Can’t believe it took Scott Adams of all people to make me reconsider the power of prayer. Let me explain – When I was a kid (Class 6-7 kinds) – My mum who is a very religious person – (in the more spiritual sense of the word) – introduced me to prayer.
She is a die-hard bhakt of Hanumanji (its seems a little weird writing His name in English phonemes – but well with no disrespect obviously), so I used to recite the Hanuman Chalisa every night before going to bed. Soon I added Hanumanji’s Aarti and a mantra which went “Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram” to the mix. And you know what, it worked for me – at least that’s what I used to believe. Soon it transformed into a ritual to ask for what I wanted rather than prayer itself – and at other times when I was keeping up the daily recital(sporadically) I started rushing through the Chalisa – mumbling words – mixing up sentences, getting distracted and the like. So after a point I reasoned – there isn’t any point doing it – when I am doing that without any conviction, without any motivation. I felt I was lying to myself and lying to God – so I stopped. My mum said it doesnt matter whether you believe it or not – but I said no – it does not make sense to me. And so it has been till this day (3 years I guess).
Now first you are thinking where does Scott Adams figure in here – and why does this post keep getting longer and longer. The first I will explain as follows and the second – can’t help it – I think I have begun to ramble on a bit too much. Scott Adams has written a book called the ‘The Dilbert Future’. Now I am a huge fan of the comic strip and thought that ‘The Dibert Principle’ was awesome. However, this book is tons of shit (translation in IITspeak – Scott Adams ne dil se hagga uchchala hai – matlab hadh hagga – and I mean really). Some part of it is quite funny I admit (which might be a topic for another post) – but mostly it is bakchodi (He knows he can get away with writing anything and make money on top of it). But his crowning glory is the last chapter of the book called “A New View of the Future” where completely redeems himself and actually ends up making a much stronger point because of the preceding chapters.
He starts by stating one his predictions (among the many in the book) that “The theory of evolution would be debunked in our lifetime”. (I think the following strip sums up his thoughts pretty well and quite hilariously at that. Copyright Scott Adams).
What he challenges is – our understanding of reality – which if insufficient or incorrect, will obviously render our strategies for success (of any kind) ineffective. He picks up things which we accept as axioms 1. Time goes forward 2. Objects Move 3. Gravity Exists and 4. Cause and Effect is only possible through a physical contact. To challenge these notions he picks up both actual incidents (such as the double slit experiment) and suggests thought experiments. Now, I have read some of that stuff during engineering – but Adams deconstructs these concepts in way which are intelligible to all (although as he himself admits some of the details go haywire) – and that is where he ends making a fairly convincing argument. Not that we accept what he is saying is correct, but we accept that there might a possibility that there is an alternate view of reality based on perception rather than vision – how we might be living in an infinite universes like the frames of an animation or how infinitesimal actions – such as thoughts – can make a quantum difference upon enough iterations in our lives (references to the Chaos Theory). Some of the latter resonates with me too – how many times when driving on the road, you have actually worried about getting into an accident and actually gotten into one – it sometime feels so tangible – so round the corner, and when you don’t care nothing happens.
It is in this thought environment where he makes his point about Affirmations – whereby, you write a specific goal 15 times a day and achieve that goal – in Scott Adams case it worked – making him a successful syndicated cartoonist, a 94 percentile GMAT score, even got him some success at the stock market. Obviously you can’t be inane – don’t write stuff like ‘I will win the lottery today’, or ‘I will be a millionaire by the end of this month’ – but give yourself some flexibility. Affirmations seem to be akin to prayer, which Scott Adams also recognises. And he states a lot of incidents from his own life, as stated above, as well experiments which demonstrate, hard as it might be to believe, the power of affirmations or for that matter – prayer.
So, why is Scott Adams a star? He is star because only he could have articulated the argument about a possible alternate view of reality well enough to be so convincing. And at least I am definitely reconsidering prayer – maybe not doing it yet but not denying it either.
I have cut short several of his arguments for the sake of not making this post run into several pages, and of course I can’t put them better than he has. So, spend a weekend reading the Dilbert Future. It will disgust you, amuse you, bore you – but it will also provoke your thinking.