Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Democracy and Spirituality



Saint Paul in Athens by Raphael
Democracy is a form of government in which people through a vote choose representatives to govern them for defined periods, except in a few African states where a glue merges from the behinds of democratically elected leaders to stick them to their seats of power forever, metaphorically speaking. The precise form of democracy varies from country to country. Most have a written constitution that describes principles through which a state is governed. In many cases, though not all, democracies have produced greater welfare of people than other forms of government such as dictatorships, or monarchies.

However, democracies as exists in most countries today are not free of defects, some serious. This brief note cannot go into various advantages and defects of democratic forms of government but it may be mentioned that the biggest short comings of democracies arise from the role of money in elections and later in law making so that people often end up with laws that favor big money interests rather than them. However, this note is concerned more with spiritual influence of a democracy on people rather than other effects.

Spiritual philosophy, either as part of religion or independent of it, has in the main come to the conclusion that the Universe has a Supreme Intelligence at its root and it is referred to as God in the English language. The most advanced of spiritual philosophies have arrived at the conclusion that God is the entire universe and everything beyond as well that cannot be perceived by physical senses. That has been the view in the various spiritual posts of this blog too. The perceptible part of the universe consists of energy, animate and inanimate matter. Animate matter or life is distinguished from inanimate matter by the fact that it possesses a free will through which it may act independently within constraints in the universe of which it is a part.

The Universe carries out its will through both inanimate and animate parts besides direct will. Thus, the Lord may at many times act through humans or animals, without their knowledge most times, for long or brief periods. Yet there have been exceptional personalities through history recognized as saints, prophets and avatars through whom God has acted substantially for major portions of their life and it seems that they have not been unknowing of this, so close has been their unity with the Universal Spirit. One of these was Lord Krishna who walked the earth in ancient South Asia. Many in South Asia recognize him as an Avatar of the Lord. While there are many stories about Lord Krishna in ancient South Asian literature, his brief spiritual message has been recorded in the book - The Bhagvat Gita. Some have claimed that interpolations such as the Hindu caste system have been added by vested interests in parts of the book. If this be true or not, the spiritual verses of the Book are apparent and clear to the spiritually minded reader who may easily skip those that talk of caste etc.

An early message in the divine book is that beyond their physical bodies, life possesses a soul that survives death. A soul may be born in other bodies or forms after the present life comes to an end with death. Future lives depend on the deeds and levels of evolution of a soul. Lord Krishna has described in the Bhagvat Gita that the next immediate life of a soul depends on the thoughts and desire at the last moments. A friend had mentioned that his grandmother on her death bed, before passing away, was worrying about the safety of her mango pickle jar. I did not mention to him that she was likely to be born as a pickle in her next life, LOL.

During my early days of spiritual pursuits, I had been perplexed by this and had inquired what if a person has been saintly most of his life but thinks of evil demons in his last moments, would it be fair for him to attain a life of a miserable demon? The answer was found as my spiritual pursuits deepened. It was a simple answer as is for most spiritual questions that dog humans. A person can be born as a demon briefly if need be. We do know that many die moments after birth or a few years after. However, the message is that whatever the mind focuses on tends to become a part of our lives. It is of supreme importance to all of us not just at the end of our lives but all through it.

Our life is pushed in directions that are the source of our focus. It is because of this that Saints advice that we most focus on good and good humans and try to draw our mind away from any evil that exists in others, leaving the universe to deal with it, for the most part. However, democratic elections are not like that. A contest between opposing candidates leads to focusing on the weaknesses and evil if any in opponents and shouting about it over the roof tops. This involves all of the adult population of a nation and as per spiritual understanding this may lead to compromising not just the character of a nation as a whole but the very soul that dwells within.

Original and future possibilities for democracies

Democracy today arose from the ancient Athens idea of democracy. We know that Athenians had created a highly evolved form of human civilization. However they had avoided the problem of money interests as well as character assassinations when they chose their representatives by choosing their representatives for periods, simply at random, from names thrown in a pot and picked up as lottery numbers. In modern times a set of hundred or five hundred names can similarly be picked up from all  interested citizens through a computer. Perhaps a minimum age limit of 30 or 40 may be set for representatives after further debate. A brief educational course may be organized for chosen persons to familiarize them with procedures. This will take governments out of hands of greedy pigs, wheeler-dealers and glib talkers who have perfected the art of saying the right thing for votes and doing the wrong  thing to line their pockets. Just as rapists are attracted to where beautiful women live, robbers and other criminals attracted to where the treasure is stored, the scum of society is attracted to where power and money lie. It is not surprising therefore that many such end up as representatives of people in modern democracies.

The feeling of this author is that this would lead to a sounder and better House of Commons or representatives than exist today. However, there would be a limitation in such a congress. The majority can often run rough shod over interests of a minorities and this house would tend to do that. Further more educated and evolved levels of government are required to prevent that or any other decision that may be taken due to a temporary emotional upsurge, something similar to an upper house of parliament.

An upper house of parliament can similarly be picked up by random selection, say hundred persons from a list of the thousand most educated persons in a nation. The most educated are defined as a thousand with the highest educational degrees held for the longest periods since graduation. This thousand would change by the time the next election comes around. It would change rapidly, if an upper age limit of say 75 years were set for lawmakers and this upper house would consist of experienced older highly educated persons and intellectuals of the nation, certainly a wiser selection than the present House of Lords of UK.

Conclusion

At every stage of development humans think they have reached the highest possible stage of development in the universe, whether it is with economic models such as capitalism or communism, models of governance, medicine, spiritual knowledge, science or what have you. Ignorant humans push the idea further. The truth is that the universe is infinite and evolution through it infinite. Humans shall continue to evolve; periodically falling every time they attain a degree of progress and prosperity because then greed shall raise its ugly head. Nothing blinds humans more than an upsurge of greed, lust and anger leading them to their downfall.

Note: The author was inspired to write this note today because today is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna in South Asia and elsewhere. Jai Krishna

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to Save Money on Cloth and Clothing


This blog has explained that there are times in the lives of most when one may be financially hard up and such times are useful in teaching one how to stretch the dollars one has on hand. In this direction, there are notes explaining how little good food costs when one starts with basic ingredients like wheat flour etc. rather than prepared and processed foods from a store, how many edible leafy greens can be found on trees and fields or grown at home and how eggs and milk products are a good and cheaper source of protein rather than meat. The interested reader would find detailed articles on all this in going through this blog. This blog being one on life also has several plans and hints for another requirement of humans - shelter- with plans for several different type of cottages and homes. it is not expensive fittings but trees and flowers around the home that make  a home beautiful and these cost almost nothing except a little happy time tinkering in the garden.

The next requirement for humans after food is clothing and here too wisdom can help save huge amounts of money. Let the likes of a famous lady get an Armani dress costing over ten  thousand dollars in which she appeared recently on international media because she has the millions for it but others need not.  I had tweeted once that a rose wrapped in a piece of sack cloth is far more beautiful than a turd wrapped in silk. Human beauty comes from the soul not fashion and fabrics. It costs nothing more than love, truth and simplicity to make a soul beautiful. The greatest and most beautiful of books often come with plain covers just as the most beautiful of humans are often found dressed in simple clothing.

As a doctoral student with limited cash on hands,  I had discovered that if one searches enough in salvation army stores one could find perfectly good clothes at rock bottom prices, near free, in fact. In later years I have purchased expensive branded clothes on occasions but then felt disappointed when I saw a similar piece at much lower prices elsewhere on a sale. As a result, over the last two decades I have started following another practice; while passing through the markets if I find some cloth or clothing going real cheap I purchase it even if it is not needed by me or someone else in the family right away and store it. The result is that when a piece of garment or cloth is needed for something later even after several years, it is found in the storage trunks or closets. It goes without saying that one needs a more or less permanent home for the storage and care of stored material. For example that the collars of some new stored white shirts tend to go yellow with time and may need to be washed and restored. Clothing in storage also requires naphthalene balls in plastic packs with holes to keep insects away. The plastic pack is needed so that the naphthalene balls do not come in direct contact with clothes for that might create an obstinate stain.

From time to time, in the modern industrial age, a clothing operation shuts down or ends up with a surplus on their hands that they need to get rid of stuff quickly and it is this kind of stuff one can find cheap in the urban markets of the world. There is also a huge amount of defective pieces from factory, some with a defect so minor that one can not find it even by inspection. On the other hand, if one buys an excellent branded piece it often ends up with a bigger defect after use than the one that was found in the factory rejects.

I was inspired to write this note today when, while going through the market on an errand, I spotted huge bales of a fine cloth, of width of bed sheets and drapes being sold outside a large store at prices that were about one fifth of the actual price of that cloth. Most of the material was in floral prints and textures that were suitable for either a lady's dress or furnishings and not for a man's clothing. Nevertheless, there are ladies in the family and as per the suggestion here, I  purchased huge rolls of it. The photo in this post shows some of them. They are not needed at the moment, but the wife of my godson and the sister of another boy who works for me are seamstress with young kids and they shall be able to make good use of them. Some time ago we had organized such training for these ladies since they are largely housewives. One of the pieces has kiddy characters on them and the kids should love pillow cover and sheets made out of it.


Further, perhaps when time permits we shall change the drapes and bed covers in my bed room with a bright red instead of the present browns and cream with that of a guest room with a happy yellow shade, all with floral prints of a garden from the cloth just purchased. I have set it aside for keeping rather than give it away as I do with a lot of my cloth and clothing purchases. Not that I care much for a change in the rooms but it shall  be fun whenever time and opportunity permits and it will add beauty to the home because,

While money feeds a bank account, food feeds a body, beauty and goodness feed the soul

A photo from the author's garden