Eye-Catching Dynamics

 

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We and everything around us are in perpetual motion. It is so natural and mundane that we hardly take notice.However, the beauty of natural dynamics is its simplicity and complexity at the same time. Take for example the way we walk. For us it’s the most simple and natural thing to do. But think about the processes, coordination and timing between various organs . The eyes scan the surroundings, sending the data to the brain which in turn processes it and sends perfectly timed commands to the respective muscles in the legs and hands to execute that motion. Big deal?! Try writing a piece of code for a robot to walk the same way as we do and the perspective immediately becomes clear.

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It is no secret that the whole universe is a perfectly orchestrated symphony. The formation of the stars, galaxies, the movement of the suns and the associated planets and their moons, even the comets and asteroids exhibit an elegant and perfectly executed motion. Any motion that is a result of perfectly coordinated actions and perfectly balanced forces is graceful and a treat to the eyes. Just imagine if you were to be positioned at such a distance in space from where you could clearly see our solar system and the movement of the planets around the sun. You would see the planets gently revolving around the sun in a beautiful elliptical orbit all perfectly balanced by the sun’s gravity.

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You don’t need to be an astronaut or a cosmonaut to appreciate the dynamics. Just look at the eagle soaring in the sky with it wings spread out. It catches a thermal and effortlessly glides up without flapping a wing. The lift generated by its wings nicely balances out the gravity, just sufficient to lift and hold it aloft thousands of feet above the ground.

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Similarly, observe a fish in an aquarium tank or a dolphin or a whale moving in water. Gravity, buoyancy and the forces generated by its fins flawlessly conspire  to produce literally a “fluid motion”.

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Back on the ground, in the wild, a Cheetah’s sprint after a zig-zag moving prey mesmerizes everyone. The laser focus, powerful strides, that humongous burst of energy and last but not the least, that deft movement of the tail to fine tune its balance while changing directions is just out of this world.

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The spectacle of speed, power, timing and balance is a given in the sporting world. A tennis player tosses the ball up at the right height, adjusts his weight, his muscles contract accumulating power and finally letting it all out at the right time hitting the ball, in the right direction to produce that ace, all in a seamless awe inspiring motion.

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Again, it is needless to say that the the dynamics of such motion are so eye catching due to the perfect orchestration of the forces involved, the timing and the raw power.The machine world too is known to display some mind numbing visuals of dynamics. The most natural example would be the helicopter. The principle of flight is more complex for a chopper than a good old airplane. The main rotor blades not only create lift but also thrust. However, the rotation of the rotor blades generates what is known as “anti torque” which makes the fuselage spin in the opposite direction. The forces of anti torque are balanced out by the tail rotor which pushes the tail in the direction opposite to that of the anti torque. Without going into too much technicals, just savour the sight of a flying helicopter.

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However, the most flamboyant display of dynamics is demonstrated by rockets and modern missiles. The supersonic Brahmos missile, seconds after its launch  fires a couple of rockets to change direction in mid air, throws off parts of its canister and fires the main rocket to accelerate it to insane Mach 3 speed. Watch the sequence of events as they unfold. Dynamics don’t get better than this!

 

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The unsung hero of 1962 war – Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat

Prashant's Blogworld

In 1962 Indo-China war, when the troops of Garhwal Rifles were given the command to return back from Battle of Nuranang, a Braveheart from Uttarakhand refused to leave the battle ground. He held the post and gave a tough time to Chinese soldiers with his dare-devilry. It is said that the brave Indian soldier had slain 300 Chinese soldiers with his rifle. But when the Chinese army got the hint that it was not a massive army, but a lone soldier who was holding the post, they decided to retaliate with a vengeance. In the battle between the Chinese troops, Jaswant was outnumbered and realizing that his capture was imminent, he shot himself. The Chinese battalion was so furious of this Indian soldier that they chopped his head off and took it with them. Later a ceasefire took place between India and China. The Chinese army was so amazed by…

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If time travelled backwards

nature-images-86Sometimes I get weird ideas, so weird that they qualify to be labelled as thought aberrations rather than ideas. But the mind refuses to be reined in and continues to run amok. One such thought aberration was what if time travelled backwards? Now Einstein would be surely turning in his grave saying it’s all relative and there is no such thing as forward or backward. However, with my current frame of reference and the way my mind is programmed to think, “clockwise” is time travelling forward and “anticlockwise” is travelling backward. With that issue settled, let’s embark on a journey “back in time”, literally.

I would start my life as an 80 year old, with standard complement of medical complexities, whiling away my time, cursing others, creating occasional nuisance and ogling at women third my age, boys will be boys! Not a bad start, considering the fact that I would already be retired and the onus of my responsibility (actually burden) would be on my immediate family rather than other way round. After spending couple of decades, I would have gradually regained my health and would be about to join the workplace.

The medical complexities would have ebbed and I would be joining the workplace at the pinnacle of my (erstwhile) career, with its full baggage of pressures, responsibilities et al. It would be cool to have all the knowledge and the experience prior to joining the workplace. No interview, no tests. Over a period of few years, I would gradually “move down” the corporate ladder.

Though I may have a settled life, the customary midlife crisis would make it appear as if I am the most unsettled and the most unfortunate of them all. While desperately trying various options for course correction including retirement, I would essentially stay on the same course just procrastinating. While the midlife crisis would die down, I would still be doing the tight rope walk trying to balance my personal and professional life.

Meanwhile my full grown, full-fledged family would be progressively getting younger each day. The kids who had just got a job and were independent would now be attending college and then “graduate” into school. While in school, wouldn’t it be amazing to show them their own photographs and videos when they were older? Same would go for me and my wife when we would look at our photographs and videos when we were old and have a hearty laugh. One immensely satisfying thing would be to lose the flab around the waist and get the foliage back on the head.

As I would progress back in life, one day I would get married and the next day I would be a bachelor! Oh how I yearn to be a bachelor….if my wife reads this, am sure to get killed or maimed. Subsequently, it would be the good old college, sun in my eyes, wind in my hair, no studies, no worries….just friends, fun and movies. Next, it would be time to go to school. The energy, the insatiable desire to learn new things, the innocence and excitement would return. I would find joy in small things like jumping in puddles, playing in dirt, chasing insects and butterflies, making paper boats and airplanes.

Getting younger and younger, I would lose weight and height, would start wearing colourful clothes with images of cartoons, slowly losing my vocabulary. Instead of saying full words and sentences, would start blabbering in monosyllables. My routine would now be eating, sleeping, crawling around and again eating and sleeping. The diaper would take care of the rest. Finally it would be time to say goodbye to the world and get into my mother’s womb!

 

Walk in my space

IMG_20160308_104835852_HDRIt has been a few months now that I started my early morning walks. Well, at 10am, it is not exactly early morning when most of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood are well past their early morning chores, having reached respective schools, colleges and offices while some are on their way. Thanks to my work hours, which allow me to call it a day not before 12:00am and my inefficiencies which allow me to wind up only at around 12:30am and the icing on the cake is provided by the 1 hour commute time from office to my abode.

Once at home, my confused body clock still thinks it’s too early to sleep and then my newfound hobby(?) of reading a book or freshly published blogs takes over. I manage to barely get past few lines when the eyelids revolt and begin dropping down. I do offer a symbolic resistance by reading next few words even though they appear like some smokey figures and before long, am knocked out.

The next thing I remember is getting up bleary eyed at around 09:00 am in the morning. By this time my daughter is already halfway through with her morning school and my wife after having despatched our daughter to school tries to make the most of the ‘space’ she gets subsequently. However, we do exchange customary updates over piping hot tea which I call my turbocharger, that carries me through at least in the morning.

Another thing I do religiously is read the newspaper. However, even after reading it regularly every morning, I find my general knowledge and awareness going down. I have no qualms about blaming it on the lack of genuine news and the burgeoning advertisements. The habit persists, though it is not adding any value.

After devouring the breakfast, I am ready for my morning walk. Isn’t that what I started talking about at the begining of the post? Glad that I came back to it, thought I almost forgot!! Well, my morning walk is what I call ‘my space’. That’s because this is the time am on my own, all by myself, esconced in my thoughts. The weather is usually pleasant at that time in the morning though the sun does make an effort to make it difficult for me. However, its efforts are thwarted by the multistoried building where I live and the adjacent trees.

The walkway encircles the housing society and is lined with well grown trees. The gentle breeze creates a rustling sound as it blows through the trees which has a soothing impact over the frayed nerves battered by the previous day’s travails. The trees are home to a good number of birds and squirrels. The chirping of the sparrows and the cooing of the cuckoos is pure music to ears. The squirrels too descend down from the tress to nibble at anything they find interesting and scurry around from one place to another which is nothing short of poetry in motion.

These morning walks have now become ‘my space’ where I can take stock of my life, gather my thoughts, try to think something new (though I haven’t had my eureka moment yet) or just observe the surroundings and watch life go by.

 

Pour Your Thoughts On the Paper

Writing“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”. Beautiful quote by none other than William Worsdworth. This exceedingly simple yet effective quote applies not only to writers but every one of us. After all, writing is about thoughts, emotions, feelings and ideas which we humans have in abundance. Based on the situation and the state of the mind, these are expressed through talk, gestures, facial or physical expressions and writing. One thing is for sure, there is a writer that lurks behind the curtain of inhibitions in each one of us.

He has to be coaxed out from the sideline into the spotlight. Most of the times, it is the brain that controls our decisions or what we do but for something as creative as writing, let the heart call the shots. With a bit of resolve and determination, once the thaw sets in, the earlier frozen thoughts, emotions and ideas begin to flow in a trickle and slowly but surely turn into a steady flow, charting out its own course in form of beautiful descriptions, plots or stories.

But then writing is not for the faint or the broken hearted. It takes herculean efforts to overcome the initial blocks and lot of blood and sweat needs to be spilled on the paper before the rainbow comes out. It takes persistence of the ocean waves that ram into the rocks over and over till they smoothen out the rough surface or change shape or that of a river that carves out a valley or a canyon between mountains. Once you persist and overcome the initial hurdle, the next thing you do is identify the ‘sweet spot’ or the ‘zone’.  

This is the time, the place, the conditions or the trigger that make your thoughts flow effortlessly, something like an F22 Raptor does when it flies at supersonic speeds without afterburners(extra power) or a car that cruises at 60mph on an autobahn. When you are in the ‘zone’, the words flow with utmost ease like a brisk breeze in an open field. It is as if you are possessed and driven by divine power. However, it takes significant effort and patience to find out the ‘zone’. The sooner we find it, the better; I am yet to find it though.

But there is no denying the fact that writing can be immensely satisfying even for greenhorns like me. There would be times when you feel like writing for an audience, craving for that praise, raking in some moolah, getting huge views and likes on your blog which would eventually happen but your best would come out when you are writing for yourself and no one but yourself. So just sit back, relax and unshackle the horses of your imagination and let them run wild.

Here are some beautiful writing quotes:

“There is no magic trick to good writing. Writing is soul searching. Once you empty your soul, the words will appear.” – Natrietia McClendon.

“Write drunk. Edit Sober.” – Ernest Hemingway.

 

Expectations

 

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The word ‘expectations’ like the meaning suggests is pregnant with expectations! All kinds of expectations, without limits, no boundaries, adjust themselves according to the context, are situational and are potentially infinite. It is like the universe, ever expanding, infinite and unbounded. Expectations are all pervading and no one can escape from them. Everyone has all kinds of expectations from life, from their partners, friends, job, society and ultimately life. It is one of the most basic instincts in all living things even animals and insects. Just look at a spider waiting in its web expecting a prey to pass by and get trapped. Look at the crocodile waiting in water, with just eyes out, expecting a calf or a deer to stop by for a gulp. It is amazing how it is built into our psyche, we don’t need to be trained or instilled with it.

Expectations start right from infancy and keep growing as we grow and later assume unexpected proportions so much so that they start driving our life. The nature of expectations too changes as we grow. During childhood, they are innocent limited and most flexible. The child of a beggar on the streets is happy with an odd snack or a broken toy. However, a kid from a well to do family expects a pizza or a burger for a snack and a remote controlled toy or a tab to play with. Here the situation has shaped the expectations. However, expectations have an uncanny ability of growing exponentially. As we grow, the expectations start growing like water hyacinth, slowly but surely until the entire lake or pond is covered. Just picture this, in school, we expect our parents to buy us a better school bag, better compass box, better stationery, better tiffin box, better story book etc. In college we expect better clothes, better accessories, better shades, better bike, better girlfriend etc. Further in life, when we start earning, we start expecting a better job, better pay, better car, and better house and now we find ourselves completely trapped in our own and others’ expectations! That’s right; now others also start expecting from us, our boss, our spouse, our children, our colleagues and even our friends. Day in and day out, we are under the spell of expectations. Our boss expects us to perform better at workplace, put in more hours, more effort and more innovation. Even the team that rolls up to you starts expecting you to fulfill their expectations!

After a hard day’s work, when you come home to relax, you face the brunt of your spouse’s and children’s expectations. Just when we expect the expectations to reduce, they bounce back with even greater force and on a larger scale. However, they are not always bad. If they are nurtured and handled properly, can have a positive influence on the situation. God forbid, but if you find yourself in a bad situation, expecting the situation to improve can help in cultivating a positive outlook in that situation. It is kind of a double edged sword, you have to do a tightrope walk if you want to come out unscathed. If you drill down a bit, expectations are results of attachment. Our attachment to things, our near and dear ones, places and situations triggers expectation. Humans by nature are selfish and they expect a reciprocal gesture for every deed, feeling and action. Being part of the society, we are all caught in the web of expectations, all the time. Even God has not been spared of our expectations. Don’t we always expect good health, wealth and life from him irrespective of our deeds? This becomes the cause of our misery. Now we cannot get rid of all the expectations but can certainly keep them minimum and in proper perspective. Not expecting at all or expecting the unexpected seems to be the mantra here. I can’t help but quote Alexander Pope:

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”

 

Our Origin and Purpose

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About twenty odd years back, I vividly remember sitting idle in my house, just brooding over something when suddenly, I had this strange feeling. For a few moments, I was no longer thinking like ‘myself’. My mind seemed to detach a bit and asked “who am I and what am I doing here?” It was kind of losing my identity and questioning my existence. Well, I came back to normal and again started thinking like ‘me’ or not thinking at all! Not that it was a profound life changing experience but that question does keep coming back to me. I am sure many of us are also plagued by the same question. What is it that got us here, in this form, in this time. What is the purpose of our existence and what difference does it make? I was born like millions of others, grew up to adulthood, got a job, started a family, got about with my daily chores, got through mental and physical upheavals etc.. But does it make any difference to this earth, the solar system, the galaxy or the Universe as a whole? Is the Universe affected by me being a CEO or a beggar or me committing a crime or a good deed? Now that is not exactly an ethical question but let us just consider it for the sake of argument.

We are much too insignificant in the larger scheme of things. The earth is not even a spec when it comes to our Galaxy, leave alone the Universe. And there are theories that there are parallel universes!! So why are we really here and what is our role in this universe? On the face value, our existence seems entirely inconsequential, devoid of any meaning except for the fact that we are too tied down with our own lives, our relations, things that we own and above all our identity.

With my limited 3-dimesional intellect, there are two ways to address these questions. First, through science as we know it and second through spirituality which also is a science but NOT as we know it. As we are all aware, conventional science has and is still trying hard to answer these questions. Genetic engineers have decoded the human genes and mapped our DNA and one day might be able to produce human clones. Haven’t they done the same with sheep? Astronomers and physicists have been trying to calculate the age of our Galaxy and the Universe and how everything came into being. New theories are being propounded almost every year and the old ones are being discarded. But they remain just that, theories with no definitive proof. And we have not got any closer to the question of why and how the nature got created the way it is and what we should be doing to have any discernible impact on the Universe as a whole. Clearly, conventional science has extremely limited capabilities. What is needed is something really out of the box, literally.

That brings us to the other side, spirituality. Neale Donald Walsch has tried to answer the question in his book “Conversations with God“. According to him, God, the super entity wanted to experience “itself”. Since God was all that was and there was nothing else, another reference point had to be created to experience “itself”. A simple example, if I want to experience myself, I would have to be someone else, another reference point, to really know or understand what am I like. Similarly nature, which we are a part of, got created through which that super entity is trying to experience itself. Drilling down further, the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedanta and the Upanishads have detailed explanations of this. Particularly interesting is the Samkhya philosophy of creation quoted below from the book “Meditation mind and Patanjali’s yoga”.

IMG_20160130_124248942It says, there are two types of super entities called ‘Purusha’ which is pure consciousness or pure sentience, uncaused and eternal and ‘Prakriti’ which is unconscious primordial matter. Though Prakriti is uncaused, it is the cause of everything in this universe, the matter, the energy or even the mind. Prakriti has three constituents, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas also called Gunas. Needless to say, all these exist at a very subtle level which we cannot perceive. These three Gunas have their own characteristics and are in perfect harmony and equilibrium before creation. The process of creation starts when Prakriti borrows consciousness from the Purusha and begins acting like a conscious entity. At this juncture, the equilibrium between the Gunas is lost and as a result Prakriti starts evolving and changing. The gradual transformation of Prakriti leads to the formation of manifold universe. According to this philosophy, there are as many Purushas as there are conscious beings. So the conscious beings are a combination of matter and consciousness.

Prakriti’s first evolved state is ‘Mahat’ or cosmic intellect. The next evolved state is ‘Ahankara’ or cosmic ego. There are three kinds of cosmic ego or Ahankara:

  1. Ego with preponderance of Sattwa.
  2. Ego with preponderance of Rajas.
  3. Ego with preponderance of Tamas.

The Ego with Sattwa or Tamas cannot evolve by themselves, they borrow their energy from the Ego with Rajas. From the Ego dominated by Sattwa evolved the Jnanendriyas or Sense organs, the Karmendriyas or the Motor organs and the Mind. From the Ego dominated by Tamas, evolved the five subtle physical essences or Tanmantras. The Tanmantras are the potential elements or the Generic essences of sound, taste, colour, smell and touch. From the Tanmantras evolved the five gross elements, Akasha(space), Vayu(air),  Agni(fire),  Ap(water) and  Kshiti(earth). The five elements mingled together following certain permutations and combinations to become the manifold tangible universe as we know it.

It is all very interesting and intriguing when we think that we are a part of the same super entity, only in a gross form, trying to ‘experience itself’. All the Vedas, Upanishads and religions constantly exhort us to be one with God or that Super Entity and the cycle of birth and death is merely a journey towards that goal. So right now am pretty happy to be a part of that Super Entity!