Hinduism/Linux – Christianity/Microsoft
The only thing Hindus are religious about is freedom of faith – i.e. the freedom to express ones love for God or seek the nature of Truth, in the way he/she finds most spiritually redeeming.
Hinduism has no beginning, no one founder or prophet, not based on any singular doctrine or holy book. It is more of a culture and mindset than a religion. Complete freedom to approach/worship God in whatever name, form, image, or non-image that you like, in whatever method want, and transparently drawing inspiration from different saints, sages, literature, temples, arts, etc. In this regard it is the most pluralistic culture on the planet with its rich diversity of numerous (as in thousands of) faiths and spiritual practices, different schools of philosophy, metaphysics, logic, languages, arts, music, dance forms, sub-cultures, etc. Many of which can be so dramatically different from each other, and yet co-existing with lot of synergy. See Hinduism.
This is in contrasts to religions, most of whom by their very nature are fundamentalist. Like fundamentalist Christianity whose paradigm for most part of their history has been exclusivist (“my way or the highway”), and expansionist (required not only for their survival, but often mandated in their doctrine), and not pluralistic (see Pluralism). This causes a conflict with the very freedom of expression (from the underlying pluralistic host culture) that allows such faiths to grow in the first place. Similar to how a democracy would suffer if in the name of democracy, parties that are opposed to democracy where to set root and grow.
In that regard, here is a comparison I’ve been entertaining a long time… it started off small, and eventually really grew into a pretty interesting and poignant comparison. Linux is to Hinduism as Microsoft is to Christianity. As you read along, just substitute Microsoft with Christianity, and Linux with Hinduism below (best viewed in context of what both these cultures have been for the most part of their history).
- Microsoft invests millions in evangelizing and proselytizing. Linux does not. The only thing Linux is guilty of preaching is freedom – of choice and expression. It doesn’t care whether you even use its system, create your own, or even if you use Microsoft (as long as the system you use/adopt/create does not oppose the very diversity and freedom of expression/choice that let you do that in the first place, by using tactics below).
- Microsoft has an expansionist philosophy, where it believes their system should dominate (i.e. monopoly over operating systems). Linux says has no such expansionist philosophy.
- Microsoft is based on a business model: it makes make money out of the promotion of their product. This is essential to its expansionist policy, in the same way as conversions/loyalty to Microsoft is also essential. Linux people comparatively make very little on the promotion of their product. Their reward is in the work they produce itself.
- Microsoft is proprietary. Linux is open-source – anyone is allowed to challenge, change, and add to the system – provided it makes sense to do so (and it has been working very well – Linux is a robust, stable, vibrant system) and provided it doesn’t conflict with the pluralistic open-source philosophy.
- Microsoft is a closed system. It does not interact with other systems. Linux is an open system it encourages interaction with other systems. Linux goes out of its way to interface with other systems, against all odds.
- Microsoft people find Linux systems too complex. Linux people find Microsoft’s system too limited. People who where neutral (i.e. not Microsoft to begin with), find Linux’s diversity more attractive, and don’t see it as complex but awesome.
- Microsoft is afraid of Linux – because Linux is not a single proprietary entity (like a single company, which would be easy to control or destroy). Linux, not being a single entity (but a culmination of many streams of technology merging together), has no concern or fear of Microsoft.
- Microsoft has been ruling the desktop, and has been desperately trying reach the more advanced server market (but fails as it is too limited). Linux rules the servers, and from their reaches the masses in so subtle a way that you don’t know it’s origin is based on Linux. Like the systems that power your Android smart phone, your home theater box, smart gadgets, and other numerous connected smart devices and control systems, are all Linux under its hood [like how few people know yoga, karma, dharma, mantra, tantra, yantra, ayurveda, chakra, avatar, rebirth, enlightenment, guided meditation, guided imagery, lucid dreaming, pranayama (breathing techniques for stress relief), as well as numerous movies (The Matrix, Avatar, Star Wars, Inception, Interstellar, etc), all have their origins in Hindu thought and philosophy].
- Microsoft is learning, that in order to survive you cannot be a closed system, you have to work with other systems, not against them. You can’t have the attitude of only “my way or the highway”. But it can’t completely adopt the open model because it is a business – and lot of jobs are at stake.
- Microsoft came into power by destroying companies – not through fair competition, but by using a predatory practice built upon their monopoly; breaking all anti-monopoly laws (there is a reason why these laws are there). Linux came into prominence by pure merit. A quick test of this is to remove the “religion” aisle in libraries/bookstores, and take all those “religious” books and put them in the self-help/philosophy section of libraries and bookstores, and let the books speak for themselves (without any preaching). Those that are built upon deep philosophy (yoga, metaphysics, cosmology, epistemology, ontology, psychology, mathematics, etc) will survive. Those that aren’t will die.
- Microsoft’s marketing strategy spends millions in trying to tailor its system so that it appeals to the largest market. Linux’s marketing strategy understands that no one system can satisfy everyone. Linux encourages the development of different variants of Linux [like the thousands of spiritual traditions, paths, distinct faiths, customs], and each flavor itself can offshoot more flavors of Linux and feedback into nourishing Linux as a whole. If that variant is good, it will speak for itself, else it dies. If you take out one Linux from Linux, still Linux remains.
- Microsoft uses FUD in its marketing (a term coined by Microsoft (stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) to prevent people from leaving the Microsoft solution and trying alternative systems.
- Microsoft continues to be successful because it taps into the large population of people who just want a quick solution (or because they don’t want to learn, or are to busy to, or have been FUD’ed not to learn). On the other hand people who have taken the time to put in that little bit of effort to learn Linux, greatly appreciate that Linux has evolved through being open and dramatically customizable from ground-up.
- Microsoft’s system (Windows) is like a Kodak Instamatic (point-and-click) camera, Linux is like a Canon/Nikon SLR professional camera. The SLR camera has a zillion features you can customize to your exact needs. It just takes a little bit of effort to handle the SLR. You can use an SLR right out of the box as a point-and-click, and later start learning more of its features and customizations, to do things you couldn’t dream of in a point-and-click camera. But people have FUD, and Microsoft exploits that FUD. Microsoft, being a pure business, would rather have you believing that its way is the only way.
- Microsoft is limited to the engineers who work in Microsoft (and its affiliates) and in appropriating code and ideas from Linux. Linux is made of the contributed efforts from millions of individuals around the world.
- Microsoft users are limited in exposure/knowledge (limited by being fed a diet of using Microsoft products only). Linux users are broader in their knowledge [as in pluralism] because of their openness (and thus generally much more resilient and accepting of other systems [cultures]).