Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I Confess

For a person particularly partial to Gandhian philosophy, ideals of austere simplicity and aspirations to frugality, I Confess, I am utterly, and dismally spoilt. I am spoilt by a taste of finer things in life, the decadence of self indulgence and appeasement of flesh and senses. I live in eternal guilt torn between lists of what I believe in and what I indulge in, seesawing between principles and greed, beliefs and habits. And then, occasionally I am directed, by outside forces, towards my right-action...and a just sometimes, I favor it.

For years now I have stood, absolutely guilty, in prolonged hot showers, chiding myself, scolding, gathering will power to step away, close the tap - save water, save energy, save the Earth - to deaf ears and an unheeding self. In a recent list of Enviromentaly friendly measures for city folks ( I am an avid reader of all that I do not do), I agreed that the most difference I could make was by taking cold showers! And so...the other day the geyser broke. Bangalore these days is a cool 25 degrees during day (at least inside IISc.) and tap water freezing - or so it seems. This was my chance to exercise mind-over-matter, a litmus test of my beliefs, a chance to live the Way.

For 5 days now, I have resolutely paused and pondered, willing to enter a shower of icy needles, soap and clean in a blink of an eye and re-emerge in two minutes flat - shivering, but smiling and victorious. Of course, I would have preferred the victory to be sweeter, warmer...

Meanwhile, the kids have immediately taken to using the other bath with a working geyser - NOT FAIR!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Science And Society

For some time now, I have been deeply interested in the question of
science and its social relevance. Arguably, there has been great human progress, with proliferation of science and the related growth ofindustrial enterprise. However, the whole question of scientific process, scientific temper and its relevance to our daily living
somehow has left our and the younger generations untouched. India
today still remains fragmented by deep social, religious, caste
divisions that defy our common and melodramatic origins from bellies of stars. The timescales of origins of life on earth, the insignificance of our brief, individual appearances in the vast epic
of cosmic drama has failed to touch our imaginations significantly enough - that we think differently, act and live differently. We have somehow failed in our 'Responsibility to Awe'.

I think, there are two key ways by which society might benefit with
scientific interface. One is the act of placing a human life on the
space-time chart of all other 'action' happening around us - from
quasar collisions to quantum interactions of fundamental particles,
from mating of mites to significance of spiders, from geological
births to radioactive decays...and the list is endless. We sit here,
on earth, in middle of some incredible theatre, on all kinds of
incredible scales - unaware, unawed, unaltered.

Another significant aspect of scientific influence on society is the
process of inquiry and discovery. Of promoting rational, logical,
independent thought - encouraging critical questioning, questioning
social and religious dogmas, development paradigms, individual
happiness and aspirations, and larger rational responsibilities.

I believe that, as society, we are sinking into an entropy pit - exponentially. And yet, it need not be so - there is a way to be poised, in equilibrium - circling, always in free fall, and yet - not falling. This requires the urges to societally sink be perfectly countered by rational scientific thought, action, movement - persistently, perpetually - and in eternal balance.