitely get that job in Bot Management by paying attention to a recurrently occurring phenomena that we overlook everyday –
The phenomena of latency and its pervasive presence in all our lives.
I have devoted time to study philosophy, from the Pre-Socratic era to Socrates and beyond. A common theme amongst all ancient philosophers has been to answer the pressing question of What constitutes the universe? Followed by an inquiry into the justification for all our actions. Who decides what is good, what is bad? Is there a God? Is there a supreme authority on what is ethical and what is not? Whilst these inquiries led to their individual streams of discovery, the central theme encompassing all of these inquiries was an undying effort towards grappling this elusive concept of “a larger truth.”
It seems that I have digressed a bit but it was important to set context regarding the history of philosophical inquiries and how there is little to no exploration around the much prevalent latency that exists in all our lives. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Daosim, Zen, Stoicism and all other religions & spiritual philosophies, in some capacity, propagate the ideology of having patience. That everything happens in its own time. However all of it sounds a bit vague and outside of ourselves. We need a concept that is real to us, to our own inherent lives. From the inception of a dream to its realisation, the road is long and lonely. It’s filled with rejection, disappointment, failure et al. But what we need to be wary of, at all times, is that-
The efforts we put into something right now will reach fruition with a latent effect that is personal to our lives and one that cannot be predicted.
How many times have you set a timeline for achieving something, only to revise it over and over again until it basically just happens at its own time? What do you think is at play here? Is it some mystical law of the universe that you have not aligned yourself to? Or is it some God that you may have possibly angered?
It is none. The only thing at play here is the underlying PROBABILITY of your life and the time it takes to turn the tide in your favour. The problem with the human consciousness is that we love to complicate things. Because if it’s not as complex as a math problem, we probably won’t take it seriously, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be so complex. Hence, as a fundamental instinct we need to factor this latency effect in our decisions, goals and life plans.
I can see how this could probably be one of the most daunting things to do in today’s day & age of instant gratification. Especially when we are constantly exposed to the superficial achievements & gratification of others. I say superficial because we only see them as they are projected on social media. We don’t see the hard work, the time, the disappointments and the failures behind each achievement. And most importantly we don’t see the difference between the actual time it’s taken someone to achieve their goal vs the projected time. Paying attention to this evermore latency in our lives and being wary of it in the lives of others can propel us to accomplish our goals and not give up in that crucial last mile.
So, keep trying because the moment we stop making these efforts is the moment the manifestation of our dreams stops too.
Now, more than ever I can see with full clarity this latency effect at play in my life. It’s the cause and effect of life that Buddha spoke of – only with a greater emphasis on the non-immediacy of the effects. If you give it a thought, can you observe this pattern in your life too?
Sociologist Erving Goffman, through this lovely illustration below, draws in from Shakespeare’s iconic line –
“The whole world is a stage”
And elaborates on a demonstration of the various masks we wear in our daily lives and how there isn’t really a “true self.” The self is someone who orchestrates and coordinates between these different roles we play but doesn’t exist in any form that can be described, even when we are alone.
Kahlil Gibran, on this topic, talks to his aspirational self and says:
“My path is not thy path, yet together we walk, hand in hand.”
His dialogue is an effort to isolate the very real conflict that all of us experience at some point, if not always- being able to differentiate who we really are from what our societal, external self has become. The elusive yet everlasting inquiry into knowing where we end and where our environment begins.
With Valentines day approaching, here is a short illustration of Plato’s symposium, which is a philosophical text dated back to 385–370 BC. In this dramatic dialogue Plato explores the various facets that constitute love and it is from this symposium that we see the term “platonic” emerge. If you have ever used platonic to describe your relationship with someone, you need to thank Plato’s deeply evaluative thinking.
The below video gives us a quick recap of where the idea of a “second half” comes from and what makes us yearn them so much. Enjoy!
Video by- BBC Radio
Now if this theory has any truth to it or not and what happens to the hopeless souls that don’t find their supposed “better half” well that’s a matter of contemplation and one the journal of mokita hopes to tackle soon.
Until then, if finding your second half isn’t on your to-do list, read a piece on the state of love today that explores a morose yet very real question –Have we evolved past love?
Dwell further on this topic by reading a debate on the existence and necessity ofMonogamy. Do we need be paired in happy couples of two?
Our soul, it exists. But it exists in a form distant from our being. We comprehend the idea of a soul as part of us but not limited by us. The elusive thought that our soul is an energy, it can neither be created nor be destroyed, throws up some light on the otherwise vague topic but not enough to enlighten us in any way. Pondering on the constituents of our soul draws up a blank slate or maybe some images of psychedelic renditions put into our minds by the media. But do we really understand our soul?
Is the soul the driving force behind all your conscious and sub-conscious actions? Or is it the electricity that lights up your bulb? Or maybe the soul can never be defined as being something but only as not being something. We know what the soul is not, its not our rationale mind, its not mortal and its not tangible.
To explore the existence of our soul, Jawaharlal Nehru in his book “The Discovery of India” references parts of the Upanishads (which are a collection of texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism) and creates a metaphor to attempt comprehending the vastness of the immortal soul. A metaphorical explanation, was the only way to help understand a concept as vague and profound as our soul. The metaphor created here, is one wherein the soul is likened to a fire. But before that we need to understand the concept of an absolute soul. The absolute soul, is the one which drives our entire universe. The absolute soul is the energy behind the all encompassing macrocosm, much like a everlasting fire, and this leads into the concept of monism. Monism is the ideology that all existing things and beings can be explained as emerging from one reality or substance.
The individual soul, is like a spark that is thrown out by the fire of the absolute soul. This spark, once it enters the world, takes the shape of whatever it burns. The shape and strength of the spark of fire is dependent on the things it touches and burns. This then decides how long the spark will burn, how strongly and luminously will it burn and whether it will give rise to other sparks of flame or burn out on its own. The burning flame of our soul is shaped by the things we burn – the things we burn, metaphorically, are the families we are born in, the environment we thrive in, the social interactions we indulge in and every other aspect that shapes our mortal being. When we use the word “burn” in this context it is not so much it’s explicit meaning but its implicit rendition. What we burn is simply what we touch or come in contact with, which is a domino effect- one thing leading to another and another much like the spread of a fire. Now, how vehemently we burn the things we touch that is up to us, growing the fire from a twig to a log this ability can be attributed to the ever growing consciousness of the mind and the zeal for survival. For if we don’t grow this fire, we burn out.
So our soul, it is a spark of fire that is shaped by everything we come into contact with as we transcend the sphere of life.
The ideology of monism and the concept of an absolute soul perpetrates the cause of oneness amongst all human beings, caste, creed, sex aside. The Upanishads consider the highest form of knowledge to be that of the individual mind, the objective external world is considered as not unreal but real in a relative sense, a projection of the inner reality.
Plato’s allegory of the cave or metaphor of the cave is written as an insightful dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates. The riveting and highly metaphorical dialogue discusses Plato’s theory of forms and the contemplative thought that all material objects are non-existent and fleeting, if not given a form by attaching meaning to them via ideas. Similar notions appear in all of Plato’s work wherein he ardently believed that abstract non-material forms or ideas are the only reality that truly exists.
The allegory likens the state of a prisoner, who is chained to the wall of a cave since birth, to that of the human mind. In the allegory Socrates narrates a short story to Glaucon. In the story Socrates asks Glaucon to imagine a set of prisoners. These prisoners are tied since birth but they are tied to the cave in a very peculiar manner wherein their legs and necks are tied and held back by a chain, facing a wall at all times. Behind the prisoners is a fire and then a slightly raised walkway. The walkway is used by puppeteers to carry props in the shape of animals, birds, even humans all day long. To the prisoners, the reality of the shadows is the only one that has ever existed. This reality was so deeply ingrained in them that they started attaching prestige to the remembrance of these shadows, their details and the order in which they would appear. However besides being utterly random, there was no real order in which the shadows would pass by.
Socrates introduced several twists in the plot – one of prominence being when one of the prisoners is freed and allowed to see the real world. When set free, the prisoner is blinded at first due to the sheer overwhelming brightness and finds it hard to believe that the shadows he has so intently watched all his life are actually living beings. The perplexing realisation that everything he attached importance to was in fact a farce, a figment, a minor rendition of the larger, more real truth. The irony gets far more exemplified when the prisoner ponders about returning back to the cave and introducing to his fellows the real truth about the world. However on returning to the cave the freed prisoner is blinded yet again, this time due to the sudden shift from brightness to darkness. According to Socrates, seeing his blindness the rest of the prisoners are convinced that stepping out of the cave is harmful. Socrates concludes that after witnessing this, the rest of the prisoners could attack anyone who tries to unshackle and take them outside. The freed prisoner realises that sharing his experience from outside the cave would mean that he would be distrusted, ridiculed and accused of having been corrupted.
The entire dialogue is an effective analogy of how the human mind comprehends reality. Our reality is defined largely by the materialistic things around us, which in the case of the prisoners are the shadows. As is evident, materialistic objects can never form the core of our reality. However what can comprise our reality is the form or ideas around these objects. The forms we attach to them help us give them meaning and a deeper understanding. The freed prisoner in this context is a philosopher or the enlightened one. This entity, having realised the truth, carries the burden of tussling with his fellows and convincing them that their life-long beliefs are just a metaphorical shadow of a larger and truer form of being. Unfortunately, having spent a lifetime believing in the physical materials and not the idea, the metaphorical prisoners without being exposed to the rays of the sun will never believe that the figures cast by the flickering fire are just shadows of a larger world. Moreover, the fear of being blinded would forever keep them away from walking into the light.
Similarly, outside of this hypothetical dialogue, humans too form their entire identity sometimes purely basis physical objects, lacking any form or idea. A lavish apartment, an expensive car, jewellery, bank balance – if these form the crux of your identity then you become like the prisoner in plato’s cave. Experiencing only the dark shadows cast by the actual world, never truly understanding the meaning of living and having a consciousness. Constantly worried about losing these empty materialistic objects and fearing enlightenment, ascertaining it only as a path to becoming a pauper.
However if profound, contemplative, radical and sometimes ridiculous ideas form the crux of your being then you are the freed prisoner, freed from the shackles of this manipulative world and its materialistic shadows created only to act as distractions from a far deeper truth. The truth that will only reveal itself if we believe the thinkers and philosophers of our time. Or else for our lifetime we remain the prisoners in Plato’s cave.
Could there be a single underlaying reason to explain the economic disparities between developed and developing countries? Read on as I explore this very grey area of economics.
“Correlation may not necessarily mean causation”
Whilst the above statement is true in all its might, correlation between a country’s ecological zone and its economic development may have a strong causation towards the economic disparity we see in our world today.
Let’s explore this phenomena a little further:
Below is the extent of the Temperate Zone- The northern temperatezone extends from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle. The southern temperate zone extends from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Antarctic Circle. Europe and large parts of the Americas, Australia, southern Africa, and Russia lie within the temperate zones.
And this is of the Tropical Zone- The Tropical zone consists of North America (Mexico), Central America, South America, Caribbean, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, South East Asia, India.
Notice an interesting pattern?
The temperate zone consists of some of the most developed nations of the 21st century (we’ll dwell on that a little later). The Tropical zone consists of some of the most underdeveloped or developing nations of our world. So what’s happening? There is an unmissable trend here, but does this get accounted for whilst planning global economic development? Well, in the most limited capacity. The below statistic should put things into perspective-
“In 1820, GNP per capita in the tropical regions was roughly 70 percent of GNP in the temperate-zone. By 1992, GNP per capita in the tropical regions was 25 percent of that in the temperate-zone.” – The National Bureau of Economic Research
A tropical climate leads to underdevelopment due to a few reasons- • Proliferation of diseases owing to the nature of the climate (hot & humid) • Sustainable weather allowing most to survive but not at their optimum • Heat and humidity causing lower productivity
In fact there are multiple research studies that indicate a compromised working capacity when in hotter temperatures. As stated in a research paper by Harvard Business School “Bad weather increases individual productivity by eliminating potential cognitive distractions resulting from good weather”
[On a side note –> Q. Why do you think our corporate offices ensure that the temperatures are always a little below optimum level? A. To boost productivity of course!]
This phenomena is ingrained in the very mettle of these countries. Its much worse when the country is tropical and land locked. Being land locked takes away the possibility of trade via sea resulting in crippled economies. For example in the African region countries like Chad, Mali, Niger & Central African Republic are struggling with a stagnated economic growth and GDP per capita of below $1000. This means, keeping disparities within the economy apart, each person in the countries mentioned above have a daily income of $2-3. The situation is worse in regions like Central African Republic where the GDP per capita can be as low as $300, allowing the citizens to earn just a little over $1 as a daily wage.
Now coming to the temperate zone, logic says a cold climate is assertively less sustainable to life when compared to a humid climate. That’s the truth but that is also what gives this climate its victory point. Amongst other factors the sheer nature of this climate dictates a “Survival of the fittest” attitude. It will by way of nature weed out all the riff-raff and only keep the ones that can remain productive and warm. Once the weak links are weeded out, then comes spring which is their prize for having survived the tough weather. Owing to global warming, conditions are a lot different now but this process has already put these countries on a forward step.
Apply this entire phenomena to a pre-colonisation era. Locals of the temperate zones had 2 options – become strong and fight the cold or become smart and avert the cold, case in point example is that of the Vikings from the Scandinavian countries. They are the very child of surviving cold and tough weather conditions. What do you think made the British move out of their homeland and look at colonising other regions? – Well, as starters for the Sun of course! And a hope of finding sustainable conditions in their harsh winters. The driving factor, at all times, was if they don’t move fast enough, build fast enough, evolve fast enough they fear extinction.
The Mixed breeds: China is tropical in the south and subarctic in the north. A conjecture here could be that this might be the reason behind China’s fragile economy. But of course this is only a conjecture but provides plenty room for further research. Another mixed breed is Japan, whilst Japan is predominantly temperate, parts of it are subtropical.
Exception to the rule:THE MIDDLE EAST! Not all of it, but the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, they have found oil and they have not looked back. Strategic collusion of the Emirates to ensure a well facilitated trade has only furthered their economic aspirations.
Ok. This is great but now what? Well not much. All of this is only to highlight a very common yet often overlooked phenomena. Whilst global warming might be making many lines blurry, the ecological zones of each of the countries are embedded in their ethos. They reflect as silent causations in their history, literature, art and development and should start reflecting in the world’s global development planning as well. World Economic Forum, are you listening?
Below is a direct excerpt from the discussions of Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore:
It is not difficult to imagine a mind to which the sequence of things happens not in space but only in time like the sequence of notes in music. For such a mind such conception of reality is akin to the musical reality in which Pythagorean geometry can have no meaning. There is the reality of paper, infinitely different from the reality of literature. For the kind of mind possessed by the moth which eats that paper literature is absolutely non-existent, yet for Man’s mind literature has a greater value of Truth than the paper itself. In a similar manner if there be some Truth which has no sensuous or rational relation to the human mind, it will ever remain as nothing so long as we remain human beings.
What the above passage tries to implicate is the idea of a subjective reality. Our reality, the way we perceive it, will be far different from what it might be for any other living thing. This is solely because of the meaning and importance we attach to our surroundings. Devoid of the meaning, our perceptions would be far different from the current ones. The example given here is of literature. Human beings comprehend mere words written on paper basis their inferred meaning. This transforms simple words into coherent sentences that have the power to irk emotion, tell a story and create picturesque imaginations. But to a moth, do the same words mean any of this? The moth only considers the paper on which the words are written and that is the extent of the value the paper would ever provide to it.
This makes you reflect on the things that we attach importance to and which in turn so direly affect our reality. And then to wonder if those things are worth the importance and meaning we give to them? We and the world around us run after money but what is money but mere paper to the moth? Its our collective perception towards objects that allows them the power to dictate and transform our reality.
On the topic of collective perception, a large part of our reality is dictated by the collective perception of society. We value, accept and cherish what the collective perception of society makes us. Hence if a change has to be made to anything it can be very well started by an individual but it must be supported by a collective perception of the society otherwise we will forever value the things that the majority makes us value. This will continue for the eternity of it and keep us from knowing any greater truth, at least in our lifetime.
So what can you do? Well, a recent quote resonated a lot with me:
Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung
We’ve been encouraged and taught to dream. But maybe that is just a form of escapism that does more harm than it does good. Maybe focusing on ourselves and on starting a chain reaction of an awakening amongst our fellow beings would lead the world to greater good.
This, as opposed to selfish, vain dreaming because who goes to sleep at night dreaming of a more peaceful world? We are all so plagued by our inherent selfishness that it limits us in our very own reality, everyday.
So here’s to dreaming a little less everyday and reflecting inward a little more.
This age old proverb drives the young blooded to the old blooded and everyone in between. However its not the idealism expressed by the proverb that drives most people, its the success. So how would you define success? Success is defined as the achievement of an aim or an objective. But are not our aims and objectives so fleeting?
Most people that we might come across are in a perpetual beta mode, changing their hopes and dreams to suit the best of their ability. Their ability, which has been decreasing with every passing year as they get evermore complacent and driven by convenience. So if the goals that drive our success are dictated by convenience then how are we “trying till we succeed?” Well, we are not. What we are doing however is trying not to try too hard.
The phenomena of “trying too hard” is recent but colloquially a lot more popular than it’s idealistic predecessor. Most people are trying not to try too hard or at least appear as such. In today’s world, there is a stigma attached with being an overachiever and the stigma stems from the fear of failure and success of those that rely on chance and some good fortune.
But such people have it easy, I’d assume. Would it not be great to be so aware of your limits that you cause no harm to your inherent self by trying to overachieve? When your ego remains unscathed by the momentary but ever so crippling feeling of rejection.
The idealists however, for them a world where the ego takes precedence over aspiration is rather glim and leaves much to be desired.
However with this attitude, the Idealists can wind up with a string of regrets. Resulting from no faults of their own but as a function of external factors playing mayhem in their aspirations. External factors, they elude me the most. They are not mine to control and not mine to dictate. They have a mind of their own and this mind till date remains to be one that I cannot read.
I would assume, a life where you don’t try to achieve at all would be a lot easier to live with as opposed to a life where you reach for the stars only to realise that you perpetually have a broken hand. How long till my broken hand becomes the extent of my ability? How long till my hopes and dreams become as fleeting as the next biggest internet phenomena?
I feel my resolute to be strong but slightly shaken, tipping over an inch at a time to the want of “not trying too hard”
And if not, then I remain for the rest of my life, a hopeless achiever.