Friday, August 31, 2012

Loving an Imaginary God

There are person who proclaim that they do not believe in God and there are others that firmly affirm that they believe in God. Both of these statements should not be taken at their face value because after all what these persons are proclaiming as God means different things to different persons. Let us consider both these type of persons a bit more

First let us consider the people who say they believe in God. Perhaps they even visit a temple, mosque or church or belong to one of the many religious organizations that exist on our planet. Or, they may be independent believers who do it on their own. Amongst these are some that practice their faith in a visible active manner, yet, it has been found that some from amongst them may lack in compassion for their fellow human beings or other life that makes up our world. They may even lead a life that exploits or hurts the planet, other humans and other life forms directly or indirectly for personal gain. To my mind these persons actually either do not love God, have not begun to do so yet, lie about loving God or if they are not lying then they are in fact not loving God but actually loving something false and imaginary they have called God. The infinite consciousness of the Almighty runs all through the universe and through all life. A person who does not display compassion for others but rather even exploits or hurts them is in fact hating God rather than loving Him.

Amongst humans and animals it has been found that mothers love their children. This is an example of divine love. However, the love of the Lord implies similar love and compassion for all of creation. Human beings cannot be perfect. they can only constantly strive to improve. Even mothers are rarely perfect and therefore the love for all of creation is expected to vary from individual to individual. However, a being that display a lack of love for others or even perpetuates hatred is undoubtedly a God hater even though he or she may not realize it.

The question arises that if it is God’s consciousness that runs through all life and charges them then why is it that some humans are violent and evil. The answer is that a consciousness focused on an individual mind and body often begins to focus on individual needs and thus looses its clarity. It is like a light bulb covered with the dust and smoke of individual needs and desires rather than universal desires. This causes ignorance in beings and is the cause of a lack of compassion. A person who truly loves God and therefore all of creation does not hate even such ignorant individuals but only deplores their evil or ignorance.

If God is the formless infinite with an infinite consciousness one may wonder if there is any value in worship or visiting a temple or church that houses an image of a god or saint. Purifying one’s consciousness requires drawing it away from the workings of the individual mind to focus on the infinite. If focus on an image such as that of Buddha, a god or Mother Mary helps a person to change the focus of  his or her consciousness from the individual mind and desires to a point of divine love (real or presumed) outside, this practice has much value.The extent of spiritual benefit would depend upon the extent of faith and concentration. It may even have immense spiritual merit if one then stretches one’s consciousness from this individual point to the infinite Universal Consciousness surrounding this point. After all in an infinite universe, every point is a center.

Compassion for all life does not mean that one has to go about caring for all needy people in the world or the universe. That is impossible. It just means that one would care for the persons one encounters in life and from amongst these the most needy such as children, the aged, the helpless and the deprived to the extent that is reasonably possible. It does however mean that one would definitely not do anything to bring harm to these others at least. Amongst saints and divine personalities we have examples of Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Buddha and Jesus to name just a few who practiced the love of God in precisely such a manner and therefore these are the persons who truly and deeply loved God. It is a different matter if organizations built around the names of such persons do not behave similarly. Some of them run like business organizations that proclaim for example that their car is the best car and comfort can be found only in their car and none other. A few behave like dictatorial orgnaizations that not  only claim that theirs is the only good product but will punish if their product is criticized.

Now let us consider persons who say that they do not believe in God but actually display an exemplary compassion for others. The foremost amongst these was the Buddha. The persons whom Buddha spoke to in his time were worshippers of finite divine images who were devout worshippers of their chosen forms but did not display sufficient compassion for other beings. This was an imaginary God and Buddha did not believe in such an imaginary thing called God by others. Instead he loved all of creation and advised beings to first shun violence to all life and then move away from their individual desires to first attain compassion and then attain enlightenment and Infinite Universal Bliss. Thus the Buddha loved and existed in Infinite Bliss and was in fact a true believer of the true Lord of the universe. The same is the case to varying extents with some humans in modern times. Amongst them is one my friends– Harbinder Gill - who most vociferously denies belief in God but in fact display a great degree of kindness and consideration for others. It is persons such as him who are the true believers rather than others who may claim a strong belief in their imaginary conception of God.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Human Needs and Quackery

Whenever a human need arises a human often tends to seeks help from other humans. Thus when a human has a health problem he seeks a doctor that can help him. The trouble is that this world is made up opposites -  good and bad, truth and lies etc. For every genuine practitioner out there, there are also quacks willing to lie about their abilities or to exploit the need of a fellow human to satisfy their greed rather than any sincere desire to help. Unlucky persons can get trapped by such exploiters or agents of the devil and instead of getting real help end up loosing their health or money or both. It requires utmost wisdom to protect oneself from falling into the wrong hands.

Such quackery and greed does not exist merely in the field of medicine but also in every other sphere of human need. What may be said though that more acute the human need, the more extensive  the exploitation. Unfortunately, spiritual quackery has also been widespread in human societies from ancient times. Such quacks range from traditional  witch doctors to modern cult gurus. A number of organizations too have been built up that dish out spurious spiritual knowledge with an eye on your pocket. At times these organizations are built up on the foundations of the teachings a saintly spiritual master. However since such organizations are more concerned about their incomes and influence rather that truth, it is not surprising that they embellish the original spiritual teaching with falsehoods and deplorable practices, all in the name of the holy revered saint and Almighty God.

It is not difficult  to pick out the frauds. See if they are in to accumulating wealth. They usually do it in a so called charitable foundation but keep full control in their hands for every possible luxury they may need. A truly charitable foundation/trust/society is not controlled by a family or a couple of persons close to the founder but by personalities from public chosen by well laid out criteria. Another check is to see if a cult is focusing and pandering primarily to the rich with a few poor thrown in for ad value. What is true of such fraudulent cults is also true of political ones in democracies of the world as well as billionaire ones and similar tests apply there too.

With modern science, communications and media such spurious organizations are exposed more quickly now than in ancient times. The result is that many modern humans have distanced themselves from such organizations and some even shun all spiritual knowledge as crap. That is unfortunate because just as there are genuine and quack doctors, there are also genuine spiritual masters. There have been persons like Gandhi, Kabir, Jesus, Buddha and numerous others who are not so well known but have been sincere seekers, practitioners and teachers. One of my favorites is the author Paul Brunton who pursued spiritual knowledge and documented his findings in numerous notes and books.

These latter saintly beings did not go about amassing wealth but rather even gave up what little or immense wealth of their own they had. Buddha gave up a kingdom. The words of such spiritual masters deserve respect and can be used by other humans capable of independent study to acquire spiritual knowledge in order to acquire immense peace and happiness that such knowledge can add to their lives, besides helping a human to evolve to wiser states of being. Care is required in selecting ancient scriptures for study though. The craftiness of the wicked has resulted in undesirable insertions and editing in order to lead the student away from genuine knowledge and into their laps.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What is Greater, Love or Truth ?

A visitor to this blog – Sam- commenting on a title line of this blog wished to know which of the true virtues is greater – love or truth. I promised that I would write an entire post on that question but instead I composed the following story to illustrate the point

King of Blue Mountain

Once upon a time at the foot of the blue mountain lay the Kingdom of Blue Mountain. The kingdom had a pretty castle in which lived a fat King. The castle was surrounded by farms and homes of the five hundred or so citizens of this state.

The citizens of this country did not have to farm much because it was surrounded by forests of trees that produced a lot of nuts and fruits round the year and they could get lots to eat by just gathering the fruit and catching some fish from the many small lakes and streams around the kingdom. Instead the farmers kept cows and allowed them to graze freely on their fields.

In the days of the fat king, on top of the mountain, there used to be the abode of the wise man of the kingdom called Buddha Man. The wise Buddha Baba also admitted a few students to his abode every year to teach them many wonderful mysteries of our world. The fat king was kind in many ways but punished those who criticized him. Once, the king even put two of his subjects in prison just for saying that the king had fat bottoms. Truly the king had a fat bottom and he did not even fit on his throne but had to sit on a bench instead. He even had to be pushed through the castle door so as to be able to get around.

"Come push," said the King

There were two brothers in this kingdom, Harry and Larry, who wished to become students of Buddha Man. They climbed up the mountain and met Buddha Man and declared their intentions. The Buddha Man said that they must first prepare for a year and pass a test before they could be admitted. They must live in two separate huts on the road that runs past the kingdom, on either side of town, all by themselves, isolated from others. Here they must spend their mornings in gathering their food and the afternoons in meditation. In this period they must speak only truth but if they had something unpleasant to say like criticizing the king they could remain silent instead. And, said Buddha man they must love everyone too, not just humans but all the creatures of the forest and bring no harm to them, but they could hunt for fish and catch just the minimum necessary as required for their food, because it is the duty of every human to protect and sustain his own life too besides that of others. After a year he will let them know if they can be admitted to his school on top of the Blue Mountain.

Harry and Larry did as they were told. When the year was nearly over, it so happened that the two persons who had been imprisoned for life for calling the royal bottoms fat managed to escape from prison. However, the king’s soldiers found out and began to chase them. The two escaping prisoners then found two horses in town, and mounted them in order to escape. They split up and rode in opposite directions in order to confuse the soldiers chasing them. But, the captain of the guards was a clever man and he too divided the soldiers in two teams to chase the prisoners.

Soon after, the first prisoner reached the hut of meditating Harry and requested him to help hide him. Harry suggested that the prisoner hide in the haystack inside the hut while letting the horse go down the road so that the soldiers continue to follow the horse. The same thing happened to Larry. When the second prisoner reached his hut he too asked for help. Then he too similarly hid inside in the hay stack in a corner of the hut.

When the soldiers arrived at Harry’s hut they stopped. They asked Harry if they had seen the escaping prisoner on a horse. Harry had of course seen the prisoner but he kept silent instead so that the prisoner is not harmed. A soldier than put a sword to his neck and asked him to speak up or lose his head. Harry then admitted that the prisoner was hiding in the hut. The guards then tied the prisoner up and took him back to the prison perhaps even for execution if the King would permit. He had dared to escape. Escaping from prison was a more serious crime than calling the King’s bottom fat

The same thing happened at Larry’s hut. When the soldiers asked Larry about the prisoner he pretended he was meditating. However, when the sword was held against his neck he lied that the prisoner had gone down the road. The soldiers too took that road never to return for a week. In the meantime the prisoner escaped to a nearby Kingdom of the slim and fit King of Green Mountain.

Soon the year was over and the bothers marched up the mountain again to Buddha Man to find out if they could be admitted as students. Buddha man declared that Larry had passed the test but Harry had failed and would not be admitted. He could try again similarly after a year if he wished to.

“Why is that, respected Buddha man, I in fact did not speak a single lie all through the year but Larry did once?” asked Harry.

Yes it is true that you have got full points on the truth card but you have a zero on Love. You let a man die. On the other hand Larry gets a hundred for love. He saved an innocent life and as regards lying he only looses just a wee bit on that count because the lie was for a good and loving cause. He added,

“Truth is good but when in doubt remember that Love is greater.”

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My home town and family background

The North-Western side of my home in Jaipur
Most of my posts have been of an impersonal nature on topics such as trees, environment, food and the Lord. Perhaps it is time that I wrote one of a more personal nature for a few of my fans that are interested to know a bit more about my background. Yogis of the east rarely speak of their origins but I am no yogi but rather an academic who has tried to understand the world - both the manifest side of it and that which is not manifest.

My father retired as a colonel from the Indian army after a long and eventful career. Subsequent to a few years in private and public corporations, he came and settled in Jaipur, the city that I presently live in. Originally, the family of both my parents belonged to a part of India that has now become Pakistan. Since the family was a Hindu one it migrated to India along with millions of other Hindus during partition of British India into India and Pakistan.

Much of my father’s family lived between the cities of Bannu and Lahore now in Pakistan. It was an ordinary middle class family of North-Western India although belonging to one of the highest castes. Some of my relatives from my father’s side have done reasonably well in life whereas others are no good fellows  if I may so with candid frankness. Much of my mother’s family on the other hand lived between the two cities of Quetta, now in Baluchistan and Lahore. It was Lahore that was the meeting point where both families met and my parents were married on the second of October 1943 in Lahore. My mother ( Nand Rani Malhotra known as Nando) often told me privately that she was married into my father’s family by trickery. A relative of my father had lied  to my maternal grandfather that my mother liked my father. Moreover my father had a good job as an officer of the Indian Army and he was reasonably good looking. Marriages in those days were routinely arranged by fathers however those of modern bent of mind inquired independently if the persons to be married liked each other or not and honored that liking.

Nand Rani Malhotra, 1988 (nee Nand Rani Sahni )
My mother’s family was one of the elite families of North Western India.   It is rumored that either my maternal grandmother or great grandmother had some European roots. Such secrets were well guarded in those days since inter-community marriages were looked down upon by both the European and Indian communities. There is no way for me to uncover this family secretly now despite my extensive searches on the internet and elsewhere about the matter. However the European root theory has merit because my younger brother (as well as an older sister who is no more), presently a Lieutenant General in the Indian Army is fair like a European with blue eyes and blond hair as were two of my mother’s brothers and her own mother. My maternal uncle who became a very senior bureaucrat in India got by in life by declaring that his blue eyes were an outcome of ancient Greeks who had settled in India in ancient times at the time of Alexander the great. My mother though very fair with brown hair had brown eyes rather than blue ones.  However in later years when she began to dye her hair she just chose a cheaply available black dye because she was frugal when it came to expenses on herself. My mother (and an aunt) bore  resemblances to Queen Victoria, not just physically but also in morality and behavior.  Both were short and plump like Queen Victoria too and everyone in the family wondered where the shortness came from because everyone else in the family is much taller than average. My grandfather said that my mother had become short because she was wet-nursed by a short wet-nurse during infancy but that of course is not possible as we know from genetic science. She left this world in 1975 at the age of seventy five after leading an exciting and worthy life full of kindness for all she came across.

When my father first came to India in 1947, a large part of the family, including his mother settled in Jaipur. At that time Jaipur was one of the most beautiful cities in the world - a fairy tale city of sorts - and most important it had good colleges where his college going brothers and sisters needed to study. He himself being in the army was called to move from place to place within India and when he was asked to move to Nepal on an assignment in the early fifties he chose Nainital for his own family – my mother, brother and sister. Nainital too was a beautiful city (it still is) at that time. It was largely occupied by Europeans during British rule and when they left there were plenty of vacant homes available for others to occupy. It also had some of the best schools of India where my elder brother and sister began their schooling when I was still an infant. In 1955 my younger brother who is a General now was born in Nainital. It is a lush green part of the Himalayas and my early childhood was spent amidst this greenery. In later life until now I have missed this intoxicating beauty, whenever away from it.I may add that it is not just greenery by itself that is enchanting. There are forested areas I have visited in Canada that lack an undergrowth and are not as beautiful and there are the intensely green tropical areas with tall bushes and grasses that are difficult to penetrate and thus a bit irritating. Here in Nainital on the other hand the ground is covered by wild flowers, moss and low grasses amidst handsome trees of oak and pine and the area is full of lakes, springs and gushing rivers bearing sweet and pure mountain water of the best kind..

Since my father built a home and retired in Jaipur, in order to be close to his mother, who had a home here too, it was natural that when it came time for me to build my home I too found a plot to build on what was then the outskirts of the city. However, now that my older relatives have left the world and I myself am no longer young, I often wonder if it might not have been better if I had chosen Nainital as my final hometown instead. In recent years I have wondered if I should still do it but desisted for practical reasons. The first is that I built my present home over several years in small steps making it comfortable to live in a manner that I like. It was at a time when I had the energy to do it. At this stage though, that kind of energy is missing. Moreover, the area is a comfortable one and has come up in a modern way in part because of my contributions to it as a member of the local residential societies and partly because of the new globalization that has swept the world. I even got the opportunity to name the streets and did that on the North American pattern having lived in Canada for many years to practice my profession. My home is on Third Avenue presently. Essential facilities like shopping malls, banks, post offices, hospital, restaurants etc. etc. are all within comfortable walking distance. This kind of facilities would just not be available in Nainital. Moreover it is bitterly cold in Nainital in winter and the cold seems to bite more than heat as one gets older. Certainly though I continue to miss the green. Eventually though it is Karma that decides where a person lives and we as little mortals merely attempt to understand the workings of the Mysterious Hand.

Jaipur is not located in the greenest part of India. As a measure of compensation I have made my small urban lot very green. The attached photo is a picture of its north-western corner. A portion of my front porch is visible in the photo. However, I still go for short or long visits to Nainital on professional assignments and would continue to do so as long as I have the energy for it. The cover banner of this blog is a picture of Nainital.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are Vegans and Vegetarians Healthy - Sushil Kumar

Sushil Kumar the Wrestler

Ever since Buddha walked the land of South Asia around two and a half millenniums ago, vegetarianism has come to be an accepted part of human civilization particularly in South Asia. The Mighty Buddha proclaimed that all animals deserve human compassion and violence in all forms should be shunned. Since the production of milk from cows need not involve violence, South Asian vegetarians consume milk and milk products freely. However they avoid eggs, at least traditionally.

In other parts of the world there is a diet known as Vegan diet that involves avoiding all foods of animal origin including milk and eggs. The argument probably is that much commercial production of milk and eggs involves ill treatment of farm animals. It need not though, especially when cows are kept in every home as pets in small numbers and not in large diaries and if they are allowed to roam for grazing. The same goes for chicken if they are free range. In an older article this blogger described that it is a good idea  to include eggs (unfertilized ones) and milk in  human diet but rather if one was seriously concerned about minimizing violence to all life forms then instead some vegetables need to be avoided. A type of diet that includes milk and eggs but not meat and even some vegetables was proposed for the purpose and described as Lovegan food or Lovegan diet rather than a vegan or vegetarian one. An interested blogger will find the older post here through scrolling or searching in this blog.

Often there has been a suspicion that a vegetarian diet is not fully healthy. In fact a visible lack of strength and vitality may be noted especially amongst new western vegetarians. This author too noted that while in the west but here in India that has not been the case. Indians from long tradition know how to balance a vegetarian diet. This author has met both weak and strong vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians, although an increased vitality has been seen at times amongst egg eaters as compared to non egg eaters. However these are the author’s personal observation from a daily observation of life and not a result of rigorous research and therefore should not be regarded as the last word on the matter.

A recent event from the London Olympics though has reinforced this author’s perception that vegetarians can be just as healthy as or even healthier than non-vegetarians. The event concerns Sushil Kumar a wrestler. Born in 1983, he is an Indian World Champion wrestler who won the gold medal in the 66 kg freestyle competition at the FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships, a silver medal in the Men's 66kg Freestyle Wrestling event at the 2012 London Olympics. He is a vegetarian. He also has a terrific sense of humor. When asked if he had bitten the ear of his opponent during the bout, he replied with a smile and a wink that he is a vegetarian.

Sushil Kumar one of the strongest men in the world today consumes a diet of lentils, fruits and salads, plenty of roti (flat round unleavened bread), butter, yoghurt and milk. There is another ingredient to his diet – almonds. In an older post, the most popular one of this blog – Edgar Cayce and the almond tree it is described how Edgar Cayce believed that consuming just  a few almonds (definitely less than ten a day) removed any deficiency that is caused by not eating meat. Other nuts from trees may also contribute in a similar manner in the view of this author. Nevertheless the conclusion is that vegetarianism is healthy and moreover it prevents many serious diseases that may occur with age and consumption of meat.

Not just the strongest, but the most disease free and longest lived humans on Earth are near vegetarians. They are from Ikaria. Read about their diet here:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Karma - 4

As all of us go about conducting the business of living, we make plans and put in the required effort to execute those plans. Simultaneously something else happens around us – Nature goes about unfolding our karma at the appropriate times throughout our lives – a timing known to Nature alone. We thus face the results of two types of actions, first our own and secondly those of others and the world around i.e. Nature. This second set of results is our karma, that some call fate or naseeb, executed for us by Nature through various means including the people we interact with and the lightening in the sky.

Karmic results require no special effort on our part in order to unfold. Thus, whereas it takes a lot of effort to get a home built and many make that effort, it takes little effort to accept another as a part of an inheritance. The first home comes primarily as a result of our efforts whereas the second comes mostly from our karma – which too is a result of our own deeds, an indirect one though, that was noted by nature on some past occasion and the resulting karma then allocated.

We can move with the flow, making little effort, and watch our karma as it unfolds. However that might include an unfortunate encounter with the mad slapper who goes about slapping strangers on the street. If we make no effort to resist we would get hurt. If we make the required effort than we can prevent getting hurt. We could get slapped and slap back, but then we might cause another similar encounter in future because of having generated that sort of karma. The right thing to do would be to defend, even run away and report the matter to the authorities. The right thing to do in any given situation, if it does not involve any personal motivation, anger or gain is often the will of the Universe.

Of the innumerable sorts of karma that lie in store for us, each has a certain weight or significance. Those that affect others and us only slightly for brief periods of time are the less significant and lighter ones. Others that affect a large number of persons or affect us for long periods of our life are heavier ones. It takes little effort on our part to change the results of the lighter karma but the heavier karma requires an immense effort to change. It may be beyond our capacity to change and one must decide in each situation if the effort is worth it.

If it is Karmically destined that we should have a meal of rice for dinner today, then that is a light karma that can be changed with little effort. You can have noodles instead. If it the design of our nose that is a heavier one and perhaps we might wish to reconsider getting a nose job done. The day we decide to go to the ocean for a holiday is not an extremely heavy karma. With little effort we can choose the date. The day Tony Blair becomes the Prime Minister of UK is a heavier one because that choice affects the lives of millions. It may be beyond Tony’s efforts to change that Karma. It is for this reason that Political leaders and kings of lore had great faith in oracles and astrologers- persons who could divine the future. The fate of kings was so beset and controlled by heavy karma that it could not be changed easily and was therefore a fit subject for prediction. A gypsy woman predicted the fate of Queen Victoria while she was still in the womb, prompting her father to rush to England with the unborn child even though he did not have the money for the trip nor a room to live in England. The day I visit the beach, on the other hand requires so little effort to change that it is beyond the effort of the best clairvoyant in the world to predict. I will just go on another day.

As we go about conducting the business of living, it requires tremendous effort to achieve our goals. There are millions who struggle from morning to night, some like the ants on our planet, achieve no more than decent survival. There might be another easier way to meet these goals. There is in fact, and it is the Karmic route. Produce the sort of Karma that will get you the same results and the Universe will grant the results with relative ease. People like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the Queen of England have taken that karmic route, whereas the rest of us continue to struggle. Without doubt, an understanding of the workings of Karma and the Will of the universe will help us discover those routes and help us minimize our efforts. The angels of this universe do not work a moment for their living yet all the comforts of the Universe are at their command.

Many rich persons make large donations to churches, school and temples. Religious organizations thrive on it. It is not because these human organizations are fully sound. Some of the donation is misused. The donor knows that. But the donor also knows that these organizations bring solace and a place of prayer for the innocent and gullible. Thus they help to bring about a positive change in the lives of many. Nature records it as positive karma and gives back greater riches until one becomes as rich as a King. In the meantime, those of us who are wiser and understand the hypocrisies of such organizations suffer because of such wisdom. Some who are not so rich spend a portion of their incomes to aid the poor, producing results in the same direction. The rewards of good karma cannot be escaped just as the results of bad karma cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, the rich man who has made a donation to a temple as a trick to produce good karma generates the karma of getting tricked back. Some day when the good karma is exhausted and his name has faded from the announcement plate, Nature tricks him by leaving him high and dry. A politician who earns his bread and butter by making false promises to the electorate, finds one day that his bread has been snatched away through false promises by the very same electorate. The thief who becomes rich finds that he loses his riches through theft. As you sow so shall you reap! Some of the Karma unfolds in the human courts of law that too are a part of Nature. One may however escapes the eyes of the law. One cannot escape the Universal Eye.

Deep within us lies an unaffected and pure part of the Universal Consciousness that knows the truth of matters. Often we move happily without any doubt or resistance on a course of action. It is the inner voice guiding us and assuring us that our effort is in the right direction. There are other times when we have a great reluctance to do something that we have planned out to do. It is the inner voice that is telling us that there may be a better way or better time to do the same thing. As we go about doing whatever we do, we generate more karma. However if we do whatever we do out of a sense of duty and because it is the right thing to do, leaving the results and outcomes in the hands of the Universe then the very same act becomes a co-operation with Nature. It may generate no karma and the Universe may then co-operate with us in meeting our genuine needs.

More about Karma here: