I LIVE IN A GLASS HOUSE BUT LOOK I’M CHANGING
Quick get your pens out and put your thinking caps on. I am about to test your creativity.
I show you a photo of the World famous Bullet train whizzing through the Japanese countryside at speeds we can only gasp at. If you were an ‘ad’ guy what would be your famous lines below this stunning photo?
Next I show you the even better South Korean train that moves faster and is more smooth than the Bullet. What would be your copy below this?
And now comes the finale.
I show an Indian train travelling through dusty, chaotic Bihar in India. There are more people on the train than inside. Even the engine driver has to lean dangerously outside his cabin to see the rail ahead even as many people and cattle dart across the rail line right in front of the moving train! Not one inch of vacant space exists on the train top!
What will be your comment?
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Be honest with yourself.
NOW read on…
One of the first lessons in creative thinking [which I teach] is to practice developing many ways of looking at anything at all. Try not to be content with your usual way of looking at anything. Try and develop many perceptions.
Take for example a motor car.
I read somewhere a famous film actor in India Dev Anand, saying that as far as he was concerned a car was just a device to go from one place to another. I put this question to one of my creative thinking classes and I now put this question to you.
WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS POSSIBLE PERCEPTIONS OF A CAR APART FROM IT BEING A DEVICE TO GO FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER?
One guy gave me the following answers :
It is a status symbol, an engineering marvel, a work of art, a source of wealth, an investment, a refuge from home, a second home, an official perk, a tax planning method.
can you add to this list?
An ancient proverb exhorts us to do the same deliberate shift in perception when it tells us that FAILURE IS A STEPPING STONE TO SUCCESS.
Can you do a similar exercise and come up with several perceptions of God?
Someone in very ancient times in India [when ancestors of those who are part of the first world now and who often claim to have an exclusive access to God were living in caves] might have posed this question to the simple people surrounding him or her.
‘What does God mean to you ?’
He got many answers, some of which are listed here.
God is :
The giver of life, the giver of wealth, of food, of good health, of loving children, the solver of problems, the remover of obstacles, protector of the weak, the pardoner of sins, the giver of strength, the giver of wisdom and many more such perceptions.
Noticed one thing remarkable about this list—people define or perceive God in terms of what they lack or desire or are grateful for or fear or are anxious about. In other words we tend to perceive god in terms that reflect our innermost fears, desires and aspirations. Perfectly understandable and even more understandable in the light of our current dilemmas that might be far more serious than ever before.
Now come to the familiar criticism leveled against the Hindu reference to many ‘gods’. The number of ‘gods’ is directly proportional to the person’s prejudice against Hinduism. Not many may know that these are not many ‘gods’ but, based on the kind of list I have drawn up above, these are perceptions of God which were then personified and given a name. Thus a guy who wanted the blessings of God for excellence in education perceived God as the giver of education and then personified and named as Saraswati. Those who desired wealth perceived and personified and named God as Laxmi and so on. Remember Shakespeare personified jealousy to immortal effect by calling it a ‘green- eyed monster’! When you refer to the Lords cricket stadium as the ‘Mecca’ of cricket you are applying a version of the same device. You are ‘placifying’ Lords even though no cricket has been or will be played at Mecca. A Marketing book I read in B-school is called the BIBLE of Marketing. Someone called a terrorist as the ‘devil himself’ thus personifying evil.
Coming to the train story in my first para the caption I liked read
‘INDIANS WILL REACH THEIR DESTINATION NO MATTER WHAT!’
About three and a half decades ago a relative of mine migrated to the west. On her first visit to India two years later she found the usual crowds and noise [of which she was earlier a part] of India deeply offensive and indicative of the backwardness of India. I kept quiet knowing as I did even then the stages which a migrant from India goes through. Two years ago, a full thirty plus years of life in the west later—she visits India, walks the dusty and even more crowded streets and talks of the ‘lively, bustling cities’ and ruefully contrasts all this with the ‘silence of the graveyard’ in her city.
Talk of changing perceptions!
By the way my perceptions of God have changed over the years. I am an atheist!
Should you live in India and like to learn LATERAL THINKING write to me.