Snakes and Ladders

I am always told that we should not become participants of a rat race. In the same breath I am warned that I should work harder to become someone. The quest is not to do something, it is all about becoming someone.

What I think? I would say it is no sin to go wrong or just living idly for some time. If you did not work hard that is because in subconscious you did not feel the pull for that particular endeavour. That might have resulted in an option forgone. A chance missed, thousands more to come. No big deal!

In the prestigious IITs, one or more students commit suicide every year. Young boys with bright futures ahead. They lived with a constant guilt of time they have wasted and opportunities they lost. They often had less achievements than their peers. They were exhorted to achieve their true potential which was theoretically and rightfully, infinite. So they felt like underachievers. People around them added emphasis on the ‘under’ and ignored the ‘achievers’. As a result someone envied by millions others committed suicide.

What we fail to realize is that life is not a race on tightrope. It is a game of snakes and ladders. If you have a ladder nearby, work to catch it. If you miss, it’s all right, just keep moving. If you get bitten, No problem! go search for a ladder nearby. Just keep rolling the dice!

For every ladder you have climbed, a snake is awaiting just round the corner. For every snake who bit you, life will compensate with a ladder albeit at a distance.

In a perverse paraphrasing of a movie dialogue: bus, train, ladki aur opportunity; ek jaye to doosri aati hai.

life

A wonderful quote says, “Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted!” Because the world is not rational, we don’t need to be either.

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PS1: Snakes and Ladders was invented in India many centuries ago to teach virtues and vices at different stages of life. Of course the ultimate aim was to attain moksha.

PS2: Mathematically, if the dice is rolled a large number of times, the cumulative probability of finishing the game comes close to 1. (It’s around 175 in a chart on wikipedia. Link here)

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Action is basic unit of life

Life as human beings live it is a field in which forms and forces interact to produce results. However, in this case the forms are not forms of material substance, they are forms of actionAs the basic building block of material forms is the atom, the basic building block of life forms is the individual act. In both instances, the real foundation for the form is energy in constant movement.

As atoms combine together to constitute larger inorganic forms ranging in size from the molecule to the planet, solar system and galaxy and more complex organic forms ranging in complexity from single cells, to organs, organisms and species; so too, individual acts combine to form larger, more complex and more enduring activities, systems, organizations, institutions, customs and cultures. Composing a letter, conceiving a child, establishing a business, and founding a country are acts. Farming, shopping, manufacturing and researching are complex recurring chains of activity. Social habits, customs, procedures, and laws are complex systems of acts. Like the atom, each of these acts and systems can be broken down into smaller constituent parts ad infinitum to discern the minutest sensations, impulses, thoughts and movements of which they are constituted. Each is itself part of a longer chain or larger system of actions.

Like the expansive movements of stars and galaxies, each act can be traced back to its origins in the distant past and to its explicit or subtle consequences in the distant future. The key to this evolution of complexity in life is tersely explained by Sri Aurobindo. “It (life) evolves through growth of consciousness even as consciousness evolves through greater organization and perfection of life[1].” A progressive emergence of a previously involved consciousness and a progressive organization of the consciousness that emerges are the twin principles of evolution in all planes of existence, material, social, psychological and even spiritual.

The forces that act in our lives include forces of material nature such as weather and gravity, but also social forces such as political power, social status and peer pressure, and psychological forces such as the power of ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs, emotions, sensations, impulses, desires and aspirations. All these forces meet and interact in the cauldron of life to influence the course of the acts, activities, systems and organizations. When Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517 to launch the Reformation; when President Roosevelt halted the US banking crisis in 1932 by appealing to the American people over the radio; when Churchill single-handedly inspired the British people to resist Nazi aggression at a time when all of Europe had capitulated; when Mahatma Gandhi stirred the Indian masses to cast off two centuries of British imperial rule: when Gorbachev unilaterally dismantled the iron structure of communist authoritarianism that ended the Cold War – their acts expressed and mobilised forces of tremendous intensity to confront opposing forces and destroy or alter entrenched forms of social organization. The fields in which they acted, variously term economic, religious, political, social, psychological, are fields for scientific inquiry – arguably far more central and important fields than any that absorbs the attention of astrophysicists or evolutionary biologists. The material, technological, organization, social and psychological forces they wielded and unleashed are also proper subject for scientific study. The forms they created, altered or destroyed, be they forms of governance, law and social organization or forms of social attitude and mental understanding, are very much objects for scientific investigation.

The Ant and the Grasshopper – A Story About Building for the Future

 

Grandmother told the fable of an ant and grasshopper who lived in the same meadow.

All summer long, the grasshopper would sing, dance and hop about, having a wonderful time.

Meanwhile, the ant worked diligently, gathering and storing grain for the winter.

“Stop and talk to me,” said the grasshopper.   “We can sing some songs and dance a while.”

“Oh no,” said the ant.  “Winter is coming.  I am storing up food for the winter.  I think you should do the same.”

“Oh, I can’t be bothered,” said the grasshopper.  “Winter is a long time off.   There is plenty of food.”

So the grasshopper continued to sing, dance and hop about and the ant continued to work diligently.

Inevitably, winter came, and the grasshopper had no food and was starving.

He went to the ant’s house and asked, “Can I have some wheat or maybe a few kernels of corn?  Without it I will starve.”

“You danced last summer,” said the ant.   “You can continue to dance.”  And he closed the door without giving him any food.

Are you an ant or a grasshopper?

Are you working hard to prepare for the future, or are living frivolously, assuming that the future will look after itself?

Are you continuing to learn, grow and develop, or do you mistakenly think that today’s skills will remain useful in the dynamic, ever-changing world that we live in?

As JIM ROHN once said, “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

Winter’s coming and you can’t avoid it, so start planning and get to work.

practical guide to “I made my day”

I realised that every few days, I read or watch some inspirational stuff.  My motivation is not long lasting and needs frequent replenishments. While they tell about what all one should do to become the greatest, they remind me of my inability to become great. So I have borrowed from practical life a list of 10 commandments. I am sharing these not to help the readers but their family members (God help my family members also)

# The way you spend your days is the way you will end up spending your life. If you want to improve it, improve the next few hours.

# Contemplate where life is going for 10 minutes every day. Use the time in loo.

# Listen to good music everyday: it is a food for the spirit.

# Don’t take yourself too seriously; no one else does!

# Waste some money every year – on your mother, wife and sisters.

# Make peace with your past.

# Give away extra/ old things in your home. Enjoy the joy of giving. (and then shop yourself afresh)

# Love your body and respect it. No matter how you feel, get up, get dressed well and wear nice looks.

# You made mistakes when you were a child, your parents will make when they are old. Your children make mistakes because they are young, you will make when you get old. So, be at peace!

# Call your family often. You probably won’t have any new news to tell because you are not a media reporter. Still do make the call.

inspirational