Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The virtually virtual reality

I never expected this from him/her.We all have experienced these
'U wrecker' moments that wreck you. They reveal a totally unexpected dimension of  people whom we hitherto considered 'close' to us. In fact such acts or deeds by these purported 'close' persons forces us to close our association with them. The treachery remains in the mind as seething embers of self- persecution after the flames of anguish and anger have died down. We curse our own judgement and feel ashamed of our naivete. Eventually, we become suspicious of all our existing relationships and skeptical about future ones. The introspection process endeavors to look for the motive, identify any subtle provocation or inadvertent hurt caused by us. The Sherlock Holmes in us goes about investigating any possible instigation or whether we are victims of some conspiracy. The thought process goes on overdrive. The ripples of such misdemeanours travel far and long disturbing the still waters of the mind.
Judgement about our colleagues and close ones is  volatile. We have to concede the fact that their reality is also changing and that effects a change in them too. If our existence  itself is fleeting and transitory, expecting eternity in the nature of our close ones is preposterous.
This realisation makes us more forgiving and goes a long way in building up our equanimity. Our own responses, reactions might have appeared as unpalatable and intolerable on occasions. It's much  easier and convenient  to play the victim. We most certainly have played the oppressor without ever  being aware of it. Our aggression or intimidation would never be cognised by our own sensitivity sensors. Judging and categorizing the people around us is inevitable.
Our judgement and assessment too has an intrinsic bias. This bias distorts the true image. Our egos serve as lenses that modify and alter reality. Our social  conditioning, public perception, further adds to  this distortion
Based on these customised and distorted assumptions one forms a core view of reality. People in our lives serve as mirrors on which we base our view of the world and ourselves. We thereafter  cling to these views as a way of keeping our world (and ourselves) constant. Often taking full responsibility for our view of reality is beyond the intestinal fortitude of most people.
Categorising and judging people is  a fundamental reflex of our reality building machine. We need to know where the other person fits into our picture, so that we can know who we are and where we are. We wish this picture to be running smoothly and unchanged perpetually. .  It is extremely disturbing to break the fourth wall of our own consciousness. It causes extreme disorientation never knowing who we are and where we are. Dealing with an ever changing ,uncertain and unpredictable world is deeply unsettling for most people.A rude shock forces us to start the painstaking work of deconstructing our own reality tunnel.The resistance we go through from ourselves (and from others) during this process is very disconcerting and painful. The reality that we had assumed suddenly starts melting into a virtuality. The images that we have formed of people and our relationship with them is constantly being redmodelled. We assume reality to be constant and unchanging. We have to reconstruct a new reality. A reality that is constantly changing. A reality that is kaleidoscopic. A reality that lasts as long as this  present moment.
The  only reality is  a virtual virtuality.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Zen and the Art of Playing the Saxaphone

Zen and the art of playing the saxophone.

The sheen of the brass could have easily been mistaken for gold. As a child when i watched an artiste playing the saxophone, he appeared larger than life. I imagined him to have the most powerful lungs and breath holding capacity. There was a touch of surreality to not just the sound that emanated but to  the aesthetics, graceful curve and the ivory keys of the instrument.
It was probably an infatuation at a tender age but any kind of romance in childhood  has  the most profound and prolonged impact.
The fascination for the instrument in teenage years almost grew to an obsession on  seeing a matinee idol  flaunting the instrument effortlessly to woo the reluctant heroine. It added to his machismo and made his  appeal irresistible. Or so I thought considering my innate fondness for the instrument.
The many stories and rumours about the saxophone being the most difficult instrument to learn made me abandon all hope to  make any attempt to pursue my dream. Hearing solo renditions of the instrument in hotel lobbies or elevators only whetted my lust for the unattainable.
Limitations of any kind are most often self imposed and my giving up any hopes of playing the saxophone was no different.
      One fine day on an impulse I just drove down to music store and bought myself the instrument that had captured my imagination for so long. Taking a few tips about assembling the neck, the reed and the mouth piece I  began courting this beauty. Just the feel of the instrument as I hooked it in the harness made me feel ecstatic. The sounds that I emanated were a cacophony. So remote from those ethereal notes that I had imagined.  It was largely like travelling on uncharted territory. Almost like getting to know another person.
As I puffed and snorted like a bull into the mouthpiece all I got in return was a high pitched squeal. This was surely not the way i had seen the  more accomplished ones play. It couldn't be so painful and exhausting. One was supposed to clasp the mouth  piece between the upper teeth and the upcurled lower lip covering the lower teeth. The so called embouchere.
     As I ran my hands along the polished metallic contours I was filled with a sense of despair.
I had to keep blowing and changing the angle of how I held the instrument every time I tried. Each day was a similar experience. Blow hard,  catch my breath, restore  the contours of my ears drums and then keep the instrument aside and leave all further attempts  for another day.
One day as I was packing the  instrument into its case, an idea flashed across my mind. Almost a divine revelation.
I hurriedly reassembled the device and instead of taking a deep bite embouchere, I closed my mouth closer to the tip of the mouthpiece and drew the breath from the inner recesses of my lower abdomen.
The sound that emerged was certainly sounding like a note. I quickly positioned my fingers as instructed and lo behold !
The notes were distinct and clear as I lifted my fingers one by one. The exhilaration was indescribable. The most fundamental lesson of getting the embouchere right was at best - serendipitous.
         As the cacophony and noise was being replaced by more coherent notes I realised the importance of technique. Technique is what enhances the mechanical advantage. Skill is  optimal deployment of force and effort. Some  are blessed with skills congenitally whilst the lesser fortunate ones have to strive to acquire them.
As my interaction  increased it decreased the intimidation by the instrument  and soon I was looking forward to the  practice sessions.  I was warned by many that it would be nigh impossible to learn this instrument without learning the chords and notes. The sharps, flats, major and minors always were confusing and I realised that I was incapable of familiarising myself with this musical jargon.
      Approach to learning can be either classical or romantic. The classical approach is method based. A series of sequential chronological steps that eventually  become established  neuronal circuits in the brain. A left brain phenomenon.
The romantic approach is one that makes learning  a process of forgetting ones inabilities. It is not necessarily the outcome of any sequential protocols. The beauty of this approach is that it is unique for each one. A path that each one makes for oneself. It has a spontaneity and a novelty. A process of discovery. It is not incremental and dawns as a realisation. A right brain phenomenon that is more intuitive than inquisitive.
Getting the appropriate note by deploying the correct embouchure and blowing from deep within is just the beginning.
All music starts in the mind. Each note with all the attributes of the tone, pitch, amplitude, sustain etc is first sounded in the mind. Using this  reference point one goes about co-ordinating the finger placement, the grip on the mouth piece and the intensity of blowing. When the sound emerges a real time comparison of the emerged sound with the reference manual of the mental note happens before the next note is contemplated upon. The mind splits into parts. One part that assesses the emerged note, one part constructs the mental image of the next note, one part determines how the fingers ought to be manipulated, as another part  subtlely reminds to take the next breath. The fragmentation of one's conscious intelligence and the delegation of responsibility to  each part is the beginning of Zen. The Zen-narrative mentions a realisation that is a "special transmission outside scriptures which does not stand upon words"
      This fragmentation is still based on a fundamental underlying unity of one's consciousness. This intellectual symphony is above all continually observed  by an impersonal consciousness. The "Witness". This impersonal witness remains non judgemental.This fragmentation process becomes more cohesive and  the process of playing successive notes becomes smoother. Each step merges imperceptibly into the other and one approaches the  Zen moment. This moment is the most ecstatic. At this moment all premeditation, deliberation fragmentation disappears and is replaced by a spontaneous effortless synchronicity. Like the pleasure the child gets when he turns back to see no one is holding the seat anymore, the  peddling continues and the away cycle speeds along. Holding the balance while cycling is a realisation. Its not knowledge. It's a state of mind. The sound becomes a kind of symphony.
There are two different ways of understanding and actually practicing Zen. These two different ways are termed in Chinese pen chueh and shih-chueh respectively. The term pen chueh refers to the belief that one’s mind is from the beginning of time fully enlightened, while shih-chueh refers to the belief that at some point in time we pass from imprisonment in ignorance and delusion to a true vision of Zen realization: “Our enlightenment is timeless, yet our realization of it occurs in time.”
I experienced  this Shih-chueh moment playing the saxophone. The realisation that I all along knew how to play this instrument and my inability to play it was merely my imaginary ignorance.

Deepak Ranade



Serendipity is a chance stumbling upon a new idea, rather accidentally. This term was first coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. It was with reference to  a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip who were “always making discoveries, accidentally and unexpectedly  of things which they were not in quest of.
Evolution of scientific thought and ideas is replete with a number of such Eureka moments. These momentous flashes of enlightenment have a touch of serendipity. They can't be explained as a logical outcome of sequential thinking. They are maverick moments that at first have a whiff of anti conformism. They have a spontaneity that's bereft of flexing any intellectual muscle. In retrospect one realises that they actually pushed the frontiers of prevailing concepts and ideologies.
The incredible thought experiments proposed by Einstein at the iconic "Copenhagen interpretation " are truly stunning. This genius proposed concepts like Entanglement way ahead of his times even when he had scarce modalities and resources to actually verify his hypotheses. The EPR paradox was a  critique levelled against the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.  Albert Einstein and his colleagues Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen(known collectively as EPR) designed a thought experiment which revealed discrepancies in  the accepted formulation of quantum mechanics. This hypothesis had a consequence which looked unreasonable at the time. The thought experiment incredibly  described a  phenomenon that is now known as quantum entanglement.
The Vedas are considered by many as a similar flash of realisation that occurred to the rishis in their meditative state.
This kind of enlightening is termed as "Aparoksha Gyaan" or knowledge acquired  without the intervention of any medium.
This knowledge is almost  a celestial handout to the ripe and prepared mind. The human intellect is traditionally classified into two broad categories.
"Tarka Pradnya" and "Antah Pradnya". The former or Tarka Pradnya is logic based intellect whist the latter or Antah Pradnya is the innate intrinsic intellect. It's the substrate with which divinity gets Entangled. This coupling is termed serendipity in common parlance. Serendipity does not occur to the unprepared mind. It is effectively a kind of resonance with divinity. A  concerted effort, a quasi obsessive single minded dedication  (tapascharya) is a precondition for creating this resonance with divinity.
       Masterpieces in creative art forms like music, literature, painting are also testimony to similar trysts with divinity. They are euphemistically termed ' inspiration'. These moments are characterised by a fleeting sense of  transcending the self. Awareness expands from the personal frame to a much larger canvas.
     Recently, a neurological basis for this perplexing phenomenon has emerged. It was observed that the capacity of consciously processing visual stimuli increases significantly when the observation of the outside world is not guided by precisely defined expectations. In particular, the brain produces an enhancement of the level of consciousness amplifying and extending, in the secondary visual cortex. (An area situated at the back of the head around the primary visual cortex)
“Serendipity seems, therefore, to occur when the attention of an active observer is not tied up, based on the experience of past events consciously perceived, to precisely defined expectations of incoming sensory inputs,” explained the scientist Fabrizio Doricchi, coordinator of the study conducted in Rome. It probably indicates a mindset that's not biased and is in a deprogrammed state. It might just  be a ' quantum resonance 'with the universal consciousness. A realisation when the consciousness sees with the 'Third Eye'

Dr. Deepak M Ranade

Age of Innocence

The School Reunion

As we ambled up the drive way to the school on the auspices of a 35 year reunion, my mind was filled with a sense of nostalgia. The tall trees and the impressive building looked resplendent and yet not as intimidating as they used to back then.  As school children the buildings, the playgrounds and the entire campus loomed large. Those were times when one was timid. Times when one felt very small and vulnerable. This state of being diminutive  seemed to have magnified everything. Even minor indiscretions filled the young mind with  trepidation. The erudite priests in their cassocks lent an air of immorality to minor acts of truancy. They were  moral high priests who bestowed sanctity to the process of learning.
 Amidst this wave of nostalgia I was wondering why Schooling left such an indelible mark in my life? Was it the  because of the imposing structure and the ambience? Was it a residual  sense of pride of belonging to a tribe with a high  pedigree? Or carrying on the legacy of cult?
  As all batchmates started appearing for the occasion I could feel a surge of warmth coursing my blood. Time could only distort the container. The content was unchanged. Nicknames tumbled back into the memory as did the associated anecdotes. Those days of the languishing in the hot sun doing the most purposeless drills of mass PT, getting reprimanded for seemingly trivial acts of indiscipline played out as clearly as watching a movie.
I then realised that during those times my mind was so impressionable and absorbed each event like a sponge. It was not cluttered with any anxieties, worries about the future. There was an innocence that recorded each event without any bias. There was faith and trust that was totally malleable. A naivete that was pristine and unblemished.
Each event no matter how insignificant had a disproportionate impact. Not having completed the homework was an act of heresy. Failing in a test spelt doom.
 Happiness was popping a peppermint (bullls eye we used to call it) during class deftly avoiding the prying eyes of the teacher. Evil was restricted to pushing someone aside to get into the school bus, or fabricating a tale for not having completed the homework. Happiness was  sharing a snack from the 'dabba', reading Tintin in the lunch break, or even wearing a new pair of shoes to school.
Joy was unconditional. It was bereft of expectations, dependence. Friends were never categorised or stratified on basis of caste or creed. The mind was totally unbiased with an abysmally low threshold for contentment.
 As schoolmates we all shared these moments with an open mind filled only by a joy de vivre, fun and frolic. There wasn't a trace of malevolence or jealousy towards one another.
I quietly wondered when and how did my concept of happiness and joy mutate ? When did the recipe for  happiness become so complex?
 When did the scourge of status, position,wealth imperceptibly distort my perception? Did "maturity" mean losing my ability to find happiness in the smaller joys of life?
  As the evening progressed and the party livened up,a classmate slapped me on my back and everyone burst out in peals of laughter over a lewd joke.
I was rather rudely brought back to the present and although I painted my face with a sham smile, I gently turned away and wiped off that lonely tear. Probably homage paid on the  demise of "The age of innocence"

Legacy - An anachronism

Is cultural legacy an anachronism?

       The American declaration of Independence in  1776 was a benchmark in the evolution of mankind. It was a charter that asserted the value of equality and independence. It heralded the birth of a new religion. A religion with no legacy, but nonetheless a religion that dreamt, justified and facilitated the pursuit of Happiness.
Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric and his policies. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
      Since its inception the American philosophy was free of any cultural baggage. Tradition and Culture are only as relevant as the times they are practiced. "Freedom from bondage" was as applicable to any restrictive culture, as it was to slavery. The birth of a new order was a cultural epiphany that legitimised indulgence and sanctified opulence provided they were the product of hard work. This religion taught it's followers the virtues of thinking big.
Liberty Equality and Fraternity that were the highlights of the French Revolution across the Atlantic were suffixed by America with "Faster Higher and Stronger". This society unabashedly pushed the limits of human endeavor and redefined social hierarchy based on success and wealth that was self earned. Dynasties were not lineage based. Fortunes were created, not transfered. Ayn Rand eulogised selfishness.
Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge. She ostracised  faith and religion. She preached  ethical egoism, and rejected altruism. A new age philosophy  "laissez-faire "-capitalism based on recognizing individual rights was ushered in.
A religion that did not promise  heaven in after life. It promised a heaven in this life. Just that one had to create it oneself. A religion that preaches  to dream and prods to realise it. A breeze of a new world order that fanned the embers of creativity and ingenuity. A philosophy and belief that was more physical less metaphysical. A culture that did not promise the stars but rather strove to reach for them.
An ideology   that was brutally honest and accepted that the Emperor was indeed naked. An ideology that chose to drape the Emperor rather than debate on his non-existent wardrobe.
Opulent lifestyle was not anathema so long as one worked for it. Size did matter and bigger was better. Abundance had a flip side but it reigned in a need of self restraint. Restraint was not a subject of the state and did not need legislation. A society that evolves despite being spoilt for choices.Gratification has to be transcended and not avoided. Philanthropy was proactive , a by product of indulgence. It was based on true compassion and not morality based. It was not reaction based, to generate positive Karma for successive births. Renunciation based on depravity never liberates. Renunciation post indulgence does. The monk could drive the Ferrari or sell it. He sold it. But after driving it.

The Changing Face of Terror

The changing face of terror

9/11 represented a paradigm shift in terrorism. It was testimony to an ominous alliance  with technology and intelligence. Terrorism that was evolving from sporadic impulsive acts of retribution to highly  deliberate, strategic, premeditated operations executed with precision and professionalism. Such large scale operations  indicated terrorism having access to large financial and human resources, the kind we have never seen before. Terrorism had transcended from mere ideology to a well oiled Multi National Organisation.
 The profile of a Modern day Terrorist mutated from an indoctrinated fanatic to a tech savvy, intelligent albeit misdirected twenty something raring with rage and energy to take on anyone. Killing fellow humans or even oneself requires not just brutality and  barbarism, but also a deep rooted contempt.
What could be the etiology of such insane contemptuous hatred that could take innocent lives? What kind of a bargain are these posessesd beings indulging in? Is their  adversary genuine or an ill construed perceptive delusion fuelled by an imaginary persecution mania?Perpetrating senseless acts of terror and violence could hardly be the motive of one's life. Such extreme self destructive  virulence is analogous to an auto immune disease. For reasons that are completely unclear, the immune system that is programned to protect the organism targets innocent unsuspecting  tissues of the host organism.  What triggers such inexplicable behaviour is a mystery. These very restive and sensitised immune mediating cells go about their destructive  mission with a resolve,obviously with disastrous consequences. They are nourished by the host, who is rendered helpless by these  purposeless acts of rebellion and retribution. These killer  cells have no real adversary and yet unleash their weaponry on healthy innocent cells who have no means of counter attack. It is a slow and steady Harakiri that beats any logic. A mutinous act against a non repressive, supportive regime.
The biological organism compromises its own integrity by misrecognising parts of itself as other than itself and then seeks to eliminate these unrecognised and hence antagonistic aspects of itself.
Such acts of terror become anathema not just because they wreak havoc in society, but also because it confounds the political ontology that underlies our entire way of life. Perhaps that is also why “autoimmunity” continues to provoke if not horror at least misunderstanding, despite all efforts to the contrary.
Do these acts complicate the popular and political understanding that mankind is a singular and unified body? More importantly does it challenge the notion that this “body” circumscribes who and what we are?
A feeling of alienation by a part of one's own self hardly has any external remedy. It mandates a greater ability  of self cognisance and self appraisal.  A  more holistic perception  that would eliminate this senseless  pitting of the Self against its own Self.

Deepak Ranade

The Art of Being No one

The Art of Being No one

At a get together, my father's friends were gloating about how their sons were so well placed and were rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty.
They were really priding themselves about how they made their offsprings become someone and how they themselves led by setting an example for their kids. They were showing off how they had reached big positions by the time of their retirement which inspired their kids
My father was asked about what kind of an example he set for his successors.
 My father replied"I retired from a very senior  position at the age of 65. I had made enough to live comfortable. My son  qualified as a neurosurgeon and was well set with his own Hospital and was doing well for himself. But he had developed a huge ego and had become arrogant.
I had fuelled his ego by appreciating his degrees, and status in society. That probably was becoming his undoing. I decided to start a new business at the age of 65. I began in an area where no one knew me and I had to begin as a nobody. It was extremely difficult. My son was at his wits end by my decision.
He asked me why was I doing something at this point and at a place where no one knew me. I would have to go to meet clients and sit outside their offices which was very humiliating for me and him as well."
My father continued-
"All parents teach their children to become someone. Its excruciatingly  difficult  to begin all over again as a nobody. Identities are great but if one  becomes a slave of that identity then the identity works to our detriment. The real Master  is one who can discard this cloak at will and yet identify with the true Self who exists independent of any robe.
I am trying to teach my Son  the art  of being 'No One' ."

Conscious Universe or Universal Consciousness

Conscious Universe or Universal consciousness?

Ripples in space-time caused by the catacysmic merger of remotely located black holes have finally been detected, exactly 100 years after these “gravitational waves” were predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
Space time was a fabric that could be distorted. An idea that Einstein had to come up with in order to explain the very intriguing force of gravity. A force that caused sudden  acceleration of objects. He predicted that this was more likely, the result of distortion of space by the massive mass of the star or planet. Space and time were considered to be a single interwoven continuum, a single manifold called Minkowski Space. (In honour of the mathematics Professor who taught Einstein) The realisation that this entity of spacetime could shrink or expand was indeed mind boggling. It was indeed travesty of reason to conceive distortion of emptiness. Does spacetime objectively  exist or is  it actually a distortion of perception?
   Massive accelerating objects such as black holes should disrupt this spacetime as waves or ripples.  These waves would course the universe at the speed of light. Their amplitude would diminish as they travelled greater distances. By the time they arrived to  Earth, they would be almost indiscernible.  (around 1,000 times smaller than a proton). The LIGO's Interferometer, with a recent upgrade made it possible for  scientists to detect these tiny measurements of spacetime stretching in one direction and shrinking in another. This was done by using laser beams and the time it took for them to travel the length of the two 4 kms long arms placed at right angles to each other. The ripples generated by by these humongous entities would course in one direction and shorten the spacetime fabric in one of the arms as compared to the other by a very very tiny amount. Roughly about a 10000th the size of a proton. This shortening was measured by the time taken for a laser bean to travel inside a vacuum within the arm. Measurement of of an almost intangible unimaginable dimension. Measurement that demonstrated a heightened sublime sensitivity.
This perceptive upgrade  is testimony to the universe being not only sensitive and intelligent, but connected in a rather inexplicable manner. Could spacetime be the invisible web that knits the entire universe into a continuous unbroken fabric and simultaneously  sustains the illusion of discreteness? The spatiotemporal grid is the foundation for  discreteness of an object. Could spacetime be a software program of billions of neurons?
The ever expanding universe is conscious and self aware. These rumblings of its own constituents being measured however raise a quantum paradox. Would this black hole or their mergers  ever have existed  if we had not been able to detect and measure these waves? Quantum mechanics emphasises the need of a conscious observer for any event to have occurred. Detection of these footprints ,thousands of light years away actually  gives birth to these black holes. A Retro Causality that  concludes  the existence of the cause only after verifying it's effect. The classical scientific reasoning based on Causality being hijacked by a heretic quantum thought process.
Our cognisance  of these gravitational waves reflects  the expansion of our consciousness.  It bears testimony to the notion  of a self referential universal consciousness rather than the epiphany of a conscious universe.

Dr Deepak Ranade

DE Focus


The slick new digital camera was very expensive. It had multiple features that made the process of taking a photograph very simple,reducing it to a digitised format and yet delivered stunning images even to a greenhorn totally unfamiliar with the science  of photography. One of its many features included a feature called Autozoom. It adjusted the focus automatically when the camera was pointed to any object by an automatic motorised technology. The instant ability to zoom in or zoom out depending on the distance of the object of interest. This electronic, artifical intelligence of automatically determining the lens curvature,aperture, shutter speed, was a breakthrough based on biomimtics. It simulated the autofocus of the biological eye. This faculty of auto focusing is  applicable to the human mind and intelligence too.
Ever so often we are faced with a problem that fills the emotional screen completely. It occupies our mind so completely almost as if we have zoomed in with our emotional lens to the point of nothing else being visible. Such situations lead to distress, despondency,extreme frustration and utter despair. It is at such moments that one is prone to take extreme steps like committing suicide, or resorting to alcohol or drugs. These are very feeble  attempts to defocus the mind whilst suicide is aimed at ending the very existence of the self along with the problem. In such very vulnerable moments it becomes extremely crucial to zoom out and widen the frame of perception. When a situation, person, or circumstance looms large the virtual increase in the size occurs because of zooming in with our emotional lens. Once that happens, the cognitive apparatus is locked on to the problem and becomes oblivious of anything else, which more often than not includes the solution. There might just be a Law of diminishing proximity in the economics of solving any problem. This law could be scientifically expressed as "The possibility  of solving a problem is lesser with increasing  proximity to the problem. " As one zooms out, one realises hat the problem is not really as big as it appeared initially. As the zooming out process continues, pathways that go around the problem start emerging where earlier all the pathways appeared to lead only into the problem. Zooming in left one only with a head on confrontational  approach whilst zoomng out revealed lesser invasive, non confrontational alternatives. If the zooming out continues further, it generates a larger, more circumspect view in which the problem is reduced to being just one more object in a big wide world. As one zooms out further, one realises the insignificance of not just the objective world but also its transitory nature. One becomes aware of how fast it is changing. The impermanence of the problem merges with the impermanence of the cognised world. What seems permanent thereafter is only the subject who perceives. When the zooming out reaches a supra -threshold level the perceiver realises that the perceived and the perceiver are both transient and virtual and eternity lies only in perception and the consciousness wherein this play unfolds.

Deepak M. Ranade

Winkles that Rejuvenate

Some Wrinkles Rejuvenate

 I reconnect with my friend who was my school mate and with whom I shared those moments of pristine innocence, those days when we were yet to be inflicted with the curse of identity, and Ego. The reconnect thaws ,strips and peels away the layers of identities and idiosyncrasies. It divests us of all those robes and roles that time forced us to adorn. It reveals our  unadulterated selves that bonded with no intent or objective. The absence of any motive was always mutual and served as the common thread that weaved us all together into a mosaic that was varied colourful and beautiful with no hue of any dark shades of jealousy, comparison or competition. The interactions back then had a purity and a total disdain for any material, intellectual or social considerations. Being affluent or academically endowed did not serve to establish any hierarchy. It was a level playing field. Time in due course introduced the scourge of hierarchy and stratification. Reconnecting with school mates refreshes those moments of innocence and playful banter. It ushers in those moments where acceptance was never doubted, camaraderie was purposeless, affiliations were spontaneous and innocuous. As I spent those few hours with Milind Pradhan, I was transformed back to the fat, mischievous, sweating 'Randukkar' my erstwhile nickname, and I had to restrain myself from surprising  him and giving him a bear hug.   I used to do that just before assembly in school and it used to really annoy milind who prided his ironed and creased uniform which used to get crumpled and  smeared with my sweat. I guess if I had done it, this time he would have probably liked it and greeted me with a smile and given a dam about his blazer. Sometimes ,stains and creases anoint  this perfect rather ' starched' but yet impersonal existence with unexpected, spontaneous, tender,poignant imperfections.  Some wrinkles rejuvenate

Measuring Experiences

Measuring Experiences.

Transcendental experiences are being better understood and explained using the tool of
neurotheology. It is a spiritual neuroscience that attempts to explain religious experience, transcendental states,and intangibles like faith, in neuroscientific terms. It uses advanced imaging modalities like PET scan, f- MRI and other technological applications towards this end.  It attempts to  study correlations of neural phenomena with subjective experiences of spirituality and hypotheses to explain these phenomena.Can experience be ever objectively documented or measured?
Could experience be reduced to  neuro -chemistry or then  measured in micro electron voltage potentials?
Experience is essentially a "Qualia" phenomenon. Feelings, experiences, emotions  vary widely in different people subjected to similar sensory inputs.  The sight of a lush green meadow for example will elicit a unique sensation that's exclusive for each individual. Some will marvel at the brilliant spectral shades of green, yet others might appreciate the texture, to some it will bring pleasant memories of childhood, and to yet others it might suggest a sense of solitude.  Qualia are perceiver, perceived,perception sensitive, being  totally subjective in character. Qualia are complex entities comprised of objective sensory data tagged with a subjective affective component. This affective component draws inputs  from the conscious as well as the subconscious realms.
Whether Qualia actually exist is  hotly debated and controversial in contemporary philosophy of mind.  That is largely because  they are  considered being an obvious refutation of physicalism.
Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular ‘quale’) to refer to the introspective, phenomenal aspects of our mental constructs. Qualia are impacted by the  intrinsic neural processing of each subject , and how the individual relates to the physical world.  Qualia is in many ways  central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness. Qualia is the epicentre of the  Cartesian mind matter duality. Can scientific endeavour ever objectively explain and explore the subjective domain of Qualia?
           The 'Explanatory Gap' was a term introduced by philosopher Joseph Levine.
Levine addressed the puzzling inability of physiological theories to account for psychological phenomena.  Levine’s main focus was on consciousness, or “qualia,” our subjective sensations of the world.  But the explanatory gap could also refer to mental functions such as perception, memory, reasoning, and emotion—and to human behavior.
Imaging modalities could help identify the anatomical  locus of a sensory or perhaps even a transcendental experience. It would however have limitations in explaining the unique emotional finger print, the subjective perceptive variation generated by  the same stimulus in different subjects.  This affective component colours the sensory inputs with emotional hues too.
Spiritual ,transcendental experiences are entirely experiential, and in the realm of  Qualia. Spiritual masters endeavor to explain these states metaphorically. Experience of an incredible  expansile  consciousness is made possible when the subject effaces himself totally eliminating  subjectivity  and the subject object dichotomy.   An experience that is experienced only in the absence of  the entity that experiences.  What happens to the subject during  this experience? "Who" experiences  satisfaction after prolonged  deep sleep when all the while the  Self has lapsed  beneath the cognitive horizon?
      This enquiry brings one to the core issue of Consciousness. Can consciousness exist fundamentally even in the absence of an objective  cognising entity?  Is the subject created in  consciousness by consciousness rather than consciousness being an epiphenomenon of the subject ? Is Qualia, an objective conscious experience by a subject which is also a construct of consciousness? Qualia- an  inexplicable phenomenon of consciousness experiencing itself by  consciously  becoming the subject and object simultaneously.   A transcendental state will then be an integration  of ' The Experience, the experiencer and experiencing. An experience that is experienced in the absence of an  Experiencer.

Dr Deepak Ranade

(The author is a consultant Neurosurgeon)

The Thought Diet

Thought Diet

The latest diet ( Keto Diet ) that shuns all carbohydrates has become a rage of the tribe that's battling the bulge. It's proponents swear by its effectiveness and how they no longer are ravaged by hunger pangs. The other major benefit of this diet being that it permits  the subject to eat  proteins and fats in any form. The logic was unflawed  and simple. Carbohydrates are  the most favored source of energy by the metabolic pathways of the body. When there is an abundant supply of carbs, fat in the body remains in  the storehouse for the rainy day as fat deposits. As the supply of carbs comes to a screeching halt, the body metabolism is tricked into interpreting this as a crisis situation.  It thereafter  immediately  starts mobilising resources from  the storehouse ( the fat deposits) which gradually  results in the desired correction of the body contours. Carbohydrates not only prevent the burning of fat reserves but also serve as the proverbial fuel that feeds and also  stokes the fire. Carbs also trigger an intense craving for food. A rather bizarre indulgence that simultaneously satiates and provokes. All divine gastronomic indulgences are more often than not a rich assortment of carbs. They probably cater to the senses rather than needs. All persons with a vulnerability to sensual gratification invariably end up battling the bulge or then embracing  antidiabetic paraphernalia. The carbs eventually win this battle and render their victims to the scourge of  disease and ill health.
Food for the mind bears many similarities with food for the body. Thoughts of material indulgence and sensual gratification are the mainstay and preferred food for the mind. As the subject embarks on this hedonistic spree, it satiates momentarily only to trigger greater and loftier gratification. Would it be possible to embark on a thought diet? A diet that ensures only creative, constructive, compassionate thoughts.? Thoughts that energise rather than provoke. Most  achievers in life have a balanced thought diet. Replete with positivity, creativity, and happiness that transcends mere sensory indulgences. Once the mind is starved of its routine fodder, it  mobilises and combusts thoughts of  inertia, negativity, skepticism and diffidence to shape the mind into trim, fit and supple contours.
               Diet is a discipline, a conscious choice that transcends instinct and temptation.  Thoughts are certainly in the domain of voluntary control. Physically we are what we eat , but we shape our future by  what we think. Negative thoughts have the potency of causing disease and ill health. We certainly have the choice of breeding positive thoughts and aborting the negative ones. Just as we discipline the body by regular exercise and eating  judiciously,we also ought to  use  our discretion and discrimination to think appropriately and correctly. Losing the flab of the mind is as pertinent and important as burning the flab of the body.

A New World Order

A new world order.

The post cold war era, was believed to usher in an era of  a more holistic progress for mankind. A new world order was on the cards. Globalisation and vanquishing geographic, linguistic, cultural borders were imminent. Capitalism, communism, socialism were no longer political ideologies that cleaved nations. Right,Left no longer were considered political narratives, but rather appeared to be  well on their way to become mere directions in a Biocentric universe. A more contemporary 'humanism' swept across like a pandemic. This humanism defied caste creed ,race and had the potential to galvanise mankind. These times also unleashed a dreaded   faceless enemy -terrorism.  A cancer with metastases that mushroomed with a vengeance. The whole world rallied together to battle this scourge. Tolerance, compassion, and empathy became the new Mantra to foster a unified front.
               Unfortunately, this new world order made the affluent western world increasingly insecure. Immigrants became a force to reckon with and rapidly ascended  the staircase of prosperity. There were albeit  instances of  fiscal incongruence amidst these attempts to forge unions. Economic considerations, rising fascism, served as a hindrance to this process of homogenisation.  A national referendum in the United Kingdom reflected this growing resentment to immigration and mergers and asserted an increasing territorial approach that attempted to marginalise the apparently parasitic  elements . The stage was set for ushering in a rigid impervious regime that believed in resurrecting economic, racial and ideological fences. The recently concluded elections in the oldest democracy on the planet only serves to underline this very sentiment. Threat perception of the native population was hyped to hysterical proportions and became the mainstay of the campaign. Can this politics of isolation and segregation stand the test of time? Will  this divisive rhetoric be merely part of election innuendo ? Or could it paradoxically serve as a glue to integrate the diversity that's been the hallmark and pride of this young  nation? Has this truly been a concensus or a compromise? Does it indicate the advent of a polarised world with a growing intolerance? Is it the victory  of socio-politico-cultural bigotry ? Does it suggest a volte face by the very nation which trampled on tradition to elect a historically  unprecedented candidate just 8 years ago?
            The winds of change keep flowing and not only  carry with them the fragrance of the past but also serve to infuse the saturated and stifled atmosphere with a freshness that's so vital.  There may be a bit of indignation with the unexpected and yet it can't deny the glimmer of hope that change inevitably gets along.  A new world order that is more assertive than inclusive, more audacious than diplomatic and more vocal than implied might just be what the doctor ordered for a world that's more confused and disillusioned than ever. Perhaps to confront might just be the best answer to all who affront. Time will bear testimony to whether this indeed was the Trump card dealt by the hand of destiny.

Dr. Deepak Ranade

Demonisation or Demonisation

Demonitisation or De-demonisation

Money has been a dominating force in an ever increasing capitalistic world order. A banknote is  a promissory note, made by a bank, payable to the bearer on demand. It is a commitment that the bank will exchange the note with a sum equivalent to the denomination of the note. Banknotes were originally issued by commercial banks and had to redeem the notes for legal tender (usually gold or silver coin) when presented to the chief cashier of the originating bank. Commercial banknotes are now replaced by national banknotes issued by nationalised apex banks. National banknotes are a form of legal tender, an" I Owe You"  recognized by a legal system  to be valid for meeting a financial obligation.
     Currency, ideally is an instrument of legal  tender for validation and exchange of  goods and services and of course for commercial transactions. These instruments of transacting  however have totally taken charge of our lives. Money has become the yardstick of measuring importance, status and prestige it's source notwithstanding. The means no longer matter. Wealth certainly has wider connotations that transcend mere materialistic considerations. Ancient Hindu philosophy and mythology took a more holistic approach to wealth.
          Laxmi, is worshiped as  the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. The word ''Lakshmi'' is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksme, meaning "goal." Lakshmi, therefore, represents much more than just material wealth. She is not just an indulgence but the ultimate goal,  of existence.  She is depicted in a female form with four arms . She wears red clothes and  is standing on a lotus. The four arms symbolise  the four aspects of human life: dharma (righteousness), kama (genuine desires), artha (wealth), and moksha (liberation from birth and death).The Lotus on which Lakshmi is standing , signifies a detachment, while enjoying  wealth. Akin to a lotus that grows in water but yet does  not get wet by the water.
          Money  creates  a psychosis, a kind of obsession. Financial security has become the top priority for mankind. Earning money becomes the fulcrum of all existence and activities. It is almost a type of addiction. This endeavour never has an end point. It mutates into a pathological insatiable lust.
This tale of how stoking the flame of desire corrupts the mind is eloquent. Lakshmi the Godess of wealth is piqued by a poor woodcutter who has absolutely no desire for any wealth. He was totally content with the single gold coin that he got at the end of a hard days work. He never craved for more. The Godess felt very offended by his disdainful attitude. She asked Narad the wise one what could she do to remedy the situation. Narad offered a strange solution. He asked Lakshmi to gift him 98 gold coins. She could not understand the logic. She however plotted  for the  woodcutter to stumble upon a bag that contained 98 gold coins. He thereafter remained perennially restless and  became possessed with desire. Lakshmi asked Narad about this puzzling behaviour.
Narad replied - Need never corrupts the mind. It's greed which is the real culprit. Man stacks and stashes money in an effort to  get a sense of power and  a sense  of security. This very security harbours  the scourge of laziness, vice and hedonism in the future generations. There are many who pride themselves by proclaiming about earning  enough not only for themselves but for the next few generations. This security actually reflects insecurity in ones own descendants. Security is not about affluence, wealth or worldly possessions. Security is a state of mind.  Security is a sense of contentment. Security is a fearlessness, a reassuring self belief. Security is a sense of respect and compassion for others. Security lies in not getting threatened or intimidated by any person or circumstances.
            The recent demonitisation will have achieved it's true objective not just by flushing out stashed unaccounted currency. It's real success would be in de'demonisation'  of the perpetually lurking demons of insecurity, fear, greed, avarice.

Dr Deepak Ranade

( The author is a consultant Neurosurgeonon )

The Gold Bracelet.

The Gold  Bracelet and the illusory universe.

            No one could miss the sheer elegance and craftsmanship of the bracelet as it adorned the wrist of the beautiful lady who carried it with grace and aplomb. It was shining brilliantly and had  gentle yet seductive curves. There was a touch of simplicity which made it more appealing and paradoxically lent it an exclusivity. The gold bequeathed it with a touch of indestructible timelessness. The mortal wrist that donned a band of immortality.  Almost everyone present couldn't help but casting a glance at the lady and the ornate accesory. The bracelet was as much a star of the evening as the lady  flaunting it.
My appreciative awareness gradually mutated to an investigative enquiry. What quality did that metal possess that set it apart from the handmade silver dining bowl? Both were shining metallic objects. Both were probably sourced deep down from the belly of the earth. Their consistency and hardness was comparable. Both had alluring curves and bore testimony to the workmanship of a creative mind. Both were probably a shapeless lump of metal to begin with. The craftsman conceived their present shapes in his mind. It however meant that their present form was already in existence, even in that formless lump. The  shapeless lumps had the  pre-existing potential to become these shapely ornamental  objects.
The artisan and his processing had changed the form. The metal, the basic ingredient  remained the same. The cause was the metal, the effect was the bracelet or the bowl.
This brought a realisation that the effect is nothing more than the material cause and also that  the effect is inseparable from the material cause. But even more important was the fact that the effect pre-existed in the cause. The idea of a bracelet could exist without the material ( gold) but the actual bracelet had to exist in the material cause- the lump of gold. If this were not so, it would have been possible to produce any object from any material. If something non existent could be manufactured from an existing material, then we could have produced water from a block of wood. In this case, the creative skills of the goldsmith cannot produce any new substance. His efforts only manifest the form of the material which was concealed in its pervious state.  My line of thinking led me to the conceptual dichotomy in Indian philosophy of Asatkaryavada and  Satkaryavada. In the former, the effect is a a totally new entity and does not reside in the material cause.  In this case, the bracelet would be considered  a distinct new entity independent of the lump of gold. Satkaryavada believes that effect pre-existed in the cause.  The bracelet is no different from the gold.
Following the latter ideology of Satkaryavada, is this change of form ( gold to bracelet) actual or apparent? The  Sankhya school of thought believes the effect to be an actual transformation of the material cause. The bracelet was non existent before it was formed. A new form has been transformed into what it was not earlier. There is a real change ( Parinama). A new entity is born.
Does a change of form actually amount to a changed reality? Did the transformation into a bracelet change the material substance from which it was derived?
Perception of change of form certainly does not change  reality.
The bracelet had a distinctive curve. What is the relationship of this curve with the bracelet? The curve cannot be appreciated without the bracelet. It is the attribute of the object. The curve cannot exist in the absence of the bracelet. The curve must have existed in the gold as a potential. The attribute of curvature of  the bracelet has no independent existence apart from the bracelet just as  the bracelet has no existence apart from the gold.
At the core of this thought process is the relationship of the quality to the object ( curvature to the bracelet) and of the object to its cause or substance.   If the cause  and the effect are distinct, but the cause produces the effect we would  fail to explain the relation between an attribute and an object. Two distinct realities would then arise which would need  a third phenomenon, that links the two.
A distinction in reality between the object and it's attribute is therefore logically indefensible as it would involve multiple realities. A change in form cannot be logically accepted as a real change unless there is a simultaneous change in the cause or the substance.
If the bracelet was to genuinely have a distinct identity from the gold, it would amount to violating ontology. The gold bracelet and the gold  are no different from gold, but yet the form (bracelet) is different by having a specific, discrete form. The lump of  gold and the bracelet are identical and yet different -Identical-in- difference. The two are identical in some respects, and yet different in other.
This  hypothesis raises a paradox- X is simultaneously Y and non-Y.
Causation does not change reality. Therefore, change is just a perceptive warp of an underlying unchanging reality.  Where does that leave us when we perceive an illusory object like a rainbow? We do perceive it but reasoning tells us that it is virtual. On similar grounds, change also is only apparent. It does not in any way change reality.
This leads to a very intresting philosophical construct -  Vivartavaad or theory of apparent change.
The gold is subject to modification -( Vikara). The gold also is a form of some pre-existing substance.
All material objects are liable to modification, and so there must be a substance underlying them all which persists through all.  It would be the material cause or the underlying reality behind this objective world.
            Existence of the material world is revealed in its perception. Could this 'Existence' itself be the substance, the underlying reality of the material world? The material cause might just be an intangible immaterial Existence.
I, the cognising entity cognises the objective world. My sense organs generate a differentiation of the observed world. Objects are perceived differently only by virtue of their attributes. The senses are not equipped to cognize the underlying reality. The objective world is just a perceptive warp. The lady wearing the bracelet was as unreal as the bracelet. Yet I preferred to admire  both.

Dr. Deepak Ranade

The Climb

The Climb.
The path keeps snaking upwards. As one throws a glance to the tower at the top, it looks daunting. It fills the mind with doubts, anxiety and apprehension at the thought of the arduous climb. Then, the eyes shift focus to the next step. That's really the only action i can take. The next step. One step follows another, and I quickly decide it's the best policy. Keep the destination at the back of your mind but don't fret by looking at it every now and then. I have trekked the Himalayas in the past and its common experience to feel intimidated by the gradients, the distances and the heights. I inch upwards and my breathing gets harsher and more laborious. After about 15 minutes, i take a halt for a reprieve and turn around. I'm pleasantly surprised at the height and distance I've gained.  Its then that i restrain myself from throwing a glance to the tower. I tell myself I'm  not giving in to that temptation. All i need to focus on is the next step. The crucial next step - the only way to get to where i want to. As the Sun ascends over the horizon, the landscape takes on a golden hue. I quickly realise that my obsession with the tower and the top make me oblivious of the absolutely beautiful crimson,  orange, golden shades. Why should i let thoughts about reaching the top vitiate the present moment that's  generously splurging  with such  picturesque, breathtaking views? I decide to savour the beauty of the moment. I feel rather sad that i might have lost out on the poignancy of so many priceless moments in the past, merely because of my obsession to reach an undefined destination. So pathetic. I'm back on the job and joy of taking the next step and as I'm contemplating and admiring the bounties that abound, another trekker goes past rather effortlessly. I feel stressed. Am i not as capable and efficient?
The comparison rankles. How many moments of my life have i wasted in being harsh and judgemental about myself in light of another mortal who harbours similar anxieties, fears and insecurities? Such a tragic waste of time and effort. I realise that i will take the next step only when i want and not because someone is striding ahead. The objective of my effort is a very personal journey into nature as also to discover myself.  I run out of breath again but this time, I'm on more solid ground with a new found realisation. I take a few lungfulls of deep breaths and back to the grind of the next step. And then just as i look upwards to see the march of the sun, i realize I'm within striking distance of the top.
As i approach the summit, i realise that i should never waste any energy in thinking about the summit. The destination should never intimidate, but merely beckon. The destination is what i decide. It might as well be the next step. Then the final destination will become merely a consequence and not the objective of the next step.  I just need to focus on taking the next step, but simultaneously never forget to absorb the beauty of the journey and the landscape. The next step is as much if not more important than the destination. The objective is to enjoy the journey. The destination is just consequential.

Self Realisation - A Quantum Phenomenon

Self Realisation- A quantum phenomenon?

         In accordance with the morning routine as I take a wash, I see my self in the mirror.  I am aware of myself. The face, the eyes and the rather sparse disheveled hair. I Suddenly, realise  that "I " am observing the  the image that is actually created by my self. The image, and it's cognisance are both generated by myself. The image,testimony to my existence created by myself, of myself and for myself. The image is not me, and still, i know it's me. It is a virtual me. Who is the real me? The subject,  the object or the awareness that tells me I'm neither?The entire process of Me cognising myself is a complex phenomenon. The observer, the observed and observation  are critical and deeply interconnected and  inseparable. Is a virtual image sufficient testimony to my "Being"? Is my tangible form the only affidavit to my "Beingness"? Can i cognise my Being without relying only on objective perception?
Consciousness is awareness of your body and your environment; self-awareness is recognition of that consciousness— comprehending that you are aware of your existence. It is the awareness of  “I” that creates the observer/observed dichotomy to arise. The awareness of one’s existence becomes the  reference point to cognise the external world. This ”I” becomes  a separate entity  and brings to existence all that is seen as “I” and  “not I”. The identification of “I” is a wave  that ripples outwards, which  causes and spawns this entire Creation into existence and simultaneously observes it too.
Neurologist V. Ramchandran opines-
'Self awareness is simply using mirror neurons for "looking at myself as if someone else is looking at me" (the word "me" encompassing some of my brain processes, as well). The mirror neuron mechanism — the same algorithm — that originally evolved to help you adopt another's point of view was turned inward to look at your own self."
Philippi, Rudrauf and their colleagues research suggests different areas in the brain cannot by themselves account for conscious recognition of oneself . Instead, they propose that self-awareness is a far more diffuse cognitive process, relying on many parts of the brain, including regions not located in the cerebral cortex.
Quantum physics maintains  that a system exists in superposition — that is, in all possible states — until an observer observes  it  in one specific state. Could that mean that until I observe  myself, I am in a superposition of all possible states?
Does observation of my tangible form reduce the undifferentiated impersonal consciousness into a locus that i believe to be Me? "I" may therefore not necessarily be "Me" until the act of observation reduces 'I' to "Me." Could this act of Self appraisal actually result in limiting the superpotential  of 'I' to a restrictive potential called  'Me'?  'Me'  often adulterates 'I' with various kinds of conditioning, biases, complexes, and limitations.
Self Realisation may just be the 'I' discarding the image of 'Me', -reverting to a fundamental state of quantum superposition.

Dr Deepak Ranade

The Perfect Relationship

The perfect relationship

Relationships are such an integral part of our lives. They very often define our life, our philosophy of existence and most importantly define ourselves. Using the rather clich├ęd classification so routine in our medical school, one could broadly classify relationships into three categories.
Congenital, Essential  and Acquired.
       The congenital ones quite simply are blood relatives. The Essential relationships are mandated by circumstances such as those related to work, study, or the neighbourhood of one's dwelling.
Acquired relationships are ones that we electively choose to  initiate, nurture and maintain. These typically includes our spouses,close friends, mentors, spiritual guides, romantic relationships and in more recent times- live in partners.
          The congenital relationships are in most cases defined and limited by their nomenclature, instincts, social conditioning, and are largely conformist role playing. They have a default setting, and the bonding, affinity and connect is based on a kind of psychological programming. Most often, one does not  have the option of ending these preset equations, unless the circumstances are extremely mitigating or the concerned person veering towards a pathological disposition. The Essential  relationships are quasi voluntary, and could be restricted to perfunctory courtesies, or then elevated to a more intense interaction that depends on reciprocity and mutual understanding. They do however present the opportunity and proximity to foster a more substantive and
meaningful interaction with the potential to develop into a  long term, profound association.
The acquired ones are the relationships that one chooses to pursue, invests time and emotions, and looks at them to enrich ones life, in one way or the other. These equations are never subject to any compulsion, can be called off any time if the situation demands, and are entirely in the domain of one's own volition and free will.
          My good fortune and intensity as a seeker opened the doors of  the perfect relationship.  Interaction with him was a realisation of sorts. Rather it revealed an entire new dimension to relationships. A relationship that never asked questions but only revealed answers. A relationship that never demanded love, only gave it. A presence in which one could bask in. An interaction with not the slightest trace of expectation. A companion who never affirmed his existence as a distinct, discrete entity, but rather an extension of my own Being. A person whose eyes reflected pure unadulterated joy and ecstacy on meeting, but never afflicted by  the pain of separation. An experience that was simultaneously  the warmth of a mother, the comforting reassurance of a father, the joy and happiness of a loved one,  the spontaneity and innocence of an infant. A silence that was divinely eloquent, a moment that lasted for eternity. A state of mind that transcended me and mine, you and yours. A feeling of resonance, that united us into a non dual oneness. A union that overcame the illusion of  separation. This perfect relationship never answered the' Why' of my existence, but most certainly provided me the answer to the 'How' of existence. It made me aware that my existence is not confined to any form or identity. True happiness was never subservient or hostage to any cause. It taught me there is nothing to learn, but only to experience.  It never gave me all the answers. Instead, it made me realise the futility of seeking them.

Dr Deepak Ranade

True love - valentine day

Valentines Day.
The social media and other mesaging modalities were full of valentines day messages, professing about love. It made it appear that everyone around  was keen to declare, celebrate, proclaim their love. What connotation does this word "Love" have for me ?  Is it gloating about ones posession? Is it about basking in the attention of the person who claims to love you? Is it about acceptance of oneself by another? Does the word merit all the hype that surrounds it? In recent times, not having and demonstrating ones object of affection is  considered almost heretic. Such a person is doomed to a desecrated miserable existence.
What is Love. An emotion? A mood? A whim? A fancy? An addiction? An indulgence? An instinct? A figment of imagination? A deception? A delusion? An ego trip?
            History, folklore,celluloid and fiction had lent an almost ethereal, surreal texture to this phenomenon.
Did i really grasp the full import of this entity?
 What was the moistening of the eyes of the mother as she disconnected her fingers clutched by her young one as he was wheeled into the operating room?  What was the sound of my ailing mother hurriedly cooking a meal when i got back after a particularly hard day at work? What was the realisation that my father postponed his decision to buy formal shoes for himself to provide for my extra classes? What was the excruciating back breaking labourious work done in the raging hot sun by a father to provide a rudimentary meal to his extended family? Did this love ever need to be demonstrated or declared on any platform? Love in these situations was more  in the obscurity, anonymity and unobtrusiveness of the act.  It was probably best experienced. Some  emotions get trivialised by parading them for public consumption. Love is a very personal experience  intangible, inexpressible and indemonstrable. Like the fantastic composition of Gulzar.
Haath se chuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do.
Don't touch it, or trivialise it by reducing it to a noun, adjective, adverb.
It is the sound of an unnoticed tear falling from a remote corner of the heart. It is the fragrance of one self as one immerses in the thought of the loved one. It is the sight of one's own reflection when looking into the eyes of the loved one.
I recalled the look in my father's eyes when I  strode into his home. It was a celebration. It was unadulterated joy. It was exhilaration. It was ecstacy. He never uttered that word. Probably it was not  love after all. Because he never articulated it or expressed it as  was the norm. Though i still feel the fragrance when he descends into my thoughts.
Rahen na Rahen hum
Meheka karenge

The feminine principle

The Feminine Principle

The cervix is a part of the uterus. It  is a very rigid, firm unyielding 1 inch long structure that permits access to the uterine cavity.  It acts as a kind of barrier, selectively opening and softening to allow sperm to enter the uterus, and other times staying firm and closed. Its integrity is vital for sustaining pregnancy and it needs to be surgically tightened if it is rendered incompetent due to any reason. However, during childbirth, when the lady goes into labour, the cervix  undertakes a magical transformation. This begins by a progressive dilatation of the cervix. This very rigid, impenetrable and unbreachable part of the uterus, now starts dilating and losing its distinctiveness. This gradual merging of the cervix with the body of the uterus is called as effacement. The birth of the baby is possible only when the cervix is fully dilated and effaced. The baby is delivered smoothly only due to the total obliteration of this tough muscular resistance.
The ability to efface oneself is the hallmark of  femininity. Femininity is a principle. It is not just restricted to the physical form. The mother is specially endowed with the ability to put her child's interests and welfare above her own self. She can efface herself, her identity, her ego for a larger cause. Effacement is not a sign of weakness. It's the hallmark of her innate strength. The woman principle is one that encompasses the ability to yield, to to tolerate, to be sensitive,to accept, to adapt, to transcend her own interests, to care, to nurture, and to bear. The male principle is about adventure, aggression, subjugation, more programed  to facilitate the role of a provider. These two principles are apparently antagonistic to one another. There is however no hierarchy amongst these two principles. They are complementary to each other.
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (dark—bright") describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
The feminine principle under provocation can unleash aggression and intimidation that can at times even rise above the masculine principle. There is an oft quoted example of how a young mother almost single handedly lifted an approaching car that threatened to run over her child in the pram.
Since the woman is entrusted with the responsibility of giving birth and also nurturing the new born, she is omnipotent. The feminine principle empowers the woman with an instinctive intelligence and strength as also with a unique ability to efface. The feminine principle sometimes finds it much harder to cut the umbilical cord. Dependence of the offspring is an extension of the strong bonding between the mother and her child. Severing the cord is facilitated by the male principle, with the aim of inculcating survival skills and capabilities.The feminine principle true to its inherent nature eventually has to efface itself for one last time to deliver the now independent offspring from its shackles. The principle highlights its identity by its ability to lose it. Therein lies the strength of this almost divine feminine principle.

Dr. Deepak Ranade

Who teaches the hatchlings

The frantic flapping, the sheer effort required for locomotion minutes after emerging from the confines of its egg and tunnelling its way from the nest, buried about a foot under the sand was indeed mind boggling. We were spellbound as we watched the hatchling trudge across the beach paddling along with its flippers. It was embedded with  navigational technology that ensured the perfect route towards the oceans. Within 10 to 15 minutes, it had reached the waterfront and was soon engulfed  by the departing wave. It was the beginning of another absolutely incredible journey of a vulnerable, helpless, fledgeling  battling unimaginable odds. It was a plunge of faith, that was more a challenge to the creator than its own self to ensure its survival. It was totally oblivious of the daunting journey it was embarking.     The dice  for this game of survival was cast. Every moment, every centimeter was fraught with perils and threats. Predators lurking  all around, prowling for a meal, or perhaps just a snack. The hatchling totally defenseless, with no one to guide, protect or defend was a sitting duck.  Every year, around November-December, adult female Olive Ridley turtles come to the shore of Velas to lay their eggs. These turtles visit in large groups for mass nesting called Arribadas. Olive Ridley turtles are endangered because they only lay their eggs at select beaches. The sites for laying the eggs are very specific. The females note down the beach they were born at and return when they attain adulthood, to lay their eggs at this very beach, no matter where in the world they are.
The female Olive Ridley turtles are laying eggs for centuries at Velaas and a few other beaches in the vicinity. Velaas is a quaint little town in Konkan. The eggs are located by following the trail left by the 50 odd kg mother turtle. They are located, retrieved and transferred to a safe, barricaded spot by locals and NGOs, protected  for the next 55 to 60 days till they hatch. This is known to be an endangered rare species. This whole exercise is indeed remarkable.  The mother turtle locates and reaches the specific destination, during a specific period, lays eggs after digging a pit, and covers it to protect from the predators. Thereafter when the temperature crosses a threshold level, the eggs hatch, the young ones dig their way out from about 12 to 18 inches beneath the ground and return to the warm ocean waters to begin life and perpetuate their species. Where, how and by whom  is this information embedded in different species?
The DNA carries the blueprint to develop the brain. The nervous system is responsible for specific behavioral patterns and paradigms. The  DNA is responsible for producing the 'hardware' of the brain, and the neuronal architecture that initiates, coordinates and supervises all motor activities . The neuronal  structure has some form of embedded information that ensures specific 'behavior' which doesn't have to be learned. This is known as instinct. Behaviour that is conditioned congenitally.
        Learning is an acquired phenomenon. It could be explained by the mirror neurons that are currently a subject of great interest and research.  Mirror neurons were discovered by Dr. Rizzolatti an Italian Neurophysiologist and professor at the University of Parma in Italy. He discovered unique neurons in the frontal and premotor cortex while doing research on the neural representation of motor movements in monkeys
A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate species.
Birds have been shown to have imitative resonance behaviors and neurological evidence suggests the presence of some form of mirroring system.In humans, mirror neurons have been located  in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex.The function of the mirror system in humans is a subject of much speculation. It is almost as if these neurons perform a dress rehearsal as the animal is observing a fellow animal perform different activities.  Mirror neurons may be important for understanding the actions of other people, and for learning new skills by imitation.
 Intelligence is of two kinds. An innate, embedded intelligence that is an inbuilt program. This is the ROM of the neural program. The second is an acquired adaptive intelligence that is developed in the course of interfacing and interacting with a rapidly changing and at times a hostile environment. This is the RAM of the neural program.Both these types of intelligence are mandatory for effective Survival Skills.
             As i watched the baby turtle disappear in the oncoming waves of the ocean, my mind was filled with an awe and total surrender to that supreme intelligence, that designed and embedded all life with different forms of intelligence, necessary for its survival, sustenance and propagation. The drama that we witnessed forced my intelligence to acknowledge a higher form of intelligence. An intelligence that can manifest in a plethora of different forms, each embedded with its own unique, discrete intelligence. An intelligence that is sublime. An intelligence that makes reality appear virtual, or then gives the virtual a touch of reality.  An intelligence that generates this illusion of diversity, and also the conviction of the virtual being the reality.

Potentiating by Diluting.

My temper had bestowed me notoriety. It had become the defining trait of my gregarious and rather overbearing disposition. Initially I took great pride in being able to intimidate and almost terrorise my subordinates. The anger would cascade as the object of my rage looked on helplessly. My ego would lust for that overwhelming sense of power, a sadistic joy  of  trampling all over the self esteem of the person at the receiving end. Such acts were in reality sado-masochistic as i realised later in life. Masochistic because such vulgar and unbridled display of negative vibes travelled inwards as well. Such acts resulted in flooding the circulation with adrenaline and similar neuro-endocrine mediators causing increased heart rates, increase Blood pressure. There was also  a feeling akin to a hangover after the the dressing down session had concluded. The work atmosphere remained vitiated for a few hours as other staff members worked in an uneasy silence. The frequency of such episodes kept increasing and after a while, the staff realized that they had to put up with  momentary lapses of reason. They developed a kind of resistance to this emotional extravaganza. The entire objective of such a brazen and unpleasant display was soon lost. And along with it I ended up losing important staff members too. The ineffectiveness of any therapeutic medication over a period of time is called Tachphylaxis. Its similar to development of resistant strains of bacteria due to the abuse of anti- biotics. There surely had to be a saner, more effective means to express displeasure without causing any collateral damage.
        I  reminisced about how petrified i was of my father as a child. He scarcely would raise his voice when he was upset. The appearance of a wrinkle on his forehead was enough of a cue to all of us in the family. Degree of anger was never subservient to a decibel system. Silence and facial lines very subtly but effectively conveyed their displeasure. An occasional expletive was the sole indicator of  extreme rage. The silent akinetic state kept us guessing and imagining all the possible outcomes. The dose of expressing their resentment was far too diluted. It was paradoxically much more effective than the rather generous dose that I administered to my subordinates. It reminded me of a very perplexing principle of Homeopathy. The basic principle of homeopathy is that a substance that triggers a certain disease can also be used to treat that disease, and diluting the substance increases its potency – a process referred to as potentization or succussion.
Dilution quite paradoxically increases the potency of the drug that is administered.
My mother's very subtle act of adjusting my blanket believing i was fast asleep made my young mind more acutely aware of her tender loving care than the priciest gift that i give my child. Frugality was the order of the day. Frugal means, frugal lifestyles, frugal expressions and frugal desires. The doses for any gratification were fractions of doses required in our present day ostentatious life. Yet the therapeutic effect on the degree of happiness was much greater. Dilution of indulgence was certainly increasing the potency of satisfaction. Dilution almost certainly eliminated the possibility of developing any form of tachyphylaxis. The lower frequency of eating in restaurants certainly ensured sustaining the degree of enjoyment.
The  potency and efficacy of expression of any  emotion might lie in its subtlety. The next provocation saw me merely raising my eyebrows. My assistant scurried for cover, possibly in anticipation of my regular normal animated response. Or perhaps dilution actually potentiated my anger.