If you are looking for peace, search through the posts of this blog and it is very likely that you shall find it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Life and Liberation

Some of the most highly revered spiritual personalities such as Buddha and Jesus have recommended in their teachings that it is better for humans to work for their liberation and eternal salvation rather than focus much on transient and temporary worldly gains such as wealth, power and fame. However they have made no bones about the fact that the journey is a long one and there are only a very small number of humans who reach that goal in any given lifetime. Why is it then that they recommend striving for that goal for all humans? Failing in that goal, would they also not miss worldly gains? This has been explained further in spiritual texts that it is not so; that when one works for liberation one has a greater chance even for worldly peace and joy in that journey.

A mark of great evolved souls is that they feel the pain of others just as much as their own pain. They feel a deep sense of compassion for all life. Gautama Buddha was so moved with the pain of other humans and even animals as a Prince that he renounced his kingdom and went into the wilderness in search of answers. After years of meditation his answer was that it is precisely the attachment to worldly pleasures and gains that are at the root of suffering and birth into human lives in which suffering is unavoidable. He therefore recommended that it is best to work for salvation and eternal bliss instead in order to escape all suffering.

Life has both good and bad, joy and sorrow and all these are subject to change with time. Life is a journey through time experiencing these. Even the good in life produces pain and sorrow when it goes away some day. When one is deeply attached to worldly gain, one would have a tendency to make ethical and even legal violations of a criminal nature. Such violations themselves may bring about a quicker end to all the hard earned gains as compared to their end by a natural flow of events. In the previous post, the situation of a friend from college, a class mate was described, who reached the highest possible attainment in the world in terms of fame, reputation, wealth and power but suddenly a legal violation he had made was brought to light. He is now in prison and his wealth is being taken away.

The saints do not recommend that Humans should stop enjoying worldly peace, joy and beauty when granted by life and the Universe. What they recommend is to continue with their journey with a far greater adherence to principles of goodness - love, truth and simplicity in comparison to a worldly goal. The worldly gains that one deserves, because of one's work that come as a by product of doing one’s duty honestly and sincerely are indeed longer lasting and more joyous. At the same time, when a worldly attainment or comfort comes to an end one is able to bear the loss with greater equanimity, knowing fully well that it is just one tough patch in a journey to a place of eternal bliss.

While all this may be too formidable for many to comprehend fully what may be accepted more easily and intuitively is that all are children of the Universe, a Universe that stands on the principles of love. If they trust in that love and live by doing the right thing, the Universe shall do the right thing by them and much more as any loving parent would for a child. The hard times may be viewed as educational episodes Perhaps the Lord is harder on those He loves most from time to time, just as a teacher is on a student who has great potential while perhaps not bothering as much about those headed for failure. When the friend just described who is a person of spiritual inclinations by and large despite some errors he made, mentioned after his two year prison sentence that life is a journey, his wife remarked that she wants out of that journey, as reported in the media. It is precisely what the saints advocated, showing how to end that journey by reaching the destination.

The Lord is both a parent and a teacher.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tragic Homelessness and Solutions

While some homelessness has existed in the world from the beginning of time, two things are different in the modern era. Modern law and regulations tend to make it more persistent then it ever was in human history. In older times, with few regulations, a homeless person could gradually build up a shack on a vacant piece of land and even find land for some farming. Such land hardly exists in the modern era. The second even more distressing aspect is that it is happening in the richest countries of the world. If the unemployed son of a poor man becomes homeless it is not a surprise but when the son of one of the richest men in the world has to be homeless it is indeed tragic. The logic may be scaled up to citizens of countries.

What are the solutions? The solution is obviously not to make such people go away, or starving them slowly to death by stopping their food as some local administrations tend to do. Where should they go? They cannot jump in to the ocean, can they?

The obvious and only solution is to provide shelters. However in order to ensure that these are feasible and not misused, much thought has to be given to the issue. A concept of a shelter called the HISA is described here:

HISA shelters endeavor to meet the following requirements

  1. While ensuring that the shelters do not violate human dignity by providing a comfortable bed, roof and some regulated space for storage of private goods, full privacy is denied so that a person is not tempted to make a permanent home out of it.
  2. The design has been optimized from an engineering point of view so as to be the most economical and therefore affordable one
  3. The centers are regulated in a manner so that those who are children are provided education, those who are aged are provided greater comfort but the able bodied are encouraged to return to part or full time work with an income sharing mechanism and to eventually leave the center when sharing is not attractive and is instead sufficient to acquire their own private lodgings. Even the aged may be made to share their pensions and any assets they may have made to go to the center upon their demise by law rather than children who may have neglected them.

Once shelters are provided they help to clear the streets of nuisance, even crime that homeless persons may get compelled into while catering to the humanitarian needs of fellow humans in distress. The integrated nature of HISA centers provide a more natural environment for rehabilitation while permitting governments to consolidate their welfare budgets in a single place thus leading to savings by a sharing of facilities and services.

Quick Relief

Although it may appear that setting up any new system of shelters may take time, it need not be so if there is a will to provide fast relief. The residential part of HISA centers are modular army like barracks that can be constructed bit by bit at a fast pace, once the land is reserved. Constructing a few modules at a time also has the advantages that some of the labor for construction may be provided by some of the residents themselves on an income sharing basis as proposed for HISA centers. An even quicker settlement is possible by housing some of the earliest settlers in refugee like tents on the same land assigned for a HISA Center even before construction begins. Usually there is reluctance to house homeless persons in refugee type tents because no city or country wants a permanent tent colony. However, if there is a planned replacement of these with HISA barracks there should be none such.

Personal Note: 

This author understands the pain of homelessness because in 1990 due to an adverse turn of events in his life he was suddenly rendered homeless too. Fortunately with the Grace of the Almighty, he had a plot of land in the wild barren outskirts of the city and also his knowledge as a highly skilled engineer. He began constructing a home on the plot beginning with one room and a temporary roof, bit by bit, while taking off to work to raise money in other cities to build a home of a standard he had been used to. Simultaneously he founded a society to develop the area. Today the area has become one of the most developed ones in the country and the home of the author a beautiful one as can be a seen in some older pictures of this blog as well as in this post. Simultaneously he planted trees and flowers and encouraged others to do the same so that the area has become one of the greenest ones in the country. People who see pictures of it cannot believe that they are from an arid part of the country. It is the belief of this author that:
Where there is water enough for humans to live, just the waste of it is enough for trees to grow. If human habitations are bereft of trees or humans bereft of homes, it is merely  sign of humans disrespecting and misusing life, that was gifted to them by the Universe

The efforts of the author to contribute towards greening the world and fight against distress and  hunger amongst the poor of the world, especially children, are continuing as evident from very many posts of this and associated blogs of the author. Prior to becoming homeless for a short period, this author had enjoyed some of the largest and best homes in the country and abroad. Recently a similar fate has befallen a close friend of his from college by the name of Rajat Gupta. He is suddenly being rendered homeless while he enjoyed huge mansions just a little earlier and was one of the richest men in the world with friends and associates such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Clintons  to name just a few. This is pointed out to remind those who feel comfortable and are indifferent to the plight of the distressed, that in this world events beyond their control can change things suddenly. It is always a good idea to keep the heart human and compassionate. One never knows when one would need that compassion badly and desperately from others since one may get out of life only what one puts into it. More of the author's philosophy on life can be found in the posts of this blog or his book - The Babaji Affair- found easily by a Google search.
Ashok on one of the terraces of his home, October 2014

Homeless images before modification from:

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Annual Cleaning in India

Dr. Ashok Malhotra on roof of his home in Jaipur, October 20, 2014

Although this blog has most posts that are general to the world, some posts are country specific and this one is about India. Most country specific posts of this blog are about America or India and the simple reason for this is that most visitors to this blog are from these two countries as any reader can check by clicking the map in the left side bar.

While public places in very many parts of India have become dirty and messy with an increase of population and governance deficit, something that the new Prime minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi is trying to change; he has announced a five year cleaning program that began this second of October for cleaning all public spaces in every nook and corner of the country so that it may once again becomes as clean as ancient India that was famed for its cleanliness as evident from historical and archeological records. The Indus Valley civilization invented covered drains and sewerage systems.

Individual homes in India are still kept very clean, in fact cleaner than in most other countries of the world as observed by this blogger in his travels around the world and this includes the homes of poor villagers too. The cleaning of homes is organized so that some cleaning is done on a daily basis, some weekly, some quarterly and some on an annual basis.  The annual cleaning covers parts of the home that are difficult to clean on a daily or even weekly basis. The time for this annual cleaning is just before the annual Diwali festival also known as the festival of lights. It is as important in India as Christmas is in the west. The Diwali festival is later this week and the annual Diwali cleaning in our home began last week.

My home has three different terraces that we hardly visit but today in order to clean it I climbed up to one of them with a helper to clean the area. As we cleared it of dust and leaves that fall on it from nearby trees, it was a pleasant surprise to note that some scented flowering creepers are occupying parts of the roof as shown in the photo.

Wishing a Happy Diwali to all readers of this blog.

The Cleanliness Campaign announced by Shri Narendra Modi, PM

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Peace is the Bottom Line

A new headline was added to this blog mentioning – If you are looking for peace you are likely to find it in some of the posts of this blog. That was a conclusion based on seven years of experience with this blog. The various posts are on many assorted topics crucial to life and a visitor would have to browse or search through them to reach the ones that appeal to him or her. Peace really is a prerequisite to happiness and everything else worthwhile besides. When one has peace, a little some thing may produce happiness and when one lacks it, nothing will. Those who help promote peace in their interaction with other humans and the world, bring peace into their own lives through the eternal principle of reflection of deeds while surely making themselves more pleasing in the eyes of the Universe or the Lord in case they believe someone far mightier than them can govern this infinite universe. Persons like me believe in One considering we can not even make a single cell of our body or any other life form from the near infinite number of cells that make up all life, and it is indeed delightful to believe as described in very many posts of this blog..

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