Sunday, January 15, 2017

Keeping a Daily Diary

Some days back there was a tweet from Sir Richard Branson suggesting that keeping notes is a must habit. That reminded me of another good habit that I have known for long but never taken up, keeping a daily diary. Therefore, a couple of days ago I procured a large size note book and have begun making entries every evening. Wonder how long, I can keep up the habit because it has not been a part of my good habits before. However, I have decided to keep the diary and even if I skip some days I will keep it up on the days I can. It would indeed be an excellent place to record ideas one may forget otherwise.

One very simple reason to keep a diary is that although I write a lot, it has been on a keyboard for several years and I was beginning to feel that my handwriting has begun to deteriorate. This would help revive it.

An earlier post had mentioned that it is good to talk about or review the day’s activities in the evening. If you do not have a sympathetic companion to talk this over with every evening then writing a diary serves a similar purpose. It helps to delete any memory that would be stored in the subconscious otherwise with an emotional attachment. That creates unnecessary baggage for the mind. In the normal course it is resolved through karma, meditation or dreams; dealing with it on a daily basis soon after events unfold helps to reduce this load.

If you decide to begin a daily diary too, choose any size notebook you fancy. Enter the date on top and underscore it with a wiggly line that comes out better when drawing with hand rather than a straight line. Enter the day’s events, thoughts or whatever under it. Before beginning the entry on another day, leave a little blank space in case you wish to enter something more as an after thought. However, never record anything that you consider very private and will embarrass you if read by someone else. A diary is often discovered by others inadvertently.

Friday, January 13, 2017

When the Lord Holds Your Hand

Those who reflect on flow of events through life would not have failed to notice that there are times when we set out to do something and we face hurdles and obstacles all the way through, while there are other times when everything goes smoothly. These last are the times when the universe cooperates and assists, when we make the right choices and there is confidence in our heart that all is well. These last are the times when the Lord is holding our hands and leading us to experience what is in keeping with our karma. It is our reward, opportunity, education and experience to push us along in our endless journey through the universe.

The times when we face obstacles and difficulties in whatever it is that we have set out to do may not be in accordance with our destiny and there is a chance that despite pain and effort we undertake the result will be less than satisfying. Wise persons must always stop to reflect if they should give up that undertaking or change plans in another direction. This does not mean that we should avoid struggles and intense effort in life, when required to do so, for much that is beautiful in life comes from intense effort. What needs to be done is to evaluate if along the way of such difficult tasks we have a feeling of satisfaction, that the effort, albeit hard, is joyous and that the undertaking does not involve compromising our ethical and good human values, for that would led to more bad karma for future.

Proceeding thus, life becomes a far more joyous journey then it is possible otherwise and leaves one smiling and singing through much of life rather than sobbing and sulking through it. It is also important to realize that both hardships and good times have limited life. They disappear when that karma is exhausted. Thus hardships shall pass and we need to be patient through them and use that as an opportunity to learn about life; to become wiser and more evolved. Even when faced with gravest of difficulties we need to remind ourselves that we shall not live forever and even this life shall pass soon.

The good times shall pass too. In this latter case wise souls enjoy that reward, thank the Lord for that good time while it is on and when it has ended they wait for more delightful adventures in their journey through life and beyond. Yet there are foolish childish souls that kick and scream as they are dragged away from their good experience when it has come to an end (that includes most of us : ); even worse they end up doing a lot of wrong things in order to preserve some or all of their advantages or protect from perceived loss. This last results in a huge amount of bad karma for their future. Many political leaders in Africa and some elsewhere are classic and most visible examples of this to the world at large when their elected terms of leadership has come to an end

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Impact of Lust and Nudity on Spiritual Growth

Some modern philosophers have argued that sexual pleasures of the appropriate kind are a useful part of the human experience and therefore worth pursuing. What exactly is considered appropriate varies with thinkers but in no case does it involve compulsion, inducement or force by one human on another. Sexual indulgence, if any, must only be between adults and from mutual interest and agreement.

However, spiritual literature and saints across diverse traditions of the planet have advised humans to overcome urges of lust and described that along with two other emotions - greed and anger – it is a cause of driving humans to hell. The Bhagvat Gita, a revered scripture of the Hindus, describes these as the three gates to hell. It only lauds limited sexual desire i.e. that associated with procreation as divine. The new testament of the Christians warns not just against lustful activity but even lustful thoughts. However sexual desire within marriage is not considered bad.

Some have argued that lust leads to romance and love. Love is one of the most beautiful emotions that a human can experience and few thinkers contest that. While sexual indulgence as a part of love may rank closely with sexual desire within marriage, it is by no means same as the English language implies by equating sexual indulgence with making love. The Saint Kabir of South Asia in fact went on to say that, where there is love, there is no lust and where there is lust there is no love. This in fact is the experience of many good humans who have experience of true romantic love. Then sex becomes unnecessary.

Much sexual indulgence can lead to physical weakness, disability and even physical harm. Promiscuity can lead a human to disgraceful behavior, disease and becoming a victim of crime. The Devilish or Satanic use temptation to entrap humans and sexual temptation is their primary weapon next to that of false promises of wealth and power. Uncontrolled desires have led to fall of kingdoms and impeachment of a President of the strongest country on the planet in modern times.

The difficulty with not avoiding lust is that if not checked it tends to become a major preoccupation with humans. It then prevents them from experiencing other more durable pleasures the universe has to offer such as beauty in nature. It can also lead to diversion of attention from other pursuits that would have led a human to attain material progress in the world if not a spiritual one. As regards spiritual progress, that becomes a distant dream for the one preoccupied with lust. Therefore as Patanjali, the father of yoga has said at the outset of his text on yoga, a human must overcome lust just as much as things like violence, lies, stealing and greed in order to even begin progress on the evolutionary path.

When a desire is strong, merely suppressing it may have an adverse impact and limited, careful observant exposure then seems better. Spiritual texts recognize that giving up lust is not a simple matter and it is something that has to be worked on gradually, easily without forceful suppression through experience, wisdom and learning. The Bhagvat Gita goes on to state that when one gives up urges of lust, one indeed becomes a yogi. It is something that may not be achieved in a single life time. Several lives may be required for most but the very first step for any wise human is to recognize that lust is not a good thing. It is a major weakness that they must works towards eradicating. If they do not do that, there are all the chances that matters will become worse rather than better. The best approach is to gently push away thoughts of lust from mind soon as they arrive and replace them with other thoughts. In case one continues to think in that direction, the thought will become progressively more difficult to control. Such thoughts sponsor sexual biological reactions within the body, something Nature created to assist procreation,  that in turn sponsor more such thoughts until the only escape remains indulgence. Once the mind discovers other thoughts of worthy pleasures and joy, the power of lust over it will weaken. Eventually a soul shall be freed to make progress in this world and the hereafter to godly states of being and joy.


Since the previous discussion may have been found too serious by some, let us return to a bit of humor on the topic. Recently a major social media website censored a post containing a statue of the nude Greek god Neptune displaying his handsome assets. There was no obvious suggestion of lust in the image since the god was not having an erection. However, many modern humans not used to such a display tend to get excited by it nevertheless. The website said it led to too much focus on body parts. What in fact may have happened is that it led them to focus too much on that part of the body.  This was not the case with ancient Greeks where nude statues of gods and other nudity was common place.

Concealing something actually goes to increase curiosity and fascination with what has been hidden. Much covering may in fact play the opposite role of becoming a sponsor of lust rather than eradicating it. Those in Athens, some of the most evolved humans the planet has seen for a brief period in their history, realized this fully, hence the nudity. The Christian Bible illustrates the point by describing Adam and Eve as nude in a heavenly garden but feeling a sense of shame and need to cover the moment they were exposed to knowledge of lust. There are religious sects in South Asia since ancient times such as the Naga sadhus and Digambar Jains where full nudity is commonplace. A highly revered spiritual mentor of this author often meditated for hours fully nude in his Himalayan abode.

Therefore while lust is regarded as a debilitating emotion the avoidance of nudity is regarded by many as not an aid but a hindrance towards this goal. It merely suppresses and reinforces such thoughts.  This author has tried to illustrate the point in a lighter vein in his Novel – Nude besides the Lake – an extraordinary story of beauty and human goodness. The novel can be found through a simple search on google or at Amazon and other retailers.

Evolved beings neither suffer from urges of lust nor the shame of nudity

Monday, January 2, 2017

My Experience, Our Planet

Today the thought came of writing personal things from my own life while drawing inferences to the hell like conditions modern humans have created for themselves in parts of the world.

It has been mentioned in many earlier posts that while some parts of Earth are heaven-like, others are hell-like. The hellish conditions are not just because of nature but also those created by humans through wars, overcrowded cities, pollution of air and water and the overwhelming greed of a few who, with the help of lawmakers they are able to influence, suck large number of humans into grinding poverty, even a homeless life on the streets, in some of the richest and most exploitative countries of our world.

For the most part, my early life was spent in some of the most heaven-like parts, mostly in the Himalayas. In 1962, I came down for the first time to New Delhi where my mother had just finished building our first family home. The land had been provided by the government in exchange for some land the family had given up elsewhere and a loan was provided by the government to build a home.

With the grace of the Lord, I have been in good health most of my life, except for some episodes of hay fever and another of angina described next. My father, though a senior officer in the British Army first and later the Indian Army, did not have any savings because he was fond of flashy black cars and  much feasting and partying, a love he shared with my mother who loved to host all she could lay her eyes on as a guest.. We needed the loan to build a home. The area was under development then with lots of homes and roads being built around and the air was full of dust. The very first day we landed here, my eyes became red, nose started running and I was sneezing like crazy. It was a dust sponsored hay fever as I have figured out since. Fortunately, we did not hang around in this home long and the moment we left it for greener locales the hay fever disappeared.

Our family was obliged to rent out the newly built home so that we could pay back the loan on the property. In the meantime, the family had other grander homes to live in, provided as a service benefit to my dad. The family home of Delhi that we owned jointly, parents and brothers was a special home. One of the tenants was a lady called Mohini Giri whose father V V Giri stayed with her while in Delhi. Mr. V V Giri continued to stay in the home because he did extremely well in his political career while in it and considered it a blessed home. The address of this home was C-243 Defence Colony, New Delhi. He went on to become the President of India while here and it has been a matter of pride for me that our first owned home was one in which the President of India lived. He only stayed there for a day or two after that because as a President he was obliged to move to the Palatial Presidential Estate in New Delhi that was once built for the Governor General of British India.

Although, medical science talks a lot of pollen caused hay-fever, with the grace of the Lord that has not been a problem with me. I have lived in green forested areas of North America, India and other parts of the world and never suffered even a day of allergy from it. It was only on one occasion, when serving as a Professor at the University of Mosul in Iraq, when we went for a picnic to a forest near Mosul called Shalalat that my eyes swelled up and became red from allergy within half an hour of being in the forest. We had to rush out and taking a few pills of Avil the allergy subsided. The area must have had some unique pollen that I was allergic to. We were in a group and my wife and children were with me. No one else was affected similarly. Aside for this singular instance of allergy in a green area there has been none other through my life.

At that time, in 1987, Mosul on the banks of the River Tigris was a heavenly city as it seems to have been for five thousand years ever since Sumerian times except for brief wars and not the hell it has become since due to the unfortunate Iraq wars ever since USA and UK thought Iraq had WMDs. The country has been largely destroyed since. Hopefully none in USA is considering destroying other parts of the world based on alleged reports of Russian hacking next or as Hillary had promised to do by shooting down Russian planes in Syria just like those kids do at the games parlor.

While not suffering from allergy to pollen for the most part, I have had repeated occasions of suffering hay fever from dust through my life. The next period was during my graduation at the India Institute of Technology in Delhi in 1966-71, a dusty area at that time. I suffered numerous episodes of hay fever in that period that only disappeared when I moved to North America in 1974. Since that time, I went up and down between North America, other parts of the world and India several times because up to the age of 45, I just loved to travel across the world and found every excuse to arrange my professional assignments that way.

Between 1998 and 2001, I returned as a visiting Professor to the Indian Institute of Technology. Since the seventies, New Delhi has been greened and built much and dust levels have come down, therefore, during this time I did not suffer any dust allergy. However, something more insidious had happened to Delhi since. It has since become full of air pollution from vehicles and Industries. No one has been able to explain why those industries or people who work in them have to in the Capital city when there is enough room to house them elsewhere. My guess is that the ensuing pollution has clouded judgement of those who suffer that pollution.  Even in my earlier days whenever, I had traveled to very crowded and polluted parts of Delhi I had felt nauseas. Now that pollution was all over. Fortunately, The IIT has its own very green campus that is surrounded in parts by urban forests and I had accommodation on campus, therefore, I survived for some time by confining myself largely to the campus. But something worse was happening, the pollution was getting into my arteries and that led to angina by early 2001. Unlike hay fever, angina is not something that goes away in a day. It may require surgical intervention that I was never in favor of. It took a few years away from Delhi for me to get over this condition next...

As mentioned, I had lost the urge to travel well before the age of 50 but the urge for visiting green forests, mountains, and lakes of Himalayas has remained with me more or less as a permanent love and source of spiritual strength.. My favorite district in the Himalayas is Nainital and a visit to it requires passing through Delhi. Even brief stopovers in Delhi have been painful for me. On one such in 2007, I began to vomit in the cab that was driving me through crowded Delhi and only managed to save myself with the grace of God of being robbed of my belongings by a passing robber who often take advantage of such situations in crowded, crime infested cities of our world. It requires a human to be fully alert in order to protect oneself through this jungle of crime and filth that humans have created.

I feel saddened for the many millions who still continue to live in Delhi but draw solace from the fact that most humans may not be as sensitive to air pollution as some others like me. Yet children suffer and I suspect the government of India based in Delhi suffers too because there are times they come up with decisions that defy common sense. I find myself tweeting then in a hurry, some simple common sense to the Inspiring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his office, even as I did today morning, and as do many others from across the planet. At times a correction is made soon, but such corrections can be only few and far between. Because of this, in the main, it is not just those who live in Delhi that are affected but also one sixth of  humanity of the country and by extension the entire world to some extent,  by the actions of the government in Delhi, that is compromised by fighting its way through this pollution, a mind hazing,  life threatening, hell like condition that humans have created for themselves.