Archive for the ‘literary blog’ Category

HAPPINESS An Epicurean Approach

November 22, 2009

HAPPINESS

 

The Epicurean Approach

 

By

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Musings on the Art of Happiness

 

HAPPINESS & PLEASURE

 

 

Are Happiness and Pleasure correlated?

 

 

They say:

 

1.  Pleasure is Quantitative; Happiness is Qualitative.

 

2.   Happiness is a lifelong goal.

 

3.       Happiness requires cognitive judgment.

 

4.       Pleasure is not essential to achieving happiness – here I do not agree. I feel happiness and pleasure are not mutually exclusive; in fact genuine pleasure can be the source of much happiness.

 

 

No philosopher has better explored the distinction between happiness and pleasure than Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher of the Third Century BC. Epicurus (341-270 BC) espoused a strategy for achieving genuine human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which a person has control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are so often beyond one’s personal control).

 

 

Epicurus’ name survives in the team “epicurean” which is used to refer to someone with elevated tastes and a lifestyle centred on pleasure. However, if you peruse his philosophy thoroughly, you will realize that Epicurus counsels a way of life very different from what the popular use of the term “pleasure” implies.

 

 

You may feel that Epicurean philosophy champions the pursuit of pleasure as the supreme goal of life, but this does not mean the unrestrained pursuit of excesses of any kind. Instead, Epicurus argues for a life of sober restrain and moderation in all things. The pleasures Epicurus recommends are those that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. The prolonged pursuit of pleasure is best achieved by restraint and enlightened choice.

 

 

It may be the prudent to moderate our single minded pursuit of “outward” success and achievement, the mindless acquisition of material possessions and accumulation of wealth, tendencies to showing off and ostentation, conspicuous consumption and lavish unrestrained pleasures; and focus more on the more authentic “inner” pleasures of life such as happy family life, enriching relationships, cultivating the mind and intellect, enjoying the pleasures of friends and companions, and living on the higher plane.

 

 

Epicureanism does not advocate the wanton pursuit of pleasure. Also, you must remember that pleasures and pains of the mind are of greater importance than those of the body. Epicurus set forth a strategy for achieving authentic human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which a person has control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are so often beyond one’s personal control). The fundamental premise is that presence of pleasure is synonymous with the absence of pain.

 

 

Genuine happiness emanates from pleasures that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. If you have only a few things, we will enjoy them more than if you had many things, and if you do not become used to rich and expensive foods, then simple fare, which is easier to obtain will satisfy you more.

 

 

In a nutshell: “The Art of Happiness is in keeping your Pleasures Mild”.

 

 

And how do you keep your pleasures mild?

 

 

 

DESIRE & PLEASURE

 

 

Are pleasures in any way linked to satisfying your desires?

 

 

There are two different types of pleasures:

 

  1. Moving Pleasures

 

  1. Static Pleasures

 

 

“Moving” pleasures occur when one is in the process of satisfying a desire – like eating delicious food when one is hungry.

 

 

These pleasures involve an active enjoyable titillation of the senses which most people call “pleasure”.

 

 

However, Epicurus says that after one’s desires have been satisfied, like suppose you are fully satiated after eating a heart meal; this state of satiety, a state of no longer being in need or want, is itself pleasurable. Epicurus calls this “static” pleasure, and says that these static pleasures are the best pleasures.

 

 

Hence, Epicurus says that there is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain. When one has unfulfilled desires, this is painful, and when one no longer has unfulfilled desires, this steady state is the most pleasurable of all. There is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain – either your desires are fulfilled or they are not.

 

 

Epicurus also distinguishes between physical and mental pleasures and pains. Physical pleasures and pains concern only the present, whereas mental pleasures and pains also encompass the past (fond memories of past pleasure or regret over past pain or mistakes) and the future (confidence or fear about what will occur).

 

 

The greatest destroyer of happiness is anxiety about the future, especially the fear of death. If you can banish fear about the future, and face the future with confidence that one’s desires will be satisfied, then you can attain a most exalted state of tranquillity.

 

 

This we see that the key to happiness is the effective management of your desires – Desire Management.

 

 

 

DESIRE MANAGEMENT

 

There is a close connection between pleasure and desire-satisfaction.

 

 

If pleasure results from getting what you want (desire-satisfaction) and pain from not getting what you want (desire-frustration), then there are two strategies you can pursue with respect to any given desire: you can either strive to fulfil the desire, or you can try to eliminate the desire.

 

 

Epicurus advocates the second strategy of scaling down your desires to the basic minimum which can easily be satisfied.

 

 

Epicurus distinguishes between three types of desires:

 

1.      Natural and necessary desires,

 

2.      Natural but non-necessary desires,

 

3.    “Vain and Empty” or unnatural and unnecessary desires.

 

 

How we tackle each of these three types of desires determines our tendency to happiness [or unhappiness].

 

 

Examples of natural and necessary desires include the desires for food, shelter, health, sense of security and basic physical needs, cravings which will necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled.

 

 

These basic desires are easy to satisfy yet difficult to eliminate (they are ‘hard-wired’ into human beings naturally) and bring great pleasure when satisfied (“Happiness begins at the stomach”).

 

 

Furthermore, they are necessary for life, and they are naturally limited: that is, if one is hungry, it only takes a limited amount of food to fill the stomach, after which the desire is satisfied.

 

 

Epicurus says that you should try to fulfil natural and necessary desires.

 

Vain, unnatural and unnecessary desires include desires for excessive power, wealth, fame, and other egoistic ambitions which have all the trappings of status and prestige.

 

 

Vain desires are difficult to satisfy, in part because they have no natural limit. If one desires wealth or power, no matter how much one gets, it is always possible to get more, and the more one gets, the more one wants. These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need; (e.g.) believing that being very powerful or wealthy or famous will guarantee us happiness. In fact, Opulence attracts thieves, and power and fame attract sycophants.

 

 

Epicurus says that such vain and empty desires should be eliminated.

 

An example of a natural but non-necessary desire is the desire for luxury food. Although food is needed for survival, one does not need rich expensive gourmet food to survive. Thus, despite his hedonism, Epicurus advocates a surprisingly ascetic way of life. Although you shouldn’t spurn extravagant foods if they happen to be available, becoming dependent on such food ultimately leads to unhappiness.

 

 

These natural but non-necessary desires are those cravings that do not necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled. These desires are typically recreational in nature: Sexual gratification, aesthetic desires, entertainment, pleasant conversation, the arts, sports, travel etc.

 

 

In the case of natural but non-necessary desires you must approach life as a banquet. Think of your life as if it were a banquet where you would behave graciously, when dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. And if a dish hasn’t being passed to you yet, patiently wait for your turn.

 

 

To paraphrase Epicurus, “If you wish to make a man wealthy, don’t give him more money; rather, reduce his desires”.

 

By eliminating the pain caused by unfulfilled desires, and the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that one’s desires will not be fulfilled in the future, the wise Epicurean attains tranquillity, and thus happiness.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 

Appetite for a Stroll

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

Ancient Wit and Wisdom

July 22, 2009

LAUGH and LEARN
HUMOR WISDOM ENJOYMENT AND EDUCATION

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Everyone loves stories.

So whenever I want to drive home my point or communicate a message, I like to tell a story rather than pontificate.

Everyone loves to laugh.

Yes, storytelling is certainly more enjoyable if you add a dash of humour than laborious dogmatic pontificating or moral lectures.

Laughing and Learning go together.

Enjoyable learning is more effective as wit and humour are excellent vehicles for transmission of views and values besides the important fact that you do not bore, annoy, or hurt egos.

I am, therefore, always in search of such stories, tales, and parables, which impart wisdom and produce spiritual growth, and there is plenty of ancient wit and wisdom enshrined in teaching stories flourishing all around both oriental and occidental which have stood the test of time through the ages.

Teaching Stories are not mere jokes.

Teaching Stories relate events that are funny, foolish, bemusing, and sometimes even apparently stupid. But they usually have deeper meanings.

A good teaching story has several levels of meaning and interpretation and offers us opportunities to think in new ways.

At first you may just have a good laugh but as you think about it the significance becomes more and more profound.

Each story veils its knowledge and as you ruminate, the walls of its outer meanings crumble away and the beauty of the previously invisible inner wisdom is revealed, and you begin to identify yourself in the story, and to acknowledge that you too could be as foolish or as lacking in discernment as the characters in these classic tales.

An example of the concept of teaching stories is embodied in the tales of the inimitable Mulla Nasrudin narrated by Sufis to illustrate aspects of human behaviour which are relevant to both our personal and professional lives.

Last week I told someone this Mulla Nasrudin Story:

Mulla Nasrudin’s donkey died and he went into deep mourning weeping inconsolably. A friend seeing Nasrudin crying bitterly consoled, “What’s wrong with you – you didn’t weep and mourn so much even when your first wife died.”

“When my wife died all of you promised to find a younger and more beautiful wife for me – and indeed you did. However, nobody has promised to replace my donkey.”

And I’m sure you have heard this one:

One night, Nasrudin was on his hands and knees searching for his key in a well-lit area in the centre of the street. Some of his neighbours came to see why Nasrudin was on his hands and knees.

“What are you looking for, Nasrudin?” enquired one of his neighbours.

“My door key,” Nasrudin replied.

The helpful neighbours dropped to their hands and knees and joined Nasrudin in his search for the lost key.

After a long unsuccessful search, one of the neighbours asked: “We’ve looked everywhere. Are you sure you dropped it here?”

Nasrudin answers: “Of course I didn’t drop it here; I dropped it outside my door.”

“Then, why are you looking for it here?”

“Because there is much more light here,” responded Nasrudin.


When one reads or hears several Nasrudin tales, they can have a compelling effect. You can reflect, introspect or take them with a pinch of salt – the choice is yours.

You may ask the storyteller: “You relate stories, but do not tell us how to understand them” – to which he will reply: “How would you like it if the shopkeeper from whom you bought a banana ate it before your eyes, leaving you only the skin?”

One of the great bonuses in learning through humour is that even as you have a good time and doubt that you have learned anything, the lessons penetrate subtly, and stay with you, to come alive when the need arises. 

A few years ago, while walking home one evening, I stopped for a browse at Mumbai’s famous Strand Book Fair, held every January, at SNDT University’s Sunderbai Hall near Churchgate.

I saw a book – Tales of the Dervishes – and began browsing, and became so engrossed in the Sufi teaching stories that I lost all sense of time, and before I realized it, the clock struck eight and it was time to close.

Seeing the crowd, and in a hurry to get home, I decided to come the next day to buy the book, but when I did come the next day the one and only copy of this book which I liked so much had been sold out.

Since then I had been hunting for this rare elusive book and I was truly delighted to find a copy at Landmark Bookstore on Moledina Road in Pune Camp a few months ago.

Dear Reader, permit me to tell you a bit about this wonderful book, a truly delightfully illuminating assortment of Sufi Teaching Stories.

Title: Tales of the Dervishes

Author: Idries Shah (1967)

Arkana Penguin (1993)

ISBN 0-14-019358-8

The author has collated a very meaningful selection of Sufi Teaching Stories ranging from the 7th century to the 20th century and has given chronological references to sources which comprise Sufi Masters, classics and manuscripts.

I am sure you may be familiar with a few of these classic tales of wisdom, or versions of them, like The Three Fishes, How to Catch Monkeys, and The Blind Ones and the Matter of the Elephant, but there are so many unique gems of wit and wisdom.

I recommend that you must read each teaching story thrice.

Yes, thrice!

Read the story once. It may entertain you; maybe produce a laugh, like a joke.

Read the story the second time. Reflect on it. Apply it to your life. That will give you a taste of self-discovery.

Read the story again, for the third time, after you have reflected on it. Carry the story around in your mind all day and allow its fragrance, its melody to haunt you. Create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning. Let it speak to your heart, not to your brain. This will give you a feel for the mystical and you will develop the art of tasting and feeling the inner meaning of such stories to the point that they transform you.

I’ll not tell you more about the droll, witty, entertaining yet tremendously meaningful and enlightening tales in this book – that you must read yourself – but I will end this piece by narrating my favourite Mulla Nasrudin teaching story:

On his way from Persia to India, Mulla Nasrudin saw a man selling a small long green fruit which he had never seen before.  Curious, he asked the vendor:  “What is this lovely fruit?”

“Chillies. Fresh Green Chillies,” said the Vendor.

Mulla Nasrudin gave the vendor a gold coin and the Vendor was so overjoyed that he gave Nasrudin the full basket of green Chillies.

Mulla Nasrudin sat down under a tree and started to munch the Chillies and   within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. Tears streamed down his cheeks, his nose watered copiously and there was fire his throat.

But, utterly nonchalant, Nasrudin went on eating the chillies and his condition began to get worse and worse.

Seeing his pitiable condition, a passerby asked, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you stop eating those hot Chillies?”

“May be there is one that is sweet, “Nasrudin answered. “I keep waiting for the sweet one!” Nasrudin said and he kept on eating the fiery Chillies.

On his way back, the passerby saw that Mulla Nasrudin’s condition had become even more terrible, but he kept on eating, and the basket of Chillies was almost empty.

“Stop at once or you will die.  There are no sweet Chillies!” the passerby shouted at Nasrudin.

“I cannot stop until I have finished the whole basketful,” Nasrudin said, croaking in agony, “I have paid for the full basket   I am not eating Chillies anymore.  I am eating my money”.

Dear Reader – Read this story once more, close your eyes, think about it and let the story perambulate in your mind, reflect on it, and apply it to your life.

Don’t we cling on to things, people and places that we know we should let go and move on, at first hoping to find ‘sweet one’ and even when we discover that there is no ‘sweet chilli’ we still continue to shackle and bind ourselves to material things, memories and persons who we know are painful, harmful and detrimental just to ‘get our money’s worth’ when we should ‘let go’ and move on in life and liberate ourselves.

Hey, there I go pontificating again.

It’s time for you, Dear Reader, to read The Tales of the Dervishes and it is high time you enlightened me with a Teaching Story.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this review.

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve


vikramkarve@sify.com



vikramkarve@hotmail.com

An Insight on Life Enlightened – Book Review

December 10, 2008

Book Review

 

Swami Rama: Selected Poems

An Insight on Life Enlightened

Compiled & Translated by Shakuntala Bodas

Published New Delhi 2007

 

 

 

My indefatigable aunt Shakuntala Bodas, an ardent and committed devotee of Swami Rama, has authored a number of books in English, Hindi and Marathi on the life and his teachings of Swami Rama.

 

Of all her books, my favourite is Swami Rama : Selected Poems – An Insight on Life Enlightened compiled & translated by Shakuntala Bodas.

 

Pessimism or disappointment is living death

So please do not allow it entrance into your mind

Keep your body, mind, and energy filled

With enthusiasm, coupled with peace and balanced mind.

 

This is an excerpt from the poem titled The Secret of a Happy Life. 

 

Poetry, breathtaking in its simplicity, expressing clear thoughts and delivering precise message – that is the beauty of the poems in this compilation.

 

The book has a large number of simple evocative poems; each one will touch your soul in some way or the other.

 

The sincere devotion, earnest zeal and erudition of the author are evident in the free-hand translations, and as one absorbs the delightful poems, one does experience a sense of sublime joy.

 

At the beginning of the book, Shakuntala Bodas explains the background, reasons for writing this book, and recounts the life story of Swami Rama. Her effortless, attractive writing style makes this book a delight to read.

 

Dear Reader, doesn’t matter whether you are spiritually inclined or not, get a copy of this book, carry it with you, open a page at random, read a poem, and you will feel inspired and spiritually elated.

 

 

[Reviewed by VIKRAM KARVE]

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

  

My Food Adventures

December 9, 2008

APPETITE FOR A STROLL 

[Foodie Adventures, Simple Recipes, Musings on The Art of Eating and Vikram Karve’s Authentic Guide to Value For Money Food in Mumbai and Pune]


By


VIKRAM KARVE

Please click the link and read the review of Appetite for a Stroll titled Food for Soul in the Indian Express [Pune] Sunday 7th September 2008 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/358363.html

expressonline book review

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Food-for-soul/358363/#

 

If you want to get a copy of the book just click the links below:

 

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

I am sure you will enjoy reading the book.

Happy Reading and Happy Eating

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

VIKRAM KARVE

Swami Rama Selected Poems

March 20, 2008

Book Review Swami Rama: Selected PoemsAn Insight on Life EnlightenedCompiled & Translated by Shakuntala BodasPublished New Delhi 2007   My indefatigable aunt Shakuntala Bodas, an ardent and committed devotee of Swami Rama, has authored a number of books in English, Hindi and Marathi on Swami Rama, his life and his teachings. My favorite is Swami Rama : Selected Poems – An Insight on Life Enlightened compiled & translated by Shakuntala Bodas. Pessimism or disappointment is living deathSo please do not allow it entrance into your mindKeep your body, mind, and energy filledWith enthusiasm, coupled with peace and balanced mind. This is an excerpt from the poem titled The Secret of a Happy Life.   Poetry, breathtaking in its simplicity, expressing clear thoughts and delivering precise message – that is the beauty of the poems in this compilation.  The book has a large number of simple evocative poems; each one will touch your soul in some way or the other. The sincere devotion, earnest zeal and erudition of the author are evident in the free-hand translations, and as one absorbs the delightful poems, one does experience a sense of sublime joy. At the beginning of the book, Shakuntala Bodas explains the background, reasons for writing this book, and recounts the life story of Swami Rama. Her effortless, attractive writing style makes this book a delight to read. Dear Reader, doesn’t matter whether you are spiritually inclined or not, get a copy of this book, carry it with you, open a page at random, read a poem, and you will feel inspired and spiritually elated.    [Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve] http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve vikramkarve@hotmail.com vikramkarve@sify.com  

An Enchanting Book for Dog Lovers

December 11, 2007

BOOK REVIEW  

MARLEY & ME

 

Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

  

By

  

John Grogan

  

[Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2006]

 

ISBN 0 340 92209 5

   

[Reviewed by Vikram Karve]

  

 

 

The essence of this book is encapsulated in the ruminations of the author after he buried his beloved dog Marley: “Was it possible for a dog – any dog, but especially a nutty, wildly uncontrollable one like ours – to point humans to the things that really mattered in life? I believed it was. Loyalty. Courage. Devotion. Simplicity. Joy. And the things that did not matter, too. A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him…A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not.”  

 

 

We have a dog – a Doberman called Sherry. We have given her our hearts and she has given us her unconditional loyalty, devotion and love. She never demands much. A walk in the morning, a walk in the evening, a bit of playing, a meal, a bit of baby talk and cuddly love, and she fills our moments with her natural spontaneous exuberant devotion, warm affection, zeal and joy. It’s true – in order to understand the art of living completely one must keep a dog at least once in one’s lifetime.  

 

 

In this wonderful book the author describes his thirteen-year “love affair” with his Labrador retriever Marley, who enlivened the life of a young married couple, shared their moments of happiness and grief, and ensured there was never a dull moment in their family life. Marley certainly wasn’t the “perfect adorable model dog” – in fact, the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog” who won their hearts with his faithful devotion and wholehearted love.  

 

 

The first person narrative lends an air of authenticity and intimacy to the story. The friendly, simple writing style makes this book an easy read foe all ages. In the preface, he describes his delightful childhood days with his dog Shaun who was his faithful companion from when the author was ten years old for fourteen years till the author completed his college education and moved on to work. Shaun was a perfect dog who set the standard by which the author would judge all other dogs to come. Having set such a high benchmark, it’s no wonder the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog”!  

 

 

I will not delve on Marley’s story. You and deprive you of the pleasure of discovering it yourself. If you are a dog lover and have been a dog owner you will chuckle in your mind’s eye as you read about the naughty antics of Marley and recall similar frolics by your very own dog. If you have never kept a dog and are thinking of doing so then you’ll get an idea of what to expect! Marley’s life story makes one thing evident – once a dog comes into your home, he will soon win the hearts of your entire family and friends and change the way you look at life forever.  

 

 

Narrating the trials and tribulations owing to Marley’s sometimes exasperating behavior, interspersed with the story of his own family life including the spats with his wife due to Marley, the moments of happiness and pain the shared with Marley, and the hilarious episodes like the one when Marley was kicked out of the dog-training obedience classes, John Morgan writes in racy style which will keep you engrossed – once you start reading you will laugh, you will cry, at times a flood of emotion will engulf you; but you will remain captivated – the book is “unputdownable”.

  

 

 

Just like it happened to the author, the pressures of work may separate my darling dog Sherry and me for the first time since she came into our lives one and a half years ago. She has become such an inseparable part of my life. I dread to think of what is going to happen. Can I live without Sherry? Where will Sherry live? I wonder if there are any boarding kennels or dog-sitters here in India, especially at Pune. How will my dear Sherry cope without me? And what will I do without her? Sherry and me, we both will be heart-broken. I pray to God that something will work out for the better and Sherry and I will always be together. Dear Friends, do pray for us.

  

 

 

I loved reading “Marley and Me” and commend this superb book. If you are a dog lover you will enjoy every moment of this enthralling tale. Even if you are not a dog lover you will love this mirthful, moving story of Marley and his family. At times, tears may well up in your eyes. This delightful memoir reminds us that like Marley, we must all live our life to its fullest and, most importantly, we must learn to love people unconditionally, like dogs do. Read this heartwarming book, give it to your children and you’ll be surprised how much a dog can change your life for the better and how much we humans can learn from dogs.

   

Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve

Pune

 

 

India  

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve 

 

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve 

 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com             

A Delightful Book for Dog Lovers – Marley & Me – Book Review

December 11, 2007

Click the link or read the review posted below the link

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/12/marley-amp-me-life-and-love-with-the-world-s-worst.htm

BOOK REVIEW  MARLEY & MELife and Love with the World’s Worst Dog By John Grogan [Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2006]ISBN 0 340 92209 5  

[Reviewed by Vikram Karve]

  The essence of this book is encapsulated in the ruminations of the author after he buried his beloved dog Marley: “Was it possible for a dog – any dog, but especially a nutty, wildly uncontrollable one like ours – to point humans to the things that really mattered in life? I believed it was. Loyalty. Courage. Devotion. Simplicity. Joy. And the things that did not matter, too. A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him…A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not.”  We have a dog – a Doberman called Sherry. We have given her our hearts and she has given us her unconditional loyalty, devotion and love. She never demands much. A walk in the morning, a walk in the evening, a bit of playing, a meal, a bit of baby talk and cuddly love, and she fills our moments with her natural spontaneous exuberant devotion, warm affection, zeal and joy. It’s true – in order to understand the art of living completely one must keep a dog at least once in one’s lifetime.  In this wonderful book the author describes his thirteen-year “love affair” with his Labrador retriever Marley, who enlivened the life of a young married couple, shared their moments of happiness and grief, and ensured there was never a dull moment in their family life. Marley certainly wasn’t the “perfect adorable model dog” – in fact, the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog” who won their hearts with his faithful devotion and wholehearted love.  The first person narrative lends an air of authenticity and intimacy to the story. The friendly, simple writing style makes this book an easy read foe all ages. In the preface, he describes his delightful childhood days with his dog Shaun who was his faithful companion from when the author was ten years old for fourteen years till the author completed his college education and moved on to work. Shaun was a perfect dog who set the standard by which the author would judge all other dogs to come. Having set such a high benchmark, it’s no wonder the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog”!  I will not delve on Marley’s story. You and deprive you of the pleasure of discovering it yourself. If you are a dog lover and have been a dog owner you will chuckle in your mind’s eye as you read about the naughty antics of Marley and recall similar frolics by your very own dog. If you have never kept a dog and are thinking of doing so then you’ll get an idea of what to expect! Marley’s life story makes one thing evident – once a dog comes into your home, he will soon win the hearts of your entire family and friends and change the way you look at life forever.  

Narrating the trials and tribulations owing to Marley’s sometimes exasperating behavior, interspersed with the story of his own family life including the spats with his wife due to Marley, the moments of happiness and pain the shared with Marley, and the hilarious episodes like the one when Marley was kicked out of the dog-training obedience classes, John Morgan writes in racy style which will keep you engrossed – once you start reading you will laugh, you will cry, at times a flood of emotion will engulf you; but you will remain captivated – the book is “unputdownable”.

  

Just like it happened to the author, the pressures of work may separate my darling dog Sherry and me for the first time since she came into our lives one and a half years ago. She has become such an inseparable part of my life. I dread to think of what is going to happen. Can I live without Sherry? Where will Sherry live? I wonder if there are any boarding kennels or dog-sitters here in India, especially at Pune. How will my dear Sherry cope without me? And what will I do without her? Sherry and me, we both will be heart-broken. I pray to God that something will work out for the better and Sherry and I will always be together. Dear Friends, do pray for us.

  

I loved reading “Marley and Me” and commend this superb book. If you are a dog lover you will enjoy every moment of this enthralling tale. Even if you are not a dog lover you will love this mirthful, moving story of Marley and his family. At times, tears may well up in your eyes. This delightful memoir reminds us that like Marley, we must all live our life to its fullest and, most importantly, we must learn to love people unconditionally, like dogs do. Read this heartwarming book, give it to your children and you’ll be surprised how much a dog can change your life for the better and how much we humans can learn from dogs.

   Reviewed by Vikram Waman KarvePuneIndia  http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve http://www.ryze.com/go/karve vikramkarve@hotmail.com vikramkarve@sify.com             

Symbiosis Biography of an Idea

November 24, 2007

 

Book Review  Symbiosis: Biography of an IdeaBy Dr. S.B. Mujumdar[Macmillan India 2007]ISBN: 9780230633681  

Symbiosis is a landmark institution of Pune. That’s why when I saw this book while browsing at the Crossword Bookstore I instantly picked it up and started reading it. As I read, I found the book so engrossing that I could put it down only after I had finished reading the whole book. And then I was overwhelmed with a flood of admiration for the author, Dr. SB Mujumdar, the visionary architect of this hallowed educational institution.

  

Who better than a botanist can sow seeds, even if they be the seeds of a dream or an idea? The author vividly narrates the transformation of the dream called Symbiosis from germination to realization beyond even his expectations. Today there is a Symbiosis institution in almost every part of Pune imparting top quality education from the kindergarten to postgraduate or maybe even doctorate. The trials and tribulations the founder faced in acquiring its first piece of land make fascinating reading.

  

The author clearly enunciates his inspiration to start Symbiosis, and substantiates its raison d’etre by a number of real life stories of foreign students who studied in Pune. I was particularly moved by the experiences of the Indian-origin student from Fiji who was yearning to be identified with his roots.

  

The “Biography” – from the genesis to the starting of the Management course which accorded impetus to the expansion and broadening of horizons of Symbiosis culminating in a multi-institutional international university is portrayed in lucid style and makes interesting reading. I clearly remember, in the eighties, Symbiosis management students had earned a name as being a cut above the rest.

  

Symbiosis has been the harbinger in new concepts in education – whether it is specialized programmes for defence personnel, distance education, novel and innovative programmes like Telecom Management, and state-of-the-art campuses designed for holistic development like the one in the IT Park in Hinjewadi.

  

Lucidly written, interspersed with interesting anecdotes, makes this book a happy illuminating read. I commend this book – I am sure it will inspire and interest you.

  

Symbiosis: Biography of an Idea is an important contribution to literature on education and the history of the city of Pune. It is must reading for students and academicians and a valuable addition to the shelves of libraries.

   

[Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve]

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

  

vikramkarve@sify.com

  

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

     

PUNE Queen of the Deccan

October 7, 2007

Pune is the most happening city in Western India.

 Are you from Pune, a true blue Punekar? Or do you want to know more about Pune and its glorious heritage, history and past?

 I recently came across a very informative book on Pune – why don’t you click the link below and read about it

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/pune-queen-of-the-deccan.htm

And do send me your comments

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Lin Yutang – The Importance of Living

August 10, 2007

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING

 

 

 

Book Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING by LIN YUTANG

 

[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]

 

by

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is one book you will never find in my bookcase – you will always find it by my bedside near my pillow. At night, just before I sleep, I open the book to any random page, and read till I drift off to blissful idyllic sleep.

 

 

 

The name of this book, which has had a profound effect on me, maybe even subconsciously shaped my philosophy of life, is called: The Importance of Living written in 1937 by the Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang.

 

 

 

But first, let me tell you a story, maybe apocryphal, about a scholar who had thoroughly studied the Bhagavad Gita for many years, considered himself an expert, traveled far and wide delivering discourses on the teachings of the Gita and was widely acknowledged as an authority on the subject. His ultimate desire was to deliver a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita at Benares, which was the sanctum sanctorum of learning. So he went to Benares, and impressed by the scholar’s erudition and fame the king invited him to deliver a discourse on the Gita in his court. All the wise men of Benares assembled to hear the Scholar, but just as he began to speak the king interrupted him and told him to read the Bhagavad Gita one more time in the evening and deliver his discourse the next day. The Scholar was furious but he had no choice but to comply with the king’s wishes.

 

 

 

As he read the Gita in the evening, he realized some new meanings and updated his speech accordingly. Next day the same thing happened – the moment the scholar began to speak the king interrupted him and told him to read the Gita once more and then come and give his lecture. And again as the Scholar read the Gita he comprehended some new wisdom – something he hadn’t perceived before. So he incorporated his new findings and proceeded to deliver his talk.

 

 

 

Again the same thing happened – the king interrupted him and told him to read the Gita once more before he gave his discourse. And again the scholar discovered some new wisdom in the Gita. This cycle went on for days till the scholar realized how ignorant he was and how much more there was to learn form the Gita that he gave up the idea of delivering the discourse and decided to devote himself completely to the study of the Bhagavad Gita.

 

 

 

And the one morning, when the scholar was deeply immersed in his study, the king went to the scholar’s house, sat before him with folded hands and requested the scholar to enlighten him about the teachings of the Gita.

 

 

 

It’s the same with any great book. Every time you read it, something new emerges, and you realize you have so much more to learn from it. I have read The Importance of Living innumerable times, again and again, with renewed pleasure, and every time I read it I imbibe a different flavor, and grasp new wisdom, which delves on all aspects of the art of living, and I have realized that there is more significance and value in Lin Yutang’s magnum opus than I am capable of appreciating. So let me not be as presumptuous as to attempt to evaluate this classic treatise – I’ll just try to gently pilot you along in random vignettes to give you a flavor of this delightful philosophical gem.

 

 

 

Let’s open this delightful book to a few random pages, read some lines to give you glimpse into the wisdom on the art of living contained in this masterpiece. In the section on Leisure and Friendship are these words: “Only those who take leisurely what the people of the world are busy about can be busy about what the people of the world take leisurely”. Reflect on this, let these words perambulate in your mind for some time. There is nothing that man enjoys more than leisure. The highest value of time is when you are doing what you love and want to do. During leisure you are free to choose what you want to do and enjoy doing. So leisure enables you realize the highest value of your time!

 

 

 

Tell me, why do you work? Is it for job satisfaction? Or is it to earn money so that you can enjoy satisfaction off the job? In fact, most of us work for our leisure, because there is nothing we enjoy more than leisure. Elaborating on a theory of leisure the book says: “Time is useful because it is not being used. Leisure is like unoccupied floor space in a room…it is that unoccupied space which makes a room habitable, as it is our leisure hours which make life endurable”. Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.

 

 

 

Enunciating the distinction between Buddhism and Taoism: “The goal of the Buddhist is that he shall not want anything, while the goal of the Taoist is that he shall not be wanted at all”, the author describes the tremendous advantages of obscurity, deduces that only he who is not wanted by the public can be a carefree individual, and only he who is a carefree individual can be a happy human being and concludes with a philosophy: “Nothing matter to a man who says nothing matters”.

 

 

 

“How are we to live? How shall we enjoy life, and who can best enjoy life?” The feast of life is before us; the only question is what appetite we have for it. The appetite is the thing, and not the feast. The book has fourteen chapters on various facets of the importance and enjoyment of living and once you start reading it is unputdownable. The Importance of Loafing, The Enjoyment of the Home, Nature, Travel, Culture, The Art of Thinking, Eating, Reading, Writing – the range and variety of topics covered indeed make fascinating reading.

 

 

 

The best way to read this book is to browse whatever appeals to you, randomly, in an unstructured and haphazard manner. Think of yourself as a traveler in the philosophical or spiritual domain. The essence of travel is to have no destination. A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to; a perfect traveler does not know where he came from!

 

 

 

Are you the ambitious competitive go-getter obsessed with an overpowering desire for achieving quick success – craving for power, wealth, fame, and the status and money-oriented aspects of life? Do you value material possessions more than peace of mind? Is external achievement more important than inner tranquility? Then don’t read this book now, as you may be too “busy” in the competitive rat race and don’t have any time to “waste” on anything that doesn’t give you something tangible in return. Read The Importance of Living after you’ve burned out, had a heart attack or nervous breakdown – when you’ll have plenty of time and, perhaps, the inclination to reflect, contemplate and delve upon the more intangible philosophical aspects of life.

 

 

 

But if you are happy where you are and content with what you have, place living above thinking, and are interested in savoring the feast of life and its joys, then this witty philosophical treatise on the art of living in its entirety is the book for you. The Importance of Living presents an uncomplicated approach to living life to its fullest in today’s rapidly changing, fast paced, competitive, ambition dominated, money and status oriented, commercialized world, enabling each one of us to enjoy inner peace and happiness.

 

   

 

Sometimes, it is a great pity to read a good book too early in life. The first impression is the one that counts. Young people should be careful in their reading, as old people in eating their food. They should not eat too much. They should chew it well. Like you should eat gourmet food only when you are ready for it, you should read a good book only when you are ready for it. Mature wisdom cannot be appreciated until one becomes mature.

 

 

 

But The Importance of Living is a book for all ages. Of 1937 vintage, an ancestor and precursor of modern “self-help” books, it is a delightful philosophical treatise, which advocates a humorous and vagabond attitude towards life and deals with a variety of topics encompassing the art of living. Is such a philosophy of life relevant today? Read the book, try out and practice whatever appeals to you in your daily life, experiment, enjoy yourself, elevate your plane of living, and maybe your entire way of life may change forever.

 

 

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com   

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve