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Changing Psychology

If you want to be happy, be. Leo Tolstoy
Well, it might have been easy for Tolstoy but I found it extremely difficult and at times even impossible. One cannot be happy just because one wants to be. Happiness is a state which is arrived at by a delicate balance of the internal psychology and the external world. One doesn't make oneself happy, but rather finds oneself happy.
In fact, not just happiness, but it is difficult to change any psychological state at will. Some amount of control is possible but that takes long term psychological training. For example, suppose I find myself being jealous. I know I am being jealous and I am simultaneously aware that it is not a right thing to do, but I am just unable to make myself not feel this emotion. And the consciousness of this inability makes me even more miserable. I understand myself and at times I want to change, but I cannot. I just had to learn to accept the way I am, along with my faults.

Unexpressed Love

D: Hey, i have heard X likes you a lot and is deeply in love with you?
E: Hmm.
D: So, is she?
E: How will i know? She hasn't said anything to me.
D: Come on, she must have given some signs!
E: Perhaps, but i never witnessed anything conclusive.
D: Conclusive! Who are you, an evidence seeking idiot?
E: Look, as long as she keeps her love to herself, it's her personal matter, and doesn't concern me. If she ever did reveal it, i'll tell her that i cannot return her feelings. Though i hope that these rumours are wrong, because i hate to disappoint someone who only means good to me.

Existential Alienation

"I no longer know anything. Not only do I not know what kind of a person I am but also I do not know what kind of a person i ought to be. Black and white merge into one another, the world is an amorphous mass, and i no longer have any clear outlines. How is it possible to live without believing in anything or in myself?"

The Woman Destroyed, by Simone de Beauvoir.

Misjudging People

Nobu says to Sayuri in the novel Memoirs of a Geisha, "I don't misjudge people. If you aren't the woman I think you are, then this isn't the world I thought it was." This was precisely what I felt about a certain person. Despite over-whelming evidence, I refused to believe that that person would do such a thing, because it went totally contrary to her nature as I had perceived. I still don't know whether I was right or wrong, but I do know that if I am wrong, I'll have to re-analyze my whole view of human nature again.

Love as Habituation

Some days back, i raised the question that why do we love. At that time, i had proposed that there is no reason for love, and that this emotion is irrational. But after some thinking, i also realized that many times when we fall in love, it is because of a reason... and that is, habituation. That person becomes a habit. We become so used to his/her presence that the very idea of his absence seems to produce anxiety. This is the sort of love that is found between family members and siblings, and also the love that develops in an arranged marriage, between a husband and wife, when they have no feelings of intimacy at the time of their marriage but feel certain that time will bind them together... and well, it usually does too. And an unusual example that is coming to my mind is the often heard cases [at least, in fiction] of the abductees falling in love with the kidnapers. That, too, is a product of habituation.

Russell and Hell

I remember that in adolescence, when i discovered that Bertrand Russell was an atheist, I was horrified, and I felt a knot in my stomach and i had a feeling of dread like you have when your best friend is being tortured right infront of you. Of course, at that time i was quite religious, and the idea that Russell would go to hell was very disturbing, since i was greatly inspired by Russell. And the question "Why would Russell go to hell? This isn't fair!" kept in my mind for a long time, and was instrumental in shaping my thought's about religion.
I still remember that sentence by him which i had read and first found out that he was an atheist: "I believe that when i die i shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive... But i should scorn to shiver at the thought of annihilation." [Bertrand Russell, What I Believe]

Why do you love me?

Suppose the person you love asks you "Why do you love me?", what would you answer?

I love you for your beauty?
I love you for your intelligence?
I love you for the way you talk?
I love you for your smile?
I love you for your money?
I love you for your fame?

No matter what reason you give, the very association of a reason for loving seems to somehow undermine the notion of love. Perhaps the only answer that doesn't give a negative impression is:

I love you for you no reason at all.

But then this seems absurd and irrational. Maybe love is irrational.

Of course, it sounds appropriate and even makes sense to say:
'I like you for your intelligence.'
But this statement gives a very different impression if you say:
'I love you for your intelligence.'

Think about it.

Dynamics of Love

We often tend to think of love in a static manner, that the way we love a person would be remain the same throughout the relationship. Nothing could be more far from reality, i believe. Because even within a single relationship, if it spans over a long period of time, there is bound to a change in the manner of love between the couple. People change, and the way they love also changes, and relationships deteriorate when the love dyanamics of the two persons involved are not synchronized.

And it is not necessary that a person will continue to experience love in the same form as he has in the first relationship. For example, if a person had an experience of romantic passionate love in the first instance, it is not necessary that his next love relationship would be of the same nature. It might be of a totally different kind, such as friendly, companionate love.

So, the idea of static love is an illusion; the dynamics of love are as dynamic as human life.

On Love: Me and Saad

Saad: Oooh! so you commited love in sheer confusion? Sudqay jaoo!
Me: Love is the emotional outcry of a choatic heart. Wow. Not a bad definition at all.
Saad: Tow kya peaceful, tranquil hearts pyar nahi kersaktay? [Trans: Then can't peaceful, tranquil hearts love?]
Me: Muhabbat bai qarari hai, muhabbat aik dard hai, muhabbat aik aah hai, muhabbat madhooshi hai, muhabbat janoon hai! Magar aap ki baat bhi baja hai. :-) [Trans: Love is an uneasiness, love is a pain, love is a sigh, love is ecstasy, love is madness! But what you say is also true. :-)]

Noisy Believers

Nietzsche said 'To him who feels himself preordained to contemplation and not to belief, all believers are too noisy and obtrusive; he guards against them.' And this aphorism came to my mind again and again today, as i was being forced unwillingly into an argument on religion. Why do these religious people consider it their duty to convince others of the validity of their beliefs, and anything short of a full acceptance is seen an insult to their faith. This is very irritating. Believers are too noisy even when they are silent!

Fear, Confusion and Vegetableness

"Nothng is more frustrating than wasting the most intimate feeling of your "self" on a statue of fear,confusion and vegetableness!!!" said my friend Saad Javed. Perhaps nothing can represent better so succinctly the dilemmas of my past, my disappointments and pains. A love that is met, not by a 'Yes', not by a 'No', but a bitter, opaque silence! Nothing can be a worse fate for love than this. Why does one fall in love with a statue? But the first law of love is that 'the heart decides and the mind obeys...'. No amount of reasoning can convince a stubborn heart of the stupidity or absurdity of this emotion. In the end, you have to give up and suffer in silence. Perhaps one too then becomes a statue.

History of Existentialism

Today i delivered a lecture on 'History of Existentialism'. It was a public lecture organized by Youth Vision, a student organization. It was a great experience. The audience was very enthusiastic and the question answer session was very interactive.
The transcript of the lecture can be read at this link:
http://www.geocities.com/awaisaftab/Existentialism_lecture.htm

Aimless Traveller

Often it happens that the traveller sets out to discover the ultimate reality, the stable truth that holds sway over the transient flux of existence... and he travels, and journeys to distant exotic lands, and after much toil it is revealed to him that truth does not exist, and if it does exist, it is beyond the grasp of mortal souls... but this discovery is not the end of the journey, for by then, travel has become an addiction, a habit for the traveller... and though disillusioned and hopeless about truth, he still carries on his journey, moving around here and there without a purpose... in full consciousness of its absurdity. Atleast, this is what happened to me. :)

A Love Unfulfilled

She said to him, "Forget me for i will never be your's."
And he said, "That's precisely why i can't; a love unfulfilled aches forever in the heart."

Life

Ah, life, ending every second, ticking away like a time bomb, waiting to explode any minute...

On The Cross

My poem published in Us Magazine today:

On The Cross
By Muhammad Awais Aftab

Ah, the insensitive world around me
So hostile to love
So envious of lovers
The bird of love
Flaps around in the cage
Trapped, since ages
For ages
But like a prophet on the cross
Its death will give life to millions
How many would they cage?
How many would they kill?
And love would live on.

[http://jang.com.pk/thenews/nov2006-weekly/us-03-11-2006/p25.htm]

Autumn

Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.
Robert Browning

Ah, i think would compare Autumn with a lovely girl with auburn hair, a sad countenance, lips silent, and an imploring look in her eyes. Indeed, it would win my sympathy.

Zeus and Eros

And Zeus said to Eros: "For every love will there be hatred. For every meeting of lovers will there be a separation. For every union will a seed of discontent be sown. Love there will be, but not in two, but in three, so that a failure is born out of every success, and the balance remains."

[P.S. The dialogue is fictitious and i made it up. It is not a part of Greek mythology.]

Beauty

I think that when a girl becomes overly conscious of her beauty, and the fact that it can be used to manipulate [most] men, she loses that sense of a true, sincere love. It just becomes a game of physical attraction for her. Very rarely that sense can reawakened, but only when she realises that someone might be interested in her not because of her beauty but because of her character. It is not very common, because such girls tend to have a flirtish character; not an attraction for most character-seeking men.

Which animal are you?

Although i am a Leo, i don't feel like a Lion. So i asked my friend Saad, 'which animal do you think I am?', and he answered: "I think you are not an animal. You are a plant, a fragrant herb i guess, rosemarry or thyme."
Then he had some second thoughts. "Probably you are a deer...or a stag..."
Me: "what are the qualities associated with them?"
Saad: "They are difficult to domesticate...but still very friendly and docile i guess."

I suppose that does fit in with my character. :)

Love and Compromise

Discussions about compromise and love would make more sense if we keep in mind the distinction between "what is" and "what should be"... the 'reality' and 'utopia'. Compromise is the reality, love is a utopia.

I personally am not a fan of 'compromise' in relationships... i believe relationships should generally be driven by a state of natural affection, and not be a state of self-imposed compromise... but it is also true compromise is one of the most prevalent reasons behind sustained relationships [esp husband-wife] in our society. Without compromise, social relationships would undergo great disintergration. I don't know if that would be a good or bad thing... West has undergone this denial of 'compromise' and the institution of marriage has weakened enormously.

"Love", i believe, is one of the most ambiguous words used in such discussions, primarily owing to a lack of definition. Psychologists follow the inclusive appro…

The Most Important Thing in a Relationship

I conducted a survey among my friends and family, asking them the question “Name one thing that matters the most to you in a relationship.” And the answers showed a great degree of similarity. This question was asked to a total of 18 people.
Out of these eighteen, 8 people answered ‘Trust’ as the most important thing [44.4%]. And 5 people said ‘Sincerity’ [27.8%]The rest were individual answers:

Asad…………...Straightforwardness
Nabeel…………Two people having the same maturity level
Hamza………….Loyalty/Faithfulness
Uzair……………Respect
Muneeb……….Understanding and Patience

Most people would believe that ‘Sincerity’ and ‘Trust’ are more or less the same thing, or manifestations of the same feeling. Strictly speaking, I do not agree, but I do admit that they are linked. Sincerity refers to ‘genuine feelings’ and Trust refers to ‘state of reliability’. However, considering their proximity, it would not be unwise to consider them as the same entry. Given this view, the combined ‘Sincerity’ and ‘Trust’ answe…

On Aesthetics

I suppose every person with a good taste is appealed by beauty... be it the sublime beauty of a sun-set, the abstract images of art, the cold austere beauty of mathematics, the breath-taking brilliance of a starry sky, the acoustic appeal of a symphony, and perhaps the most well-appreciated, the charming face of a beautiful girl.
The debate remains... is beauty essentially subjective or objective? Perhaps if it is objective, like the rules of mathematics, and can only be recognized through dedication and focus. To a certain extent, appreciating beauty requires the building of taste. But standards of beauty are also universal, ignoring minor deviations. Most of the people are attracted by symmetrical forms and faces... symmtery was essential to Greek aesthetics, and was of such importance that they refused to consider the celestial orbits of any shape other than the circle, because it is the most symmetrical geometrical figure.
I became aware of the connection of biological evolution …

Disgrace

I read 'Disgrace' by J.M.Coetzee last night, the winner of 1999 Booker Prize. I won't say it as good as to recommend it for reading. It was plain and painful... little consolation in it, revealing the disgraceful state of man. There was a professor in it who got involved in an affair with his student, and he was forced to resign when the affair reached the authorities. And later during the novel he and his daughter are discussing abt it, and the daughter asks him why he did it. And he tells the story of a dog his neighbours had. Whenever a bitch came roaming in the area, the dog would get high and excited and his owner used to beat him with Pavlovian regularity in such cases, and eventually it happened that at the smell of a bitch, that dog would wimper and try to hide in the garden, his tail between his legs... he had begun to hate his own nature, his own impulses. Maybe it'd have been better to kill him them.
Of course, i am just describing what was written in the b…

Rebirth

There are certain moments which are filled with magic and whose charm time fails to erase. They keep themselves alive not by being mummified in the memory, but by continually rejuvenating their youth; by emerging again like a phoenix from the lifeless ash. It was such an evening of rebirth.

Every person at one time or another has experienced the anesthesia of roaming aimlessly. The mind is robbed of its cognizance and becomes almost like a tabula rasa, an empty slate, in which stale and fresh thoughts are being written and erased in a constant state of flux. Being jostled here and there, you merge with the crowd and lose your identity, and the world appears to portray Hegel’s unified reality. Such was my condition when I was dragged back to my own self…there she was, the same long, black hair with a prominent tinge of auburn, the same slim physique, the very graceful gait. And although I was some steps away, I felt as if my nostrils could detect the same nuance of perfume which had so …

Wonder

Wonder

I grieve not that we parted
I had foreseen it was destined
But i do wonder
What you think of me
When you recall those lost, wandering moments
Who was i to you
In the turbulent sea of your existence?
When you gaze back at the your eventful life
What do you see of me?
Was i a lover? A friend?
A time well-spent?
Or perhaps a constant nuisance?
Was i just a dream?
A mere whisper fading out of reality?
Or maybe you have done your best
To purge your thoughts of my shadow
Condemning them to the timeless oblivion
And perchance, you have forgotten
That i even exist?
I do not grieve
Tears do not sojourn in my eyes
But i do wonder
I surely do wonder...

Muhammad Awais Aftab

Boring Utopias

"In heaven all the interesting people are missing."
Nietzsche

I don't know if other people have had this feeling while reading about heavens and utopias- they are all utterly boring, without exception. They life they present is dull, boring, monotonous and without excitement. It may be eternal, or it may be economically ideal, but what the purpose if it seems to lack the very vigour and beat of life?

Writing: Concealment Vs Expression

Who is a good writer? Someone who better conceals his own identity when he writes, or someone whose words are teeming with his own life and spirit? A better actor is the one who has the ability to adopt a different personality and attitude than his own... to appear something different, to hide behind a mask. This requires talent. But does this criteria of talent apply to the art of writing as well? Is a writer who constantly expresses himself in his works, like an unskilled Puppeteer whose hands are being exposed as he manipulates the puppets?

Multiplication

There is a difference of only one step between love and hate... just a multiplication by -1.

Music and Love: Similarity

Often i feel as if a good song is a like a beautiful girl. You hear it suddenly somewhere out of the blue, on the radio or TV, and you instantly love it, and then you want to hear it again and again, feeling you can't have enough of it, but soon, the excess of that song renders it ineffective and it barely raises an emotion, and then you start looking for a new song... but after a long time you hear that song again somewhere, and it strikes your senses the same way it did the first time, and you cherish it again, relishing the melody. Is this not similar to love in certain aspects? :)

The 'Effective Theory' of Free Will

I was reading an article by Stephen Hawkings, 'Is Everything Determined' and it was certainly an excellent piece of writings, revealing the author's brilliant insight. One of the ideas that really struck me was his concept of an 'effective theory of free will'. As a Physicist he believes that there exists a 'Theory of Everything', a set of fundamental mathematical equations that would describe everything in this universe, theoretcally. The questions arises, will such a fundamental theory be able to predict human behaviour, because theoretically human behaviour would also be determined by this theory of everything?
The answer is No. Even though human behaviour would be determined by these equations, the human brain is too large a structure for the equations to be applied. Even the very simple Newton's theory of Gravitation can be solved exactly for 2 particles, but when the number of particles increases more than 2, the equations become too complex to t…

Hell

Bertrand Russell had one very strong reservation against Jesus: he believed in hell. A place where 'sinners' would be condemned to infinite punishment, misery and pain. The concept of such a place educes horror in most people, and certainly the preaching of such a view requires a certain cruelty in character. And besides, this idea goes against the very concept of justice, let alone mercy, of God. A sinner, no matter how wretched, can only commit a finite no of sins in his finite lifespan. And do a finite no of sins deserve an infinite punishment? Most people are really unable to appreciate such obviously inequality of the situation. Perhaps only God with His Infinite Mercy can sentence people to such a dreadful fate.

Love as Art

It is foolish to think of aquiring a perfect state of love right in the first such experience. Love, too, is an art and as with all arts, it requires practice for precision.