Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Democracy and Spirituality



Saint Paul in Athens by Raphael
Democracy is a form of government in which people through a vote choose representatives to govern them for defined periods, except in a few African states where a glue  appears to stick democratically elected leaders to their seats of power forever, metaphorically speaking. The precise form of democracy varies from country to country. Most have a written constitution that describes principles through which a state is governed. In many cases, though not all, democracies have produced greater welfare of people than other forms of government such as dictatorships, or monarchies.

However, democracies as exists in most countries today are not free of defects, some serious. This brief note cannot go into various advantages and defects of democratic forms of government but it may be mentioned that the biggest short comings of democracies arise from the role of money in elections and later in law making so that people often end up with laws that favor big money interests rather than them. It is as the root of much misery in the modern world ranging from wars, financial crisis to homelessness. Modern democracies have produced a huge number of slick smooth talking politicians who say the right thing for votes and go on to do the wrong thing to line their pockets and secure a seat of power for their dirty bums. The greater the level of hypocrisy the more successful the politician.

Our life is pushed in directions that are the source of our focus. It is because of this that Saints advice that we most focus on good and good humans and try to draw our mind away from any evil that exists in others, leaving the universe to deal with it, for the most part. However, democratic elections are not like that. A contest between opposing candidates leads to focusing on the weaknesses and evil if any in opponents and shouting about it over the roof tops. This involves all of the adult population of a nation and as per spiritual understanding this may lead to compromising not just the character of a nation as a whole but the very soul that dwells within. However such a sling fest appears unavoidable in modern forms of democracies because for a nation to thrive it is essential that democratic elections pick up those with good moral character and exposes to throw out those with poor one, because as said in an ancient highly revered spiritual work from South Asia,


Original and future possibilities for democracies

Democracy today arose from the ancient Athens idea of democracy. We know that Athenians had created a highly evolved form of human civilization. However they had avoided the problem of money interests as well as character assassinations when they chose their representatives by choosing their representatives for brief periods, simply at random, from names thrown in a pot and picked up as lottery numbers. In modern times a set of hundred or five hundred names can similarly be picked up from all  interested citizens through a computer or even better a combination of both, a computer for s short list of a few thousand and then a manual process like the lotto so that none could say the selection was rigged by a computer.. Perhaps a minimum age limit of 30 or 40 may be set for representatives after further debate. Some countries may wish to add a minimum qualification of a high school pass so that deliberations are literate by all members. A brief educational course may be organized for chosen persons to familiarize them with procedures. This will take governments out of hands of greedy pigs, wheeler-dealers and glib talkers who have perfected the art of saying the right thing for votes and doing the wrong  thing to line their pockets. Just as rapists are attracted to where beautiful women live, robbers and other criminals attracted to where the treasure is stored, often the worst of society is attracted to where power and money lie. It is not surprising therefore that many such end up as representatives of people in modern democracies.

The feeling of this author is that this last proposal similar to the original Greek democracy would lead to a sounder and better House of Commons or representatives than exist today. However, there would be a limitation in such a congress. The majority can often run rough shod over interests of a minorities and this house would tend to do that. Further more educated and evolved levels of government are required to prevent that or any other decision that may be taken due to a temporary emotional upsurge, something similar to an upper house of parliament.

An upper house of parliament can similarly be picked up by random selection, say hundred persons from a list of the thousand most educated persons in a nation. The most educated are defined as a thousand with the highest educational degrees held for the longest periods since graduation. This thousand would change by the time the next election comes around. It would change rapidly, if an upper age limit of say 75 years were set for lawmakers and this upper house would consist of experienced older highly educated persons and intellectuals of the nation, certainly a wiser selection than the present House of Lords of UK.

Random selections of upper house and lower house in such a democracy will make it highly unlikely for lawmakers to win a second term and thus chances of getting corrupted by power will be far less than lawmakers who hang on for decades. it shall truly be a representative government. Some financial incentive and awards may be instituted for law makers that perform well based on a public poll at the end of term

Prime Minister and President

The question some ask is in such a party less system how shall a Prime Minister and President be chosen. An existence of political parties is not necessary for democracies to function and may in fact be detrimental. Such leaders can be chosen in the lower house and upper house respectively by a majority vote. Successive rounds of voting would be required if there are several nominees to discover the popular choice. Once appointed such leaders may be changed only by a constructive no-confidence vote i.e. where a new replacement is simultaneously voted on. Votes on legislation would be based on the conscience of each member and not by party considerations.

Conclusion

At every stage of development humans think they have reached the highest possible stage of development in the universe, whether it is with economic models such as capitalism or communism, models of governance, medicine, spiritual knowledge, science or what have you. Ignorant humans push the idea further. The truth is that the universe is infinite and evolution through it infinite. Humans shall continue to evolve; periodically falling every time they attain a degree of progress and prosperity because then greed shall raise its ugly head. Nothing blinds humans more than an upsurge of greed, lust and anger leading them to their downfall.

However such a spiritually inspired democracy may take a long time to get established. In the meantime is there anything that humans can do to improve their lot? Yes the following image suggests it:

 

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to Save Money on Cloth and Clothing


This blog has explained that there are times in the lives of most when one may be financially hard up and such times are useful in teaching one how to stretch the dollars one has on hand. In this direction, there are notes explaining how little good food costs when one starts with basic ingredients like wheat flour etc. rather than prepared and processed foods from a store, how many edible leafy greens can be found on trees and fields or grown at home and how eggs and milk products are a good and cheaper source of protein rather than meat. The interested reader would find detailed articles on all this in going through this blog. This blog being one on life also has several plans and hints for another requirement of humans - shelter- with plans for several different type of cottages and homes. it is not expensive fittings but trees and flowers around the home that make  a home beautiful and these cost almost nothing except a little happy time tinkering in the garden.

The next requirement for humans after food is clothing and here too wisdom can help save huge amounts of money. Let the likes of a famous lady get an Armani dress costing over ten  thousand dollars in which she appeared recently on international media because she has the millions for it but others need not.  I had tweeted once that a rose wrapped in a piece of sack cloth is far more beautiful than a turd wrapped in silk. Human beauty comes from the soul not fashion and fabrics. It costs nothing more than love, truth and simplicity to make a soul beautiful. The greatest and most beautiful of books often come with plain covers just as the most beautiful of humans are often found dressed in simple clothing.

As a doctoral student with limited cash on hands,  I had discovered that if one searches enough in salvation army stores one could find perfectly good clothes at rock bottom prices, near free, in fact. In later years I have purchased expensive branded clothes on occasions but then felt disappointed when I saw a similar piece at much lower prices elsewhere on a sale. As a result, over the last two decades I have started following another practice; while passing through the markets if I find some cloth or clothing going real cheap I purchase it even if it is not needed by me or someone else in the family right away and store it. The result is that when a piece of garment or cloth is needed for something later even after several years, it is found in the storage trunks or closets. It goes without saying that one needs a more or less permanent home for the storage and care of stored material. For example that the collars of some new stored white shirts tend to go yellow with time and may need to be washed and restored. Clothing in storage also requires naphthalene balls in plastic packs with holes to keep insects away. The plastic pack is needed so that the naphthalene balls do not come in direct contact with clothes for that might create an obstinate stain.

From time to time, in the modern industrial age, a clothing operation shuts down or ends up with a surplus on their hands that they need to get rid of stuff quickly and it is this kind of stuff one can find cheap in the urban markets of the world. There is also a huge amount of defective pieces from factory, some with a defect so minor that one can not find it even by inspection. On the other hand, if one buys an excellent branded piece it often ends up with a bigger defect after use than the one that was found in the factory rejects.

I was inspired to write this note today when, while going through the market on an errand, I spotted huge bales of a fine cloth, of width of bed sheets and drapes being sold outside a large store at prices that were about one fifth of the actual price of that cloth. Most of the material was in floral prints and textures that were suitable for either a lady's dress or furnishings and not for a man's clothing. Nevertheless, there are ladies in the family and as per the suggestion here, I  purchased huge rolls of it. The photo in this post shows some of them. They are not needed at the moment, but the wife of my godson and the sister of another boy who works for me are seamstress with young kids and they shall be able to make good use of them. Some time ago we had organized such training for these ladies since they are largely housewives. One of the pieces has kiddy characters on them and the kids should love pillow cover and sheets made out of it.


Further, perhaps when time permits we shall change the drapes and bed covers in my bed room with a bright red instead of the present browns and cream with that of a guest room with a happy yellow shade, all with floral prints of a garden from the cloth just purchased. I have set it aside for keeping rather than give it away as I do with a lot of my cloth and clothing purchases. Not that I care much for a change in the rooms but it shall  be fun whenever time and opportunity permits and it will add beauty to the home because,

While money feeds a bank account, food feeds a body, beauty and goodness feed the soul

A photo from the author's garden

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Lord Protects



Four O'Clock blooms in the author's garden this morning
In ancient times King Solomon the wise said that true protection cannot be provided by horses, guards and soldiers but lies in the Lord. While trying to understand ancient spiritual works in the light of modern scientific knowledge, this author has described in earlier posts that he considers God to be the entire universe and beyond, all of its seen and unseen even unknown parts and while one may view Him in various personified forms for ease of building a relationship He is Infinite and formless yet he is also all the forms in which a devotee may view Him with faith. Yet, just as we have our intelligence the universe as a whole has intelligence too and controls all that happens within it, inanimate matter and any life form from humans to viruses that are parts of it.

In modern times the rich and those considered powerful surround themselves with much security apparatus and armed guards etc. While such an infrastructure may protect them from some undesirable humans, there have been instances where the security guards themselves have turned assassins. However, much beyond such human or even animal dangers there is another one that lurks around us at all times in millions and billions. There is no guard that may protect even the most powerful of Kings from it if the Lord or universe so decides. These are the millions of bacteria and viruses that live within us, on us and all around us every moment of our lives, many beneficial yet some capable of producing great harm. While life has evolved in this mix and is therefore compatible with it, every now and then, a harmful virus may attack to yield anything from a mild disease to a most serious cancer. While some consider random factors are involved in this misfortune, those who trust in the Lord believe that we are protected from such and other dangers or left unprotected according to the supremely intelligent and infinite control of the lord.

Indeed if one were to do a statistical survey, the guess of this author is that percentage of violent, traumatic or painful ends of the rich and powerful is far greater than that of the humble, most of who meet a swift, painless and peaceful end in this lap of their journey through the universe. The Lord protects the humble and indeed that protection is likely to be highest for those who love the Lord too and the values He represents – Truth, Compassion, forgiveness, gratitude and simplicity.

The author was inspired to write this note today when yesterday, in a mysterious and inexplicable way, just before undertaking a personal spiritual mission of the Lord personified as Bhole Nath Shiva,  he was protected from a grave danger that had lurked around him for the last several years. Such instances have occurred in the past too in the author’s life and do not fall in the realm of coincidence based on any reasonable assessment of probability. The author believes it was a special gift from the Lord for deciding to undertake that brief yet significant spiritual mission in addition to the protection He provides at all times unasked. Jai Bhole Nath ki. Om Namah Shivaya

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Floral tea from the Garden




A small purple sage bush in the author's garden
Earlier posts in this blog have described many flowers and herbs that make an excellent tea. Nowadays my floral-herbal tea consists of five of them from the garden – Bougainvillea leaves and flowers, holy  basil, purple sage leaves and flowers, Palash flowers and scented red roses. Mixes of five different plants is about the upper limit for my herbal creations because my guess is that more than that is an unnecessary onslaught on the system

The mix is excellent for aging persons because it has things that take care of stiffening bones, stress, cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, wrinkling etc. that age often causes. It must be working, because with the grace of Mother Earth and Papa Universe I am delightfully free of these things despite being well past sixty. There are detailed notes on these herbs and flowers in earlier postings, if an interested reader wishes to search through.

The last two do not grow in my garden and have to be procured in dried form from the market. The others are picked from time to time, spread out on an old newspaper to dry on the dining table that is rarely used with me eating most times on the kitchen table or in the living room by the TV. The picture in this post was just snapped. It shows a purple sage bush growing in a quiet corner of the garden with a lot of other things including lobia beans. A small seat from stones was also created in this corner for a morning cup of tea. My home was built directly under my guidance from stones and bricks with utmost simplicity and low cost yet huge beauty and 
So it is with life that those who seek love, truth and simplicity find beauty, happiness and the song of birds but those who run after money, pomp and show lose it all along with their peace of mind.
Today also happens to be my younger daughter's 34th birthday and I created a card from an earlier picture from the garden. The card also includes greeting for Navya and Divya my grand daughters.  Keya is a medical doctor from one of the best medical universities with super specializations in anesthesia, internal medicine and geriatric care and perhaps from me or otherwise she also has much respect for the power of herbal medicines.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Grape Vine for Every Home



https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Malbec_grapes.jpg

Over the last hundred years, there has been an unprecedented rise of human population, such as never before seen on the planet. The housing and food needs of this huge population has led to clearing of forests for food and shelter. The result is that tree products such as timber that were available for free or near free a hundred years ago are an expensive commodity now. Food costs have become a significant portion of family budget with many having to compromise on quality and nutrition and a few even going to sleep on a hungry stomach.

It is because the rise in human population has been sudden; the value of growing food plants and trees has not yet been fully appreciated by humans. In the past Mother Earth did most of the work but at the present time when humans are removing greenery faster than Earth can plant, a new attitude is needed. 

Earlier posts in this blog have mentioned that even apartment dwellers can grow things like herbs, spinach and celery in small wooden rectangular containers at home. It would make a healthy contribution to their diet. Those with gardens may consider planting useful food trees such as apples, mangoes or coconut and others with edible leaves described in this blog according to their climatic zones. There are small lemon and lime trees that can be grown in tiny gardens but as regards farmers, they may well follow the suggestion,
When a son is born unto you, plant twenty-five trees of a fruit valuable in your area and it shall be pension for you in your old age and a support for a son that stays back on the farm during his younger days.

When a daughter is born unto you, plant twenty-five trees of a timber useful in your area and it shall be a dowry and support for your daughter on her wedding day. Cut them carefully for sale leaving a stump. Cover the exposed part of the stump with a plaster of wet soil and it shall be a balm unto the tree. It shall spring up again in due season to yield a dowry for the daughter of your daughter.
What about homes in villages and towns scattered across the planet that have no more than a few square feet of ground in a sunny spot to grow something in? The answer to this is a grape vine. It grows in most climates, hot ones as well as cold ones. So useful is this vine for a home that one wonders why every home on the planet does not grow one or more. There are four distinct advantages of growing a grape vine against the wall of a home, 

1.      Grape vines of the right variety provide healthy fruit and the leaves of this plant are edible too. One can find delicious recipes by searching on google
2.      Grape vines add beauty to a home. While food feeds the body, beauty feeds the soul
3.      Grape vines are excellent for climate control and reducing energy needs of a home. In summer their leaves spring up to keep a building cool while they drop in winter to warm the home with sunlight
4.      The plant has medicinal benefits. 

The grape plant is a fruiting berry of the woody vine with the botanical name Vitis. There are thousands of varieties of this vine and a homeowner must be careful in selecting the right variety as per his/her needs. Some vines are more ornamental than others and some have great fruit while others have a poor fruit that is barely edible. My favorite is the seedless white/green varieties similar to the Thompson grape. If there is space enough for more than one vine then one may choose different varieties for a home unlike a farm where for convenience of marketing one has the same kind.

After planting a new young vine, it must be watered regularly in the first year until the root system develops. Thereafter, one may be careless with watering if need be. Once a year, the vine needs to be pruned to remove branches in undesirable directions, whereas, one may tie up some to direct as desired. Grapes make excellent wine for wine lovers and it has also been used as a medicine since ancient times. For a modern study on its medicinal value, check out
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271156.php


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thompson_seedless_grapes.JPG