The Internet to the Inner-net

A New Year has dawned.
So has new hopes. It’s also time for new resolutions and new experiences. And this is my first post in 2017.

This New Year day saw me travelling from Kochi back to my workplace in Dubai. And when I am in airports, book shops are my cynosures. My racing thoughts and unbridled longing for books put me in a fix. What to buy and what not to buy? My quest was on. And my eyes hitched on an orange book. The title – The Internet to the Inner-net. Five ways to reset your connection and live a conscious life. And the writer? Gopi Kallayil. Now I was quite curious to read the biography of the author in inner back book flap. Hmm. Interesting. Google’s Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing. The back cover had excerpts from reviews of the book by Chade-Meng Tan (whose book Search Inside Yourself I found both delightful as impactful) and Jack Kornfield, the famous Buddhist teacher, among others. I just opened the introduction and there was something more that held my attention. Gopi is from Chittilamchery – which is about 10 kilometres away from my hometown, Pallavur. I picked up the book.

Gopi Kallayil.jpg

In this interesting book, Gopi speaks of five ways to reset our connection to the Inner-net that will help us lead a conscious life. Using computer parlance, the titles are most apt and meaningful.

Part 1 Log in. How else will you establish the connection? Definitely not by checking in once in a way. For staying connected one has to ‘log in’.

Part 2 Clear out the inbox. I am reminded of the story of the wise Zen master and a student who came to learn from him. The student wanted his mind to be opened to enlightenment. However, from his conversation with the student, the Master realized the youth was quite opinionated. The Zen master invited the student to discuss matters over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the young man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?” The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.” Unless there is space, how can we add on information? So, clear your inbox.

Part 3 Optimize your system. Without system optimization, no ware – hard or soft – will ever function efficiently. What are the practices I can use as anchors to optimize my inner-net? Meditation? Vipassana? Mindfulness? Yoga?

Part 4 Just Google it. From a Google evangelist, this is just spontaneous. It speaks about trusting the Universe and ‘know the right resources will show up.’

Part 5 Thank you for Subscribing. The power of technology and our inter-connectivity is amazing provided we use it to harness peace – both inner and out peace. Out peace is just a manifestation of inner peace. This then is all about being grateful, embracing possibilities and signing up for life itself.

This book has given me a sense of direction regarding my chosen path. One of which is seeing His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I hope I will be able to fulfill this yearning in me, come summer break.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 5 stars for such a delightful read.

World Book Day Thoughts

Today is World Book & Copyright Day. Can’t have a better day to celebrate it as today is the birthday of the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare and the day the celebrated Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes was buried. A birth and a death. In between is the journey of life. With technology changing every minute, to me the power of the Book is still unquestionable. Yet as an educator I can see that the love for books and art of reading books is dying.

My books

How did I come to be an ardent book lover? I remember fondly my childhood days. Daddy used to read books to us just before we went to bed. And the most vivid memory is that of Dad reading Jim Corbett’s stories to us. Probably because we lived in the midst of coffee / tea plantations with forests and wildlife around in Valparai, Anamallais, I could connect that with the topography mentioned in the stories. Dad had a knack of reading it in such a way that it painted a picture in the mind’s canvas. He bought us lots of books. During summer holidays when we spent time at Dad’s work place, he introduced us to the books of Enid Blyton. My guess is it is those books that got me hooked to reading – not surely the classics. Abridged editions or original versions were not good enough to inspire me read more.

Later as I grew up, I not only started reading but also collecting books and build a library. I do have lots of books now and would love to keep on reading. However, today, when I see students around me not really reading, I wonder if it is because many of us, English teachers, focussed first on classics. (We are old school, you know! I plead guilty of this till recently when I laid hands on a wonderful book called Caring Hearts, Critical Minds by Steven Wolk, which completely changed my perceptions and brought in refreshing insights.) We wanted them to read Oliver Twist and Three Musketeers or Anna Karenina and Moby Dick first. There is nothing in them that would hold their attention. I must also add that those books were written by adults for adults. Yet, we asked our students to read them.

Instead if we ask them to read something they can relate to – like something they see around them in the real world – may be they would find reading a more engaging experience. For example reading books like Freak the Mighty (Philbrick 1993) that explores friendship or the award winning Bamboo People (Mitali Perkins 2012) that hinges on the redemptive power of love, family and friendship. Or Copper Sun (Sharon Draper 2006), the riveting story of the trials and tribulations of an African girl and the practice of slavery. Any Small Goodness (Tony Johnston 2003) a story steeped in hope, love and warmth. Or Scrawl (Mark Shulman 2010), a juvenile fiction that deals with social issues like bullying and peer pressure.

The sad truth is we teach reading to test. Not for the pure pleasure and love of it. We ask them the very evident questions, not those that will make them think. “Instead of teaching ‘Reading’ as a school subject”, how about teaching “reading filled with real purposes, experiences and emotions of life” asks Steven Wolk.

Yes, we need to do this to stoke the embers of this dying fire of reading. For even in this techno savvy geeky world, everything boils down to reading. Adult life is full of that. Read, comprehend, analyse, synthesize, extrapolate and create completely new things out of what you read. Granted what you have to read may not be in hard copy but surely it is in the form of an e-book, kindle edition and or the plain and simple PDF. I hasten to add that this is also reading, but minus the essence. I mean the heady fragrance of a brand new book or the musty smell of an old book. To a connoisseur of books both are sure to gift a very special olfactory experience. Something that makes one clamour for more!  Sniff, sniff and sniff!!! Open-mouthed smile

By the way, did you know that there are perfumes that you can spritz on your e-reader or kindle to make it smell like a paper book? It is like bottled scent of ink on paper – check this one out! Eau de books??? Or is it meant to be worn as an actual perfume? In any case, I doubt if even book lovers would love to walk around smelling like a book. It is great to sniff will it be so to walk around wearing it on your sleeve?

Smell of a book

I think language teachers have their tasks cut out. It is time that schools, teachers and parents helped today’s digital generation discover the simple joys of reading books. Meanwhile, I have rediscovered the joy of reading, thanks to a lot of books that my children, Aathira and Praveen, gifted me for my birthday. From The Immortals of Meluha I am traversing into the absorbing tale of the The Secret of the Nagas (Amish Tripathi – the second in the The Shiva trilogy).

Are you reading too? Happy World Book Day to you!

** Caring Hearts, Critical Minds; Steven Wolk, Stenhouse Publishers; Page 191