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Calculus of Life


In mathematical calculus, integration and differentiation are two of the most interesting concepts. Both of these concepts are concerned with how things change over time.

Simply put, differentiation is used to find the rate of change of things and integration is used to add rates of change over specified intervals. But how many of us have ever wondered how apt these concepts are in the context of our own life?

Applied to life, integration can be understood as something that brings everyone together. Since every material object is perpetually in a state of change, to integrate is to bring together these changing entities. Popular adages like `unity is strength,’ and `united we stand, divided we fall,’ all go to epitomise the process and strength of integration. When we say twe ought to "sink our differences", we essentially mean we need to add the rate of change -- that is, integrate. Integration is also perceived as something that helps us journey towards a higher state of life. Perhaps we could call it higher consciousness or aspiring to reach a higher "order" of life. It signifies winning over the mental state; of discrimination; to treat everyone equally is a respected spiritual ethos.

Differentiation, on the other hand, is a concept that has not received due appreciation. Usually, we associate differentiation with discrimination and so tend to look down upon it. Adages like `divide and rule,’ are scoffed at. But, as in mathematics, differentiation precedes integration. Understanding differentiation is essential to grasp the concept of integration. That is, you can integrate only after having experienced differentiation. Simply put, the need for differentiation arises only because everything is not integrated -- all objects are not same.

On observation, it is evident that orno two objects are completely similar. There is something or the other that differentiates one from the other. We usually use words like type, kind, variety, form or nature to describe these differences. The main reason we don’t like to differentiate is because it creates boundaries. For instance, when two or more people meet, we could differentiate them on the basis of physical charcteristics, religion, language, caste, educational background and wealth. And when we have boundaries or differences, it goes against the spiritual ethos of treating everybody equal. Therein lies the source of conflicts we often face. Rather than the concept, the true source lies in mankind's "abuse" of differentiation. And that's why the term differentiation has acquired a negative connotation.

Does all this mean we do not have any boundaries? Do we treat all things equal and as one and the same thing, that is, do we keep integrating? Well, going by the concept of differentiation, that would mean that if an entity cannot be differentiated, the entity is a constant and is no longer changing with time. In fact, differentiation of a constant will only yield zero.

In sum, one needs to appreciate that true beauty of God’s Creation lies in not just integration but also in differentiation. It is only when something can be differentiated, it signifies that the object is undergoing change and is truly alive. And integration of such changes leads us to enhance true beauty.


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