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Friday, December 9, 2011

Is a number governing my life?

I had written this article about 5 years back.  Publishing it again with minor updates.

Is a number governing my life? Different numbers have governed my decisions, choices, and happiness... Be it percentage of marks, merit-rank, GPA (Grade Point Average), performance-appraisal ranking, dollar-rupee conversion ratio, productivity, customer-satisfaction-index, GDP, inflation-rate, credit-rating,... The list is very long. I also found that most of the times, these numbers have not been my own "invention". These numbers were given by the systems I worked under - for classifying, grading, ranking, and branding.  I always found my getting classified, graded, ranked, and branded was seriously affecting me and I felt that there was something very-wrong about it all.  When I discussed this situation with others, I found that I wasn't alone. Most people find that their lives are miserable due to these metrics or standards made by "others". Now who are these "others"? There must be some people behind setting these metrics and standards. And they must be doing it out of certain mindset, or thought-process. What's that thought-process? Is that thought-process OK?  

This eagerness to quantify, measure each and everything is coming from the scientific-mindset. "What can't be measured, can't be controlled." - is the underlying principle here. And "Control" or "being at the helm of affairs" is identified as the most important need by scientific-mindset. Struggle for "taking control" becomes inevitable with this mindset. If we look closely - science is full of mathematical equations. There is a ruthless zeal to put number to everything in scientific worldview. Scientific world-view leads to struggle. Science accepts struggle and competition as natural. For example - struggle for achieving higher percentage, higher performance, and so on... In this way, a number starts governing human-living. Such living is ridden with conflicts. Why there's such zeal for putting number to everything? Can living at all be captured through numbers? Let's look at it more closely.

We get some understanding of realities "outside" through our senses - like seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. We can understand more aspects of these with use of mathematics. One simple example of this is - our eyes capture only shape and area aspects of a reality. The aspect of volume stays uncaptured through eyes alone. The volume can be understood through mathematics.  The realities outside are not static and this dynamism is perceived through senses by human-being, but since the sensory-perception is not universal or common across individuals - it was considered "convenient" to measure.  Measuring and making decisions based on measurement or empirical-observation was considered scientific and all else was considered unscientific.  This is the root-cause for the zeal for putting number to everything. The measurement was done for both macro dimension - measuring distances between planets, galaxies, their speeds, etc - and micro dimensions - measuring distances between atoms, subatomic particles, etc. Accuracy in measurement required use of precision instruments.  In this way, an instrument was considered to be more reliable than human-being.  Scientists tried to arrive at theories and mathematical formulas which attempt to describe the working of realities outside through use of instruments and measurements.

Mathematical-understanding of Science couldn't define a human-being and human-purpose. It is because of the approach Science had taken. It was always considering the realities "outside", and didn't consider that it is the human-being (scientist) who is the observer, and observation- results are essentially outcome of observer's mindset.  Scientific-theories mapped the whole world outside, leaving out the map-maker and the map-reader.  Science couldn't define or understand human mind. Science didn't incorporate human-being into its mathematical-reasoning. Science relied on instruments and measurements - and did not value the human-being who made the instruments and did the measurements.  Scientific equations don't include human-being into its method.  Science falls short for becoming humane thus - in a very fundamental way.  The scientific-method is doomed to fuel destructiveness of materialism.

Madhyasth Darshan proposes:

What can't be perceived, could be measured;
What can't be measured, could be understood;
What can't be understood, does not even exist!

What can be understood, Can be lived with.

There are aspects which can be measured. For example - one kg rice, twenty humans, forty cows, twenty ampere current, etc. There are aspects which can not be measured. For example - Knowledge, Jeevan (Self), Human-Values like Trust, Respect, Affection, Love, Care, etc. These aspects can be understood by a human-being - is the proposal for Madhyasth-Darshan (Jeevan Vidya). Madhyasth-Darshan gives a proposal for understanding existence (all that is) including the observer (human-being) and the existential-purpose of humankind.

We can live harmoniously with the aspects which we understand. We can't live harmoniously with the aspects which we don't understand fully.

Living requires understanding. Measurement is not complete understanding.

Now coming to the point where we started.... Is a number governing my life? "I" or Self is not measurable through any number. Human-faculties of wanting, thinking, desiring, imaging, understanding, and experiencing - can't be captured by any number. These are inexhaustible, continuous, immeasurable. "I" is inexhaustible and can be used infinitely without diminishing. Mathematics fails to capture "I". This is the reason, "I" gets into conflicts when one tries to discipline it using some number - however sophisticatedly chosen. Human-Behaviour can't be described through numbers or mathematical-equations. Family can't be described through numbers or mathematical-equations. Society can't be described through numbers or mathematical-equations. Happiness can't be described through numbers and mathematical-equations. Wisdom can't be described through numbers and mathematical-equations. In fact, everything that's valuable for living can't be described through numbers. Numbers can be used for living though.

Numbers are for me. "I" am not for any number.

- Based on Madhyasth-Darshan (Jeevan Vidya) propounded by Shri A. Nagraj Sharma.

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