Sunday, 3 February 2013

Is "rising-up" overrated?

Is "rising up" overrated? In the first place, is it even necessary? If it is, then is it possible?

In graduate school, I once found myself sitting across a particularly nasty professor answering a viva after a lab exam. He asked all the other students to leave and grilled me for two hours, blatantly telling me that he was just playing cat and mouse with me. After two anxious months, wondering whether I would recieve my degree or not, I finally got it alright, but barely so. That was not the first, but no doubt a very strong negative life experience. Back then, I just wished that I had the powers to settle it fair and square with this man. He was a teacher, a teacher is meant to support the creation of successful lives, rather than destroy it.


The call to be noble, to justify an unconventional response to being treated meanly or unfairly, didnt quite work then. When someone steals credit, magnanimous forgiveness seems foolish. When cheated, not counting the losses and responding appropriately seems cowardly. Whatever form it may take, but each one of us has experiences of this nature and it is hard to respond to set backs, when it is caused by selfish or malicious intent. 

Thinking about forgiving, leads to a plight similar to the young monk. This is a story that was narrated to me by my father as a child. A young monk once asked a wise sage the way to happiness; he was told that it was easy, the only thing that he needed to do was to take a journey and when he was on it, not to think of monkeys. The poor monk started his journey with this instruction and every time he reminded himself not to think of the monkeys, he thought of the monkeys, until all he thought about was about monkeys!

In stead, work to make the violation inconsequential. Focus on making the best of something unrelated and challenge yourself to achieve new goals. It is certainly not easy, but it is positive and productive. It is a form of "rising up" that is beyond providing a controlled response to a situation. The less attention and food the monkeys recieve, the more that leave the mind.

There have been far bigger setbacks ever since, but this is a formula that has worked, wherever there were no emotional attachments to the offenders. Rising up is necessary for progressing oneself and it is possible by setting sights on higher goals.


I had my opportunity to see karma in action, when the same professor came to my company, a highly reputed organization, 3 years later to lobby for jobs for his students. He was assigned to me and was eloquent in praising me to get his job done.  It was an opportunity for me to rub my hands in glee and return the favor. But by then he and what he had done had become inconsequential. The only one monkey that sometimes reminds me of this episode is the one that reminds me of how this episode was an eye-opener on dealing with many such life situations.