Thinking About Thinking - 2019

The Law of "Joyancy"

By Balaji Prasad

“As a singer, you have to bring the soul to the song."
~ Lata Mangeshkar

Can you hear the song as the sound waves carry gently through the air, to your ear? Do you really hear it? Is it exactly as it was sung by the singer? And, are you then able to reproduce the song, note for note, as it was sung?

If the answer to the above is “no" then the question is whether you can trust your ears. Then beyond that, if you say you can trust your ears, there is the question of whether you can trust your mind and memory, and the notes that they influence you to sing. Finally, is your voice up to the task of delivering what your mind cues up on your internal record player? And, if you cannot, and do not, when you hear the corrupted version emanate from your mouth multiple times, as you go on a singing spree, can you keep your rendition separated in your mind from the original rendition by the singer? Or will your memory be forever corrupted by the reality that you heard a few times overridden by the many, many times you heard your own self?

The unheard song

Perhaps much of life goes by, unheard. Or, even if you hear it, perhaps you hear your own voice rather than that of the universe. At some point, it becomes unclear where you end, and the universe begins. I am it, and it is me. If you put your imprint upon everything that happens to come in contact with you, then do you see things as they are, or do you see a reflection of yourself in those things?

The world is always a bit out of reach, because you come between yourself and the universe. Every single time. Maybe just a little sometimes, maybe a lot at other times. But everytime, nevertheless.

If you see this, you might say, “It's not you, it's me!" You might begin to see that you cannot see without altering what you see, without corrupting the pristine state of whatever there was, before your eyes alighted on it. “Oh, horror of horrors! Must I be in all I see and touch?" you say to yourself, in dismay.

Archimedes Principle comes to mind. As you sit in the tub of water, you displace a volume of water equivalent to the volume you occupy in space. How much of reality is left in the tub depends on how heavy an object you are. And, if you are particularly weighty, and jump into the water with a huge splash, then all that may be left is you, and very little water. Only the mind and its infinite fantasies, and no reality. And, you hear no songs, at least not in the way the universe sings it.

The Law of “Joyancy"

“Eureka," you scream, running around madly, as Archimedes supposedly did, when he discovered the Law of Buoyancy. “I have it!" you say, excitedly. “If there's less of me, there's more of the universe. And, I can hear the music as it plays!"

There is a deep sense of joy when you really hear the music. When there is less of you, there is more of the song of life. There is more joy. Perhaps, it would be okay to call it “The Law of Joyancy"?

But why is there joy in the truth? After all, isn't the truth sometimes ugly? Even Bitter? Aren't the ups better than the downs, in the roller coaster of life that we all hurtle through, having been put there by some unseen hand that surely didn't need to do that?

It all depends on what you mean by “joy", of course. If the word is synonymous with pleasure, with highs, then, yes, the truth is anything but joy. However, if you would prefer to live a life in which you sing in tune with life as it comes, wherever it flows, then there is a certain joy in that. You flow with the flow, and go where it goes, where the wind blows. Because the wind and the water are more powerful than you are, and if they choose to carry you somewhere, then they will. And, if you are able to enjoy the ride, isn't there some joy in that?

How to sing, rather than sink

Archimedes didn't run around excitedly just because of his discovery. Hieron, the King of Syracuse, who was dubious about his goldsmith's integrity, probably paid him handsomely to put the goldsmith under a microscope; the King wasn't sure that the crown was made of real gold. Archimedes, as many of us are, was more inspired at bath-time than otherwise. And, the rest is history – a law that endures to today.

However, let's get a little deeper into the water, to get a little more insight out of buoyancy – Archimedes' concern – so that we may understand joyancy, our primary concern. The key in both instances is mass. If an object is heavier than the water it displaces, it sinks; otherwise, it floats. It all comes down to the volume of the object and its density. A very dense object will be heavier than a less dense object. Or, two objects with the same mass may have different densities, if they are made of different materials.

This is how Archimedes struck gold! Literally. (There is no record, though, of the fate that befell the integrity-challenged goldsmith, the unfortunate object of Archimedes' attention.)

So, if we prefer not to sink into the quicksand of reality, we need to displace a heavier amount of the reality fluid than our own mass. How do we do that? We increase our volume, as we keep our mass constant. We spread ourself out across the universe. This results in less mass per unit volume. Or, less density, according to the laws of physics.

In short, we need to become less dense to avoid sinking. We need to engage more with things, and have less of ourselves weighing down everything. This allows us to float on the surface of the ocean of reality, and get carried along, singing, rather than sinking.

So, think about Archimedes, think about gold and be joyant. Above all, sing well, and sing with soul! You'll sound good. And … you may feel good too!


Balaji Prasad is an IIT/IIM graduate, a published author, SAT/ACT Online and Offline Coach, interview, resume, and career coach at NewCranium. Contact: 704.746.9779 or