21 September 2006


Hmm, been off the air for a while. Quite a few things happened: the first female space tourist (an Iranian), a coup in Bangkok and Hugo Chavez's speech at the UN. But none of them was sufficiently motivating to make me log in here and pen my thoughts.

Today I'll talk about something different. It'll be a shift from the outer world to the inner; from current affairs to philosophy.

Buddha's rationality has always been appealing to any seeker. Less appealing is his pessimism. The very first of the Chatur Arya Satya (Four Noble Truths) says,"Life is full of suffering" (Dukha). This is how it is commonly quoted. And this is how I remember it from our school text books. Needless to say, this is enough to turn off everybody except the die-hard pessimist. For a long time, this one line stopped me from a deeper study of Buddhism. Recently I have changed my view. It is better to rephrase the statement as "Suffering is a part of life". (If you don't like the word 'suffering', you can replace it with 'pain' or 'sorrow') Even a die-hard optimist will not disagree with this. Once we make this modification, we can continue our study of Buddhism.

[I know, this is not an earth-shattering breakthrough. It is quite trite. But it makes a huge difference to me.]

I don't have any books on Buddhism right now. I am reading the chapter on the same in Radhakrishnan's 'Indian Philosophy' (Vol 1). Like the rest of the book, it is atrociously written and I'm not sure how much longer I can go on.

Everybody knows about the Chatur Arya Satya and the Arya Ashtanga Marga (Noble Eightfold Path). These were drilled into us in our school text books. Less well known, but equally important, is the Trilakshana (Three Marks of Existence). These are Dukha, Anitya and Anatma (or discontent, impermanence and non-self). Just for the record, I agree with the first two, not with the third. A related concept, Pratitya Samutpada (Dependance Origination), is also interesting. I came across these basic things only now - which shows how little I know and how much I need to learn.

I wanted to write about the Upanishads too. But I think I'll do that later...

18 September 2006

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

The Western media say the Pope has 'apologised' for his comments on Islam. The most common headline is "Pope 'deeply sorry' for offending Muslims". But has he really apologised?

The exact text of the statement reads "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims". That is, he is sorry for the reaction to what he said, not for what he said. In other words, "The problem is not with me; the problem is with you guys."

We can also speculate over this was really a faux pas. Vatican 'experts' on CNN and BBC went on and on about how this Pope had spent most of his career as an 'academic', as compared to his predecessor, who was more politically savvy. Well, you don't need to be a political genius to figure out that quoting a line like "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached" will cause all hell to break loose. My own feeling is he knew exactly he was doing. But even he must realise now that he went too far. An Italian nun has been shot and killed in Somalia. Let's hope there's no more bloodshed.

14 September 2006

Death of a Banker

I begin my blog on a sombre note. Andrei Kozlov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank, was shot dead today.
He was at the forefront in reforming Russia's banking system, and paid the price for it.

Why should this be of any concern to me, an Indian? I don't know. Words are superfluous (and self-indulgent)...

Maybe this is the form this blog will take. I'll just be putting up news stories and articles that catch my attention. Not much 'commentary' from my side. It won't be necessary. If you connect the dots, you'll see the big picture.

(Btw, I hadn't heard of Kozlov before today)

Just found out that Kozlov had featured in a
Business Week cover story ('The New Stars of Finance') in 1997.