Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trees, Grasses and Humans



Few people realize how much of our food comes from grass. Wheat, Sugar, Rice and Corn are forms of grasses. Animals we depend upon for food, such as meat, eggs and milk, produce that after consuming grass.

Grass as bamboo is an excellent building material. In fact more research is needed for construction of human dwellings based on a structure of bamboo combined with minimal use of wood, plastered with mud, inner walls covered with wallpaper made of grass and the outer surfaces covered in waterproof paint. Floors may be made of jute matting and roofs out of clay tiles and solar panels. One need not avoid cement, steel and glass completely but all of them use copious amounts of energy for their production and it is wise to minimize their use. With proper design such a hybrid building can be just as strong and elegant while being much greener.

Just as humans stand out amongst oxygen breathing life forms, the tree stands out in the plant world. Trees as a food source have not yet been fully utilized by humans. Besides the nuts and fruits that trees produce, many types of tree leaves are edible and nutritious. One such tree – the drumstick tree has been discussed in an earlier post. Tree leaves can produce much fodder for diary animals as an alternative to grass.

While cities have been expanding on our planet forests, and grass lands have been shrinking. Cities and towns need not have been designed like that; there are examples of towns where the forest and tree cover exceeds constructed space. A Himalayan town – Nainital described in this blog is one such. However, unfortunately even here the proportion of green space has reduced considerably over the last five decades. The adjoining photo is from Nainital captured earlier this year.

All life forms green or otherwise depend on fresh water for their survival and it is trees that are most helpful in attracting clouds from the oceans and causing their even distribution on land.

It has been mentioned earlier in this blog that plants are living things too. Hayden has put up an interesting post on that recently. Plants have life just as we do and their life form too is based on genes and chromosomes like us. Some of the genes are even common between humans and plants. They are a complimentary life form that breathes carbon dioxide, producing oxygen, while animals and humans breathe in oxygen, producing carbon dioxide as waste. An imbalance is created whenever one life form such as humans begins to destroy the green side of life such as forests and grasslands replacing them with cemented and paved urban spaces and roads. Replacing grass lands with farms is not such a bad thing provided portions are reserved for trees but replacing grass lands or forests with barren land or paved spaces is to strip mother earth naked or dress her in a garment of steel and cement so that birds and squirrels may no longer play in her bosom. Our subconscious mind knows that, and therefore it is not surprising that many humans derive immense peace and joy in wild green surroundings as compared to urban landscapes. Neither life form can survive without the other. It is true that there are humans that derive little pleasure from nature preferring cityscapes. But then ancient philosophers have said that creation is an interplay of opposites, light and dark, good and evil, the destructive and the creative. One ancient text from India states that evil humans are born to destroy the world just as the good ones are born to nurture it.

Trees are effective in capturing any surplus carbon in the atmosphere. In my view, pressing for a reduction in carbon emissions is not an effective route. That is something that will happen on its own as fossil fuels are exhausted or become expensive and alternative sources of energy become viable. A more fruitful approach to my mind is to press for increasing forests and grasslands on our planet.

Undoubtedly nature is powerful enough to restore balance eventually but that restoration may be painful. A wiser course is to make attempts towards restoring the balance voluntarily to avoid much of that pain. As an average human, some of the contributions we can make in this direction are to plant a tree whenever possible while at the same time voicing our concern so that it is heard by governments and others. A citizen can even take a pledge that he would only vote for a party that promises to spend atleast one fifth (or some other such number arrived at after consideration) of its defense budget to increase green cover. To care for the environment is an expression of love for the planet we live on. Spiritually it is an eminent thing to do. It expresses our interconnectedness with all life and the universe.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Edgar Cayce and the Almond Tree


As one advances in age it is inevitable that one would have to contend with some health issues. Some that I have faced in recent years is reduced energy, occasional disturbed sleep, stiffness in muscles and occasional lapses of short-term memory. However if one works on these or other such health issues it is definitely possible to improve the situation. It is wonderful if one can age gracefully without any major health issues and move on to the next world when still physically independent. It is tragic and basically bad karma if one undergoes a prolonged disability requiring help or hospitalization before exit from this life. There is much about karma in older posts.

I do not rely on modern medicine and allopathic methods for chronic and minor ailments. For me allopathic methods are a resort for acute conditions, emergency or diagnosis. Therefore I have been working on my health issues through more natural means such as diet, exercise, yoga, life style changes, water, air and sunshine. Food is a medicine but water, air and sunshine are even more so.

One of the methods I tried for improving sleep was to try different sleep directions and there is a post on that in this blog. Although it did help, the problem was that the head of my bed is against the north wall and shifting the pillow to the foot of the bed meant that one or both the pillows kept falling to the floor and it did not feel right not to have the security of the wall and head board behind the pillow. Eventually I returned to head pointing north. If I get an opportunity to design and construct another home next time around I shall ensure that the bedrooms permit keeping the head of the bed pointing south or east. More recently, with the help of simple mantra meditation I have had sound sleep whatever the head direction.

As regards, muscle stiffness and reduced energy some headway was made with moderate exercise but I have to admit that I am not very disciplined in this direction and miss out on exercise more often than I comply. This is something that will have to be dealt with in the near future.

On the diet side I found an interesting and well-argued Japanese study on the Internet on the benefits of vinegar added in small quantities to drinking water to relieve fatigue. I experimented with adding quantities varying from half a tea spoon to a full table spoon to a glass of water, Surprisingly as described in the study the method worked very well for removing muscle and bone stiffness and reducing fatigue the first time and for the first few days. After that the benefit reduced much so I have discontinued with this practice now. Perhaps the body chemistry adjusts quickly to new acidity levels in water and the benefit is lost.

I was initially lead to explore vinegar because of a psychic message one night that ordained adding a drop of vinegar to a glass of water but as with many psychic messages this one was received during sleep and such messages are rarely hundred percent clear. Based on the Japanese study and scientific logic, I had chosen half a tea spoon or so. Just today I realized that there might be something more in the original psychic message than I had realized. My water source is probably a bit on the alkaline side and even a drop of vinegar might have the effect of altering ph of water in a beneficial direction. I have yet to introduce this practice in my routine though. The full effects of water ph on health are not yet known to science.

As regards occasional short-term memory loss, the worry for a person past fifty or sixty is that with further advance in age the problem can worsen and in severe cases result in Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore based on ancient medicinal knowledge from India my mind turned to consuming five or so almonds soaked overnight in water. One may mention that based on my past knowledge, almonds that are pre-shelled or those with very fragile outer covers are not the best for the purpose. Contact with air apparently reduces medicinal benefits of almonds. The best are the old small traditional almonds with hard shells procured with their shells on. These have to be shelled daily just prior to soaking. The difficulty I faced in acquiring these is that I live in a modern part of the city with modern stores and the only kinds of almonds they carried were pre-shelled large ones. These last make eminent business sense for the grower and the retailer. Therefore last month I made a trip to the traditional old part of the city. It has many shops that carry traditional goods and here I easily found the right kind of hard almonds intact with their shells on. This story is a warning that, often when we rely on ancient knowledge of foods one must watch out that the modern variant may not be quite the same. This is true of honey as well and apparently only wild honey has the medicinal value prescribed in old texts. Alas, that is available with great difficulty nowadays so one has to do without honey. It seems that while five or so soaked almonds are good for memory; they are even more effective if consumed with a spoonful of true wild honey if you can find it. Nevertheless ever since I have started consuming these soaked almonds even without the honey, there has been a full improvement in memory as well as mental clarity. Besides soaked almonds even dry ones are good for health and I consume about ten almonds a day, five dry while shelling and five soaked. Overall this combined practice has improved memory, mental clarity and reduced fatigue as well as improved sleep. If you attempt this practice do not discard the soaked skin of the almond because some beneficial chemicals are contained in the skin too.

Another great aid for reversing Alzheimer is the use of coconut oil as your cooking oil. Just fry some bread in it for a nice hot sandwich at lunch daily.

Edgar Cayce, a modern Christian mystic was a great proponent of the concept that an almond a day keeps the doctor away and that almonds will keep away cancer. A larger number, three or four, makes up the deficiency produced by not consuming meat without the simultaneous ill effects of meat consumption. I have great regards for Edgar Cayce as a modern Christian mystic and many of his health ideas have been proven subsequently by science after Edgar Cayce’s death. However, Edgar Cayce was a human and I do not accept everything he proclaimed. He made errors too. One of his beliefs I do not subscribe to is that humans cannot reincarnate as animals. In my belief system inter species reincarnation also takes place from time to time. Another article in this blog explains how and why animals lost their souls when Christinaity reached Europe here:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/05/when-all-animals-lost-their-souls.html

Edgar Cayce was very popular and highly respected in my childhood hometown Nainital in the earlier part of the previous century. This town has been associated with other Christian Mystics too. Another one- Robert Llewlyn has been described in my blog on Nainital at http://nainitalgoddess.blogspot.in/2010/09/kriya-yoga-as-taught-by-baba-haidakhan.html. You would find many references to Nainital in older posts of this blog as well as the companion one. According to Edgar Cayce the almond tree as well as almonds are spiritually beneficial too. I can easily accept that because the almond tree is one of the finest that grows on our planet – a truly heavenly tree just as the rose is a heavenly flower bush. Both belong to a similar botanical family. There is an earlier post on that in this blog.

Even though Edgar Cayce was a Christian mystic he did not confine himself to any conventional church dogma or theories. With true mystics there are only minor differences between beliefs from different religions whether they be Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or Hindus. The Muslim mystics are known as Sufis and persons of all religions in the east respect Sufi saints. However, mystics retain some concepts from their original religions. Perhaps this explains why Edgar Cayce subscribed to his restricted reincarnation theory. His meditation mantra was a variation of a Hindu Mantra – Hare Om. Just the word Om is also a Hindu mantra, but I too find it easier to chant ‘Hare Om’ rather than just ‘Om’ because it synchronizes more easily with breathing. More on such chanting meditation is posted in older posts of this blog.

One of the concerns with almonds is that some of them turn out to be bitter. The bitterness is caused by cyanide that is a poison. However I do not discard these but consume them too, because even some poisons in very small microscopic quantities may have some beneficial medicinal effect. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why consuming almonds by the handfuls is not recommended. There is a perfectly good reason why a spiritually advanced tree like the almond tree produces a small proportion of bitter almonds. Do keep the number to under ten a day in case you become an almond eater.

Almonds are also a great aid for sleep. Simply add a tablespoon of ground almonds to a cup of hot milk for you night cap and sleep is likely to be sweet and deep. You may also add some  natural sweetner and coco to the drink if you like.

The almond blossoms picture is from publicdomainpictures.net

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In Pursuit of Happiness

Wealth and Happiness Graph
The desire for happiness is widespread amongst humans. A misunderstanding about how that happiness is to be achieved is equally widespread. It appears that humans do not fully understand the mechanism for the production of happiness.

Humans do know that a sensuous spicy meal, a breathtaking sexual experience, a binge drink of good champagne, a sudden appreciation of the look of awe on the faces of friends and acquaintances by a flashy car or a swanky apartment produces a sudden surge of Joy. But they are also aware (or become aware of it sooner rather than later) that this sort of joy does not last very long. It is followed by depression in the very least or pain in severer cases. Therefore some possibly wiser humans seek and cultivate other more durable avenues for happiness such as philanthropic pursuits to add happiness in the life of others that just reflects back on them, learning to commune with nature or finding and spending life in the companionship of a lover. The former are probably more faithful pursuits and longer lasting.

Most humans know that a shortage of essentials such as food or shelter produces unhappiness and these things are procured by money. Therefore, the pursuit of money is as widespread as the pursuit of sex because it is something one might catch whereas happiness is too abstract a thing to catch directly. However, what humans do not realize is that it is only up to a point that money increases happiness. Beyond that the graph takes a dip, and one begins to lose happiness as money increases. The dip point is different for different individuals and primarily depends on how a person views and treats the acquired wealth. In case a human is wise enough to realize that such a dip point exists, human ego makes those in pursuit of wealth believe that they can keep the dip point at bay or shift it at will. The following short story tells more


A Cottage for Linda


Linda's Cottage

Once lived a handsome lad - Harry - in rural Kansas who loved a beautiful rural lass – Linda - in the neighborhood. They had known each other ever since they were old enough to know the difference between boys and girls . After school the lad realized that a rural life is hard and decided to better his prospects by going in for higher education to New York. He had the best grades in high school and therefore he was sure of not just admission but even a scholarship in the best universities. Subsequent to university he became a marketing executive for a Shoe Company,  eventually acquiring ownership of the business. Thus in a period of about ten years Harry became very rich, a bit bald from the stress of business and a bit rotund from slouching in front of the TV every evening with a beer. This last was necessary to get over the stress of the day and get sound sleep in order to be ready for another day to conquer the business world. He had enough money to call up escort services on weekends and was able to have occasional flings with secretaries and other city girls who were impressed with his wealth and his beautiful apartment.

Harry however was a wise man now and realized soon enough that his life in rural Kansas was far happier and that the time he had spent with Linda in the countryside real quality time. Realising that he now had enough money to quit city life and return to his roots, he sold off his assets in the city and called up folks back home to announce that he was returning. He could not get in touch with Linda because he had not called her for the last few years and did not have her most recent number. Apparently, her only relation, her dad, had moved on to the other world and the earlier number belonged to the dad. This story predates the email era otherwise Harry would have darted off an email too.

To be frank, Harry did not try hard enough to contact Linda before returning. First was the guilt of not having done that for years now and he felt that it would be best to surprise her with pretty gifts and make up to her for the lost years. He never doubted the fact that she would be there in the village as always and love him as she had always done, such a consistent and faithful sort of lass she was. An old school mate from the village had confirmed over a hurried phone conversation that she still lived in the same village cottage because her dad had left it to her.

Soon after returning to his home in the village, the first thing Harry did was to check up on Linda. He wanted to tell her that he still loved her. He walked up to her two room cottage. It had been expanded towards the back now and there were many flowers growing in the yard, a few almond trees in blossom and a large chestnut tree that shaded the area behind the cottage. A broad unpaved but pebbled path led up to the front door. He had brought with him a large bunch of the finest silk flowers from Macey’s along with a huge box of the most sensuous and heavenly chocolates available in Manhattan from a well known Swiss Chocolate Shop on fifth avenue. Linda spotted Harry at the gate and ran out to receive him. Harry hugged her and proceeded to kiss her as he used to always but she freed herself from his grasp and backed away,

“ Harry, I am married now,” said Linda showing him the cheap yet pretty paste ring on her finger

“ How come!? ” Harry was taken aback.

“ After dad left I was lonely and John next door proposed. I know he is a bit bow legged but he is such a gentle fellow and so handsome in a rough country sort of way! and we have been so happy together. Our farms have been merged now so we are better of and happier. We moved into my cottage because it was better than his shack. We have converted it into a barn for the cows now. His mother came in with him too but she left this world last year. I miss her. She was a sweet lady, although mind you she talked too much, too often, even to herself."

Linda continued as Harry stood in silence,

"You know money is so important to be happy. I have heard that you have piles and piles of it. Good for you. Perhaps I should have married you instead but you never proposed, it is too late now and John is really a wonderful and loving husband. We even have two little kids. They are getting to be a bit too cheerful and boisterous now for visitors. Presently they are off to playschool. They should be here anytime now, in the meantime I shall brew a nice cup of coffee for you, just the way you used to like it”

“No thanks, not in the mood for coffee today,” said Harry as he left the flowers and chocolates on the front porch and turned to leave.

As harry walked with heavy steps towards the rickety wooden gate he was left wondering, "why is that Linda had all the happiness when he had all the money?"



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I chose America as the background to the story because although there are readers to this blog from all parts of the world most are from America. This story is fiction. Real life may be different. I was wondering if Harry did anything wrong to deserve his fate. However, the pursuit of things that matter for human success does often leads humans to do things that compromise peace and happiness. It has been so since the beginning.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Angels

Image source (modified here): http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/universe20110722-image.html
Back from my trip and checking out some of Vincent’s posts I was delighted to read that Vincent has now started to believe in the existence of Angels. He will not believe in anything easily unless he has very sound proof of it. I hope this belief of his is long lasting.

Simultaneously, Vincent mentioned that he still does not believe in God. That is all right because as discussed much in this blog earlier that is a matter of definition. There is as yet no common definition of God among humans. I too disagree with several prevailing definitions of God. 

My own definition of God is very simple and so I have no difficulty in believing in God. To me God is everything there is, the entire universe and beyond, if there is anything beyond the universe. I also believe that this Everything has an infinite intelligence and an infinite consciousness with our own being small parts of it. Spiritual evolution to me is establishing a closer relationship of our finite part with this Infinite Whole. Angels to me are parts or beings of this universe that have achieved a closer union with Infinite Consciousness as compared to the most evolved of humans.The most advanced of angels are close companions of God, with their individual will in harmony with His. The infinite universe abounds with an infinite number of planets full of life. It has beings more evolved than humans and beings that are less evolved. Physical living bodies may not be able to traverse the huge distances across life bearing planets, except those that can be frozen and survive such as bacteria (see here) but there are no barriers for thoughts and souls.
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel much around this world and experience much the human condition, definitely far more than most of my friends who have led a more disciplined and uniform life. In these adventures, both good and bad, there have been several occasions close to danger or grave harm, but in every case, God and His wonderful angels have saved me. Hayden, who has a closer relationship with her angels, had mentioned that we as humans would not survive for long without the help of our guardian angels and I agree with her wholeheartedly. Our guardian angels must love us dearly indeed and one is ever grateful for their watchful and loving eye, although at times I direct this gratefulness directly to God and at times to His loving Angels. I do not have any idea if my angels have any defined shape or form and sometimes I visualize them in the a few chosen shapes from among the various gods and goddesses that various human civilizations have cherished from ancient times, on some occasions I assign no form to them but just try to feel their presence in a spirit of love, joy and gratefulness.

From a NASA Photo