Education and Knowledge

Education comes from ‘educate’. Knowledge comes from ‘know’. The word ‘educate’ has this connotation that implies that the information is being imposed upon. Something is being forced. The agency is external. When we think about the word ‘know’, it implies that information is either experienced first-hand or that it has been garnered after internal deliberation and reflection. There is a certitude about knowledge. Education does not.

Schools are good at providing education. Tests are good for checking if a student was properly educated or not. This has nothing to do with knowledge. Knowledge can only be tested in the real world while living one’s life.

I have seen many people complain about the school education. They say that the school education did not prepare them for real life. It did not teach them the skills they needed to live. They do not realize that schools were never meant to teach them how to live. To be honest, I think it is impossible to teach this. There are multiple reasons for this, but the most fundamental reason is that the teacher himself does not usually have lived his life properly. He himself does not have the experiences that he could even attempt to impart upon the students.

Education helps one to live a life by earning a living doing some work while knowledge helps one to be alive. When we look back at the time we spent in classrooms, during those time we learn the skills needed to do something, usually for others. Later, in life, while reading a comment in an internet forum, or while having a conversation with a neighbor or even while just trying to figure out a problem with the kids, we realize the futility of those skills to live a good life. While, because of the degree granted by the schools, we were able to get a leg up in the career, the information collected in those classrooms do not mean anything in life. The irony is that the information does not mean anything even in the career. I sometimes wonder how much I would have been able to learn if I had just gone on my own.

Every skill that is needed to live a good life is garnered one-by-one by means of experiences, failures, interactions, and reflection. We must acquire those skills from within. And we must acquire them ourselves. Just like another person cannot live my life, another person cannot also teach me how to live my life. They might try to tell me their experiences. They might try to provide guidance and pointers. But until I can internalize and make those experiences my own, I will not be able to understand what they meant. Just like a person cannot describe how sugar tastes like to another person who has never tasted it. It is good that people still try. Description of those experiences becomes helpful when I actually experience the same myself. I will know at that time that I am not alone. I will know that there were other people who had also experienced the same. I will know exactly how they felt when they experienced that something. That is knowledge.


It feels like everything inside the mind wants to come out in one single burst. How do people bring out one sound after the other? One word after the other. Expressing what is in their mind. Like unravelling a ball of yarn. You start pulling at one end and the ball starts unravelling. All I seem to have in my mind is sound. No words. Just pure sound. That sound then needs to be organized into phonemes, then to word, then to sentences and finally to stories. To ideas, perhaps. Ideas are borne spontaneously out of nothing. They suddenly come into being out of the sound that is constantly humming in the mind. The idea sets things in motion. In a way like the big bang. One moment there was nothing. And the next moment there was this explosion – the idea. That idea sets things in motion. What idea, we do not know? Because we are all the by-product of that. The atoms, molecules, air, earth, planets, stars and vast void of space, everything. We are all participating in expressing that idea.

When we have an idea in our mind, it triggers some stimuli in the brain. There will be activities in the neurons, in different chemicals in the cells. They then trigger some more stimuli. They make hands move. They make eyes blink. They make the heart beat faster. They make you light the fire. They make you split the woods. They make build something. They make you destroy something. They make you run a marathon for no reason. They make you give up everything and be an ascetic. Any one of these actions can create a ripple effect in the wider society causing a chain reaction. But those neurons, the molecules that make the neuron or the atoms, they have no idea why they are doing. They simply are moving or are being stimulated. They have no idea, pun unintended, what idea they are expressing. During all this, they move, they collide, they die, they get borne again. They get recycled into another molecule or something else. They have no control over what happens next. Things just happen. If they were conscious, they would probably try to change their course of movement. They would probably stop trying to be stimulated. They would probably have reflected over like many humans do: no matter how much they tried, why did things just happen? Do we have control over our surroundings? Many people would like to think they have. Ultimately, when they lose that sense of control, they get upset. Our world is also no different from the world of the atoms and molecules. That sometimes make me wonder whether the molecules are also conscious in some way.

Now, to get back to the concept of idea, is it possible to know what is that idea that is being expressed through us? When I say us, I mean all the observable things. Can the molecules in my brain right now know what I am going to write next when the idea triggers the brain stimuli to move my fingers to type these words. I say – NO. The idea at the level of a human being is beyond the limit of comprehension for any single molecule no matter how intelligent or observant they are. Their field of view will always remain too small to see the full picture. But if the molecule is conscious, it may be able observe what is happening to itself and other molecules in its immediate environment and deduce that they are just moving under the influence of some external force. Same applies to whether it is possible for us to comprehend the idea that the cosmic mind is expressing through us. If we observe our immediate surrounding, we can clearly deduce that we are not in control no matter how much we discuss about free will. We may be able deduce that something is being expressed but knowledge of what that grand idea is will always be outside our field of conscious.

Change remote origin for a git branch

While moving repository around in Bitbucket, previous git branch was renamed. I had a local repository tracking the old Bitbucket repo. When I tried pushing some changes to the remote branch, it failed with:

fatal: ‘<oldbranch>/<oldbranch>’ does not appear to be a git repository
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.

After doing some web search, I found the following command:

>> git remote rm origin

This command removes the remote branch information from the local repo. There is a complementary command to add a new remote to the local repo:

>> git remote add origin<newbranch>/<newbranch>.git

You can get the url to the new branch by clicking on the ‘clone’ button. After setting the new remote, I was again able to commit changes to my bitbucket repository.

This article contains treasure trove of information about how to work with git remotes. I strongly recommend this for anyone working with git.

Unafraid and indifferent

Let it flow
Don’t resist
Just look where it flows
Up like fire
Burning everything lifeless
Down like water
Filling empty holes
Around the obstacles
Unafraid, indifferent

Let go of your ego
Let go of your insecurity
They weigh you down
They block your mind
Shed them
Be free of them
Immerse in the world
Soak up in it
Unafraid, indifferent

Bloom like a lily
In the midst of the filth
Spread your scent
Do you see now?
How they come to you
Like butterflies come to the flower?
How they seek you
Like moths seek the fire?
Your halo, your scent
Spread now far and wide
But you keep going
Unafraid, indifferent

You keep going
Keep going

Joy and Sadness

Feeling of joy
The joy of realization of the oneness of everything
Feeling of sadness
The sadness that I cannot share this knowledge
Coexist side by side inside of me
Tears well up and roll down my cheeks at my failing
Realization is just that
A realization
Words are too small to imprison it
It consumes everything
It becomes everything
Any attempt to bind it within the boundaries of sound
It burns them down
Words, when uttered, become ashes
Could you look at those ashes and see the fire behind?
Could you read those words and sense the mind behind?
Could you feel it?
Could you, may be, climb the ladder of these words?
I hope you do
I hope you see what I see
I hope you feel what I feel
I am yearning for you up here
My brethren
Don’t give up yet

Atomic story (Part 1)

I am an atom and this is an atomic story. Let’s start at the beginning: my birth. At one moment there was nothing and at another moment, I was in this world complete and fully functional atom. I don’t know how I came to be.  When I realized I was born, there were already many other atoms. To tell you the truth, atomic world is very fascinating. There are many varieties of atoms: light atoms, heavy atoms, gas atoms, liquid atoms, metallic atoms, explosive atoms, inert atoms. Even within the same variety, each atom has its own character. Sometime when a Sodium atom comes closer to a Chlorine atom, they join and form a common salt molecule. But other times, they just stare at each other and decide to move their own way. Same with Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. Sometime one of each will join and together they will go searching for another Hydrogen atom to form water. Other time, they do not even look at each other. Very weird! There are many such weird examples.

Over the course of centuries, many atoms tried to find a meaning of the existence of the atomic life. They devoted their entire lives to seek an answer. Some of them succeeded and became enlightened atoms. According to these enlightened atoms, we should not expect anything particular to happen as a result of our actions. We ought to just do our job and let nature take its own course. They also said that our job is very easy: basically to do nothing. Things just happen. Some external forces just moved us from here to there for no apparent reason. But contrary to the wise advice, most atoms kept on trying to do something and expected something to happen as a result. Some atoms make molecules when they find the atoms they like under the right circumstances. Some atoms form molecule with the same kinds of atoms. There are some atoms that preferred to stay with other atoms without actually forming a molecule. And when these atoms did something, they usually expected something to happen as result. Unfortunately, as explained by the enlightened atoms, the results were never guaranteed. This caused many atoms to become frustrated and stressed out. Some atoms even committed suicide. Those were very tragic moments. We did not actually want any atoms to take their own lives.

There were rumors that there were very powerful things known as humans that we could not see them. According to these rumors, humans could use their secret power to force molecules and even atoms apart. Taking molecules apart is okay but it was sacrilegious to take the atoms apart. Occasionally, some atoms would collide with each other at very high speed for no apparent reason and split into pieces. Some conspiracy theorists posited that these high speed collisions were the result of the secret human power. Some atoms were not very happy about this. They did not like the fact that humans possessed such a tremendous power over atomic life and death.  They wanted to do something. A resistance group was formed to fight against the human beings. The very first plan was to create a poison molecule. If somehow these poison molecules could be put inside the humans, they could actually be killed. I did not know what killing meant but I did not like the sound of it. Being a young atom and after having heard so much about the humans, I also wanted to know whether these rumors about the humans were true or not? Whether the plan succeeded or not? Then one day, out of the blue these atoms invited me to one of their secret meetings. I heartily agreed to attend.

The Life

(This is part of a series of posts written in a story format. I will update this over time to include links to other related posts)

Life is a sequence of choices and coincidences. The choices, though, depends on the preparedness. Coincidences, as it says, are just coincidences which the person has no control over. Some of these choices and coincidences represent opportunity and recognizing an opportunity and making the right choice requires a lot of wisdom and experience. Knowing that everybody gets a chance and maybe even second or third chance requires a lot of missed opportunities and patience. After twenty-five years of searching for an answer to the question – ‘What is a big person?’ – He finally realized that there is no unversal answer. No one was universally a big person. Everyone was big or small relative to one’s vantage point both in space and time. A person might be a big person at some point in time, who later might become insignificant. Similarly, a person might be a big person in one place and he might be nobody in another.

There were even more important questions in his mind. What is life? A long slow march to death? What is the purpose of life? A powerful person’s life. A rich person’s life. A poor person’s life. King’s life. Queen’s life. Does it make any difference? Ultimately everyone dies and how a person plans to die greatly affects the way he lives. Though not many people even think about dying let alone think about how to die. He had a plan on how he wanted to die.

Little guy

(This is part of a series of posts written in a story format. I will update this over time to include links to other related posts)

This is the story of a little guy who wanted to be big when he grew up. He was very little and didn’t know what it meant to be big. But he reckoned someone must know because his father always told him to be a big person when he grew up and he just needed to find that guy. First he asked his friends. He actually wanted to ask his father. Unfortunately, his father was out to work that day and ended up asking his own friends. They didn’t know what ‘to be a big person’ meant. Then he asked his big sister and big brothers. His sister said, ‘when you are a big person, you can do whatever you want.’ That sounded good! His brother said, ‘big person has a lot of money’. Now, he was certain he wanted to be big. Right at that moment mom came in. ‘Mom might know?’ he thought. He ran over to her and asked, ‘Mom, what is a big person?’ She had just come back after working the whole day at the field. It took a while for her to figure out what he was asking. ‘A big person is one who knows a lot of things, who is not afraid, who works hard, studies hard.’ Now, he was completely confounded. He had thought he knew what a big person was and just wanted to confirm, but she gave a completely new definition. ‘I will wait till father comes back. He must know the definitive answer. He is the one who always talks about being a big person.’ he thought.

He went outside. The sun was more than half way down. There were vegetable patches close by and a small fruit garden little farther down the field. They had about two acres of land. He didn’t like playing in the field. There was still some time left before it got dark. He went to find his friends. Three of his friends were playing football on the school playground. By the time he came back home, it was dark already. Dinner was ready. After dinner, he went to ask his father. ‘Father, what is a big person?’ Mom heard and smiled. ‘What?’ his father asked. ‘What is a big person?’ he asked again.

Good book

Tyrion pisses off the edge of the world in George RR Martin’s mind. Daenerys walks into the fire to bring forth the dragons in George RR Martin’s mind. Frodo perseveres to take the ring to the Mount Doom in JRR Tolkein’s mind. Krishna convinces Arjun to fight in the battle in the Kurukshetra in Vyasa’s mind.

Great books are those that let the reader peek into the mind of the author and the author speaks to the reader through the characters like in a dream. There are many characters in a dream with their own rationales, emotions and abilities albeit they are all being inside the mind of the dreamer. A good book is like a dream. Each character lives its own life while being inside the author’s mind. They are all very different from each other while still being the same by virtue of being brought forth from the mind of the author.

Each character arrives at the moment in the story with its own history that defines its ethics, rationales and ambitions. At the same time, it also retains the capacity to change itself while living its life. More the author disappears and lets the characters speak for themselves, more the story becomes great. Any hint of the author imposing its will on these characters, and readers start shunning the book over time. A rule, which I first found in Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s book, that I use to choose a book worth reading is: older the book, worthier it is. The book that the readers over the years have kept on reading must have something worthy to offer. If a book has been read for thousands of years, that books is definitely worth reading. This means, all the scriptures and the original books of the major religions are definitely worth reading. They offer something eternal that have been proven useful in life centuries after centuries.

Just like in real life, there must not be any intrinsically good act or intrinsically bad act in a story. Every action should have a potential to be a good one or a bad one. When Frodo lets Gollum live, it is never obvious whether that is a good action or a bad one. Or when Arya frees Jaqen H’ghar, it is not obvious whether that is a good action or a bad one. And when Yudhishthir loses everything including Draupadi, it is also not obvious whether that was a bad action or a good. Only thing all these actions have in common are that they all have potential to be bad, good or both. It all depends on what section of life we look at. Life unfolds over a long stretch of space and time. And results of an action continue to reverberate throughout space and time and even after the death. All these characters act just like in real life rather than seeming to be guided by the author’s whims.

Growing and ageing

One of the questions that many people are trying to find an answer to is: What causes a living being to grow old? Can it be slowed, stopped or even reversed? This is a fascinating question and has occupied many for eons. Ageing has recently become an active field of research. We are spending so much time and energy studying such matters shows that we are afraid of dying since natural progression from growing-old is death. We are trying to slow or stop ageing means we are trying to delay or stop death. The answer to this question is being sought inside the body of the living organism. But I think it is not the internal mechanism that causes a living organism to age but rather the external environment as a whole. Just like a stone over time gets eroded until it longer exists, if growing happens as a result of the interaction with the environment, there cannot be a way to stop it without stopping the whole world which is obviously impossible. Anything that we ‘DO’ will just cause the world to keep going. The world is the totality of such interactions.

Good news though is that just like the stone, once it erodes, goes on to form another structure somewhere else; all of our constituent parts will also go on to form something else. Some combination of such structure will be conscious like animals. Some structures will be like a stone devoid of any feelings. And some structures will be the plants.

Each object has its own time. It grows in its own time. It dies in its own time. Human beings die in human time. Planets and galaxies die in their own time. Stones die in their own time. They are born in their own time as well. How are they born? Human beings are born out of their mother’s womb. Galaxies are born out of galactic womb. Stones and mountains and soil and water are all born out of the nature’s womb. Knowledge of creation is encoded in the nature which gets executed with its own rhythm.

Water flows downhill. It seeks ocean no matter what. Along the way, it fills holes, cuts through the stones and the earth, and keeps flowing until it reaches the ocean where it loses its own identity and becomes one. Along the way, it transforms the fields, provides nourishments to uncountable lives, and performs numerous other things. Similarly, stone is created out of minerals deep in the bowels of the earth and changes its forms throughout. Along the way, it provides habitat for numerous other living organisms, helps bring sparks, and affects many other changes. But here, if we look carefully, we can see that water and rock are also very similar to what the living organisms. They are created (born), go through a life and eventually die. But death here does not mean an end. It just means that one cycle ended. Water, minerals, and chemicals will continue through to the next cycle which may or may not be the same as the previous one. When such cycles continue ad infinitum, at some point it will come back to the original state whence it started from.

If you look carefully, water or stone or living organisms do not have any control over how their life cycle continues. Water flows downhill because it is in its nature. Stone disintegrates over time because it is in its nature. And any living organism will eventually die because it is in its nature. Any attempt to do otherwise will be like trying to stop the time itself.