Saturday, July 26, 2014

. 6 year old girl raped in a bangalore school.

. Malaysian Airlines plane MH17 with 298 passengers shot down in Ukraine.

. Dashrath Manjhi, constructed a 360 feet long, 30 feet high and 25 feet wide passage through Gehlour hills with a hammer, chisel and nails working day and night for 22 years from 1960 to 1982. His feat reduced the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 75 km to just one km, bringing him international acclaim.

. Palestinian death toll crosses 1000 in Gaza.

. Iraq: Shia shrine blown up.

. Ordinary man, extraordinary heart.....tracking one man’s journey into the land of giving.....When M.S. Bagai’s wife Sudhira died in 1980 of cancer, Bagai decided to support the drive for early detection of cancer in slums and urban outbacks. He began the Sudhira Bagai Charitable Trust with just Rs. 500. Bagai has since raised money to educate the children of a paraplegic soldier, provide milk to children living in the shelter of Safdarjang Hospital in New Delhi, buy medicines and milk for sick sadhus, and for a dozen other causes in a list that keeps growing.

. U.S. evacuates Libyan embassy amid clashes.

. Jorge Munoz is a school bus driver by day and an angel by night. Every night for more than 5 years, he has gone home and cooked food for hundreds of people on his old stove. He then goes to a street corner in Queens, New York and feeds those that are hungry. He does this with his own money because "it's the right thing to do".

. Taliban kill 15 in Afghanistan.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

We think we relate


"We  are relating only as abstract. Complaining against a particular action in a relationship is meaningless, as it is the abstract which acted, not the person. Abstract cannot be different, as that is its structure and it can act only that way. All the problems in relationships are of this nature only. It is action of 'the abstract', not the individual person"


In every relationship, it's only functioning. We think we relate. Its only the abstract. That's why there are problems. Does it mean that only abstracts are relating and no relationship beyond that? 


The underlying factor is physical. But the oprational part is abstract. It is abstract 'me' interacting with another abstract. Most of the time, the physical initiate the process, it is abstract which is operational, as that is our only functional tool. The physical is your son,  daughtor, father, husband, wife, but the abstract is not. That's why it is in to all kinds of nasty actions.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The evening was turning blue, as it always did; the air itself became blue, and the white houses lost their brilliance in that delicate colour. The blue of the sea seemed to spill over and cover the land, and the mountains above were also a transparent blue. It was an enchanted scene, and there was immense silence. Though there were a few noises of the evening, they were within this silence, they were part of the silence, as we were too. This silence was making everything new, washing​​ away the centuries of squalor and pain from the heart of things; one's eyes were cleansed, and the mind was of that silence. A donkey brayed; the echoes filled the valley, and the silence accepted them. The end of the day was the death of all yesterdays, and in this death there was a rebirth, without the sadness of the past. Life was new in the immensity of silence. - K

It's a great revelation. I've ​​this approach to people, they're good, they'll be good or they've to be good, in character,  in work, in efficiency, and fair in relationship. First and foremost, it leads to classification, followed by expectation or rejection or disappointment, exasperation, condemnation and abuse or verbal duel. All because of relating to people with this approach.

​The very abstract movement is this. Analyzing, interpreting, classifying, taking stock and getting assured everything is under control.

It’s a great conditioning getting revealed. Condemnation is part of this. Abstraction carries forward this approach for life time. Abstraction is preceded by this relational approach. Experiencing only reveals. The person next to me could be seen as a person or energy. Silence holds sound and noise​.

Silence holds sound and noise. Whole holds the fragment​s. "Even a minutest factor could make a massive movement of unthinkable consequences​".​

And a fragment seen in its big picture​, doesn't cause any movement. Any action of the fragment is supposed to be so, in tune with the factor's need and also the whole's. What is the point in getting perked-up, angry and argue. Silent observation is best, some words from that silence just to point out could be the maximum response. Silence has effect at fundamental level, while words only get reaction, and strengthening the abstract further.

​​​Either abstract​ is functioning or experiencing is functioning. We are relating only in abstract. Complaining against a particular action in a relationship is meaningless, as it is the abstract which acted, not the person. Abstract cannot be different, as that is its structure and it can act only that way. All the problems in relationships are of this nature only. It is action of 'the abstract', not the individual person.

​The fragment may be idling, lazy, wasting time, energy and resources, then it has to be quietly pointed out that the fragment has to be in a suitable context.​ Existence of the abstract could be pointed out. And the silence only should operate.​

In the sight of the eyes seeing the whole in fragmented-whole. Seeing the whole in fragment is different from seeing the fragment as whole.

​Every cosmic particle holds the cosmos in itself. ​​Silence-Sound-Music (Nadham).​ During pain episodes, it is noise which gives trouble.​ Abstract state is noise. ​ ​Experiencing only reveals the truth.

​Living as if life is permanent or living in a state of ready to leave

​​'State of ready to leave' means accepting death could come any time and so live accordingly, rather than living in fear of death.  The fear of death makes living hell for us. This mortal fear is the ultimate fear.  Everything else emanate from this,  whether it is anger, jealousy, insecurity, pleasure and acquisitiveness. We fortify, build empires, occupied, afraid and live in this fear constantly. Instead,  this inevitability could be accepted (is there a choice?) and real freedom opens up then.......the flow in the stroke of a brush, in the voice of a soul-searching raga, in the wings of a bird,  in a majestic swing of the bat, in that tiny flower, in the sight of the eyes seeing the whole in the fragmented-whole...

​EXPERIENCING​​

Effects of the moving mind are all in front of us. Even a minutest factor could make a massive movement of unthinkable consequences. An interesting observation, it is so when the factor is seen in isolation. When the same factor is seen in its big picture in which everything ​else also seen, what happens then?  

Does the movement triggered by how it is seen? The all-consuming all-powerful massive movement of unthinkable consequences because of the way seeing is!  The falling drop of water has its movement, but not the pool.

Casual social interactions,  a breeding ground for the mind's movement. Social norms and routines, which are done just as a matter of fact without looking at the damages it does, strengthen the mind and greatly contribute in its movement routine.

 Commenting on silence, Krishnaji says, 'It was an enchanted scene, and there was immense silence. Though there were a few noises of the evening, they were within this silence, they were part of the silence, as we were too. This silence was making everything new, washing away the centuries of squalor and pain from the heart of things; one's eyes were cleansed, and the mind was of that silence'​

Wish to share something which I see as valuable from my experience in the last few months.

Is there some significance to life or it is full of just accidental happenings?  Is it fine to question the way life is lived? We are all living it in certain way because that’s the way society is going about it. We live in a certain state of mind (proactive presence of the self); does that state of mind determine our entire life, all aspects of it? By chance, if there is a fundamental flaw in the way life is lived, how do we find that? Can we question the very state of mind? Before looking at these, let us look at the facts about us.

 One fact is, 'I' am data. Two, I don't realize 'I' am data.  Third, the data, the ‘I’, has split itself in to observer and observed and that is how it avoids detection, making itself invisible and survives, as the ‘I’ hides behind the observer. Fourth, through analysis, the observer ensures survival for itself for years and years. Fifth, the observer works for immortality through whatever it does, through painting, singing, good workmanship, building empires and good acts; ending this observer is touching the very root of fear. Sixth, observer seeing these is futile: that is again continuity of the data field. Seventh, data, in its drive to win, is doing all the damages.

The Data Field has winning posts, peaks, winners and losers. This ABSTRACT GAME, a cross-word puzzle, is our living. In reality, the movement is of order and rhythm. Instead of touched by that movement of order, we are opting for disorder by playing this game, strengthening it also and being fooled all the time.

 These are the facts about us. Let us explore further and see how it is so…

When it comes to the state of mind, there are abstract thinking state and expeiencing state. The thinking state creates a thinker also. Data gets accumulated in the brain and at some stage, we start identifying ourselves with this data. As more and more we see only the data being respected, valued and recognised, we ourselves may have restricted us only as the data. Then, as the data is used only during the thinking state, it appears that we have restricted our state of presence to thinking state mostly and taken ourselves only as the abstract state. What a tragedy? Within this data field, this thinker divides itself from the rest of the data; treating itself as real person in the process. So, in a relationship, one data-form relates to another data-form.

As we see us only as data, every other aspect of us is neglected. Our other state of presence and whatever goes with it gets neglected. Silence, peace, simple physical presence, relating to other physical beings, physical work, necessity to work, any creative skill which would have got exhibited in the other state, physical well-being, hygiene, healthy life, healthy environment, responsibility, peaceful attitude, care, respect for everything around, order, coexistence and love, all these are neglected. Above all, we don’t know much about that state.

Not only we are ignorant of our true potential but restricting ourselves immensely in data-form, and we could relate all the havoc happening in the world to this state of presence of ours. The abstract state of presence resulted in and equates with massacres of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, pain, sorrow, atrocities and anarchy seen all around. We’ll see how?

Life is lived in many ways. Whether living in luxury or barest minimum, we live in the midst of beauty, wonder, creation, destruction, violence, exploitation, mass-extermination, mass-rape and burning of women and children. This violence is perpetrated collectively and individually. This could touch us also. Sectarian and racial violence, in which common people are perpetrators and victims, could happen in any locality, any time. If one is a victim, how is (s)he going to respond is a big question. Looking at this possibility and helpless scenario, if we ask why we are in this situation, naturally we look at the way we are living for an answer. We present, feel and act in and as data. Basically and fundamentally, we are not abstract state, but the abstract presence has taken over, rather than the absence of it, as we believe and live a life of abstract. Every moment, this abstract state is renewed as it comes in to play at that moment.  Do we need to question this or why bother, just continue to live as it is?

We could do that, but there is a trouble to that. That disengagement could make us one of the common people who are perpetrators and victims in mass sectarian violence which could erupt in a flash anywhere, anytime. That disengagement could make a child victim of mass-rape. That disengagement should have made that dying-skinny child potential prey for that waiting eagle. That disengagement should have made the concentration camp possible, the delhi-bus rape possible and the millions killed in Rwanda possible. That disengagement may be separating and limiting us from what we are. Is it not shame to live in abstract state and play out a abstract foolish game in the name of living? How do we realize this?

 If we are not conditioned to irretrievable level, see clearly the foolish nature of our life, experiencing state is present every moment.

Experiencing is possible all the time. But, it works in such a way, we are 'self' always. Each time, we take the wrong turn, may be because, we fail to recognize that the abstract state split itself as observer ‘I’ and observed and the observer 'I', the abstract state, is present all the time, as our state of presence is restricted mostly to the field of data; we may abruptly move away from selfless state also, as we are used to be present in data-form almost always. All those periods, we could take the right turn, but always we take the wrong turn, all the time we have the chance to lose the self, but we ended up strengthening the self; all because of our state of presence in abstract state.

Abstract state has various characteristics.  These will make us understand how smart the structure is. Moments of pleasure-seeking, feeling defensive, moments of crisis-avoidance, moments of right and wrong and intervention to correct are the self strengthening moments. We see something, feel fully with that and the sensation is followed by feeling of ownership, possession. Moving away from the sensation is the routine moments of wrong-turn.

Feeling defensive are also moments of wrong-turns. Moments you feel defensive are the ones which are precious moments of your life, holding the potential for immense learning. When you cry, don't feel defensive. When you are moved by an intense feeling, don't feel defensive. Those are the moments of reckoning.

When the mind gets in to a crisis, that is a moment of reckoning. In a hurry, we move away from that to 'safety'. That is an invaluable moment. The crisis, if it gets welled-up/strengthened internally, makes the self experiences it's impotent and the self is completely defense-less and gives itself up. The vital difference is that it is not an intellectual understanding, but an actual experiencing for the self.

We can’t worry much about casual moments of lazy thoughts which actually are moments of brain's survival, bring-in-order functions. As sleep is necessary for brain's order, this half-sleep state also is necessary for the same reason. But it is vicious also, that is why we get in to it quite often.

In abstract state, subconsciously, we are always loaded when we look at somebody....we are not innocent at that time.....we are not open.... the other person is looked at in certain way, either with acquisitiveness or insignificance or profitably or defensively, as a pleasure-object or as a profit-object or as trivial, depending on who the other person is….also with the expectation that the person has to be good in conduct, work, efficiency.... This is the major fault-line in our living...that is, we are abstract-state in the field of abstract…..one abstract-state interacting with another abstract-state is our field of relationship… this nature of our presence in abstract-state results in a 10 year old raped and killed near Salem by 5 people….in a communal violence, any common man could become a victim or a perpetrator….. it means that the individual is not responsible, but his abstract-state is…..meaning, any abstract-state.....does it mean that every moment of my presence in abstract-state is responsible for the holocaust?...

K says absence of abstract state help human consciousness to lessen fear. Absence of abstract state reduces the common fear, common pain, and common exploitation;  wipe away the cruelty of child rape, the pain of that child; could have stopped the millions maimed in Rwanda and the horror of concentration camps, could have prevented the sad pain of abandoned elderly and makes the presence of energy visible all around us, in the blade of grass to…..​

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I recently had a major realisation on one of my deep conditioning. That is, looking for perfection in everything and everybody, had this underlying deeply-embedded feeling/conviction/view in me that persons, I come across in life, have to be good,  perfect in work, in daily life and conduct. Once I realised the absurdity of it, its an invaluable moment for me.

Rhapsody in Realism
By DAVID BROOKS
June 23, 2014
Courtesy  The New York Times

A few years ago, I came across an article on a blog that appealed tremendously. It was on a subject that obviously I have a lot to learn about. But it was actually the tone and underlying worldview that was so instructive, not just the substance.

The article was called “15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years” by Lydia Netzer. The first piece of advice was “Go to bed mad.” Normally couples are told to resolve each dispute before they call it a night. But Netzer writes that sometimes you need to just go to bed. It won’t do any good to stay up late when you’re tired and petulant: “In the morning, eat some pancakes. Everything will seem better, I swear.”

Another piece of advice is to brag about your spouse in public and let them overhear you bragging.
Later, she tells wives that they should make a husband pact with their friends. “The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more.”

Most advice, whether on love or business or politics, is based on the premise that we can just will ourselves into being rational and good and that the correct path to happiness is a straight line. These writers, in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” school, are essentially telling you to turn yourself into a superstar by discipline and then everything will be swell.

But Netzer’s piece is nicely based on the premise that we are crooked timber. We are, to varying degrees, foolish, weak, and often just plain inexplicable — and always will be. As Kant put it: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”

People with a crooked timber mentality tend to see life as full of ironies. Intellectual life is ironic because really smart people often do the dumbest things precisely because they are carried away by their own brilliance.

Politics is ironic because powerful people make themselves vulnerable because they think they can achieve more than they can. Marriage is ironic because you are trying to build a pure relationship out of people who are ramshackle and messy. There’s an awesome incongruity between the purity you glimpse in the love and the fact that he leaves used tissues around the house and it drives you crazy.

People with a crooked timber mentality try to find comedy in the mixture of high and low. There’s something fervent in Netzer’s belief in marital loyalty: “You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team’s rules.” Yet the piece is written with a wry appreciation of human foibles. If you have to complain about your husband’s latest outrage to somebody’s mother, she writes, complain to his mother, not to yours. “His mother will forgive him. Yours never will.”

People with a crooked timber mentality try to adopt an attitude of bemused affection. A person with this attitude finds the annoying endearing and the silly adorable. Such a person tries to remember that we each seem more virtuous from our own vantage point than from anybody else’s.

People with a crooked timber mentality are anti-perfectionist. When two people are working together there are bound to be different views, and sometimes you can’t find a solution so you have to settle for an arrangement. You have to design structures that have a lot of give, for when people screw up. You have to satisfice, which is Herbert Simon’s term for any option that is not optimal but happens to work well enough.

Great and small enterprises often have two births: first in purity, then in maturity. The idealism of the Declaration of Independence gave way to the cold-eyed balances of the Constitution. Love starts in passion and ends in car pools.

The beauty of the first birth comes from the lofty hopes, but the beauty of the second birth comes when people begin to love frailty. (Have you noticed that people from ugly places love their cities more tenaciously than people from beautiful cities?)

The mature people one meets often have this crooked timber view, having learned from experience the intransigence of imperfection and how to make a friend of every stupid stumble. As Thornton Wilder once put it, “In love’s service only wounded soldiers can serve.”

Courtesy  The New York Times


Warmly....


Rajendar R
One Sunday morning, a wealthy man sat in his balcony enjoying sunshine and his coffee when a little ant caught his eye which was going from one side to the other side of the balcony carrying a big leaf several times more than its size. The man watched it for more than an hour. He saw that the ant faced many impediments during its journey, paused, took a diversion and then continued towards destination.

At one point the tiny creature came across a crack in the floor. It paused for a little while, analyzed and then laid the huge leaf over the crack, walked over the leaf, picked the leaf on the other side then continued its journey.

The man was captivated by the cleverness of the ant, one of Nature’s tiniest creatures. The incident left the man in awe and forced him to contemplate over the miracle of Creation.  In front of his eyes there was this tiny creature, lacking in size yet equipped with a brain to analyze, contemplate, reason, explore, discover and overcome. Along with all these capabilities, the man also noticed that this tiny creature shared some human shortcomings.

The man saw about an hour later the creature had reached its destination – a tiny hole in the floor which was entrance to its underground dwelling. And it was at this point that the ant’s shortcoming that it shared with the man was revealed. How could the ant carry into the tiny hole the large leaf that it had managed to carefully bring to the destination? It simply couldn’t!

So the tiny creature, after all the painstaking and hard work and exercising great skills, overcoming all the difficulties along the way, just left behind the large leaf and went home empty-handed.

The ant had not thought about the end before it began its challenging journey and in the end the large leaf was nothing more than a burden to it. The creature had no option, but to leave it behind to reach its destination. The man learned a great lesson that day.

Isn’t that the truth about our lives?

We worry about our family, we worry about our job, we worry about how to earn more money, we worry about where we should live – 5 bedroom or 6 bedroom house, what kind of vehicle to buy – a Mercedes or BMW or a Porsche, what kind of dresses to wear, all sorts of things, only to abandon all these things when we reach our destination – The Grave. We don’t realize in our life’s journey that these are just burdens that we are carrying with utmost care and fear of losing them, only to find that at the end they are useless and we can’t take them with us.

Happy Day !!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

‘If we were silkworms, we’d be boiled alive for threads’


TODAY'S PAPER » FEATURES » DOWN TOWN
June 22, 2014

‘If we were silkworms, we’d be boiled alive for threads’
PRIYA NARAYANAN 

Vegan jeweller Preethi Raghav asks why animals should be dragged into our desire to go bling
SRIYA NARAYANAN

She loves shiny, pretty things just as much as the next person – but Preethi Raghav shows us that our love for exquisite jewellery can be indulged without resorting to animal cruelty or environmental damage.

The vegan entrepreneur founded ‘No Harm Charm’, a cruelty-free jewellery brand, last year when she became addicted to designing, after a workshop on terracotta jewellery making. When friends and family posted enthusiastic responses to pictures of her creations (that use no animal products or harmful ingredients) on Facebook, Preethi decided to follow her passion and make a difference at the same time.

She launched a wide range of colourful, non-toxic earrings, necklaces and sets that were both eco-and pocket-friendly. Her specialties include alternatives to pearls and customised jewellery. Speaking about pearl alternatives, Preethi reveals that as a vegan, she finds it unacceptable to harm any living being in order to turn them into ornaments.

“If we were silkworms, we’d be boiled alive for our threads; if we were oysters, we’d be torturously injected with irritants to give (manufacture) ulcers i.e, pearls; if we were pretty birds, someone would be hunting us down, to use our feathers to make jewellery”, she says.

“I’ve worked on creating the faux-pearl just so we can consciously replace the cruel pearl with more ethical options. Like racism is wrong, i.e. just to discriminate against someone based on their birth, speciesism is wrong too.”

She also found through research that much of the bling in our wardrobes contains dangerous substances such as lead, arsenic and epoxy, and that there is a dire need for accessories that do not contain these poisonous ingredients.

In order to make her products easily accessible, Preethi ensured that the price range made it affordable to all budgets. Some of the pearl alternatives are priced as low as Rs. 50.

“I discovered that baking at home using terracotta ovens and fire wood, creates a final product that was just so rewarding… that beautiful piece of jewellery. At times, I do not even paint it!” she says. “It easily takes around three to five days for me to work on a single piece of jewellery. I want to help people wear what they imagine. I feel that it’s an art in itself to read someone’s mind, understand their needs and bring it into a product. I want to master it and that's why most of what I make is custom-made.”

Preethi has her hands full with ongoing orders and her experiments with different techniques of baking, glazing and painting. And keeping her primary goal of animal welfare in mind, she recently set up a stall at the Blue Cross Adoption Drive and donated 50 per cent of the proceeds to the cause of homeless pet adoption.

To order her products, visit www.noharmcharm.com, email noharmcharm@gmail.com or call 9566051179


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Economic Times

How uncoupling fear and failure unleashes creativity at Pixar




The culture at Pixar has been consciously shaped so that it can outlive its founders and ensure that unseen forces don’t get in the way of the creativity that drives the organization. (In pic: Pixar’s Jim Morris & Ed Catmull)
The culture at Pixar has been consciously shaped so that it can outlive its founders and ensure that unseen forces don’t get in the way of the creativity that drives the organization. (In pic: Pixar’s Jim Morris & Ed Catmull)
When the Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studio eight years ago, its animation business, Disney Animation, was going through the roughest patch in its history. Pixar, on the other hand, was having a dream run.

Pixar execs Ed Catmull and John Lasseterwere asked to head both companies and the first thing they decided was to keep them separate — neither studio would do any work for the other. "We were suddenly put in charge of a group that we didn't know at all.

All we knew is that they were demoralised and had failed. We had all these principles about how to run an organisation based on candour, fearlessness and trust and while we had taken a conscious decision to keep both the businesses separate, we decided we would apply these principles here as well," says Catmull, president, Pixar and Disney Animation.

The duo thought that instilling these principles would take them two years; it took them four. "Stating the principles isn't the same as actually doing it. They needed to go through some problems and failures as a group before they earned each others' trust," says Catmull.

The results are there for everyone to see. All the films made by Disney Animation after this acquisition have been critical successes, with the most recent one, Frozen, going on to become the highest grossing animation film of all times.

"The same people who were there when it was failing are there when it is successful," says Catmull over the phone from his home in California. Pixar will go into the history books for making Toy Story, the first feature length computer animation film in 1995.

The company started off as a part of Lucasfilm which was eventually sold to Steve Jobs in 1986 which is when Pixar was formed. The various challenges it faced as it grew has played an important role in shaping its culture where the focus is on creativity, but not at therisk of alienating the non-creative people in the organisation.

The desire to share the forces and factors that shaped Pixar's culture spurred Catmull to write a book, Creativity, Inc. co-authored with business writer Amy Wallace. The culture at Pixar has been consciously shaped so that it can outlive its founders and ensure that unseen forces don't get in the way of the creativity that drives the organisation. Catmull's personal journey has been an interesting one.

As a kid, he had a dream to make the world's first computer animated film and that is what led him to joining Lucasfilm after studying physics and computer science (then an emerging field) at the University of Utah.

Solving the problems in front of him is what has always driven him — it's just that the nature of the problem kept changing. These started off as technical problems — not having the technology to make a movie using computers — and then became human ones. Being strategically located just an hour away from Silicon Valley and one hour plane ride from Hollywood, Catmull found himself in a unique position.

In the early days of Silicon Valley, there were creative groups that were successful but then they'd fall apart. "Observing from the outside you realise that there's something wrong that smart people are missing out on and that leads you to realise that if they are missing out on it, I'll probably miss it too. Then this leads to figuring out what these things are and working at fixing them," he says.

Given his background, Catmull viewed these problems as a scientist, and not a manager. "I came to believe that most companies were trying to do the right thing, but in focusing on doing this right thing, they were missing out on a deeper problem — how human emotions form barriers and fears that get in the way," he says.

This led him to the realisation that most companies were so focused on competition that they didn't introspect deeply enough on the other destructive forces that were at work. "If we can figure out what it is about managing and adapting to change that is so hard then we can find problems before they hit us. You have to work through the problem and not go around it. It's an abstract but philosophical approach," he says.

Legendary Pixar co-founder Ed CatmullWhat companies need to do is periodically become introspective. It's important to examine the deeper reasons as to why they made mistakes or why they succeeded at something. Catmull draws an analogy with meditation: "Facing inwards is a different experience from when you face the outside world, but until you experience it, you won't know it. Similarly, it's important for companies to occasionally be introspective and integrate it with how they act towards the outside world."

The act of management itself is a creative act, and the issues in the entertainment business are applicable to other situations as well. "The trick to solving a lot of problems lies in understanding the blocks and barriers that are based on human emotions. While we can address these, it also means that a problem never completely goes away because human nature is always there," says Catmull.

For instance, the fear of failure normally stops people from engaging or speaking up in a discussion. An experiment Catmull often tries is asking a group what can be done to make people more creative.

Only a handful raise their hands, whereas when he asks how many know of ways to make people hold back, all the hands in the room go up. That's because failure tends to be viewed through two contradictory lenses.

While most leaders agree that their failures and mistakes have provided some of their biggest learnings and eventual success, at the same time there will be opponents who will bludgeon you for failing.

"There is a very real aura of danger around failing and this is not going to go away. We operate in an environment where both these meanings are here to stay. Leaders need to accept that people have real fears about their responsibilities and the consequences of executing their job. It's an active thing for leaders to make it safe so that if people fail, they aren't punished and this is something that happens by example over a period of time," he says.

A unique aspect at Pixar is a think-tank called Braintrust. It's made up of some of the most senior people in the company including Catmull and Lasseter. This group acts like a peer review system, going over the progress of each movie Pixar is producing with the director every few months. However, while it does provide critical feedback on the film, the decision on what to do with that feedback is left entirely up to the director.
The company tried replicating this in other parts of the business over the years and failed every time. It took them time to realise that the reason Braintrust worked so well was because the group had no authority.

The individuals in the room — collectively and individually — were extremely powerful and this could cause people responsible for the project to enter the meeting in a defensive posture. "We made it clear that nobody in that room, not even John or me, could override the director.

By removing the authority from the room we were making it safer for the director to approach it with an open mind," says Catmull. The rationale delves deep into human psychology. People don't want to embarrass themselves or other people, and they tend to naturally defer to those with more authority and experience. These barriers keep them from saying what they think.

"The idea at Braintrust is about the dynamics in the room and discussing things with candour," he says. Another conflict most organisations face is the power struggle between different departments, in this case creative and production. A healthy organisation accepts that each domain has a somewhat different agenda and respects that.

At the same time the leader must realise that if any one department wins, it is detrimental to the organisation as the goals of the department have come first over the greater good. "We talk about balance as a calm yogic state, but it's the wrong metaphor. It's more about a physical activity like sports where things are dynamic and it is people who can adapt to the realities of this changing environment who are good at balance," he says.

Finally, he says that writing this book doesn't mean that Pixar has it all figured out. "The figuring-it-out process is what we continually do. This is just the approach you take so that you are continually facing in towards the problem," he says.When the Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studio eight years ago, its animation business, Disney Animation, was going through the roughest patch in its history. Pixar, on the other hand, was having a dream run.

Pixar execs Ed Catmull and John Lasseter were asked to head both companies and the first thing they decided was to keep them separate — neither studio would do any work for the other. "We were suddenly put in charge of a group that we didn't know at all.

All we knew is that they were demoralised and had failed. We had all these principles about how to run an organisation based on candour, fearlessness and trust and while we had taken a conscious decision to keep both the businesses separate, we decided we would apply these principles here as well," says Catmull, president, Pixar and Disney Animation.

The duo thought that instilling these principles would take them two years; it took them four. "Stating the principles isn't the same as actually doing it. They needed to go through some problems and failures as a group before they earned each others' trust," says Catmull.

The results are there for everyone to see. All the films made by Disney Animation after this acquisition have been critical successes, with the most recent one, Frozen, going on to become the highest grossing animation film of all times.

"The same people who were there when it was failing are there when it is successful," says Catmull over the phone from his home in California. Pixar will go into the history books for making Toy Story, the first feature length computer animation film in 1995.

The company started off as a part of Lucasfilm which was eventually sold to Steve Jobs in 1986 which is when Pixar was formed. The various challenges it faced as it grew has played an important role in shaping its culture where the focus is on creativity, but not at the risk of alienating the non-creative people in the organisation.

The desire to share the forces and factors that shaped Pixar's culture spurred Catmull to write a book, Creativity, Inc. coauthored with business writer Amy Wallace. The culture at Pixar has been consciously shaped so that it can outlive its founders and ensure that unseen forces don't get in the way of the creativity that drives the organization. Catmull's personal journey has been an interesting one.

As a kid, he had a dream to make the world's first computer animated film and that is what led him to joining Lucasfilm after studying physics and computer science (then an emerging field) at the University of Utah.

Solving the problems in front of him is what has always driven him — it's just that the nature of the problem kept changing. These started off as technical problems — not having the technology to make a movie using computers — and then became human ones. Being strategically located just an hour away from Silicon Valley and one hour plane ride from Hollywood, Catmull found himself in a unique position.
In the early days of Silicon Valley, there were creative groups that were successful but then they'd fall apart. "Observing from the outside you realise that there's something wrong that smart people are missing out on and that leads you to realise that if they are missing out on it, I'll probably miss it too. Then this leads to figuring out what these things are and working at fixing them," he says.

Given his background, Catmull viewed these problems as a scientist, and not a manager. "I came to believe that most companies were trying to do the right thing, but in focusing on doing this right thing, they were missing out on a deeper problem — how human emotions form barriers and fears that get in the way," he says.

This led him to the realisation that most companies were so focused on competition that they didn't introspect deeply enough on the other destructive forces that were at work. "If we can figure out what it is about managing and adapting to change that is so hard then we can find problems before they hit us. You have to work through the problem and not go around it. It's an abstract but philosophical approach," he says.

What companies need to do is periodically become introspective. It's important to examine the deeper reasons as to why they made mistakes or why they succeeded at something. Catmull draws an analogy with meditation: "Facing inwards is a different experience from when you face the outside world, but until you experience it, you won't know it. Similarly, it's important for companies to occasionally be introspective and integrate it with how they act towards the outside world."

The act of management itself is a creative act, and the issues in the entertainment business are applicable to other situations as well. "The trick to solving a lot of problems lies in understanding the blocks and barriers that are based on human emotions. While we can address these, it also means that a problem never completely goes away because human nature is always there," says Catmull.

For instance, the fear of failure normally stops people from engaging or speaking up in a discussion. An experiment Catmull often tries is asking a group what can be done to make people more creative.

Only a handful raise their hands, whereas when he asks how many know of ways to make people hold back, all the hands in the room go up. That's because failure tends to be viewed through two contradictory lenses. While most leaders agree that their failures and mistakes have provided some of their biggest learnings and eventual success, at the same time there will be opponents who will bludgeon you for failing.

"There is a very real aura of danger around failing and this is not going to go away. We operate in an environment where both these meanings are here to stay. Leaders need to accept that people have real fears about their responsibilities and the consequences of executing their job. It's an active thing for leaders to make it safe so that if people fail, they aren't punished and this is something that happens by example over a period of time," he says.

A unique aspect at Pixar is a think-tank called Braintrust. It's made up of some of the most senior people in the company including Catmull and Lasseter. This group acts like a peer review system, going over the progress of each movie Pixar is producing with the director every few months. However, while it does provide critical feedback on the film, the decision on what to do with that feedback is left entirely up to the director.

The company tried replicating this in other parts of the business over the years and failed every time. It took them time to realise that the reason Braintrust worked so well was because the group had no authority.

The individuals in the room — collectively and individually — were extremely powerful and this could cause people responsible for the project to enter the meeting in a defensive posture. "We made it clear that nobody in that room, not even John or me, could override the director.

By removing the authority from the room we were making it safer for the director to approach it with an open mind," says Catmull. The rationale delves deep into human psychology. People don't want to embarrass themselves or other people, and they tend to naturally defer to those with more authority and experience. These barriers keep them from saying what they think.

"The idea at Braintrust is about the dynamics in the room and discussing things with candour," he says. Another conflict most organisations face is the power struggle between different departments, in this case creative and production. A healthy organisation accepts that each domain has a somewhat different agenda and respects that.

At the same time the leader must realise that if any one department wins, it is detrimental to the organisation as the goals of the department have come first over the greater good. "We talk about balance as a calm yogic state, but it's the wrong metaphor. It's more about a physical activity like sports where things are dynamic and it is people who can adapt to the realities of this changing environment who are good at balance," he says.

Finally, he says that writing this book doesn't mean that Pixar has it all figured out. "The figuring-it-out process is what we continually do. This is just the approach you take so that you are continually facing in towards the problem," he says.
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There is only attachment; there is no such thing as detachment. The mind invents detachment as a reaction to the pain of attachment. When you react to attachment by becoming "detached" you are attached to something else. So that whole process is one of attachment. You are attached to your wife or your husband, to your children, to ideas, to tradition, to authority, and so on; and your reaction to that attachment is detachment. The cultivation of detachment is the outcome of sorrow, pain. You want to escape from the pain of attachment, and your escape is to find something to which you think you can be attached. So there is only attachment, and it is a stupid mind that cultivates detachment. All the books say, "Be detached" but what is the truth of the matter? If you observe your own mind, you will see an extraordinary thing that through cultivating detachment, your mind is becoming attached to something else. - Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Structures of Growth
  
By DAVID BROOKS
June 16, 2014

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/opinion/david-brooks-learning-is-no-easy-task.html?referrer=&_r=0

Most of us are trying to get better at something. And when we think about our future progress, we tend to imagine we will improve linearly. We’ll work hard at mastering some skill; we’ll steadily get better and better.
But, as the Canadian writer Scott H. Youngpoints out in a recent blog post, progress in most domains is not linear. In some spheres, like learning a language or taking up running, improvement is logarithmic. You make a lot of progress when you first begin the activity, but, as you get better, it gets harder and harder to improve.
Logarithmic activities require a certain sort of mind-set, Young writes. During the early high-growth phase, when everything is coming easily, you have to make sure you maintain your disciplined habits, or else you will fall backward. Then later, during the slow-growth phase, you have to break some of your habits. To move from good to great, you have to break out of certain routines that have become calcified and are now holding you back.

For example, when Tiger Woods was first competing at golf, he had to stick to his arduous practice routine even though success seemed to come ridiculously easy. But then, when he hit a plateau, he had to reinvent his swing to reach that final tippy-top level.

In other domains, growth is exponential. In these activities, you have to work for weeks or even years at mastering the fundamentals, and you barely see any return. But then, after you have put in your 10,000 hours of effort, suddenly you develop a natural ease and your progress multiplies quickly.

Mastering an academic discipline is an exponential domain. You have to learn the basics over years of graduate school before you internalize the structures of the field and can begin to play creatively with the concepts. Ice hockey is an exponential activity (it takes years just to skate well enough).

Many people quit exponential activities in the early phases. You’ve got to be bullheaded to work hard while getting no glory. But then when you are in the later fast-progress stage, you’ve got to be open-minded to turn your hard-earned skill into poetry. Vincent van Gogh had to spend years learning the basics of drawing, but then, when he’d achieved mastery, he had to let loose and create art.

I could think of some other growth structures. In some domains progress comes like a stairway. There’s a period of stagnation, followed by a step upward, followed by a period of stagnation, followed by another step. In other domains, progress comes like waves repetitively lapping the shore. You go over some material and the wave leaves a residue of knowledge; then you go over the same material again and the next wave leaves a bit more residue.

Yet other domains follow a valley-shaped curve. You have to go down initially before you can go up. The experience of immigrating to a new country can be like this; you have to start at the bottom as you learn a new society before you can make your way upward. Moral progress is like this, too. You have to go down and explore your own failures before you can conquer them. You have to taste humiliation before you can aspire toward excellence.


Thinking about growth structures reminds you that really successful people often have the ability to completely flip their mental dispositions. In many fields, it pays to be rigid and disciplined at first, but then flexible and playful as you get better. If you go into politics, you have to make the transition from campaigning, which is an instantly gratifying activity, to governing, which is an exponential activity, requiring experience, patience and hard-earned wisdom.

This way of thinking also makes it clear that skill acquisition is a deeply moral activity. You don’t only need knowledge about what to do; you have to train yourself to defeat your natural desires. In the fast-growth phase of a logarithmic activity, you have to fight the urge to self-celebrate and relax. In the later phase, when everyone is singing your praises, you have to fight self-satisfaction.

It does seem clear that our society celebrates fast-payoff instrumental activities, like sports and rock stardom, while undervaluing exponential activities, like being a statesman or craftsman. Kids increasingly flock to logarithmic sports, like soccer, over exponential sports, like baseball.

Finally, this focus on growth structures takes your eyes off yourself. The crucial thing is not what traits you intrinsically possess. The crucial questions are: What is the structure of your domain? Where are you now on the progress curve? How are you interacting with the structures of the field?


The crucial answers to those questions are not found in the mirror. They are found by seeing yourself from a distance as part of a landscape. That’s a more pleasing and healthier perspective in any case.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Complete negation is complete action


Complete negation is complete action

Posted:
Thought is the entity that divides and through thought, that is through analysis, you hope to come upon that state in which there is no division at all; you can't do it, it can only come about when the mind itself sees and understands this whole process, and is then completely quiet. That word 'understanding' is very important; a description doesn't bring understanding, neither does finding out the cause of something. So what brings understanding? What is understanding? Have you ever noticed when your mind is quietly listening - not arguing, judging, criticizing, evaluating, comparing but just listening, then in that state the mind is silent and then only understanding comes. There is this division within ourselves, this everlasting contradiction and we must simply be aware of it, and not try to do anything about it, because whatever we do causes this division. So complete negation is complete action. - Krishnamurti, Talks with American Students, Chapter 7 2nd Talk at Claremont College California 10th November, 1968