Category Archives: Utopia

Reason is one of the better angels


Feelings or rather gut feeling and intuition is something i believe that guides us to be passionate about something to stand up for something.

But inorder to make people change their minds in our favour, only reason seems to work. Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein explain how and why with apt examples


UnGloss our world


The world is out of tune. The world is noisy. The world is full of sounds of words that don’t resonate with people’s thoughts. And it’s out of tune because it’s not using the language of the senses. Instead it’s using copies, fake plastic copies of true sounds. These fake plastic copies are all the abstractions, generalisations and evaluations, summations and assessments that are taught to us as soon as we enter childhood. It is the language of advertising, the language of glossy magazines, the language of television. It is the language of egos. It is the language of false identities. It is the language of lies. And it is a language that we now speak more fluently than the true language that can resonate with our senses. Instead of feeling the high definition of our senses resonate within us, we have been muffled by so much plastic gloss that we barely vibrate.
Will Jelbert, Happy Animals Can Think

Alive ???


Karen Lynch wrote in her newsletter today –

On Saturday I picked up a new book from the library. I am such a good customer that they keep my books on a special shelf ready for me to pick up at my leisure. Of course they do that for all of the best customers but I love the library! It is one of my favorite places in the whole, wide world!So I opened this book and started reading. One of the first pages caused me to stop and ponder. It was a heartfelt and poignant dedication to the author’s sister-in-law. She said that she dedicated the book to her because “upon learning that she had cancer, immediately shut down her law office. “I don’t want to spend one more day doing what I am not happy doing”…..

And I thought how wonderful.

And I thought how tragic.

How wonderful that she came to such a life-affirming realization.

How tragic that it took a serious illness to wake her up.

I haven’t read the book yet. I don’t know if the sister-in-law is mentioned in the book. I hope that she is healthy and happy, free from cancer and free from practicing law but of course all I have is my imagination about that. I will likely never know.

Why do we do that? Why do we spend the days and the weeks and the months and the years of our precious lives doing things we don’t like? I did it. I did it for a long time. I suppose it is often fear, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success, just fear.
I remember knowing that I wasn’t happy, knowing that there had to be a better way. My career didn’t fit and I knew it. I also had the money thing going on. I was stuck in that place, between that proverbial rock and that hard place, where I felt I made too much money to quit but not enough money to be happy. Now I realize that there never could have been quite enough money for me to be truly happy in that career. It wasn’t right for me.

True Joy in your work does not come from the money you make.

Joy comes from work that you look forward to doing everyday. Joy comes from work that can keep you awake at night with anticipation and excitement. Joy comes from work that feels so much like play that you are excited to get up in the morning. When you are passionate and happy about your work the time you spend is happy, joyful and complete. Your work is fun and enjoyable, rewarding and life affirming.

This quote is some of the best advice regarding work that I have ever heard. Take heed.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

-Harold Whitman-

The time of your life is precious. You deserve to spend your life doing something that you love.

Your Life is supposed to be Good!  Reach for the Joy today!



Sunyata and the state of Nirvana where there is no rising nor falling, are interpreted by most people as a state of non-existence and gloom. They fail to realize that quite the opposite, Sunyata is of substantial and positive significance.

In general, we understand the “great void” as something that contains absolutely nothing. However, from a Buddhist perspective, the nature of the “great void” implies something which does not obstruct other things, in which all matters perform their own functions. Materials are form, which by their nature, imply obstruction.

The special characteristic of the “great void” is non-obstruction. The “great void” therefore, does not serve as an obstacle to them. Since the “great void” exhibits no obstructive tendencies, it serves as the foundation for matter to function.

 In other words, if there was no “great void” nor characteristic of non-obstruction, it would be impossible for the material world to exist and function.

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Utopia – 1


Change from within
A few young people work to transform the lives of children living in a notorious neighbourhood in Coimbatore.
Puliakulam needed a new identity. And, education was the chosen instrument of change.

Investing in education: A night class in progress.
It is a little after six in the evening. But the well-lit corridors of St. Antony’s Boys Elementary School in Puliakulam reverberate with voices of children. There are giggles and whispered conversations as the children hurry to their classroom s. They have to be on time for their free night tuition at Vidiyal Kalviyagam.

For 17 years now, K. Gladies Selvakumar, J. Ramesh, C. Lourdu Xavier and S. Kulandhai Teresa, from Puliakulam in Coimbatore district have been coming here every evening after their busy day at office. They have been joined by like-minded friends M. Quthupudeen and M.Vishnumoorthi.

Their aim — to ensure that every house in their village has at least one member who has passed out of school. And, the results are beginning to show. “I want to become a software engineer,” pipes up a Class V student. And, K. Gladies Selvakumar, founder of Vidiyal Kalviyagam, and his team smile happily. Once known for its anti-social activities, and a high number of school drop-outs, today, every house in Puliakulam village has a child willingly going to school.

Changed circumstances
It wasn’t always like this. “We wouldn’t get off at Puliakulam in order to avoid the bus conductor’s suspicion. We’d get off at other stops,” recalls Gladies. “Even now, if you reside in Puliakulam, you are not eligible for bank loans or a broadband connection. The area is black-listed,” he explains.
The bunch of graduates decided Puliakulam needed a new identity. And, education was their chosen instrument of change. “Societal change is possible only by providing good education,” believes Gladies. First, it was the high number of school drop-outs that needed tackling. Research done by S. Kulandhai Teresa, now a social activist in Chennai, kick-started the movement. They short-listed five schools in the area, and found that the drop-outs were the highest in St. Antony’s (546 dropouts out of 1087 students). Teresa reveals how in some schools, the students were sent out in Class IX, to ensure that the school got a 100 per cent pass. “The teachers believed that these under-privileged students couldn’t cope with studies. They failed to see that every child had the potential to learn,” she adds. Poverty and de-motivated teachers are the main reasons why education is ignored. “Most of the students are Dalits. Their parents are illiterates and earn their living as unskilled labour. Schooling is rarely a priority with them,” Gladies says.
And, these circumstances drive the children to anti-social activities like picking pockets and petty thefts. Frequent physical punishment meted out by teachers was another turn-off. So, Vidiyal approached the schools in Puliakulam with a “free tuition” announcement and the first batch was started with just eight students. Now, the number is 450 and growing. The intervention programme has brought down the dropout rates considerably. And, every year the students have been maintaining a 100 per cent pass in Class X examinations.
They are like family, says C. Lourdu Xavier. “To the students we are ‘anna’. We listen to their woes and help them find solutions”. And, their woes are aplenty. “Some do not have notebooks, while others are not able to pay their annual school fees even if it’s a meagre amount. Sometimes, it is the parents who want them to stay home and do household chores,” says J. Ramesh. The team members keep aside a portion of their salary to run the centre, and friends and well wishers chip in for the students’ notebooks, school uniforms and school fee expenses.
For Sharon Sebarteena, doing her Class X, a top ranker, science used to be tough, but not any more. “Now, I have picked up. The undisturbed atmosphere at the tuition centre helps to concentrate better,” she says. Sharon wants to be a teacher. So does A. Praveena, a Class IX student. “A job as a teacher will give us an opportunity to come to Vidiyal in the evenings,” she says. N. Nancy’s cousins and older brothers, who are not too well placed, encouraged her to attend the free tuitions classes and now she gets an ‘O’ grade in her exams. “Apart from the regular studies, I also learn computers and music here. I was introduced to the reading habit too,” says this Class IX student, who wants to become a doctor.

Addressing needs
Like any other coaching centre, model question papers are set and regular revision tests are conducted. Saturdays are for extra-curricular activities. Experts are invited to talk to the students on self-development, empowerment and child rights. Creative arts, yoga, meditation, street theatre, dance and music all form a part of the curriculum. There is a computer lab with five computers as well as a mini library. “Some of the parents come here just to catch a glimpse of their children using computers,” he adds.
While helping students pass the Class X hurdle was the initial aim of Vidiyal, most students continue to study further. And, there is a beautiful rider. The ex-students, who now hold jobs, assemble every evening at the school to repay their debt, by imparting education to the next batch of children.
Says S. Deepalakshmi, now an accountant. “It’s our turn to inspire them to set bigger goals in life.” For J. Deepak, studying social work and D. Arokia Thomas, studying psychology, their day is incomplete without teaching at Vidiyal. “It gave us a focus in life. We want to set a good example,” they say. These former students take their role as teachers seriously and feel they owe it to those who come from disadvantaged families like theirs.

The Vidiyal team takes pride in the fact that more and more white collar job-holders are emerging from previously disadvantaged families. “It gives us a sense of achievement and there is hope that the movement will go on,” says Xavier. For Teresa, “Instilling social responsibility in youngsters is the biggest achievement”. Gladies sums up their teaching mission saying, “It’s like a temple to us. When we are down, all we need to do is walk its corridors. Everything is at peace once again.”

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