Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WHY I WRITE – A CELEBRATION OF MY 100TH POSTING

WHY  I WRITE – A CELEBRATION OF MY 100TH POSTING



When I was on the forty fifth posting in my blog, I suddenly realised that I would soon reach that figure of fifty. Why did that have to make a difference? I felt like a batsman racing towards his half century in the match. It is of course a landmark. Though I had opened my blog in the latter part of 2009 and made a few postings, I spent a silent year during 2010. May be I was busy preparing for my retirement and my second daughter’s marriage which took place in December 2010. Thereafter the events took their own course and I underwent my heart surgery in July 2011. It was only then, after my recuperation and subsequent visit to the US, where I spent a quite six months that I really became active. In fact it was while I was there that I found I could start writing again, and it was there I did write my fiftieth posting. At that time my immediate goal was to reach that figure. You may ask whether that really matters, I would have said no then. But now reflecting on that, I feel it was necessary, I had set myself a goal and I had to achieve it. Of course this does not mean that I had to sacrifice my credibility in doing so. I continued as my thought process was active, it was as if I was writing at a retreat far away from the madding crowd. It was winter and very cold outside and given that I was recovering I did not go out much. I spent most of my time there playing with my grandson, a delightful phase seeing the child grow up and seeing the child within me resurface. My writing was done mostly late into the night, even now it is like that. But I had the luxury of getting up late in the mornings.

It is important setting a goal for oneself, for that is what makes you move forward. It is on the way, on that journey, that we start seeing and experiencing things which we have never really understood before. You see things with a new perspective, a perspective that has been sharpened by the experiences on the way. As we travel, the goals keep shifting as new ones are formed when you reach the earlier ones and ultimately that’s what life is about. Isn’t it? I had written quite a bit over the years which I had recorded in my diaries. As I read them now, I know the path that I have travelled and look at them and know that they have been an essential part of my growing up. Now when I write, it has been the result of all that experiencing and an enhanced understanding of life.

Initially when I became active on my blog it was more an inward journey and more for myself. But a few inputs from some of my well wishers made me realise that when I write something which I place on the public domain, it has to have a certain interest to the reader. I was and am interested that people read what I write. Why, I shall come to later. My elder daughter was the first critic with whom I spent those six months. She said “Appa, you write very well but most of it goes over my head”. She used to diligently read them after all she was my daughter. Another valuable input came from one of my senior colleagues in the bank, quite senior in fact, who had retired long before, a person whose views I value a lot. He said nearly the same thing but in a different way, he said “Subbu you write well but most of it are philosophical excursions, the only thing I can say is that I like them by way of comments but that does not really mean anything. With your varied interests you should be able to write on things which the reader can connect with”. I took him seriously and changed my approach. I found in the process that I could explore all those things that I have been passionately interested in like art – painting and music. I found that slowly the number of page views increased and knew that I was now connecting. Now I record my introspections separately elsewhere.

I write in the only way I know. I write what comes to my mind with words that appear spontaneously, there is no thought behind what word I put down. I go through it for fine tuning to ensure its readability. I find that more often than not, we loose ourselves in the labyrinth of words and in the process loose the authenticity of the feeling that we are trying to record. This happens more in poetry. Like painting, poetry has also become so subjective that the reader is not able to understand what is meant to be conveyed, the images become so obscured. One cannot be a judge for ultimately it comes to the point whether the artist or the poet wants to be understood or is satisfied trying to understand his own self. The point I want to make here is that your inner emotions can be made intelligible to the reader or the viewer through whichever medium you have preferred. There is a joy in sharing, a satisfaction of a need to be understood and a need for adulation. This is especially true of any creation that is put up on the public domain for consumption.

The basic question is “Why do I write?” however there are two other important questions as to how and when do I write. There is this excellent article ‘Writing, Typing and Economics’ by John Kenneth Galbraith undoubtedly one of the finest writers on Economics and who was at one time US ambassador to India. From his vast experience as a writer he offers some tips to the average aspiring writer who may find it to be immediately practical. When he talks about inspiration, he says that all writers wait for those golden moments when they feel themselves on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. He says that he has also experienced these moments and continues to say that their lesson is simple – it’s a total illusion. They end up doing nothing because they are waiting for that inspiration. If you want to continue to write, do not wait for these so called golden moments. Galbraith adds “The best place to write is by yourself, because writing becomes an escape from the terrible boredom of your own personality. Writing is not easy and all first drafts are deeply flawed by the need to combine composition with thought. The gains from brevity are obvious; in most efforts to achieve brevity, it is the worst and dullest that goes. It is the worst and dullest that spoils the rest.” As per him “Complexity and obscurity have professional value—they are the academic equivalents of apprenticeship rules in the building trades. They exclude the outsiders, keep down the competition, preserve the image of a privileged or priestly class”.
The first two points may be misunderstood, but what Galbraith is trying to get at is that the danger in these illusions is that you spend your time waiting for these moments before you sit down to write, till then you end up doing nothing. Instead he says that one better go to his typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. Do not wait for the golden moment. The lesson is simple make it a habit, set a time for yourself for your writing and sit down before your computer and things will take their course. I found the truth of this observation, for once I decided that I wanted to write I found I could do so by making it a habit of sitting in front of the computer all by myself every night. Inspirational moments occur day in and day out if you care to look around you. You cannot plan for such moments. Most of my thoughts occur while I take my evening walks along the seashore and I end up translating these in to words later at night. The result can be seen in the increase in the postings on my blog since I adopted this process. It is a ‘subject’ I explore when I sit down to write and the inspiration comes as I delve deeper into it. Galbraith also advises “My advice to all young writers is to stick to research and reporting with only a minimum of interpretation. And especially this is my advice to all older writers, particularly to columnists. As the feet give out, they seek to have the mind take their place”.
Now comes the question of why do I write. I have asked myself this question many times and have not been able to truthfully answer it. Is it because I want to get across to others so that I am understood as to what I am or because I am trying to understand more about myself. Is it because, I am seeking recognition and adulation or want to be a commercial success. It could be a combination of all these. But I know one thing, I write because I like it. I also like it when someone says that they like what I write.
I have always been fascinated by the word ‘Sublime’. For me it meant merging with greatness, an expanse beyond compare, beyond beauty, transcendental and ‘Sublimation’, the process of becoming sublime. So did I hope to achieve this through the expression of my thoughts, feelings, reactions and relationships? Was it going to be a mirror reflecting the distortions that I have failed to see, recognise and accept? That is why I named my blog ‘Sublimation’.
When I wrote my fiftieth blog I called it a celebration, a term I had borrowed from my friend Nandu who said the same thing when he wrote his fiftieth posting on his blog. My fiftieth posting was ‘A Dedication to Friendship’ addressed to all my friends who have made a significant contribution in my life. I did give the link in my Facebook page as well as in my email groups. There were not many responses or page views. Only a handful did go through it. I was naturally disappointed. I guess there were other interesting things they were occupied with. But I was happy that I got to say what I felt.
Now when I am writing this 100th posting, I want to celebrate again and share with my friends the joy that they have given me, a joy of connection, a joy of being understood and a joy of knowing them as they are. In fact I have connected with people I have never met and now feel that I have known them for a long time. The responses that I get on my blog have helped me understand and appreciate contrarian viewpoints and have contributed to an enhanced awareness of my own inner world.
In conclusion what can I say? Though there have been few responses, I know that my friends are reading what I write from the increasing number of page views of my posts and that gives me immense satisfaction and happiness. Thank you my friends, I know that you are always there to push me on to newer goals. 

Friday, February 15, 2013


SPIRITUALITY 4 – CONVERSATIONS

Last week has been very satisfying for I have been having continuous conversations with my friends regarding my earlier posts on the subject. I could gain further insight into how each individual looks at the concept of God and religion. Each one charts out a philosophy of life to guide him through his living. What would matter ultimately is whether one has found happiness and fulfilment on this chosen path. More often than not one finds himself under a compulsion to change paths as he finds the goal receding further and further and as he understands more and more about the world he lives in from the experiences he has undergone. After all I guess the ultimate goal in life is to find peace. When you find it, there would be no more need for a God or religion.

To maintain continuity I am listing down some of the comments my friends have made on ‘Spirituality’. I wish to share it with a wider audience so that it rings a bell in their own thought processes. I know a discussion on this subject can be expected to go on and on and there will be as many opinions as there are individuals:

“Most people need the name of God, as it gives rise to hope. Hope is what makes all of us move on from one day to another”.

“God is everything that is pure and infinite. Self realization is just removing the cobwebs of Maya and dig deeper into that pure self”. 

Further there are two comments which I shall reproduce in full below because they look at it from the standpoint of scientists. It is interesting because belonging to the same fraternity of rational thinkers (I would like to believe all scientists are rationalists) they have expressed contrarian views on the subject. One is a biologist and the other a physicist,

1) "...all religions offer ‘hope’ in the form of God. That is not bad at all for that is what has bound the social fabric through the centuries." - Yes, it did, for the lack of anything better. By the same logic, we could say Ayurveda worked in curing diseases for centuries too; but this is not an argument against its near ineffectiveness in the present world, in comparison to Allopathy. In the past, we have had religions to 'explain' (not really anyway!) the unexplainable, but now, when we have science explaining so much more in a mere 4-5 centuries, so what need do we have for them anymore? 

And when I say 'false hope' I mean that it is a hope that is unlikely to help in a tangible way. Would you prefer that a person suffering from disease rest their hope in God and prayer? We know that this does not help, which is why we consult a doctor first and not a deity, when we are sick. Is it not right that I wish my fellows do the same too, that they choose an option that is most likely to help them? (And if you say, it's not necessarily a choice between one and the other, that a person can consult a doctor and pray, well, where do we draw the line then? I am not trying to make the Slippery slope argument here; all I am saying is, at what point do we say, 'X belief is okay' or 'Y belief is detrimental to a person or society'? The only consistent way to approach this is using the scientific method: Is there evidence to justify belief X or Y? If yes, we take the belief as fact, and if not, we take it as falsehood for all practical purposes.) Ultimately, we all have to strive for a more rational world because reason and logic (as embodied in science) are the only principles that have succeeded in explaining how the world works and therefore helped in bettering the human condition. Religion on the other hand, personal or otherwise, is an antithesis to scientific thought by its very nature, and consequently detrimental to humanity. 

And lastly, I agree in general with your contention that we label God. (Although I would go further and say that wecreate God!) But I think your definition of God, as someone within all of us, renders the whole concept of a deity so inconsequential as to make both of our positions indistinguishable for all practical purposes. I will accept your definition and say, what need do we have of a concept of God then, when all we need is respect and love for fellow humans!”
2) “I have been following the discussion on spirituality keenly. I am of the opinion that the idea that science can replace religious beliefs is based on the assumption that man is a purely rational being. But unfortunately the rationality of man is only an outer shell. Inside the shell he is a completely irrational being pushed around by emotional upsurges which can be traced to his animal ancestry. The modern man, in spite of his great scientific achievements is emotionally quite often at the same level as the street dogs. Evolution has mucked the human condition. Imagine the street dogs quarreling with each other with nuclear bombs and biological weapons. We are coming to a critical stage where the very existence of mankind is threatened by the scientific discoveries. 
The problem can be solved only if mankind can evolve emotionally in tune with his intellectual advancement. It is here where the concept of God and spirituality plays its role. The idea of God as the unifying supreme force brings harmony and emotional solace to man which science at no stage could provide. People who deny the need for God are people who do not have any understanding of the duality of the human psyche.

Unfortunately we are having competing concepts of God which in itself is generating strife and disharmony. But I think this will be a passing phase and synthesis of these religious concepts will take place after a crisis. I am an optimist.”Delete
Interesting isn’t it? Though I know both of them, I am in a position to talk more about the second person who I term as a physicist. He is a very close friend of mine, a fellow banker who quit his job years ago to pursue his passion for physics. At present he has submitted his papers for a Phd in the field of quantum field theory. He has also done work in the field of Relativity.

Very significant discoveries have been made by human kind over the last few centuries, very true. As stated by me earlier the more one finds the more there is to discover whether at the macro level or at the micro level, whether it is the Big Bang or the Boson.

Years ago I read ‘The Tao of Physics” by Fritzof Capra, where he tries to reconcile the parallels between theoretical physics and eastern mysticism. Though science has advanced tremendously over the last few years, the book has still retained the interest of the readers. When one delves into the quantum world it is always an uncertainty and a probability. Fritzof Capra’s book has come in for criticism from a portion of the scientific community while there has also been appreciation. But there is one telling statement of Capra that is worth a mention here “Science does not need mysticism nor does mysticism require science, but man needs both”.

Carl Jung who is considered as one of the greatest explorers of the human mind, while he was writing of his personal experience of his youthful rebellion against the church said “At that time I realised that God - for me, at least – was one of the most immediate experiences”. In his scientific works Jung seldom speaks of God; there he is at pains to use “the God image in the human psyche.” This is no contradiction. In the one case his language is subjective, based upon inner experience; in the other it is the objective language of scientific inquiry. In the first case he is speaking as an individual, whose thoughts are influenced by passionate powerful feelings, intuitions, and experiences of a long and unusually rich life; in the second, he is speaking as the scientist who consciously restricts himself to what may be demonstrated and supported by evidence. His subjective statement will be acceptable only to those who have had similar experiences – or, to put it another way, to those in whose psyche the God-image bears the same or similar features. – This is reproduced from the introduction to Jung’s autobiography ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’.

I repeat what I said about hope that it is never false or true. So there is no question of  “ a false hope that is unlikely to help in a tangible way”. Next is the question of whether we would prefer a person suffering from a disease to look to God and prayer for a cure or go to a doctor. The answer is – of course he will go to a doctor. But that does not stop him from seeking solace from God and prayer. What happens when the doctor throws up his hands and says it is not possible to do anything further?

I guess this discussion can go on and on but contrarian views are essential for us to have a more complete understanding of the world we live in and the world within us. Science makes us understand the world we live in, what about the world inside? I agree with my physicist friend when he says “The problem can be solved only if mankind can evolve emotionally in tune with his intellectual advancement”.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SPIRITUALITY 3 – MY FAVOURITE GOD – RESPONSES TO OBSERVATIONS


SPIRITUALITY 3 – MY FAVOURITE GOD – RESPONSES TO OBSERVATIONS

I am happy that my previous posting ‘My Favourite God’ has evoked some interesting observations and I thought it would require a separate posting by itself to give my responses. The summary of the observations is as below:

1)Does it still matter if it is false hope? Does objective truth not matter at all?

2. Ignorance can be confused with courage; more knowledge in almost all cases leads to more worries (which is what God was essentially telling us in the Bible, it seems to me). Does that mean we give up trying to know stuff and 'embrace the mystery' of the universe?
3. something that cannot be defined or within the comprehension of the human mind - Yet(if, by this, you mean the universe in general, for which I presume I could say God is a stand-in)!



4) Even if I were ever to accept that there is a God, the idea that He/She/It is fundamentally unknowable seems a tad defeatist about humanity in general and contrary to the principle of a benevolent God. Surely, a compassionate God who condescends enough to bother with human affairs would also make it so that He is easily comprehensible with a minimum of effort.

I have tried to respond as per my own understanding of life, not that I am writing this as a disclaimer but because I sincerely believe that everyone has his own view of life and a code of ethics he follows to ensure a comfortable conduct of his life.

First let us tackle the question of false hope. Hope is hope, it cannot be false or true. This question can only arise only after the event you were hoping for happens. So we can never be judgemental where ‘Hope” is concerned, for once the event happens hope vanishes.

Nowhere is it said that ignorance can be confused with courage. Knowledge is without boundaries. It has always been the quest of the human to know more and more in the ‘Hope’ that he will understand the mysteries of life. He has discovered through the centuries, through thousands of years, that there is still more to discover. Whatever knowledge he gains there will always be more to be gained. I do not think that we can ever envisage the end of knowledge. If it so happens then that will be the end of the world and that is what I believe. That is why I have given the analogy of infinity. For me God is infinity and so incomprehensible in that sense.

I have stated above that man’s quest has always been to know more and more about the mysteries of the universe. The question I am faced with at this juncture is why should man at all be interested in unravelling the mysteries of the world in which he is living. He could have simply lived like other animals – hunted for food and procreated as a natural impulse. It was when he felt threatened by the furies of nature that he devised means of shielding himself from the elements and that was when he started to think of better and better ways of protecting himself. And that’s where the key word lies ‘protecting’. That is his fear of extermination. I may sound dramatic but the truth is every human being is filled with the anxiety of non existence whether he outwardly shows this or not. There comes a time when he sits down and contemplates on the futility of his existence and this happens when he is faced with a crisis – the loss of a loved one or stricken by a life threatening disease. This anxiety is recognised in the entire journey of western philosophy from Socrates to Sartre. Like you said that there is nothing wrong with labelling oneself, I agree with that and the fact that it will give rise to a discourse between groups. This is required because contrarian views are necessary for arriving at some understanding of the problem on hand. I said that I do not believe in attaching a label to myself because God for me is a subjective experience and very personal.

I believe that all religions offer ‘hope’ in the form of God. That is not bad at all for that is what has bound the social fabric through the centuries. You will agree that every individual is unique in the sense that they differ in their realisation of the potential within them, in our parlance some are more intelligent than others, so your statement that ‘more knowledge leads to more worries in almost all cases’ will be applicable to the lesser fortunate among us, let them be happy in a God that gives them hope. If we try telling them that ‘life is absurd’ and there is no such thing as God what will happen to them? That’s where religion comes in to play. Even the existentialists who believe this do give a hope by saying that we should live an authentic life. You and I will understand this as leaving something behind to make our life meaningful and authentic. Even this viewpoint, that though there is nothing beyond death, still there is an inherent wish to eternalise oneself.

That is where I talked about the Gita, because apart from trying to make us understand that the Supreme Being or Brahman, which we label as God is an all encompassing concept, it provides a code of ethics and a way to live an authentic life and it gives hope through the concept of Karma. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you believe in Karma or not, man’s quest has been to eternalise himself. It is only because of this urge that he creates, he discovers.

The day I discover God I shall cease to exist in this external world for I will not have anything more to understand. May be that’s what happened to the Buddha and all the other saints chronicled in the course of the history of man. Not that they stopped interacting with the world around them but set about helping others to cope with the miseries of existence in a better way. They showed the way to salvation – by this I mean a freedom from the bondage that each individual is bound by. I find no dichotomy in this and the view of the existentialists notably Sartre who says “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does”. I believe that the Buddha says something similar. For Sartre “Existence precedes essence – that is man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world and defines himself afterwards”. I believe the Gita also shows the way to define ourselves.

Compassionate, benevolent or a condescending God are all labels we have given. As I understand God is as compassionate, or malevolent as we ourselves are. That is because he is within ourselves and we cannot stop believing ourselves.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

SPIRITUALITY 2 - MY FAVOURITE GOD


 SPIRITUALITY 2 - MY FAVOURITE GOD

When my friend had asked me “Isn’t spirituality a very personal thing?”, I did not pause to answer and I said “yes”. That was sometime ago and I had posted ‘Spirituality- A Personal Awakening’ on this blog. But when the next question was “Who is your favourite God?”, I was at a loss and could not respond immediately. I was given time to think over and answer. I have been thinking and find it very difficult to come to a conclusion. You may ask why it should be so difficult if I believed in a God at all. I should be able to decide since there were so many of them – a wide range of choices, being born in a Hindu household the choices were many, there was Ganesh undoubtedly the most popular God. There is no street corner in Chennai without at least a small pavement temple. In fact he is an artist’s delight. I have a whole collection of Ganesh idols, in varying shapes, sizes and materials, but all of them are in my showcase. Then there is Siva next door dwelling inside a temple more than thousand years old, surrounded by some wonderful pieces of sculpture. Or I have a choice of Vishnu in any one of his ten avatars. May be I can narrow it down to Krishna, his Bhagavad Gita has been a guiding force and finds a prominent place in my bookshelf. Krishna has fascinated me because he was both human and a God (so was Rama, but he is too idealistic for the likes of me). If I had been a Muslim, it would have been Allah, and Jesus Christ if a Christian. So you see the choice is very wide and one is bound to get confused if asked to choose.

Let me first clarify, I do believe in God. I do puja and meditation regularly and have been doing so for many years. If you ask me how I do it, I can only say I do it the only way I know and that involves lighting the deepam, offering flowers and some prasad and then I sit for meditation. What I do is ‘my’ ritual and I do it not because I want something but as a commitment to a higher power, which I am neither able to define nor describe. But I know that it is helping me towards an authentic life. Years ago I read a book called ‘Zen in the Art of Archery’ by Herrigel a professor of German philosophy who was interested in mysticism. During his sojourn as a diplomat in Japan he enrolled in a class for archery taught through Zen practices. I quote from his book The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's-eye which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art". Why I have chosen to quote this is that while doing puja this is how I have started feeling, completely empty and rid of the self, there are no strings attached. Then there is the popular book by Robert Pirsig ‘Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance’. The common theme is usually that doing an ordinary task, such as fixing your motor cycle can have a spiritual dimension.
.
It is interesting to note that on the gopuram(tower)  of the Siva temple next door the words ‘Anbe Sivam’ is displayed in neon lighting, literally meaning that ‘Love is God’.

I do not believe in the labelling of people as theists, atheists or agnostics and if one wants to be labelled as one I cannot understand why. The very negation of a concept will give rise to its existence.

I am fascinated by the Bhagavad Gita mainly because it seems to address all the questions that haunt us in the process of living our lives. I have not read the scriptures of the other religions, but I am sure that they all address these questions. Chapter eleven of the Gita deals with the vision of the Cosmic form. To Arjuna’s request to see the divine form of the Supreme Being, Krishna reveals to him in the form of the Vishwaroopa darshan. I have been overwhelmed by the description of the form of the Divine for it only highlights that the Supreme power is beyond definition and anything and everything that you envisage or do not envisage are all are contained in it. A student of mathematics will understand by relating it to infinity, something that is beyond definition yet contains all the numbers you can ever think of.

When one looks at the sky at night and sees all those stars and can never see any boundary, there seems to be no end to the spread of the universe. Every new discovery brings with it further frontiers to be discovered.

I have mentioned earlier and I shall repeat it again as I feel it is relevant here. This is about the film ‘Anbe Sivam’, the actor is an atheist by his own admission but in the movie he does believe in a God and he sees him in the tears being shed for an unknown person, he sees God in the person who comes to kill him but drops the weapon and asks for forgiveness. So he does believe that in the humanity of man lies God. He does not believe in a God who is vengeful or grants favours to those who worship him. I like that for it defines the code by which he lives.

So we come back to the basic question ‘who is my favourite God?’. Whatever your beliefs, whatever names, you still spell God with a capital ‘G’. My puja shelf is filled with the idols and pictures of God in his various manifestations. There was a time when I was lost thinking as to who among them should be given first preference, but now for me all of them seem to have merged and I see them as artistic representations of each one’s perception of a personal God, an entity who we are unable to understand nor define. We cannot define for in trying to do so we destroy his omnipotence and reduce him to a level wherein we bind him to the very ravages that we are subjected to and in which case he becomes no longer useful to us. He is a hope for our eternity and therefore stays as such.

Hope is what sustains us and carries us forward in the process of living our lives. Whether you believe in God or not in the form that people try to understand him, whether you believe in the theory of Karma or not, you always want to lead a life away from miseries and  leave a mark in this world, what I would term as leading an authentic life. For this you look forward for better things to happen that is you ‘Hope’. Kierkegaard perhaps the first existentialist says that life is filled with angst and the only way to overcome this is by a leap of faith to God. The question of rebirth does not really matter, it is Hope that matters, and in this context to me ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ offers a way of living that will give us the necessary courage to face the travails of life, and the supreme vision of something that cannot be defined or within the comprehension of the human mind. It is a code of life.

So if you ask me who my favourite God is, I shall not answer for he is beyond my comprehension.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

FANTASY


FANTASY

As I sit in front of my computer with only the table lamp on and the rest of the room immersed in darkness, I close my eyes trying to think of something on which I should write. I had felt the urge strongly since I have been silent for a long time may be suffering from a writer’s block. One word had kept recurring frequently in my thoughts for the past few days – ‘Fantasy’. I could only presume that this may have been due to the fact that I had restarted my paintings after a considerable period of time and as I spread the colours on the paper trying to translate what I saw, I found that I was giving my own interpretation and the result was not exactly what I saw but the way I saw it. Since then the word had stuck on to my mind and I really wanted to explore what exactly I mean when I say I fantasized. So as a starting point I looked up the dictionary and though there were a number of definitions, two of them seemed to sum up my own understanding of the word – one was creative imagination or unrestrained fancy and the second was ‘an imagined event or sequence of mental images, such as daydream, usually fulfilling a wish or a psychological need’.

I slowly opened my eyes and my table clock showed the time as midnight and here I was set to daydream in the middle of the night. Funny isn’t it? But that’s how it is. We all need to have a space of our own, a world where we retreat to, to fulfil our psychological needs. I guess this is true for every person. We can never really shed the burden of our past life, all those moments gone by are stacked somewhere deep inside us. One word that keeps coming up, again and again from time to time is ‘if’. This for me is the starting point of all fantasies. I have asked myself the question as to what and where I would have been ‘if’ I had chosen a different path, taken a different decision at various points in my life. There is no way other than to accept the present reality and that is the truth. I am told to live the present moment and that’s what everyone who is sane does but the past moments are never lost. Suppressing them will only lead to mental illness and so will being overwhelmed by them. In this connection Jung talks about his work with patients of psychosis. He says that “paranoid ideas and hallucinations contain a germ of meaning. A personality, a life history, a pattern of hopes and desires lie behind the psychosis. The fault is ours if we do not understand them”. He goes on to state “it was always astounding to me that psychiatry should have taken so long to look into the content of these psychoses, no one concerned himself with the meaning of these fantasies”.

So the only way to release your emotions as I see it, is to release them slowly through one’s own fantasies. Fantasies are always projections. Great works of art, literature or great inventions have been due to the human mind’s capacity to fantasize.

Whether it is H.G Wells ‘War of the Worlds’ or ‘The Time Machine’ or Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ and other great works of science fiction, they have been a result of the human mind’s capacity to fantasize and project and we can see ourselves moving towards them and one day they may actually be realities. Whether it is Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ or the earliest fairy tales written for the child in us, it has always catered to our fantasy world and we revel in it. Freud considered that men and women ‘cannot subsist on the scanty satisfaction which they can extort from reality’. He says ‘We simply cannot do without auxiliary constructions’. Again Jung talks about his own fantasies and visions which seemed to occur from time and he used to write them down as and when they occurred in order to understand and analyze them. In a number of cases especially of visions he found he could correlate occurrences with the visions he had earlier.

As one faces the harsh realities of life, he retreats into his fantasy world to gain respite and it his ability to come back to reality rejuvenated, richer from the experience that would determine the future course of his life.

Fantasies are a fact and they are necessary, only don’t let them overwhelm you.