Technology and Spirituality Coexist

In the last couple of weeks, I had long fulfilling conversations on spirituality and Moksha with two young people in their 20s. Both are Computer Science students, with one doing a bachelor’s degree and the other doing a master’s degree.  One is a male and another is a female. One is a student on my own university campus and the other is on another university where I had recently visited to give a technology seminar based on my Data Analytics book. Both students happened to be from Hindu backgrounds, but neither is from India.

Both said that they were deeply spiritual people, and they were always concerned about how might technology and spirituality co-exist. I said I was a living example, and they felt reassured. Of course, there are many other IT people who have even become full-time spiritual people. I also said that spirituality is all encompassing, and it includes everything including technology, management, society, and all other fields. In fact, spiritual technologies can accelerate the path to moksha.

Both also said their conversations with their classmates and friends were not too fulfilling since others could not communicate with the others at the level that they found fulfilling. One described the conversations as being more about questions and answers about manifested things, and it was difficult to describe to their friends their deep spiritual experiences that had changed their view of the world. The charm they found in their inner journey was very enjoyable, but not necessarily describable. The other student was curious whether spirituality could help technological solved problems more creatively.

I wished them great progress in their spiritual journey. Enlightenment is very easy to achieve if one innocently wished for it, but does not obsessively try hard to find it in the world outside. It will come when one is ready.  This is the same message I gave my two friends in the summer when they said that don’t give me this Bliss s**t.

 

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Age and Happiness

I did data analytics for a long-term project on family businesses, while at Case Western Reserve University a little over 2 decades ago. Using survey data from hundreds of respondents across dozens of companies over several years, we tried to analyze predictors of success at family firms. The astonishing finding was that the biggest finding was not about usual factors like ‘Succession Planning’ and ‘Clear Strategy’ etc. The biggest amazement was that across almost all dependent variables, the age of the respondent showed the greatest impact. We found what I used to call a bucket curve. For respondents under the age of 30 and below, their perceptions of their company was good. Similarly, for respondents of age 50 and over, their perceptions of their company was good. In the middle age, the respondents’ perceptions were not too good, across all variables. No other independent variables, like gender and education level and years of experience and even whether the respondent-employee was also a member of the owning family, made any difference. The AGE variable ran away with the whole variance, and thus the whole story.
We went to the retired dean of the school of business to express our excitement, amazement as well as trepidation at such a result. This old wise man looked at the results, asked some questions, and said that it all makes sense. The younger employees are glad for what the company has given them. The older people are looking back with pride at what they have achieved. It is the folks in the middle who are nervous and frustrated  as they have half their career behind them and want/expect the company to give them more opportunities to do better.
The paper was sent for publication on the strength of this finding. It got published at Family Business Review, the top journal in the field, in 1997.  Twelve years later I accidentally discovered that this paper had been included in the authoritative Handbook of Family Business all these years (there are less than 30 papers in that handbook). This paper was significant for just this insight, that age changes perceptions like nothing else. At our age, we are mostly happy as we have accomplished a lot!

On Moksha (Liberation)

Moksha is the ultimate thing. It is liberation from the biggest falsehood – that we are this body or the mind. Moksha is the liberation of the soul from the confines of the mind and body. We say that we have a mind, and we have a body. We are the master of our mind and body. We should devote our time living in touch with our true self, which is the soul, or whatever other name it may be called by.

Moksha brings freedom from the afflictions of the mind and body. The body is frail; it can be broken; it can get diseased. The mind is fickle and flighty; it can get anxious or fearful or angry; it can get depressed. The body is a great tool while it works; it houses us and allows us to engage in the relative world of other souls and the material things. The mind is an even more powerful tool while it works; it helps us grasp things unmanifest and subtle, through the power of thinking. The mind allows to plan, act and be happy. To be liberated does not mean discarding the body or the mind; it means not to be confined or defined by them.

A person who has achieved Moksha experiences total and eternal bliss. Such a person is not moved or agitated by anything in the relative world. Such a person is able to ‘see’ the soul in every other person and can connect with them. Such a person can communicate with their mere presence, without using any words or even raising a finger.

Moksha is achieved by (a) a deep desire for it, and (b) the right way to transcend the relative world of mind and body. I believe that everyone fundamentally desires moksha, as no one wants to suffer pain and misery. However, the strength and the depth of desire can be different for different people. I do not believe we can will a desire, i.e. the mind cannot create a desire. Desires are what they are, and they exert the most powerful force upon us. The right way to fulfill the desire of Moksha is the way of meditation. All meditations are not the same. I believe that transcendental techniques such as TM (from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) and Vipassana (from Buddha through Mr. Goenka) are two such techniques, though there could be many more of them.

 

My Data Analytics book becomes Best Seller

Today, my first book, Data Analytics Made Accessible, became a top-seller in the data mining category. It reached #2 bestseller status on the Amazon website (see picture below). I hope it will reach #1 soon. The book’s success speaks to its quality. It is an accessible overview of this vast and growing and hot topic. This book only comes in an online (Kindle) version, and is also priced very low compared to other books in the field. Thanks to those who wrote nice reviews on the book on Amazon site. I hope this books helps the readers become successful in their lives.

DAMA_Ranked_2_in_data_mining_on_Amazon - Aug23-2015.