A love story that began in the 1940s…
Earlier this month, both parents of my close friend in Delhi died within a span of just 12 days. It is a big shock to their entire family. The mother passed away first. My parents and I had known her for a long time. We visited my friend’s house to offer our condolences. At the time of our visit, my friend’s father was not in good health. However, he regaled us with stories of their love story. He said that they had a love marriage in 1949. Love marriages were not acceptable in India even a couple of decades ago, and this was much before that!
The boy and the girl both lived in Lahore (now in Pakistan) in pre-partition India. There were neighbors and knew each other. The girl would daily take surplus buttermilk to that neighbor’s house, and they kinda fell in love. After partition of India, both the girl’s and boy’s families independently moved to India. The boy found out the family, and took up some work in the shop of one of the girl’s uncles. Two years later they were married with full approval of families of the boy as well as the girl. They were just about getting to be 18 at the time. He also said that they had never had a fight with his wife in the 67 years of their marriage; she always got whatever she wanted.
This story fascinates me since love marriages were frowned upon while I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s. India is far more tolerant that what we give it credit for. India also has a lot more variety of life styles than the canonical media would like us to believe. Another interesting thing is that the man passed away immediately after the successful completion of the 12th day rites of his wife’s death. He had told his children that he will not go before their mother’s 12th day rites were over. What a fascinating chemistry between the two spouses!
Who are we?
That is a perennial question asked by all philosophers and seekers of life. The question can be best answered at two different levels.
At one level we are all Pure Being, the unbounded absolute infinite Consciousness that pervades the universe. At another level, we are all discrete and unique beings, differentiated by mind, body, ability, DNA, ethnicity, and so on.
- At the first level we are pure unbounded existence while the second level we are doing and thinking machines or entities clothed in our physical bodily existence.
- At the first level we see ourselves as living in bliss consciousness, while at the second level we seek happiness in exchanges of mental and physical products with other entities.
- At the first level we are eternal spirit – unborn and undying. At the second level we are born and then we die. At this level, we can become afraid of death. So we worry about many things, become greedy, and save resources to better guard against death.
- To live at the first level, we transcend our mind and senses using any of many techniques such as meditation. Living at the second level seems simple and easy, as we can access our mind and body through the use of our ordinary senses and supporting instruments.
- At the second level we are all separate and each defined individually by our ego- consciousness, while at the first level we are all one together as nature and defined by our eco-consciousness.
This is a primary distinction in life. Ignorance of this basic piece of knowledge of who we are is a source of many challenges in living life properly. How we see ourselves depends upon our state of consciousness. From an ego consciousness, we appear to be this body and mind and others, just as others too have their own body and mind, and we interact with them to exchange materials ideas and so on. However, we all have a higher self. Not knowing it is the first and biggest fallacy. There are techniques to learn about the higher self just as there are techniques to learn the bodily and mental self. Our trained and disciplined mind is the biggest instruments for learning about the higher self. What we pay attention to grows in our consciousness.
However, this distinction may be of little interest to the poor who do not get even two pieces of bread every day. Meeting their basic physical needs becomes their primary challenge in life, and they do not have the time or energy to transcend. Similarly, this knowledge may be of little interest to the super rich for whom material abundance and physical pleasures have become intoxicating, and who do not believe in the transcendent. This knowledge is perhaps most useful for the middle-of-the-roader , the seeker of a blissful life, free from pain and miseries. If interested, one can learn more at tm.org.
A good friend recently said,”do not give me this bliss s**t”. It is all a mind game, he said. Another good friend said, “you say you live in bliss, but I don’t see you so.” Both of these people are longtime friends from India, intellectuals with PhD degrees, who are comfortably settled in the US.
To the first friend, I said that there are over 700 scientific published studies that show the benefits of meditation, and that one can enjoy good health, happiness and bliss. That did not convince him. So, I spoke from personal experience, and how my moksha experience led me to write my book ‘Moksha’. That did not convince him. Come to our town and if you do not feel peace in your heart, I will pay you a substantial sum of money. That got him going. In essence, he said that Moksha is a very big thing, and it cannot be achieved by a simple process. He said he had been meditating off and on, and he did not get any benefit. His mom meditated all life and did not reach anywhere near there. I said it also depends upon the strength of desire, and one cannot will the desire. He said that desire alone cannot produce anything. So, I felt best to let go of the argument, and let him take his own time to be ready.
To the second friend, I said that bliss is an intensely subjective experience, and there is no way another person can experience it. One just have to believe it or feel it. Also, that bliss experience can come and go, depending upon continued practice of meditation. I also said that I was given the Maharishi award recently for bringing bliss to the community. I could see that he did not believe my story on Moksha and therefore had not bothered to read my book even though he had it.
I feel that most people are completely conditioned to no-pain-no-gain theory. If bliss is that good, it must take a lot of time and expertise and effort, they argue. However, bliss is an effortless accomplishment. Bliss is our true nature. One does not need a complicated process to achieve it. However, one does need a strong desire for it, which would overshadow other worldly desires. I feel that not everyone has the desire to escape the stresses of modern life, and reach out for their god-given gift of bliss. The book is an attempt to inspire that desire in others.
There are multiple paradigms of knowledge of reality. How can everyone be right?
The answer is that there is a dilemma in the waking state of consciousness. One can continue discussing from different points of view and be correct in some vital way, without being able to refute the other points of view. Only when one transcends the waking state that some unified realities become available and acceptable. From the transcendent level of consciousness one can experience the connectedness of the entire universe. Eventually one can potentially experience the Vedantic non-dual reality of ‘tat tvam asi’, or ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. From the waking state of consciousness these look like absurd words. Even reading the Vedas from a waking state of consciousness is meaningless, and brings no power. Vedas have to be experienced from a state of transcendental consciousness. After all the Vedas were cognized by the seers from that state of consciousness.
Another question often asked if body is hardware, and mind is software, what is soul?
The answer is: the soul would be like the natural laws of electromagnetism and computation and information theory. There are three fundamental gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Lord Shiva represents form, or space, and thus the body. Lord Vishnu represents energy, or function, and thus the mind. Lord Brahma represents logic, the knowledge that binds form and function in the service of a purpose. This trinity together make up the entire universe. Consciousness is that which is aware of itself. Thus it is the knower, the known, and the process of knowing (the subject, object, and the verb, all in one). Thus the soul is the knower, the mind would be the process of knowing, and the body will be the known.
‘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.
My new book, ‘Moksha: Liberation through Transcendence‘ was published on April 13th, my birthday.
For your benefit, here is the url and description of the book from its Amazon site:
Moksha is total liberation, from everything. This short experiential book flows from my own journey towards moksha, and is meant for seekers everywhere. A person in Moksha experiences total bliss. The experience is so special that we cannot miss the experience. Moksha is achieved by a deep desire, and the right way to transcend the world of mind and body. Moksha cannot be achieved by using the intellect alone. Vedic Technologies like Meditation, Sidddhis, and Yagyas can help transcend the sensory surface reality and realize our unbounded invincible creative Self, and progress on the path to Moksha.
Transcendental Meditation™ technique from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is a Vedic mantra-based meditation technique. Hundreds of published research studies show that regular practice of TM, and advanced techniques, helps with the reduction in stress and anxiety, increase in brain integration and creativity, improvement in cardiac health, and reduction in negativity in society.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Moksha and Enlightenment
Chapter 2: Vedas and Vedic Technologies
Chapter 3: Personal Development through Transcendence
Check out my other bestselling book Data Analytics Made Accessible
I ran a marathon race 10 years ago in Austin, TX. My motivation was simply to become a more outdoors person. An athlete friend suggested we run a marathon, and so we did.
It was an exhilarating 6-month journey. I signed up for the Austin Distance Challenge, a series of seven increasingly longer races (5k, 5M, 10K, 10M, half-marathon, 20M) culminating in the marathon (26.2miles). I selected the best local marathon coaching company, and got a fantastic coach. Over this period, I made new running friends, became a more outdoors person, improved my health and stamina, and accumulated medals and running shirts, among other things. And, of course, successfully finished the marathon. I also learned a couple of lessons.
- A good marathon is a completed marathon. I took longer than most people to complete the race, but I finished it successfully. I got my medal and jacket and kudos. Out coach told us that 98% of those who show up at the starting line, end up reaching the finish line. That was a great comfort, and a strong motivator to get up early in the morning, be excited about it, and get to the starting line. I had running buddies from my coaching group also running the race. We had physically traversed the race’s course the previous day using the coach’s script to ensure the mind does not get bored or anxious. Also, the 6 months of preparation … with long runs (or competitive races) every weekend, and a 2-hour exercise drill every Wednesday, gave us stamina and confidence. We had also been careful to stay free of running injuries to be ready for the marathon. That brings up my second lesson.
- Keep it fun and injury-free. When we are preparing for the marathon, we are stretching the body to great extremes. It becomes easy to overdo and injure oneself. Many people injure their IT-band (the side of the leg from hip to the foot), knees, muscles pulls, and so on. So, run at your natural pace, with just a little bit of stretch, and make that your target pace. Do not chase the other younger and more athletic guys, the seasoned runners. Running at a natural pace uses your red-colored short-fiber leg muscles. These muscles keep up an efficient supply of oxygen and disposition of toxins (lactic acid) to keep themselves fresh and energized. Running from those muscles makes you will feel you can run all day. Do not try to sprint during long runs or the marathon … especially during those seductive downhill stretches. Sprinting utilizes the white long-fiber muscles of the thighs. These super-flexible muscles give you superb speed, but not much range. You will very soon hit a ‘wall’ when your legs freeze, and will have to abandon the marathon right there.
P.S. There were some minor lessons. Such as about investing in the right running shoes, that are one size bigger than normal to allow your feet some wiggle room. And to stay hydrated and keep the energy level high with yummy quick-release high-energy snacks bars/gels. And of course, always listen to the coach, so you can escape a lot of grief down the road!