Thursday, January 29, 2015

Suffering, Solace and Yoga



Starving from famine

 And on the suffering of the sweetest, most innocent, most vulnerable of humans - Children, often caused by other humans

While there is peace and happiness for some in the world some of the time, there is also deep suffering for others elsewhere from time to time. Most everyone encounters pain and suffering some time or the other in life, one also suffers when a loved one is in distress and when one becomes sensitive one is also touched by the suffering of others in far away places. There are humans suffering because of wars, homelessness, hunger, over eating and obesity, disease, corrupt or brutal governments and much else at this very moment and some are little children less than the age of five, an age of innocence, an age when a child deserves to experience only love and joy of play, in no way responsible for the suffering that has been thrust upon them by the world they happen to be born in.


Not picked up to hug and kiss but just an Infant illegal alien refugee detained in USA


Perhaps the only solace for an adult in pain is to realize that everything of this world is transient and that no suffering lasts forever, even life does not. The time will pass and when one believes in reincarnation one has the solace of new lives in new circumstances. However that is not sufficient for one in the middle of it. One needs a plan of action for here and now.

A few of millions bombed out of their homes in Syria ( Some images from Gaza of children with limbs ripped apart  were too shocking to include here)

This is where ancient saints come to one’s aid. The Father of Yoga, Patanjali says that one may escape all distress by doing three things. The first is Tap a Sanskrit word that says that one must continue to do the right thing and whatever is ones duty with equanimity even if it seems difficult. It is the duty of every human to do whatever is possible for his or her well being and also for those one loves and for children and other vulnerable persons in whatever reasonable way one can, even by praying for them if nothing else seems feasible to do.

Homeless in Manhattan

The second thing recommended for humans is Swadhyaya another Sanskrit word that means to study oneself and life continuously and try to remove one’s weaknesses. If the very self is weak then it can neither help itself nor anyone else.

The third and most important thing saints recommend is trust and love of the Almighty. His power is infinite and there is nothing impossible for Him if He so ordains. It is within His powers to vanquish the mightiest of difficulties if they deserve to be vanquished with the utmost of ease, for He is the power behind the universe. Just as we let those we love and believe love us decide for us at times, even in crucial personal matters,

The love of the Almighty who is infinitely loving to all of his creation and the surrender to His will, permits Him to decide for us and guide us, even through our inner selves and thought processes, based on His infinite wisdom, for our welfare. On their own, because of their free will, limited wisdom, ego,  useless desires and fears that cloud knowledge, humans err frequently and become a cause of their own suffering.

Alas, when times are comfortable for humans, they tend to forget Him, even deny Him, although all remember Him in times of need. It is because of this the ancient Saint Kabir exhorted that it is wise not to forget the Lord even when times are good because if one did then bad times are unlikely to come.

Get inspiration from the lady struck by famine in the top picture who is all alert as she waits for a train at a platform to escape to a new hope even as she nurses her child in the hope that he too shall make it through the journey because her breasts have gone dry because she and all of her family as seen in the picture has had hardly anything to eat for months, due to a prolonged drought in her village and no help from afar or those who govern from their comfortable and well provided mansions and palaces. Even the cows and goats have passed away because there is no grass and even water to drink has become scarce. Her love for the Lord has now guided her and strengthened her to seek a place of solace and the determination to follow that guidance for herself and all of her much dejected and desperate family who have all but given up the will and strength to live.None however have any more tears to shed now. They dried up long ago even as the rivers and wells in their village dried up. The long trek to this distant railway station had been especially difficult in this state, and as one member or the other fell down by exhaustion she kissed and goaded them awake, while burying a two year old daughter by the wayside because she refused to breathe any longer despite repeated kisses. There was not a wild flower anywhere to adorn the grave, nor a tear left to shed in dried out eye sockets so the woman took of her blouse, her last one, to adorn and cover the grave. A grandmother of the children  too frail to make the journey had stayed behind, and it was partly from fear of leaving her alone the family had not left sooner. Now they wait for the train that may carry them to a land where the grass is green and where there is water to drink, and the son, now too weak even to stand up, says he shall return soon with a bag of wheat, a pouch of roasted chick peas and another of salt for grandma. May the Almighty speed relief.

While an adult may follow the three part practice described in this note named as Kriya Yoga by Patanjali, what do children know about it? It becomes incumbent on parents as well as every other adult to do whatever they can to make the lives of children better. It is only then that our own Almighty Father or Mother would perhaps more readily come to our aid for sure, because we are His children. Perhaps all the suffering children are angels descended from heaven to teach humans what it means to be human even through their suffering, to bring to life hearts stuck in their own greed and needs, and to separate those who cannot be so salvaged.

Epilogue:  The story of the frail family included here is from long ago but things like that are happening in different countries right now. It seems a ninety year old man who had been feeding the hungry homeless in Florida has been jailed for such an abominable act by those who regulate such things. The morning newspaper today informed that the body of a dead two year old boy had been found in a garbage bin in Ajmer, India and that an inquiry indicated he had died from starvation.  No ninety year old or younger has been arrested for the act. (Times of India, Page 4, Jan 30, 2015, Jaipur Edition)
But perhaps there is a happy ending to the woman of our story if one went by the new photo. Her children are now in school and with the guidance of the Almighty, she has instructed her children to refuse the free midday meal at their urban government run school, designed to alleviate hunger and malnutrition amongst the poor, because some of the children fall sick from it from time to time and some even died of rat poison that got mixed up in it. She stays by the rail line in wait for her husband to return after a visit to grandma and because it provides  chairs for study. There is plenty of water now to even wash her hair and a new blouse and if her husband finds work again on return she shall even get shoes for the kids. Hers can wait. She knows nothing about Patanjali and has not read his three part yoga. She lives it. May the love of the Lord live forever long in her heart and add prosperity to her life with every passing day,
But, when that time comes may she not forget how it was once, and how it may still be in other parts of the world, and catch the diseases of obesity instead, for in our wonderful world just as many suffer from or obesity as do from hunger and perchance if someone were to point that out to her, not regard it as rude and disgusting but rather remember the days of her torment for as Saint Kabir said once, long ago,
In times of suffering remember all, but in times of joy none; were one to remember in joy, why would suffering come?

While help is often available in modern India in towns and cities for a time of difficulty, it has not reached numerous villages yet and far-flung villages are unable to access it in time. When the young wife of a man in Eastern india died because of it, he resolved to make his village closer to town for others. Read the amazing true story of this man who dug through a mountain for more than twenty years to make it possible and became a saint in the process.
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/08/sant-dashrath-of-gehlaur-dashrath-manjhi.html

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Color of President Obama’s Tie



A Color for President Obama's tie

President Obama has been on an inspiring and delightful visit to India for the last three days. As this blogger watched his numerous appearances on TV it was noticed that the color of his tie was a shade of blue every time. The first lady by his side wore very many floral printed dresses looking extremely elegant and pretty. The thought then occurred to this blogger to fine tune this shade of blue tie for him. A small book on dress colors called the CAANS System suggests fortunate dress colors for different persons based on some astrological and numerological principles. Although this author does not fully understands how but on a heuristic basis it appears to work well for many famous as well as ordinary persons. There are some earlier posts in this blog based on that. For men the latest edition of the book suggests two colors for upper garments especially ties worn on white shirts under blue or black jackets. The colors are defined by RGB values. The methodology applied to President Obama resulted in two shades for the tie, one green with RGB values 125, 200, 150 and the second blue with RGB values 125, 200, 250. The shade of blue is slightly different from the shade he was wearing on his visit. It is as shown. it is a gift from this blogger for his wonderful visit to India.

The CAANS system applies to both men and women and the most fortunate dress colors for The First lady Michelle Obama as determined by this system are as below

Dress Colors for First Lady Michelle Obama by CAANS System of dress colors
 

Prophecy and Spirituality



Space and Time are aspects of the Almighty
The great thing about twitter is that if you are following some of the leading news and media, one gets to hear any important news or trends before it comes on TV and other places in print or online. From time to time, some news comes that this blog had already mentioned in advance in this blog, much in advance and at such times it is pointed out by me as a reply in twitter while quoting the link. The reason for that is that there is an intimate connection between spirituality and prophecy and this blog has much spiritual content and therefore a little prophecy too enters form time to time. It is because of this connection that that some leading ancient have been called prophets.

For example yesterday, a tweet mentioned that Australia is likely to be most affected by climate changes. That was something stated four years ago in this blog in Feb 2011 in a post on saline conditions. Some days earlier Oxfam had reported that about one percent of the wealthy persons own about 99 percent of wealth and that too had been mentioned much earlier in an older post in this blog (on back to nature).

There are other things that this blog has mentioned in advance, for example the day of birth of Prince George and that it would be a boy and more recently that he would have a sister in 2015 ( yet to happen). It was also mentioned in advance that Prince George would be a bonny baby, of a healthy weight at birth; Princess of Cambridge on the other hand shall be a sweet bundle of joy.

It was also explained in some earlier posts how this blog ends up stating things in advance. The simple answer is that a major component of this blog is linked to spirituality and an element of prophecy has always followed spirituality like a shadow follows a man. There is a perfectly valid spiritual explanation for it that would be too long to discuss here, but one thing may be answered that such prophecies apply only for significant events. As regards minor day to day events, no prophecy may apply since individual free will and choice may alter them.

Having said that, not all prophetic visions are pleasant, one major one in this blog has been of a predicted apocalypse in the period around 2025 and before 2050 (but can never be sure of exact timing that is in small error for an event of one in thousands of years). Hope mankind undertakes major reforms before that and it proves to be just one big fallacy. However in case that has worried someone, the same prophecy did also mention that it would not apply to those who can reform at the individual level too. To read more about it check this out:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/03/thirty-unusual-years-of-human.html



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Planting a tree on International Yoga Day

International Yoga day

At the behest of the inspiring new Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi ji, June Twenty first has been declared as the International day of Yoga by the United Nations. Having initiated the idea, it is perhaps incumbent on India to contribute ideas as to how this day may be celebrated.

Today morning an email arrived in my inbox from a government agency that maintains contact with citizens at large to contribute ideas for the day that would be communicated to the PM. I enthusiastically responded sending three ideas. The first was a bit of art work carrying the caption – Vasudev Kutambakam – a phrase coined by ancient yogis who declared that all life is one family, indeed as modern genetic science has verified; humans, animals, plants and bacteria are born of a common gene pool and share many genes. The ultimate goal of yoga to move out of our limited personal desires and unite with those of All.  The art work was developed using the base template as a photo of the Himalayas with the early morning sun rising over it sent to me by a student – Naman Kothari and partner in a campaign and activity we undertook towards alleviating hunger and malnutrition.

The second idea was to try and create a composition of an anthem for the day in multiple major languages of United Nations containing the words of the previous phrase.

The third idea was to begin the day with planting a tree. One might ask what yoga has got to do with a tree. Let me explain. In an earlier post in this blog on Sun Inspired Yoga it was described how valuable it was to develop gratefulness to the Universe that gives all life with the Sun as its visible part. While it is good to exercise and meditate in the early morning sun for brief periods of fifteen to thirty minutes, longer hours of meditation the part of yoga for advanced yogis that follows physical exercises must be carried out in shade and if one can in the open because as Khalil Gibran recorded in the Prophet,

“The Breath of life is in the sun and the hand of life is in the breeze”

Through history, certain trees have been ascertained as beneficial for meditative activity and reflection if one sits under them and three trees, also described in detail in this blog earlier are – The Oak, Banyan,  and Neem. While the first grows in colder parts of the planet, the others grow well in warmer areas. Therefore planting these trees in an open common ground is a great  move aside from the fact that a greatly depleted mother earth needs more trees. However just in case one cannot locate saplings of these trees one can also substitute with a food producing tree which too is a great need of modern times with a huge population on earth.  


Monday, January 19, 2015

What is Sun Inspired Yoga



Sun Inspired Yoga

Sun inspired yoga is to wake up to the song of birds, to greet and thank the early morning sun that sustains all life. It is to help protect all life, all green things and everything that walks on legs, even those without legs. It is to oppose those who tend to damage life and perpetuate violence for the sake of their greed or madness but not with hatred, rather with love and understanding, because hatred can never be conquered with hatred, it may however be banished with love, yet it is to shun those who tend to fill life with negativities and contentions.

It is to commune with and meditate in the sunshine, green forests and flower filled valleys, beside lakes and rivers of pure blue waters and snow capped peaks. It is to fill one's life with love, laughter and a song even as the Almighty fills one’s heart with joy and steps breaking out in a dance. But that is a bit too general and somewhat poetic you might say, dear reader, and ask, what are the specific things to do, what road to take towards the sun, or the few steps to climb, in order to become a sun inspired yogi? Then you might read this

Walking towards the sun and happiness
 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Five Steps to Sun Inspired Yoga

https://twitter.com/NaturePicturez/status/646708288315256832/photo/1


"Some view Sun Worship as a pagan and primitive thing. However, to love, admire and be grateful to the sun, the gorgeous sunrise, beautiful sunsets and the midday sun that warms the soul and greens the earth, the light and warmth it provides, is to be grateful to the Universe of which the Sun is a shining part that has produced all life. Loving and being grateful to the sun is far better than worshiping it.
Viewed in this light, it is a modern and scientific form of spirituality, albeit it has been with joyous and successful human civilizations since the beginning of time. It destroys darkness and is therefore detested by forces of Darkness. Its transient absence produces depression and its presence love, truth and joy.  Without the Sun life is not possible. Adopting the sun inspired yoga does not imply giving up any existing spiritual beliefs. it does not also add any new ones except for the fact that one expresses gratefulness to the worthy and beautiful in the universe and nature openly while enhancing the benefits it provides."
"If the only prayer you ever said was thank you, that would be enough"  Master Eckhart
" The breath of life is in the sun.", Khalil Gibran

"Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit word.  Since the term was invented a few thousand years ago, a lot of water has passed under the bridge and many new meanings having been given to it. Although some of the original yoga (not all) were associated with religion, modern techniques need not necessarily be associated with any. The ancient text by the father of yoga - Patanjali makes no reference to any religion and does not use any existing name for the Almighty, defining him as the Supreme being with infinite knowledge. The simplest way to understand yoga in the modern context is any technique or practice to improve mind, body and soul and making us more deserving for yet greater blessings from all of the universe that nourishes us every instant of our existence." Quoted from an early post by author
The various yoga practices as originating in eastern philosophy are numerous. Some involve physical exercises, currently the most popular ones.; many are connected with breathing methodologies, and the comprehensive ones that go beyond into the philosophy of life and living. The physical yoga exercises so emphasized in recent times constitute an eighth part of yoga (The third part) as described by Patanjali. Breathing methodologies (the fourth part) contribute another eighth part. Following all eight parts of the yoga is something for the most advanced of yogis only i.e only a few that reach sainthood. 

This note describes a modern scientific form of Yoga and worship that includes aspects from all the eight parts that can be undertaken by any modern human to improve life in  a huge manner very simply. It will  make wondrous contributions to your own personal life and even help you contribute towards reversing adverse climate changes taking place in the world..

Leading ancient civilizations including ancient Aryans, Armenians, Pharaoh Akhenaton, Romans, Incas and others have worshiped the Sun and built great temples and civilizations in this worship, but how are we to view Sun Worship in the modern scientific age? Modern humans enamored by physical sciences view the sun merely as a heavenly object. However, many scientists including this author believe that there is much more to the universe than just the physical universe that we can observe or the so called ghostly dark matter that we can merely guess at. We do not fully understand the unknown mysterious side of the universe.

Many believe that the universe as a whole has a consciousness, intelligence and power that is infinite, our own being only an infinitesimally small part of it, held apart by our own egos, desires and limited understanding. Any conscious practice followed to achieve greater unity with universal consciousness is yoga. The most visible symbol of Universal Power on our planet is the Sun and hence the present yoga, named here as Sun Inspired Yoga ( Surya Prerit Yoga in Sanskrit) is described in the following five steps:

1 Greeting the Sun: 

The first time a human sees the Sun every day after getting up or while going to work, greeting it and thanking it is a way to express thankfulness to the universe that has given us life. However, do not look at the sun directly with eyes open. That may harm. Look downwards with eyelids down. If you are familiar with the eastern namaste gesture, then doing that while briefly bowing to the sun is sufficient.  This author has done that for more than forty years. For those who wish a more elaborate greeting there is an ancient yoga called – Surya Namaskar that may be searched on Google. Several links would be found including Youtube videos e.g.see 

Follow this with 15 minutes to 30 minutes of physical exercise. If you do not know yoga asanas then just a brisk walk followed by some bending exercises will do.
.
for details see: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3022611/Sun-worship-at-summer-solstice.html

2. Honoring the Sun by planting trees: 

The rays of the sun bring life and blessing to all life forms on the planet everyday. However, when these rays fall on barren, arid and desert lands that lack moisture, then these rays are reflected back or partially wasted. Covering the soil with concrete chokes mother earth but planting a tree on it adds life to it. If trees are planted on the same land and assisted by care and watering for the first two or three years, they develop deep roots and can survive on their own later. Everyday of their lives, trees absorb the sun's ray converting it into useful bio matter, absorbing carbon emissions and releasing life giving oxygen. Some scientists, including this author believe that trees help stabilize climate extremes and the reduction of trees and forests on land have contributed to such extremes ( see here). Trees are also a great source of food that includes their fruits and nuts as well as foliage of some trees such as the white mulberry (read this) and drumstick tree (read here). With increasing population on the planet, whenever trees are planted, the first choice should be food trees. A tree adds many blessing to the life of the one who planted it ( read here). During times of the year when it is neither too hot nor too cold do try and enjoy picnics in the open wild countryside in sunshine on Sundays, the special day of the sun. It is a wonderful idea to combine such picnics with planting useful trees that can be provided with some care in subsequent picnics. This idea of combining picnics with planting trees comes from a children's story book.

A Person who has decided to bring Sun Yoga into his life must plant a least one tree, preferably more, every year of their adult lives, beginning with areas around their homes and then even venturing out into the city and countryside. A very useful aid in this direction is to plant trees in indoor pots and enjoy them for a couple of years before transferring them into ground at a stage when they are too big for the pot and nurturing them for a couple more years outdoors too - from the crib to the wide world in a manner of speaking. Trees are an adornment of Mother Earth, the only life giving daughter of the Sun from amongst several daughters.


3. Honoring the Sun with a sustainable life style

Do try and avoid wasteful use of the Earth's resources. Recycle whatever you can. Kitchen waste and garden leaves are easily composted. News papers cut is squares can replace paper napkins and drying clothes in the sun saves electricity.  You might try learning from an Asian how to clean with water after defecation instead of toilet paper. It is far cleaner once you learn the technique and saves use of paper.Read more about it in humorous note here
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/08/keep-it-clean-down-under.html

Using plastic Christmas trees saves trees. Kitchen cloths can be cut out of torn clothes and so on. Modern lives need electricity for their living. While this may come from burning fossil fuels or dangerous nuclear energy it can also come directly from the sun through solar photo voltaic. A Sun yogi must try to install at least some of a Solar PV in his home at the first available opportunity to meet part or all of their electricity needs. If their city allows linking to the grid and getting the benefit of feeding the grid, all the more better. If not, they must in the very least, campaign with their governments for that policy in any forum they have access to.

An important way to lead a more sustainable life is to minimize or avoid the use of food that perpetuates violence to other life forms. This implies preferring a vegetarian or Lovegan Diet to one with meat. There are very many posts on foods in this blog if the interested reader searches through (read here). However, we do not recommend a vegan diet that is the other extreme where even milk products and eggs are avoided but rather strive for the keeping of cows and hens in a more humane manner on farms. There is a post on Farmer Joe in this blog that describes a way in which that might be done. The source of all food is the Sun. Even water came later as plant cells (cyano bacteria) produced oxygen and that combined with early hydrogen, the primal gas to produce water. Therefore, a use of such a gift from the sun that is not wasteful is to honor and respect this gift and qualifies us to receive more and more of it.

4. Emulating the Sun

Watch how disciplined the Sun is in following its timing and course for billions of years every day. Humans may learn from this by bringing order and discipline in their own lives, by being true to their word, being punctual and well ordered in their actions. Watch also how the sun serves all life without expecting anything in return. A human may attempt to do just a little of that by helping those more vulnerable - plants, animals and other vulnerable humans such as the very poor, children and the aged according to opportunity and abilities. Just in case you have been influenced by authors like Ayn Rand and believe that welfare of the poor and vulnerable is not a good idea, just ask yourself one question - Would you too like that no one cares when you are in need of care? Remember one may get from the Universe what one puts into it or in the very least believes putting into it. This practice helps to increase Love, Truth and Simplicity in life along with love of beauty and laughter, so necessary to escape the evil or mundane and evolve to states of bliss instead. If you cannot find the time to do a little good deed on weekdays then do one on Sundays at least, the special day dedicated to the Sun from the beginning of human civilization.

A very powerful way to help the poor is to speak, write and campaign for the rights of the poor and prevent exploitation by the powerful through unfair laws and practices. These latter are leading to increasing inequalities in the world leading some to homelessness. While the few wealthy on the planet enjoy numerous homes and properties, many of the poor persons around the world are forced out of their homes in the name of development needs by occupying their ancestral lands and homes. While some wealth inequality is natural as are the different sizes of trees in a forest, the current ones are obscene with one percent of the worlds population owning almost as much wealth as the rest of the 99 percent.

The reader may like to look up an earlier post on - entropy yoga - for more details of this step. The present yoga includes and goes beyond entropy yoga in a direction that includes the inspiration from the Sun and does not alter or contradict anything of entropy yoga. While entropy yoga stresses on developing order and discipline in speech, thought and actions yet another yoga - The Kriya Yoga as illustrated by Baba Haidkhan, a Himalayan Mystic, stresses on other aspects such as the incorporation of love, truth and simplicity in one's life along with love of beauty and laughter, all marks of a sunny personality, and worship of the Almighty through love. While the original Kriya yoga as described by the father of yoga - Patanjali - and its contemporary elaboration by Baba Haidakhan are generic in the sense that they permit freedom to choose the form of worship, inspiration and devotion, the present Sun Inspiration Yoga concerns specifically the drawing of divine inspiration from the Sun while also honoring scientific sensibilities and the needs of the modern age.


5. The Sun Meditation

Practicing twenty minutes of mindful breathing every day facing the sun and exposed to the rays of the sun is an immensely beneficial exercise. However do not stare at the sun close your eyes and keep a downward glance to protect your eyes and do not continue to sit in the sun if it becomes too hot and uncomfortable.. This yoga may be done outdoors if the weather permits or indoors facing a window through which the rays of the sun come through. Expose your face and as much skin as possible to the sunshine at a time and season when the rays are pleasant rather than too hot and hurt. Early summer mornings or the winter sun are great. Wear the minimum necessary clothing as permitted by the weather so as to get maximum benefit of sun on skin. Modern humans are missing sunshine because of new life styles. If the day is cloudy, you can do the yoga indoors facing the expected direction of the sun.

You may read about the benefits of sunshine in an older post in this blog. More about mindful breathing is also described in an older post here. The best position to practice this yoga is to sit cross legged with the back and head straight. If you find it difficult to keep your back straight, a back rest may be used. Alternatively, it can be practiced sitting in a chair too. In place of mindful breathing, if one prefers, one may repeat the exercise while listening to sacred music or mantra. You may choose any sacred music that touches your heart. The favorites of this author are the chants of the Gayatri Mantra by Vedic Aryan Monks or the musical chants of - Om Mani Padme Hum - by Tibetan Monks. In case you know of other inspiring pieces available for listening and downloading free on the net do let us know by posting a link to it in the comments. it will be appreciated. The sacred piece may be from any religion just as long as it delights the heart and soul because the sacred worship of future is beyond science and religions. With sunshine it is not just the flowers that blossom, all life does.

"If you read the five steps mentioned here and have begun pursuing them and made some progress on all five steps, that does not necessarily make you a sun worshiper but it definitely makes you a new age yogi that receives blessings from one of the brightest parts of the universe in additions to the blessings all life receives from all of the universe irrespective of their pursuits. May the Sun, the brightest visible symbol of divinity for those on earth brighten your life and banish any obstacles that arise in your journey through life."

A Brief Summary:

Very briefly the five steps may be summarised as:

1. Greet the sun in love and gratefulness daily
2. Plant in the very least a couple of trees every year of your active life
3. Live simply while avoiding waste
4. Enhance love, truth, compassion, discipline and order in your life
5. Practice twenty minutes of meditation daily, whenever possible and pleasant, in sunshine.


The Sunshine Group of Ten

While it is good to pursue one’s spiritual development independently, many persons find it easier to do it as a group. Certainly, the combined activities of the group helps to keep one on track rather than get distracted by much else of the world that tends to distract us all. Any individual may create such a group by first adopting a group spiritual philosophy. If the philosophy of Sun Inspired Yoga is adopted, then one may invite other interested friends to joint meditation sessions, discussion, listening to inspirational music, picnics in good weather combined with tree planting in the countryside and forests etc. It would be best to keep the group to less than ten i.e. nine other persons aside from the group founder. Other family members such as as spouses and kids would also be regarded as family members of the ten who shall most certainly join in the picnics etc. The leader or co-coordinator may try and maintain a file/ ring binder with names, addresses and numbers etc. of group members as well as reading material as the leader/founder/Master of the group. One could begin by keeping a color print of this page (from Kinko’s or someone like that) and then add more prints of the links therein gradually. A group aside from their spiritual activity also becomes a social support group in times of need, an extended family blessed by the Sun. Each member of the group may become a co-coordinator in their own right and launch another group of his or her own so as to be a part of two groups. Such a group shall be the Sunshine Group of Ten. If you do create such a group and share the news here as a comment to this post, that would be wonderful and may help connect you with other such groups elsewhere.


The Novella, "Mystic and the Blossoms" available at Amazon and other places is the story of a  Mystic who is a Surya Inspired Yogi or Sun Inspired Yogi. Aside from the fascinating story of a village, the novella includes the spiritual philosophy associated around this yoga for an interested reader, except that instead of solar PV it has use of other forms of solar energy because solar PV was not an economical thing when the first edition of the novella was published in 1992 and the story was written as early as 1984. The same spiritual philosophy is contained in the various spiritually related posts of this blog.

NOTE: After writing this post, this blogger Googled for Sun Yoga and found that others have also used the term differently including at http://sunyoga.com. The differences with earlier definitions are in the details and emphasis. The present description emphasizes more on life style steps and less on physical exercises called Asanas and more on mindful breathing rather than breath regulation called Pranayama. To distinguish the present version, the name of the yoga has now been updated to Sun Inspired Yoga

A subsequent googling for "Sun Yoga" showed that sun yoga mats are also available. They appear to be good mats although rather than using fancy design certain plain colors are best as described in an earlier post on entropy yoga mats. Just shows how popular the subject has become!

UPDATE JANUARY 23, 2015: My efforts at campaigning for a rooftop solar PV policy in India has finally borne fruit today as described here: http://steamcenter.blogspot.in/2015/01/a-new-rooftop-solar-pv-policy-for-india.html

UPDATE FEBRUARY 20, 2015: For special sun inspired yoga apparel by Reebok see
http://milled.com/Reebok/9Rjg8BUqYR9J5Hn-

UPDATE MARCH 5, 2015:  A wonderful site for sunshine group members to check out:
http://sunfriend.com/

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tree of Humility - Neem

 
Mr. Squirrel sun bathing on his Neem Patio
Azadirachta indica, also known as Neem, is a tree in the mahogany family. It is native to South Asia and also grows in islands in the southern part of Iran. Its fruits and seeds are the source of Neem oil. It is a fast growing tree that can reach heights of up to 20 meters easily.

If a tree is to be regarded as the symbol of humility, it has to be the Neem Tree. It grows without any care in arid areas. Birds and squirrels love its fruit and to build homes amongst its branches. At the same time it repels insects, bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Mosquitoes like to move away from areas where it grows. And planted as some of the trees of an orchard it will discourage infestations that sometimes attack orchards lacking biodiversity ( see here for bio-diverse orchards). Presently the olive groves of Europe are under such an attack.

Neem leaves are dried and placed within clothes and in rice bins to keep away infestation. Its tender sticks are chewed to make one end as a tooth brush. Those who have used this for brushing in young age keep healthy teeth until old age. A mouthwash made from a tea made by boiling its leaves is an effective treatment for toothaches. Its new tender leaves are edible but tend to be bitter although said to be good for health.

Unlike many other large trees of its size, when a Neem tree comes up near a building its roots stay away from the foundations and do not damage them. Occasionally a Neem tree has to be cut because of constructions needs. Its wood has an excellent cream and pink grain. I have made the dining table in my home from the wood of a Neem tree. However, Neem should not be used for external woodwork since it tends to rot when exposed to rain.

The Neem tree along with the Oak, the Holy Fig and Banyan trees have been regarded as some of the finest of trees to sit under for spiritual reflection and meditation. The neem tree and its extracts are a natural insecticide to protect plants. it also has numerous health benefits for humans and has been used as a cure for conditions like leprosy. Read more on this tree here as a sleep aid and cure for insomnia:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/07/neem-tree-as-magical-sleep-aid.html
The image used and modified here was released in the public domain by its creator (here)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Nine things worth aspiring for in Life



A Photo from the author's garden


Today, as I woke up to the most beautiful new lovely song of birds sung in perfectly orchestrated movements of the different birds that live in or visit the garden, the following question came to mind, how to measure the quality of a personal life? What things are worth achieving in life for adult humans? More important than great wealth, power and fame are some more mundane things such as the  following (for if a large black ant is sniping the behind of a billionaire inside his pants he could scarcely enjoy his billion, could he :-) ? ):

  1. That you have a bowel movement daily before breakfast  :) and perchance Warren Buffet thought it was another billion that would do the trick and help expel the offending matter in a trice. LOL ! or conversely it is also sad if you are running to the toilet too frequently and have a near running faucet at the other end.
  2. That you have pure air to breathe, good clean water to drink and that your meals are regular, nutritious and wholesome and that you feel hungry for the same and enjoy their taste while being grateful to God, Universe or Mother Earth for providing it.
  3. That you sleep well most nights for a minimum of seven hours waking up no more than once briefly, perhaps for a pressing pee and also have opportunity for a brief afternoon nap besides.
  4. That you can see the blue sky and green trees or fields most of the day as you journey through life.
  5. That besides a roof over your head, you have some private open space such as balcony, verandah, patio or garden where you can enjoy sunshine for a part of the day ( even in the buff if you so desired), while your eyes rest on green growth or blue water, foundations of life, not concrete and cement.
  6. That you live in a place with close access to the most beautiful in nature such as forests, lakes, oceans, rivers, mountains etc. and can hear the song of birds every morning, not just with your ears but most importantly a mind disengaged to hear it along with the delicate nuances in the composition of the song.
  7. That you do not live or work with anyone with whom you have a quarrelsome or hostile relationship most of the time or who is frequently stressed and tense or exploitative, preferring to live alone or in company of those who are loving and sympathetic or relaxed, besides that your days do not call for an activity that is painful or stressful such as long commuting, hard labor, having to hate your work regularly etc.
  8. That you are content, grateful and happy with whatever can be acquired with reasonable effort without causing pain to others and are not hankering and pining for more
  9. That you value virtues of Love, Truth, Simplicity and Laughter rather than the reverse and attempt to enhance that in your life regularly.


If you have met most of these simple aspirations, it can be said without hesitation that you have already achieved a good  quality of life, but perhaps one or more areas still requires a little more work to change it to excellent from good? If you are having difficulty getting there, try the Sun Inspired Yoga described earlier in this blog and you are likely to get there soon, God willing. If you can find these nine things in life, most other things that most humans try for most of the time, in the process losing even these basics, are worth discarding to a trash bin of futile and worthless aspirations, or if needed in keeping with your personality and karma shall be provided more or less automatically by circumstances without you having to make any special effort for it, just as the Lord did to one of His special angels on earth - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second while she was off on a safari in Kenya.


Belief, trust and love of the Almighty makes reaching the nine aspirations of life and more easy. Without belief, one may win for transient periods, things of the material world, but peace and happiness recede. praise the Lord.
 
Rate the quality of your life

Based on the nine criteria above, you can assess the quality of your life quickly. Remember perfection is impossible if you meet ninety percent of the criterion, ninety percent of the time that is OK

  1. Excellent: If you have reached all the nine aspirations listed above the quality of your life is excellent
  2. Good: If you are failing on just one
  3. Fair: If presently you fail in two areas
  4. May be Poor: If failing on three of the nine areas
  5. May be Very Poor: If failing in four or more areas but do not get disappointed because huge numbers of humans in the modern world fail on all nine counts and yet manage to laugh heartily from time to time, at the same time get cracking to fix it. Best wishes for that.
It would be interesting to note that an excellent quality of life is rarely found amongst the rich and powerful of the world but is more likely amongst others. For example in India, many senior Ministers of the government can never meet all nine criterion because the air of the capital city Delhi is the most polluted in the world. In addition some may also fail on more criteria. It is not surprising then that the quality of governance in India has been poor in the past decades, because if the quality of life of those who govern is not good they may not be able to contribute much towards improving the quality of life of those they govern. In case the quality of your life is poor or horrible please take corrective measures. Life is a precious gift and must be honored by improving its quality. The best wishes of this blogger are with you in this task. May the Universe that shines forth with the Sun and Mother Earth that abounds with joyous bounties for those who seek and deserve them assist and bless your life. 
 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Green Food, Healthy Food



My grandson Naineysh (Golu) trying his hand at gardening
 
The healthiest of vegetables are leafy green vegetables. The green color of leaves and grasses is due to a basic chemical of life called chlorophyll. It is a complex organic compound of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen with an atom of magnesium at its center.  The molecular structure of chlorophyll is virtually identical to that of hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying red pigment of our blood.  No wonder foods having an abundance of chlorophyll are some of the healthiest in the vegetable kingdom. In hemoglobin the central atom is Iron and in chlorophyll it is Magnesium (see image).

Hemoglobin and Chlorophyll

Some doctors think that foods with an abundance of chlorophyll discourage cancers (see here) while strengthening human blood. Just as the waste of plants, oxygen is our life breath; the waste carbon dioxide breathed out by humans as well as the waste excretion of humans is food for plant. The Universal Intelligence has created both these mutually compatible life forms so that both may prosper and evolve together.

Plants also contain a variety of other nutrients and micro-nutrients required for a healthy life. Thus a healthy human diet is incomplete without an inclusion of green leafy vegetables. When leaves are taken selectively from a plant, allowing the plant to go to seed and complete its life cycle, no violence is committed even to plant life and such foods are called Lovegan foods i.e. those that cause no violence not just to the animal kingdom but also plants.

Leafy Green Vegetables 

While lettuce is a leafy green vegetable that is best eaten raw in salads, and cabbage amenable to pickling as the Germans do for Sauer Kraut or Americans to Cole Slaw, most leafy green vegetables need to be well cooked. Spinach must remain the king of leafy vegetables but there are numerous others such as mustard leaves, goosefoot weed etc. that are delicious with the right recipe. It is consumed as an accompaniment to bread, pasta, steamed rice, mashed potato or yam or a preparation called fu-fu in Nigeria that can be made by cooking semolina with water and has the consistency and softness of mashed potatoes. Some protein matter added to preparations with leafy greens makes a balanced meal that can be consumed frequently. I shall include my favorite recipe in this article. The leaves of certain trees are also edible and some such as white mulberry leaves and drumstick leaves are super foods. When consuming edible tree leaves the new ones are the most delicious while very old ones become leathery. You can find full articles on Mulberry leaves and drumstick by searching in this blog. Leafy greens such as coriander, parsley and celery are great herbs to enrich a leafy green dish full of additional benefits of their own. My maternal grandfather, a highly spiritual and knowledgeable person had a dish of spinach and other leafy vegetables every day for dinner during much of his life. Here is the recipe

Goosefoot weed on the kitchen table


A Leafy Green Recipe (Saag Cream)

Leafy green vegetables are called Saag in North India. When leafy greens are cooked with Paneer an unprocessed cheese, the dish is called Saag Paneer, when with meat Saag Meat etc. These are very popular dishes in South Asia and if an interested reader Googles for it, they would find many images and recipes for it on the net (the spelling sag is used often for saag). The present variation is one suitable for an international palette.

Ingredients:

  1. A pot full of Green spinach leaves and some other leaves if available (not exceeding one third by volume) as available according to season from goosefoot, mustard leaves, coriander, celery, drumstick etc. Note that these other leaves have a stronger flavor than spinach and must be used in the mix sparingly according to taste. You may have to play it by ear at first to come up with the mix you like best. To begin with just use spinach only until you perfect the recipe.
  2. Large onions, one per pound of the leaves
  3. Two large tomatoes per pound of leaves or tomato puree to replace
  4. A tea spoon each of Hara Masala and Garam Masala spice mixes per pound of leaves ( see an earlier post for recipe) and salt to taste (see here) For a start you can replace with other spices in your kitchen, a tea spoon each of corinader powder,  cumin powder and black pepper are great too.
  5. Half a cup of cooking oil
  6. A cup full of protein food that may be any one of - Boneless chicken pieces, meat, paneer, button mushrooms cut in halves or peas. Paneer is an unprocessed cheese that does not melt on cooking. It can be made at home from milk or purchased from a store. Google for more information on it.
  7. A quarter cup of beaten yoghurt or sour cream

Process:


  1. Farm fresh leafy vegetables may have loose soil stuck on and if not organic or homegrown may also have pesticides. Therefore, soak them in a very large pot of water for over an hour, then draw the floating leaves out with your hands gently without disturbing water. Wash again and transfer to a covered cooking pot to steam for ten minutes on low heat. No additional water would be necessary for steaming but sprinkle a tea spoon of salt on the leaves before covering. Now cool and you may refrigerate these in a container for whenever you are ready to cook. Freeze them if they are to be saved for longer than a day
  2. Defreeze the steamed leaves if frozen and grind to a cream in a home grinder and set aside
  3. Begin cooking by adding half a cup of oil to a thick bottom pot. Add in chopped onion and stir fry till light brown. Then add in a tea spoon each of the spices, -Garam Masala and Hara Masala. Now add your cup of protein, meat or paneer or even peas and stir fry a bit more. Then add in the chopped tomatoes or tomato puree and sour cream and continue frying and stirring until mixture wipes the bottom of the pan clean and oil separates.
  4. Now add in the creamed spinach and leafy mix and you may add half a cup of water if the mixture is too thick. Cook on low heat for at least twenty minutes or until meat is tender if that has been used in the recipe. Stirring is required from time to time to prevent the mix sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If it happens by mistake, transfer to another pot while discarding the burnt portion stuck to the original pot.

Voila, your Creamed Saag dinner is ready. It can be served over pasta or consumed with bread. The Nan bread of Asia is particularly delightful with this dish but so is hot garlic bread. It can also be eaten with steamed rice or with mashed potatoes, with just a bit of salad on the side or fresh fruit after dinner, it is a complete meal, one of the healthiest offered by Mother Earth. 

A Green Party (of the non-political kind)

For a party begin the dinner with a small serving of a clear soup. Serve the dinner with white wine and another dish in a red sauce to have both red and green at the table  (could be any of Chilli Con Carne, Hugarian goulash, a Moghul Curry, the Arab Marak, Swedish meat balls for example or the traditional Spaghetti sauce) besides the green dish just described with a large dish of Cole slaw or broken iceberg lettuce with mayonnaise as dressing, so that there are at least four items on the table. You may keep some steamed rice and oven hot garlic bread on a napkin in basket on the table and then snap a picture for posting on Facebook later when everyone is at the table. Serve chopped fresh fruit with cream and a little icing sugar and crushed almonds dusted on it for desert. You may serve some nuts and  black tea or chocolate liquor by the fireside after dinner and have a group song and/or story telling  to make it a memorable and merry evening. If there are ten persons at the party, an ideal number for merry making, each could bring in a dish each to make it easy for all because this party has just ten dishes:


  1. Soup
  2. Wine
  3. Salad
  4. Butter filled Garlic bread in foil ready for oven
  5. Green dish
  6. Red Dish
  7. Rice
  8. Desert
  9. Nuts
  10. Chocolate liquor and/or tea
 

Dried Leaves

While different leafy foods come up in different seasons and the seasonal fresh leaves are the best, the leaves can be dried for use round the year. The Egyptians along the Nile have done that with their favorite leafy vegetable for thousands of years and enjoyed good health because of it.  To dry leaves, separate from stalk, soak and wash thoroughly, drain and dry on a cloth or paper in a shaded space until crisp in a few days. Then crush and store. Such leaves can be reconstituted for various recipes by adding some water and leaving for a few hours. Alternatively the powdered form of these leaves can be mixed in wheat flour to enrich cracker, breads or added to soups and sauces to make ordinary meals more nutritious. If you have some gardening space at home, do grow some herbs and edible leaf trees. Spinach and goosefoot is easy to grow., and since these would come up by the seasons, one can always pluck them at the right time, bit by bit, and dry them in two or three lots while enjoying the fresh leaves in your favorite dish of saag.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Apocalypse during 2025-2050?






In the modern world, while many do not believe in any Supreme Intelligence, power or God in the universe there are also others that do. If we confine our attention to the educated what is their stand?

Consider the educated of the modern world in two groups. First are the well educated, those who have university degrees like a bachelors or masters and also some who do not have a degree but have an equivalent amount of education through self study or other informal channels. Then there is the second group of highly educated. These are the academics, scientists and people with doctoral degrees from reputed universities of our world. If a survey was carried out amongst these two groups to ascertain how many believe in a Supreme intelligence behind the universe, there would be surprising difference. Many more from the second group, a much higher percentage in fact believe in a Supreme Intelligence and Consciousness as compared to the former well educated group. The reason is that the deeper study of this latter group compels them to accept that the design of the universe and the life within it is far too intricately designed and could not have emerged without a Supreme Intelligence of infinite magnitude overseeing this creation.

While there is perfection in the world there is also much suffering and those who believe in the Supreme Overseer question why He permits it. The only answer one can come up with is that it is a result of the limited freedom of choice and action that has been given to life, that produces both joy and sorrow.. This freedom is limited to the extent that the Supreme intelligence not only continues to control more significant events such as the movements of galaxies and the stars but also overall major events on the planet as a whole.

A major worry for some who view the progress of life on the planet as a whole is the tremendous increase of human population that has been taking place on the planet over the last few decades. It is unprecedented and has never happened before in the long history of mankind. Many fear that it is close to unsustainable levels. While policy makers at times suggest that humans are not doing enough to control this, it must be noted that humans never have for tens of thousands of years but the population never rose like that before. It was Nature that decided. While some assign this to modern things like antibiotics others see that only as an interim thing in a chain that stretches up to the Lord of the Universe, its Supreme intelligence. Populations were low in the past because that is how it was willed and they are rising to unprecedented unsustainable levels because that is how the Universe wills it now.

Huge numbers of humans are being pushed into crowded cities living in deplorable settings and in large parts of the world even those who consider themselves better off have been pushed into high rises that resemble beehives scaled up and they breathe air that is fouled up with urban pollution.

If for a moment we accept as true that universal will is allowing human population to rise to such high levels, one might try to inquire into what its purpose could be. What is the intent or design behind it?

We know that things like human sperm are produced far in excess for reproduction simply so that at least one would survive in its difficult journey to conception and perpetuation of new life. If even this does not succeed in one attempt, it usually does in a few. Drawing an analogy from this, one may hazard a guess that it is because the world is heading for an apocalyptic event and the design behind a large surplus number of humans is so that at least a few survive. so that a human race that evolved after millions of years continues, for a new beginning after an apocalypse just as they were born from the few sperms that survived out of zillions of them.

Whatever has been written in this article is just loud thinking and guesswork but if we were to carry it forward the next thing to do what we to predict when this period could be simply based on sustainability of population. An article along similar lines placed this in the period 2030-2050 (see here). Updating earlier estimates based on more information a better estimate seems to be 2025- 2050.

While the future can be known with certainty only to a Universal intelligence, there have been some amongst humans, the prophets and mystics who attempt to tune into this Universal consciousness. Based on that, they come up with their own prophecies from time to time. Some are inaccurate, some approximate and some have turned out to be accurate in recorded history. Often the intuition of such mystics is triggered by unusual signs and events and one such is happening right now, the appearance of a bright long period comet – Comet Lovejoy. While this comet has been viewed as a comet of joy it has also been viewed as a marker of a destructive comet that would follow in its wake some decade or more later. Some of the associated prophecies are in another blog (here)  that appear to second this estimate of 2025-2050 with the likely year being closer to 2025 rather than 2050.

" Immediately after the tribulations of those days, shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars (bright comets and asteroids) shall fall from heaven and the heavens shall be shaken"  St. Matthews

Just ten years to the date friends! what are you going to pack for the journey :)