‘The Latency Effect’ – Why your life goals won’t align with your life plans

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?

Plato’s Contemplative Thought on the Composition of Our Reality and Stepping Out of the Oblivion.

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.

Dwell further by reading a dialogue between Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore in – Our life, its a shared consciousness.

Image courtesy http://bit.ly/1PO6oqR

Our Life, Its a Shared Consciousness

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.

Read more on When Einstein Met Tagore: A Remarkable Meeting of Minds on the Edge of Science and Spirituality via Brainpickings.

The Proof of Evolution

What is the proof of evolution? Is it just how our physical bodies have evolved, which is similar to any other animal or living being, or is it also how our conscience that has grown so beautifully over time?

I feel not enough number of people spend time dwelling in introspection and really knowing themselves. Whilst we are taught about the whole world, we aren’t taught enough about ourselves.

This differentiates great men from mediocre men. If you find yourself bucketed into a certain type of personality then that is your proof of not being evolved. It’s primitive to be too aggressive, too polite, too shy and any other extreme emotion. One should be able to find a balance and be a mirror to the other person. But the key to mirroring another person is not letting their characteristics override your own but to show them who they really are through yourself. This is truly an art and one very few have mastered. The caveat however to learning this art is truly being one with yourself because it is only when we are devoid of insecurities that we can start to be someone who’s evolved past others.

So how do you do this? Or more importantly why would you do this? The human mind and its potential is so vast that it seems a pity to restrict it to being just one person when you can be so many. The challenge however is in the transition, the seamless transition between all those reflections that you have mirrored as well as your own unique renditions of a personality basis your personal experiences. Maybe its only with the combination of these reflections and renditions that we can become one whole person, the most perfect and unique version of our own selves.

To only think about the kind of world humans would then exist in, where there would be no extremism but just shades. Millions and millions of shades of personalities having formed from absorbing various cultures and mind-sets and continuing to form various more. That would be a state of Utopia, well at least for me anyway.

It troubles me to see such limited personalities, highly intelligent people with the least amount of emotional intelligence. When someone says to me “I don’t know why..” it makes my skin crawl. How can a person not know why? Because in fact we all do know why but its deep-seated under denial and excuses and insecurities.

I don’t know if I’ve mastered this art but i am aware of it and that for me is a step in the right direction.

In conclusion, I think

The human mind has evolved far more than the human body and its only by truly knowing one’s self can we tap into its infinite potential. 

Image courtesy: http://bit.ly/1DWQftX