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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Readings and Reflections of a Grandfather

Chapter 1: Letters to grandchildren

Dear Asha, Ajay, Ravi, Ariana and…………..

This is a message of love to you and through you to all the children of the world. This comes out of what I have learnt and have thought about. There is an urge inside of me to share this with you. You are not ready to read and understand all of this yet. When you are, I hope you will reflect on what I have said, build on these ideas and pass on to your children, if you agree with the message.

I am writing this because I believe that the civilization is at a major crossroad in its history. Which road will “it” take? Rather, which road do you want “it” to take? You, your friends and your children will be making that decision. You are arriving on the scene during an era of unprecedented growth in scientific knowledge. In the physical sciences, the advances are phenomenal. There are great advances in the biological sciences also. We are at the threshold of understanding the role of genes in all the functions of living organisms. Neurosciences are advancing rapidly too. We are even tackling a topic which was considered sacred – Consciousness.

This is also the age of communication and global network. Information is available at the click of a mouse. Ideas spread more easily. You can communicate with anyone with common interest anywhere in the world. It is as easy to spread wrong information as good, noble and useful information. It is important for you to learn how to assimilate, analyze and make sense out of all the available information.

Unfortunately, this is also a time in history, when people are polarized. Fanaticism and clannishness are in the ascent. The school of reason is challenged by the school of faith.

You need time to think, more than ever. You need to think on your own and develop your own value, and not get dazzled by slick media people and “wordsmiths” and “word sculptors” or get brainwashed by silver-tongued fanatics. You need tools to think with. That is what I propose to do in the following essays.

I wrote the first three essays in 2003, during my visit to Italy. These ideas came out of my thinking about the history-changing events of September 11th. Subsequent essays will deal with thinking on your own and listening to yourself. I will state my own considered positions on various questions. I will also share several tools, none of them original, that helped me with my thinking habits.

Before I start, let me quote Khalil Gibran, because it is a note of caution for me.

“ Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you, but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls.


You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

I do not wish to tell you how you should or should not think. I just wish to share some thoughts and some tools for thinking.

1 comment:

Hari,Sashi and Ravi Athreya said...

Thank you, It is a very beautiful letter. We read it loud to Ravi for now, eventully he would surely read it by himsilf! HSRY