Monday, December 5, 2016

Little Choices, Great Destinations



Even a casual observer would not have failed to note how varied life of humans on Earth is. There are times, places and individuals for which it is utter misery or even worse while there are other times, places and persons for whom it is filled with peace, happiness and joy.

Mystics and spiritually inclined persons have pondered over the question since the beginning of civilization and arrived at the conclusion that it is our thoughts and choices we make every moment of our lives that determines our life. Those who are doing well in life often assume it is because they are so very smart and talented or hardworking while those who are having a difficult time say it is because of bad luck. Mystics say it is neither but simply a result of ones deeds emerging from one’s thoughts and choices that is showing up. Some say it is fate but then mystics say those are just past actions and the link has been forgotten. Some modern scientific persons say it is also due to random happenings that are at play here too, while the one who understood science most – Einstein says just as the mystics do that God does not play dice i.e. there is an Almighty Power that controls all happenings from the movement of stars to the doings of viruses.

What about the conditions we inherit at birth? There is no doubt this has a major impact on the way our subsequent life turns out. Here again the mystics assert that it is just a result of past actions in a previous life in our near endless journey of many lives through the universe.

Whatever position one takes, none can argue that it is our thoughts and choice that are in our control and they do play a role in the way our life turns out. Most spiritually inclined persons have also come to the conclusion that thoughts and choices that emerge from tendencies of love, truth, simplicity, gratitude and humility lead to peace and happiness while others arising from lust, greed, lies, anger and pride lead us to misery.

Some of the most important choices we have to make in life are the places we live in or the people we live with. There are some who feel they can improve their own lives by changing others or if others would do differently as per their wish. That is not only stupid it is also evil. Each human has the God given freedom to be as they like and face consequences. When even God has granted that freedom, it is evil and utterly stupid to expect that a human should change for your pleasure. Could a human be more stupid than that? It is like Hillary and Bill Clinton in the recent American election – You better fall in line behind us or you shall be toast. They have both landed up in the woods with a burnt bottom instead it seems.  Certainly one can suggest or request someone to do differently without repeating that request much so that is not bugging but one must leave the choice to that person if to comply with the request or not unless it is an infant one is dealing with and even in this last case one has to be gentle if one is to be regarded as a human soul in a human body.

All we have a right to is on our own behavior, thoughts and choices. In case we find that a certain human interaction brings misery then it is best to change that or even cut off that relationship if it cannot be toned down. The last post in this blog described the oldest living human on Earth a 117 year old bright and chirpy lady, still fully alert who said her long life is because she decided early in life to end her relationship with a spouse who was not conducive to peace in her life.

But many say, I am what I am, and led to my actions because of my habits. However habits are merely actions repeated several times until they become a part of our personality. One can always change that. Changing oneself seems such a huge task but then if one makes little changes for the better a little at a time, over a period the change would become substantial.

I was reminded of a friend who once said that he has lot of gardening space around his home that has just become dry scrub and was he to change it to a garden it would take far too much effort and time so he just ignores it. What I do is take a small corner or portion of the garden and work on it. Over the years a beautiful garden has come up all around my home. It is so within the home too. There seems so much to do to improve it at any given time. However here too if one makes a little change at a time, just one portion, a single repair or change for better, over time one ends up with  a lovely home.

Such were the thoughts that emerged in my mind today as I pushed a few flower pots, an empty paint container filled freshly with a plant, a couple of chairs and a small table to a corner of a porch that had hitherto been unused in my home. The table was moved from the living room but another unused one was found in a guest room to replace that. It has become another nice spot at home to share a glass of sherbet or tea with a visitor who might drop in. A photo of that is shared in this blog on top. The green drink on the table is a herbal sherbet we make often form herbs and flowers from the garden. Recipes for many shall be found in older posts of this blog. For the photo I pulled out a couple of China glasses gifted by my mother, now no more, some twenty years ago.

For a person who wishes to follow a plan to bring about changes in his or her life a little at a time, ending up with great results over time, a great and very simple place to begin is Entropy Yoga described in an earlier post in this blog.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Learning about Food from the Oldest Human on Earth




One can learn much about foods for good health by observing the diet of the healthiest and longest lived humans on earth. However a broad knowledge of food is necessary in order to draw correct inferences. Recently a 117 year old lady has come to the attention of media. Emma Morano celebrated her 117th birthday this Tuesday; she was born in the 1800s.  She is fully alert in mind, cheerful and disease free despite her age. Therefore the attention of the world was drawn to her regular daily diet. It turned out to be two raw eggs a day and cookies.

Much of the media and world has perhaps erroneously concluded that the magic lies in raw eggs. However, this may lead to harm because in many parts of the world there is danger from salmonella bacteria in raw eggs. This dear old lady has been fortunate enough to live in an area where this infection does not prevail.

On reading further the secret lies in the lady not consuming meat and getting her protein requirements from eggs. Two eggs a day appears sufficient to provide this protein in excellent form. The carbohydrate requirement comes from the cookies. She also consumes some fruits and vegetables to meet the other nutritional requirement of a human body. However, even this brief description of her diet is useful to draw some important conclusions about diet that can benefit all. Three of these are now mentioned

Eggs:  Several earlier posts of this blog have mentioned that eggs are an excellent source of easily digestible proteins instead of meat or fish. The production of eggs does not cause violence as the production of meat. An interested reader may like to check out older posts of this blog for that. However, one does need to remember that eggs are a potent food and as with any other potent food consider the old adage,

“Too much of a good thing often proves bad especially when it comes to food”

This author has often pondered over the right number of eggs per day that a human may consume so as to benefit from them and avoid harm. His conclusion so far was one or two eggs. He now revises this to two eggs per day for persons past 40-50, even three at times for younger active persons.

Two eggs per day appear sufficient protein for good health even if there is no other protein rich item in diet. Those who include milk or bean proteins in food could do with fewer perhaps just one egg a day. It may be advisable with any food though to skip a day a week so that the body does nor become dependent on any one food source in an addictive manner. This author skips them on Tuesday as per the usual South Asian tradition.

Consume the eggs any way you like but do cook them to remove chances of infection in our increasingly polluted world. It only takes a minute to convert them to an omelet or fried egg and just a few more minutes to produce a hard boiled egg. Would cooking destroy some nutrients too? Probably, but make that up with including some raw fruits/fruit juices or salad in your diet.

Wheat:  Much has been written about wheat being an excellent source of carbohydrates in earlier posts of this blog. A small percentage of humans are allergic to gluten in wheat. If you happen to be one of them then switch over to rice. In this latter case though do ensure a bit of milk protein such as yogurt in your diet to make up for lost nutrients. With yogurt as per ancient Ayurvedic experience – avoid yogurt after lunch and at times you suffer from a cough or cold.

Sugar:  The diet of this old lady has helped confirm a very important suspicion this author has had about sugar for long not yet known to the world. This author shares it here now. Although sugar is harmful in very many foods, its harm can be turned to gain in certain foods particularly when used with wheat or rice, in a preparation such as cookies or a rice pudding. Here is why.

Sugar Cane juice is known to be a healthy drink (except for few who suffer from sugar complications such as diabetes) however the reason sugar is unhealthy is because it is a pure chemical. It is produced from sugar cane juice by removing a wide range of other organic products from sugar cane juice. A pure chemical can never be as good for life and health as a whole organic food because the accompanying compounds provide the balance from which life has evolved over billions of years. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as common salt in small quantities. However when sugar is added in moderate proportion to wheat or rice, many of the needed organic compounds are recovered, since wheat, rice and sugar come from the same family of plants –grass

In contrast, sugar in candy, tea or coffee will likely do harm than good especially to aging persons. The most harmful is likely to be some commercial drinks where yet more chemicals are added to the mix. The cold drink industry would do well to switch over to a wide range of other herbal flavors and sweeteners and some have been suggested in an older post.

Based on what has been said in this note and earlier ones, a healthy diet consists of one or two eggs a day, some wheat preparation such as bread or cookies, some green vegetables especially leafy greens such as spinach, a few nuts from trees (again in moderation, never more than a handful, and ground for aging teeth), a fruit or two or a raw salad. Add a slice of cake a day if not cookies to it because it is one food that contains the goodies – eggs, sugar and wheat

Good food is just one component  required for good health,  another is a peaceful life and environment that this old lady ensured early in life by leaving the company of an abrasive spouse.
Better is just bread and water served with a loving hand than a King's feast served with an evil eye for then you shall vomit what you have eaten and lose the sweetness of your life.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Middle Humans, Middle Earth



A photo of grass in the author's garden
When modern humans read or hear about sayings and descriptions of mystics through the ages, many consider it as nonsense of an imagination gone wild. While some of it might be so, there is also much that is based on intuitive knowledge of the universe we live in. It was expressed in the metaphors of the time. The fault lies with us in not being able to interpret it properly.

If a modern human with scientific knowledge is able to read through metaphors of mystics, he may attain profound wisdom. Just as an example, when someone reads in a scripture that in the beginning darkness was separated from light, many just laugh at that as wild sayings of a mystic gone poetic. However, within that is a deep scientific truth. A scientific model of creation describes that the first step to creation is the separation of nothingness into an equivalent amount of photons and anti photons – a separation of darkness from light. Many other mystic metaphors have been interpreted in some earlier notes of this blog in the light of scientific knowledge.

Coming to another prominent metaphor – heaven and hell – viewed by many as nonsense again, there is much science here too. Ancient Himalayan mystics described that ours is not the only inhabitable planet in the universe but rather there are many such, something that modern science has begun to discover too. Of these habitable planets some have harsh conditions for life while others are hugely pleasant. Life may exist on a planet provided it receives starlight at the right temperature, a temperature in which water may exist in liquid form. Other conditions are required to make a planet comfortable or harsh for life, even though life may exist on it.

The mystics described that our planet is at a middle level, as it has portions that are heavenly while there are parts that are harsh for life. We know that our planet has soothing grasslands, fresh water streams, lakes, fruit bearing trees, and wild flowers while there are also other parts such as dry deserts where life is hard for both humans and animals. The former may be regarded as heavenly while the latter as hell like. Aside from this, we humans create heaven or hell for ourselves from time to time, such as polluted cities and violent wars. Thus having both types of conditions, akin to hell or heaven, our planet may be regarded as a middle planet among those that can sustain life.
The mystics went further and described humans as a middle life form among intelligent life. Life exists at different level of evolution from bacteria to humans and as per mystics even beyond as life forms we may call godly. Life has evolved slowly on our planet over billions of years and humans are a recent appearance. There is nothing in science to indicate that evolution must stop at humans, rather, all circumstantial evidence indicates that it shall continue to evolve to higher more advanced life forms just as it has been doing for billions of years.

Intelligent life forms are those that are capable of creating a language, communicating complex ideas through it, and recording their thoughts. Mystics place humans at the middle of intelligent life forms. They describe lower life forms as demonic and higher ones as godly. For example a human that is moved to theft and violence to satisfy lower instincts of lust, anger, and greed is like a lower animal because that is what they do. However another human who can sacrifice such instincts for higher values tends to move towards godly states.

Evolution according to mystics is not a one way process, although that tends to be the general direction on averaging over several lives and life times. A life form may fluctuate between demonic and godly states in his or her journey through many lives. Mystics assert that all life possesses an imperishable soul and a soul goes through endless such lives in its journey through the universe, changing bodies as one changes worn out clothes. Evolved souls are led by their instincts and universal consciousness to heavenly states and planets while demonic ones to hell for that is what is most appropriate and conducive to their continuing evolution.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Loveganism - Food Sans Violence

The Yoga of Food

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food#/media/File:Foods_(cropped).jpg
Around 2500 years ago Gautam Buddha advocated compassion and non-violence to all life including animals. This led to a large number of persons adopting a vegetarian life style in South Asia. In recent times the concept has spread further, across the globe.

A traditional vegetarian diet consists of not consuming any meat or fish. However milk and its products are consumed freely. In a traditional vegetarian diet eggs are not consumed since these too are regarded as a flesh food. Vegans on the other hand go further and consume no animal product at all including milk.

Some years ago, this author proposed the concept of Loveganism that included eliminating or at least minimizing violence to all life, not just animal life but also plant life. Lovegan foods are foods that conform to this principle. Since the introduction of the concept online a few years ago, it seems that some have taken up loveganism in different parts of the world. A fresh note summarizing the older ones would therefore be useful.

At first glance, it may seem that loveganism would lead to a highly restricted diet but it is in fact not so. All it requires is love for both animal as well as the green side of life. A Lovegan diet is easier and healthier than both vegetarian and vegan since milk and eggs are part of lovegan food provided they can be produced compassionately. In traditional farming homes a small number of cows or hens are kept as free range pets and consuming some of their milk or eggs does not involve cruelty to the animal. Some modern farmers have also devised compassionate forms of larger milk dairies and poultry farms that permit the cows or hens to roam over fenced enclosures.

As regards the plant kingdom, it may be noted that food grains such as wheat are collected when wheat grass has completed its life cycle and hence bread is a lovegan food as are lentils, fruits, nuts and a whole range of vegetables that do not involve killing the entire plant. Potatoes and peanuts may be collected after the plant dries out or begins to do so. Vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower involve cutting the plant and are therefore not a part of lovegan diet. Leafy vegetables are lovegan food provided the entire plant is not plucked out but leaves are taken selectively and periodically as new growth comes up. Plants produce leaves far more abundantly than humans produce hair.

Therefore, a lovegan food eater has a wide range of foods to select from and can attain a life style that is healthier than both vegetarians and vegans. Production of meat utilizes more of the planet's resources and is therefore more expensive. By skipping that one not only saves money on food, one may also save money on medical care if one develops conditions that result from much meat consumption. For the same reason when we consume a diet without meat, we indirectly contribute to reducing burden on Mother Earth and environment.

In conclusion:

It may be mentioned that all violence can not be avoided in life. For example, violence is at times needed to stop a violent attack on self. Similarly violence on plants needs to be perpetuated at times for clearing an agricultural field of weeds. However what Loveganism suggests is, except for unavoidable necessities it is best to avoid violence leave alone cultivate it for food. Better to cultivate love and compassion for all life instead

When one consumes lovegan food in a spirit of gratitude to Mother Earth and Father Universe that provide this food, then it is yoga, the yoga of food for then one unites one’s consciousness in love and gratitude with all life and the consciousness of the universe


A Wise Precaution

For those contemplating a vegetarian or lovegan life style, it may be mentioned that the human body takes time to adapt and one may suffer in health by suddenly giving up on meat. The sensible way appears to be to cut down the number of times in a week meat is consumed bringing it down to once a week over several months as the first step. This would give the body time to adjust as also an opportunity to learn about alternatives. Only when one has become comfortable with that should one consider giving up on meat altogether. It may be noted that taking up any system of thought in a fanatic way does not appear to be wise in most thing, especially not food. Even after one has become a vegetarian, if occasions arise when one is visiting, eating out or emergencies, one should accept whatever is available or appealing in a spirit of gratefulness. In the eventual analysis any food does good to one’s soul if we use our life and energy in contributing good to the world.
 

An interested reader may find a lot more discussion on the subject at the following link:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/search?q=lovegan
  

For more on nutrition and diary products see
http://www.yogurtinnutrition.com/milk-and-yogurt-may-increase-vitamin-b12-intake/