First Quadrant

Human body and human life are among the most complex tangible and intangible phenomena known to mankind. It is a simple fact that we cannot envisage anything tangible more complex than a human body. Even the most complicated of machines or devices pale out in complexity when compared to the hundreds and thousands of systems and sub-systems that operate in every inch of the human body. The complexity is much more compounded when we consider the human life where multiple interactions with multiple personalities are involved. Yet we can always trivialise anything and start looking at complex and complicated phenomena in limited angles. Like in physics the complex whole is always a sum of its parts and same theory applies to intangibles also.

If human life can be plotted on a two dimensional plane, what should be the nature of curve for an ideal life? Before we can proceed any further with this philosophical 'space walk', we should define what are the parameters represented by the two axes. Let us take Values on X-axis and Actions on Y-axis (the third axis can be defined as Thoughts). When we fix these two co-ordinates for life, we get combination scenarios as follows:

  • First Quadrant          - Positive Values, Positive Actions
  • Second Quadrant      - Negative Values, Positive Actions
  • Third Quadrant         - Negative Values, Negative Actions
  • Fourth Quadrant       - Positive Values, Negative Actions

Now the question is about where do you want yourself to be in? Let us try to analyse the various scenarios and see the results.

Best Options

Undoubtedly it is the First Quadrant that all of us want to be in. But is it really possible? Is it a viable option to uphold positive values and resort to only positive actions to achieve them? History shows that it is not an easy option. If positive actions refer to living peacefully, helping and sharing, we have seen them failing easily in front of violence, attack and selfishness. And if positive values stand for truthfulness, sincerity and gratefulness, then again we see them ineffective in comparison to dishonesty, insincerity and ingratitude. Even the best man we can identify in this universe cannot operate purely in the First Quadrant at all times. At best it is only an unachievable but a lofty target worthy of ideal pursuit. A peaceful world with no conflicts, no poverty and complete equality is one such ideal that is never attained.

For any student of history it is an easy conclusion that no man or woman could ever exist in the First Quadrant throughout his or her life. Even the best of biographies and auto-biographies do not tell us everything truthful about the individuals. Mahatma Gandhi�s was considered the most open but even that is turning out to be hiding many truths. What usually happens in the case of such life recordings is a look back from the pinnacle of life and invariably many of the pitfalls will be conveniently missed out. If that is the case, the natural question can be about the very relevance of such an impossible quadrant for life. It is impossible to be in First Quadrant but it is definitely a must to have such unattainable ideal options in every aspect of life.

Other Quadrants

Among the other three quadrants, we can easily rule out the third one which involves negative actions and negative values as an unacceptable one under any circumstance. The world cannot sustain itself if we have majority of people living in this quadrant. The whole world would be in turmoil if there is no minimum trust, understanding and accommodation. Second and Fourth Quadrants, where there is some positive values or some positive actions are the places where most of us would find ourselves most of the time. While Second Quadrant indicates negative values but positive actions, the Fourth Quadrant stands for positive values but negative actions. Is it acceptable to have negative values and carry out positive action to achieve them? But it is definitely not a desirable scenario to have people using positive (legal) methods to achieve negative (illegal and immoral) ends.

The Fourth Quadrant of life which stands for positive values but calls for negative actions to achieve them is the most interesting one. Is it not what Lord Krishna advocated when he clearly instructed Arjuna to stay on with the dharmic war to achieve noble ends? In our world today it is no exaggeration to imagine each of us as Arjuns in Kurukshetras around us that calls for similar actions to achieve nobler ends. If it was swords and lances then, today we are living in times of guns and bombs. We do not see our enemies but they are out there everywhere. The modern weapons make no mistake and the modern terrorists make no discrimination in using them. Negative values can be confronted only by negative actions and that's what Fourth Quadrant requires us to do. But that should be an exception.

Whatever be the quadrant we are in, we have our lives to live and live on we must. While First Quadrant is where we want to be, it takes immense luck and sacrifice to be there through out. While most of us would invariably get pushed around the other three quadrants of life, it must be the endeavour of everyone to get back into the First Quadrant at the earliest. If a majority of us succeed in doing so it would be much easier for us to identify those who are stuck in the Third Quadrant and isolate them for ever. Our world would be a much safer place if we can destroy and thereby limit the occupants of the Third Quadrant. In the current parlance there should be only terrorists in the Third Quadrant and all of them must be eliminated for our own good. Genuine Paradise would prevail only in the First Quadrant and that is what all the sane secular and rabidly rational humans must strive for.     

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More by :  J. Ajithkumar

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