Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Whatever may be said, who ever may say it - to
determine the truth of it, is wisdom - Thirukural

Reflections 1999 : Chinthanaigal

Reflection by Jayalakshmi Satyendra

Saturday 25 December 1999

A message to our dear ones languishing in our homeland,
Our gift of hope, as you and we wait...

In your tremendous loss and grief,
In your deep pain and hurt,
We, the Tamils living outside Sri Lanka
Are deeply pained and we suffer with you.

As you suffer without an end in sight, 
You may not dream of celebrating, 
The festivals of Christmas and New Year, 
Then, how could we?

Since we experience the same 'darkness'
We shall wait with you till the Redeemer is born to us
And indeed, liberation will come to us
In what shape and manner
We still do not know.

But we will WAIT with you in HOPE
And this HOPE is our Christmas and New Year.

- contributed by S.Thillairajah, U.S.A.

Saturday 18 December 1999

"Trying to lead men from behind makes you a driver and not a leader. It is easier to lead men just as it is easier to pull a log chain. You cannot push a log chain and you cannot push troops. The troops will keep running back to you for instructions - really from fear. A leader has to be head of his men. You've got to know what is going on all the time. You cannot swim without being in the water! You cannot ice skate without being on the ice. No one ever learned to skate on a map board. Take the map with you and get up front!...

...We will win because we will never lose! There can never be defeat if a man refuses to accept defeat. Wars are lost in the mind before they are lost on the ground. No nation was ever defeated until the people were willing to accept defeat."-     General George S Patton

Saturday 11 December 1999

"...The irony is that to do things faster, you often have to go slower. You have to be more reflective. You have to develop real trust. You have to develop the abilities of people to think together. Why? Because it requires you to go through basic redesigns. You need to build a shared understanding of how the present system works.... People must trust one another through difficult systemic changes..."-  (Peter Senge, Author of "The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization")

Saturday 4 December 1999

"...The Indian Army in India is not obeying the British officers. We have recruited our workers for the war; they have been demobilised after the war. They are required to repair the  factories damaged by Hitler's bombers. Moreover, they want to join their kith and kin after five and a half  years of separation. Their kith and kin also want to join them. In these conditions if we  have to rule India for a long time, we have to keep a permanent British army for a long time in a vast country of four hundred millions.We have no such army...." (Labour Cabinet Minister, Sir Stafford Cripps intervening on behalf of the UK government  in the debate in the British House of Commons to support the grant of independence to India,1946 - quoted in 'The Freedom Struggle and the Dravidian Movement' by P.Ramamurti, Orient Longman, 1987)

Saturday 27 November 1999

"As the tree is fertilised by its own broken branches and fallen leaves and grows out of its own decay, so men and nations are bettered and improved by trial and refined out of broken hopes and blighted expectations." (F W Robinson)

"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe....the starry heavens above and the moral law within." (Immanuel Kant)

Saturday 20 November 1999

"They call you 'Little Man', 'Common Man'; they say a new era has begun, the 'Era of the Common Man'. It isn't you who says so, Little Man. It is they, the Vice Presidents of great nations, promoted labour leaders, repentant sons of bourgeois families, statesman and philosophers. They give you your future but don't ask about your past....

I have never heard you complain: "You promote me to be the future master of myself and the world, but you don't tell me how one is to be the master of oneself, and you don't tell me the mistakes in my thinking and my actions."

"Your liberators tell you that that your suppressors are Wilhelm, Nikolaus, Pope Gregory the Twenty Eighth, Morgan, Krupp or Ford. And your 'liberators' are called Mussolini, Napolean, Hitler and Stalin. I tell you: Only you yourself can be your liberator!"

"This sentence makes me hesitate. I contend to be a fighter for pureness and truth. I hesitate, because I am afraid of you and your attitude towards truth... My intellect tells me: 'Tell the truth at any cost.' The Little Man in me says: 'It is stupid to expose oneself to the little man, to put oneself at his mercy. The Little Man does not want to hear the truth about himself. He does not want the great responsibility which is his. He wants to remain a Little Man...."

- Wilhelm Reich, in Listen Little Man, Penguin Books, first published 1948

Saturday 13 November 1999

"A son and his father were walking on the mountains. Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" To his surprise, hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" Curious, he yells: "Who are you?" He receives the answer: "Who are you?" Angered at the response, he screams: "Coward! "He receives the answer: "Coward!"

He looks to his father and asks: "What's going on?" The father smiles and says: "My son, pay attention." And than he screams to the mountain: "I admire you!" The voice answers: "I admire you!" Again the man screams: "You are a champion!" The voice answers: "You are a champion!" The boy is surprised, but does not understand.

Then the father explains: "People call this Echo, but really this is Life. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life; life will give you back everything you have given to it." 

Your life is not a coincidence. It is a reflection of you. (Author Unknown)

- quote contributed by Easwaran and Kalamathy, USA

"Our needs are much too big to be satisfied with things, no matter how many we can manage to acquire.  The more we try to get, the more acutely we feel those bigger, undeniable needs.  Our deepest need, is for the joy that comes with loving and being loved, with knowing we are of genuine use to others.  The more we give of ourselves to others, the more the lord within wants to give us.  Everyday we empty ourselves by giving all we can in the way of kindness and loving help.  Then every morning we will find ourselves full again � of love, of understanding, of forgiveness, of energy..." (Eknath Easwaran)

Saturday 6 November 1999

�Oratory is empty if it has not been field-tested on the battlefield of experience.  And I have little use for those who write beautifully and live sordidly; or those who withdraw from the world and issue instructions for how to live in it; or priesthoods that deny the realities of the flesh but wish to control the appetites and activities of those who live as whole human beings.  If you don�t play the game, you can�t know enough to make the rules.  If you are not engaged in the sweaty work of the world, you should not be in charge of the deodorant concession.  And if you cannot find a way to aid progress in human affairs, then know that the smirking cynicism of the sideline critic is a form of plaque � and to be one of those is to be a carrier of death instead of a preserver of life. Strong words? Yes, and deeply felt"  - (Robert Fulghum)

Saturday 30 October 1999

"Most of us believe that at some level that we must fix things or change people to make them reachable. Dialogue does not call for such behaviour. Rather, it asks us to listen for already existing wholeness, and to create a new association in which we listen deeply to all the views that people express. It asks that we create a quality of listening and attention that can include - but is larger than - any single view." (William Isaacs)

- Thayumanavar on Summa Iru

Saturday 23 October 1999

"Courage is the father of all virtues. It takes immense courage for people to act contrary to popular value systems in order to live by principles. It also takes uncommon courage for people to counter their own needs, habit patterns, self doubts, and internal programs. It takes tremendous courage to operate by principles. A leader I greatly admired, the late Harold B Lee once said 'Courage is the quality of every quality at its highest expression�." (Stephen Covey, Author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change')

Saturday 16 October 1999

"...our lives and our psychological health depend on a sense of purpose. Mere survival is a purpose, but not enough for human consciousness. Nor is working for the survival of others sufficiently meaningful if one believes that the human race has no place to go, that it endlessly repeats the same patterns, or worse.

The 'midlife crisis'... reflects the fact that at midlife one's own death becomes less theoretical and more probable. Goals of money, security, fame, sex, or power might formerly have given purpose to life. With experience, the limited nature of such satisfactions becomes increasingly evident. As one grows older an awareness surfaces that one is on a relentless slide toward extinction, making self-serving goals seem utterly futile.

Even altruistic goals can wear thin without a larger picture of the human race than the one our scientific culture provides. As life progresses, the search for meaning becomes increasingly urgent.

Profound despair and dull resignation are symptoms of failing in that search. The pervasive use of alcohol, sedatives, and narcotics in our society might well reflect many people's attempts to suppress despair at their purposelessness, to substitute heightened sensation for meaning....

The fundamental questions, "Who am I?" and "What am I?" arise increasingly in the struggle to find meaning and purpose in life. Therapists hear them as explicit queries or in indirect form: "Who is the real me?" or "I don't know what I want - part of me wants one thing and part of me wants something else. What do I want?" Western psychology is severely handicapped in dealing with these questions, because the center of human experience - the observing self - is missing from its theories...." (Arthur J. Deikman in The Observing Self : Mysticism and Psychotherapy  published 1983)

Saturday 9 October 1999

"�People seem not to see� said Emerson, �that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character�. One of the best ways to educate our heart is to look at our interaction with other people, because our relationships with others are fundamentally a reflection of our relationship with ourselves." (Stephen Covey, Author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change')

Saturday 2 October 1999

"I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my pursuit after truth I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop with the dissolution of the flesh. What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of truth, my god, from moment to moment."  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Saturday 25 September 1999

"....There are� general tendencies observable in history� tendencies that approximate to laws. When peoples arrive at a certain degree of cohesion, strength and self-consciousness, it seems to be impossible for other peoples to hold them down permanently. That nationalism is an irresistible force seems to be a conclusion to be drawn from history. I do not wish to say that history has any one terminus ad quem: that would be to suffer from the finality mindedness of people like Hegel who thought the final stage in the realisation of the self in the world was the Prussian State, or others, equally childish, who find it in the British Empire. That kind of mentality is just a lag over from the theological way of thinking of an earlier age - theology with God left out! Yet even Hegel thought that there was a progressive self-realisation at work in history; and I would suggest tentatively, that in spite of all sorts of disillusionments and setbacks, there does seem to be an irresistible impulse towards self-government in human society...

The general conclusion I draw from European history is that no one power is strong enough to rule all the rest. Therefore the sensible thing (i.e. what the sense of history indicates) is some federal system that may enable us to work together in co-operation. On the basis of a knowledge of history we can look into the nearer future and see something of the shape of things that is emerging. And that knowledge is the best aid to knowing what we can usefully achieve in our turn�

We are here verging upon the fundamental question of determinism and freewill that crops up in some guise in every age and mental climate, though it usually has a theological colouring in periods given to theological speculation� It is sufficient for the moment to point out that man's success - indeed his universal triumph, compared with other animals - is due to his learning how to conform to the necessities of Nature� (A.L.Rowse, Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in the Use of History (History and Historiography Series) , published by Hodder & Stoughton, 1946)

Saturday 18 September 1999

"How do things grow in nature? Do we drive them to grow? Do we say, �You must grow five inches a quarter or you're out of here!�. No. Gardeners attend to the host of conditions that could prevent growth from occurring. They ensure that the seeds have adequate nutrients in the soil, ample water, a suitable temperature, and, once the plant starts to poke over the surface, sunlight and space to spread its leaves. We all know how to support growth, and yet we typically operate in exactly the opposite ways in our organizations. We try to force growth instead of creating the conditions for genuine growth and change". (Peter Senge, Author of "The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization")

Saturday 11 September 1999

"During the summer of 1918, (Mahatma Gandhi) became a recruiting officer for the British-Indian army: 'No stone will be left unturned by me to offer recruits in their thousands', he told the Viceroy. When his puzzled friends demanded an explanation, Gandhi replied that the people of the area where he was recruiting - Gujarat - had become cowardly and spiritless (as witness the Ahmedabad example). They must learn bravery and discipline.

The first stage towards becoming a satyagrahi was to be a himsak or warrior. Even in South Africa, Gandhi told Charlie Andrews, who had been at his side, some had accepted his methods only because 'they were too weak to undertake methods of violence'. India had no real tradition of pacifism; moral force 'is not in us'. Hence physical courage must first be acquired before spiritual courage was possible."  (Hugh Tinker, Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Lancaster, England on Non Violence as a Political Strategy in Gandhi Marg, August 1980, published by the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi)

Saturday 4 September 1999

"... And hence it is he who attempts to get another man into his absolute
power does thereby put himself into a state of war with him. It being to be
understood as a declaration of a design upon his life. For I have reason to
conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use
me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a
fancy to it; for nobody can desire to have me in his absolute power, unless
it be so to compel me by force to that which is against the right of my
freedom i.e. make me a slave. To be free from such force is the only security
of my preservation, and reason bids me look on him as my enemy to my
preservation, who would take away that freedom which is the fence to it. So
that he who make an attempt to enslave me thereby puts himself into a state
of war with me." (John Locke, Chapter 3: "Of the State of War" in The Second Treatise of Government)

- Quote contributed by
Dr.Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham from USA

Saturday 28 August 1999

"I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black men - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness - not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls - has barricaded the world with hate - has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost...." (Charles Chaplin in the concluding speech  in his film the Great Dictator - quoted in Charles Chaplin : My Autobiography , published by William Clowes & Sons, Ltd, London 1964)

Saturday 21 August 1999

"There is nothing for me to tell you. We are all in the presence of God. This is a great truth. Everything is going on as it always has. Grief, love, hatred, these are all the play of the Lord. It will always be thus. It is the same with us. Death is like birth; blame is like praise; evil is like good. All is truth. Everything is in the Self, and the Self is without a second. Be active without acting. Where is the end ? "

"And so we travel round and round.
But still remain in Suppar's compound."

yoga1.gif (2031 bytes)

(Songs and Sayings of Yogaswami, the Sage from Tamil Eelam, Translated from the original Tamil, published by the Sivathondan Society, Jaffna, Tamil Eelam, 1974)

Saturday 14 August 1999

"We may define 'nationalism' as an ideological movement for the attainment and maintenance of autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential 'nation'. A 'nation' in turn can be defined as a named human population with shared myths and memories, occupying an historic territory and possessing a mass, public culture, a single economy and equal legal rights and duties for all members ...

In general terms, nationalists aim to create and maintain nations with these features; and where these features are deficient or absent, to supply them... The task of nationalists everywhere is to confer on their designated populations that autonomy, unity and identity which will turn them into 'nations'. Hence, the 'national mission' is to create and preserve a distinctive united and autonomous nation. Similarly, the 'destiny' of any and every nation is to seek and attain those features of identity (name, shared myths and memories, mass culture), unity (historic territory and economy) and autonomy (common legal rights) that make it permanent and keep it unique.

More specifically, every nationalism seeks to cultivate and preserve its own special cultural values, which it deems to be unique and irreplaceable; and to do so in its own manner and on a territory that it regards as its historic homeland. In other words, the realisation of 'national identity' requires the pursuit of the other two ideals of autonomy and unity. These serve the national mission, which is to conserve and cultivate the cultural identity, the distinctive individuality, of the nation ...

It follows, then, that the concepts of 'national mission' and 'national destiny' derive their general meaning from their role in the ideology and language of nationalism.... Unfashionable  though these concepts may be in some Western societies, they underline the specificity and activism of nations and nationalisms..." (Professor Anthony D. Smith, 'Ethnic election and national destiny: some religious origins of nationalist ideals' in Nations and nationalism, Volume 5, Part 3, July 1999, Journal of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism)

Saturday 7 August 1999

"All that I can find to say is that a nation exists when a significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one. It is not necessary that the whole of the population should so feel, or so behave, and it is not possible to lay down dogmatically a minimum percentage of a population which must be so affected. When a significant group holds this belief, it possesses 'national consciousness'... Commonsense suggests that if this group is exceedingly small (let us say less than 1% of the population), and does not possess great skill in propaganda, or a strong disciplined army to maintain it until it has been able to spread national consciousness down into much broader strata of the population, then the nationally conscious elite will not succeed in creating a nation, and is unlikely to be able to indefinitely remain in power on the basis of a fictitious nation..." (Hugh Seton-Watson, Professor of Russian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, in Nations and States : An Enquiry into the Origins of Nations and the Politics of Nationalism - Methuen, London 1977)

Saturday 31 July 1999

"The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and these must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulae..." (Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, 1928 )

"Domination itself is servile when beholden to opinion; for you depend upon the prejudices of those you govern, by means of their prejudices..." (Jean Jacques Rousseau: Emile - Everyman Paperback Classics)

Saturday 24 July 1999

"...The Bakutu, a tribe living in the Congo region of central Africa, have always considered the white man's logic a bit batty. They call him lolema djola feke, 'the bat that flies intensely but knows not where to'. According to the parable of the businessman and the fisherman, some Mexicans agree with the Bakutu.

On holiday in a fishing village an American businessman watches a local fisherman haul in a rather small catch. 'Why don't you stay out at sea longer and bring in more fish?' the visitor inquires. 'I like to spend my time playing with my children, taking a siesta with my wife, playing the guitar with my friends,' the Mexican answers. The American is not impressed. 'If you worked harder, you could buy a second fishing boat, then a whole fleet. You could head up a large corporation, move to New York and list it on Wall Street. Eventually you could sell your stock and become very rich.'

'And, then Senor?' the fisherman asks. 'Then comes the best part' the businessman replies. 'You retire. You move to a Mexican fishing village. You take a siesta with your wife and play with your children...'" (Gerd Behrens in his essay titled 'Healthy, Wealthy and Unhappy' in the Time Magazine, 19 July 1999)

- quote contributed by Dr.S.S.Kumar, London

Saturday 17 July 1999

"(Organisations)  are going to have to unlearn a lot of their past � and also forget it! The future will not be an extrapolation of the past... Like a space rocket on the way to the moon, (an organisation) has to be willing to jettison the parts of its past which no longer contain fuel for the journey and which are becoming, in effect, excess baggage. That is particularly difficult for ... those who actually built the past, and who still have a lot of emotional equity invested in it." (C K Prahalad, Co-author of �Competing for the Future�)

Saturday 10 July 1999

"Unsavoury regimes these days hire the best talent available to spruce up their international image... The PR technique is simple enough: minimise the human rights abuses, talk about it as a 'complex' two sided story, play up efforts at reform, speak of all the positive 'modernisation' that is going on and - most of all - the crucial economic stake 'we' all have in (the country's) markets... If possible, it is best to put these words in the mouth of some apparently 'neutral' group of 'concerned citizens', or a lofty institute with academic credentials."  (Richard Swift, New Internationalist, in Mind Games, July 1999)

"Persuasion by its definition is subtle. The best PR ends up looking like news. You never know when a PR agency is being effective; you will just find your views slowly shifting.." (a PR Executive, quoted in New Internationalist, July 1999)

Saturday  3 July 1999

"Competent spies and the respected codes of law -
consider these two, the eyes of a king.

Duty requires the monarch to swiftly acquire -
knowledge of all happenings among all men each day.

Without assessing the intelligence reports of informants,
a king can never achieve victory.

The working staff, close kindred and known enemies -
all such people are the legitimate study of spies.

An able spy is one who can assume an unsuspicious disguise,
is fearless when caught and never betrays his secrets.

Disguised as a monk or a mendicant, the master spy
moves about investigating all, never careless, come what may.

A spy must ferret out hidden facts,
assuring himself that knowledge found is beyond doubt.

Before believing one spy's espionage,
have another spy espy the information.

See that informants do not know one another,
and accept their findings only when three reports agree.

One must not openly honour operatives
To do so is to divulge one's deepest secrets"

- The Thirukural on Espionage,
translation by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in Weavers Wisdom

Saturday 26 June 1999

"...when people talk about leadership, they refer to top management, then the term is superfluous � it has no independent meaning. What if we considered �leadership� to be the capacity of a community to create a new future? What if we saw leadership as inverting a new reality and creating new possibilities? From that perspective, leadership has nothing to do with hierarchies or distribution of decision making authority. Instead, if a community is successful at creating its future and influencing its destiny, then it has good leadership. And if it isn�t, it doesn�t."  (Peter M Senge Author of "The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization")

"A true soldier does not argue as he marches, how success is going to be ultimately achieved. But he is confident that if he only plays his humble part well, somehow or other the battle will be won. It is in that spirit that everyone of us should act. It is not given to us to know the future. But it is given to everyone of us to know how to do our part well."  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Saturday 19 June 1999

"They talk of patriotism. I believe in patriotism, and I also have my own ideal of patriotism. Three things are necessary for great achievements :  First, feel from the heart.  What is in the intellect or reason? It goes a few steps and there it stops. But through the heart comes inspiration....You may feel, then; but instead of spending your energies on frothy talk, have you found any way out, any practical solution, some help, instead of condemnation .... Yet that is not all. Have you got the will to surmount mountain high obstructions? If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?... Have you got that steadfastness? If you have these three things, each one of you will make miracles." (Swami Vivekananda on Patriotism)

Saturday 12 June 1999

"In some period of time, I don�t care if it is 20 or 40 years, most people will make their living with bits and not atoms. When this happens, the balance of wealth and job opportunity will change in favour of a bucolic lifestyle. The flow of people will be out of, not into, cities. In fact, we may all have to relearn country living.

In the near future, half the worlds population will be found in India and China, nations that epitomise the rural paradox. If just a few leaders re-examined their telecommunications agenda for the rural people, poverty could be redefined. Being rural could become synonymous with being rich - and not just for those who can afford to buy a second house." -  (Nicholas Negroponte,  Author of Being Digital)

"The true test of leadership is to ask the questions, "Are those who participate in leadership equipped to serve the common good? Are they encouraged to learn and grow as human beings? .... Leadership is the practice of helping people environ, and then participate in, creating a better world than the world they came into." -  ( Kevin & Jackie Freiberg, Authors of Nuts! )

Saturday 5 June 1999

"How you see the world depends on where you sit. People tend to see what they want to see. Out of a mass of detailed information, they tend to pick out and focus on those facts that confirm their prior perceptions and to disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into question. Each side in a negotiation may see only the merits of its case, and only the faults of the other side's.

The ability to see the situation as the other side sees it, as difficult as it may be, is one of the most important skills a negotiator can possess. It is not enough to know that they see things differently. If you want to influence them, you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to feel the emotional force with which they believe in it. It is is not enough to study them like beetles under a microscope; you need to know what it feels like to be a beetle...." (Roger Fisher & William Ury in "Getting to Yes : Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in" Arrow Business Books, 1997)

Saturday, 29 May 1999

"There was once a poor, illiterate shopkeeper in an Arab bazaar, called Ali, who, not being very good at doing sums, was always cheated by his customers - instead of cheating them, as it should be. So he prayed every night to Allah for the present of an abacus - that venerable contraption for adding and subtracting by pushing beads along wires.

But some malicious djin forwarded his prayers to the wrong branch of the heavenly Mail Order Department, and so one morning, arriving at the bazaar, Ali found his stall transformed into a multi-storey, steel-framed building, housing the latest I.B.M. computer with instrument panels covering all the walls, with thousands of fluorescent oscillators, dials, magic eyes, et cetera; and an instruction book of several hundred pages - which, being illiterate, he could not read.

However, after days of useless fiddling with this or that dial, he flew into a rage and started kicking a shiny, delicate panel. The shocks disturbed one of the machine's millions of electronic circuits, and after a while Ali discovered to his delight that if he kicked that panel, say, three times and afterwards five times, one of the dials showed the figure eight. He thanked Allah for having sent him such a pretty abacus, and continued to use the machine to add up two and three, happily unaware that it was capable of deriving Einstein's equations in a jiffy, or predicting the orbits of planets and stars, thousands of years ahead.

Ali's children, then his grandchildren, inherited the machine and the secret of kicking the same panel; but it took hundreds of generations until they learned to use it even for the purpose of simple multiplication. We ourselves are Ali's descendants, and though we have discovered many other ways of putting the machine to work, we have still only learned to utilise a very small fraction of the potentials of its million of circuits. For the unsolicited gift is of course the human brain. As for the instruction book, it is lost - if it ever existed. Plato maintains that it did once - but that is hearsay..." (Arthur Koestler in Janus : A Summing Up , published by Hutichinson of London, 1978 )

Saturday 22 May 1999

"The capital period of my intellectual development was when I could see clearly that what the intellect said might be correct and not correct, that what the intellect justified was true and its opposite was also true. I never admitted a truth in the mind without simultaneously keeping it open to the contrary of it.. And the first result was that the prestige of the intellect was gone...

... reason has a legitimate function to fulfil, for which it is perfectly adapted; and this is to justify and illumine for man his various experiences and to give him faith and conviction in holding on to the enlarging of his consciousness. But reason cannot arrive at any final truth because it can neither get to the root of things nor embrace their totality. It deals with the finite, the separate and has no measure for the all and the infinite..." -   Sri Aurobindo

Saturday 15 May 1999

"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. �Which road do I take ?� she asked. His response was a question: �Where do you want to go?� �I don�t know� Alice answered. �Then� said the cat, �it doesn�t matter�. " (Lewis Carroll, in Alice in Wonderland )

" 'Begin with the end in mind' is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There's the mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation. To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction. It is incredibly easy to get caught in the activity trap..... It is possible to be busy - very busy - without being effective... How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most..." (Stephen R.Covey in   'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change', published by Simon & Schuster, 1990)

Saturday 8 May 1999

"A wise woman who was travelling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a life time. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.  �I�ve been thinking�, he said, �I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something more precious. Give me what you had within you that enabled you to give me the stone�."  (Author Unknown)

"All men and women are born, live, suffer and die; what distinguishes us, one from another, is our dreams, whether they be dreams about worldly or unworldly things, and what we do to make them come about�We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live."  (Joseph Epstein)

Saturday 1 May 1999

"To those who would call me a dreamer, I quote the words of Mart�: 'A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather the path where duty lies, and this is the only practical man, whose dream of today will be the law of tomorrow, because he who has looked back on the essential course of history and has seen flaming and bleeding peoples seethe in the cauldron of the ages knows that, without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty.'...

...When we speak of struggle and we mention people...   we mean the people who yearn for a better, more dignified and more just nation... people who, to attain those changes, are ready to give even the very last breath they have when they believe in something or in someone, especially when they believe in themselves... The first condition of sincerity and good faith in any endeavour is ... to speak with absolute clarity, without fear..."(Fidel Castro Ruz in History Will Absolve Me, 1953)

Saturday 24 April 1999

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won�t feel insecure about you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It�s not just in some of us; it�s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  (Marianne Williamson, Author of �A Return to Love : Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles�)

Saturday 10 April 1999

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"Fearlessness is the first prerequisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral..." (Mahatma Gandhi)

Saturday 3 April 1999

"It is ridiculous to continue to oppose 'political cadres' to 'military cadres', 'political leadership' to 'military leadership'. Pure 'politicians' - who want to remain pure - cannot lead the armed struggle of the people; pure 'military men' can do so, and by the experience acquired in leading a guerrilla group, they become 'politicians' as well.... (Those who believe otherwise) live in a double world, genuinely dualist and - why not say it? - deriving from a strong idealist tradition: politics on one side, the military on the other... Heaven governs the earth, the soul governs the body, the head governs the hand. The Word precedes the Act. The secular substitutes for the Word - talk, palaver, chatter - precede and regulate military activity, from the heavens above... Once more it has been forgotten, in spite of verbal acquiescence, that guerrilla warfare is essentially political, and that for this reason, the political cannot be counterposed to the military..." (Regis Debray in Revolution in the Revolution, Pelican Latin American Library, 1967) 

"In an armed struggle, leaders may become orators, but orators do not become leaders..." ( Sathasivam Krishnakumar, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in London, 1990)

Saturday 27 March 1999

"Zionism is the belief in the existence of a common past and a common future for the Jewish people. Such faith can be accepted or rejected, it can be a matter of rational argument only to a very limited extent. Like other national and social movements, Zionism has developed an ideology but its 'scientific' claims are bound to be inconclusive. The Zionist analysis of anti Semitism and its solution could have been right, but Zionism would still have been a failure if its call had passed unheard and if its solution could not have been applied by it because of lack of support among the Jews or because of adverse international conditions. Equally, the success of Zionism would not necessarily prove that it is based on a correct analysis of the 'Jewish problem'. As far as national movements go, myths are always more powerful motives than rational arguments... The Zionists believed with Mazzini that without a country, they were bound to remain the bastards of humanity. Others did not accept the idea of a national state as a historical necessity..." (Walter Laquer in A History of Zionism  Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London)

Saturday 20 March 1999

"Our greatest joy - and our greatest pain - comes in our relationship with others. The fact is that quality of life is, by nature, interdependent�. Our accomplishments are interdependent. The fact is that we are better together than we are alone. Humility comes as we realise that �no man is an island�, that no one individual has all the talents, all the ideas, all the capacity to perform the functions of the whole. Vital to quality of life is the ability to work together, learn from each other, and help each other grow." (Stephen R Covey, Author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change' published by Simon & Schuster, 1990)

Saturday 13 March 1999

"Leading through creative tension is different than solving problems. In problem solving, the energy for change comes from attempting to get away from an aspect of current reality that is undesirable. With creative tension, the energy for change comes from the vision, from what we want to create, juxtaposed with current reality. While the distinction may seem small, the consequences are not. Many people and organisations find themselves motivated to change only when their problems are bad enough to cause them to change. This works for awhile, but the change process runs out of steam as soon as the problems driving the change become less pressing...With problem solving, the motivation for change is extrinsic. With creative tension, the motivation is intrinsic." ( Peter Senge, Author of "The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization")

Saturday 06 March 1999

"...If he really wants to serve India through politics, he must first of all make sure of his foundations. For if he doesn't take care to seek solid ground under his feet, the ground won't seek his feet either: consequently, he will never be able to stand perpendicular anywhere..." (on Jawarhalal Nehru)

"It is our duty to pay for our liberty with our own blood. The freedom that we shall win, through our sacrifice and exertions, we shall be able to preserve with our own strength..." (to the Indian National Army, in Malaya)

- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, quoted in the The Lost Hero : a biography of Subhas Bose  by Mihir Bose, Quartet Books, 1982

Saturday 27 February 1999

"I observe in the limited field in which I find myself, that unless I can reach the hearts of men and women, I am able to do nothing. I observe further that so long as the spirit of hate persists in some shape or other, it is impossible to establish peace or gain our freedom by peaceful effort. We cannot love one another if we hate Englishmen.We cannot love the Japanese and hate Englishmen.We must either let the law of love rule us through and through or not at all. Love among ourselves based on hatred of others breaks down under the slightest pressure. The fact is such love is never real love. It is an armed peace. And so it will be in this great movement in the west against war - war will only be stopped when the conscience of mankind has become sufficiently elevated to recognise the undisputed supremacy of the law of love in all the walks of life. Some say this will never come to pass. I shall retain the faith till the end of my earthly existence that it shall come to pass." ( Mahatma Gandhi )

Saturday 20 February 1999

"Evolution is always experimental. All progress is gained through mistakes and their rectification. No good comes fully fashioned, out of gods hand, but has to be carved through repeated experiments and repeated failures by ourselves. This is the law of individual growth. The same law controls social and political evolution also. The right to err, which means the freedom to try experiments, is the universal condition of all progress." (Mahatma Gandhi)

"An average man�s mind is filled with countless thoughts, and therefore each individual one is extremely weak. When, instead of these many useless thoughts, there appears only one, it is a power in itself and has a wide influence." (Ramana Maharishi)

Saturday 13 February 1999

"Unless you are influenced by my uniqueness, I am not going to be influenced by your advice. So if you want to be really effective in the habit of interpersonal communication, you cannot do it with technique alone. You have to build the skills of empathic listening on a base of character that inspires openness and trust. And you have to build the Emotional Bank Accounts that create a commerce between hearts."(Stephen R Covey, Author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change', published by Simon & Schuster, 1990)

Saturday 06 February 1999

"Leaders of federations don�t think of their associates as �troops�. And the associates don�t think of their leaders as generals. The leader of the new federal corporation has to be a leader of leaders.

You can�t be the only one making decisions. You can�t be the only leader. Rather you have to create an environment in which other leaders, who subscribe to your vision, can make effective decisions themselves. An environment in which people at all levels are empowered to be leaders.

The leader of today's federal organisation has to have faith in the power of people to solve their problems locally. He or she is responsible for establishing the �why� and the �what� - in other words, the overarching vision and purpose - but the rest of the leaders are responsible for the �how�." (Warren Bennis)

"To ask larger questions is to risk getting things wrong. Not to ask them at all is to constrain the life of understanding." (George Steiner)

Saturday 30 January 1999

".... it was the products of slavery and of the European empires which helped reconcile Western workers to capitalism... Indeed, the relationship between the workers of the imperial powers and the oppressed peoples of empires foreshadowed the North-South divide of the twentieth century - inequalities which are today being exacerbated under the banner of globalisation... All ideological conflict is supposed to have been laid to rest, as the rich have been transformed into revered 'wealth creators' whose exertions allow the poor to survive. In this benign view of the world, rich and poor are no longer antagonists, but are united in their search for yet more wealth, more money, more resources...

The reality is vastly different. The market, which is powerless to provide profitless clean drinking water to thousands of villages in India can nevertheless offer unaffordable Coca-Cola to their thirsty inhabitants. The spinning mills of Jakarta, which cannot provide a living wage, can furnish the owners with the military protection which will prevent workers from combining in struggle for a bare sufficiency. Globalisation permits money and goods to move around the world unimpeded, yet criminalises the other indispensable element of production, labour, when it seeks to move to where it can command a decent livelihood. And in the process, the treasures of the earth are mined, ravaged and consumed at an accelerating rate.

Globalisation is imperialism by another name; the world market is an extension of the global imperial adventure of the nineteenth century; and the majority of the working class are now located not in the tenements of Berlin and Glasgow, the immigrant apartment blocks of Chicago and New York, but in the terrible slums of Asia, the favelas of Latin America, the townships of Africa...

The story of labour holds sober lessons. It shows that it is not only as workers that people need emancipation from the totalising dogmas of neo-liberalism, but as consumers too, as complete human beings. There is a new urgency to the need to formulate a richer form of liberation than that envisaged by the revolutionaries and pioneers of labour...

(Jeremy Seabrook, who has devoted his life to writing about poverty and resistance in both North and South, in the New Internationalist, January/February 1999)

Saturday 23 January 1999

"It seems that independence of the former colonies has suited the interests of the industrial world for bigger profits at less cost. Independence made it cheaper for them to exploit us. We became neo-colonies. ... The majority of countries in Africa and the rest of the South are hamstrung by debt, by the IMF. We have too much debt now. It is a heavy burden, a trap. It is debilitating. We must have a new chance. If we doubled our production and debt-servicing capabilities we would still have no money for anything extra like education or development. It is immoral. It is an affront.

The conditions and policies of the World Bank and the IMF are to enable countries to pay debt not to develop. That is all! Let us argue the moral case. Let us create a new liberation movement to free us from immoral debt and neo-colonialism. This is one way forward. The other way is through Pan-African unity...

Kwame Nkrumah and I were committed to the idea of unity... I did not believe in these small little nations. Still today I do not believe in them. I tell our people to look at the European Union, at these people who ruled us who are now uniting.... Later African historians will have to study our correspondence on this issue of uniting Africa."   (Julius Nyerere, ex President of Tanzania and one of Africa's most respected elder statesperson, in an interview reported in the New Internationalist, January/February 1999)

"...To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction...."   (Stephen R Covey, Author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change', published by Simon & Schuster, 1990)

Saturday 16 January 1999

"The first decision I have to make as a photographer is, �What lens do I have on my camera?� In other words, what perspective will I view the problem from to find a creative solution? I know if I don�t have the right perspective going in, I don�t have a chance of finding the extraordinary view.

I use this metaphor regularly in the rest of my life as well. I am always asking myself in my business or in my relationship with my community or my family. �Do I have the right perspective? Do I have the right point of view?�

Sometimes I find I need my telephoto lens to go in and pick just those few elements out of the cacophony of life which will afford me an extraordinary perspective. At other times, I need a wide angle lens. I need to see the big picture, the strategic view that gives greater context to the problem. How often... do we need to step back and see the forest as well as the trees?" (Dewitt Jones)

"As the tree is fertilised by its own broken branches and fallen leaves and grows out of its own decay, so men and nations are bettered and improved by trial and refined out of broken hopes and blighted expectations." (F W Robinson)

Saturday 09 January 1999

"Whether a problem is direct (problems involving our own behaviour), indirect (problems involving other people�s behaviour), or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past and situational realities), we have in our hands the first step to the solution. Changing our habits, changing our methods of influence and changing the way we see our 'no control' problems are all within our circle of influence. It is inspiring to realise that in choosing our response to circumstance, we powerfully affect our circumstance. When we change one part of the chemical formula, we change the nature of the results." (Stephen R Covey, Author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change', published by Simon & Schuster, 1990)

"I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet." (Mahatma Gandhi)

Saturday 02 January 1999

"The fundamental meaning of war is that it is the expression of a difference of opinion. The object of war must therefore be defined as follows: the object of war is to change the enemy's mind. This simple and almost platitudinous statement is of supreme importance and a failure to remember it has led to the most deplorable efforts..."

- Sir Stephen King-Hall in Defence of the Nuclear Age

"Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you ... Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then, ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question ... Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use."

- Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan

Continued - Reflections '98


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