Shamik Desai: We should NOT live by numbers in a conscious world
Shamik is currently involved in a project called ConsciousWorld, inspired by a dystopian-satirical novel he wrote and by a vision that his friend Uday Khemka had been harboring for quite some time. Shamik had just finished his manuscript, articulating what he saw as modernity’s ‘Problem’, and wanted to do something positive in terms of catalysing a process that might in some small way help address the problem. This is when he ran into Uday, whose idea of mapping the ‘conscious world’ onto a web platform intrigued him. He hopes this world we are illustrating expands and deepens over time.
So you’re living by numbers
And numbers you answer to
You can count all the numbers
You bet that someone’s counting you
Lyrics from ‘Living by Numbers’ by New Musik
Your life before ConsciousWorld had been following a different direction – how difficult has it been for you to change direction?
I was in banking for many years but felt something wasn’t right. Writing and philosophy have always been where my core interests lay. Even when I was six, I embarked upon writing a novel — at least in my own mind. It is a calling — it chooses you. So for me, it was a very natural thing to make the change. When I was in banking, I felt a strong tension between my values and my work. But it provided me with ‘material’ — a front-row seat into what was wrong with the present system, and fuelled my motivation to write about and address these challenges. What I’m doing now with my writing and ConsciousWorld feels very natural to me; it feels like it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.
Changing career direction often means changing your life – how much has your life changed so far and in what ways?
Many aspects of my life are now folded into my purpose in some way. Financially, it’s been quite insecure the last few years, in sharp contrast to earlier. It’s been difficult, but certainly worth it. I’m focused on doing the meaningful work I know I was meant to do. In terms of relationships, I find increasingly that the people I’m drawn to and form relationships with are those with whom I share a sense of common purpose.
What is the biggest purpose behind this change?
To try and free ourselves from the disease of quantification—from the present-day “Tyrant of Numbers”, as I call it in my upcoming novel.
What are the hopes and expectations with this initiative and how are you going to make this happen?
We hope that ConsciousWorld can help push various spheres of society closer to a ‘tipping point’, which appears to be close at hand. A new paradigm is beginning to emerge. We can see this across all sectors of human civilization — as humanity taps into its core of consciousness, acts with mindful intention, and flourishes by default. We wish to accelerate this paradigm shift. We believe that by visually depicting an alternative map of reality — abundant, balanced and integrated, on a free-access, free-content website, this would increase hope and optimism about the future. It would increase democratic participation among the public in regards to shaping the conscious future, and help make this future a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A new paradigm is beginning to emerge…
Who are the people that have influenced you most during your life?
I think the combination of growing up between two very different cultures (in my case, the US and India) and two sets of role models, deepened my perspective and broadened my horizons. It gave me a holistic and integrated orientation that I carry with me in all that I do.
Tell me a bit more about your life now and your family?
I travel quite a bit. I enjoy my travels and often find myself meeting the most remarkable people in the most unusual places. When I’m on my home base in San Francisco (I’ve recently moved here from Washington DC), I’m usually writing or working on the planning and logistics of moving ConsciousWorld and related projects forward. I’m not married and don’t have kids — which gives me flexibility to pursue my interests and passions.
What are the most important things in your life?
The most important thing in my life is what I see as my purpose. I don’t believe in divisions and compartments. My writing, the ConsciousWorld project, my relationships — I see all of these as spokes radiating out of a central hub. My mind recoils at the thought of distinguishing between work and love and play — all of these things are interwoven. I think Community and Calling are what make life fun and meaningful.
I don’t believe in divisions and compartments…
What is your opinion about the issues that the world is currently facing?
Our biggest enemy today is the compulsion to quantify. People have forgotten a timeless truth — that Consciousness (Love, Spirit, etc.) informs and begets material outcomes. Creativity ensues from loving action. In today’s big data, algorithmic, hyper-capitalist world, where we are reverse-engineering our actions and instrumentalising people and nature to achieve narrow bottom-line outcomes, much spiritual wealth is lost. When we undermine the ethic of pure intention, we risk losing the ingredients (intimacy, imagination, compassion, creativity, etc.) of a truly productive society. Ironically, since spiritual abundance is the foundation of material abundance, our numbers-focus is leading us down the path of bankruptcy. This obsession with quantification is causing imbalance at every level —individual, societal, and planetary.
Our biggest enemy today is the compulsion to quantify…
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
Hopefully, doing exactly what I’m doing now — still writing about these spiritual themes, and still involved in promoting a more conscious world!