Monday, October 24, 2005

Top 101 web sites - PC Magazine

The latest compilation of the world's top 101 web sites from PC Magazine is now available here. The web sites are well classified for the lay user to pick at them, although I have to say that only 5% of the page is real content. The rest 95% are splashed with all kind of ads and links!! What an irony

Monday, October 17, 2005

Google's AdWords in-kind advertising for non-profit organizations

Yes, you heard it right. Google is coming up with Google Grants as a part of their Google Foundation The good thing I like about Google Grants is that it provides the use of the highly popular Google AdWords product to non-profit organizations. The exposure your organization would get though this is tremendous. Check it out and see if you can register your non-profit organization with it.
Way to go Google!

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Why not make your mistakes, enjoy the ride, explore all your abilities and discover new ones?"

Yet another forward. Its on the 'ambition syndome'. Very nice, read on..

Don't Hurry, Be Happy
All you have are your experiences. Why not make your mistakes, enjoy the ride, explore all your abilities and discover new ones?

I've spoken at well over 25 colleges in the last year, and I see this strange phenomenon. Our best and the brightest are in a hurry to go places - and worrying themselves insane about making the right career decision.

One of my students called a few months ago saying he hated his job. I asked him why; after all, it was from college placements. He said it was the highest paying job offered and with an overseas stint - he couldn't imagine not taking it up. He was, in fact, proud that he had 'won' it. I then asked him what he wanted to do - and it was something completely different.

All I could tell him was that he would be happier if he followed his heart - and that it was more important to trust your gut than your designation, location or paycheque.

I can't blame him. I was victim to what I call this 'ambition' syndrome. Each of us is taught that we need to have clear, specific goals - and that we should do our best to attain them. I was no different. A long time ago - or so it seems - when I'd settled down in advertising after a few false starts (trial-and-error, as I called it), I decided to prove things to everybody by having 'ambitious' goals. I secretly aimed to become a creative director by the time I was 28 and to run an ad agency by the time I was 30.

As things came to pass - I did become a creative director by 28 and, two years later, ran an ad agency - that too in the US, having started off in India. I thought I should be incredibly happy.

Surprise. I felt empty. The world didn't change. The sun still rose in the east. People still treated me the same. If that ambition was the purpose of my life, it suddenly felt completely meaningless. By focussing on the 'destination' and working insane hours and driving myself crazy to get there, I felt life had gone by in a blur. I suddenly felt 30 and old.

It came to me that carrying on further on this path (I had thought I would then set goals like earning my first million by the year X and so on) would make life even more meaningless.

Now your mileage may vary, but I decided to change. I consciously said I would forget about the 'destinations' and try enjoying the 'journey' instead. Out went targets and ambitions, in came simple things like enjoying every moment, seeing beautiful places, making room for serendipity and actually getting to know people. Some years later, my wife and I had a baby, and this belief only got further cemented. I was sure I wanted to be at home with him - and not go off tromping to work every day.

Perhaps, I've been inordinately lucky - but in the eight years since I made this call, I've had the time of my life. I've done different things: design front-ends for Yahoo! and Amazon, think-up programmes for a youth channel, pick VJs, create software, write ads, start companies, sell companies, help entrepreneurs and even write a fun column like this. All mostly from home. I'm not sure I could have consciously planned and been ambitious about any of it. The rolling stone didn't gather moss - but who the heck wants moss on oneself?

I can't imagine retiring and doing nothing, toodling around in a garden. Neither can any of the young people I speak with. Here's my belief - you're going to be doing something productive till you're well into your 70s. And if you're starting out today, or even in your 30s, that means you have another 40 or 50 active years ahead of you.

My point is simple - what's the darn hurry to get anywhere? We all end up in the same place anyway - I understand there's a 100% probability of death for all human beings, regardless of monetary wealth. All you have are your experiences. Why not make your mistakes, enjoy the ride, smell the flowers, explore all your abilities and discover new ones?

Back to my student - he called again a month later, said he'd changed lines, and was ecstatic. With due apologies to believers in reincarnation, I think this is the only life we have. Can we make the most of it?

Article on Love

This is one of the rare intriguing forwards one gets nowadays. I read through it quickly in office and understood it needed some profound thinking. So I though of putting it here for now so I can come back to it later, while you take a look... hope it helps..

For those who doing research on truth and love, read …..

The demand to be safe in relationship inevitably breeds sorrow and fear. This seeking for security is inviting insecurity. Have you ever found security in any of your relationships? Have you? Most of us want the security of loving and being loved, but is there love when each one of us is seeking his own security, his own particular path?

We are not loved because we don't know how to love. What is love? The word is so loaded and corrupted that I hardly like to use it. Everybody talks of love - every magazine and newspaper and every missionary talks everlastingly of love. I love my country, I love my king, I love some book, I love that mountain, I love pleasure, I love my wife, I love God. Is love an idea? If it is, it can be cultivated, nourished, cherished, pushed around, twisted in any way you like. When you say you love God what does it mean? It means that you love a projection of your own imagination, a projection of yourself clothed in certain forms of respectability according to what you think is noble and holy; so to say, `I love God', is absolute nonsense. When you worship God you are worshipping yourself - and that is not love.

Because we cannot solve this human thing called love we run away into abstractions. Love may be the ultimate solution to all man's difficulties, problems and travails, so how are we going to find out what love is? By merely defining it? The church has defined it one way, society another, and there are all sorts of deviations and perversions. Adoring someone, sleeping with someone, the emotional exchange, the companionship - is that what we mean by love? That has been the norm, the pattern, and it has become so tremendously personal, sensuous, and limited that religions have declared that love is something much more than this. In what they call human love they see there is pleasure, competition, jealousy, the desire to possess, to hold, to control and to interfere with another's thinking, and knowing the complexity of all this they say there must be another kind of love, divine, beautiful, untouched, uncorrupted.

Throughout the world, so-called holy men have maintained that to look at a woman is something totally wrong: they say you cannot come near to God if you indulge in sex, therefore they push it aside although they are eaten up with it. But by denying sexuality they put out their eyes and cut out their tongues for they deny the whole beauty of the earth. They have starved their hearts and minds; they are dehydrated human beings; they have banished beauty because beauty is associated with woman.

Can love be divided into the sacred and the profane, the human and the divine, or is there only love? Is love of the one and not of the many? If I say,`I love you', does that exclude the love of the other? Is love personal or impersonal? Moral or immoral? Family or non-family? If you love mankind can you love the particular? Is love sentiment? Is love emotion? Is love pleasure and desire? All these questions indicate, don't they, that we have ideas about love, ideas about what it should or should not be, a pattern or a code developed by the culture in which we live.
So to go into the question of what love is we must first ideals and ideologies of what it should or should not be. To divide anything into what should be and what is, is the most deceptive way of dealing with life.

Now how am I going to find out what this flame is which we call love - not how to express it to another but what it means in itself? I will first reject what the church, what society, what my parents and friends, what every person and every book has said about it because I want to find out for myself what it is. Here is an enormous problem that involves the whole of mankind, there have been a thousand ways of defining it and I myself am caught in some pattern or other according to what I like or enjoy at the moment - so shouldn't I, in order to understand it, first free myself from my own inclinations and prejudices? I am confused, torn by my own desires, so I say to myself, `First clear up your own confusion. Perhaps you may be able to discover what love is through what it is not.'

The government says, `Go and kill for the love of your country'. Is that love? Religion says, `Give up sex for the love of God'. Is that love? Is love desire? Don't say no. For most of us it is – desire with pleasure, the pleasure that is derived through the senses, through sexual attachment and fulfilment. I am not against sex, but see what is involved in it. What sex gives you momentarily is the total abandonment of yourself, then you are back again with your turmoil, so you want a repetition over and over again of that state in which there is no worry, no problem, no self. You say you love your wife. In that love is involved sexual pleasure, the pleasure of having someone in the house to look after your children, to cook. You depend on her; she has given you her body, her emotions, her encouragement, a certain feeling of security and well-being. Then she turns away from you; she gets bored or goes off with someone else, and your whole emotional balance is destroyed, and this disturbance, which you don't like, is called jealousy. There is pain in it, anxiety, hate and violence. So what you are really saying is, `As long as you belong to me I love you but the moment you don't I begin to hate you. As long as I can rely on you to satisfy my demands, sexual and otherwise, I love you, but the moment you cease to supply what I want I don't like you.' So there is antagonism between you, there is separation, and when you feel separate from another there is no love. But if you can live with your wife without thought creating all these contradictory states, these endless quarrels in yourself, then perhaps - perhaps - you will know what love is. Then you are completely free and so is she, whereas if you depend on her for all your pleasure you are a slave to her. So when one loves there must be freedom, not only from the other person but from oneself.

This belonging to another, being psychologically nourished by another, depending on another - in all this there must always be anxiety, fear, jealousy, guilt, and so long as there is fear there is no love; a mind ridden with sorrow will never know what love is; sentimentality and emotionalism have nothing whatsoever to do with love. And so love is not to do with pleasure and desire.

Love is not the product of thought which is the past. Thought cannot possibly cultivate love. Love is not hedged about and caught in jealousy, for jealousy is of the past. Love is always active present. It is not `I will love' or `I have loved'. If you know love you will not follow anybody. Love does not obey. When you love there is neither respect nor disrespect. Don't you know what it means really to love somebody - to love without hate, without jealousy, without anger, without wanting to interfere with what he is doing or thinking, without condemning, without comparing - don't you know what it means? Where there is love is there comparison? When you love someone with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your body, with your entire being, is there comparison? When you totally abandon yourself to that love there is not the other.

Does love have responsibility and duty, and will it use those words? When you do something out of duty is there any love in it? In duty there is no love. The structure of duty in which the human being is caught is destroying him. So long as you are compelled to do something because it is your duty you don't love what you are doing. When there is love there is no duty and no responsibility.

Most parents unfortunately think they are responsible for their children and their sense of responsibility takes the form of telling them what they should do and what they should not do, what they should become and what they should not become. The parents want their children to have a secure position in society. What they call responsibility is part of that respectability they worship; and it seems to me that where there is respectability there is no order; they are concerned only with becoming a perfect bourgeois. When they prepare their children to fit into society they are perpetuating war, conflict and brutality. Do you call that care and love? Really to care is to care as you would for a tree or a plant, watering it, studying its needs, the best soil for it, looking after it with gentleness and tenderness - but when you prepare your childrren to fit into society you are preparing them to be killed. If you loved your children you would have no war. When you lose someone you love you shed tears - are your tears for yourself or for the one who is dead? Are you crying for yourself or for another? Have you ever cried for another? Have you ever cried for your son who is killed on the battlefield? You have cried, but do those tears come out of self-pity or have you cried because a human being has been killed? If you cry out of self-pity your tears have no meaning because you are concerned about yourself. If you are crying because you are bereft of one in whom you have invested a great deal of affection, it was not really affection. When you cry for your brother who dies cry for him. It is very easy to cry for yourself because he is gone. Apparently you are crying because your heart is touched, but it is not touched for him, it is only touched by self- pity and self-pity makes you hard, encloses you, makes you dull and stupid.

When you cry for yourself, is it love - crying because you are lonely, because you have been left, because you are no longer powerful - complaining of your lot, your environmment - always you in tears? If you understand this, which means to come in contact with it as directly as you would touch a tree or a pillar or a hand, then you will see that sorrow is self-created, sorrow is created by thought, sorrow is the outcome of time. I had my brother three years ago, now he is dead, now I am lonely, aching, there is no one to whom I can look for comfort or companionship, and it brings tears to my eyes. You can see all this happening inside yourself if you watch it. You can see it fully, completely, in one glance, not take analytical time over it. You can see in a moment the whole structure and nature of this shoddy little thing called `me', my tears, my family, my nation, my belief, my religion - all that ugliness, it is all inside you. When you see it with your heart, not with your mind, when you see it from the very bottom of your heart, then you have the key that will end sorrow. Sorrow and love cannot go together, but in the Christian world they have idealized suffering, put it on a cross and worshipped it, implying that you can never escape from suffering except through that one particular door, and this is the whole structure of an exploiting religious society.
So when you ask what love is, you may be too frightened to see the answer. It may mean complete upheaval; it may break up the family; you may discover that you do not love your wife or husband or children - do you? - you may have to shatter the house you have built, you may never go back to the temple.

But if you still want to find out, you will see that fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity. So if you can eliminate all these, not by forcing them but by washing them away as the rain washes the dust of many days from a leaf, then perhaps you will come upon this strange flower which man always hungers after. If you have not got love - not just in little drops but in abundance if you are not filled with it - the world will go to disaster. You know intellectually that the unity of mankind is essential and that love is the only way, but who is going to teach you how to love? Will any authority, any method, any system, tell you how to love? If anyone tells you, it is not love. Can you say, `I will practise love. I will sit down day after day and think about it. I will practise being kind and gentle and force myself to pay attention to others?'

Do you mean to say that you can discipline yourself to love, exercise the will to love? When you exercise discipline and will to love, love goes out of the window. By practising some method or system of loving you may become extraordinarily clever or more kindly or get into a state of non-violence, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with love.

In this torn desert world there is no love because pleasure and desire play the greatest roles, yet without love your daily life has no meaning. And you cannot have love if there is no beauty. Beauty is not something you see - not a beautiful tree, a beautiful picture, a beautiful building or a beautiful woman. There is beauty only when your heart and mind know what love is. Without love and that sense of beauty there is no virtue, and you know very well that, do what you will, improve society, feed the poor, you will only be creating more mischief, for without love there is only ugliness and poverty in your own heart and mind. But when there is love and beauty, whatever you do is right, whatever you do is in order. If you know how to love, then you can do what you like because it will solve all other problems. So we reach the point: can the mind come upon love without discipline, without thought, without enforcement, without any book, any teacher or leader - come upon it as one comes upon a lovely sunset? It seems to me that one thing is absolutely necessary and that is passion without motive - passion that is not the result of some commitment or attachment, passion that is not lust. A man who does not know what passion is will never know love because love can come into being only when there is total self-abandonment. A mind that is seeking is not a passionate mind and to come upon love without seeking it is the only way to find it - to come upon it unknowingly and not as the result of any effort or experience. Such a love, you will find, is not of time; such a love is both personal and impersonal, is both the one and the many. Like a flower that has perfume you can smell it or pass it by. That flower is for everybody and for the one who takes trouble to breathe it deeply and look at it with delight. Whether one is very near in the garden, or very far away, it is the same to the flower because it is full of that perfume and therefore it is sharing with everybody.

Love is something that is new, fresh, alive. It has no yesterday and no tomorrow. It is beyond the turmoil of thought. It is only the innocent mind which knows what love is, and the innocent mind can live in the world which is not innocent. To find this extraordinary thing which man has sought endlessly through sacrifice, through worship, through relationship, through sex, through every form of pleasure and pain, is only possible when thought comes to understand itself and comes naturally to an end. Then love has no opposite, then love has no conflict. You may ask, `If I find such a love, what happens to my wife, my children, my family? They must have security.' When you put such a question you have never been outside the field of thought, the field of consciousness. When once you have been outside that field you will never ask such a question because then you will know what love is in which there is no thought and therefore no time. You may read this mesmerized and enchanted, but actually to go beyond thought and time - which means going beyond sorrow - is to be aware that there is a different dimension called love. But you don't know how to come to this extraordinary fount - so what do you do? If you don't know what to do, you do nothing, don't you? Absolutely nothing. Then inwardly you are completely silent. Do you understand what that means? It means that you are not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing; there is no centre at all. Then there is love.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A hopeful thought

I was walking to my office the other day. Its a 5 minute walk on the IT highway in Chennai to Tidel Park. On the way to my left is a slum beside one of the stinking waterways that are common in Chennai - the stinking waste water of the Buckingham canal below the elevated metro railway. I am not new to contrasts in India now. I have seen opulence and poverty rubbing cold shoulders with each other in most major cities of India. Here too, beside one of the most modern areas of Chennai's IT hub is a stinking sewage canal and slums lining it. This got me thinking and wanting to write about it for a long time.

As I have seen it, one of the strongest reasons still keeping India in the category of third world countries is its lack of cleanliness. No I am not talking about physical cleanliness. The lacking factor is the responsibility of keeping not only your body, but your surroundings also clean. Most of us do not care to keep our neighbourhood clean. We got better things to do, right? Think twice

Most people do not know how much difference a clean environment can make. The responsibility of keeping a clean neighbourhood is absent amongst most of us; 'Its not my business' - complain to the city corporation. And we keep living in this plight thinking the corporation is our slave that money can buy to clean up your neigbourhood. And even if money could buy a clean neighbourhood, how many would be ready to shelve out money for anything more than personal cleanliness? Having lived in another country, I have seen how responsible the people are to their neighbourhood and surroundings. Pure air to breath and clean living conditions are some of the simple pleasures I enjoyed. Of course, I too did my duty of disposing waste only in the common waste bin, never littering on the streets etc. But in this country, I see people lost in the gleamy hopes for material happiness and a better future that they neglect the present. Its a sad attitude. Not even a handful realize that their present living could be elevated to much higher standards if they consciously do their part to keep their homes and their surroundings clean.

In Chennai and in most metros, I have seen the city corporation installing waste baskets in almost all residential areas. But to the people of developing India, it is something new and they had lived without it for so many years that they don't know its use, so they conveniently ignore it. Everyone's world is frantically paced. But we truly need to stop and look at ourselves because the present is what we need to enjoy and we are living in a un-clean present hoping for a better future.

Most people in India hope one day to settle abroad. Why? Because we envy their clean environs and living conditions. Just try to go there and you realize subtle truths like you need to dump your waste in the waste baskets ONLY, along with a whole list of rules which the people there happily follow for a clean living. And most Indians realize this only when they go abroad. Till then, its all a rosy picture as if it is paradise.

So if its just all about doing your part to society, why can't you do your part in your very home place? You've got the present to act on, rather than waiting for the future!

We have all that we are yearning for, but never can open our eyes and realize it. India is beautiful. It has got all the types of climates, all the types of terrains, all kinds of people, a culture to be proud of, and a multitude of things for everybody. But its the poorly laid out waste management that mostly paints a gory sight to the public. And we are fools to shy away from a truth like this. Its a common sight to see people dumping waste in an open area outside their house, whereas there is a public wastebasket a couple of blocks away. Is it laziness or ignorance? Neither. I think it is irresponsibility and egotism; egotism because people deep down think its a pathetic plight to have to dump their own waste by walking a few blocks in their neighbourhood and using the waste basket. The more affluent fools have employed servants to do this work. But how could the servants care more if the masters themselves are lurking away from cleanliness; cleanliness of the mind.

True living is realizing your own potential, counting your strengths and building up on them. Do your part and enjoy a happy living! Heaven and paradise are after all a state of the mind :)