Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Information vs Knowledge

We undoubtedly live in an information era. All activities revolve around gathering and using information. This is an era of rapid communication, and connectivity driven by information. People around the world are becoming more and more informed. Getting information and understanding it seems to be very natural and at ease. This has been the culmination of a long evolution of intelligence, and ability to use logic to build information structures, one on top of the other.

We have reached a stage where we have an enormous amount of information as well as it being very complex in nature. Advances in science as well as any field of endeavor is presented for laymen and comprehended relatively easily. Analogies and pedagogical tools help us understand complex topics such as relativity and light year.

While our ability to gather and understand information has increased to a great extent, converting information to Knowledge is a different matter altogether. Knowledge is internalized information, where one begins to live life in sync with what one has understood.

For example, the information that 'Everything is made up of atoms' is reasonably understandable. Through logic , and primitive axioms, one can arrive at this information. But this stays as mere information. It stays at a intellectual level, and available for discussions and contemplations. Converting such a fundamental piece of information into Knowledge will liberate one from the miseries of life.

If everything is made of atoms,(here by atom we can mean the most fundamental particle, such as a Higgs-Boson) then whatever we see is made of atoms. A blade of grass, a cloud, a waterfall, a sun, dirt, food, our body, each and every organ in our body, and so on.. are all made of the exact same atom.

Atoms are clean, they are pristine. There are no ugly atoms, no dirty atoms, no good atoms, or bad ones. Even the cancer cell contains the very same atoms as  that of life giving oxygen. The irritating neighbor is made of the exact same atom as myself. If one searches the body all one finds is the atom. The individual self is never to be found. The identify claiming to be the self is not to be seen. only billions and billions of the very same atom. Everywhere. All over the Universe, the very same thing.

A deep and sustained contemplation on this fundamental idea becomes profound Knowledge. A world made entirely of atoms, without any idea of good or bad, likes and dislikes cannot be the cause of any kind of trouble. All emotions, thoughts, ideas and stories happen in an illusory layer over and above the atomic realm.That extra step to Knowing something from it being mere information transforms life, and in this case results in Joy.
If everything is made up of atoms and nothing but atoms, then it is indeed easy to 'Imagine'.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Thanks John Lennon for such a profound song.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Past or Present

It is amazing how sometimes the most mundane of things can be incredibly interesting. The other day I was watching the Sunrise on the shores of the ancient seaport of Mamallapuram. With the beautiful Shore Temple on my side, I was pondering how we are witnessing the past in the form of this timeless sixth Century wonder. A few moments later the Sun rose above the sea, a beautiful orange ball of fire, making the sea and the waves glow like fire.

As I kept watching the sea, the reflections , the waves, the people swimming and the fishing boats near the horizon, it dawned on me that the picture I was witnessing had multiple samples of time. The sea and the waves and the boat were from the present time. The shining Sun however was from the past. It was about eight and a half minutes old. I was witnessing the past and the present at the same time. An incredibly miraculous thing isn't it?  

A friend further elaborated me that in fact it was not just two, but infinitely many. Light from each of the objects reaches my eye at the same time, after bouncing off from them at different times. so it was an infinitely many continuous  frames from different times. All from the past.

Indeed you can only see the past!! time would have past however small between when it bounced from the object and hit your eye. So we can never really observe anything in the present! So what we seem to see never existed! the reality that we seem to think of is in fact an illusion. 

Parmenides and Zeno used the argument of the impossibility of movement to the same conclusion of the illusory nature of reality.

Realizing that nothing is real, and what we see is not  what you get, we can enjoy this absurdly inexplicable life.

Monday, October 26, 2015

25 Ideas that captivated me

Over time I had been introduced to various ideas, and some stand out. These were encountered over a long period of time, and each one of them was a turning point in my understanding of things. I was recollecting some that had a great impact and made me ponder over things, and question my understanding. Here are some such ideas in no particular order (except perhaps the last one). Someday I would like to write about each of them

Everything is made of Atoms

Light Year and the Scale of the Universe


Stereoscopic Vision


Euclid's Elements

Non-Euclidean Geometry

Mathematics is Made up

Peano's  Axioms

Things that can think - Flip-Flop and Digital Electronics

Every problem is Mathematically a Search problem.

Abstract Algebra



Mathematical Model of a Computer program



Bresenham's Line Drawing Algorithm


Godel's incompleteness theorem

Double Split Experiment

The Difficulty of Defining/Understanding anything absolutely.

Artificial Intelligence


Who is the Knower

Monday, June 29, 2015

Multiple truths and Higher dimensional space

As we evolve, we begin to seek. We seek to know. We seek to know about the phenomenal world, life, and our place in it. We seek to get answers. We try to explain. There are myriad approaches and a million explanations.
From infinitesimally small to the impossibly large, from the inanimate to the most dynamic, from non-living to highly evolved living beings, there is a vast range in the texture of life. What is totally insignificant to one plane is of utmost important to another.

Then there is something that seems rational, that seems to be beyond inconsistencies, and it tries to explain life, systematically. Sometimes we seem to get answers. sometimes not, and more importantly all questions are not answered. Then comes religion, which in itself comes in a million flavors. It helps us understand, but in a million ways. Here again at times we seem to get an answer.

Then there are philosophers, they seem to give us some glimpse of the truth. again the answers seem to be coming in trickles. Sometimes love and loss and emotions seem to give us an answer. Art seems to give us some clue.

As we observe the various such systems, there are definitely cases where we seem to get into a certain moment of truth. Where we emotionally and intellectually seem to have that moment of enlightenment. But that seems momentary. It has a certain space and time attached to it. It doesn't seem to last and we get back to our clueless state again. 

But this seemingly accidental brush with truth, has an analogy.

Space as we know is three dimensional. But it need not be absolute. If we were a single dimensional creature, living in a single dimensional world, we would live on a line. we move back and forth, and that's about it. But if the world were two dimensional, then we as single dimensional creatures would experience anomalies, such as some one disappearing in front of us and appearing behind us. This is a simple possibility in two dimensions. with a line traversing from the front and goes behind me.

The same can be extended to two dimensions, and also to the third dimension.Each dimension offers a certain view which is standard, and experiences an anomaly when the next higher dimension intersects. Also it becomes obvious that a higher order truth introduced into a lower order reality is bound to appear as an anomaly!
Just as these anomalies point to the existence of higher dimensions in space, the accidental glimpse of truth and moments of enlightenment points to the existence of a higher order truth. Seeking and reaching that results in a Joyful life.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tasting your own Blood

The world is a place of entertainment,  experience and enjoyment. Myriad things form part of the place we call earth. Shopping malls, fast cars, Theater, Sports Arena, Sky scrapers, Cruise ships, ski resorts, Temples, Hospitals, Hospices and so many many other things. News keeps us entertained, new ideas keep us excited. Gadgets bring you delight. In this seemingly never ending sequence of events, there seems to be many sources for happiness.

A tiny little tale from the ancient lore, talks about a dog chewing on a dry bone, and as it keeps chewing, its gums begin to bleed, mistaking the blood to be coming from the bone, the dog chews even more enthusiastically, and tasting its own blood and feeling happy.

The happiness we derive out of objects and events and people and places, are compared to the happiness derived from the bone. The world in itself is like the dry bone and cannot provide happiness, it is the inherent happiness in our own self that gets expressed by engaging with the world. The wise understand this fallacy and give little importance to the events of the world.

There are two parts to this story, the first lets us know that the world is not the source of happiness, and hence we can care less about it and be blissful ourselves. This tells us that a fancy car, or a luxurious house is not essential for us to be happy. Though they provide us with comforts we need not crave for it mistaking for the source of happiness. 

The second part tells us that though the bone is not the source for the blood, and similarly the world is not the source for happiness, the bone does enable the dog to taste its own blood. Similarly the world enables us to reflect our own happiness on it and express itself. Similar to the Sun unable to see itself, can only see its very own light by being reflected by objects outside, the world and its events provides us with materials to reflect our own happiness.

Knowing this, and putting the world in its right place, liberates us from the cravings of specific events and possession of objects, titles and stuff and enables us lead a joyful life.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Perfect imperfection

We all are perfectionists at various levels. We need certain things in a certain way. We want people to obey traffic rules, our kids to listen to us, our neighbors to be friendly, a plastic free world, and our politicians to be corruption-free, well that desire we have overcome. Point is we have our set of things to be in a way we want them to be, and certain other things we learn to live with.

Our experiences are only interpretations of events. Events themselves lack the power to create an experience, its our faculty of interpretation that enables us to experience things. As we get to understand this, we learn to see the happenings of life, in a different manner. Be it day to day events, or life altering things. As we become more refined in this, and we begin taking things on our stride, life gets into a monotonic rhythm. 

Then out of the blue something happens that makes you go mad beyond your wildest dreams. Now how did that happen? In spite of our composure, and our complete understanding of the meaninglessness of life, and the fallacy of taking anything hard, some events do get us! This is the greatest feature of life! It keeps bringing up surprises, and makes you feel alive. You think you have got it all, and then this happens!

A totally desire less state will liberate us from the negativity of such situations, contemplating on the nature of reality, and beauty and depth of this creation, helps us stay at the right distance from life.

The world is an illusion, and the frameworks of likes and dislikes create endless structures for living. Realizing this, and staying in this knowledge, helps us get back on our feet after feeling the blow that life just gave. If you think about it, this life is indeed perfectly imperfect!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Theories, theories and more theories ..

Was this world created, or did it evolve? Did humans evolve or were they designed? Is matter a particle or a wave? After Higgs-boson, what? Does the Sun have an awareness? Is the body Intelligent? What is the world made off? Are there higher dimensions?

Humans are destined to questions. Thoughts that probe, thoughts that lead, thoughts that open up a pathway to knowledge. We as humans are more than anything, knowledge seekers. Of course like the rest of the beautiful living kingdom, We are born, eat, procreate and sleep, and die. but we also seek. Somehow what we know, what we understand and what we experience doesn't seem to be enough. We do not take this to be a WYSIWYG world, we want more than what we see.

When we question What is it that we see? what is it that we experience? it boils down to our faculty of the senses. We experience life through our sensations, perceptions and representations of these perceptions. But what dominates is an interpretation of these perceptions, an explanation into the happenings, causal connections and a theory for everything. Our lives are bundles of interpretations. 

Conflicts arise when we have more than one theory, more than one explanation for what we observe. Not a single field of human experience is an exception to multiple views, Politics, Medicine, Science, the Arts, Economics, Philosophy, Religion and Entertainment, you name it you will see it. When multiple explanations confront each other there is a contest, a bitterness and unhappy oppositions. The more we look at something, the more open ended the questions become. With no clear distinction of right or wrong, no black and white answers, humanity progresses towards an increasing entropy. The more we structure our knowledge, we discover more unstructured material.

Will there be an end to this quest of understanding? will there be an end to theorizing? Will we understand it all?

Theories and explanations are for that faculty called intellect. A need for meaning and reason behind everything is for that faculty called the mind. When one transcends both the mind and the intellect, the necessity for knowledge, and theory and explanation for what we experience, ceases. 

The way to transcend the mind is to look for it. Look at the thoughts, thoughts disappear, look for the one who experiences and that experience-r disappears. Having rid of the thoughts and the mind and the individual to experience, all this craving for understanding appears amusing and leads to a joyful experience of life.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Who is experiencing life?

Life in its infinite variety offers endless experiences. There appear plenty of people, with individual lives, unique in several ways. The experiences that each one seems to have is so different from one another, sometimes it appears for the good, sometimes for the worse.

As long as life presents favorable situations and experiences, one's individual story provides happiness and not much to complain. The individual script in fact provides a reason for pride. The moment things begin to take unfavorable turns, we begin to complain, we scramble to fix it, when things get out of hand and we loose hope, we become miserable. There are situations that hurt us and make us suffer so much, we question the point of life. The individual story is no longer fun. One begins to look at other stories, and almost all of them appear to be better.

Life is a sequence of experiences. depending on how we look at things, some are favorable some are not. we seek a sequence that is always favorable. Little do we realize that a sequence gets its meaning and sense only by a mixture. A monotonous sequence of either case will never provide us any experience.

Leaving aside the impossibility of a monotonous sequence, if we probe deeper into who is it that is experiencing life, we get an even more interesting answer. A physical analysis of the self, and an attempt to identify it, results in an absence of such a thing as the Self. Assuming the most common object of one's  body to be the self, we easily get past the parts of the body one by one, including the heart and the brain, abstract notions of thoughts, emotions, feeling and intellect, since all of this is observable by the self, we come to a point where the observer is not to be observed! 

If there is no one to observe, or experience, then could there have been an experience?  When there is no experience , then what sense does it make to classify it to be favorable or not? Realizing this liberates one from the consequences of apparent experiences. Life becomes an interesting sequence.