Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Think aloud post

An introspective think aloud post without the context and background. Could not help it. Caveat reader! :)

How one feels and what one is supposed to do sometimes go against each other. Then the balance between emotions and the intellect is very important especially in such trying times. If either of them affects actions to a large degree, there is chaos. How you feel is truly an essence of what you are and nobody else can realise that emotion as truly and uniquely as you do. At the same time, what one is supposed to do is from social mores and norms and there cannot be a quarrel about that. With two seemingly valid courses of action, one can be really be flummoxed. The longer you remain in this flummoxed state, emotions will get stronger and the imprecations of intellect, shriller.

Thiruvalluvar asks that tasks that increase happiness should be completed even if they result in suffering in the course of their execution. When it comes to taking action, clearly he gives importance to the intellect over emotions.

Swami Vivekananda says one should have a harmonious balance between the emotions (heart), intellect (head) and action (hand). How to reach this elusive balance is left to the seeker.

What we want is to see the man who is harmoniously developed . . . great in heart, great in mind, [great in deed] . . . . We want the man whose heart feels intensely the miseries and sorrows of the world. . . . And [we want] the man who not only can feel but can find the meaning of things, who delves deeply into the heart of nature and understanding. [We want] the man who will not even stop there, [but] who wants to work out [the feeling and meaning by actual deeds]. Such a combination of head, heart, and hand is what we want. There are many teachers in this world, but you will find [that most of them] are one-sided. [One] sees the glorious midday sun of intellect [and] sees nothing else. Another hears the beautiful music of love and can hear nothing else. Another is [immersed] in activity, and has neither time to feel nor time to think. Why not [have] the giant who is equally active, equally knowing, and equally loving? Is it impossible? Certainly not.

- "Worshipper and Worshipped", Swami Vivekananda

I go with Thiruvalluvar on this one. Feelings may give overall direction for one to take, but the actions that one performs in reality shall always be directed from the head, not the heart.

thought I was too old for such lessons :(

1 comment:

Karthik said...

I haven't read Vivekananda but I realize how generations of Indians have been influenced by those thoughts to be generalists - well rounded individuals.

We (humans) have traditionally appreciated & embraced arts (pursuit of emotion), sciences & philosophy(intellect) and technology(action) equally well. In recent times, more emphasis has been provided to action which is a trend towards specialization. This is a symptom of our current economic system. I think I can claim that, any capitalistic country today will have such a bias. Some evidence:
a) The decline of postgraduate student enrolment in the sciences in North Americas and UK in the last decade b) Clustering of people around the IT & ITES and now Semiconductor industries in our own country.

On the contrary, rest of Europe has traditionally been strong in the arts, sciences and math and continues to do so. I must also point here, to the socialistic nature of some european states. In terms of culture, they are a little laid back, a little less career oriented ,a little more focussed on life and family. Balanced, as you say.

As for Vivekananda leaving it open ended for the person himself to decide on the balance, that's fair because each person's exact balance is a function of his genetic and cultural predispositions. But yes, getting close to this balance is certainly possible.

PS: I must concede here a certain lack of clarity wrt hard limiting arts as pursuit of emotion (ofcourse action is involved in making art) and the like but in my favor, I want to say that this is the most significant aspect involved.