Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Benny Thomas, certainties, Christianity, coincidences, fable, finite life, Heretic, moral, paradoxes, St. Augustine, stories on July 3, 2012 |
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St. Augustine And The Heretic.
Aurelius Augustinus of Tagaste, North Africa was won over from his dissolute ways when he and a friend of his were holidaying and they heard a neighbor child singing a refrain,’ Tolle Lige, Tolle Lige,”(Take up and read, Take up and read). He took it up as divine guidance and read from the book of Romans wherein St. Paul’s admonition,” make not provision for the flesh,” made a deep impact to win him over from his hedonistic way of life. At that moment his friend who also heard the child did not think it anything special.
That moment nevertheless was a turning point: one going on to become the father of medieval Roman Catholicism and the other, a heretic. When the latter was at the death- bed the saint went to see him. The heretic resisted a last minute conversion saying that while Aurelius found God whose grace was irresistible he found quite something else. When the venerable Bishop asked him to spell out what he meant he merely quoted his friend’s dictum:” In essentials, unity; in non- essentials, liberty and in all things charity.” When pressed further he said, ” Allow me to die as a heretic; we both were searching for the same- we both, so I believe, found what we searched for. Heresy or liberty? Neither you nor I have time to convince the other as to the opposite. So I shall not, either in this life or in any other.”
Time presses us to shape our belief-systems in the indistinct runoff of certainties and what seem coincidences. These also switch roles. Thus what seeemed a sure thing proves to be flash in the pan. History is replete with such paradoxes.
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Posted in history, Science, tagged Benny Thomas, Brobdingnag, coincidences, Gulliver''s travels, Jonathan Swift, luck, probability, random, uncertainty principle, werner hsienberg on December 13, 2011 |
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In Jonathan Swift’s immortal tale the central character Gulliver is brought to the land of Brobdingnag. It is written that he was repelled by the women of that land. They were monstrous in size compared to him. Their faces when magnified so much skin pores seemed to his scrutiny as moon craters! Matter of size brought about this change naturally. If we were to see as an eagle our eyes would require the size of an orange. To sum view of our world is limited by our human-ness. As a result our sense of beauty is affected; so must our understanding.
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to know both the exact position and the exact velocity of an object at the same time. However, the effect is tiny and so is only noticeable on a subatomic scale.
Light can be considered as being made up of packets of energy called photons. To measure the position and velocity of any particle, you would first shine a light on it, then detect the reflection. On a macroscopic scale, the effect of photons on an object is insignificant. Unfortunately, on subatomic scales, the photons that hit the subatomic particle will cause it to move significantly, so although the position has been measured accurately, the velocity of the particle will have been altered. By learning the position, you have rendered any information you previously had on the velocity useless. In other words, the observer affects the observed.
Here also we see the size affects our perception. Our visible universe has a set of rules while at the sub-atomic level another set of rules is equally admissible! In human terms it may explain we all have our pubic persona that is dusted up version of our real selves. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde is an extreme case.
No wonder we require an uncertainty principle to underpin our finite nature. We cannot say for certain which Party shall win the 2012 USA elections. History constantly points to this principle running through the events and men.
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Posted in life, tagged accidents, coincidences, failures, hit or miss, luck, opportunities, quotes, success, unified whole on August 4, 2009 |
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There was never an accident that I have forgotten. If I missed a step and bruised my knee I bear the scar still. If I lost an opportunity because of a missed flight or any other I can still see its consequences. I bear the accidents in life. Only what I missed was that accident, -which also is an accident I believe, and it could have put all in its proper place and value.
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Posted in history, philosophy, tagged Al Gore, character, coincidences, evil geniuses, FDR, history, opportunities, Russia, saviors, Stalin, two laws on January 23, 2009 |
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Illogical route of history is always given some semblance of shape by the logic of those who are determined to succeed. The son of a drunken Georgian cobbler is hardly the kind of man we expect to make history. This unlikely figure with bad teeth and pock marked face and with a deformed left hand came from the people. He was common which was what Lenin required and he had plenty of middle class intellectuals already. Lenin was looking for one, preferably not just a peasant or a worker but someone with a modicum of education. Thus in 1912 V.I Lenin picked out Koba Jugashvili to become one of the 10 member Bolshevik Central Committee.
Fortune also smiled on Koba the Georgian, while he just made tentative steps on the stage of world history.
Lenin needed someone to expound the correct Marxist view (or rather his own views) on the question of Nationality problem. He felt a Pole or a Jew would take an extreme point of view while he himself as a Russian might not sound convincing to the rank and file among revolutionaries. Lenin thus chose ‘Koba’ one from the oppressed nationalities of the empire. In 1913 he wrote a treatise ‘Marxism and The National Question’ and it earned him the aura of a theorist. His authorship of an authoritative Bolshevik exposition on a very crucial issue was to decisively affect his future and that of Russia.
Was it chance that pitch forked him to the stage of world history? In any case we may with certainty vouch for his staying power. Till his death in 1953 he was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union. In his ability to have beat back every opposition with the ruthlessness that we find parallel among those who wielded the destiny of Russia only in Ivan the Terrible, we see the logic of ambition straightening illogical twists inherent in luck. He later came to be known as Joseph Stalin.
He may be accused of having disposed of some 22 millions of people in his time but can he be seen separated from the history of Russia? Even at this moment of history he is a serious contender for the title of the Greatest Russian. Like Hitler he would not have under normal circumstances, come to wield power but he did because he represented the people. He had all the qualities needed to succeed: ambition, vision, control over facts and detail, patience, native intelligence and cunning. By overthrow of the old order a man of such qualities in Russia need not have worried over being checked. Yes Stalin was a creature of his times.
History is the anvil of God where evil geniuses and saviors make their impact.
Representational dispensation which we attribute to God must allow the ilk of Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet to ride every obstacle subject to the law of compensation. These obstacles are man made and often unjust like the class/caste, economic disparity etc.,
Take the case of FDR who came to play a pivotal role in the history of the USA at the time of Depression. Polio left him a cripple and yet he could use his class connections to go higher. In him also the two laws were in operation by which he made a difference to his world.
Men are pawns for good and evil alike, victims to the play off of two laws: of deprivation and compensation.
Tailspin: Al Gore may be deprived of a victory in the controversial 2001 elections. It is according to the law of deprivation. But law of compensation showed its hand when Al Gore was picked out for Nobel Prize, a role which crowns with more honor than to be known as a President of Incompetence.
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In my impressionable years one man who caught the attention of media was Dr. Albert Schweitzer of Lambarene.
The young Albert once got into a fight and knocked down his opponent. The boy told Albert that it would have ended differently had he been as well nourished as he was. It must have touched him deeply that later in the evening when he came to sup with the family he left his soup untouched. What the boy had said still rankled.
He was privileged while the other was underprivileged.
This revelation marked a definite break with his past and so did his sense of values. He became a caring person.
Even where he excelled in his intellectual achievements they were to be used in service of others. At 26 he had a triple Ph.D.
Whenever Dr. Schweitzer needed money during his stint in Africa he went on tour and gave concerts and talks. But what connects the son of a Lutheran pastor in upper Alsace to Congo?
As a child Albert had often wondered at a statue of a Negro, strong in body but head bowed and in chains. It made an impact on him. Of course the fight was the catalyst. It spurred him to refer to his memory, his past experience to take cues. (One cannot discount the role of chance. But what is chance to any one who is mindful of living with time distorted before him or her?) He knew Time was of the essence.
Against the reality of Time chance is a reminder to straighten out his or her attitude to time. Certainty is ‘chance’ set into right perspective.
What made him decide to become a medical Missionary was due to a Paris Missionary society report, which he came across as if by chance. Thereupon he settled for Lambarene, in the heart of Africa. Where mind of man is colored by collective memory and of Time, chance must, so it seems to me, lose some of its mystery.
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