Guest Post: Charlie Hebdo, God and Earth Spirituality

Editor's note: I will be taking part in a three-day Earth-Spirituality confluence from March 7-9. More details about the event can be found here. This paper, written by one of the event organizers, Raghu Ananthanarayanan, will drive some of the key conversations during the gathering. More Essays on Earth spirituality can be found here.
"Human beings experience hurt and pain. They seek refuges from hurt and pain. They seek refuge in wealth, they seek refuge in other men, they seek refuge in knowledge and they seek refuge in the idea of god. They can see easily that neither wealth nor other people are true refuges. The other two refuges are beliefs and they unleash much violence before their falseness becomes evident. It is only when a person gives up his search for refuges that he takes the first step to ending dukha"                                                                                                      - Gautama Buddha
The Hypothesis
We don't have to protect our environment, we don't have to protect our idea of God, we just have to discover how to transform the violence that seems to be the defining characteristic of man.

The Framework
We need a shared framework through which we can examine this hypothesis and discuss its merits. Groups function through the dynamic balance between three ways in which human beings interact with each other. These three ways are collaboration, confrontation and collusion. The ground this stands on is a shared idea of self and the other.

A romantic view of design

How do designers solve problems differently, to say the least, from the rest? Or to jump right at the meat of things, how do designers perceive problems differently from the rest? Ever since I developed the itch to learn the art of design, I've let this question brew inside, allowing it to ferment as I moonlighted over small design experiments and occasional inspired readings.

As serendipity would have it, while dipping my toes into the effervescent Twitter stream a couple of days ago, my attention circled over a tweet made by my favorite thinker, Dave Snowden.
Dave's sneering remark on "Design thinking" came as a surprise. It led me to introspect my enthusiasm over the burgeoning popularity of design in the age of "digital revolution". Truth be told, I am among the multitudes who have sung hosannas to the importance of design in humanizing the current technological landscape. (You can check this one where I suggest MBA types to learn design to get rid of the bullshit they were taught in B-School). 

2014 reflections:My blog in retrospective

Hola! We are in the first week of January 2015. The day seems appropriate to reflect on not just the year that passed by, but also this blog and thereby my life. My agenda for this post follows my perspective. I like to gaze the skies before grazing the valleys.

Gazing the skies
When I started my blog in 2007, under the title, "Ruminations of an enchanted soul", it was just another quiet lane where I gathered few pebbles of thoughts for display. Armed with nothing but an amateur's passion for writing and my naive sense of aesthetics, I wrote my darnedest in the earnest hope that few friends would find the alley inviting enough to play or at least stroll around in their private moments of leisure.

Hashtags as Social Networks

Today morning, after I came across Fred Wilson's post announcing his portfolio company Kik's launch, I went back to my older writings I had posted on #hashtag in my company's Yammer page. I had written,  
#hashtag is the contextual frame which liberates the message (or content) from its medium. I love twitter precisely for this reason because it skirts close to the mysterious ways in which we humans derive meaning from information. Sometimes, when you sit and observe the torrentuous streams of conversations happening about various topics, it fascinates me to see how a certain message which was enveloped in one context jumps onto a different plane of meaning altogether just because somebody has shifted the context using this innocuous symbol containing stack of sticks.

David Weinberger on why knowing is more important than knowledge

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a small business fable titled, "How to save the world from Knowledge". It was interesting to see the responses it triggered. Among many other reasons behind writing this fable, one such was David Weinberger's fascinating book on the evolution of knowledge in the Internet Age, Too Big to Know. I enjoyed reading his exposition on how network remade knowledge in its own image.

I've always admired David Weinberger's works ever since I read the classic The Cluetrain Manifesto. So when I wrote an email to David Weinberger with a link to my blog post, I was extremely delighted to hear from him. Here is his response via email to my post, published with due permission.

How to save the world from knowledge? - A business fable



The day wasn't over yet. John glanced at his watch. It was 2:30 AM. He had just finished proofreading his presentation for later that day. He couldn't believe it took him this long. To hell with Parkinson's Law! He sat motionless in his desk, too exhausted to hit the bed. He badly wanted some fresh air. His hands sought no permission from him and clicked open the Tweet-deck App. He scrolled through the tweets gushing out of the window.

When he first saw the tweet, he choked. Was it meant to be a joke? He zoomed over to see if the tweet was still there just the way he read it few seconds ago.

How to get rid your MBA mind of bullshit taught in B-School?

Provocation has always been a rewarding tool for writers. Many writer-provocateurs have sold plenty of books & made millions out of it. I've often found it to be a crass spectacle of ignorance, strictly to be used to play to the gallery.

Last week, I deliberately went into my discomfort zone by writing a provocative piece on what I strongly felt about this whole MBA humbug business.

You can read it here. 

Regular readers of this blog would be able to spot various riffs of ideas explored in depth in my blog. The response was overwhelming, according to my standards. It was heartwarming to receive calls from strangers who felt so moved by the article and wanted to empathize with my thoughts and observations.

What I learned in this exercise were two things.
1) To provoke the readers over an emotive issue and offer grounded perspectives as an antidote is not really such a bad idea

2) The tighter you tether a problem with an emotion, the stronger you allow the readers to respond with empathy and enthusiasm.