Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Progress and Sharing

For a paid vaccation, coupled with a bit of technocracy, I was in Porto Alegre, Brazil few years back. We have a set picture when we think of a place. Football, heat, sea beach, revolution, carnival. Porto Alegre was little different than what I expected it to be.

Brazilian university canteens serve Sushi. Restaurants serve purely nonvegetarian food. The streets are wide and clean. The houses are tall, well-architected and completely secured. This last aspect bothered me a lot. I found almost all multistoried housing apartments in Porto Alegre to have a electrical wiring, high barbed fences and monitoring cameras. I chatted over that with a Brazilian student. He suggested me to visit bigger cities like Rio or Sao Paolo. He told me that those cities are growing as fortified cities within cities, where groups of people are warring. I could not verify him but, there seems to be some truth here.

My experiences were quite close when I shifted to Noida. Electrical fencing is not common there but, apartments are built within a housing complex or as they call it there - society. There also exists houses outside societies, which are called - Kothi. Most of the kothis were built earlier. Latest developments center around large-scale societies, fully equipped with local convention center, gym, swimming pool, playgrounds, grocery shops. The societies provide continuous water and electricity backups. One remain in a closed loop, if wished, indifferent to the world around.

I wanted to criticize this view. I debated this streamlined economic divisions. Until sometime later, it occurred to me that, this is something deep in human instincts. We all have something more. We all tend to circle around the group of mores. Let it be wealth, knowledge, privilege or anything for that matter. Let me term that as divisive expression. I conjectured that, it is not always a simplistic groupism of haves and have nots as some political doctrines claim.

When ancient scholars chose Sanskrit as their language of expression, it was a form of divisive expression. When intellectuals secretly guard the details of a philosophy unaccessible to some audience, it is a divisive expression. Presumably, the lowering of guards take away the hard-earned wealth and at the same time impede individual progress.Two questions arise here.

One, is one entitled to one's own achievements ?
Two, does sharing affect individual growth ?

To answer the first question, I argued previously here that the material or even intellectual rewards are, in reality, hindrances of growth. So, very well, one may or may not decide to rest on the achievements. But, that affects the growth for sure. To put this in perspective, a story is recounted here. The story is commonly told by spiritual masters, I could not determine the earliest source. "A woodcutter had long been working in a particular area of the forest. One day a holy man came that way and told him "Go forward." So he decided to go further into the forest. As a result, he discovered a sandalwood forest. He was very happy, as the sandalwood fetched him a lot more money than the other wood. He worked for a while in that area, but one day he remembered the holy man's words, "God forward." He again went deeper into the forest and found a silver-mine He make a huge amount of money from it, but he did not stop there. After some time, he went further on and found a gold-mine. Again he went forward and discovered a mine of diamonds. He thus became richer and richer." Here the key is not the wealth built at a point of time but, the effort put in going forward disregarding the past. In intellectual world, this is equivalent to shed the belief system and move solely based on logic.

To answer the second question, I borrow the previous answer. The best way to shed the material wealth is by giving. The best way to shed the intellectual belief system is to interact with a novice based on logic. Therefore, sharing actually supports growth. I figured out that the celebrated scientist Robert Oppenheimer made the following quotation in that perspective, "There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago." I would add also because the children start with no belief of what my textbook claims.

And then I stopped wondering, why research is significantly about teaching and growth is all about giving.


  1. baat nahin bani sirji .. maja nahin aaya !!

  2. hnaa Sarvo, kuchh dry baatein the. abhi Dilbert parh lo :-)

  3. I think that this was one of the best written bed time advice i read.Your point was very clear.