Pursuit of Happiness – Open Forum

Is excessive/compulsive consumerist behavior an attempt to compensate for the loss of a simple community life, where our basic social patterns were defined by simple rules. Where relationships had time to be more meaningful and where we had a greater, more mythic relationship with nature and the Earth. Is this loneliness driving us to compensate for the lack of meaningful relationships through extreme materialistic expression ?

…..Is advertising targeting and exploiting our loneliness ? In this excessive/compulsive consumerist society that we live in, where new needs are created everyday, what is our quotient of happiness/satisfaction ? How do we judge if the enormous increase in standard of living in the West has actually made us happier ? I am not talking about the poverty here. But at what stage do we say enough s enough ? Or is there ever such a stage at all ?
. Why have we become such victims of advertising ? Why must we always feel insecure merely because someone else has something we perceive as better and more desirable ? And how do we describe better ? More exclusive ? More expensive ? More hip ? More fashionable ?
And what is the addiction to brands say of our psychology ? Why does a Prada shoe carry greater weight than one of equal quality but unbranded ? Does wearing a popular branded T – Shirt actually give us a feeling of community ? Like belonging to a football club.

57 thoughts on “Pursuit of Happiness – Open Forum

  1. Dear Shekhar
    yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. advertising is “family” talking at us. advertising people are very good at knowing how to touch our emotional pulses. brands because they make us feel part of a “family.” unbranded stuff is orphaned, nameless.
    love, Heath

  2. Shekhar,
    Great post!
    This world is a nothing else than a business place. But still I would say that “Brands” are very short lived but unfortunately they do run parallel with our lives. Prada, Tommy & Polo will come and go but Tulsi, Kabeer and Shakespear will live for ever. Hence they are “Real”, and don’t need any advertising…Just stop advertising these brands and see what happens! Ultimately even in today’s “materialistic world” too only truth will prevail for ever .That’s my believe…AND again I ‘m a very ignorant human…May be I’m mistaken.

  3. Greetings to You Shekhar Ji.
    So long as people look for external factors to boost their levels of happiness, its very difficult to find that real joy & happiness which can be attained only with simple things & more so by looking within. The world is fast changing where associations & relationships have become very situational, the concept of give & take is over ruling. The genuine love & warmth in friendships is lost too.
    As you rightly said, materialism, drastic changes in lifestyle, selfishness, & artificiality have become the by-words & people’s attitudes have become polluted. I think it dosen’t cost the world to give love & affection to a fellow human being, & in this lies true joy & happiness with no expectation !!

  4. I think its ego satisfaction, that is, I am better than u. Happiness is all about what the other person has and I don’t. That also explains the role of advertisement. We aren’t really looking for something better but something that is perceived to be better. And hence brands. This ultimately leads to the never ending mad race. But there is nothing to complain really. When u look at the micro perspective, of course, happiness levels go down because of the number of wants. But from a macro level it is the only real factor for growth. There is no point in complaining bcos neither do we have a choice nor can we backtrack now. But yes the understanding helps us balance our needs and happiness levels.

  5. Dear Shekhar,
    You have written about a thing that is so close to my heart, and I’ll literally open my heart here. I lived my initial years in a very social and religious environment, a very unique setup where everyone’s Dad was an engineer and almost all earned equally, and all the kids used to study in the same school. My parents would often take me to see the evening Aarti on the banks of the Ganges, and I really used to enjoy the amazing social atmosphere.
    After school and within a couple of years, life changed very fast and at 26, I had a great US dollar job and was traveling the world. I had taken the decision to live life like this and there was no way to go back to the life I had left behind. As my life improved very fast another thing happened equally fast – I started losing my friends one by one and as I become more focused, solitude became my best friend, and my main source of happiness became the things I could buy.
    One day I had a layover in Singapore, flying from Sydney to Delhi, and I was feeling something missing inside me. Out of impulsiveness, I canceled my original hotel reservation and booked the Ritz Carlton for 1 night. The Ritz in Singapore constantly gets the awards for the sexiest bathrooms and they have these bathtubs where multiple kinds of lights glow from below, and there are music speakers inside it (where you can play any music you like) and leather headrests. One would assume that life couldn’t get better than this, and I have never said this to anyone, but I felt extremely lonely that night. Sitting in this super luxury tub and staring at the glittering Marina Bay, I felt so discontent that I almost felt like crying. I hardly slept that night and thought a lot about life, and had a lot more questions than answers.
    There is a saying that the only problem with being a success is that you have to continue to be a success. There is this quote, which I’m sure you or any other person in your situation will be able to identify with:
    Fame always brings loneliness. Success is as ice cold and lonely as the North Pole. Vicky Baum
    I think we have to consider success and happiness together as they are very interrelated. To succeed is to have an identity, which comes by losing our generality, our simplness, and most often our friends. Success constrains us in terms of where we can go, what kind of people we can associate with, and even what we can say. Those who get there have most of the time paid a huge price, and those who choose not to pay the price do not get very far in this material world.
    I have used a lot of quotes to understand life and also use them to create a sense of happiness. There is this famous quote by Thomas Shadwell:
    “No man is happy but by comparison” and I do believe that it is true.
    To do anything extraordinary we have to leave the crowd and follow our own path and this automatically leads to loneliness. This quote explains this requirement for success:
    “The Man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has been before. ” Alan Ashley-Pitt
    To enjoy community living and have social bonding that you talked about, one has to surrender his or her identity and be willing to become a part of the crowd, and that goes directly against the concept of success and happiness that most people have in mind.
    The song “Dil Dhoonta Hai Phir Wahi Fursat Ke Raat Din” from the movie Mausam beautifully expresses this longing for simplicity that we develop as we grow in life.
    Today living alone in Manhattan, I often stare out of my window at the beautifully lit Empire State Building and reflect on life. A couple of years back I embarked on the next big goal in my life, which constrained me to stay indoors and work on my laptop and only increased my relationship with solitude.
    I read this quote from JFK often, which addresses this conflict we have within ourselves in this materialistic world:
    When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.
    John F. Kennedy
    I will end my post with a song that I hear to relax myself and feel good. It is from the album “Samvedna” based on the poetry of our former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and it is truly mesmerizing. It goes, “Kya Khoya Kya Paaya Jag Main, Milte aur Bichade Mag Main…” – No one knows what we have really gained or lost in the life on this planet, a life which has been a series of meetings and partings. “Ek drishti beeti par dale, yaadon ki potali tatole, apne hi man se kuch bole” – Let us all stop running for a moment and introspect, look back at the life we have lived so far, open the bag of memories, and talk to ourselves in solitude. That is sure to bring us some happiness.
    Himanshu – NY

  6. Dear Shekhar,
    I was wondering whether it is true that you are attached to direct The Sadhu based on the Virgin Comics series starring Nicolas Cage for Saturn Films? According to IMDB you will start shooting early 2008 in India.

  7. true, loneliness is the universal malaise. and marketing is a function that promises to address that void…
    but flogging advertising and branding for exploitation of this powerful need to belong… ummm, dunno…
    after all, isn’t advertising and branding just tailored information and its positioning/disbursal… ?
    in that aspect, a calvin klien commercial or a fcuk campaign are the same as bible/bhagvadgeeta/holy koran… and isn’t deepak chopra addressing the same need as the copywriter/designer who promises to fill a void in life…?
    afterall, is there a difference between slipping into a Jimmy Choo (for someone who really feels happy about doing so) and attending a spiritual meet (for someone who really feels happy about doing so)? after all, the end result is just another “one happy customer”?
    isn’t deriding materialism the same as neglecting spiritualism? aren’t both necessary to highlight each other’s importance… isn’t balance the operative word in the “pursuit of happiness”…?
    just thinking aloud…

  8. Hi Shekhar ,
    You know the answers to all those questions , dont you ?
    At some point – the individual is bound to be bored – or done with incessant ‘need’.
    The sensual stimuli and material temptation is greater in this Kali Yuga – what else would you expect ?
    The solution , if any , is to be natural about our ‘need’ – in every age – ancient or modern , human need has been relentless. There is simply no use fighting it. What an be done is how wew view those multiple needs !
    I think the way out of this mess is not ‘need-less ness ‘ , but rather unattachment to needs – however many they maybe.
    How did you come around it yourself ? – would be interesting to know !

  9. Himanshu, thats funny, I am at the Ritz Carlton in Singapore and I was in the bath u described last night just before I wrote this blog – looking out of my bath at Marina Bay – which nw has a casino under construction.

  10. Rudra, I am not sure I know. I am not addicted to consumerism, but would not say no to the latest mac!!
    If you go to my poems, do read a poem called ‘the two of me’ – it answers your question I think,

  11. Euphoria, yes am attached to direct Sadhu with Nick Cage, but the announcement was premature as we do not have an agreed script yet, shekhar

  12. That’s so great, Shekhar. I think we are all connected and providence continues to surprise us. I hope you enjoy Singapore. I truly love the energy and orderliness of that city.

  13. Dear Tushar,
    You are on the right track. Balance is the key. Osho Rajneesh once said, “Is duniya mein agar pakadne laayak kuch nahin hai, to kuch chodne laayak bhi nahin hai.” (If there’s nothing worth latching on to in this world, there’s nothing worth leaving either)
    Dear Shekhar,
    “Himanshu, thats funny, I am at the Ritz Carlton in Singapore and I was in the bath u described last night just before I wrote this blog – looking out of my bath at Marina Bay – which nw has a casino under construction.”
    Déjà vu!
    And OMG! You are going to work with Nick Cage! He is one of my top five actors of all time. If my info is correct, Deepak is writing the screenplay?

  14. Hey Sekhar,
    Brilliant topic but wrong way of discussing it.Taking pleasure out of loneliness and excessive compulsion to buy in a market based economy is infact mob behaviour of today’s world.
    Ill give my substantiation.I have just finished engineering one year back.While almost all my friends have joined corporates or gone to US I have ventured into something else.Now the friends i can get in touch with would tell how they have to slog out for 20 hours a day in corporates and how the corporate power struggles make them feel so lonely.But this loneliness is a choice they take because they are made to believe(or may be it’s true) that the more you work the more you rise.And so this loneliness and the entailing desire to buy aspirational brands is a choice taken by everybody themselves in sort of mob behaviour.
    These are same kind of people that would stick to silly(not simple )family or community rules and would not like rising beyond them.The same kind of people who would get carried away in the name of religious extremism.As long we place emotions and pleasure over intellect, power(it can be even in form of advertising ) tries to rule us.But on the end of day how many people do care for happiness all we want is success,money and appreciation.
    And how can you even imagine things were good in the older days.Being a moviemaker im sure you remember the angry young man(He almost always won in reel life though not in real life).
    Having said all that I would like to say that this issue in larger picture is very much related to organisational structures in corporates and other institutions alike and much needs to be done on that front to get ourselves out of this mess.

  15. Shekhar , Thank you and I’ll look for the poem .
    Himanshu ,
    I read your story and i thought it was irrelevant to the topic here which is human need and consumerism of the age. but your last sentence cought my attention.
    how will reflecting on memories and being in solitude bring us happiness ? even if it does , how long can it last ? and how do you think , solitude is related to rampant consumerism ?

  16. “Limit” is the word which give us happiness. An unknowledgeable person is much happier than the knowledgeable one.. You r talking about the Mac book pro… do u think ppl living in isolation & remoted area are familiar about that? But most of them still live 100.
    knowledge & Eagerness leads to greed..
    greed leads to supply
    supply leads to resources
    resources leads to extinction
    extinction leads to death.

  17. Hi Rudra,
    I mentioned the story because I feel that as we grow and become focused we also become lonelier, and then material things and solitude become our partners. Most of the very rich people in America live that way and have their yachts and jets as their best friends. This is one of the main reasons for consumerism, as we feel these things can bring us happiness, and I believe they often do. I would definitely choose to live in a luxury hotel instead of a bunk bed accommodation, as I get more happiness in the former.
    A quote by William Clavin says, “Who am I, if not my memories.” All of our existence is in our memories, so reflecting on them can definitely give us happiness if we can play back the right sections and forget the rest.
    Also, for anything to last you have to constantly and repeatedly work on it, whether it’s peace, courage, or gathering happiness by reflecting on the beautiful moments we have lived so far.
    Take Care,

  18. Hi rs. By that logic a mad person is the happiest person. He knows nothing and expects nothing. Question is shd happiness be our only goal. We might derive pleasure or happiness by eating a pizza but we shdn’t bcos its not good for health. If Mr Ambani had thought that his dreams are beyond his reach and he would be happier being content there wouldn’t have been any Reliance. ??

  19. Once I was working on a project here in NY about the immigrants, which were not only Indians but they were from all over like Spanish, Africans etc. The 90% of them told me that they would like to go back after making money to their native countries where they come from, Most of them were first generations here in US.I asked a common question to all “How much money do you think is enough to go back home?”
    Every one’s answer was a different figure…Their answers varied from $5k to 100 million. Every one among them wanted to retire with different amount of money. So Pursuit of Happiness was different for everyone. But those were just the figures …Actually happiness is a state of mind, which has nothing to do with materials. Materials can give you a buzz, but happiness is a broader term.
    And Aditarya,
    May be working hard with total integrity gave lotz of happiness to Mr. Ambani and money(Reliance) was the bio-product of that.

  20. Hi,
    Your thoughts – In this excessive/compulsive consumerist society that we live in, where new needs are created everyday, what is our quotient of happiness/satisfaction ? How do we judge if the enormous increase in standard of living in the West has actually made us happier ? – are discussed extensively in this book called “The Paradox of Choice” – written by Barry Schwartz. (An easy read)
    Research shows that our happiness/ quotient of happiness/ satisfaction is indeed pretty bad and continues to worsen as the multitude of consumer options increase.
    He also in fact touches on the point that these choices don’t infact make us happier. We are sadder than we ever could be!
    I haven’t finished the last chapter yet. Its called “What we can do?” and I am guessing it touches on what we can do to make things better in our lives when faced with these choices, but even though I bought this brand new book at a bookstore, the pages have been ripped:(!
    – Sonia

  21. hi aditarya. Im not telling to go backward or to villages. I mean to say that you should have limits or adapt the word in ur lifestyle to gain happiness.
    And wht Reliance is doing!! Demand & Supply ..he is indulging & promoting things, result wht happens u ppl go an engage in that activities in order to achieve those promoted substance.. I Knw its good for our economy & profitable for Reliance, but simualtaneously achievements & extinction comes in a same flowchart..and history is the answer.
    At last I just need to say that plz be engage in social activities rather than producing more & more “options”. Limit your needs to be happy.

  22. Shekhar, the (object)ive world of happiness is external while the subjective world is internal. For whoever the 9object)ive world of happiness is paramount hasn’t had any idea of the timeless, ecstatic, still world of subjective happiness. That only comes from a deep inner learning when the outside is clearly known as temporary manifestations of the inside, and therefore not something to derive ‘permanent’ joy from. Neither is that possible.

  23. It seems to me that civilization is about choices – we are now at the stage where have a million choices: what to wear, what to eat, what to watch, but are we being deprived of the “real” choices in the process…is this bargain we make to live safe, secure lives ?
    And what are the “real” choices”…breathing fresh air, thinking our own thoughts and having opinions, daring to question..?

  24. Here is something I had written in a blog on my myspace page a long time back on Happiness & Relationships:
    Happiness is not something which somebody else can give you. You have to find it within yourself. Most people make the mistake of getting into a relationship expecting that the other person will bring them happiness. They don’t realize that the other person will only multiply what they already have. If you are miserable, then the other person will only multiply your misery. But if you are joyous, then you will have twice the joy.
    Happiness is a choice we make right here, right now. It is not dependent on any conditions being fulfilled. Most people think that they will be happy IF:
    *they had money.
    *they had a lover.
    *they became famous.
    and so on and so forth. There are so many desires and people think that they will be happy if such and such of their desire is fulfilled. But what they don’t realize is that desire fulfilment has an inverse relationship with happiness. As long as you keep running after your desires thinking that you will be happy after your goals are fulfilled, you will find that your goals are getting farther away from you when you try to come close to them. But once you’ve chosen to be happy, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that all your desires will automatically come to you as by-products of your happiness. It is a lot easier for a happy person to attract money, lovers, fame etc. towards him/her than a person who is unhappy.
    Love & Cheers,
    Conclusion: Happiness is not a *pursuit*. It’s a choice.

  25. We ‘buy’ happiness most of the times be it branded clothes or gizmos and then everyone wants to ‘fit’ in , in their own unique style.
    Whatever happened to the real happiness one which comes from within … and how happy or lonely are those people supposedly surrounded by near and dear, it is the pursuit which is lacking- Pursuit of happiness is a pursuit of self or is it?.

  26. It’s all about survival of the fittest and the selfish gene theory still applies. Romance has changed…no one has the time to woo anyone over a lengthy time period. With the advent of match.com and other dating sites, people are able to screen out their potential mate/s before meeting them in person. It’s because people just do not have time…It’s all about fast food, fast money and fast love. And ofcourse to acquire fast love and to fascinate your potential mate at first instant, one must be a complete product with the right gear and the right attitude. The advertising world is well aware of this and this is what they’re earning their fast cash on!!!

  27. Well I think d main problem is we do not hav a precise definition for HAPPINESS, (if anyone has pl let me know)so thats why its so illusive….we all devise our own notions and ways. Shekhar if you look at the Title of your Post…..The PURSUIT of happiness’…..is self explanatory….maybe happiness is something which we are just meant to pursue and not possess/keep. Who can deny that we dont get happiness from material things…new gismos for men and and clothes etc for women…….d problem is it does not last!!….as is with other things material or not material……Maybe happiness is not SUPPOSED to last…….because we feel happy only when there is a positive CHANGE in our routine…….and change cannot last….U C its a catch 22 situation……LASTING Happiness is an OXYMORON!!….Wat say. I think everyone has to identify their own CALLING in life…..a passion without logic……and dat may leave us happier……HOPEFULY

  28. Life in the fast lane…& beggars can’t be choosers…
    Brands unite…and possibly polarize..armies once went to war under banners..they’re meant to differentiate and identify…winners from losers…if life is a battle then whose side are you on ??
    Advertisers will always exploit the sense that a consumer doesn’t belong, but without actually clearly identifying a demographic, in a world where demographics are constantly shifting – perhaps the only clear demographic that exists is the one defining the rich from the poor – from the “Happy” and the “Unhappy”, the haves and have nots, winners and losers…

  29. Hi Shekhar,
    Hope this meets you well. I happened to land on your site just by chance, but (I must confess) that I was hooked to it for quite some time. What is more interesting is that I re-visit it at regular intervals to check out on the new posts. I really admire the way in which you touch upon some of the most complex behavioral patterns in the most simplistic manner (guess this comes with experience). I am senior brand consultant based out of Bangalore and now days I am in a strange fix. I am an MBA from a premier B School and settled with a reasonably well paying job. I am in a constant state of monotony. This has nothing to do with the job I hold, what is troubling me is a strong belief that I am capable of doing much more than a regular nine to five job. I have realized that that more you earn, the closer you get to the complacent comfort zone where any potential new initiative is benchmarked (by your family, friends and well-wishers) with the money you are making today, disrespecting the creative urge in you completely. I think I represent a million others who would like to start on their own, but are clueless when it comes to taking that first step (read leap). I don’t know why I am bothering you with this, but if you have any piece of advice, please fill me in. Anyways, thanks for your posts, in a very unexplainable way they give reassurance to my dreams.

  30. Well, without any serious validation of the thought, i do believe happiness is simple…it is ‘the’ life force that connects us to the grandest mysteries out there…and it is ours to claim. However, the pursuit of it is the complexity we have chosen to survive… survival that disconnects us and makes us aware of a fallacy called loneliness… loneliness which is probably ‘the’ most advertised illusion we have bought into 😉
    As for consumerism and brand consciousness, in our physical world as of now, it permeates right up to the highest and most well-intentioned areas of our lives too… because even the highest ideals have a market today…which means we care about ideals only if they are worth being sold or bought! I am a filmmaker who is trying to make the most difficult film of my life… fighting hard to pull the microphone to one of the many tiny voices in the mayhem with something important to say… wud it be easier to bring together resources and support if i chose to say something along with the noisy crowd? My guess is yes. However, if i choose to create differently, I have to believe against the tide that the market is what we created and so only we can help it evolve. I take encouragement from many others who have created important changes through their creative endeavours like you. But can i or u escape the fact, with absolutely no offense to you, that ‘you’ are a brand that has made its place among consumers who will sit up and watch whatever u have to say? It is with great admiration i say this to you…however, am I labouring towards creating a change in the world i know or am i counting the stepping stones to becoming a brand myself? Am i aspiring to be one of the consumers, the advertisement itself or the item on sale…or am I truly speaking in defiance of a consumerist system? I wonder often…sometimes i even wonder if I assume no knowledge of the answer in my insistent opstimism?
    Well dont know how much of that made sense but thanks for the worm u put in my head anyway… thoughts need to be held for years before they unravel truths…i guess i’ll wait for my turn to know better;)
    Love and smiles

  31. …On the other hand , possessions DO last…in fact they outlast US…my late fathers tailor-made suits still hang in a wardrobe, but he is long gone…they are like symbols of happiness….
    The irony is that the brands have a tendency to live on long after the wearer has passed on…or at any rate, have greater longevity…
    ..maybe they are sold to us as symbols of incorruptibility in a corruptible world…?

  32. Life is perfect.
    The Universe is perfect in its working and evolution.
    The problem of not being happy lies in the human mind till he/she reads this comment.
    Eat lightly sweet or bland, nourishing vegetarian food including some milk and butter or buttermilk(not sour but perfectly bland or little sweet).
    Now contemplate on the thought that you are this vast Universe(Are you not?Is my hand,or head or limb not me?Can a part not claim to be also a reference point for the whole?)
    Do this for one day not letting any-which thing or issue except the wholeness disturb you.
    The very day by the evening or the next day when this food and these thoughts have come to have an effect on your mind you will know what real happiness or bliss is about.
    While keeping the ever expanding Universe at the core of your mind new thoughts will emerge giving clarity to all your doubts and clearly showing you in front of your mind’s eyes the perfectness mentioned in the first and second sentences of this comment.
    I do not want to seem biased but neither can I stop to give credit where it is due.This comment comes out of the experimentaion and application for 3 years of the information given by Ved Vyas in the Chapter 17 of his book-Bhagwat Gita.
    The name he gives to such foods and thoughts is ‘Sattvic’ which give happiness, strength, bliss, longevity, health and disease-lessness when applied in combination with perfect faith in the Universal scheme of things and necessary charity of money,speech and deeds.Lustful desires need not be consciously controlled as they vanish by themselves when the above is followed in continuity for some time.
    What constitues ‘Rajasic’ and ‘Tamasic’ according to the author of the book is the kind of food and behaviour which leads to grief,disease,apathy and heartburn-the real cause for felt unhappiness.
    That is salty, bitter, sour, insipid, pungent, dry,impure,undercooked and spoiled;charity for reward and honour;fornication,lustfulness,greed and urge for self-centered power which ensues from such foods and nature.
    But after enjoying this continuous bliss and happiness for as long as you desire you will be forced by your essential nature as per your karma to reorganize the content and composition of these three kinds of nature.For dwelling in only one for very long is not possible as the first one only enables wisdom, the second only activity and the third only inertia.The ratio in which these are mixed in your life determines the ratio of 1. happiness or blissful-wisdom
    2. grief or selfishly but temporarily gainful activity,and
    3. thoughtless inertia out of the momentum created by the first two without the awareness of happiness or un-happiness
    in ones life having nothing to do with the perfectness of the scheme of things as such.Within that perfectness is your position on the karmic ladder and thus your true nature(the mix).

  33. I believe that advertising and other aspects of consumerism today are driving us into expecting and accepting less and less value for more and more money. We should think hard about our own preferences in terms of consumption and production. Lot more about this on my (ad free:-)) blog from last year: http://next-up.blogspot.com

  34. Dear Shekhar :
    Is there anyway of contacting you personally?
    You and I are distant relatives, my grandfather was your cousin.
    I feel very weird writing this on your forum but I could not find any other way of contacting you.
    Thanks and sorry for posting this on your website.

  35. Hi Shekhar,
    Your post is insightful and picks up on an interesting conundrum of modern life. I can only speak of this from a western perspective since thats my cultural origin. I believe this obsession with brands is very much a means for people to find ways to group themselves in the absence of meaningful social groupings.
    In pre-christian times, this type of grouping was held together by a combination of family, clan and nation/citystate along with the many gods which addressed specific needs at specific times. Interestingly the rise of monotheism seems to have been the catalyst for the destruction of these powerful grouping memes. The christian church in my mind is one of the key factors in the breakdown of the types of relationships you describe. It disenfranchised anyone who didn’t subscribe to its dogma and left no place for them to go unlike its polytheistic predecessors. It also systematically wiped out any variants of christianity such as Catharism which encouraged individual responsibility for action and thus the ability to forge relationships with family, nation as well as godhead.
    I guess as religion has waned in the west, some have been needed to fill the void and in my view ‘brands’ are simply a new form of polytheism…I can vouch for this from my devotion to Apple:-)
    But more seriously, thanks to the effective subsumption by the church of the old pantheons and their extremely effective suppression of any christian variants which encourage diversity we are as a culture left like orphans casting around for something to identify with. Courtesy of the early 20th century totalitarians, we now have self-image advertising and branding to fill that gap…an insidious and hollow set of gods…
    I hope nothing I’ve written about christianity offends any readers, that is not my intention, I make a division between it and the church. My apologies in advance if I have offended anyone.

  36. Now a more worldy answer to pursuit for happiness:
    No one has ever become normal or balanced before being excessive and checking one’s extremes.
    We tried communism.We are trying capitalism.In between was tried non-alignment. Now “Live well and let live well” seems to be the mantra emerging in the 21st Century.Is it also called corporate social responsibilty?
    Lets let the realists discover more and more material secrets of the Universe so that they can be used in the form of mac!!,nok!! or boeing!! for global community living and feeling.
    But while the realists do it for the profits and perks they get out of doing it, lets also keep providing the unfortunate or unopportunate the means to connect with what is going on and find happiness within the context.
    Example:Wouldn’t you say while the new dollar seeking ITsavvy breed is indulging in luxious homes John Abrahim is giving fillip to ‘Habitat for humanity’.
    I think its time to get above reason and really do something…again…

  37. “Why must we always feel insecure merely because someone else has something we perceive as better and more desirable ? And how do we describe better ? More exclusive ? More expensive ? More hip ? More fashionable ?
    And what is the addiction to brands say of our psychology ? Why does a Prada shoe carry greater weight than one of equal quality but unbranded ? Does wearing a popular branded T – Shirt actually give us a feeling of community ? Like belonging to a football club.”
    “Himanshu, thats funny, I am at the Ritz Carlton in Singapore and I was in the bath u described last night just before I wrote this blog”
    Self-awareness lapse,is it?How different can a Prado shoe be from a Ritz Carlton hotel.
    Should we know from you the answer to all those whys in the context?
    That is exactly the reason why everyone else does it,at least we can assume so if we can assume the opposite.
    Sorry for being frank

  38. I think the past is overrated in terms of having a simple life and simple social experiences etc. We just romaticize a lot about the past and the nostalgia of our own past makes us blame other things like consumerism or web surfing etc.

  39. There is nothing called pure happiness… what Buddha tried to find. Guru Nanak said ” Nanak dukhiya sab sansaar so sukhiya jo naam aadhar” True happiness is not even exist in this world…because the simple reason is “The world is fragile in it self”. So what we can do now? We just have to find happiness! , In the given resources. Now it’s upon us, that in what and how we can find happiness. Brand new Ferrari can give me happiness for few days, so I think …I should try to make money to buy that…keep running after the material things till we die, is the happiness?(if they really make us happy!),keep running after creativity (if they really make us happy!)AND KEEP RUNNING after…whatever makes you happy.THATS THE HAPPINESS..Adevertising their products makes them happy and buying those products make some one else happy…so far everyone is happy that’s the happiness. That’s how this world operates.

  40. hey, having lived in a small town, with simplistic needs for a long time, I know one thing for sure, everywhere and absolutely in every space possible, its always a fight. Maybe because there is no perfect society as such, the kinds that socialism dreams of.
    If nothing else, there is human greed and competitiveness. If it isn’t about the latest gadgets and the latest acquisitions it is about the best groom for your daughter, a baby boy, or real screwed up visions of morality and a huge lack of choice!

  41. Following is a comment I posted in response to DK Matai’s Post at intentblog : Ashtavakra Gita and Advaita — How to be happy?
    I have struggled all my life with people trying to give themselves license to do any thing by selectively quoting Ashtavakra Gita.They would also tell me that Bhagwat Gita is for the lay masses but Ashthavakra for the specially gifted.
    It is almost as if the rapers of Phoolan Devi would later on quote Ashthavakra, take a dip in Ganges and lo they are as pure as ever-As if nothing ever happened.
    This comment is my dream vengeance to all of them:
    Ashtavakra is usually misquoted selectively for wrong ends.Here’s how:
    Ashtavakra said:
    ” Righteousness and unrighteousness, pleasure and pain are purely of the mind and are no concern of yours. You are neither the doer nor the reaper of the consequences, so you are always free. ”
    People generally forget he is not just advising to get above good and evil or righteousness and unrighteousness but also pleasure and ‘pain’.
    Well if you can really get over ‘pain’ nothing else really is required to be said or done.You may do any bloody thing -rape,murder,loot etc while just remembering dear old Ashtavakra and remaining a sagacious witness all the time.
    Pain(physical,emotional,intellectual) is all that we all are trying to run from.All these philosophies,spiritual agony,discussions,humility just for one pursuit to save ourselves from pain and find happiness and also pleasure(if it can be availed without the accompanying pain).
    Lets not distort truth:Righteousness is important.We are and will be being held responsible.
    Even Bhisma the great could not be spared in Mahabharata who just stood (above like) witness to Draupadi’s vastra-haran(forceful tearing down of her clothes to shame her in front of the whole court of Hastinapur)

  42. When people believe that happiness lies outside of them, then they look for it in whatever is popular in the society. But happiness does not lie outside of someone, but inside of them. My website (click on ginkgo) has a short article on it about meditation called What is Enlightenment.

  43. I think most immigrants are lonely people as they exist in an uprooted state.
    I had all my friends, mostly childhood friends, in Delhi when I was living and working there–we all came from a small town in India. Even then, anyone hardly had the time to meet and chat but only once in a while. We were all pursuing our careers. So, I was lonely there.
    Now, living in a foreign country, I am again lonely. So, lonliness is perennial I guess. Lonliness leads to a sense of gloom. Consumerism (say a shopping experience) gives us a respite from lonliness. It is some kind of activity that happens in a shopping mall where other human beings are there and we transact with a sales person or a cashier. The human touch is there. The sense of acquiring something new gives us a sense of elation. It is therapeutic in that sense.
    About happiness (or absence of it) in our lives, Mirza Ghalib said it long ago:
    Qaid-e hayat aur band-e gham dono asal me ek hain
    Marne se pehle aadmi gham se nijaat paaye kyon
    [The prison of life and the prison of gloom are one and the same/How can man free himself of pain before he breaths his last]

  44. Dear Zafar,
    Maybe our thinking needs a paradigm shift.
    All these words-Nations,immigration,etc are of our making.Interesting people live everywhere.And in todays world of internet and mobile-trans-continental telephony no one can really be a loner until one really chooses to be so.
    Yes with such high access to so many people today more effort,tolerance and sacrifice is required to maintain friends.But then why make the effort just go with the flow and make peoples’ thoughts ur friends than the people themselves.Some of them will be really helpful.
    Internet pals who can understand u and whom u can understand can make each day brighter and jovier.And no electromagnetic vibrations to counter of similar or opposite sex as one experiences in reality.

  45. dear shekhar,
    happiness is self contentness.at all levels.
    and also knowing that nothing and all i one.
    i have a project close to my hart, it is a personal matter, but a truly real one….
    it’s about loosing one love of your life and finding another.
    shantaram is a production directed by mira nair.
    i am fliing to mumbai on the 11th of august, just to try and contact someone there.
    it would meen the world to me if you could help!

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