We are donuts. Our bodies are donuts. Bodies have a hollow tube running through them. When the hollow tube remains flowing and clean, our bodies are healthy. The moment it clogs, diseases appear. Our life is also like a donut with a hollow hollow tube through it. The upper side of the donut is the absolute, the unbounded cosmos. The bottom part of the donut is the relative, bounded by resting on the earth. Both sides are essential. So long as the hole in this donut connects the absolute with the relative, the mind functions well and remains healthy. Life gets into unbounded flow at some times, while remains engaged in specific chores at other times.
When we eat too much or eat junk stuff, our body’s hollow tube begins to clog. When we don’t flush it down it with enough water the tube clogs. Similarly if we take in too much data and information we need time and energy to digest it. Undigested information clogs the hollow tube. The connection between the top and the bottom of the donut gets clogged. The donut becomes more like a pancake. At that point, the view is mostly of the relative side of life, the bottom of the pancake, and the view of the top is totally obscured. Yogic techniques such as pratyaahara are ways to unclog our mind. Meditation helps to reopen the hollow tube of the mind and makes the pancake back into a donut. Attention of the mind goes round and round in the donut in a self-referral manner, even as it connects with the infinity above and the minuscule stuff below.
A donut can be fresh thick soft and sweet. It can be glazed and have toppings, and be of different sizes. Similarly our life can be fresh expansive smiling joyful and grateful. It can have its idiosyncracies and passions and wisdom. OR else life can be short brutal nasty dour fearful stale and putrefying.
Covid-19 virus has unleashed mayhem in the world, and it has caused many deaths. The pattern of deaths has, however, been uneven. As of the date of publishing (May 18, 2020), there have been 30 times more deaths from #Covid19 in the US (90,000 deaths) than in India (3,000 deaths), even though the US has only one-fourth the population of India. I was curious to find out why it was so.
We conducted a quick 5-minute survey with a simple One-big-question of rank-ordering 9 factors in terms of their importance in causing this huge differential in death rates in the US and India. The 9 factors were: Demography (older population in the US); Sickness (high chronic conditions in the US); Immunity (Indian soil; Yoga, pranayama etc); Culture (greater social cohesion and family support in India); Public Policy (how seriously each country mounted a unified approach); Resources (availability of medical equipment); Genetics (difference in two populations); Diet (more vegetarians in India); Measurement (less reliable data from India). There was a None-of-the above option too. In addition, we added two question on their expectations of the way forward. One was about how long it will take to come out of Covid19 situation into normalcy. And the other was about what might be the markers for returning to normalcy.
We did convenience sampling using social media contacts of the researcher who should be in a position to compare and express their perceptions. 66 respondents from US, India, and other countries, filled out survey. Of the 66 respondents 60% were resident in India, 29% in the US, and 11% in other countries. The respondents including 55% from the researcher’s own age cohort of 55-64 years, while 42% were younger. A couple of respondents were over 65 years. The respondents were 71% male and 29% female.
Here are the main results (see bar chart below). Demographics (Older population) in the US was perceived to be the major cause of higher deaths from Covid-19 in the US than in India. Public policy choices and higher rates of Chronic sickness in the US were also identified as the next important causes for higher deaths in the US compared with India. Higher levels of Immunity was ranked highest as the major reason for lower death rates in India. Culture, Diet and Genetics received only moderate support. Surprisingly, availability of resources was ranked as least important cause.
Moving forward, half the people (48%) said that it will take 1-2 years to return to normalcy. 31% of respondents said it will take less than one year, while 21% said it will take more than 2 years (see pie-chart below). US residents were twice as likely as Indian residents to think that it might take 2 or more years. For return to normalcy, the preferred enablers were availability of a tried and tested vaccine and a tested cure for Covid19, in that order (see bar graph below). Declining death rates were a lesser important marker, while availability of resources such as PPE was considered the least important marker.
Here below is some more granular analysis.
Age: Respondents in 55-64 years ranked Public policy and Measurement issues higher, while those in 35-44 age group ranked Immunity and Culture (social cohesion) higher, as factors for explaining the differential death rates.
Gender: Male respondents ranked Demographics (aging population) and Measurement issues higher, while Female respondents prioritized Immunity, Diet, and Availability of resources.
Location: Respondents living in Rest of the World (11% of total) ranked Public policy choices and Measurement issues by a wider margin than those living within the US and India. Indian residents ranked Immunity and Culture (social cohesion) as more important. US residents ranked Public policy and availability of Resources as more important issues.
Additional comments from Respondents: One respondent wrote that it may be taboo in the Indian culture to report Covid death from a social stigma perspective. One reported that there is greater resilience to pain in India. One reported that traditional Indian homes include a central space to grow Ayurvedic plants such as Tulsi. Some reported that the cause as well as cure for Covid19 were unclear and should be thoroughly investigated.
Summary: This survey shows that there are different perceptions of what has caused dramatically lower death rates reported in India compared to the US. Development of immunity is considered the best ameliorating factor. An effective public health policy could be another.
Lessons learned: Healthy holistic lifestyle including Yoga Sutras based practices such as asanas, pranayama, and meditation are among the best ways to a create a strong platform of immunity on which specific vaccines can work effectively! In fact, the development of a special vaccine for Covid-19 is essentially a way to increase immunity against this specific virus.
Covid-19 is a very important world-transforming, life-and-death matter. Please write to us as to what you think. If you wish, you may also take 5 minutes to fill out this survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CovidAKM . Thank you!
Tulsi did a large town hall meeting on October 7th in downtown Fairfield. More than 150 people attended and showered their love on her. She covered a broad range of topics in her opening speech. The meeting went on for over two hours as the people were hungry for answers to their numerous questions. There was a lot of humor and joy in the room. A large number of libertarians who resonate with her world peace (or anti-war) message also were present. As always, there was a long line of people waiting to take a selfie with her after the event.
Tulsi and her core team spent the night in our house in Maharishi Vedic City. We had the privilege of feeding them some delicious paneer tikka, and yogurt lassi made from heavenly organic non-homogenized healthy milk from the neighborhood Radiance Dairy. They enjoyed fresh organic vegetarian food brought from our Maharishi University’s Annapoorna cafeteria. They enjoyed walking around the Mandala (or subdivision) and marveled at the unique structure and design of Maharishi Vastu houses. The visitors reported a deep and blissful night’s sleep. Vastu community and its vibrant silence have been scientifically shown to lead to enhanced creativity and other health benefits.
It was fun to see how some of Tulsi’s videographers (including her husband Abe) work on the day’s video footage to create a media capsule for posting on social media by their digital media team. Tulsi and team now travel in a new big Mercedes van, which is more like an RV, with a built in bedroom and restroom. Tulsi said this new vehicle makes a huge difference considering how much time they spend on the road.
The next morning of the Dusshera day (October 8th), Tulsi visited the Raj, the premier Ayurvedic spa next door from our house, as the location for her inaugural small group meeting in a new format called toffee-and-coffee. Tulsi’s mom Carol arguably makes the world’s best macadamia nut toffees. The home-made mom-made toffee is symbolic of the tiny bit of intimate sweetness that deepens the relationship between the candidate and her staunchest supporters. The attendees were volunteers who will stand by her and caucus for her during the Iowa caucuses in February. I had the privilege of formally welcoming and introducing Tulsi to the couple dozen assembled strong supporters at this event. I essentially said we are 200% with Tulsi, who is destined for the White House. Everyone was sitting in very comfortable chairs in the large and cosy dining hall of the Raj. Tulsi answered in a calm and equanimous tone all the deeper questions, including around the political process, that do not come up during normal town hall meetings. People were super impressed with her integrity and equanimity, and stayed back for long chats amongst themselves, as Tulsi moved on with her caravan to do four more campaign events in Iowa that day!
One of my dearest friends calls Tulsi a strong campaigner with good ideas. She is a little behind in the polls, but I know that she can catch up. She is already touching 4% in Iowa, 6% in New Hampshire. She will be back on the debate stage on October 15th. She is speaking truth to power. The mainstream media cannot hold the truth back for too long. The blissful vibes of Vedic City will provide her the subtle support from nature in her great mission to restore the government of, by, and for the people!
Yoga is ‘cessation of the activities of the mind’, as defined by Patanjali in the first phrase of Yoga Sutra. Yoga has 8 limbs. Asanas is one of them. Meditation is another. Asanas prepare the body and mind for meditation. All good meditation centers avoid televisions and aggravating foods that would interfere with the practice of inner peace and quiet.
I have met Swami Ramdev. His vision is almost unfathomable. Have visited Yog Gram too. I want to go to Coimbatore to see Satguru’s center; have heard great things about it. Have met Sri Sri RaviShankar a few times and learned his technique too. At our own campus (set up by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) in Fairfield Iowa, everyone meditates daily for long periods for the dual purpose of self-development and world peace. I have also been to many Vipassana centers and done their 10-day courses. Every guru has a different meditation technique. They say there are 108 ways to transcend!
No guru is without detractors who would call their followers as a cult, sometimes somewhat justifiably. Ramdev made yoga popular. He propped up Narendra Modi in his bid to become Prime Minister of India. And he is giving foreign companies a run for their money. He has completely upended marketing practices. He is a big part of India rejuvenation. … despite all his faults.
Today we moved into a beautiful Vastu house in Maharishi Vedic City. A Vastu design follows a branch of the Vedas called Sthapatya Veda. Vastu houses are supposed to be completely aligned with all the laws of nature, and are considered health- and fortune-giving. Vastu is named after Vastu Devata (god) who is supposed to give health and wealth. Vastu houses are distinctive in how they strictly align with nature, and with the movement of the Sun, with East being the most favored direction.
Maharishi Vedic City was incorporated in Iowa by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as a township in about 2001, with the express purpose of establishing a Vedic way of living. Said to be the first Vedic village since the Vedic times, it is a small city with its own mayor. It is an experiment in government by natural law. The layout of the town is designed completely according to Vastu guidelines. Most of the residents of the city are white. These white desis, as I call them, are completely Vedic at heart. They are all long-standing practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi techniques.
We are a rare family of Indian origin living in this Vedic city. It will be a nice experiment for us to discover the health and wealth giving power of Vastu homes, and Vastu devata! Stay tuned!
Freedom of choice is key to joy and bliss. Loss of wholeness is the primary affliction. Choices made from a lack of wholeness can be wrong, leading to pain and suffering. However, that pain leads to self-correction in choice-making, bringing back towards balance and wholeness. One should return to the whole Self, and operate from there, i.e. “Yogastha Kuru Karmani.” (Bhagvad Gita, 2:40). One should be making fulfilling choices. These choices are all recorded at the level of consciousness. One can even overcome past karma by being wider and broader, and more wholesome.
Even the most evolved and enlightened person can occasionally ‘fall’ into specificity, and lose the wholeness. The feeling of ‘I am’ is that destructive specificity. Balance must be re-established at every moment. It is good to be energetic, powerful and growing. But it is good only when one maintains contact with wholeness. When that wholeness is lost, then that person becomes like a cancer cell. Healthy communication between human cells can inspire the development of healthier bodies, and healthier societies.
One should maintain a correct perspective for the experience of any objective reality. The perception and joy can be vastly different depending upon one’s state of consciousness. What we call ‘real’ is the three-fold dynamic interaction of the properties of the observer, the observed, and the process of observation. If the observer changes himself, there will be a different outcome in terms of experience. Even the experience of seeing a simple thing, such as an apple, in front of us can evoke a different structure of experience depending upon one’s state of consciousness. New connections in the nervous system and new patterns of consciousness emerge from new experiences, and they transform us.
Knowledge from the other fields can lead to progress in one’s field, and in one’s quality of choice-making. Nature’s intelligence is distributed across what we called ‘disciplines’. It is all one, and therefore applicable to all the fields, to some extent or the other. Instead of studying just one discipline, one should study the laws of nature, and operate from that level of wholeness. The Vedas embody that wholeness of knowledge, which can also be found in the body and mind.
The general principles of wholeness-based choice-making are applicable at any level and time. What is true at the individual level can also be true for the development of consciousness of countries and societies. Balanced development will lead to the evolution of societies in the right direction, towards greater happiness and prosperity. It can take decades or even centuries for society to evolve to perfection. Ram Raj is the culmination of the evolution of societies into a perfect system of governance.
Undigested food in the body putrefies and leads to many ailments. Eating is easy and pleasurable. However, digesting all the ingested food is a task. Indigestion is the inability to reduce and assimilate all that food into the body. Ayurveda calls undigested food as ama. It is a toxin. Ama shows up on the tongue in the morning as a white coating. Removing ama with a tongue-cleaner is like removing ama (american medical association) from one’s life. i.e. detoxifying, and mitigating the possibility of disease and medical intervention.
Walt Whitman in his newly-found series on articles in 1860 on Men’s Health in the now-defunct newspaper ‘New York Atlas’ talks essentially about avoiding indigestion. Discussing “The great American evil: indigestion,” Whitman says, “It is doubtless here that four-fifths of the weaknesses, breakings-down, and premature deaths, of Americans begin.” Overeating, To combat this great evil, Whitman recommends eating “simple and hearty food, and no condiments” and avoiding “solid and liquid stimulants, artificial tastes, condiments” that have unfortunately become an integral part of the standard American diet.
Undigested information is the source of stress, confusion, and many mental maladies. Collecting facts and information is fun and pleasurable. However, analyzing and integrating all that information in one’s mind is quite a challenge. Mind needs deep rest, as in meditation, to rise above the din of random sets of information, to let the useless information float away and evaporate from the mind, and let one’s consciousness develop and expand blissfully with a greater integrated awareness of the Self and the world.
‘The cost of good health is the cost of good food’ – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
For good health, please consider this image as a guiding metaphor; from my limited but growing appreciation of AyurVeda (literally meaning Knowledge of Life).
How many cells are there in the human body? …
It is 100 TRILLION!!
Is every cell alive?
YES. Each cell has its own happy individual existence, and a life cycle. Each cell dances to its own tune, while also lovingly cooperating with all others in the body. All that a cell needs is some nutrients, oxygen, and removal of waste.
Now consider a flotilla of a few thousand boats going together on the ocean in a smooth way. There would be a certain degree of coordination, and every boat would move along nicely according to its capability. Now comes a particular disturbance or imbalance in that flotilla. Suppose it is caused by a perceived or real attack from outside, on one side of the flotilla. The defense system is engaged. The boats regroup and are re-purposed to deal with that event. Some drown, some gain power, etc. New configurations are created. The boats gaining power could be for the good of the flotilla, or it could be cancerous for the flotilla as a whole.
Now consider 100 TRILLION such partially autonomous, or interdependent, boats (cells) moving along. Who can coordinate such a flotilla (body). There could be many internal and external systemic sources of disturbances or imbalances. Each imbalance could be of a particular type. Too fast, call it VATA imbalance. Too angry and intense, call it PITTA imbalance. Too slow or sticky, call it KAPHA imbalance.
Thus Ayurveda looks for the dosha (literally means imperfection, fault, or imbalance) in the body as a whole. And then it brings the body back to balance, by some new generally helpful and herbs and practices. It does not heal the body by shocking the system, i.e. not by sudden chemical attacks or invasive surgeries. Those shocks have their own after-effects … such as the flotilla will have to reorganize if a certain collection of boats are removed enmasse from the flotilla.
In the absence of proper supplies and services, the cells will fight with each other for nutrition and cleanliness. Chaos and inflammation ensue. External help (allopathic medicines) only exacerbates the imbalance by correcting the problem of some cells of the body, and creating problems for the rest of the cells of the body.
Therefore, on a daily basis, we should give the cells good supplies of food and air, and take away the byproducts and toxins. That is all the cells/body want and need. When imbalances do arise, Ayurveda looks for root cause, and slowly brings the body back to harmonious and blissful flow through smooth and gentle intervention.
Yoga and meditation suitably support the practice of AyurVeda.