Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Pioneers

The discontented are the pioneers of the world. They, who refuse to
take the roads well travelled and instead choose to explore, in various
ways, the way to lasting peace and happiness.

Since my childhood, I have had the good fortune of meeting many people
who could not agree to a conformant life and instead were deeply
affected by the problems of the world and chose to alter the course of
their life in order to find a solution to the fundamental problems of

Going through one cataclysm after another, belonging to one group
after another, following one philosophy after another, becoming
entrenched in the struggles for existence, breaking down at times,
carrying on despite the pressures to conform and to settle down,
withstanding the ostracism of their peers, choosing to give up the
superficial comforts of a secure existence... they had the potential
to be the pioneers of Humanity.

Every person on earth thinks about life and happiness. But these
people chose certain courses of action that required effort, turmoil
and uncertainty.

They, despite the different creeds that they temporarily belonged to,
shared the intensity to seek and find.

Many of them, having been born in India, adopted a particular
spiritual sect. Many of them became disenchanted and lost, confused
and directionless. Many of them suffered doubt, cynicism and a loss of
hope and energy. The instinctual pressures of loneliness, of sexual
desire, of the struggle for financial security, and the entrapments of
authority led us through valleys of despair, of a frittering away of
our vital years, of going around in circles hoping for a breakthrough.

Most of us gave up. Many of us settled down in comfortable careers,
in a familial existence, with the related pressures and
responsibilities, not having broken inwardly through the wall of

I had a friend in school, a financially poor boy. He had the vision
of a peaceful society, howsoever misguided. When we all sat for our
matriculation examination, he saw some fellow students cheating and
being helped by the invigilators who were supposed to stop them. He
stood up and complained. But the corrupt invigilators charged himself
of cheating and threw him out. His life broke down after that. He
became a recluse, a drug addict and was finally hospitalized after
many years, close to death. I came to know of his story many years
later when it was too late...

I had another friend in college, who became involved in the Hare
Krishna movement for individual enlightenment. He became conditioned
with their beliefs. He went to the USA to earn money, could not
reconcile his spiritual beliefs with the capitalist society, but
didn't have the courage to leave it all (because the cost was too
high), became an experimenter with drugs, sex and anti-social
behaviour. He became bitter and cynical, and finally reconciled
himself to a personal failure in his quest, and gave up.

One could say that such people did not have the courage to go all the
way, that they got scared and gave up... But this loss of their
pioneering spirit, and their defeat, is a loss for all humanity.
Humanity extracts a heavy cost for being different and this is what is

Then there were others who became deeply entangled into some sect,
gave up their careers and families, but could not find what they were
looking for.

When I remember those friends, I remember the first line of
"The Howl" by Allen Ginsberg:

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness"

And then the last lines:

"with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their
own bodies good to eat a thousand years."

My salutations to those who did not buckle down, and continue to
further the frontiers of human endeavour in their search for the
solutions to the pervasive and chronic problems of humankind.


Katarzyna said...

Thank you Harman for your pioneering humanistic insight and sensitivity. I wonder - what kind of study/teaching did you get? I would say it's very Western and European (at its best times), reading you I feel like reading all the same story known from French, British or even Polish thinkers and authors... I hope only it's not offending your culture in any way...Thanks and keep it going!...

Di said...

1. The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Katyayini said...

The Road not taken - Robert Frost

Pilgrim by Enya

Pilgrim, how you journey
On the road you chose
To find out why the winds die
And where the stories go.

All days come from one day
That much you must know,
You cannot change what's over
But only where you go.

One way leads to diamonds,
One way leads to gold,
Another leads you only
To everything you're told.

In your heart you wonder
Which of these is true;
The road that leads to nowhere,
The road that leads to you.

Will you find the answer
In all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
In you?

Each heart is a pilgrim,
Each one wants to know
The reason why the winds die
And where the stories go.

Pilgrim, in your journey
You may travel far,
For pilgrim it's a long way
To find out who you are...

Pilgrim, it's a long way
To find out who you are...


Di said...

Katyayini, thank you...that was awesome :)

Have you read "into the wild"???

Katyayini said...

@ di

do you mean Jon Krakauer book? No , i have not. I have seen the film by the same name and a documentary Christopher. What is the point? I do not see any reward in rejecting civilization/people the way he did. It is a nice take which will appeal to any person tired of humanity. Humanity interests me! Have to heard of Mr. Big's song: Going where the wing blows:

Harmanjit Singh said...

A short review of "Into the Wild":

Katyayini said...

Thank you, Harmanjit, for the link to the review. I quote:
"To live a life enabled and made richer by frugality and not one hampered by it is the secret of joyous independence."- is a sensible and practical as opposed to idealism of Christopher. Why reject human beings? why not find a way to live in this very world, which is the world of all of us. Why renounce something when the problem lies within and not outside. I enjoy a nicely brewed tea and the feeling of the summer breeze; will not trade it for insect ridden forest or peeing in the open when i can enjoy the nicely tiled rest room i have. ...I concur the way blogger has noted: why give up need is after some time and struggle for it! why give up human beings when when can find a peaceful way of living with them. :-)and films/books are for enjoyment, not examples to be followed and yearned for. What a death Christopher met. what a waste of human life! what fools who instead of living joyously get seduced by the romanticism of rejecting the world and following wilderness...the book/film should have been titled...into the wilderness!!

Anonymous said...

Harmanjit, you are one step ahead....u already had the blog written, albeit on the movie, last year (which I just read).

While you and katya, poo-pooh christopher, chris might be saying "I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

I found writers confusion/contradiction bet. "The Pioneers" blgo and the review blog of "into the wild".


Anonymous said...

To Katya:

"Why renounce something when the problem lies within and not outside"

Why do we judge anyone? To each according to his own (thinking/lifestyle/attitude). One must have compassion!


Katyayini said...

Compassion , which is misplaced in looking at wasting a life with empathy/sympathy, is detrimental to human civilization. Life is meant to be lived in all its glory. Chris's is not the road less traveled but road to dejection and disappointment. He is no pioneer in ending up being dead. You must watch the documentary which unravels many truths. The book has been heavily edited and contains passages of Chris's disappointment-some accounts managed and edited to appeal to the readers. But of course, when can always argue that suicide bombing is a revolutionary step too. But it is a twisted logic and passion that will lead someone to such a conclusion. As for me, Chris's might have jumped off the cliff; does not change my argument: what a waste of human life!

Katyayini said...

" to each his own"

sure, just that i do take notice when someone gets suicidal and maverick to the peril of one's life.

Anonymous said...

Soldier: dying in war: "what a waste of life"
Housewife: quitting corporate career: "what a waste of life"
polio victim: crippled "what a waste of life"
I can go on....but you get the idea???

It is how you perceive. For me it is formidable human spirit that I am ready to salute, which dominates/overcomes/presides....under all circumstances!!


Katyayini said...

'waste of life' means endangering one's life. Soldier's life is a waste because he/she dies for a cause not his own. it is not the same as a housewife quitting corporate career( when does a house wife has that one, though?). A polio stricken person's life is not a waste.
You miss the point. MAKING a conscious decision to throw away life is a waste. Christopher's story as told in the book/film/documentary is as much fiction as a fact. The fact is someone died, the fiction is romanticizing it. The documentary clearly states that in his last days the young lad longed for his family and friends, yearned for good food and was probably regretting his decision. and that is what the blogger aptly points out in his review. Take a breath. It is such a wonderful moment to be alive in this glorious universe. Why would you want to trade this for struggle which leads one nowhere, and probably to death by starvation/food poisoning.

Harmanjit Singh said...

To clarify, I salute the spirit of the pioneers, as also of Chris, but consider it unfortunate how they destroy their lives or their health.

Anonymous said...

That it is a destruction is our perception. Hence subjective. Maybe Chris had survived it all, he would have been a hero and hero-worshipped. That he died, is considered a waste. A normal, ordinary personal will not take such a road. That is why it is road less travelled or even created. In doing so, they sacrificed their lives and died. Died in vain for you and me. But maybe not for the soldier....
Anyway. We can all agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

To Harmanjit: you cannot salute and say unfortunate in the same breath. Either you salute and admire OR say unfortunate and pity. For me there is contradiction.

Harmanjit Singh said...

The saluting is to their pioneering spirit, the unfortunate part is that they are unable to genuinely break through, which is a loss for humanity at large.