Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Living on a prayer

Its been a while since I've prayed or offered any kind of prayers and I have long since stopped thinking about it, except when requested to accompany someone to a temple of sorts. Yet, today's events struck me a bit amusing. It turned out that my uncle was not present at my grandpa's bedside while he passed away because he was out, offering prayers at a temple nearby.

It got me thinking, why exactly do we pray? After some pondering and without going into the line of thought of god and so forth, the only logical answer, I could come up with was a re-enforced belief structure.

Why? One may ask. Well the answer is fairly simple. Everything we know or claim to know is based on some knowledge, which in turn is based on some belief. At the most fundamental level of Physics and Math we have made assumptions that lay the foundations to our advanced theories. Thus, a prayer merely seeks to transfer the responsibility of our lives to some abstracted entity that we believe has the power to solve our problems. In return, we seek and some manage to receive a security of sorts.

Yet, my misery plagues me as I seem to have the uncanny ability to carry it with me. More like one of those symbiotic relationships we keep hearing off in those Nat geo documentaries and Zoology textbooks. Now, I struggled to see if I could rationalize myself to do some load transfer to an entity such as described above, thus receiving a huge increased processing power. Here, I am reminded by Pascal's statements...

There may or may not be a god.
The only way I stand to lose is,
if he exits and I dont believe in him.
So, I will believe in god.

Much as I try, I still fail. I guess my belief structures got eroded over time. Knowledge is like that cliched surgeon's knife. Yet, there seems to be no sutures to undo the works of millions of boxes pandora that have been carelessly strewn all over the place (And I happen to find most of them and open them). Strong belief structures although lessening chance for exploration, creativity and rational thinking provide a strong support structure that can help weather the toughest times.

Funny how choices always create a dilemma such as this. Re-quoting what my good friend Matt quoted on his page, I decide to move on.

"The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say."

~Bilbo Baggins

Its a choice we all make at some level of our consciousness. Guess Bon Jovi had it settled good eh?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gossamers Galore

The founders of the X-Windows system gave a simple heuristic to future developers,"If a problem is not completely understood, it is best not to give a solution". My question is, can a problem ever be completely understood? This requires me to define completeness, unlike algorithmic complexity where for a problem we have the test of NP completeness, in most cases completeness is defined with perspective. Assuming that such completeness varies, i.e. it has some threshold limits and is varying with in those thresholds, linearly or exponentially with the solution, where/when/how do I, a mere mortal, draw the line between inaction/passiveness and attempting to solve the problem?

Here, I would like to apply an isomorphism to some occidental Philosophy, specifically the Karma Theory or as J.K.(Krishnamurthy not Rowling) defines it (subsumed or encompassed by the First Law of Newton) "the reactions to your actions". We live in a gossamer that is so intricately woven through our actions (past and present) that it is hardly believable that we are actually solving anything at all. In fact I would say that every time we twang one strand of this spidery web it creates ripples and waves that viewing it artisticly (or autisticly) creates music. A music that creates both the rigmarole and the excitement in our life, the joys and pains, the creation and destruction, our birth and death. Along comes incy wincy spider one wintry day and chews us up and another fly gets stuck in the ointment, so to speak.

Thus, unless I know for sure im cutting the webs away it would be unwise or wasteful to make any moves. Make no moves and the spider is slowly but surely on its way to eat you up. What do i do? Well, Id say get a machete and cut through the web but that would destroy this beautiful gossamer that has taught me so much, which would be a crime wrt another gossamer and the ripples created in the act would get me there if not here, another spider perhaps. This does sound a bit delirious but think about it, its not so far fetched really...

Having said all this, I take to heart and mind Krishna's advice that action however harmful it may seem, when done with that degree of detachment is merely performing your duty and actions thus performed absolve you from the consequences. Connecting back to my earlier thread then, is it possible to do this yet be passionate,creative and drink deep from life?