Saturday, November 18, 2017

Time, Progress and Yoga

Time and Space are fundamental to creation. The created universe exists because of it. Of this time is even more fundamental than space because it existed even before space was created at the beginning of creation.

In this glorious creation exist both animate and inanimate matter. Both are affected by time. The timing of movements of the stars and planets is determined by universal laws, such as the law of gravity that creates and holds the universe together. These laws prescribe timing of movements of planets and they also determine when stars and planets deviate significantly from orderly movements, a time when they are destroyed.

Animate matter or life is distinguished from inanimate matter in the universe by the fact that it has the capacity to perceive and feel and a degree of freedom of choice that it may exercise for its activities in time and space. The kind of choices humans make decides the quality of their experience in the universe and their progress as also their destruction. The proper understanding and use of time as a matter of choice is fundamental to the human experience. It is also fundamental to yoga, practices recommended by ancient scholars for development of body, mind and soul.

A simple thing that humans understand is punctuality, the strict adherence to a time schedule that has been predefined. Punctuality arises when timings are carefully decided after due deliberation and then strictly adhered to. It is to be truthful to time. While humans speak casually or even lie to each other on occasions, when this is done with respect to time, when they are  not punctual, it is to be disrespect or lie to the basic firmament of the universe or to God Himself for those who see God as the ultimate source of all creation.

To be punctual is to adhere to a word given. It is fundamental to yoga for those who term practices of human evolution and progress as yoga. Civilizations that have progressed much such as the British during the days of their empire and the Germans, Swiss and Japanese even now adhere strictly to punctuality. Those that disregard punctuality can not progress or develop. In fact the present note was inspired by an item in a daily newspaper yesterday (here) entitled,

“Japan railway 'deeply sorry' after train leaves 20 seconds early”
Timings of public utilities such as railway have a great influence on the psyche of the public. When they are punctual, the public learns value of punctuality. When they are not, the public and the nation too becomes unpunctual and may descend into chaos. Those who say they were unpuntual because of this or that reason are right. It is becuase of this and that reason. The problem is that they have given more regards to the this and that than Time instead of trashing it, or they have given more value to a lump of garbage that a rose or perhaps they are near their end when no timing can be kept and time to be destroyed is at hand.

Scientists’ link time to another fundamental quantity called entropy. This author has been a scientist with interests in mysticisms. Arising from this mix this author, several years ago, introduced a modern interpretation called Entropy Yoga. A note on that can be found here. To quote a simple easily understood passage from it regarding time,

“Organizing time implies being punctual in appointments with others and also in ones activities such as meals, sleeping etc. Time has to be organized over days, weeks and months. It implies that one would schedule all activities and appointed hours and minutes after due deliberation and once having done so stick to it precisely. Just check how the most developed cultures of the world such as the British, particularly during the Victorian era, Swiss and Germans are rigid about time and how they developed as a result of it. A quick check of the daily punctuality of a nation is to go to the train or bus station and see if they arrived in time. A quick check of the annual punctuality of a nation is to check the school and university schedules of sessions and exams over the last ten years and see if they remained fixed or changed. This author did a doctorate from UBC; Canada where at his university the schedules remained substantially unchanged over thirty years. This country has been rated as one with one of the highest qualities of life. Compare this with countries that disregard punctuality and end up as undeveloped.”

Yoga originated in India at a time when the famous king Dashrath said,
Raghukul Reet sadda chali aye
Pran jai par vachan no jaye
It is the custom of our family from the beginning that life may go but a word given must not be disregarded.

However over the intervening centuries the fundamentals of yoga have all but disappeared from daily life of Indians and much chaos rules. It is hoped that as India frees itself from ruling dynasties gone sordid in their indulgence and returns to progress and prosperity once again with the help of new democratic leaders such as the new PM Shri Narendra Modi, it shall once again discover fundamentals of life and beauty.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Home and a Towel


A worldly wise uncle of mine had advised that soon after one begins work, one must start planning for a home that would be suitable for one’s retirement. The sooner one builds it the better.

Just as is the case with most humans, my working life was spent in thickly populated urban areas spread across three countries including in Delhi, India, the country of my birth. However, it must be kept in mind that,

“While one may be compelled to spend one’s working life in a crowded city, it is not at all necessary to do so when one retires. It is wiser to look for a home in quieter less crowded town and cities for retirement.”

I am thankful that I did not choose Delhi to acquire a home because the pollution there now is such that many an aged person is  either running away from it or landing up in hospitals unless they drop dead first. From a practical point of view it is wiser because property and land is much cheaper in the countryside than in large urban areas. Further,

“While an urban areas and city lights charm young persons, the quiet and green of countryside is far more charming for an aged one if a person has evolved with age.”

Therefore, at the age of thirty two, I found a vacant lot in an upcoming undeveloped area on the outskirts of the city where my parents and grandmother had a home. It was on the wild outskirts of the city but wide well maintained roads serving a military cantonment passed near it and there were all the chances that it would develop well over ensuing decades which as a matter of fact it did with some help and interventions by me and others in subsequent years.

Soon after acquiring the lot for a small amount of money, I began planning a large home on the property during spare time in different parts of the world. I designed a large home that could serve any possible needs of my family – children, grandchildren, aging parents, and guests that might arise in future. In the holidays that followed, I would build a little at a time. At the age of forty I built a single room with a tiny kitchen and bathroom on it in a corner of the plot so that there was a place to live right away. It was an aid while the rest of the home was built in subsequent years. It has since served to house staff. In the ensuing decade and a half, as I earned more money, and found breaks from my career, the rest of the house was constructed. I used low cost fittings in construction so that it was not necessary to incur any debt in the process. From the start, my family has been against debt with the belief that,

‘Incurring debt with an interest rate from a lender is one of the quickest roots to poverty that humans have taken from the beginning of civilization”

My father, a civil engineer, had constructed a large comfortable home similarly very simply and had warned that a home can be like a hungry well that can swallow all your money if you let it. Moreover,

“A home does not become pretty with expensive fittings but it becomes pretty with trees and flowers that surround it.

Now in my retirement, my parents have left for the other world; children have grown up and pursue their own careers while raising their own families in different parts of the globe, friends and relatives too have aged and have less energy to visit. As a result many of the rooms of the home remain vacant now. In order to maintain them with ease, I keep unused rooms locked away most times, while keeping for my own frequent use a single bedroom, living room, bathroom and a large spacious kitchen that is cleaned regularly.

A large home requires a lot of furnishings and stuff and some of this was built from trees that were cut and replaced in the home after seasoning the wood. The other stuff like linen etc. was picked up in sales whenever I spotted it on trips to the market place. Needless to say, most of the linen and stuff remains locked up in the different cupboards most times, being pulled out only when someone visits. On my own I live very simply because,

“The most valuable thing to earn in life is peace and peace comes from simplicity, not desire for luxuries and ever more.”

One of the consequences of this has been that while I have been using the same pair of towels for years. Yesterday, one of them, worn out by age, just ripped apart on a little stretching. Therefore, now I have cut it into pieces and stored it way to be used as a wipe or kitchen cloth when needed. I have discovered that cutting newspaper into squares makes perfectly good kitchen napkins and kitchen towels. Wipes or other cleaning clothes can be cut out from worn out garments and linen instead of blowing money away on it in a store. The money saved if any is better used to feed a hungry person in need. In the process the environment is saved too because of recycling.

Now a new towel was needed. I climbed up to the bedroom that guests use. One of the closets in the room is used to store linen. There were several towels in there, some still in unopened packets picked up on a sale a few years ago, some used occasionally, washed and replaced in the closet. I chose one that had a few stains on it from use once by the wife of a godson. She chewed on beetle-nut and it can cause permanent stains. Now this shall be my new second towel. I keep two bath towels so that one is in use and the other washed on a weekly basis. Wonder how long this new one would last I am not in need of any more new wipes!


Note: Pictures are from Pictures of the home described in this note can be found in older posts of this blog, for example here:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Helping Hand from God

Having been a professor and scientist for much of my life, I have collected a huge amount of documents, files and books. Added to that are some files dating back to childhood. Needless to say this mass of paper would be quite useless unless well organized. It is an exercise that has to be repeated every few years as new files are added, some become redundant enough to discard and some get disorganized with use. The exercise stretches over days. My most recent shot at it was last month.

While the task of this sorting is on, I remove batches from shelves and look through them in different locations of the home ranging from different tables and desks as also the bed. A double bed is a comfortable place for such an exercise because one can lay out the files on one of the beds while sitting against the headboard of the bed on the other against a fluffy pillow with a coffee or tea mug on the side table. It is a habit I developed in college residence when one had only one small room in the residence to live in. The discarded papers are thrown on the floor, to be picked up for a waste paper bin periodically, some to be burnt because while I recycle as much paper as one can, some waste personal document have to be burned so that they may not get into wrong hands.

The final step in this sorting is personal and recent documents that I went through while sitting on the bed. In the process an important plastic card slipped out and some how landed on the floor under the bed. I do not recall any other instance in life of having done such a thing with an important card but somehow it happened this time. I still do not know how. The task of sorting was completed this Tuesday. The misplaced card lay there peacefully through Tuesday night. On Wednesday there were urgent tasks to be completed outside the home where this card was needed.

Now it so happens that a family of migrant villager lives in a hut constructed on a vacant lot in my neighborhood. They are nice hardworking people and do chores for neighbors in return for small payments. They have two sons. A retired professor in the area, as well as me has encouraged and helped the sons to get good education so as to improve their lot.  The older son however gave up midway through school but with the grace of God the younger one completed high school earlier this year. He got admission to one of the best universities in town for a degree in computer sciences. Most days, in the evenings after college, and some mornings on holidays, the boy still visits me for some help with his studies, or a small payment. In return he helps me in some odd jobs around the home for about an hour a day.

This Wednesday, that was yesterday, he suddenly dropped in unannounced in the morning saying that his college had announced an unexpected holiday. He had brought his laptop along for some work but said he would do any needed chores first. The bedroom needed cleaning and I requested him for the same while I went to the kitchen for breakfast. Suddenly he yelled from the room,

“Uncle there is a card under the bed.” He had located that card while sweeping under the bed.
I was really surprised that I had misplaced the card but nevertheless thanked him profusely while also giving him a reward - an extra day’s payment and a paper punch that he needed. Had that card not been located, I would have been in a tizzy that day while looking for it for work later that day. It is a government issued card and takes several days to replace. I had urgent works that needed the original and not just a photocopy that I keep in abundance of essential documents.

Five unusual things happened in this incident. First was my losing the card, second was the card getting under the bed, third my helper boy getting a holiday, fourth his deciding to drop in and fifth his deciding to clean my room and finding the card. While many may regard all this as a series of coincidences, I regard such events differently – A helping hand from God. He has similarly come to my aid at different points in life in the most miraculous of ways at times of urgent need.

Praise the Lord. Place your love and trust in him and all shall be well.