To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child , a garden patch, or a redeemed condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The power of serendipity...

How many times has it happened to you that you're in a particular frame of mind and then, out of the blue, something that is in tune pops out of somewhere!

It struck me when I received the book 'The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma' by Gurcharan Das, from the postal library which I subscribe to.  Now, as it happens, this was just one of the books in my online 'queue' at the library, and not even among the top two (I receive two books a month).  As it also happens, lately I've taken to reading commentaries/fiction based on old texts - the last two I read, both fiction, were 'The Palace of Illusions' (Draupadi's narration of Mahabharata, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) and 'The Vengeance of Ravana' (one in a series of 'retelling' of Ramayana, by Ashok Banker).

Takes me back to a cliched dialogue from a recent Hindi movie ('Om Shanti Om'?), something like "Jab tum kisi say pyar kartay ho toh saree kayenaat tumko us say milanay ki koshish karnay lagtee hai" - loosely translated as 'When you love someone, the entire universe conspires to bring you together'!  This was probably brought out more aptly in the English movie of the same name as the title of this post, 'Serendipity' starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.  What we used to simply call 'coincidence' now has another, more chic sounding, name!

Some books like 'The Secret' and 'The Power' by Rhonda Byrne have also tried to make the same point - that if you think about something very strongly, you'll probably get it (eventually?).  But is it ever that easy, that you wish for something strongly and it comes to you?  Doesn't seem so.  What may seem more plausible is that when our mind is focused on a certain thing, we 'see' or catch on to other things in tune with the object of our current attention.  And this process of 'seeing' may happen mostly in our subconscious mind, so that while we may make the right connection, we may not be able to explain (or even understand ourselves) how exactly we did that!  This was the theme of the book 'Blink' by Malcolm Gladwell.

This, though, still doesn't explain how I got that book from my library!  Was it because my mind was focused 'on the subtle art of dharma', in whatever fashion?  A toss up...

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