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

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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Monday, October 13, 2014

A Dream about Stealing

While listing the various means human beings use to evolve, Patanjali the father of yoga mentioned the knowledge gained from dreams as one of them. The subject of dreams is indeed a vast one and it is hardly possible to go into much of it here. A bit about them has been mentioned in earlier posts. Just two things may be mentioned though, when dreams are mostly traumatic and stressful, it implies that much emotional stress is stored up within the recesses of one’s personality. Time and dreams help to resolve these so that dreams become sweet and gentle most times as they should be. Leading a simple loving life,  in secluded green surroundings hastens this process and that is something that mystics have done from time immemorial to cleanse their souls of unnecessary burdens. However, leading a hectic life of greed, anger and stress will increase the problem.  For most humans, it appears to be a good idea to reflect on their dreams, or whatever part of it they remember soon after waking up to assist this process of resolution. It is something I have done from an early age.

In his treatise on yoga, Patanjali mentions that to even begin evolving as a human it is necessary as the very first preliminary steps to give up things like violence and stealing. These are left over of our animal past. A monkey would not think twice about stealing a banana from your hand when hungry but a human is supposed not to steal i.e. take something that belongs to someone else without their permission or knowledge. A Human may only take from what belongs to no other humans or what is earned by them or given to them willingly by someone else.

However, while it is easy to moralize and be ethical when one is not faced with an opportunity, temptation and need, the real test comes when one is faced with all of these. Some such consideration and fear must have been locked up somewhere in the recesses of my sub-conscious mind too because they unfolded in a dream yesterday. Our hidden fears appear in dreams in order to help us overcome them such as finding oneself paralyzed or frozen at a time when activity is urgently required, is a common dream.

In a dream last night I found that I had access to a temple cellar for some engineering work. Temple cellars are commonly used to store temple treasures and in this temple there was a direct chute from the surface through which donors could throw in their donations to land up in the cellar. While I was there alone, a fresh and therefore unaccounted donation of a large sum of money suddenly poured in. Because I was in need in the dream, I secretly picked up some and put it in my pocket. However soon after I was disturbed by the act and put it back.

This dream woke me up and disturbed me. Although I am firmly against stealing perhaps that tendency or the fear of that tendency still remains in the depths of my being. However, the dream has a teaching too, to fight any such remaining tendency because I remember as a child of having stolen a few toys once and a newspaper another time. At that time it was an adventure and immaturity but such a tendency must not continue as one grows up.

An evolved human does not steal not because he might get caught and punished for it but because of more basic reasons. Whatever we acquire in life is because of the doings of the world or universe around us and hardly because of our own doings although most humans think otherwise because of their ego. It is the Universe that grants us whatever we have and it is the Universe that takes it away too. If one steals, even though no one may know about it, the Universe does know and then one can hardly expect the Universe to be generous or kind to a person who does that. Once a human evolves to a basic threshold, he simply does not take what belongs to someone else, whatever be the temptation, knowing fully well that it is thing not done and it is something that will produce pain and harm in the long run aside from depriving one of the generosity of Nature.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Learning by Teaching

The Babaji Affair by Ashok

After receiving a doctoral degree in engineering with flying colors, with the grace of the Almighty, I took up an academic career that involved teaching, research and administration of education successively in three of the finest universities of the world. While towards the latter part of my professional career the administrative role increased, in the earliest part teaching was a major component. I taught the subjects in which I had majored in graduate school, stuff called heat transfer, thermodynamics, fluid turbulence etc.  A significant realization at the time was that most of my learning took place when I began to teach.

Truly a teacher learns most when he teaches because at this time he is compelled to contemplate on his subject matter more deeply and repetitively as well as deal with questions and queries from students. Some such thing happened with the present blog too after it was launched around seven years ago. It is not at all to do with my professional involvements that helped make a living but to do with matters of general and wider interest – Life and Spirituality – from a global point of view, not one that is confined to any one part of the world or tradition.

Being a quintessential professor most of my blog posts have an element of teaching and in doing so many readers, especially from the English speaking parts of the world have visited and hopefully learned something useful. Perhaps the most learning has been for my own self and also my greatest reward. Any visitor to this blog may browse or search through it on any topic to do with the fundamental workings and purpose of life and if they post a question in a comment, I shall know through email notifications and respond to it. On the other hand if a reader finds that stories that teach are more interesting, this essential knowledge is also included in the book – The Babaji Affair. The book may be located easily anywhere in the world through a Google search.

In the end though, may I point out that while life seems insecure because of so many unforeseen dangers, there is a very simple way to overcome these insecurities and attain peace as well as happiness when one understands life deeply. For every human, there are fears of sickness, old age and death. Then there are dangers from the elements, the microbiological world of viruses and bacteria, insects and animals but most of all from the doings of other humans and human organizations, even governments that could potentially turn a happy life into misery in minutes. Despite this one learns to be secure and happy when one trusts in the Universal Intelligence that gave birth to all life. Death is no longer a fearful prospect but a bright renewal in new clothes. One realizes that all be well for all in the end and what seemed like ups and downs or travails in life were fascinating adventures full of learning that helped us evolve, so that we are once again free to enjoy this wonderful creation that the Lord made for our joy just as every loving parent fills a child’s room with wonderful toys, that children who trust their parents enjoy but those who are afraid of the shadowy ghost under the bed or the snake in the bush cannot.