Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How humans may be losing Freedom of Speech, Time and Money on Some Social Media

Text on The Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Tempera on canvas

Information and news is what humans base many of their actions on. The worst possible human atrocities may be taking place in your town not very far from where you live but if you do not hear of it at all then nothing can be done. In authoritarian countries, flow of information and freedom of speech is carefully controlled by the ruler. However modern democracies pride themselves on freedom of speech. It is necessary in democracies so that people may express their opinions to frame policies that influence their lives as also make to the best possible choices in selecting representatives at time of elections. However even in some of leading democracies media is not totally free, it may have corporate owners who have their own interests to maintain and grow their fortunes.

Against this backdrop, the internet has offered a valuable place to seven billion humans on earth to share information and services like google have made a great contribution to this. A prominent place where humans share news and opinions is social media of which perhaps facebook and twitter are the most popular ones at the present time.

However, the powers that wish to control and exploit humanity have not given up. They too are ever devising new ways to conquer this threat and some of these new ways are not honorable. One of them is stealth banning. You can read about it on Wikipedia here.

Through stealth banning or shadow banning method, if you post something on some social media, it will appear on your wall and timeline but not on homepages of followers. Few will see it and you may as well shout in the wilderness. The associated software may let a little slip through so that you remain blissfully unawares for long, even years. In case the odd post of yours is shared, the software would ensure that shared posts become similarly invisible to other users.

Social media companies are private companies and they have a full right to what is posted on web pages they host. However when this is done through an open and transparent policy it may be fully legal and ethical even though you may disagree with their policy. On the other hand, when it is done through stealth it is unethical, deception and may even amount to illegal fraud through which users waste their time and money because of the deception.

Recently in the US elections, during the primaries to select their nominee, the Democratic Party used methods in favor of one of the two candidates in the race. Many millions have objected to that. Some have gone to court feeling cheated. The Party on the other hand says that they are within their rights to choose any candidate they want by most any method. They may be right. It is an internal party process and anyone can make a political party with a different agenda or method if they like. However, what is wrong is that they kept millions under the illusion that a fair contest was taking place. Many donated money to the candidate of their choice and spent valuable hours in his support (Bernie Sanders) while if the outcome had already been pre-decided by the party they got fraudulently cheated out of their time and money.

The same sort of logic may apply to social media that carries out stealth banning of users.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Democracy, Dictatorship and the Kingdom of Joy – The Parable

Once upon a time, nestled between pretty green hills lay the happy kingdom of Joy. It was a rich kingdom and the royal family was a kind and generous one. The people were happy and well cared for. Therefore, while world moved on to adopt other forms of governance like democracies, some even dictatorships, Kingdom of Joy continued as an absolute monarchy.

Every evening,  people of  Kingdom would gather around the Palace to sing and dance and cheer the King wishing a long life for him. In the fiftieth year of his reign, the King organized an international conference on governance in his kingdom so as to get updated with changes taking place in the world.

Leading experts from different countries were invited to the conference. In the opening address, the King requested that in the final plenary session, delegates prepare a one sentence long conclusion in simple language for benefit of all. There would be a day of sight seeing after that and  a banquet in the evening followed by a concluding address from His Majesty in the throne room. At the end of long and serious deliberations, delegates prepared a long list of conclusions as well as a simple one the King had asked for. It was this,

Democracies as exist in the world are a much better model for governing countries than Dictatorships.

Later that evening, all arrived at the Palace for the banquet. It was divided in two parts on either side of a central path through the gardens. A sign to the left of the path said ‘Hermits Feast’. It pointed to bare wooden tables on which were laid baskets of bread and clay bowls of scrambled eggs. Another rough wooden table had baskets of fruits from surrounding forests for desert.

The sign to the right said ‘Royal Feast’. It pointed to fine tables covered with elegant laced table cloths, flower vases and assorted dishes in silver bowls. A separate table had a huge cake decorated with icing and sugar roses in assorted pastel colors for desert. Most chose the Royal Feast, although some went for the hermit’s feast because a peculiar smell emanated from the area around the royal feast.

Soon after, a funny thing happened, those at the royal feast began to vomit and doctors with nurses rushed to help them and take them to rest rooms to refresh. Those at the hermits feast were fine and surprised. It was revealed later that dishes at the royal feast had been prepared using dog, pig and human shit. The cooks had collected their very own that morning from the toilets and mixed it in with the cake batter before baking and decorating with sugar roses. It was all well cooked so chances of infection were reduced. However the smell was sordid particularly from the stuff the head cook had brought in The cooks covered it with vanilla and Rose Essence.

Later, after order was restored, all moved to the throne room for the King’s address. The public that had gathered to dance outside as always sat down to hear the address from loud speakers installed along the walls as they munched on batter fried fish fillets with tartar sauce, Cole Slaw and fries served in newspaper squares with wine in bottles and lemonade for kids. It was distributed to all that day because a feast was on in the Palace. The King spoke thus,

“I am very sorry for that unfortunate mishap at the Royal feast today but dear delegates, many of you went by labels and appearances rather than content just as you did in your conclusion. A dictatorship that ensures food, shelter, medical care and other basic needs for its entire population is far better than a democracy that cannot provide these basics needs despite the fact it is rich.

“Democracies as exist in the world today depend on money power. This will eventually cause moneyed minions of mammon to become their owner. They shall own all the contestants from all sides in the election with their money. In case an outsider gets in the race the media also controlled by the minions shall declare him to be a fool or un-electable, In the end whoever wins, the minions shall rule.

“When things get bad the homeless in such a democracy shall be picked up not to shelter but to be thrown away, many a children shall go to bed hungry, many a sick shall die in pain if they cannot afford expensive medical care or insurance that is available to cover costs. Cheap medicine imports from other countries shall be banned.  Most of the revenue earned in the country shall be spent on the war machine to fatten the minions. It will be said it is to protect people against imaginary dangers from imaginary enemies while people will die with surety from lack of medical care.

“A dictator on the other hand may be evil or good but minions shall not rule him for he does not need their money for his power. Dear delegates, as you return to your countries, it is for you to see what the state of your democracy is. The best wishes of this Kingdom and its entire people are with you.”

The people sitting outside then got up to dance once again and to cheer the King with a loud roar.

Verily, verily,” the story teller cried, “It is not a democracy or a dictatorship that shall bring happiness to people but love and truth.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Mystic Yogi Revisited by  Araghu

“Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.”
Meister Eckhart

Leaving behind ambitions of world and attainments of the world, most of his wealth and property, keeping only the minimum necessary to sustain his remaining years, he became a recluse. When he entered the forests on the mountains and set up his abode there, he became a hermit, a mystic yogi. At first his sleep was disturbed as he tossed and turned through the night, as he resolved the dilemmas and anguish all of us face while in the world for gain, ambition and desire. In time, the tossing and turning subsided. His sleep became as sweet as it was when he was a child. He would wake up early with the same delight that a child wakes up when it is holiday, for every day is a holiday now, each day with its own new magic.

He now enjoyed the flowers of the forests as a child enjoys his colorful toys. A walk through the trees was as joyous as through a carnival parade. The song of birds, the gushing river was the symphony orchestra and the rock band. Mama and Papa were at hand again - Mother Earth and Father Universe.

On a forested hill side, at a point where there is a little level clearing, sits the mystic yogi now. He sits still on soft ground, under the shade of an ancient oak, by the side of a stream of clear water that runs down the hill. He is oblivious to the dance of butterflies that dance about on wild flowers around him. He is oblivious to the sounds of the gurgling stream as it rushes over pebbles and rocks rounded through the ages, or of the chirping of birds that hop from branch to branch. He is free of fear for he knows now none can harm his soul though the temporary body may disintegrate just as his temporary clothes do, free of any desire now since Mama and Papa take care of that, always providing the best, completely at peace. His eyes are closed as he breathes slowly, evenly.

A single word repeats endlessly in his mind – at times Allah, broken into two syllables – Al with his inward breath and ‘lah’ with the outward one, at other times other words - Hare Rama, Mother Mary, Mother Gaia, Ma Sunanda, Naini Mata broken up in four syllables now to synchronize with his inward and outward breath. He is not a Muslim, nor a Hindu or a Christian for he now thinks those classification are for others still in the world. He knows that he could meditate with help of nonsense words too in order to still the mind but he also knows that when he has all but surrendered his self to the universe in meditation, it is the nonsense of the universe that shall come and reside in his being then. Therefore he chooses holy words - words of beauty, goodness and joy.  He believes in the mystic truth of all religions and that the Almighty has an infinite number of names. His mind is still. It observes nothing but its own breathing. It feels nothing besides the Infinite Consciousness that runs through every blade of grass, flower, butterfly or tree on the hillside and beyond. Perhaps he will permit his mind to think, to make a wish, a wish that does not disturb his peace or raise a desire in his heart, a wish that will not return his consciousness to his small finite body.  What will that wish be? Will it come true? Even Papa makes a wish from time to time as he did in the beginning.
"Let there be light."

The present post is a repeat of an earlier one with the same title with extension

A general note on forest hermits here:

Last image here is quote added to an 'oil on canvas' work by author described at

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Good News this Week in Books for our Journey through the Universe


This week seems to have been a great one for all those who wish to understand their journey through the universe and make it joyous. Two books have become available to make this possible for all, over the preceding week. The first of these books is ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry 1st Edition’ by Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He has explained the universe and the cosmos and our place in it in a way that is both interesting and easy to understand by an average reader.

While we cannot travel physically through our vast and infinite universe, according to mystics our souls can. In fact that is what it is has been doing over several life times. Our physical bodies are born of Mother Earth and cannot go very far from it but our souls are born of Father Universe and may travel to any part in new life times. The challenge before us all is to ensure that this journey is a joyous one and for this mystics come to our aid. Their timeless wisdom has been summarized in this second book released over the last week that is equally easy to understand and interesting – Mystic Pathways to Love Peace and Happiness by Ashok Babaji, even if I say so myself as its author. Perhaps it is just my bias but I believe it is true. The cover shown here is of the first edition. The newer second edition has a green colored cover.

Following are the links to the two books on Amazon for more on them :