Monday, February 18, 2019

Turn the other cheek?

Inna seidharai oruthhal avar naana nannayam seidhu vidal - Tirukkural

To avenge yourself on he who does ill to you, shame him by doing good to him and, then, forget both the evil he did and the good you did in return - Loose translation

One does try to see Tiru as still a worthy adviser in contemporary times but it is certainly an uphill task. I mean, yeah, even when someone advises you to turn the other cheek, you tend to ask what if he hits that one as well. Clearly, you think of even that advice as rank idiocy. Except, of course, if the guy who is advising is actually keen on getting you thoroughly beaten up, in which case you are the idiot if you act on that advice.

And Tiru goes way beyond even that. I mean, if someone slapped you, you not only have to keep from hitting the guy back but you also have to reward him for having slapped you. Let that impression of you get out and people will be queuing up to beat you.

And what was that thing about 'shaming' the guy? Really? Far as I can see, if someone hit me and I went out of my way to do good to him, all the chap would think was that he had frightened me so much that I was trying to please him. Far from feeling shamed, he would probably preen about it.

You know, perhaps Tiru did write it for different times. Yeah, the chap himself may not have felt shame even in Tiru's day but....see, it was probably a time when everyone knew everyone else in the neighborhood. So, the evil he did and the good you returned would all be visible to everyone around you, so he would be shamed in Society. And, yeah, if you went around harping on the evil and the good yourself, opinion would not favor you. So, it is best that you yourself totally forget both. Nowadays, when you hardly lift your head from your smartphone to even see where you are going, cannot identify three neighbors to save your life...what society, what shame?

Maybe what Tiru thinks is that all other people around us are not villains. That if someone hurts you, it is more likely a misconception about you, than outright villainy, that causes him to hurt you. So, yes, if you forget the hurt, help him when he is in need, he is likely to be ashamed of having given in to a misconception and hurt you, whereas, if you went on a rampage, it would most likely end up with him feeling vindicated and an enmity sealed for life. In any case, hugging the hurt of the evil someone did to you, periodically taking it out for inspection and burning yourself up with it...well, it is like opening the scab on a wound over and over again, never allowing it to heal and, possibly, causing an infection. So, of course, the chappie wants you to forget it.

Now, THAT is a crucial assumption. That people who cause hurt to you are not necessarily doing it because they take sadistic pleasure in hurting innocents but because they feel they have reason to do so. If that is true, then possibly doing as Tiru says could cause them to revise their opinions.

But...I mean, like, how could anyone feel any reason to want to hurt such a lovable person like me. Unless they are black villains. And be a sort of boy scout to these villainous people? How stupid do you think I am?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Open minded

There are these words which make you feel all fuzzy inside. Take this 'open minded', for example. The moment someone says that some chap is open minded you are all ready to embrace the guy as a bosom pal. I used to be the same as well but...

You see, the thing is that, like in all things, there is the right sort of open-mindedness and the wrong sort. Giving me the sneer down your nose and the wrinkled lip, are you? Well, cannot really blame you for I would have been equally as contemptuous before.

Perhaps you guys have never come across the wrong sort. If you have only had the right sort coming in your way, no wonder you feel that open-minded people are the salt of the earth and only a moron could not like them. They are the guys who may start off saying that the moon is a satellite of earth, made of similar material but, if you say that it is made of green cheese and has an old man living in it, they are willing to consider the matter seriously and admit that they have no direct knowledge of the moon being a satellite and all that jazz, and that they are going largely by hearsay evidence. Yeah, what is not to like about people who hold a diametrically opposite view from your own but are open to seeing the possible logic of your position?

But, then, there is the problem of the wrong sort, which you perhaps never have come across. I don't know whether you have come across a situation like this one.

Me: "Vijay is a *@#$. He promised me a loan on Sunday, I was depending on it and, when I go to him on Sunday, he coolly says he does not have the money to lend."

Open-minded Friend: "Maybe you are right and he never intended helping you. But, why don't you see that he may really have not had the money? Why are you assuming things and calling him names?"

Me: "So why the hell did he promise me? And wait till the time I went to him to say he cannot?"

Open-minded Friend: "Come on! You are acting as though it is your right to expect a loan from him. If he did not have the money, or did not want to lend it, that is his prerogative, isn't it? Why do you think he is answerable to you?"

One thing is for sure. I could become friendly with Vijay again, perhaps, but with this open-minded 'friend' of mine...

You see the problem? The right sort of open-minded guys are the ones who are open-minded enough to VALIDATE your point of view, even though their own ideas were in opposition. The wrong sort are the ones whose open-mindedness leads to their OPPOSING or DISAGREEING WITH your point of view.

If only the world were not so full of the latter...

Monday, January 28, 2019

The unhealing hurt

Theeyinal sutta pun ullaarum aaraadhe naavinaal sutta vadu - Thirukkural

The body heals from the burns caused by fire; the mind, when burnt by words, does not - Loose translation

This one, I am sure, Tiru wrote after a heated argument with Vasuki. I mean, after hearing from her about how he hurt her by what he said twenty years back about her sambar, how he derided her dress eleven years back and so on and so forth, he must have been convinced that the hurt caused by words linger forever while burns heal sooner or later.

But, then, is it not really true of everyone? The male sex may not be able to pull it out like that in an argument but is it really because the wounds have healed or is it just that the data retrieval jams at crucial times? Or is it just that ideas differ on what is truly hurtful and what is not?

Be that as it may, I know very few people who do not have a few hurtful incidents which they cannot get over all through their life. The wounds seep blood every time they are reminded of it. AND, you know what, MOST of those incidents have to do with words, not action.

For once, Tiru got it spot on. But, then, in THIS case that mental orientation thing does not get in the way. Here he is talking of the hurt YOU feel and THAT is something that we all vibe with. We prefer to think of ourselves and our own well-being, so when he talks of THAT, he can never get outdated. It is when he seems to think that we need to consider moralities or other people that he sounds quaint.

But then, maybe, what he was saying here is YOU should be careful not to cause OTHERS hurt with YOUR words.

Let us give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was only talking about how others should not hurt you with THEIR words. Can't have the poor chap feel all depressed about failing to strike a chord every single time!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sweet speech?

Allavai theya aram perugum nallavai naadi iniya solin - Thirukkural

If speech be sweet, motivated by good intentions, your vices diminish and virtues flourish - Loose translation

Aha! At last. This is one of Tiru's sayings which vibes with the modern world. Flattery gets you everywhere as we all know. I mean, what earns you more friends on Social Media than 'Likes', 'Shares' and praise in comments, all of which is the modern equivalent of 'sweet speech'? Perhaps, Tiru is not totally outdated, after all.

But...wait! What exactly did the chap mean when he said 'motivated by good intentions'? I mean, yeah, I go wholesale praising people all over facebook and Instagram because I want them to come back to do the same to me. Does that count as 'good intentions' and will that diminish my vices and allow my virtues to flourish?

Knowing Tiru, I am afraid not. The chap probably knocked off flattery with that phrase, counting any intent for back-scratching as a 'bad intention'. For that chap, the only good intentions that would probably count are ones that benefit THAT other guy who is getting praised, or society or some such thing. Really, he is harder taskmaster than any boss of mine ever was.

So, yes, Tiru actually wants me to be a sweet spoken chap for the sake of the happiness of others. Yeah, if I were careful with my words, using them only to benefit others or make them happy, obviously I would really have no bandwidth to indulge in any vices. I mean, come on, is it possible for you to simultaneously want the happiness of the other guy AND stab him in the back? Really, how self-deluded could you be to think that poking around a knife between the shoulder blades is calculated to make him happy?

Got to agree with Tiru there...that WOULD diminish vices and allow virtues to flourish all right. Which of you is aiming for it, now? You can practice it on me.