Sunday, January 24, 2016

You are It

Perchance you saw a homeless beggar on the street one day and either felt sorry for him or ignored him. He has a body and consciousness that makes him alive just as you have but did you realize that it is parts of the same consciousness that flows through him or you or anyone else for that matter even animals, trees, bacteria, grass; everything that is life has a consciousness. Most do not realize that it is parts of the same although few mystics do. In another time or place it could be me or you that are that beggar because the condition of that consciousness that we have presently assigned to ourselves changes with time and place. It has been doing so ever since the beginning of time because material things like our bodies are born, changes and dies but consciousness is everlasting. Out of it all this was created. Not just mystics but the most learned of all scientists realize it too. As Einstein said,

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”  Albert Einstein

Enlightened mystics that are able to free themselves from bondage of the limited self unite with the infinitely powerful and knowledgeable infinite to different degrees as long as they are centered in a finite body. For the ordinary human, it is important to realize that when we do a good thing for ourselves we do it for our limited self but when we do a good deed for another it is to our inner deeper self, a greater more powerful good and even though we do not see it clearly, it is the source from which our feeling arise and we are filled with happiness. The converse is also true when we harm another living thing be it an insect or be it a tree. When our consciousness gets totally confined to our limited self as when charged with greed, lust, ego or anger then we become most ignorant and stupid. Conversely a mystic is so full of knowledge that even his casual utterances are prophecies when about future.

Image before some modifications here from:

A good beginning makes for a good day – Five Simple Tips

The Author greeting the morning Sun at his bedroom window

Life is made up of good days and bad days. When a day was not going well, my Grandma used to say, whose inauspicious face have I seen this morning? How far this applies to other humans is a matter of study but it goes without saying that a good beginning makes for a good day. Here are five simple tips that go to make a good start, some well known and others not so well known,

1. A Cup of tea:  Just after getting up, most humans rush to the toilet; it may be for a small job or a big one. Many postpone the bigger task to after their cup of tea or coffee. However if you do not get to it until after breakfast then you need to review your diet or even see a doctor perhaps. When you enter the toilet first thing in the morning, it is a good idea to gargle your mouth, wash hands and face with fresh clean water to get rid of bacteria that may have developed during peaceful hours of sleep so as too freshen up for a cup of tea. Brushing may be left for later before a bath. Some persons begin the day with just a cup of warm water or coffee. Warm water is fine but it is better to postpone a cup of coffee for after breakfast and begin with tea instead that is gentler on the system. To make it better, there are a number of herbs and barks in dried form for example cinnamon that one may mix with tea leaves for health benefits. There are several older posts in this blog that describe many useful ones.

2. Greeting the Sun: Soon as you can in the morning, go up to a window to greet the sun Thank it and the universe for all they provide without asking. It is an excellent way to add value to yourself and your day in a simple way. Remember gifts are added to a grateful person and taken away from those who are not grateful.

3. Getting out in the Green:  After a cup of tea, it is excellent to go out for a bit into green surroundings and walk on grass unless one is in the midst of very cold winter when this is not possible. The outdoors can be a home garden or park. Look for new buds or leaves that have sprouted out today, tend to a plant that needs a bit of tending, and leave some seeds for the birds in a hanging tray. Do some exercises that one can do while standing in one place like moving arms, legs, bending etc. Younger persons could do something more energetic like push ups.  This exercise of five to ten minutes followed by a half hour walk at any convenient time of day would provide the necessary exercise that every human needs. Younger persons could do a bit of jogging instead of walking; say fifteen minutes of walking and fifteen of jogging. Unfortunately some persons in the modern world live in a city or high-rises without access to green. If you happen to be in one of them, make plans to get out of that situation ASAP unless you are satisfied with a compromised life, this time around.

4. Meditation and Prayer: After a morning bath or shower, a brief session of prayer or meditation ranging from a few minutes to up to twenty minutes is excellent. Mindful breathing or Mantra Chant described in earlier posts are great ways to do that.

5. Day’s plan: Reserve a few minutes before or after breakfast to sit down quietly and draw up the day’s plan of activities. If there are many things to do, then a do list is useful. The plan could include thoughts about your day’s meal, shopping, chores etc. besides work.
Have we packed in too much for a work day morning? Do whatever of it you can keeping the old adage in mind – early to bed and early to rise makes Jack healthy, wealthy and wise. But do remember – never think of the past in the mornings, that has gone into archives and you do not want to spoil your day by dwelling on that. One may review the past but the time for that are not early mornings but evenings. On the other hand never ever make plans for future in the evening, the time for that is not an evening, if one has to, do it during day hours between breakfast and late afternoon. Remember, today is a new day, a new beginning, a time to enjoy the magic of new beginnings to the music of the birds that sing for humans and their families every morning.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Mystic Way

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”  Albert Einstein

My professional career was that of an engineer, scientist and academic but nowadays I sometimes describe myself a mystic when talking on spiritual matters. Some have inquired what that means and if it same as a religious person. No, a mystic is just as different from a religious person as a religious priest is different from a business man, although some of the much evolved ones have been recognized as saints by different religions.

A mystic may have originally belonged to a religion and would therefore be called for example a Christian mystic or a Buddhist one, the reference being to their original religion. However, mystics move beyond beliefs, practices and rituals of their religion. They are independent spiritualists out to understand the non-material and hidden side of life and the Universe, some through study, some from a teacher if an evolved mystic can be found to be one, but largely through contemplation and meditation. Their focus is the mysterious side, hence the title mystic. Returning to my self, one may ask - how can a professional scientist be a mystic?  The answer is that just about anyone can be as long as they are human or more and some of the best of scientists did become one even though the world may not have recognized them as such. All it requires is to make the spiritual side, the prime focus of one’s attention. Spirituality was something I have always been interested in as far back as I can remember. During a professional career it took a second position to professional work, but now that I have retired from it, it has the first place. I have not given up professional work altogether and do that too at times but it is not my primary occupation anymore.

While most humans focus on worldly pursuits, one of them being the acquisition of wealth, the mystic focuses on understanding life, the universe and the relationship between the two. This interest arises from a realization that worldly life is a mixture of joy and sorrow and it is impossible to have one without the other. As a result any worldly pursuit, howsoever successful, cannot result in sustainable peace and happiness and just in case it did, it shall end in death.. On the other hand, a mystic soon realizes that there is a universe full of peace, happiness and bliss outside normal worldly pursuits and that one does not have to struggle for any essential need that most humans struggle for most times. The Eternally powerful Universe that created all co-operates in meeting all their needs. Even a moderate progress on the mystic path frees a human from the greatest fear that humans hold either consciously or suppressed – the fear of death.

Mystics do not change their original religion. How can they, when they have moved out of the very confines of religion that many humans subscribe too. They are content with the label of their original religion that comes to them mostly through their parents and do not oppose it but rather support it for others. However, they move beyond what is taught in various religions. They accept the truth and good that exists in all religions as well as the existence of God, for He is the same in all religions, it is the same God that all religions seek to worship albeit with different names, but God has no name, just many different ones that different humans have Given to Him or refer to him by. Mystics ignore what has been erroneously interpreted by humans propagating different religions including their own, rejecting it without getting in to an argument about it, as Meister Eckhart a Christian Mystic has said,

“Theologians may argue but mystics of the world speak the same language” Meister Eckhart

Saint Giles
A mystic need not be a hermit in sacks or robes living in forests or caves but by what has been described in preceding paragraphs. Indeed, they may dress and look like ordinary humans and live in an ordinary town or city although it true that they delight in forests and mountains because they find greater joy in company of nature than of humans. Their lives are marked by simplicity and their human relationships and interactions are minimal even when they live in society. While the ordinary loner may fall into depression, the mystic attains happiness, knowledge and bliss through his or her lonely pursuits, for in truth it is not lonely pursuit but in company of stars and all life or the universe itself. Mystics realize that the Infinite God can never be understood by a finite mind but they draw comfort from the fact that He is ever loving and delights in those who attempt to function in accordance with His will.

Through the deeper understanding that mystics attain of life and the universe, they have a deeper and truer understanding of the problems humans face daily. They are always willing to offer solace, knowledge and advice to those who seek it from them. Since they understand the root causes of human misery, they also offer suggestions and ideas to make the world a better place for all through whatever means of easy communications that are available to them, for in this way, they are able to repay the debt they owe to the world for the very life and everything physical the world has granted them and they need for their survival as long as in a body of flesh and blood, or to act as instruments of the Lord in any way that He may desire for nothing delights them more than to serve the Lord, their Love. However, they do this while keeping their human interactions to a minimum. While a following and monasteries may develop around some mystics and they live in them, even here they keep themselves aloof from personal human relationships and a mystic teacher living in a monastery will almost never talk of their personal or previous lives, not even their names they bore when they were not mystics, for none is born a mystic, although one may be born with those tendencies.

A mystic as he progresses on the path, develops deep compassion for all life and also realizes and regrets the selfish or careless thing they may have done while they were still engaged with the material world but they focus on this to repent and learn from it, not dwell on it. They realize that adverse karma may be in store for them too as it is for all humans because of any wrongs done by them but this does not deter them from their path, for they realize that it is through God they would either find forgiveness for it or the strength to bear it. As mystics they generate little bad or good karma whenever they succeed in acting in accordance with Universal will but draw closer to the Ruler of Karma Himself.

A mystic may study books and the work of mystics not just of their own religion but  the primary source of their knowledge is their own contemplation and of all contemplation the one in which one does not think at all, for as all mystics of all religions have said repeatedly that it is by stilling thought that one may reach the core of knowledge that lies within the depths of their own being, for it is a part of the Universe, and it is a unity with this universe, that is their ultimate goal.

Those who have been inspired enough by this note to wish exploring mystic pathways may ask where to begin in a simple way, the answer is: Begin here:

For more on the Mystic way in this blog see: 

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Right Thing and America

Perhaps the most revered sacred spiritual text in the lands below the Himalayas is Bhagvat Gita which means the Divine Song. One of its verses says that it is important for great and leading men in society to do the right thing because whatsoever a great man does, others tend to emulate. Similar sentiments are echoed across all of the great works of philosophy and spirituality across the world.

Just as it is with individuals so it is with nations. It is important for them to do the right thing because other nations tend to emulate them. Over the past seventy years, ever since WWII, America has emerged as the leading nation in the world. It has the largest economy and the strongest army. Recently, the current President of the US, Barack Obama stated in his last State of the Union address that Americans must be proud because America is the strongest nation and it is the envy of other nations. He was right only partly. America is undoubtedly the strongest nation but it is no longer the envy of the world. That time has passed away a decade or two ago. The rising gun violence both from police and on the streets, a burgeoning prison population, huge economic inequalities, child poverty and homelessness, hugely expensive medicines and medical treatment, expensive college education etc all make many in the world shudder at the thought rather than envy America. If at the present time some countries are envied, they are countries such as Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Norway, Germany and Switzerland to name some of the most prominent ones.

How has this turn of events taken place? It is well understood that just as individuals cannot be perfect so it is with nations. To err is human but the biggest difference between an improving individual or nation and a declining one is that former attempts to do the right thing while the latter does not care for it enough, giving more importance to interests and gain. Sadly in many matters, America has started falling in the second category. The most severe example of this was when Bush senior and junior went to war in Iraq stating that it is in America’s self interest to do so. It has been mentioned in earlier notes in this blog that wars fought for self interest bring disaster in their wake and only when they are fought for self Defence or a righteous cause can they bring peace later. They leave the veterans who fought it not as proud heroes but as persons broken down with post traumatic stress disorders. The difference between the two types of war is either doing the right thing or ignoring it.

This author was quite shocked when he heard in debates over use of human torture in US if it produced useful information or not. The same sentiment was echoed recently in a program on BBC, for as said, all nations emulate great nations. The debate rather should have been if it is the right thing to do or not. If one went only by the result of a deed the principle could be extended to people robbing banks to do good with the loot and some even killing their grandmothers for her inheritance. The principle has been carried far into everything, assault weapons in hands of people are good because they help gun sales, Guantanamo Bay facility cannot be closed by the President because Congress would make a fuss, even in courts, not because it is the right thing to do etc. The same spiritual text mentioned at the outset has stressed over several of its verses that doing the right thing is far more important than the result of any action. The result shall not be determined by the action alone howsoever well executed but by much else in the universe i.e it is the means that are important not the result and happiness over the long term can only result from using the right means, accepting whatever the outcome as the right one, albeit it may produce some temporary pain over the short term.

In the opinion of this author, America can return to its past glory, arrest decline and once again become the envy of the world if it returns to this simple principle – doing the right thing. In the ongoing election campaign for a new President there seems to be just one who upholds this principle and he is Bernie Sanders. It is only with this can America become not just the strongest nation on Earth but also count itself among happy ones. Millions of lovely American people with hearts filled with compassion and goodness deserve it. It is up to them to choose the right lawmakers and leaders to make this possible, lawmakers who do not lead them into wars and hate but peace and happiness, who work not just to increase the coffers of a few rich persons in return for scraps and lollies they throw their way as they do for their dogs, but to ensure that there is food on every table and a roof over every head across the land. Only then shall peace spread not just across America but across the world for as long as America remains the biggest economy in the world, its influence shall dominate.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Green Life

Golu (Naynesh) Age 7 in the Garden, may God bless him

Recently I read a profound tweet which said a life is successful if it puts more into the world than it takes out of it. While one finds humans of all kinds, it is among trees and plant life even grasses that one finds lives that give much more than they take from the world. No wonder, they live in peace and happiness from all accounts that a mystic can sense since such things are beyond measurement by science. This happiness is shared with other life forms when they enter green surroundings. One of the greatest pleasures available to humans in life is spending time with the green side of life. For those of us who live mostly in urban areas, some of this love can be experienced even in a small garden, flower pots and visits to the countryside.A human being can return much to earth and become carbon neutral as well if he or she plants trees as often as they can in their adult years at home, office and countryside.

While a human may not get much opportunity to contribute a lot to the world, they nevertheless contribute if they have raised children that do so.  It is nice for parents and grandparents to inculcate a love of nature in children when they are young for life long happiness. My grandson Golu lives mostly in a big city but in his holidays he plays in the garden and I encourage that in order to inculcate this love. There are pictures of him in older posts when he was younger. He turned seven this week and this a photo just snapped while he was trying to grow some new flowers in a barren corner of the garden is posted on top.

An indoor pic of Golu and his dad Shyamu

Friday, January 8, 2016

Debt leads to Impoverishment

The Money-lender and His Wife, by Quentin Metsys, 1514. Louvre Museum
For centuries a moneylender has existed in South Asian villages. He tells you that you can take any amount of money you need for anything you wish; only there shall be small monthly interest. They must remember to pay the interest regularly or with compounding, it would become huge, but they can take their time to pay back the original amount. Just in case they cannot pay that back too; they shall just hold the land as collateral. Since needs arise often, villagers take loans often. For centuries the money lender has become richer while the villagers impoverished. Money lenders who became very rich moved to cities and then the world and some of the richest persons in the world such as the steel tycoon Mittal are from among such communities.

The modern version of the village moneylender is banks that have pushed individuals and nations into a life of debt from the monthly credit card loan to huge ones on their homes or nations. But there is a day of reckoning for loans and the end result impoverishment that Greece is facing presently and the much of the world shall likely face down the line.

As against the backdrop of villagers in debt in South Asia are also some families that have seen through the game and have it as a family rule not to take debt ever unless it is interest free within the family or among close friends and such families have prospered. One just saves for whatever one needs and acquires it only if one can without a loan. This author belongs to one such family and recalls how shocked his parents were when he subscribed to a credit card and made him surrender it.

It may be mentioned that some loans are worse than others. A loan that is put to productive use such as a business may not harm or a loan for an asset that appreciates with time such as land or home may not turn to be a bad deal. However a loan for another asset such as a car that depreciates with time may be a road to the cleaners.

Debt is the frequent cause of financial crisis in the lives of individuals or nations. Nations or individuals that have a great time on debt, end up with much suffering later on and it feels all the more painful since it follows a good time. Those who run their life sans debt sleep in peace.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Austere Diet of Himalayan Hermits is Healthy

Saint Serafim (Image not from Himalayas)

While different hermits in the Himalayas follow different dietary patterns and restrictions, this is a description of a common one that consists of five types of food. These are

Wheat: Usually as flat unleavened bread made on an open wood fire but at times also as cracked wheat boiled with milk added to it. A few influenced by the Sikh temples also use semolina cooked as a sweet mashed preparation. Mystic hermits live a life in harmony with nature and would never cut a tree for their wood needs. Much dead wood may be found on the forest floor along with twigs and dry leaf useful to get the fire going. If necessary some branches might be taken from a tree. However, hermits often tend to young tree saplings that come up on their own in the forest clearing weeds from around them to improve their chances of survival or by shifting them to safer locations. The flat round pieces of bread cooked on wood fire called roti are extremely delicious when eaten hot, straight off the hot plate, and with some clarified butter spread on them. But unlike leavened bread they tend to go leathery when cold.

Usually surrounding villagers gift some wheat after the harvest to hermits in nearby forests that is ground into flour every month or so according to need. Whole wheat grains store better and longer than flour made from it. A Hermit also may purchase the wheat if he has some charitable income. Most have some rich business and political clients who need the solace provided by them desperately due to their difficult and stressful lives and give cash gifts on their visits. Mystics due to their simple lives and unburdened souls are quickly able to discern the source of  worldly difficulties and the flow of destiny. Therefore they can often suggest the course of action that shall lead to easing such difficulties or a path of solace in case they discern it as an unavoidable one. They do not store money however but either spend it for any essential need or give it away to one who might be needy for purchase of a cow for example to a nearby villager who might later gift some wheat, clarified butter or milk but that is not a condition for the gift given without any demand. Their own needs are simple and their most expensive possessions may be some blankets for winter, some cotton sheets worn as garments, leather sandals, prayer beads or lucky gem stones, grass panels or mattresses and some brass vessels for cooking or carrying.

Milk Products: As milk, butter and clarified butter extracted from it and yoghurt that preserves better in summer when milk would spoil. Clarified butter has a long shelf life as compared to butter. Hermits do not keep a fridge or any other modern devices although now some may keep mobile phones. Their isolated abodes usually have no access to electricity and phones may be recharged periodically in a nearby village or town.. Hermits with a few disciples may keep as many as four cows for it so that at least one is yielding milk. At times clarified butter or butter milk is also gifted by nearby farmers

Green Leafy Vegetables: A hermit collects these from surrounding forests and also may grow some around the hermitage. The leaves are collected selectively and gently from plants when the sun is up so that a plant or tree is hurt no more than a human is in a haircut. Picking from plants when the sun is up helps them to heal quickly whereas plants plucked after sun down may suffer in pain till morning. Plants are as much of a life form as oxygen breathing animals that complement life by being carbon breathing life forms.

Roots: Root crops like potatoes, carrots, turnips and numerous other wild roots that only hermits know about, collected after a shrub has completed its life cycle so as not to kill the plant.

Fruit: A fruit a day is welcome varying with seasons from bananas, apples, mangoes and wild berries. A Hermitage usually has some of its own fruit trees

Some hermits, especially those living closer to urban centers rather than forests employ rice and lentil beans in varying amounts in their diet. Nearly all keep rice for special occasions, for example, a sweet rice pudding of rice and milk is common on festive occasions and a preparation of much softened rice and moong lentils is the prescribed diet if a stomach is upset from polluted water or some other source

Aside from this, a hermit may consume some luxuries when available and these are jaggery, wild honey and nuts form trees. When traveling, a hermit usually carries some roasted grains and nuts for times when food cannot be cooked and fresh fruits are not available and these are roasted peanuts, roasted Bengal gram (chick peas) roasted rice and wheat grains. At times these roasted nuts and grains are ground into a powder and consumed after wetting. It is called sattu. It is especially useful if an older hermit does not have strong teeth. Many hermits in their younger days have led careless worldly lives before a change of heart and becoming hermits, a prescription for ruining teeth well before one turns fifty.

Although this diet appears austere if one were to analyze, it has all the necessary ingredients for a healthy life for everyone, not just hermits and we could all learn something from it. Being a vegetarian and simple diet it is also a highly spiritual one because – we are what we eat.

It must be pointed out that whatever has been written in this note refers to sincere seekers for there are criminals, charlatans and vagabonds too that hide in the guise of mystics. Meat and alcohol consumed secretly may be common part of their diet (Cannabis on the other hand may be consumed by some sincere mystics openly since it is regarded by many as a divine medicinal herb in the Himalayas,  only looked down in modern times because evil prevails in it and many other good things are regarded as bad at such times such as caring for the poor, vulnerable and elderly). The fraudulent hermits and mystics exist to exploit society for sex, fame, money and power etc. all the worldly things worldly humans try for but in this case highly deplorable because of the hypocrisy and deception. The mystic disguise offers them a cover for their nefarious activities. It does not take much for any wise human to see through them by checking out who their life style and followers. A giveaway is if they have collected much wealth and assets despite the fact that they claim the wealth does not belong to them but a trust they have created to hold it. Even the wealth of a trust belongs to a person for all practical purposes, if they control it. However, the gullible get sucked in. 

Some images of  some spiritual portions of  Himalayas and some well known hermits (perhaps the most sincere ones are however not well known and their images are not available ) are here:

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Vast Ocean of Love
Beginning with the love of a mother, humans experience love of other humans for brief or long periods through life in various forms. It is rare for human love to last for an entire life time though. For those who believe in God, it is only His love that is everlasting.

What about those who do not believe in God. His love nevertheless flows for them although they miss the full experience and benefit of it. If you ask them what created this vast and wonderful universe of which we all are a small part, they would say, if they had some scientific knowledge, that it was fundamental laws - laws such as the law of gravity which resulted in this universe. One may ask them then who created those laws and perhaps they would say nothing. That is it dear friend, this vast infinite Nothing that created this universe, planets, stars and galaxies and every cell of your body and all other life besides. If it was powerful enough to create it all, one needs no power greater than that to love and be loved by; everything else of this world that we might care for is negligible in front of this Infinite Force.

This vast incomprehensible Infinite also created the emotion of love that you have experienced at times in a human relationship. It was but a drop of this vast infinite ocean of love yet it felt so wonderful. Imagine how much more wonderful It all is. That is your God then in which you can believe as surely as you did in your love. One cannot see it but one can sense it in one’s heart. When you still your thoughts and your body and close your eyes you can find it dwelling in your heart. That is where you shall find God, not in a temple or anywhere else far away, it shall whisper to you, I am here for you and shall always be there for you and all shall be well.