Yoga and World Peace

Last week on International Yoga Day (June 21st), I was invited to participate in the First International Yoga Conference organized by the Consulate General of India, in New York. There were about 30 speakers in all – about 10 from the US and 20 from India, Singapore and Hong Kong.  The conference went very well. There was a wonderful group dinner too! On the 21st morning we headed out for yoga practice / demonstration in Central Park. Congratulations to the organizers! Here are a couple of pictures!

 

 

The gist of my own presentation was that Yoga is central to effective social transformation and world peace! Yoga has eight limbs, from the grosser limbs of Yama and Niyama, to the subtler limbs of Dhyana and Samadhi. The practice of transcendence or Dhyana, according to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s interpretation of Yoga Sutra is called Transcendental Meditation (TM). Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s yoga-inspired, quantum-mechanics-compatible theory called the “Maharishi Effect” posits that small groups of trained TM meditators can create enough collective coherence to counter hostile and negative tendencies and generate peace and prosperity around the world. Tat Sannidhau Vaira Tyagah (Yoga Sutra: 2:35) has been translated by Maharishi as: “In the vicinity of Yoga (or unity) negative tendencies are diminished.” Over 50 research publications in top scientific journals over the last four decades have established the efficacy of Maharishi Effect beyond doubt. I presented a few of those studies from around the world, on how group practice of TM and TM-Siddhis led to higher coherence and lower crime and higher prosperity. It is incumbent upon governments and organizations to take advantage of this technology and solve the grand challenges such as climate change and social inequality, through a small investment in training their peoples in Maharishi’s technologies of transcendence.

There were no objections or major questions from the attentive audience.  One senior researcher from Mumbai said that they had always thought of yoga only from an individual perspective. She and her team want to learn more about this collective perspective. Another researcher from Mumbai said that they learned from my and other MUM presentations that one should always work from and present hard data. There is potentially an opportunity to present this research in more detail to them in India. Another professor from Uttarakhand asked in a reverent and friendly manner how to measure the performance on what I had called out as the subtle limbs of yoga … Dhyana and Samadhi. I said these are self-referral activities. Measuring them will change the nature of activity itself, citing quantum theory. However, its correlates can be measure through EEG etc. One has to become self-aware and self-referral, and radiate that energy to help others become so too!! That is the true import of Gandhi’s message of being the change.

Maharishi Effect is a paradigm change. The new paradigm is self-referral. Maharishi Effect perhaps hits at the very core, the dualistic core, of the Cartesian Enlightenment paradigm!  It does not go well with the powers-that-are in society today. Passionate young people feel that unless something is done proactively, the new generation too will sleepwalk into the existing dualistic paradigm.   Instead of looking around for other people who have transitioned to new paradigm, one should become self-referral oineself. And then look for other self-referral people. And more importantly, radiate to other people so they too can become self-referral. That was the import of Gandhi’s Be the Change message. This is easier said than done for those still caught in career and marriage and family narrative.

I am astonished at how few people in India practice meditation or other transcendental techniques. TM is perhaps the best, but I may be biased. Vipassana is Buddha’s own technique of enlightenment. There could be others too!! Grand challenges will be overcome only by people coming together from a transcendental level!! I also feel that the current rage of Mindfulness is a wonderful start for individual level benefit. However, it has no solution for grand challenges.

I will present this research again at the Academy of Management in Chicago in August, and will describe my experiences and the audience feedback later! I heard that India’s AYUSH ministry is interested in setting up centers of excellence in yoga at elite academic institutions in the US. I wonder if they would support a Yoga Research center at MUM, where our colleagues do research at the absolutely cutting edge. We want to organize a 2-day conference on ‘Collective Consciousness and World Peace’ on our campus in Fairfield next Spring.  The agenda would have a few big sub-themes, with a total of about 15-20 speakers. Half the presenters could be from Maharishi University of Management , and the other half would represent other organizations and traditions! More on that later!!

Have a Blissful Day!!

 

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Transcendence in Life and Society

In some ways, transcendence is the recovery of the primal innocence we were all born with. We all emanated from some womb, through a similar process. Then we gathered the elements which bulked up our body. We gathered sensations that grew our mind. Then we began to develop our bodies and minds … making them sharp, beautiful, strong. We fell in love with these growing things, and we began to totally identify with our body and mind. We forgot our own selves, the little seed of awareness within. We began to worry about the potential loss of the body and the mind. We frantically began to covet resources of all kinds to protect the body and mind. At some point, we forgot our body and mind also and began to love the growing riches of stuff and resources Then we began to live in the dream state of life. Our coworkers became resources. Relationships became assets too. Instead of transcending to the state of freedom from thoughts and things, we began to become a thing ourselves. The objectification is almost complete. Then we enter the slumber state.  We are now manipulated by legal drugs, junk food, mindless entertainment, and constant interruption. Shhh … what/who is manipulating us? We will soon become automatons. Robots impress us as nearly as good as ourselves. We are being enhanced by robots. Soon robots will decide if they need us sleeping hydrocarbon blobs.

Suddenly some one wakes up from slumber. Oh my! This is not me. I am aware that this is not me. I am eternal awareness. I can’t be destroyed. I don’t have to worry. I don’t need much. I am invincible. I am unbounded. What’s going on, I wonder. Air does not need to be toxic. The water either. We can grow little wholesome food in our backyard. We have plenty of sunlight. We can be free. Autonomous. We can live on endlessly. And blissfully. Let’s spread some bliss around. However, others don’t believe our bliss. They live in Plato’s caves. We try telling them that they are seeing is the shadows, and that they should venture out in the open to see enjoy free life. They laugh it off as cranky and weird. Well, some of them muster the courage to try it. And voila! They find it different. Refreshing. Unbounded. Lively. Healed. Happy. Joy and Bliss. Our growing numbers and energies are now devoted to work on liberation of all, and on the healing journey for all. That is all there is to do. Everyone can be free to be compassionate. And slowly the world begins to become blissful again. And then exponentially so. And the world is happy and healed ever after.

P.S. What happens to robots? Well, they continue to grow more powerful and useful. They clean up our soil at our command. They plough and tend to our vegetable gardens. They do all the chores we want done. What happens to the information machines and Artificial Intelligence? Well, they are rolled into robots. Finally, what happens to the evil empire who wants to keep us all hooked and dependent in the caves? Well, the liberated ones scared the crap out of it. Little innocent children can scare the big bad bully out of its evil ways. Watch the Pixar movie ‘A Bug’s Life’ for inspiration.

 

Experiencing the Vedic City

We today completed 3 months living in our new Vastu house in Vedic City. Here is one anecdotal report on the benefit.

A friend of my daughter’s visited us in Vedic City, Iowa, to join in the celebration of my daughter’s graduation from college last weekend. She spent two days and nights here. We discussed about how this place is special. When she returned back to her home in Dallas, she sent a message that she was ready to learn Transcendental Meditation.

  1. She said that she observed that during her visit, people communicated very differently than in her home town. They hugged differently, and shook hands differently. The experience made her feel that the niceness must be because of the environment, i.e. because all the people here are meditators.
  2. I had also had a brief conversation in which I impressed upon her the knowledge of Consciousness, that beneath all our differences, at the transcendental level we are all one. That we have infinite power of creativity and invincibility within us. And how that is the way to survive and thrive creatively in a world of robots and drones.
  3. This friend had stayed with us in our Vastu house, so my daughter feels that also must have made a difference in shifting her consciousness. This same friend had earlier felt that TM will be incompatible with her faith, and that they were overselling the practice.

Our university offers a free ‘visitors weekend‘ program to help people experience this place for themselves. Once one has experienced the total peace of the environment here, one wants to be associated with it. Of course, this place is not for everyone, its effect depends upon one’s own desires and predisposition.

International Yoga Day 2017

I think that International Yoga Day is a laudable initiative to bring emphasis and attention on Yoga.  I wrote about it last year too, calling it the Independence Day of the Human Spirit.

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.

 

Sudden Death of a Dear Friend – Lessons Learned

A live-wire dear friend, a classmate from Delhi now living in Australia, died suddenly of a heart attack. The news shocked all our classmates as he was not only very popular, social, thoughtful, musical, athletic and fit, he was the life of our WhatsApp conversation group. Friends reflected very fond memories of conversations and time spent with him. However, it also jolted us all to take better care of ourselves through preventive measures before an event occurred. I am writing this so all can benefit from the lessons from this sad episode.

Bimal Mahendroo was a gem of person!  He grew up in Delhi, and went to the well-known Delhi Public School, and then went on to do Engineering at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. We were batchmates, and also in the same hostel, at IIT. He was a good student. He lost his father while still in college. He had the rare distinction (in those days) of having a girl friend while still in college. He is now survived by his wife (then girlfriend) and two adult children. Bimal also became a homeopathy expert and cured friends on chronic medical issues with homeopathic medicines.

One year ago, 35 years after graduation, our IIT class of 250 students decided to organize through a WhatsApp group. Bimal jumped into it with full gusto. Soon, there were hundreds of messages posted every day, with almost half of them written by him alone. With a delicious mix of music, humor and serious social commentary, he would hold everyone’s attention and respect. He could keep multiple conversations going simultaneously with different people. With that intensity and hunger to connect, the batch held a well-attended get-together in Gurgaon. Another get-together followed a few months later, incidentally at my parents’ house in Gurgaon. Bimal was the catalyst for many other mini-get-togethers, in Mumbai, in Dubai, in Singapore, and elsewhere. We were planning on one in the US in the summer. He was working on organizing one in Sydney, his hometown in Australia.

Bimal was very energetic. He did no smoking, no alcohol, and was a light eater. He had a passion for coffee, and had started a coffee shop in Sydney. He may have been a bit worried about reviving his career.  Bimal also engaged in 1-1 conversations online with many many people. Everyone saw him as their personal friend. He often fondly talked about his family.

Yesterday, he was returning from playing badminton, and in the car itself had a massive heart attack. He died before reaching the hospital.  A friend wrote that Bimal came into our lives like hero of the movie Anand …of course without the illness …he connected with ease. For a dear lady classmate, he was more than even a brother!!  The light has gone out of our batch, I said. Bimal’s last words on WhatsApp were in response to something I had posted. He wrote:

  • ‘The folly of human conceits, demonstrated the best in our differentiated treatment of each other, the incessant need to compare, contrast and differentiate. Wonderful reminder, Anil, of our morality. And mortality.’

When someone so bubbly and social and athletic passes on so soon, it must be for a higher purpose!!!!  Here is my imagination of Bimal’s conversation w God.

God: Welcome home.

Bimal: thanks God. It is pretty nice here. But can I return for a moment?  This happened too fast.  Can I say hello to my friends?

God: tathastu (so be it). You can do it from here itself.

Bimal:  hello friends. Sorry had to leave like this. Miss you all so much. You were my life. But I am here now. Up there somewhere.  It is nice here.  Don’t worry about me. Hopefully you will remember me as a nice funny chap. Just keep having fun. I will watch from here.  Once in a while I might drop by through someone who can connect with me.  The heart-to-heart channel, you know.

God: (smiling). Very nice.  They love you and will love you forever.  Anything else you want?

Bimal: For my family too. Same message. Just keep living your life happily. Uxxx, sorry had to leave like this. Sorry.  You were the love of my life. We will meet again.

God: Yes, things will keep changing.

Bimal: thank you.  Please bless all my friends and family.  So they can enjoy every moment of their lives fully.

God: तथास्तु।

It is also a stark reminder that life can be so unpredictable. This is a wake-up call for all of us. I am sure some of us have managed their health better and others can benefit from their experience. Here were a few key suggestions shared by friends:

  1. One suggestion is to be disciplined in diet, nutrition and exercise. One of Bill Clinton’s Doctors is Dr. Dean Ornish and he has a book on “Reversing Heart Disease”. Dean Ornish’s book was helpful for another friend when he underwent a coronary angioplasty recently. There is also a vegan-diet plan from a group called freedomfromdiabetes.org. Both of these conditions, cardio and diabetes, go hand in hand. Regular exercise and movement is also required to manage body weight.
  1. Another suggestion was to do an annual comprehensive medical checkup. Many people could thus get the diagnosis in time so they could do something about it. Personally, I get a comprehensive checkup done almost every year when I visit India.
  1. Please meditate. Saying differently, in life s**t will happen! We just don’t want it to stick to us.  We wash our bodies everyday with soap and water.  We should also cleanse our minds everyday with meditation. Try TM, Vipassana, or another other well-tested technique you like. Choose carefully, as just like all diets and medications are not the same, so also all meditations are not the same.

Wish you the fastest growth to enlightenment!!!!  And the resultant freedom from stress.  And great health!

What am I? Pure Existence!

What am I?

This is a better question than ‘Who am I’. Many wise people suggest asking ‘who am I’ as a way to deflate ego, develop humility, and become more agreeable with others. However, the most reasonable answer to this question is a bunch of roles. Like being a human being, citizen, father, son, worker, etc. But then the suggested answer would be that I am a soul!

The question ‘what am I’ is a more direct way of knowing oneself or perceiving oneself. The correct answer would be ‘pure existence’. i.e.  I am pure existence, which is an awareness of existing, or just pure Being, in no particular framework of any kind. I am pure Consciousness, which is conscious of itself. I may have many names and roles and assets and talents and feelings and whatever else. But I in itself is just pure existence, or awareness or Consciousness.

Who are we - two levels

Meditation helps me become aware of my being pure awareness. Everything else falls away like scales from eyes. Nothing matters.  What am I? Same as What is You! Same as What is everything else. We are all the same … overall Awareness, the Consciousness.

The right question goes a long way!