Human beings are animals. But not 100%. Some fraction of us makes us a bit different from animals. It is our intelligence. It is our imagination. It is our creativity. We can imagine a future. A better future. Then we starve to change the present into that future. It is this trait of humanity that has changed the world for humans.
There are some great people who change the world for good. There are some bad people who are nemesis of these good people. They are heroes and villains respectively. Only a fraction of general population is either heroes of villains. Most of the other people just live a life very congruent to that of animals.
For the ordinary people the power of imagination is limited. The inner urge to change the present into a better future is mostly limited to his/her personal life. However they fail less in life. They generally manage to achieve most of their goals. They have a stable life, they save more, they reproduce and pass on their wealth to their children and then they die only to be forgotten a few decades later.
A small fraction of population is a bit different. They can imagine more vividly. They are the kind of people who imagine that human being can fly and then actually spend their lives building an airplane. Thus the Wright brothers changed humanities understanding of air travel. There is one man on other hand who thinks that Jews are the root cause of all evils and plans a genocide like probably no other. Both Wright brothers and Hitler are immortal in the pages of history. Yes, before Wright brothers succeeded with their flight there were hundred other people who had imagined the same thing and had tried different ways to fly. Some even lost their lives trying ot fly. Their contribution to the history of flight can not be just rubbished off, its their experience that mattered. But yet no one remembers them and all their contemporaries thought of them as fools.
These people who try something different are risk takers and hence they are more prone to failure. Their failures are drastic. They level of their failure is something that the rest of the society can not fathom. They criticized, hurdles are placed before them, there is a tremendous pressure on them to change their course. Some concede and some don’t.
When you fail, when people try to change you , when they place hurdles before you what do you do ?
Talking to various people and from my personal experience I feel you tend to be like that man who managed to draw heat from a distant lamp while standing in a pond of chilled water. (Birbal’s stories).
You draw inspiration from something that’s outside you. That can be imaginary or real. It can be your family or Guru. It can be God. It can be an experience in past. It is said that Gandhiji vowed to fight racism after he was thrown out of the train in South Africa. An encounter with Leprosy patient changed Baba Amte’s life forever. So it can be an incident as well. For lesser mortals it can be the concept of God. An omnipotent, omnipresent power that is with you always. Or it can be story like Mahabharat, Ramayan that has inspired generations.
Smarter the person you are more complex and subtle sources of strength and inspiration (possibly). It is now understandable why our ancestors worshiped idols and wrote brilliant pieces such as Mahabharat and Ramayan. When you hail Krishna as the Purushottama you actually create a source of inspiration for yourself. Rituals and Idols are not meaningless things but perhaps and attempt to imagine something larger than life that will inspire them in real life.
What are the things that you think of (or do) in the greatest moments of triumphs and sorrows? What are the things that make you an immovable object against and unstoppable force of adversity ? When you are sad what do you do ?
I am sure everyone will have their own lists and I will be glad if you find time to leave them in comments. Let me write down my list.
1. Calvin Hobbes (I am not kidding. This comic strip is responsible for my craziness).
2. Batman (comics and movies)
3. Jagjit Singh’s music especially when I am sad.
4. Star Wars (the whole concept of Jedis , Sith , redemption, duties and internal conflicts)
5. A collection of few quotes.
6. A set of certain articles.
7. Tea. (A magic potion that can set my mood very quickly)
8. A few past experiences.
9. Arun Shourie.
10. Riding Bike.
Is there a pattern. Some of these is work of fiction by others. Now think of our Mythology. Mahabharata is not very different from Batman. Master Yoda’s dialogs to the Jedi disciple is not very different from that of advice by Krishna to Arjun. For example compare these two:
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” >> Yoda [Revenge of Sith]
Verse 2.62 : One develops attachment to sense objects by thinking about sense objects. Desire for sense objects comes from attachment to sense objects, and anger comes from unfulfilled desires. (2.62)
Verse 2.63 : Delusion or wild ideas arise from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls from the right path when reasoning is destroyed. (2.63) Bhagvad Gita
Then there is music or poetry. I have loved Ghalib’s “Hazaron Khwahishein aisi” in Jagjitji’s voice. That song has many times acted as a deep source of inspiration. Now think of mantras. Our forefathers did not have comfortable lives like us, their main problem was survival. Hence their forms of poetry appear to be a bit more crude to us. The Purushasukta speaks of a force that has thousand heads and thousand eyes and a part of it it still left even after occupying the entire universe. For someone who did not know much about universe that can act as a profound poetry.
Now in my case it’s personality of Arun Shourie that has very high place. Now compare it with the Guru-Shishya parampara of ancient times. I am sure there are parallels.
Riding a bike is a ritual and Tea is the magic potion. For some that might be Beer.
Everyone will have their sources of inspiration and I wonder if these will have a common pattern among them. The gut feeling tells me that there will be a pattern.