Saturday, March 5, 2016

Being Simple and Solving Problems

Being simple is a very complex thing for many; and being complex is the easiest thing. Let’s just take a common place example. We walk into a coffee shop. A Smart, smiling and English speaking boy or girl, complete with her brown apron greets you from the other side of the counter and asks what you would you like to have. You settle for a Café Latte or Espresso, whatever. Soon comes another query: Sir, small, medium, large?  You have already decided it is medium and you say it. ‘Sir, you would like it strong or light?’ You answer that question hiding your discomfort. Would like to have cream or without cream? Now, what’s that? You have asked for a coffee and the boy has already complicated things. You get a medium cup of coffee and an atrocious bill. You pay and drink the concoction as if it were hemlock. Drinking a cup of coffee could be that complex an affair. There are people who suddenly tell you: I will take you for a wonderful filter coffee or some delicious ice cream. Some may even suggest a ‘pan’. Then they drive you around the city for twenty minutes and all the way you will have to listen to their narratives on the kind of filter coffees or ice creams they have had. While you invent some equally bombastic story, from the back seat, a little nine year old chimes in, ‘Mom, you did not tell about our funny ice cream trip in Alaska last summer.’ You have already lost the game before that claim.

Life could be much simpler. Asking too many questions for the sake of asking questions is one way that most of the people make simple things complex. If you understood what someone has just said, you don’t have questions. If you have not, you have some. But after some stage in your life, you don’t have many questions. You don’t need to be really old to realize this. People make things complex at times to invite questions. So in answering those questions a major chunk of the time in office or anywhere is spent. People feel important when they ask questions and in turn make things complex. A person with an average IQ could understand anything around him/her without asking too many questions. Even if an issue is explained at the board room, if you are a staff member and worth of your salt, you would immediately grab the nuances of what is stated; that’s why you are there in the boardroom. But somehow, in the name of brainstorming so many precious human hours are spent without much result. People fly off to retreats and sea shores or hills to do brainstorming. A majority of the problems that human beings face today could be solved while sitting in the loo. There is nothing very complex about life. There are no such problems that do not have an answer. One just needs to silently face those questions; loo is the best place to do that.

I have seen a number of people wasting their time in arguing certain issues and feeling miserable when they are not able to convince the other party. First of all argument is one way of making simple things complex. In life nothing could be achieved by arguing with anyone. An argument starts because the other party believes in something different than what you believe. If both the parties are stuck at their own belief patterns no argument is going to win one over the other side. Then how issues could be solved? If arguments do not arise then issues automatically die out. There at some corner of the country, a good for nothing fellow clad in some religious attire makes an absolutely foolish statement and the so called intelligent people take the cue and start arguing. Look at our debate television. Apart from being mere entertainment and slight persuasion, these television programs are a huge amount of wasting human energy and time for silly matters. If we decide to simplify things, then definitely the arguments will start. If someone says, JNU students use 3000 condoms per month we should just laugh it off. If some cartoonists come up with brilliant cartoons on the issue, we should enjoy it and make our lives simple. In the name of involving in the democratic process, we enter into arguments regarding things about which most of us do not have in depth knowledge or authority. In the free for all scenario, we make life complex and miserable.

To make life simple, as people believe generally, they need not go to faraway places seeking solace and simplicity. Rural areas are as complex as the urban places as in rural areas too we find human beings who do not have much to do with their brains. We could be very simple people by being intensely aware of things and keep off from many things. We make a lot of noise about growing traffic. The best way is to take off our car from the roads. We get morally agitated when the city is littered by filth. What we need to do is to avoid littering the city ourselves. When there is water shortage, instead of complaining, use water judiciously. In the name of organic life, instead of driving kilometers to buy organic vegetables, better plant some vegetables in your backyard. When life is simplified, problems vanish. Many people think that our presence in social matters is a must to maintain the democratic process. The best way is to choose your representatives judiciously; instead of making a ruckus after selecting anti-social people as your representatives. People need a high amount of awareness to lead a simple life.

Unfortunately, simple life is always misunderstood. Many people think that a simple person is a ‘poor’ person. Most of the great personalities are very simple people. I have come across so many great people with great contributions to society but absolutely unassuming in their presence, manners and mannerisms. Once I was visiting a museum located in a mall in Delhi and at the corridor I happened to cross paths with the famous writer Arundhati Roy. She was walking in such way that she was almost hiding herself and not making a big deal about herself being the ‘Arundhati Roy’. Simplicity is a way of life; it does not have anything to do with what you wear, how you travel and what do you eat. When you are simple, you are caring about the other people. You understand a simple human being your pain as well as the pain of others. Simplicity is largely about shedding the ego. One does not attend yoga classes or get into spiritual retreat to kill ego. One just needs to understand what simplicity is. Simplicity and ego are inversely proportional; when one increases the other decreases. So when you are a simple person, you don’t have any problem with the other. I have seen people, crossing their legs in packed metro trains as if they own the whole space. It comes from three things; lack of confidence and self-worth, high amount of arrogance and total ignorance. A simple person need not assert; his/her simplicity is simply the assertion of being a good soul.

Simplicity in life is the ability to hark upon the voices that comes not only from inside but also from outside. Generally, the spiritual gurus tell you to listen to your inner voices. But however you try, you will be able to listen to your inner voice unless and until you could hear the voices of outside. What you hear generally as the voice of the outside world is the undefined cacophony. We recognize conversations out of habit. We understand the traffic because we are tuned to the noise of the traffic. That is not the outside voice. There are innumerable voices that lay outside us. The chirping of birds, whispering of beetles, ants, crickets and other creatures, the gurgling voice of a stream, the softy voices of dew drops, the hissing of bamboo thickets, rustling of leaves, clattering of rain drops on a roof, lisping of a child and the noises made by butterfly wings and smiles on the lips of the people. Once you hear these voices above all the din of the routine noises, you automatically hear the inner voice that advices you to be simple. The day you hear your inner voice, you cannot nothing but be simple in your life. Stop arguing; give more time to listening. When you listen to the voices of the other, you understand that it is not different from your own. But when you argue you fail to hear the other. You are in a race and in an argument with one and all that’s why you need a vacation to go to hills to listen to the voices that are right next your window pane. Listen to it. You are simple and alright. 

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